Written by fizzytom on 07 Apr, 2013
When it comes to beer, the Czechs are quite rightly proud of their brews which are sold and enjoyed all over the world; brands such as Pilsener Urquell and Staropramen are not unusual or exotic, they can be found in pubs and bars across Europe…Read More
When it comes to beer, the Czechs are quite rightly proud of their brews which are sold and enjoyed all over the world; brands such as Pilsener Urquell and Staropramen are not unusual or exotic, they can be found in pubs and bars across Europe and beyond. You would be forgiven for thinking that the Slovaks don’t share this brewing tradition but nothing is further from the truth; Slovakia may not have any of the really big international brands but there are lots of smaller domestic brands and, better still, loads of good microbreweries.Some tour agencies offer trips to the large brewery just out of town, but if it’s the local microbreweries you want to visit, you need to get yourself a city plan and get researching. There are few places around the city, but my favourites are the Bratislavsky Mestiansky Pivovar – for surroundings and location – and Richtar Jakub – for atmosphere and beer. The two are quite different: the former is quite touristy, though enjoyable, while the latter is off the beaten track and frequented more by young people who appreciate the good choice of beers and prices that are slightly lower than in the very centre of the city. Bratislavsky Mestiansky Pivovar translates roughly as the Bratislava City Brewery; on the website it’s described as the ‘Burgher’ brewery but city brewery is a closer approximation for modern English. Although these are new premises and new owners, this beer hall, restaurant and microbrewery just off Bratislava’s main shopping street, Obchodna, has a long tradition within the city and numerous old photographs and drawings hanging on the walls act as a reminder of this heritage.Although it’s fairly new, there’s a comfortable ambience at the Mestiansky Pivovar that makes it feel traditional, though it’s a tad more comfortable and stylish than your average beer hall. This may come from the fact that the food gets equal billing with the beer and the two times I’ve visited, I’ve noticed that at least half the customers have been dining. I haven’t eaten here myself but I can say that the food looks good – generous portions of traditional Slovakian/central European fare in the form of hearty main courses and the sort of snacks that go well with a beer. The beer is brewed on the premises. There’s a light and a dark. The light is a decent unfiltered lager type beer, superior to your big mass produced lagers and pleasant drinking, if not remarkable. I’m not a particular lover of dark beers but my travelling companion tried it and I felt it wrong not to at least give it a try. This is a richly flavoured beer with a strong coffee flavour. The light is served in 300ml and 500ml, while the dark in 400ml only.A fifteen minute walk away, Richtar Jakub is situated on Moskovska in a mostly residential district, and can be found in the basement of a residential building. I find it more atmospheric than the Mestiansky Pivovar and there’s much more of a local feel to the place. There are several cosy low ceilinged rooms; we sat in the first one. A line of beer bottles from all over the world runs round the room, along a narrow shelf where the walls are, and onto the window sill on the other wall. As is the norm in these parts the beer strengths are designated with a degrees symbol rather than a by volume percentage. I don't really understand but the staff will happily advise. As well as a number of Jakub brews there are domestic and international beers including the on trend Brewdog beers such as Dogma and Dead Pony Club. The Jakub light beer is full of flavour but makes a good session beer. The food is similar to that at Mestiansky Pivovar with a hefty plate of liver and onions served with mustard and a wedge of bread for €4.90. This is a popular joint and reservations are advisable at weekends if you want to eat. Richtar Jakub is my preference because it's less touristy and more friendly but because of the walk you may find it easier to stay in the old town and if you do, Mestiansky Pivovar is still worth a visit. Richtar JakubMoskovská 16 Bratislavahttp://www.richtarjakub.skMestiansky PivovarDrevená 8Bratislavahttp://www.mestianskypivovar.sk/home Close
Written by fizzytom on 11 Oct, 2012
People often talk of Bratislava’s Old Town as being compact but actually it’s rather sprawling with a dual carriageway (which becomes the famous Novy Most) cutting between the medieval core and Bratislava Castle, and the Presidential Palace almost stuck on a little island between the…Read More
