Favorite thing: Bratislava, as capital is very cozy town. I should tell it is more cozy than its neighbour capilals as Vienna in Austria or Budapest in Hungary. Simply it is small, less that half million people live here. Seems it is also green as Vilnius (Lithuania), and old town is compact, lined with narrow streets. Probably only one object, looking as it should be a big town is long Novi most (New Bridge).
As former Czekoslovakia (Czech Republic + Slovakia) was in so called Eastern block, it is still possible to see Soviet architecture in Bratislava. More or less, Slovakian part was less economical developed, it is the same if you see economic numbers nowadays also.
Some soviet architecture examples still stand in center of Bratislava, but most vivid thing from Eastern block times is Petrzalka suburb. It is a big suburb, where most of Bratislava population is concentrated. I have visited my friend here, who rented a flat.
Favorite thing: I have put links to Google Map in my tips to make it easier to find the objects mentioned, when possible to get the right position. The links are marked in italics. Unfortunately Google Map isn't very precise and too often points to other buildings than the wanted one.
The Bratislava City Card might be a good option for you to save some money and also make the transportation a little bit easier. It will give you discounts in ~60 facilities and services.
Here is a link to the website:
The plugs used in Slovakia have two round pins and many also have a guiding earth pin. Type E and C are both used.
Here is a link to a informative page on electrical sockets and plugs:
Just click the underlined letter to get to the page with a list of countries using the particular type.
The Slovak Koruna was the unit of currency in Slovakia from 1993 to 2009.
Even though Slovakia joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, its currency did not convert to the Euro until it met all of the criteria for EU membership such as deregulated markets and independence of banks. Once these criteria were met, Slovakia was required to adopt the Euro, unlike the UK and Ireland which exercised their option not to use the Euro.
When I visited in 2006, Slovakia was less expensive than western Europe, and also cheaper than its Czech neighbor to the north. ATMs are common in the big cities, and even small border towns have money exchanges which are common. Most places in Bratislava accepted credit cards with the exception of the hotel finder service. We used major credit cards at most restaurants, book stores, train stations and other locations.
During my trip, back when they still used Koruna, the exchange rate was 100 SKK = 3.14 USD. The train to Vienna cost 294 SKK each, a very cheap breakfast was only 40 SKK, and a relatively expensive cappuccino was 45 SKK. Our hotel was 1600 SKK per night and an average main course was between 100 and 300 SKK at most restaurants.
Arriving at the Slovak boarder in an Austrian Taxi, a Mercedes, I was amazed to see the boarder guards with sub-machine guns! (Living in San Diego, I’ve crossed the USA/MEXICAN boarder many times and have never seen a gun toting guard on either side.) I was a bit nervous traveling into a Communist country as it was, and the heavy guns didn’t help calm me down!
The agreement with the taxi driver, was that she would procure a Slovak taxi for me—since I didn’t speak the language—and I would walk across the boarder so neither taxi driver would be subjected to a search.
I set my bag on a short wide wall in the inspection area and while the Customs Officer searched the car a head of me, I went to the Boarder Guard’s Booth to make the mandatory change of money. Just as the officer finished searching the car, I returned.
First thing I realized, he didn’t speak English—and I don’t speak Slovak. Hummmm—I opened my bag for his perusal. His kind, professional manner helped me to relax. His search was quick and competent and I was free to go. I got into the Slovak taxi and we drove off.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of Bratislave was scary, exciting and pleasent.
It was five in the evening and my flight would depart at six, nothing to worry about, the airport was about five minutes away, the driver said.
I was enjoying the lights of the city until we turned into a dark side street! The taxi driver stopped in front of a Hotel type building with red banners hanging out side and a red carpet in the lobby, it reminded me of Nazi occupation I’d seen in WWII movies.
My imagination kicked in! Visions of being arrested and thrown into a gulag whirled through my mind and I wasn’t sure what would happen next.
Of course, the only thing that happened was that the taxi driver returned with his changed traveling papers and we drove straight to the airport.
We arrived and once outside of the taxi, I tried to ask the driver—in a-kind-of-sign-language—which way I should go to catch my flight.
