When I decided to make a quick stop in Bratislava en route to Romania, I had no idea what to expect. I knew nothing about Slovakia, and less than nothing about Bratislava! However, sometimes a little ignorance isn’t actually a bad thing. I only stayed in Bratislava for a short time, but it was undeniably sweet, and the perfect antidote to the travel blues that had fallen upon me.
Bratislava is the perfect place to spend a day or two. The city is small enough that you can walk to pretty much everything and avoid paying for public transport, but has enough points of interest to keep you from becoming bored. Not gonna lie, that is kinda the perfect combo right there!
I spent my first few hours in Bratislava just wandering and getting a feel for the city and its layout, but after a while I found myself lost and needing directions back into the centre of the city.
As I attempted to find someone who spoke a little bit of broken English (easier said than done, I assure you) I stumbled across what was to become my favourite spot in the city – the absolutely stunning Blue Church.
Now, I am not usually one to get excited over a church. I am not a religious person in the slightest, but, if you travel a lot, every once in a while you will come across a church that is worth more than just a passing glance, even if you aren’t really all about your faith.
For me, the Blue Church is one such church. It is just so different from any other religious site I have ever seen! The architecture and painting looks more kitschy than anything, a vibe which I was most definitely digging.
Another positive thing about the Blue Church – it’s a bit out of the way of the city centre, so it sees far fewer tourists and it isn’t difficult to get the place all to yourself for a little while.
Once back in the city centre, there are endless streets, alleys and buildings to explore. I loved how even the dilapidated and decaying buildings still remained bright and beautiful!
The city may be a pretty one, but in my opinion, the sights aren’t what make Bratislava so special, the people do.
When I reflect back on my time in this city, one particular incident stands out in my mind. I went to the post office with the intention of shipping my big-ass winter jacket back home to Australia now that it would no longer be required. However, what would have taken me five minutes to do in an English-speaking country instead took closer to 40 minutes!
There was not a single human in this post office that spoke English and the ladies behind the desk seemed completely and utterly confused by my attempts and communicating through gesticulation. After a few minutes of such laughably terrible communication that it honestly would have looked at home in a sitcom, other people waiting in line decided to try to help.
In the end, I had seven local Slovakian women with little to no English ushering me around the post office, buying my post bag for me, helping me package it up and showing me where to write on the bag. They even helped me fill out my customs declaration! We were there, muddling through this process for well over half an hour. None of them showed any sign that they minded helping and once my parcel was finally put into what I hope was the outgoing box, they all just smiled at me and acted as if it was no big deal. But it was a big deal to me! It isn’t every day that a group of people are happy to spend a significant chunk of their day helping out a useless foreigner!
Slovakian people are just plain special.
I didn’t spend my time in Bratislava doing anything particularly exciting or out-there or crazy. I spent my time meeting wonderful people and walking around a gorgeous city (very slowly thanks to the blasted knee!) and while doing so, I was able to recharge my travel batteries and cure my travel blues.
Getting to Bratislava: Bratislava is well serviced by international railway and flight connections
Hostel Folks: An absolutely top notch hostel with amazing common areas and awesome staff, a dorm bunk starts at around $18/night AUD
Blue Church: Possibly the coolest church you’ll ever see, but be prepared, it isn’t often open for people to go inside
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: The real magic of Slovakia is with its locals – don’t be afraid to get to know them!