GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkImpressions Of Bratislava
11:31:15 AM

As is typical of just about all of my trips in recent years, this one was almost all business, but thanks to the graciuos hospitality of a colleague from Slovakia, I did get several hours in the old section of Bratislava last night. This being the holiday season, a section of the old city was set up as an open market on the cobblestone streets, with cars prohibited and with vendors selling all sorts of holiday and tradtitional Slovakian wares, along with food and drink. As this was initially planned to just be a trip to Paris, where I've been a number of times before, and given that there's no way I could beat the photos that Alan posted recently, I din't bring my camera, but I took some pictures with my cell phone. When I get a chance to get them transmitted to the computer, I'll post any that are actually worth looking at -- which may turn out to be none.

There are some maginificent old buildings, of course, and I had a native guide to fill me in on some of the history surrounding them, which made it all the better. I didn't get to the castle that Ed mentioned in reply to a previous post, but I walked through the arch in the tower -- the last remaining of the four towers that once guarded the city. and I saw cannon damage from the Napoleonic era. I also ate well -- in an Argentinian steak house just outside the old city. I did have several samples of authentic Slovakian food during my visit, and I highly recommend the garlic soup to anyone who visits Bratisslava -- and likes garlic, obvious. When I ordered gulas, thoguh, I was expecting something more of the hungarian variety, really, and well... it's quite different. I'm sure that many people will like the Slovakian version, but it just wasn't to my liking.

Overall, I can confirm Ed's observation that there are many buildings in serious disrepair in and around Bratislava. It's clearly a city still in transition, and although the economy there is booming, there's a long way to go. One of the client sites that I worked in was located in a converted hotel -- a converted old hotel, with an elevator older than any I've ever dared ride in, ancient plumbing, a few visible mouse holes, and well... "character" really isn't the right word. I'm not sure what is. On the other hand, I saw two magnificent looking new bridges over the Danube, including a cable-stayed bridge that -- unlike the Zakim bridge in Boston -- is not ugly at all; and a bridge that appeared to be a combination of arch and suspension design. It will take a while to replace all the crumbling infrastructure; but it looks to me like Bratislava is intending to do it in style.

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Comments :v

1. Bob Congdon12/28/2006 02:51:39 AM


My wife grew up in Bratislava and still has family there. The city has improved substantially since the Communist era but there's more than 50 years of Soviet style ugly buildings and neglect to overcome.

2. Marvo12/28/2006 04:07:52 PM

I would like to recommend other Slovakian food as well. I like cabbage soup, Slovakian version is simply perfect. Grilled Encian (camamber-like cheese) with cranberry sauce is also perfect.
Try also very good Slovakian wine, especially from Matysak vineyard.
BTW, Soviet era was just between 1948 - 1989, not more than 50 years.

3. Richard Schwartz12/28/2006 05:59:31 PM

@1 Bob - My wife is from New Jersey. Plenty of ugly buildings there, too

@2 Marvo - I'll keep your recommendations in mind if I get to make a return trip.

4. Bob Congdon01/02/2007 02:08:37 AM

@2 Right, thanks for the correction.

@3 Ha, at least Slovaks can blame the Soviets for the ugly buildings.

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