Bratislava • Vienna • Brno

Bratislava bus station's looming old dude faces.

In April 2013 Elliot and I went on a three country European holiday based in Bratislava, Slovakia. I wasn't really blogging much then, so I thought it would be cool to go back in time and remember our first proper holiday together. All the pictures in this post are from Elliot's camera and have been sitting around on his laptop since then (copyright Elliot Summerhayes, master photographer of plane windows and all the ugliest facial expressions I can make) so I've been looking through them and thinking "I should make a post with these" for ages, and I'm finally actually doing it.

The view from our two hour Ryanair flight. I'm surprised they didn't try to charge us add-on fees for looking out the window.

We actually decided to go to Bratislava by throwing darts at a map. We threw about ten darts, listed the nearest city to the dart's landing zone each time, and then rolled dice to decide which city from our compiled list to visit. If you're not too fussed where you go, it's a really fun way to choose a holiday. We also decided, since Bratislava is close to the borders of Austria and the Czech Republic, to visit the nearby cities of Vienna and Brno to make it a three country/three city trip.

Bratislava castle gates.

We stayed in Bratislava, in a hotel called Penzión Berg, which had some scenic Wu Tang Clan graffiti nearby (I enjoyed that a lot). It was very nice, although I did have an awkward moment where a person came in to clean the room while I was on the toilet. I was being very quiet on the toilet. Stealth toilet.

We had to go through a dark walkway to get to the hotel from the bus stop and there was always a man playing very spooky violin music there. Also apparently floor buffers are quite heavily used in Bratislava. I saw some impressively shiny floors.

Hofburg Palace, Vienna.

The train links are great, so it was easy for us to stay in the hotel in Bratislava and venture out to Vienna and Brno on the train. The trains were nice. It's strange how different trains can be, when you're used to a certain kind of train so all alternative trains become really exciting. Maybe I just really like trains. These trains had big cabins with two rows of seats facing each other, some mirror panelling, big windows, and a sliding door so you could comfortably shut yourself off from other humans and shun anyone who wants to sit in your cabin. It makes for a weirdly insular feel when you're used to being on trains with the entire carriage as one open unit.

Emperor Franz I monument, Hofburg Palace.

Vienna was very full of statues and cathedrals and loudness and tourists. We went to a sweet shop and wandered around lots and quite honestly I think there was so much that I've just forgotten everything. I think this was mostly a day of walking around in awe and being tired and taking photos of statues. We also ate ice cream, which was a highlight. I love ice cream.

Prince Eugene of Savoy monument, Hofburg Palace.

Vienna is a very pretty place though, full of ornate, classical buildings and statues. There are some incredible looking museums, but we didn't end up with much time to visit them. Sometimes it's nice to just walk around and take things in a bit more casually though. We'd tried to cram in lots of things on previous days, so we were calming down a bit by this point.

Elliot doing... something.

We visited two Slovak castles, Bratislava castle and Devín castle. Bratislava castle looks like an upturned table and is bright white. The grand staircase inside is one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. Here are a couple of pictures. Please give me a massive golden-framed mirror for Christmas. Thanks.

This is my "I'm excited to be on holiday" face.

Devín castle was quite far out and I seem to remember a lot of hill climbing. It was in a much more rural and quiet setting, which was very different to Bratislava castle but very nice as well. We also met a couple of cats there. That was the best. I wish cats were involved everywhere I went.


The day we were due to fly back to London we went on our last train out to visit Brno. We really liked it there. It's got lots of old history and cathedrals and statues with these strange golden sunbursts on top. We also managed to visit another castle here, which meant more hill-climbing for me (my legs were like "can you stop doing this please").

Holy Trinity Column, Brno.

There was a real magical feeling to Brno. It was quiet-ish, but with lots of lovely, old architecture in beautiful, muted colours, and a little bit of street performance.

Why is the goose walking a tightrope? What a skilled goose!

We found a pub called "Merry Goose" to sit down in for a while. It had pictures all over the walls of lots of 1960s musicians and we soon discovered it was also the back end of a theatre (hence the sign that says "Theatrical Pub"). Elliot had fully grasped the word "pivo" by now (beer in both Slovak and Czech).

Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.

Our last stop before going home (via the Beer Palace in Bratislava of course, where we ate many different kinds of cheese) was the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul - a very pointy, black thing that you can go to the top of and look out of across Brno at all the orange rooves.

To conclude this post I will tell you that I came very close to falling on a white rabbit on a bus in Bratislava. Fortunately the rabbit was in some kind of rabbit-carrier, so it wouldn't have been harmed, but it was an unexpected turn of events. Also it was a really cute rabbit. My sincerest apologies to rabbit kind.

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