It would take around six hours for us to reach Bratislava in Slovakia but it would still be afternoon there due to time lag .
Fly Dubai was comfortable even though it was a budget airline it served hot food and had drinks ,WIFI and entertainment for a payment
Bratislava Airport was small but with all facilities ,immigration was quick ,and after collecting our baggage we searched for our pick up person ,very shortly he appeared and we sped to our Hotel ,checked in and after a wash we were off to sight see .
|Graing sheep behind us in the Devins Fort grounds|
|All Smiles on Reaching Europe|
It was cool ,a bit cloudy and around three pm when we came out ,just adjacent to our hotel Austria
|The Austria Trendz Hotel in Bratislava where we stayed|
Trendz a four star place was Ganesh Utsav an Indian restaurant run by a group of young Malayalees ,it was strange to find one here ,we actually found three of the young owners sitting in the table outside ,one of them nursing a Beer ,
so we asked them how to get to Devin's Castle about 10 to 12 km off .,
They arranged a cab for us and we quickly were on our way .
Taxis in Bratislava are costlier if hailed from the street instead its better they are called then the meter is put and only reasonable charges are spent
|The Owners and Chef of the Indian Hotel|
Devin's castle was on a strategically important spot at the confluence of Danube and Moravia rivers and the fortifications had always existed there right from the Neolithic times
later the Celts ,the Romans had built fortifications and during the communist regime it was the Iron curtain with barbed wire fences as the Austrian border was just off the other side of Danube .
Devin's castle or Fort is on a small hill about 200 meters high and beautiful gardens surrounded it
the forts themselves were huge hulks not very impressive mostly ruins , but giving lovely views of the river on one side and the city on the other ,there were lot of souvenir and food shops below the .
hillock ,we returned by bus
The tickets are mostly paid based on time traveled ,so if the distance was short we bought for 15 minutes and one could travel for that time ,
Trams also were in plentiful in the city though not in Devin's castle area .
Slovakia historically was under the Romans ,the Celtics ,the Turks ,The Austrian Hapsburg empire During the Hapsburg rule its St Martins cathedral saw a line of coronations ,
During rein of Marie Antoniette of the Hapsburgs it gained much in importance many historical buildings were added then .
Slovak Republic was part of the greater Czechoslovakia which after second world war became part of the Eastern bloc of communist countries directly under Soviet regime and had a socialistic Government ,
During the velvet revolution the country split into two Slovak and Czech republics which was termed as The Velvet Divorce
,Bratislava was the capital of Slovak republic .it has a high per capita income and high living index ,its main industry is automotive and its famous Skoda cars are well known ,Volkswagen ,Peugeot and Kias also have their factories here .
The country side has undulating hills , flowing rivers ,lakes etc .
On our return we went to heritage area starting with the St Martins cathedral and the well preserved buildings in the area
on the other end of this road was The famous Michaels gate a city gate in the past .
|St Martins Cathedral|
The heritage area also was free of any motor traffic
,once in a while the electric tourist carriage off electric carriage tumbled quaintly red in color ,
we would go in it the next day ,
How nicely the tourism industry in Europe preserves its heritage areas and makes it convenient for tourists to view it ,It could be a lesson to India which has so many historical sites .
|The Heritage or old Town area|
In front of one shop was a model knight in his black hood almost looking real providing selfie
opportunities in plenty .
There were plenty of eating places to sandwich corners to upmarket restaurants bars and pubs to relax with a beer or a cocktail and nibble on a sweet pastry were plentiful it was relaxing cool and pleasant place to spend time .