He began to explain. Stopped. Picked up my bags and took me to the boarding desk. He went in front of the line of waiting passengers and insisted that the attendants take my bags—we were late and all the other bags had been loaded on the plane. He guided me to the departure room door and handed me his card, to call him upon my return for a ride back to the airport in Vienna. I gave him a very big tip and my heart felt thanks for his kindness, beyond the call of duty.
I was the last person admitted into the room. I took the very last seat left on that flight and flew off in that rickety plane to Kosice.
When you visit Bratislavia it is good to know some basic facts about Slovakia and its history. Slovakia was a part of Czechoslovakia from 1918 until 1992, which came under the influence of the Soviet Union from 1945.
Slovakia and the Czech Republic became independent during the so called Velvet Divorce. Slovakia joined the NATO on the 29th March 2004 and the European Union on the 1st May 2004. The population of Slovakia is about 5.4 million.
I have put the tips on the sights in the order of reaching the Old Town Square from the east, heading north after the seen the square, following the streets towards the direction of the castle. If you want, you can then take a bus from the Novy Most (New Bridge) bus station.
I walked the itinerary in a slow pace, sitting in the sun both here and there. That way it took just over half a day, including lunch.
Hodzovo Square (Peace Square then) Globe Fountain built during communist times used to be a symbol of peace in the world, but still nowadays it is very popular meeting place among young people. It is well understandable as there are plenty of public transport lines servicing Hodzovo square driving from the different parts of Bratislava including the largest one: Bratislava-Petrzalka.
How to get there
By buses going to Hodzovo Square directly (no. 34, 83, 84, 93) - the Globe Fountain is in the middle of the square, you may need to use the underground passage to get there.
By trolleybuses going to Hodzovo Square directly (no. 203, 206, 207, 208, 212) - the Globe Fountain is in the middle of the square, you may need to use the underground passage to get there.
Favorite thing: i am an american living in bratislava and yes, a half day is plenty enough to visit here. Although the old town is very charming and quaint, the rest of the city is hideously ugly in that communist style of architecture. Getting here by train from vienna is very easy. If you need further tips on where to go/what to see/what to do, let me know, i'd be happy to help out! ciao mike
I am flying from Singapore and as I will need to have a last meeting in Dortmund, thought flying to Frankfurt would be the best option.
My first meeting is in Bratislava on 10th Aug. Next meeting in Dortmund on the 12th. You mentioned that Vienna is nearer to Bratislava, but how do I get from Bratislava to Dortmund and connect my flight back to Singapore? Many thanks for quick response.
Main course in an average restaurant is from about 100 to 200 SKK. Many restaurants serve lunch menus on working days - you will get usually a soup and a main course (exceptionally also a cup of a mineral water) for about 100 SKK - cheap, fast, basic. Beer 20 - 50 SKK.
For the prices of the public transportation see www.imhd.sk. Taxis usually cost 12-20 SKK / km + 20-50 flat fee. In a weird way, it is cheaper to call taxi by phone than just stop it in the street or get on the stand. Good method is to come to the taxi stand and ask the driver (if he will speak English enough for that...) if you have to call the dispatcher or you will get the lower price also without it. Otherwise call e.g. 16000 for Taxi Trend, they are my preferred company. The rate used at the moment is usually displayed on the taximeter beside the fare - 1 is the "standard" (higher), 2 is the "phone order" (discounted).
Slovakia is still quite cheap country, even if it naturally depends on the ratio of domestic inputs in the particular product or service. So the slovak food in the supermarkets is often really cheap, but imported goods are often more expensive than in western Europe.
Around Bratislava, You could always find nice sculptures for admiration that may also have it's own history. For example, While walking around we saw a very nice sculpture but only to realize that it was actually a post-box! Such a beautiful and genius creation.
Fondest memory: Cheap cigarettes, nice coffee and friendly people!
While on your way to the Danube river, You could stop along the Old Slovak National Theater for some pictures. Around the old theater, There are some coffee shop and small booths selling souvenir for sale that's relatively cheaper compared at the railway station.
Fondest memory: Cheap cigarettes, nice coffee and friendly people!
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