Sunday Wander Along the Danube – Bratislava, Slovakia

After a lie in (8:30 is a lie in when you have kids ages 2 and 4!) we took a wander from our hotel in Hviezdoslav Square towards the river. Although it wasn’t raining, the air was wet and shady reflections gazed off the pavements in the streets. We passed a big bronze statue of the Danish author who wrote the original stories of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Frozen, Hans Christian Andersen. The fingers of his right hand were a shiny bronze, showing the many people who have been so fond of his stories wanting to hold his hand. The statue was built to commemorate the author’s visit in 1841.

We continued walking, passed a coffee shop on the corner which seemed very inviting and had a good breakfast menu, offering many continental style breakfasts but we were on the hunt for something we hadn’t ever had before as for me, it’s one of the best ways to get to know the culture of a place!

We crossed the road from a cobbled street and walked up to the bank of the Danube which, while it is far from Viennese composer, Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube, was still a very beautiful river, despite being more browny-green!

We took a left and walked along the bank, passing a couple of hotels and various other buildings. A traditional tram passed along the rails. We caught a look at a very provocative statue of a soldier holding a gun to what seems like a hostage of some sort. We walked under a bridge and were surprised by a relatively modern looking run of restaurants along the river, including a few chains like Wagamamas. These were a part of the Eurovea shopping centre, so we walked in to have a look around. Between the shops were some comical statues of circus folk, one of a tightroping girl, suspended in the air, with a statue of a man below, ready to catch her. Statues seem to be everywhere in Bratislava.

Having explored most of the shopping centre, we came to the food court and decided to get some brunch. We found a stall that we assumed did local food as we didn’t recognise any of the dishes on offer and they had Slovak sounding names! We had a Segedínsky Gulás, which was a cabbage and pork combo in a tomatoey-vinegary sauce, served with “dumplings”, which is a steamed white bread, not dissimilar to the Chinese Bao. The dish smelled like nothing I had ever smelled before, sweet and sour. The other dish we had was also a cabbage and pork based dish, served with dumplings, but it had less of the tomato-vinegar flavour. I preferred this dish to the other. It was called Pečená Krkovička – how you pronounce either of these dishes, I have no idea!

Eurovea Shopping Centre is divided into two, split over-ground by a courtyard which has a water fountain centrepiece and a huge statue of Štefánick, the first minister of War for Czechoslovakia, shadowed by a 3m replica of the Czecho-Slovak lion, holding the coat of arms of the once combined nation. Underground, there is a clever underpass which is provided with natural light through the fountain’s glass bottom, and the falling water provides some wonderful light patterns to the shoppers below.

Our brunch was heavy, perhaps a little stodgy, but very enjoyable. We agreed that the meal would have been perfect on a -20 degrees winter day.

We took a walk back toward the Old Town, where our hotel was situated, but walked around the other side of the shopping centre, as we like to see what else our destinations have to offer. At the opposite end of the two large statues was what looked like some sort of arts centre or concert venue. The other side of the Eurovea centre was a mini-Gherkin a la London! We heard from some local friends that it was a bit of a tribute to the London landmark, a chance for Bratislava to say “we may be smaller but we have a lot to offer!” We also passed the university – a grand looking older building before making it back to our hotel to freshen up before the afternoon with our friends at Proclaimers Church, Bratislava.

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