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Bratislava – Zagreb in a nutshell

The city bustle, hastily walk of a busy morning, the sound of church bells and trams, irresistibly reminded me of Zagreb. That feeling what you are somewhere for the first time, and you feel like home.

After reading a few blogs and articles on the Slovakian capital, well-known facts and advice from those who visited that town a few times, like “You don’t have anything to see there, go to Vienna, it’s a half-hour drive from Bratislava or “The city is ugly”, I hit the road with not too much expectations. Good company, a fast car and intention to disprove each prejudice about the capital of Slovakia, have made this one day adventure a fun and interesting experience.

Yes, exactly 24 hours stay in Bratislava. I wasn’t planning to drop right in an hour, but accidents happen. Well, first things first.

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Check-in was not anything spectacular – quite expected for one capital city. We drive on a wide avenue full of cars, trolley, smog and dust. On one side are rising enormous residential buildings, and on the other there are enormous apartment building – as if someone had a string of several Mamutica in several long rows. With every crossed over mile you can feel the spirit of socialism that still lives here. Avenue has suddenly become a bridge below which stretched Danube. This magnificent river that except Bratislava anchored two more European capitals, Vienna and Budapest, separates the city to the new and old which reminded me of Zagreb. After a five-or-so hours of driving, finally we arrive at the hotel. Immediately I liked where it is – in the residential and business part of the city which is relatively quiet, yet close to the center. Their 4 star are definitely justified, even though I really did not care whether that one night I was sleeping in a luxury villa or hostel without stars. After a short break, we went on the evening exploring of the city, in search of the center and the old town.

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From the hotel to the center is about 20 minute walk. 20 minutes of incredible city transformation which from socialist suburb dilapidated buildings, dirty streets and storefronts of small, private fabric shops, food and the occasional pub, across emerging, glass skyscrapers that are being built at full speed, becomes an urban center with a beautiful center, promenades, where dominate small cafeterias and restaurants. What I was waiting and secretly expecting, repressed each created prejudice. Evening walk through the old town, which is consist of a network of broad stone-paved streets, was a real relaxation. With a desire to try Slovakian beer, we found a nice pub that not only pours domestic beer, but let’s local music, so we accidentally spent the night in an authentic, Slovak spirit. The waiters thrilled us with their service, prices were decent, people happy and sociable, open to discussion. Although not in English because they don’t speak it well, so we achieved better understand chatting Croatian – Slovak 🙂 In the end, we found out that we actually drank Czech beer, even though we asked for Slovak and listen to Czech music thinking it was in Slovak. A bit strange, because it is the common misconception that the Czechs and Slovaks do not quite like. All in all – it’s been great.

The next morning started with a lot of optimism, eager to experience Bratislava once more during the day. Those same 20 minutes of walking under the sun illuminated the streets, gave a somewhat different picture. Despite the great differences between the center and the rest of the city, and a number of reconstruction area that generate huge amounts of dust, people are smiling and appear happy. The city bustle, hastily walk of a busy morning, the sound of church bells and trams, irresistibly reminded me of Zagreb. That feeling what you are somewhere for the first time, and you feel like home. That was the moment. With its 400,000 inhabitants, Bratislava definitely can be called Zagreb in a nutshell.

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At every corner you can have a snack, drink a glass of wine or sit down for a coffee. Small restaurants and fast foods are full of people which is not surprising, because the waiter will politely stop and offer you to look at what’s on today’s menu. All attractions, historical and cultural buildings are located in the old city center, so that one day is more than enough for a tour. The magnificent castle Bratislavsky hrad located on a hill next to the old town is a place we had to visit, because from him you have a view of Bratislava like it’s on a palm of your hand .

View of the Danube, bridges and a city that takes your breath away. Coming back in the old town, after lunch, a bit tired, but satisfied, we headed home.

A lot, a lot of walking, enjoying the sun, taking pictures and interesting insights. After a total of 800 mileage driving and some change mileage in those walks, these are best spent 24 hours. Na zdravie!

Vedrana Prevendar

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