There were three famous contemperory art pieces on the road
one was General Napoleon bending on a park seat with an enigmatic shrug of his shoulders and a far away look on his face
there a man with a raised hat and a wide grin
on his face
the most famous of them was the man on work which was a man popping out of a manhole peeping up into the street and probably finding his views of women walking in pavement from under their skirts interesting continues to stay there with a gleam in his eyes this was at street level and was a very interesting piece of art with imagination
|the man on work emerges from his manhole but stops and enjoys the view up womens skirts ..naughty|
it goes like this ,during new year eve on the stroke of midnight the head is supposed to revolve by itself and all the loving romantic couples may see it if they have luck but if they dont it just means they arent suitably sozzled enough !and as it was not new year eve yet and we werent sozzled we could never test our love
|The police were inconscpicous but were aware of all quiet but protective|
|modern and older trams fills the cute city ,transport was cheap quick and efficient lot of buses too were there|
After exiting via the Michaels gate we retired to our hotel and a much needed rest .
in the morning we partook the excellent European breakfast with its retinue of fresh cheese fresh croissants ,soft pastries good coffee and fresh fruits ,
suitably fortified we walked back to the heritage area ,
we took a ticket for an extended heritage tour and castle tour .
it was around 28 Euros per person but worth
|Red electric tourist sight seeing vehicle for the heritage area|
The carriage as well as the bus had English announcements and descriptions which could be heard through ear pieces so that one could know what one was seeing ,
Any tourist spot one needs to know the significance and history or story behind every sight to make it authentic and get a right feel of the pale ,with online resources these days on can read up a lot and be an expert of the place before one sees it ,but nothing like getting it from a knowledgeable guide or recorded version as we see the sights .
The vehicle trundled along the cobbled narrow streets some just the size of the carriage that pedestrians had to squeeze into shops to allow the vehicle to move forwards, run by an able driver
the second part involved getting into a bigger bus as now one ventured out of the heritage area into the city we crossed the bridge over the Danube and saw the UFO tower and its revolving restaurant on end of the bridge the tallest structure of Bratislava ,
we went to the famous Bratislava castle with a history extending to many years
The Bratislava castle is situated on a hillock in a strategic position overlooking the Danube and the neighboring Austria ,historically it has been a place of importance for the line of rulers that Slovakia had ,right from the 300 to 500 BC era the Celtics and later the Romans fortified it later the castle was built and rebuilt several times ,
The Hungarian Empire stored its treasures in this castle ,
The Ottaman empire of the Turks conquered it and later the Austrian Hapsburgs ,
During Marie Antoniettes time ,she made it a castle of great importance ,and made a promise that she would spend a lot of time there a,true to her word she modified the castle to her comforts made the stairs inside the castle more broader and less steeper so that she could ride into it ,baroque changes in its designs furniture and added towers and buildings made the castle more grander ,she gave the Governorship of Slovakia to her son in law who lived in this castle with his wife and as the couple were keen on science there were a lot of scientific meets in the palace and the castle turned into academic excellence center
It was during Napoleans time the castle was destroyed and a fire made it a wreck and then the world wars came with a lot of neglect and during the communist regime in 1953 the castle was rebuilt ,Today it holds several museums , the parliament itself and is a great tourist attraction .
After the castle we were dropped back into the heritage area and walked back to our hotel for a nap and rest ,
Evening saw us walking a short distance to see the Church of st Elisabeth popularly known as the Blue Church ,
Having seen the blue mosque in Istanbul and in Beirut it was now the turn of the Blue church for us
somehow Gods seems to have a preference for the color Blue I think
This cathedral was built by the Hungarians in 1908 and had a blue facade ,
there was a model shoot going on and we watched the models striking lot of poses in this lovely background till the cathedral opened for the evening at 5 pm and we went inside to see its beautiful interiors
|Blue Church or st Elisabeth cathedral|
We were shown our way by an Engineering student who could speak good english who went out of his way to show us ,at end he said i need to go as it is 7.10 and my train leaves at 7.13 pm ! that is the Teutonic efficiency of the europe we saw
our tickets were already booked for the next day but was for the afternoon we preponed so that we could reach Vienna earlier .
we returnee back
it started drizzling a bit we went to the Gansehs utsav Restaurant for an excellent north Indian dinner with an ebullient red wine to accompany .
Thus we ended the mellow evening for a nice sleep .
Next day we were at the bus stand and got into a modern luxurious bus with entertainment consoles mineral water served just like a plane and left Bratislava promising we would return again to this lovely city with its honest people .