The first thing that hit us when we got to Bratislava was how different it is.
Vienna is firmly placed in the list of Great Western European cities. This felt normal and comfortable to us, coming from the similar city of London. Zagreb has embraced Croatia’s recent appearance on everyone’s must-visit list by adapting to welcome and exploit the growing tourist crowd.
It does not feel like Bratislava is yet accustomed to being a popular destination for Western travellers.
This may be changing – there seem to be a lot of new apartment blocks being developed and a large shopping mall has recently opened – but we needed time to adjust.
Adjustment period over, Bratislava is lovely. It is ridiculously small – we covered the old town and took in all the sights in little over half a day. For a tiny town, there are many lovely things to see. Multiple churches, the city gate, museums, bridges, and quaint squares and side streets. The Bratislava City Museum is a bargain, and well worth visiting.
Vegetarians will struggle to reconcile their dietary requirements with any desire they may have to try the local cuisine, but there are plenty of restaurants that cater to either one or the other.
Be prepared for the culture shock: a lot of the people here came across as incredibly rude. Of course they are not rude, they just have different social norms, but it can make you feel like you are being told off a lot.
Also, our AirBnB host, while explaining how to turn on the boiler, actually stopped talking to me and asked if he could instead explain it to my male partner. Which shouldn’t be acceptable anywhere. (Incidentally, when the boiler did turn off, it turned out that his instructions were inaccurate and I figured out how to get it working again.)
We spent the weekend here and it was just what we needed at this point in our European adventure: a small city in which we could recharge our batteries and buy pints for 2€.