Day 17: Bratislava, Slovakia

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Bratislava was the last stop of our river cruise before Budapest. Our time in Bratislava really was too short, which made it disappointing since Bratislava seemed like a really neat city. The few hours we had really were not enough time to see what Bratislava had to offer.

This day we actually took the tour offered by Viking. There actually turned out to be two separate tours offered this day: the first tour included a bus tour up to the presidential palace (also known as the white house) and then this tour included the walking tour of Bratislava; the second tour was only a walking tour of Bratislava, which was supposed to be a faster paced tour (yeah right…). Since we were really tired of taking buses, we decided to go with just the walking tour.

I have slightly mixed feelings about the tour because some moments felt extremely dumbed down. I did really like Bratislava though even with the bad tour.

The tour started out with a long-winded explanation of the Schengen Agreement because no one on the tour really knew what it was, which amazed my Mom and myself since this agreements is well known among travelers. Once the explanation was over in the former Passport Control building, the tour finally headed out into the city.

The tour took us throughout the streets of Bratislava where we saw some of the monuments and then later went to St. Martin’s Cathedral. During the tour though a lot of focus from the tour guide was on unnecessary items. At one point the tour guide even explained what a wheel clamp was, which I can’t figure out why she did since wheel clamps certainly are not unique to Bratislava. Also a lot of focus was on the embassies around the city for some reason, which the other passengers were obsessed with.

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One of the major sites we visited was St. Martin’s Cathedral. The cathedral was interesting since there were a lot of different things to look at inside. The cathedral is the oldest and largest church in Bratislava. From the 1500’s to 1800’s the cathedral was actually used for coronations.

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The cathedral was also built over a cemetery dating back to the 11th century. Since then three crypts have been discovered here. One crypt is actually accessible to the public and can be entered from the inside the cathedral. Also some of the cemetery underneath the cathedral has been revealed as well.

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The tour was really disappointing I thought and I felt like we missed out on seeing Bratislava. Before going to Bratislava I did not know it was an easy city to walk, so we just stuck with the tour offered by Viking. If we had known this was an easy walking city, we would have skipped the Viking tour because a lot of time was wasted on this tour with longwinded explanations. Plus the tour guide wasted 15+ minutes on a bathroom break. When the time is limited to begin with and the tour is less than 1 and a half hours, a bathroom break really eats into the tour time. I’m starting to think catheters or adult diapers may need to be a requirement for Viking on some of these tours to avoid the forever and a day bathroom breaks.

We did ditch the tour after the forever bathroom break. We walked around the main square area on our own and then walked into some of the little shops on the way. There looked like a lot of unique shops in the area plus lots of little sidewalk cafes too.

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One thing I thought was amazing is a lot of people onboard did not like Bratislava. One person complained of graffiti, which is ironic since Germany had a lot of graffiti as well. According to Caitlyn (program director), Bratislava is a love or hate city for a lot of passengers. I can’t figure out why people dislike Bratislava since it is easily accessible and offered a lot to see. I really would like to go back to Bratislava one day to better explore what the city and Slovakia has to offer.

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