Summer 2017: Bratislava

The only thing left on our list of things to do in Vienna was Bratislava, so we head to the Hauptbahnof and head to the Information desk. Ange just wants to make sure that she’ll be alright without a passport (Bratislava is in Slovakia). After some confusion we establish that the gentleman behind the counter just doesn’t know.

I’m pretty sure that Ange will be OK, but just to be on the safe side we go to the OBB office and ask there. Ange has a photo drivers license but again we’re met with vagaries and non-committal answers. I can see why – should we do anything based on advice from them, they arguably become liable for any costs should they be wrong. It’s still frustrating though.

Since we’ve already bought tickets regardless, we jump on the train and head across the border to Bratislava. The train takes an hour – we could have gone by boat, which would have been more expensive and taken twice as long, but I had done it before and it’s not really any more scenic, so we elect to spend our time in Bratislava instead of in transit.

Upon arriving at the station we proceed to walk towards the river. My expert navigation somehow by-passes the picturesque Old Town and Ange gently corrects this. Her way is much better and although the crowds are thicker, there is definitely more to see. We see one of those quaint tourist trains in the central square and make a note to check it out later on. There are a couple of guys blowing giant bubbles much to the delight of the kids in attendance and that and the sun coming out makes for quite the festive occasion.

One of the things that I haven’t done is to dine in the UFO, which is an elevated restaurant on the opposite bank of the river. So we head over there, a little concerned by the flexing in the bridge when you get to the halfway point!

Upon arrival we pay our money and ascend the elevator which goes up the tower leg on an angle, which is a bit of a novelty. Soon enough we’re at the top and head up some stairs to the observation deck at the top. Its not huge up there but it’s a glorious view. I notice someone is flying a drone as it whips past a little above eye level and hovers over the nearby park. I lose track of it as we survey the vista in every direction.

When we’ve had our fill we head downstairs to get something to eat at the restaurant. After waiting for a while a waitress looks us up and down and says we can order off the bar menu if we want to sit near the bar, and if we want to actually use the restaurant proper with its views of the Old Town, this is the menu.

Yeah, a little over-priced shall we say. We decide to sit near the bar instead and wait ten minutes for service. Nobody comes so we look at each other and decide to head back into town. A real pity because their waffles looked divine.

So by now we realise if we want to go back to Vienna, check into our hotel room and then head out to the Orchestra, that we’d have to move smartly, so we head back over the shaky bridge and back into the Old Town.

By that stage it’s coming up on 4pm. The tourist train people say it takes 30mins to do a loop, and we figure it’s 15 mins to get back to the train station. Our train leaves a bit before 4:45. If we grab a cab back we might just make it – if we miss the train there’s another one in an hour but it will mean we wont be able to go back to the hotel before the concert. Worth the risk.

There are two tourist trains waiting at the departure point – one which looks to be about to leave with two seats left, one behind the other, and one train totaly empty. We approach the man selling tickets and say that we want to sit together and when will the second train leave. There’s a little confusion until we mime that we want to sit beside each other and then he signals for the other train to leave. He beckons us to get on but I press the point that we’ll buy a ticket but only if we leave now. He agrees so we get aboard.

The little train is great. It’s small enough to fit down the narrowest of streets and the way the driver navigates the crowds through the pedestrian thoroughfares is hilarious. He kind of noses his way through. It’s great being in our own carriage and we feel a little like royalty even when we stop to let some other people on – they get in the second carriage, leaving us in our own little private world. The English commentary is good with some interesting tidbits, and before long we find ourselves back at the main square.

We thank our driver and head off to find a cab, but there’s been enough slippage in the 30 minute ride that we’ve only got five minutes to get to the train. Our tickets are returns so we wont have to buy any but it’s unlikely we’ll make it. I find out the price to the train station and we jump in a cab. The driver does everything in his power to get us there quickly – a sneaky trick or two at the lights, but we still arrive four minutes after it has left. Nobody to blame for that, so we mentally adjust our itinerary to go straight to the concert instead of the hotel and look around for something to do while we wait for slightly less than an hour.

Ange heads to the bathroom and then we go outside. There are fast food kiosks in the station but I want somewhere to sit for a meal. Right beside the station is the Antic Caffe Restaurant. We get in and it’s a lovely spot. We order and not long after the food comes. I ordered the stuffed chicken breast and Ange got the stuffed chicken roulade. They’re huge! Neither of us can finish them. They’d asked us what sides we wanted and the way they asked made us not realise they were charged in addition to the mains so that was the only negative.