Waking early to a drizzly day, I donned my new rain jacket and headed down to the Danube. I walked along the footpath until I came to a pedestrian crossing because I was not going attempt crossing four lanes of traffic with tram tracks in the middle without traffic lights! The Danube looked quite dreary under the grey skies, but I walked along to the Most SNP Bridge (the one with the UFO Restaurant) before re-crossing the road and heading back towards Hviezdoslavovo Square.
The rain jacket was far too hot so I headed back to my apartment through the square, which is supposedly a pedestrian area. Delivery vehicles, taxis, trams, buses and trolleybuses are also permitted to use it, so it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Turning the corner into my normally quiet street, I came across a traffic jam. The whole street was clogged with cars! Earlier, I hadn’t noticed the primary school at the corner of my street, and every mum in Bratislava was dropping their kid off to school. I say, kid, because strangely, every mum had just one kid, usually a girl.
Hanging my wet rain jacket on the door hook, I headed out again. One of the local coffee shops was open! Dare I give it a go? I handed my eco-friendly keep cup over and asked for this much coffee and this much milk. €2.10 ($AU3.40) and it was filled to the brim! I have found my coffee shop! And it opens at 8am! I was so happy to get coffee, (my first since I left Australia), I forgot to ask if they make breakfast.
Crossing Hviezdoslavovo Square once again, I walked up a side street in the direction of the Main Town Square, and actually found it without referring to a map or phone. It was empty but for a few Asian tourists. I walked around taking photos of the beautiful buildings and statues. I walked over to the other side of the square to check out an interesting little shop called Wine Not? and noticed another cute little shop right beside it. The owner was lovely. In the midst of serving me, she excused herself to take off her undergarment, as she was very hot. I had a sleeveless top on which probably made her feel hotter, but it was really warm in the shop. I bought a Slovakia pin, and because she also sold stamps, a few postcards. Now I just have to find somewhere to post them!
I retraced my steps back to Hviezdoslavovo Square and paid the €20 for the panoramic tour, which started at 11am. It was still only just after 9pm, but I had walked 3.8 kilometres. I deserved a reward so toddled down to KOUN, reportedly the best ice-cream shop in Bratislava. But I wasn’t rewarded because it was closed on Mondays!
I headed back to the apartment to brush my hair. The wind had picked up and the fallen autumn leaves were being swirled around the cobblestoned streets. A similar thing has happened to my hair – it was a mass of tangled knots. The wind wasn’t cold. It was 22C and quite warm.
I arrived early back to the square not wanting to miss the tour. I sat down on a bench in filtered sunlight next to a guy in a t-shirt whom I thought must be a tourist. All of the locals are rugged up in puffer jackets. Heavens only knows what they’ll wear when it gets cold! He was actually an Australian from Sydney who’s been living in Europe for six years and takes private tours all around Europe. He was waiting for his tour group. What a life!
I boarded the tour bus and chose a seat close to the front. We drove through the wealthy part of town on the hill overlooking the city up to the Slavin monument. On reaching the summit, there were still about 100 stairs to climb. Luckily, I had brought my hiking pole, as there were no handrails. The wind was pretty fierce up here, but nothing like it was when we reached Bratislava Castle. It was definitely gale-force and the protective sheets that had been erected around the renovation were being ripped to shreds. I was afraid some of the smaller tourists would be blown off the parapet. I was being buffeted around and I’m no lightweight. However, the view was magnificent. I could see one of those luxury cruise ships that I’ll never be able to afford making its way downriver, and way off in the distance the farmlands impregnated with wind turbines.
We continued back down to the town back to our final stop back in Hviezdoslavovo Square. I was starving! It must have been fighting the wind to stay erect that had made me hungry, also it had been a long time since breakfast and I’d walked 5.3km and climbed 11 flights of stairs since then! I almost ran to the Regal Burger Bar, which my host had recommended. I had no idea what to order so chose the Classic Burger and Fries for €9.90 and headed back to my apartment to enjoy my feast, washed down with a Stella Artois. Completely exhausted, I lay down and fell asleep immediately. I love Bratislava!