People often talk of Bratislava’s Old Town as being compact but actually it’s rather sprawling with a dual carriageway (which becomes the famous Novy Most) cutting between the medieval core and Bratislava Castle, and the Presidential Palace almost stuck on a little island between the main shopping street and the train station. I’ve even heard of the Slavin Monument being described as being in the Old Town though having walked there from the train station and through the leafy residential district that leads to the monument, it somehow seems too far out (and a bit too new). In this review I've opted to write only about the core section of the Old Town, and not to include the castle which deserves a review in its own right.Those visitors who are short of time can easily see the chief sights of Bratislava in a day but you do need at least two if you want to take in a couple of museums or galleries too. It’s perfectly possible to tour the lower part of the Old Town in the morning and the castle in the afternoon, breaking for a good lunch and stopping for a mid-morning or afternoon coffee at one of the cafes on the main square. For those who prefer, there are plenty of walking tours available and these can be booked through the tourist information centre or through your hotel. The lower section of the Old Town is most flat though there are some slight inclines and a few cobbled areas, but there is a moderately steep walk up to the castle and beyond that to the Slavin Monument. The lower section of the Old Town is predominantly traffic free which makes for pleasant strolling and a handy footbridge over the very busy road that separates the Old Town from the castle keeps you safe and cuts a good ten or fifteen minutes off a walk to the castle. The wonderful Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral is a good place to start a tour. You'll find it right beside the road leading onto the Novy Most and it's easy to spot because of its 85 metre tall tower which is capped with a replica of the Hungarian royal crown; this serves as a reminder that this cathedral was the scene of the coronation of eleven Hungarian kings and eight queens between 1563 and 1830. You can go into the cathedral but there is an admission charge and there are strict hours for tourists; depending on your budget and how much time you have available, this may influence your decision on whether to view the interior or not, however, the exterior is interesting in its own right anyway (though I can vouch for the fact that the stained glass windows are better appreciated from inside). If you do go in, be sure to take a look at the presbytery which has the most fabulously complex vaulted ceiling. The streets to the north of the cathedral, between here and St. Michael's Gate, make up my favourite part of the old town. These streets are quiet and don't contain any of the city's famous buildings, in fact many of them are either semi derelict or undergoing restoration work. Many of the offices of the Archdiocese can be found in these streets and you'll often see trainee priests dashing to classes at the seminary. There are several music schools and private teachers based in the old town and I love to hear the musicians playing through the open windows. Dating from the first half of the fourteenth century, St. Michael's Gate is the only remaining gate from Bratislava's medieval fortifications. The 51 metre tower holds the Museum of Arms & City Fortifications over its six floors. I've heard that the view from the tower is excellent but I can't comment personally as the content of the museum has neer persuaded me to go in. Hlavne namestie is Bratislava's main square; it's on a more personal scale than its equivalents in other central European cities and, unusually, the buildings along the sides aof the square are not the grandest in the city. This place was formerly the site of the old city market and yard sticks and a butcher's knife can be seen by the entrance to the Old Town Hall. There's a fountain in the middle of the square which is named the Maximilian Fountain because it was commissioned by Maximilian II in the 1580s after a huge fire had swept through this part of the city. The sculpture on the fountain depicts Maximilian as the knight Roland and legend has it that on New Years Eve Roland will turn around. So far I don't believe that anyone has seen this happen and not only because it is also said that this will only happen if there's a sober, Bratislava born virgin there too.It is actually Hviezdoslavono namestie which is the city's most impressive square. It used to be the city's moat but that was filled in on the orders of Marie Theresa when the city walls were demolished in order to make space for grand new projects. This is the place to see and be seen, with restaurants and pavement cafes along the sides. In the winter there's a free ice rink in the middle of the square, in the summer an over-sized chess board. The magnificent National Theatre is at one end of the square; the first time we visited Bratislava the ballet company was performing a premiere and we went up to the doors where we pushed our noses up at the window to have a look inside at the sparling chandeliers and the men and women of the audience in their finery. Opposite the American embassy on Hviezdoslavono namestie there's a statue of