Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bratislava, Slovakia

Hotel Brix in Bratislava, Slovakia has some good deals and Hotel Brix was one of those, well for us, anyhow. On purpose, we chose a hotel outside the old city, because the prices were outrageous within the historic center and parking almost nonexistent.  The ride from Budweis to Bratislava took 5 plus hours because the roads now are no longer the ‘highways’ we are used to riding on. Yes, the Czech people give it a highway number but really, it’s a glorified local road.
I wanted to see Bratislava for a quirky reason. A few years ago I spoke with someone who was aglow in praise of Slovakia, especially the Capital Bratislava. In her opinion this was a nicer town than Prague, or Vienna, or any other older Capital in Europe. What could I say at the time? I had not been to Bratislava, so I had to just listen and grin and nod my head to her. Now I can talk about Bratislava, I have seen the town. And my verdict is? Grinning! I like Vienna better, but it could be nicer than Prague, depends on what you like. No matter, we had a wonderful time exploring the rather large, old place. We walked our feet sore. No riding around on the bikes, those were parked securely in the underground garage of the hotel. We took the local bus in and out of town. The bus stop was directly in front of the hotel and it was super easy to use public transport. If there had not been a bus schedule, we would have gone to town by taxi. I find it much easier not to ride in big cities and not to be exposed to foreign travel rules. In addition it is much easier to walk around in regular street clothing than in riding gear. That is why Hotel Brix was perfect for us.

Carol’s rear view mirror came loose. No matter how I tried to secure it, it would not stay tight and fast. I had to rely on the Silicone I carry with my spare parts. This goo did the job, especially since it had 2 days to dry while being parked.

When I stop in a large town, I like to take my time and explore the town slowly. No, I will not see everything the town has to offer, but I get the highlights. We walked for at least 6 hours. I told you, our feet were sore. St. Martin’s Cathedral was one of those highlights. 
Church Regalia From St. Martin's Church

The Crown Room, See St. Stefan's Crown In The Center

This church served as the place for the Kingdom of Hungary’s coronations.  11 Kings and 8 Queens of the Empire were crowned within the walls of this Catholic house of prayer. The most popular Coronation was probably the crowning of the Austrian Empress, Maria Theresa

I Know This One.... Lamb Of God

Wood Carving At Each End Of The Pews

Decorated Pews
Bratislava’s location made it a much wanted town to ‘own’. The great Empires around this town found it somehow irresistible to fight to occupy it. Already in the Stone Ages a castle was built to defend the population from the usurpers.
The list is too long to write, so I copied something I found which should give you a clue. The list of conquerors is long.

The Hangman's House
After the fall of the Great Moravian Empire Slovakia became part of the Kingdom of Hungary from the 10th century until the end of the First World War when the Treaty of Trianon created Czechoslovakia, a country of which Slovaks are widely proud - for example, some Czechoslovakian representatives, such as Alexander Dubček and Gustáv Husák, were ethnically Slovak.
Between 1939 and 1944, Slovakia was a German-controlled state. Then, it was conquered by the Soviets to recreate a new Czechoslovakia, but one that would be pro-Soviet and Communist this time.
This lasted until the fall of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, during the Velvet Revolution of 1989. In 1993, peaceful differences between Czechs and Slovaks when rebuilding their nation after the fall of Communism led to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia into two separate and independent nations: the Czech Republic, and of course Slovakia (Slovak Republic). To this day, Slovaks and Czechs have generally friendly relations, and the two nations cooperate together frequently on international issues.
Bratislava was the capital (1536-1784), the coronation city (1563-1830) 
Believed T Be The Crown Of St. Stefan 
and the seat of the diet (1536-1848) of the Kingdom of Hungary for many years. Since 1960, it has been the capital of the federal state of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia and since 1993, it has been the capital of independent Slovakia.
Although today Bratislava's population is mostly Slovak, from the 13th to the early 19th century, the majority ethnic group in the city were the Germans, who remained the largest ethnic group until the First World War (in 1910, 42% were German, 41% Hungarian and 15% Slovak out of a total population of 78,000). Hungarians formed another important group in the city in the 19th century, but after the First World War, many Germans and Hungarians left for Austria and Hungary respectively, and the remaining Germans were expelled at the end of World War II.
Stark, Empty Halls Inside The Castle

None the less, this German marched up to the Castle to explore and see for myself. 

I was not there to conquer anything but my tired, worn out body. Up on top, at the Castle, I learned that German tourists are allowed to come back and spend money. Never mind that they were thrown out a few decades ago. But then, technically, I am no longer German. And truth be told, Carol made me walk up those cobblestone streets, those twisty roads that give a grand view over the ancient city. The original Castle dated from the 9th Century but it was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 1881.

A Steep Incline To Get To The Castle Gate

The Castle today has an Austrian Empire feeling. Glitz and pomp and ornate decorations. By the end of the 19th Century, the Castle was used primarily for royal entertainment, rather than as a defense against attacks. The inside is sparse: the interior courtyards are bare, the halls feel a bit empty. Its a touristy place but has a historical value. The view from the top of the Castle is stunning. 

             Barren Courtyards Within The Castle

Carol Liked Her Oxtail Soup                         

We sat and ate Oxtail soup at the Veranda Restaurant. The weather was mild and we fit in perfectly, we were tourists.

                      St. Elizabeth  (Blue Church)

Carol read something about a blue Church. So off we go to find this 'blue' Church. It was another long walk but we found it. It was closed but the outside facade was covered with blue mosaics and the roof with blue glazed tiles.

  Blue Details                                          
Did they mean 'heavenly' blue?
In front of this Church of St. Elizabeth, we talked to a couple from S. Africa who were traveling Europe on bicycles. When I think riding a motorcycle is tough, imagine doing those distances on a bicycle. Amazing! They were having a fine time though; they were not the youngest of folks either. I learned that there are many 'Bicycle Roads Only' criss-crossing all of Europe so traffic is not an issue. One hardly needs to use car roads and every so many km are rest spots, hostels or hotels. What a great way to see a country!
More Blue

Blue, Blue, Blue and Gold

After that we were so pooped, we took a taxi back to the bus stop which happened to be in front of the Presidential Palace. And from there we took the bus back to Hotel Brix.

Presidential Palace 

Best Mail Box Ever

Supper tasted great, we had walked up an appetite. We slept like babies. 

I Told Him! Now He Knows!

Elaborate Graffiti 

Graffiti On A Grand Scale

The Stones Were Slick In The Rain 

Rough Road If I Had To Ride On This 

Missing Utility Covers, Not Good For A Motorcycle

Click On The Picture. It Is The Layout Of The Castle

Bird's Eye View Of Bratislava

Narrow Streets, Cobblestoned

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