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Well, I’ve been stationed in Budapest for three weeks now and I still hadn’t written anything about my two-day stop in Bratislava and I was beginning to feel a bit guilty about it. I mean, I gave Hamburg an extra long account of my time there and it isn’t half the city that Bratislava is (in so far as elderly prostitutes didn’t once proposition me in Bratislava. Not once.). I guess it just had to do with a confluence of factors in that Bratislava (or “Brats” for fun) had the unfortunate luck of being the next stop on my trip after staying in Vienna and was a bit of a letdown and that I was eager to get going to Budapest.

In any case, the Slovakian capital managed to be a nice rest along the way and with a bit more time could be a pretty decent place to visit. I also know that it happens to have a bit of a nightlife reputation for those of you who might enjoy alkie-pops and house music. One of my new friends I made there mentioned going to a club that was under the castle hill. Subterranean dance club interest you? Then Bratislava has got you covered.

I didn’t really have much of an agenda with Bratislava (becoming a theme of mine this trip) and decided to just wander around and get a feel for the place. With a compact city centre, I was able to do a bit of walking around, check out the buildings and make my way to the top where the castle resides. In my typical fashion, I like to find the highest points in any city and have a good look around. I don’t know what it is, but it gives me a different perspective than street level. Oh wait, I totally know what it is: it’s that I can see everything.

"Tremble below me, mere mortals."

At the top of the Castle Hill, there is obviously a castle (which is more appropriately apparently a “fort”, rather than anything regal) and great vantage points for looking around and taking pictures of everything from the Old Town to across the river at the affectionately nicknamed UFO Bridge and the Soviet-architecture side (“Do you like cold, modern, boxy buildings? Check us out!”).

"Aaaaahhhh, look out, the aliens have landed! Oh, no, wait, never mind, it's just a bridge."

In the Old Town, there are all the different things one begins to expect in European cities, with interesting buildings and little town squares, and of course, delightful cafes to sip well-made (and overpriced) coffee.

Standard Issue European City Square

In my visit I also came across things I didn’t expect, such as walking into the middle of a regional conference. The Carpathian Convention (or COP3) was in town and cultural displays of the Carpathian mountains were featured on a stage for everyone to enjoy. I was able to see some traditional dancing and music from places like Poland and the Ukraine. Neat stuff, and it really impressed the Japanese tourists (is there anywhere on this planet one can travel and not run into a group of 20 Japanese tourists each clutching an SLR camera?).

North American equivalent: crunking.

I also took a walking tour that guided us around the Old Town and parts of the New Town, including standing outside the impressive Presidential Palace and the beautiful Blue Church.

The name remains a mystery to this day.

As with other tours I’ve taken, this was a great way to get a bit of context and history on a place that I otherwise really hadn’t heard too much about throughout my upbringing (“Hey, world history, next time give me a heads-up on Pressburg!”).

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