Bratislava was an interesting experience, to say the least. It’s one of those cities where, when you’re telling people about your travels and you’re saying “Prague, Berlin, Budapest, Bratislava,” most people jump in and go “Wait, where the hell is that?”
To be fair, I would have been one of those people before I actually decided to go there. When I was trying to plan my trip, I noticed that Slovakia was conveniently located between Austria and Hungary, and the capital was quick enough to be done in one or two days. So I figured why not, might as well stop in and see what Bratislava has to offer, right?
Bratislava was a bit weird from the moment I got there. Probably because my hostel wasn’t in a very nice looking area. It was perfectly safe, but it didn’t quite have the charm that I had come to expect from European cities. Almost immediately after arriving I met a girl who was also staying in the hostel that was not only Canadian, but went to Western University, which is in my hometown of London, Ontario. Needless to say, that was pretty cool and we had lots to chat about. She suggested a pub crawl, and, having not yet been on one of the legendary European hostel pub crawls, I figured I couldn’t pass it up.
I went with a couple people from my hostel, and it was pretty fun from the get go. If you haven’t heard the mythos surrounding these pub crawls, basically you traipse all up and down the city going to the best bars, getting free drinks, and meeting really cool like-minded travelers. To be fair, all those things were checked off on my pub crawl experience. Our guide left a little to be desired, considering she had no idea where half the bars were (and didn’t seem to be able to read Google Maps very well), and managed to get stupendously drunk, probably more so than the entire group combined. It was one of those weird situations where it’s so terrible, the longer it goes on, the funnier and funnier it gets. I had a blast, and met a great group of Irish people with some great stories.
Bottom line when it comes to European hostel pub crawls – it’s going to be crazy, it’ll be at least a little messy, but there’s a good chance you’ll come out of it having met some really cool people (and an even better chance you’ll be more than slightly hungover thanks to the ‘mystery shots’ presented to your crew at each bar).
I did manage to drag myself out of bed the next day and wandered around the city centre a bit. To be honest, there wasn’t that much to see, especially compared to some of the larger cities I had already been to where I had felt overwhelmed at all of the sights. I walked along the Danube, saw a couple churches, crossed the river and wandered around a really beautiful park for a while, and then made my way back to the hostel. It was nice, but not extraordinary.
A redeeming feature of Bratislava was the restaurant a group of went to that night that served “traditional Slovakian food,” the main dish being Bryndzové halušky a sort of mini gnocchi pasta in a sheep’s cheese sauce with cheese and bacon on top. I ended up getting some really nice cheese on bread, but Caetlyn couldn’t finish all of her food, so I got to try the potato pasta as well. It was delicious, kind of like a decadent macaroni and cheese.
All in all, Bratislava was just kind of there. It ranks as my least favourite city on my trip, but it wasn’t terrible. Would I go back? Not on purpose.
Read about the rest of my travels through Europe: