If you ask me where Bratislava is, I can tell you it is in Slovakia, but if you ask me why I decided to travel to Bratislava, I would have to tell the truth and say: “No real reason. The flights were cheap.” Probably a month ago I was trying to plan some of the last trips I would be able to make, and I saw the flights to and from Bratislava were pretty cheap, and so I said to myself, why not, I’ve never been to Slovakia! And while I’m on the topic of being honest, I didn’t even know where Bratislava was really, not until two days before I left when I finally looked it up on a map. That was when I realized Vienna, Austria, was only an hour away from Bratislava. Imagine that, I told myself, now I just need to make a day trip from Bratislava to Vienna while I’m in the area, and so, that’s when I decided to go to Vienna for a day (although I held off buying any ticket until a the day before I wanted to go). 

Getting there on my Ryanair flight did mean that I had to sleep in the Madrid airport… again. Madrid really needs to figure out a better way to get people to the airport for the early morning flights… there are so many people sleeping in the Madrid airport every night to catch their flights the next morning. The subway would just have to open at 4:30am or something… since none of the flights ever leave before 6am. (It’s a sore subject for me… just like my neck after trying to sleep in an airport chair.) 

Upon arriving in Bratislava, the first thing I noticed were the crazy amounts of people in big group wearing their country’s colors and chanting while drinking beer. (Memorable sights, lemme tell you.) I soon found out that the Men’s Hockey World Championships were being held in Slovakia during the month of May. So that explained that. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for hockey in Europe, there are not too many fans that travel to watch the sport, so the city was still very manageable, even with the extra crowds of beer swigging Swiss and Swedes (among others). 

Bratislava is a smaller city, and the historic old town is very closely packed, making it very easy to walk about and see the main sites. You can see everything in that area in a day, plus the castle on the hill and the Slavin memorial (although you will walk 15 or more kilometers for sure). I’ll attach some pictures of some of the sites to give you an idea of what it looked like. 

I greatly enjoyed the parts of the city that I saw and the atmosphere that I found while walking around, eating, and visiting sites. The city struck me as similar to Prague in many ways, but less centered around the river than Prague was. It was a lot less busy than some other capitals and other cities that I have visited, and that made it a nice place to just relax and catch your breath (which I liked, since I’m in the middle of finals). Many of the people I met in the hostel I was staying in agreed, and many were taking more than the day or two required to see the city to just chill out, rest up, and have a good time. (Wild Elephants Hostel, if anyone goes by Bratislava and needs a good half chill half party hostel.)

Although my original plan was to go to Vienna on Saturday, that plan fell through as some new friends convened me to go out and forgo the sleep I was desiring after 40 hours on my feet with only a couple hours of “sleep” in the airport. Needless to say, I did not make it to Vienna on Saturday morning… or out of bed. 

So Sunday morning, after chilling and resting up in Bratislava for another day, I got my train ticket and headed off to Vienna. The Austria border is only about 25 minutes outside of Bratislava. (Man, Europe is so small.) The first thing that I noticed about Vienna was that it was a lot bigger than Bratislava. And, it was bigger in every aspect and sense of the word. 

I need to spend more time in Vienna in order to get a better sense of the city, I definitely rushed my visit, seeing as though I only had 12 hours to see all that I could. The city was extremely beautiful and had some of the craziest architecture I have ever seen, but the size of the buildings, museums, monuments, and churches was just so much bigger than I was used to that I felt too small. I felt like a mouse in a maze made for dogs, or something like that. (I tried to make a decent analogy here, but it just came out weird.) But it was mostly awe that I had in my eyes, because everything was like just that big. It was a shame that I was only there on a Sunday, because that meant that… not everything was open to see. But I’ll be back, for sure, I gotta go back and see that place again. I mean, I didn’t even get to ride a rollercoaster in the theme park! 

I would like to also mention that while it was scheduled to rain multiple times (for short periods) throughout my time in both Bratislava and Vienna, the clouds saved everything up for Monday morning… when I was trying to make it to the airport. ((((: Thanks, clouds. 

I think that this is my last travel blog post for the school year… I have two more exams and then I’m done with this semester, and I will soon be heading home. Thanks for reading my weird reviews/insights on all the places that I have visited. 

Un saludo, 

Miguel Sabol