Our Uber delivered us just behind our hotel which gave us a little wander through a drizzly street, taking us into Hviezdoslav Square, which boasts the National Museum, a small market selling souvenirs and trinkets, an impressive statue of the local poet Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav, after whom the square is named and our hotel, the Radisson Blu Carlton. Despite the rain, we couldn’t help but first walk to the other side of the square to admire the beautiful classical building of the Carlton.
We were warmly welcomed at the reception of the hotel, which has a very grand feel with beautiful chandelier, marble flooring and a grand piano. On noticing the date of birth on my passport, the front desk clerk wished me a happy birthday for the following day and asked whether we would like wine and cake as a celebratory welcome right away, or if we’d rather wait! It was so kind of her and she seemed genuinely excited that we would choose to spend my birthday staying at her hotel. She then proceeded to offer us a choice of two rooms, one with lots of space and one with a view. The porter took us up to view both rooms and we chose the room with the view, which was also quite spacious! The view looked down on to the square and beyond, with a view of Bratislava castle too. We settled in and made our way out to explore the city.
We wandered around the Old Town of Bratislava, which was just on the doorstep of our hotel. We explored for a short while, passing through the main square of Bratislava, as a hungry wife is one that needs to be tended to promptly! We deliberated a few options before choosing the restaurant that appeared to serve the most dishes we couldn’t pronounce, but had pictures so we weren’t completely foreign! We ordered a couple of dishes and shared them between us. One of the dishes looked like a Cornish pasty, but made of potato and had the consistency of gnocchi, stuffed with sheep’s cheese and served with a side of yoghurt. All of these things, to be honest, are all pretty far down my preference list, however they combined to make a very tasty meal. The other thing we ordered was a pork kebab that was served with sausage and a sort of pickled onion – again, very tasty and a combination of flavours that weren’t familiar to me.
Our church back home in Norwich also has a church in Bratislava, part of the reason for choosing Bratislava as a destination. Millie met with some girls from our church for an event called Sisterhood and I met up with some of our guy-friends. They took me to a hipster coffee house, called Urban House. It was full, bustling and had good coffee! As we sat and caught up, a few other lads from our church arrived, some who I’d not met before. It was great to see the lads, one of whom, Matt, I have known for 10 years! The boys then took me to Soho for Chinese food (of all things!), but on the way we popped in to a Cigar lounge as they had a friend who worked in there. We didn’t smoke, but just popped in to say hi. There was a beautiful marble bar that had been carefully carved thinly, allowing lights to be installed, causing the whole bar to glow. It was beautiful, I had to mention it! Soho was great. Food was delicious, even though I was still so full from my local lunch! Reasonable prices and a nice atmosphere makes this a place I will definitely return to in future visits to Bratislava.
We met the girls and they took us for a walk uphill towards the beautiful Bratislava Castle. The sun had set and the city was stunning, lit up, glowing. Despite only having a population of 500,000, there was a “big city” buzz in the air. Bratislava Castle is painted white and has red roof tiles. It looks glorious on it’s hill. We took a slow walk down the other side of the castle and made our way back to the hotel. The whole group of friends walked us down to the hotel and waved us off, leaving a warm feeling in our hearts for the city and it’s people.