Hans Christian Anderson; he visited Bratislava in the 1840s and declared it to be a fairytale of a city.The squares are lovely places to sit out on sunny days but you will pay a lot more for a drink there than you would on one of the side streets. My advice would be to go a little further for lunch as you can get a good set meal in the newer part of town for a reasonable price, and save the old town squares for drinks. The Old Town Hall (Stara radnica) which stands at one end of Hlavne namestie is a building I like very much because of the mix of architectural styles; that's because bits have been added over five centuries. This building is the home of the City Museum: it's your typical history museum with archaeological exhibits, old coins, arms and armour, and all those things you find in any museum like this in Europe. The art museum in the Palffy Palace is more to my liking and it contains pieces from the National Gallery of Bratislava on a rotational basis.Part of this lovely building houses the Austrian embassy and a plaque commemorates the concert that Mozart played here in 1762 at the tender age of six. The main art collection of Bratislava is housed in the Mirbach Palace, a building I love for its rococo facade. The paintings I am not so keen on, at least not in such concentration, because this collection consists almost entirely of Baroque paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Personally, unless the paintings are by an artist I'm really interested in, I prefer to visit somewhere with a bit more variety. It might sound like I'm being a bit negative about this part of Bratislava but actually I like the area very much. It's the so-called attractions that don't do that much for me. I'm interested in history but I find the museums here rather heavy and uninspiring. I much prefer to wander around the little lanes, nosing in the courtyards and spotting the quirky little features that make the old town so special. These could be old signs over archways, pretty courtyards or fun statues; one of my favorites is the statue of Ignac Lamar holding out his top hat: apparently he was a Bratislava dandy who denied his only true love and spent his days wandering round the city giving flowers to women and sweets to children until his death in 1967. Alas, a couple of years ago his statue was vandalised by a British stag group but has since been repaired.Bratislava is a great city and it does have a handsome Old Town which deserves to be explored but don't feel bad for sitting and soaking up the atmosphere at a cafe rather than traipsing round a museum or church. We liked Bratislava so much we went back nine years later, and even the second time when faced with the option of visiting a musuem we said 'We can do it next time'. Fortunately next year we'll live only a couple of hours away and might get back sooner. Close
Written by mariakarob on 24 Sep, 2006
BEWARE: You have to buy tickets to use buses and stamp them within a minute of entering the bus. The scam works like this.
Tourists come to the bus. One of them stamps the ticket, the driver gives a signal to the controller on a…Read More
BEWARE: You have to buy tickets to use buses and stamp them within a minute of entering the bus. The scam works like this.
Tourists come to the bus. One of them stamps the ticket, the driver gives a signal to the controller on a bus and he blocks the stamping machine. One minute later, the controllers surround tourists and try to intimidate them into paying a ridiculously high fine.
What to do: Do not give in. This is a scam. Insist on talking to the police or embassy. Have fun, you can even offer for controllers to pay you so you will keep quite.
There were four of us. We came to the bus. One of us stamped the ticket. Three others we could not validate because the machine did not work. The local people tried to help us—useless. We go to the next machine on a bus and suddenly two controllers (bus traffic officers) surround us and start screaming that we did not validate the tickets and have to pay a €35 penalty each. At first we start explaining the situations, the locals started to defend us, at no use. The controllers do not take their words and insist on us paying the penalty. We insist on talking to the police and American Embassy. The controllers threaten us with increased penalty, finally they negotiate. They try to make us pay double the fine, then the single. We do not give in. The controllers finally let us go. We complained to local police, but they are aware of the scam and do nothing about it—probably they get their share as well.
Written by Re Carroll on 29 May, 2005
I blame the following on my mother: if she’d sent me to Girl Guides, I would have known the motto and been much better prepared for my trip to Bratislava.As the train left Vienna’s Sudbanhof station, the conductor came through to check tickets. Twenty…Read More
I blame the following on my mother: if she’d sent me to Girl Guides, I would have known the motto and been much better prepared for my trip to Bratislava.
