In the last post, I gave you the background story of my trip to Bratislava. Let’s continue on the journey from there.
So after relaxing a bit in my lovely hotel room, I came out as I was feeling hungry. The breakfast that I’ve had had, was lovely but had become a distant memory by then.
So I searched on Tripadvisor and reached a restaurant that was supposed to have simple vegetarian Indian food. Unfortunately, it was closed. So I searched a bit more and found that there was another good restaurant nearby. I went there and sat for a meal. The decor was beautiful and reminded me of the lovely colors of South India. Now the first thing I ordered was a kind of tomato soup (rasam). The proprietor warned me that it was spicy but I was in reckless mood and didn’t pay attention (assumption was that he was comparing the chili level by European standards). But then when I had it, I felt like it was made with the intent to clear the sinuses! Nonetheless, I waited for my rice pulao and the cook had mercifully added green chilies to it in a way that I could take them aside :-). That was good and so satiated, I moved on.
Now I wanted to go to the old town but I got completely confused with google maps telling me which way to go. Why? Because all I saw was a kind of highway with roundabouts. So I decided to be adventurous and boarded a bus. I thought I would stop at the next stop or where I would feel it looks like the old town. See this picture here, which I took later when I was more familiar with the topography of the city, to make you understand my confusion – there is an old city wall, then the St. Martin’s cathedral and then suddenly that UFO like building..all by the side of a highway! Details of this strange juxtaposition later.
Once I was aboard the bus, one stop went by, second stop by went and I found myself on a highway and then some kind of software technology park (with glass buildings like we are used to seeing nowadays. Then I understood that something was not right – google maps had told me that the old town was very near to from where I boarded the bus. So I got down there and wondered how to get to the other side of the highway to take the bus back. Thankfully there were two girls who got down with suitcases and since there were apartments beside the highway, it was quite probable that they would be going there. So I just observed and followed. And it was the right decision for I found the way.
Then I had a few minutes to click the photos of the surroundings before the bus arrived. (The experience was quite like in Bangalore especially on the outer/inner ring road with apartments everywhere. The only difference is that in Bangalore, there is no safe way to cross the road while in Bratislava there is!).
Anyway, so I returned and after two more tries, I finally managed to reach the old city. Now I wanted to join a walking tour which was supposed to start at 3 PM, so I had enough time for all this adventure and to still be before time at the venue mentioned on their website.
Then slowly the people started arriving and also a few tour guides. The guides had a good system. They counted the people and then depending on the number, they distributed them into three groups – each group with one guide. In Vienna on the other hand, all the people (irrespective of number) had to go with one guide, which was the reason I didn’t join the free walking tour there (story of Vienna for later).
The tour started from this square Hviedzoslav Namestie named after a famous poet of the country. Our guide explained that he invented a new form of poetry which they had to study during their school days and it was, let’s just say, not so easy :-). As per wikipedia – “he introduced the syllabic-tonic verse into Slovak poetry and became the leading representative of Slovak literary realism. His style is characterized by extensive use of self-coined words and expressions, making it difficult to translate his works into foreign languages.”
I won’t go into the history of Slovakia – there is enough information here if you are interested in the details. In short, it has been a place with settlements from pre-historic times. The Romans were here, then the Magyars (Austro-Hungarian Empire) and later it came under the Hapsburg monarchy when Ottomann Empire took control of the erstwhile Hungary. From 1526 to 1830, nineteen Hapsburg sovereigns were crowned “Kings and Queens of Hungary” in the Saint Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava.
The guide explained to us the details of that strange way the city looks as shown in the picture above. The Hapsburgs broke parts of the old city wall to expand the city. Then a few hundred years later the communist government decided to build a highway going through the middle of the old town! It of course didn’t care that there was this historic church whose foundations will become weak with the highway being constructed right next to it!
Anyway, so that’s how it is now. With this I will end this post. I hope to write the next post very soon to complete the story of my journey. Enjoy reading!