19 hours in Bratislava

Ever since I learned that there's a hydrofoil that traverses the Danube between Vienna and Bratislava, I've been talking about going, mostly because it's intriguing that a little more than an hour's boat ride away is the capital of an entirely different country. You'd be hard-pressed to travel an hour from anywhere in the States and wind up somewhere that truly felt foreign. We kept planning to go, but hadn't found the right moment.

This weekend CM was lucky enough to have an entire 2-day weekend like normal people, so we decided to head to Bratislava for dinner Saturday night. It wasn't until 20 minutes before we left that we had the idea to stay overnight, so we quickly packed a bag. When we arrived in the city, we walked into the first hotel we saw (the Radisson, not too shabby) and got a very reasonably priced room.

And herein lies the biggest thing Bratislava has going for it, besides proximity to Vienna: it's CHEAP. And they use the Euro, which is quite convenient. Sadly, word's getting out, apparently primarily to the British stag night industry. By the time we arrived around 7pm Saturday, there were already plenty of oddly-costumed British men roaming in packs, leering at the Slovakian women and shouting in the streets. These same men could be found Sunday afternoon sitting in pubs nursing their hangovers and drinking pint after pint of beer. We decided that Bratislava is the New Orleans of Eastern Europe (although a friend of ours pointed that maybe Eastern Europe is the New Orleans of Europe…food for thought).

Bachelor parties aside, though, it's a charming city, full of all those old-world details we love: winding cobble-stoned streets, airy outdoor cafés, a town square, and (of course) a hilltop castle. It also has some delicious food. I did a little internet research before we went, and decided to have dinner at the Pressburg Restaurant, which specializes in traditional Bratislavan cuisine. Fast fact—Pressburg is the German name for the city; it wasn't actually called Bratislava until 1919.

On my quest to eat a meal in every country in Europe, I'm planning to try typical dishes from each place. Sure, pizza in Prague doesn't really count, but I made up for it in Bratislava. I had Bryndzové halušky, described as "the national dish of Slovakia." It's gnocchi in a sheep cheese sauce with bacon sprinkled on the top. Ummm...YES, PLEASE. Doesn't it look delicious?

CameraMan, of course, ordered "Skewer from 3 meats on gallows." You're going to have to use your imagination on that one, at least until he posts his pictures from the trip. We also consumed a platter of Slovak cheeses (no surprise there), a bottle of Slovakian red wine, and a couple glasses of Borovička, which I highly recommend if you like the taste of burning.

It was such a short trip that we didn't get to see all that the city has to offer, but we managed to walk all through the old town, hike up to the castle, watch most of the Federer-Djokovic match, and eat 2 other meals while we were there (neither of which were nearly as good as Saturday's dinner—it pays to do a bit of research before you go). We had a lovely time, although I don't know that we'll need to go back any time soon.


In the meantime, you can see my Bratislava photos here.


  1. That dish looks amazing. I would try it in a heartbeat.

    Let me know if you find the recipe. :)

  2. I am purposely NOT looking for the recipe—that's the last thing I need. :)

    Plus, the sheep cheese they use is local to Bratislava, so the real thing is only found right around there. Which just makes it even better, don't you think?

  3. Hahaha. Okay, good point. :)

    Yes, it does make it even better. It DOES mean now that i have to got to Bratislava and go have some.

    And it's all your fault. ;-P


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