As the train left Vienna’s Sudbanhof station, the conductor came through to check tickets. Twenty minutes later, I was surprised when Austrian officials came through the cars to do a passport check. Being a security-conscious traveler, I keep my money, passport, and other important documents in a money belt that I wear around my waist and under my clothes. I hadn’t anticipated needing the passport on the train, so, while trying not to appear too obvious (or too embarrassed), I stuck my hand down my pants, fiddled around with the zipper on the money belt, and provided my passport for inspection. The female guard didn’t bat an eye, and once satisfied that my passport was in order, she moved on. Smiling to the ladies across the aisle, I did a little more fiddling under my clothes, returned the passport to the money belt, and settled into my seat to enjoy the passing scenery.
Not much later, we crossed the border when the train stopped and a group of Slovakian guards came on to do yet another security check. Well darn, let’s look foolish again while I stick my hand down my pants to get that passport one more time. As expected, everything was fine and the guard returned the passport to me. Hmm, was that a smirk on his face? Okay, security checks are finished, so back under my clothes goes the passport and the train continues to Bratislava.
Imagine my surprise and consternation when yet another uniformed officer comes into the train car a few minutes later and starts checking passengers again. For crying out loud, I’m just taking a 1-hour trip between countries – how much security is needed here? Back goes the hand into the pants and I’m ready with my passport once again. This time, however, the joke was on me – this fellow was just checking tickets!
Oh well – the elderly ladies across the aisle from me were highly amused. Just before we stopped in Bratislava, they offered me a cookie – whether to commiserate with my embarrassed fumbling or to thank me for the entertainment I provided, who knows?
Note: My experience was prior to Slovakia’s May 1st European Union inclusion. I think the border checks may have been eliminated since then, but just in case, be a scout and be prepared.
Written by Amanda on 30 Jul, 2000
If you're travelling on a budget, and want to see something of Western Europe from the safe cheapness of the east, stay in Bratislava, and go to Vienna for a day. When I was first in Bratislava, with a group of friends, this is exactly…Read More
If you're travelling on a budget, and want to see something of Western Europe from the safe cheapness of the east, stay in Bratislava, and go to Vienna for a day. When I was first in Bratislava, with a group of friends, this is exactly what we did. We'd all just finished a year of teaching in Poland and the Czech Rep, and we were all feeling a bit short of the readies. We stayed in Bratislava for 6 days, and on 2 of those went to Vienna for the day. It's easy, and cheap, as the two cities are really close together, and linked by a good train line. If you're really feeling broke, you can buy food in Slovakia and take it with you, and hardly spend a penny while in one of the most wonerful cities in the world! There's also a sneaky feeling that going on a day trip to another country two days in a row is pretty good fun (-: Close
Written by ReneeClaire on 18 Jan, 2005
Don’t blink while you are in this tiny town, or you'll miss the snobby, uptight wait staff, the bad beer, and the smoke stacks. The town square takes a good half-day to really enjoy all the shopping and interesting hidden treasures. One example is…Read More
Don’t blink while you are in this tiny town, or you'll miss the snobby, uptight wait staff, the bad beer, and the smoke stacks. The town square takes a good half-day to really enjoy all the shopping and interesting hidden treasures. One example is a particular contemporary art gallery with large brass and copper sculptures of intriguing naked 'people'. The beautiful floral shops are a breath of fresh air from this tiny industrial town. I wouldn’t go back, though, and if for some godforsaken reason I had to, I wouldn’t stay as long, and I would drink the alcoholic beer. Oooopppsss. How was I supposed to know?
A good tip is to look carefully into your accommodations. I ended up at a homeless shelter with many, many shady characters watching my every move. Maybe it wasn’t exactly a homeless shelter, but I'm pretty sure the prostitutes next door were 13 and the family down the hall was drunk by 9am. Yes, I admit I have a tendency to exaggerate, but it was dirty and smelly, and there were 'some' homeless people hanging around.
Bratislava was a minor stop on my journey from Vienna to Budapest. Bratislava will always have a special place in my heart and a special spot on my not-to-do-again list.
