Bratislava Old Town charms us

View over the Danube from Bratislava Castle

Bratislava old town

The missing posts before I started blogging about Velo-city and our summer holiday were the two days we spent en route in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.

We were there for the annual general meeting of ECF, my employers, when we bring our members together for a couple of days to do the formalities of running an international association, but also to catch up with old friends from the cycle campaigning world.

Bratislava was selected because we wanted to be in proximity to Vienna so many people could travel on the following week, but to give us a chance to meet in a different environment with a different community.

The meeting itself fulfilled all those expectations but a residing memory will be the number of people who said “Wow, Bratislava, I never knew”

The old town and the castle that overlooks it have been charmingly restored to provide a historic and largely car free environment that are a delight to wander. Bratislava Square

Much of the restoration is quite recent, friends from neighbouring countries were as surprised by the centre as us first timers, reporting that even twenty years ago Bratislava was dark, dirty and industrial. Outside the centre are apparently some of the communist era’s largest housing estates and old industrial centres but as a tourist in the centre one would never know.

The castle overlooks the city and has a great panoramic view over the Danube. It was a hot walk up to the top, especially the staggered staircase but once up there the view over the river and the red roofs of the old town was great, especially from the lovely terrace café.Bratislavský hrad Slovakia Roofs of Bratislava old town

June 2013, Slovakia

The warm weather was also particularly welcome because lets face it we have had a truly awful winter and spring. Time to take a bowl of one of the local delicacies, sheep’s cheese with pasta, and chill out.Slovakia

I have been told so many times by cycle tourists that they get so fixed on the riding that they forget to stop and actually appreciate the towns and cities they ride through. I can imagine that riding the Danube cycle route (part of Eurovelo 6) one could just forget to turn into the old city set just back from the waterside in Bratislava or avoid climbing the hill to the castle.

That would be a huge mistake. And it would be unfair to our hosts, the Ekopolis Foundation (Nadácia Ekopolis, known also as the Slovak Environmental Partnership) and Slovenský Cykloklub who certainly showed us a new destination to enjoy. Bratislavský hrad SlovakiaSlovakiaBratislava Old Town Marks Gate

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