Since my first visit to Europe in the city of London in 1995, it would take me 13 years to finally conquer the continental landmass of Europe.
And I wouldn’t have had it any other way than the stories and people I would spend with today in Bratislava.
Following a magical day in Budapest, we salvaged a few hours of sleep at the hostel before sadly parting ways with Aaron, Jessica, Jazmin, Anthony, and Raubern (they would go on to Croatia) and taking the 15 minute underground metro to the bus terminal to catch our 10:55am bus to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia.
The bus is a good time to catch up on sleep.
We arrived into Bratislava at 1:30pm, from where we took a 3 euro Uber from the bus station to the old town. Like the equally atmospheric old town in Ljubjlana, the old town here is compact, walkable, and splendidly magical in daytime and at night.
After checking in at our apartment at APLEND City where we would meet up with my couchsurfing friend Daniela (more on the crazy backstory on how she would join our trip here), we had a late brunch at Five Points Café, known as one of the few places to serve a “selfieccino”:
We then began our tour of the old town of Bratislava, beginning with a trek up to the Slavin War Memorial that overlooks the city from the north. Here lies the burial ground of 6845 soldiers of the Soviet army who died here during World War II.
Look to the west to catch a glimpse of Radio and Television Slovakia, which defies gravity as an upside down pyramid:
Then we headed south to Prezidentský palác, the seat of the president of Slovakia:
Afterwards we weaved around a public demonstration against the government to head up to Bratislava Castle, the former seat of Slovakian royalty and the symbol of Bratislava:
The views from here:
We then returned to Old Town beginning with Michael’s Gate, the only preserved gate of the city fortification dating back to the 14th century:
From north to south we hit up the following landmarks in old town: Kostol Zvestovania, Bratislava’s oldest church since the 1200s:
The main square with Roland’s Fountain, Old Town Hall, and the Jesuit Church:
Primatial Palace built in the Classicist style in 1781. Here is where the Peace of Pressburg was signed between France and Austria after Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz.
13th century Clarissine Church:
13th century St. Martin’s Cathedral, built in the Gothic style:
And if you venture south past the Most SNP Bridge, which you can walk across…
…head up to the top of the UFO Observation Tower which houses a beautiful bar and fine-dining restaurant.
We then hailed an Uber to the west of old town to find adorable Blue Church St’ Elizabeth’s, built in the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century.
The whole tour took about 3 hours, after which we returned to the old town to grab some street food for dinner.
…before relishing in our day with travel stories over shisha at Habibi Café.
What I cannot put into words here are the endless conversations the 4 of us had since our dinner in Budapest to walking around the quiet streets of Bratislava’s Old Town, with topics ranging from love, life, coincidences, fate, destiny, the universe, and everything in between.
While I knew this trip would be special the way it came together, I would not have been able to predict that very moment in Old Town when an epiphany befell all of us as we turned the corner at Primatial Palace at dusk: That this trip was not planned as an epic “bucket list” item but rather “just another Monday.” It was a surreal eternity moment where we knew that the life we always dared to want was well already within our grasp; that in even the hardest moments we just sometimes need to step back, let go, and realize that this was always possible.
All we would have to do next is then jump in without overthinking it, realizing we are already can live the adventures we’ve always desired.