14 December 2010

Braving Bratislava

Body heat from the mass of Slovakians
at the Christmas market raised the temperature
to a nearly bearable level.

The weekend before last I made a trip so brief that I nearly forgot to make a comment about it on the blog.  During a weekend visit to Vienna, I took advantage of the fact that European countries are packed onto their tiny continent like sovereign sardines in a multi-cultural tin can and decided to check out Bratislava - a completely different city with a completely different language just forty-five minutes away!   

Admittedly, the timing for my day trip was less than ideal as the temperature was creeping down toward zero (Fahrenheit!) most of the time we were out and about and it finally reached that frosty barrier after the sun went down around 3 o` clock.  The bitter cold surprised me as Bratislava and the comparatively tropical Vienna are at roughly the same latitude.  Seemingly, just crossing the former Iron Curtain reduces the temperature by ten degrees.  Nonetheless, I wanted to cross Slovakia off of my list of Austria's eight bordering countries and I'm happy I did so, even if my fingertips and nose were not appreciative of my efforts.

The so-called UFO Bridge is one of
the worst mistakes I`ve ever seen.
At its core, Bratislava is like a Mozart Ball candy with a minature marzipan center surrounded by unsweeted Soviet chocolate and served in a bowl of hideous architecture (left).  But to be fair, the city's tourist-laden center was truly beautiful and its charms were reminiscent of, but also unique from, those of its more-celebrated neighbor Vienna (fun fact: the two metropolises are the two of the world's closest capital cities).

Funny characters such as this smiling
sewer worker are spread around
the city center.
My friends and I spent less than four hours in the city including frequent thawing breaks, but we managed nonetheless to see all of the sites represented in the first twenty Google Image Search results.  Of these my favorites were the many bizarre characters cast in bronze to be found in and around Hviezdoslav Square (right).  We hustled from site to site and overall the trip had a very "we came, we saw, we photographed" feel.  The city would make an ideal day trip during nicer weather, but doesn't really warrant much more attention.

Today I've picked two of my new favorite wintery German words, both of which are in today's frontpage headlines in Austria.

Der Vorweichnachtsstress is the pre-Christmas stress familiar to many anxious Americans, less prevalent here.
Erfrieren means "to freeze to death," which felt like a real possibility in Bratislava.


  1. Are they closer than Rome and the Vatican?? please inquire and report back. (oh this is Lana.)

  2. Lana, note that I said Bratislava and Vienna are "two of the world's closest capital cities." that superlative properly belongs to rome and the vc, but arguably that's just an irritating technicality.