It was an early start today as I had a 9am bus to catch this morning.

Less than 25 years ago the region I’m in was Czechoslovakia.  In 1993 the country split in two and I’ve been in the Czech part of it the last few days.

Time to check out the Slovakia part…

The capital and biggest city in Slovakia is Bratislava and most people do it as just a day trip from Vienna as its’ only an hour away from there.

Originally that was what I was going to do as well but no available beds at the hostel I wanted to stay at in Vienna made me do a last minute switch last night.

So, here I am in spending the night in Slovakia.

Not that that’s a bad thing…

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Slovakia is beautiful.  It has a distinct old town feel to it without the hordes of tourists descending upon it.

Just the way I like it!

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I arrived in town after a 4 1/2 hour bus ride (14 euro, $20) at just before 2pm.

I had looked up free walking tours online and saw that there was a company that did one at 4pm.

Perfect!

Just enough time to settle in, take a shower and get some food in me before heading over to the meeting point.

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I stopped at a restaurant called Mestiansky Pivovar for a quick bite.  The guy at the front desk had recommended it and told me I had to try the Bryndzove halusky (potato dumplings with sheep cheese, bacon and sour cream).

After my late lunch I was off to do the walking tour.

Naturally just as the tour was starting the rain started to fall down.  Oh well, guess it’s time to get a little soggy.

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It was another great tour.  Our guide Lucia taught us about the town but also alot about the unique history of Slovakia.

The region was a much sought after area and went from Hungarian controlled to soviet to Nazi and back again before finally becoming its’ own sovereign nation in 1993.

We heard about the unique Easter tradition of boys whipping girls and soaking them with cold water in order to earn chocolate treats.

Yes, it still happens today although Lucia said she has her own Easter tradition now that involves taking a cheap Ryanair flight somewhere for a few days over Easter.

Or how about the Christmas tradition of catching a carp a few days before and soaking it in the bathtub to cleanse it as it’s a bottom feeder fish.

No showers for a few days before Christmas…

And then there’s the Bratislava castle that overlooks the city.

It was built solely as a means to protect the city and it totally worked until, that is, the Italian military who were staying there in the early 1900s accidentally burnt it down during a drunken feast.

Oh, and I learnt that during Communism it was actually illegal to be unemployed and there are some who miss that era as things were much simpler for them back then.

God, I love walking tours!

By the time the tour ended just before 7pm I was wiped.  I had woken up pretty early and my feet are just wrecked (like I’m going to have to see a doctor when I get home cause man they are sore).

I got back to the hostel and changed into my nice comfy (and dry) sweats.  I laid in bed for awhile and it took everything in me to hobble out of bed and go back out to get dinner around 8.

This time I went to a place Lucia pointed out on the walking tour – Flagship.

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I started with something she said I had to try – the cabbage soup with meat.

It was actually pretty damn yummy!

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For dinner I had a ham and cheese stuffed pork schnizel with a side of grilled vegetables.

The food was great but the service was not so the two little chocolate bars I had in my bag ready to be left on the billfold when I left just stayed in my bag.

Bad service?  No candy for you!

By 9:30 it was time to call it a night.

I sat in bed for awhile typing up this very blog and then that was it.

Tomorrow I’ll visit a couple of castles here in Bratislava before hopping on an afternoon bus to Vienna where I’ll go see the Vienna Boys Choir play tomorrow evening.

Should be another great day…

USSR Trip 2015, Trip Journal

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