A Day in Bratislava
Me and my Au Pair girls decided we just needed to get out of the country and finally explore some of the beautiful European countries that surround Vienna, so once we all had a day off from being professional child-minders, we booked a ticket to Bratislava. Vienna and Slovakia are the two closest European countries, and to get to Bratislava it only takes an hour and a half on the coach, making it a perfect candidate for our first European getaway.
Not that it all ran smoothly, we somehow managed to mess up before we even left; Sammie booked the wrong time coach because her computer was still set to UK time, Heidi booked tickets for the completely wrong week, and then forgot her passport on the day. Listen, I never claimed Au Pairs were smart. Give us a break, we’re all overtired and trying our best.
All was good in the end; tickets are only €5 each way (the UK could never), so nobody was exactly digging into their savings to solve the situation.
Our group was also joined by a new Au Pair named Andrew, all the way from the United States of America. I was 100% convinced he was going to end up being a serial killer, or a stalker, or just a straight up creep. Maybe I’m inherently distrusting of men, or maybe I’m just cautious. Turns out, he’s a really decent guy (he doesn’t support Trump, I checked). I’ve only met him once, so I guess he could still end up being a serial killer, but for now I just appreciate making another friend while living abroad.
Once we crossed the border into Slovakia and hopped off the coach onto the cobbled streets of Bratislava, the first thing we did was track down somewhere to get coffee. Our wake-up call that morning had been around 5AM, and at that point we were all practically pealing over in our seats. The only thing that could wake us all up was caffeine, sugar, and a slap in the face.
Cafe 55 was a great choice, situated right next to the coach station and with reasonable prices. I practically inhaled my hot coco, it didn’t stand a chance. Each drink even came with a little shot of water to cleanse your pallet, which is so bloody adorable. Of course, I instantly chucked all over the floor the waitress had just mopped. Some things never change.
Bratislava castle is something straight out of a story book, sitting proudly atop a hill with winding stone steps up to the peak. The views alone when walking up were breath-taking, with the sun gleaming off the Danube river and across the old-timely buildings that are scattered across the horizon. Restaurants and cafes are spotted along the journey upwards, where you can have some fish and chips while staring at the most gorgeous views the country has to offer.
The vinegary scent wafting from the fish and chip shop was the only thing driving me onward and upwards, it was all very British, and made me miss my local chippy back home.
By the time we reached the castle I was out of breath and sweaty, legs cramping and ready to give up. I don’t think my body is built for walking, I run out of breath while getting out of bed in a morning. But (I guess) it all was worth it, because Bratislava Castle is a sight to be seen.
Call me self-centred all you want, but the entire scene was the perfect backdrop for some killer Instagram shots. You can judge me, but there was no way I was wasting a cute outfit and background on some sub-par photos. The castle grounds were littered with tourists taking semi-passable photos at best, and I was not having it; I finally made friends, and what are friends for if not being your own personal photographer?
Think my photos turned out pretty decent in the end, if I do say so myself, even if I forced my friend to lay on the floor in white jeans to take them.
You can only stare at a castle for so long, no matter how pretty it is. Eventually, we were all bored, and damn hungry. Our one goal was to get some traditional Slovakian food in our bellies, and quick.
Slovak Pub (extra points for the creative name) felt perfect, it was advertised as one of the largest restaurants in Bratislava and had a strong resemblance to Wetherspoons. I hadn’t been in a proper pub in so long, and it made me feel so at home.
We came to the communal decision that 1PM was definitely late enough to start drinking, and ordered a bottle of wine to go with our loaded plates of food. I had the most gorgeous falafel and fresh dumplings, it wasn’t very Slovakian but trying to find traditional vegetarian food in any country is a task in itself.
Man at Work Statue
Next on our adventure was tracking down the Man at Work statue, one of the most popular attractions in the entirety of Bratislava, and the most famous statue in the entire country. You’ll never see this guy without a crowd of tourists around him, and the corner he’s placed on is one of the busiest parts of Bratislava. To get a a photo of him I had to elbow through a crowd of cameras and selfie sticks, and - not to be pessimistic - it was probably not even worth the hassle.
The meaning behind this little statue? Absolutely nothing. The Slovakian government placed him there as a joke, and he somehow he just became wildly popular. He’s literally the Kim Kardashian of the statue world.
The group came to the collective decision that we all wanted another drink, specifically a cheap drink. The gang was on a budget; being an Au Pair is fabulous, but doesn’t keep your pockets feeling heavy.
Depresso, which literally translates to “depressed” in Italian, fell right into our laps. We turned a corner and it stood there tall and proud, staring us down. We just knew we couldn’t pass it up. Cheap drinks? Possibly the best named cafe ever? There was absolutely no way we could just walk past Depresso, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.
We clearly made the right choice, because after 4 cocktails I was only €10 poorer. What a bloody bargain.
UFO Observation Deck
The UFO Observation Deck is a whopping 95 metres tall and the best way to view the entirety of Bratislava, with the most perfect view of the castle and river you could ever ask for. After a precarious climb up, me and the other other Au Pairs were all gob-smacked when we laid eyes on the view around us. It was one of those moments where nothing felt real, and you don’t believe what you are seeing.
I think the toilets inside the UFO observation deck are my favourite toilets I’ve experienced, and that’s saying a lot; I’ve been in some pretty impressive loos in my time. While you have a wee you can see the entirety of beautiful Bratislava, with full glass walls right in front of the toilet. Have a dump in style while admiring everything Bratislava has to offer (just hope nobody with a telescope is having a peak in).
Atop the Observation Deck is also a rather pricey, but very scenic bar and restaurant. With plenty of food, drinks, and rude waitresses available.
With late September not being peak tourist season, the bar was absolutely empty. Our group had another hour to waste before heading back to the coach station, so we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy cocktail each - we work with children 7 days a week, we deserved it.
When we walked in and plopped ourselves down at the closest table available, the waitress looked at us and instantly decided we were walking scum. She made it her personal mission to make us to leave as soon as possible, she had no patience for our gang of young rapscallions.
I moseyed on up to the bar with such confidence, and asked “can I have a Mango Passion cocktail please?” A pretty normal request in a normal bar environment, if I say so myself. The waitress had no time for my politeness, however, as I was met with an eye roll and the sassy response of:
“One drink for 5 people? I don’t think so.” She even raised a single eyebrow at me, the audacity.
“Well my friends will order their own drink, this one is just for me.” She accepted that, but not without a dramatic sigh and dirty look first.
When she brought my drink out for me she presented the bill at the same time, and made me pay straight away. Basically, I look broke. True, but that’s not the point. She took my €10 and left, when I asked for my change she told me I didn’t need any, I practically had to force her to give me my €1.20 back.
On the bright side, at least the cocktail was nice!
When we were all finally to head home, the coach was late. We convinced ourselves that we were somehow at the wrong station, despite being exactly where we were dropped off. To top it all off, a man was dramatically playing violin music in the background, you just couldn’t make this stuff up. It was like we were in a movie.
Obviously, the coach showed up, the panic was for nothing, and we waved goodbye to Bratislava. We watched the sunset as we headed back in Austrian territory, dreading having to go back to looking after children after such a relaxing day away from work.
All I can say is that if you ever have a chance to visit Bratislava, take it, you’ll not regret it.