Written by Tom X2 on 14 Jan, 2005
The Bratislava castle stands proud at the top of a hill north of the old city. It was constructed in the 15th century by King Sigismund, renovated by Empress Maria Theresa in 18th century, burned down by its own drunken soldiers in 1811, and fully…Read More
The Bratislava castle stands proud at the top of a hill north of the old city. It was constructed in the 15th century by King Sigismund, renovated by Empress Maria Theresa in 18th century, burned down by its own drunken soldiers in 1811, and fully restored in 1968. When Bratislava was a major link in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this castle served as a focal point for one of the most powerful monarchies in Europe.
Nowadays, the castle is an unwelcoming giant box at the top of the hill that provides excellent views over the Danube to the Petrzalka housing estate, where a third of the city’s population lives. From the Crown Tower, when the weather allows, you can see the south Carpathian Mountains and Austria. The castle hosts the collections of the Slovak Historical Museum, which contains paintings, furniture, folk art, and also ecclesiastical art. Other exhibitions worth viewing are about traditional Slovak musical instruments, a weapon collection, and a small collection of charming old clocks. The ticket is very cheap, and you not only have the opportunity to see the collections, but you can climb up to the Crown Tower and get the pleasure of the excellent view it provides.
We start our visit from the Hlavne namesti, the main square of Bratislava. Here lies the heart of the town, with all the outdoor café seating and the Roland fountain. Beautiful buildings surround the square. At the south end of the main square sits the…Read More
We start our visit from the Hlavne namesti, the main square of Bratislava. Here lies the heart of the town, with all the outdoor café seating and the Roland fountain. Beautiful buildings surround the square. At the south end of the main square sits the Old Town Hall, an amalgamation of architectural styles from the 14th century, which hosts a branch of the municipal museum. Beside it is the Primate’s Palace (late 18th century) in pink baroque. East from here, you can see the Frantiskanske namesti, with the Gothic Franciscan Church.
Northwest of the main square is a net of pedestrian streets, all with charming old houses and great palaces, as the renaissance Palfly Palace (the site of the famous private concert of the six-year-old Mozart for Empress Maria Theresa), or the baroque Mirbach Palace. Everywhere there are small cafés and restaurants.
At the north end of the Old Town, beside a busy highway, stands the Gothic town cathedral, St. Martin. Build in the 14th and 15th centuries by the same masters who bestowed St. Stephen’s cathedral upon Vienna, it was the coronation site of a series of Hungarian kings and queens for over 250 years.
The Michael’s Gate is the eastern entrance to the old town and the only surviving tower of the original city fortifications, built in the second half of the 13th century. From here, you can walk to the Capuchin Church, of particular interest, and then to the Church of Virgin Mary Visitation, which dominates the open area of SNP square. The beautiful baroque Grassalkovich palace, residence of the Slovak President, is farther east at Hodzovo namesti.
Written by Sharonka on 10 Jul, 2002
Only kids' films are dubbed in Slovakia, so if you're getting a bit bored of Slovak pubs, the cinema's a great alternative. For a taste of home, try the mulitplexes at Polus City Center (Vajnorska, tram 4 or 6 from town) or Aupark (Petrzalka, one…Read More
Only kids' films are dubbed in Slovakia, so if you're getting a bit bored of Slovak pubs, the cinema's a great alternative. For a taste of home, try the mulitplexes at Polus City Center (Vajnorska, tram 4 or 6 from town) or Aupark (Petrzalka, one stop from Safarikovo namestie). Or laze on the massive sofas at Istropolis' art cinema (Trnavske myto). Close
Written by idigest on 15 Jun, 2012
Hire a canoe and use services of agencies which take you to neighboring historical town Hainburg and then paddle down the Danube River along historical Devin Castle ruins. The Danube is clean, you can swim in the river. Very nice day paddle trip takes about…Read More
Hire a canoe and use services of agencies which take you to neighboring historical town Hainburg and then paddle down the Danube River along historical Devin Castle ruins. The Danube is clean, you can swim in the river. Very nice day paddle trip takes about 3 hours. If you prefer whitewater paddling, go to the Cunovo water channel for rafting or river boarding. Other option is a canoe trip in the Danube River branches where you can observe many species of birds.There are many options of trips around Bratislava, the Danube River trips are among the most beautiful. Close