Tag Archives: slovakia

Again in Bratislava…

10712960_458464504296238_4678766453967489978_n Bratislava has one of the smallest historical centers in Europe but this means that the charm is more concentrated.

The streets have been completely renovated over the last years, bringing life and charm back to this city.

Since then a multitude of cafes, bars, restaurants, fashion stores have opened. On warm days almost every cafe has an outdoor seating zone in the streets, giving the city a unique cozy feeling. A beautiful hill-top castle, with a stunning view of the city and the river Danube, is one of the landmarks you should enjoy while visiting Bratislava.

The city has an airport with many low-cost flights, from the airport a public transport bus (nr. 61) will bring you to the centre in 30 minutes (ticket costs 0,90 Euro). Bratislava is also very close to famous cities like Wien (60 km far), Prague (320km far) and Budapest (200 km far), connection by bus and trains are frequents.

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First of all, if you are planning to spend some day in the Slovak capital city, I would strongly recommend to stay at Hostel Blues.

It was my second time there and it gets, if possible, better and better!

Elena and Eliska are fantastic front desk staff, always smiling and willing to chat and help. All the staff is kind and friendly. Location is perfect, few minutes walking to the city centre. Kitchen is big, tidy and well equipped with all you might need for cooking. Common room is warm and relaxing, best place to get to know other travellers, the hostel organize even a blues concert once a week.

10698464_459327284209960_60290864133507299_nBratislava is not only about the city. There are several places to visit just around the city:

– Devín Castle (hrad Devín) – ruins of the large castle next to the confluence of the Danube river with the Morava river. It is about 20 minutes from the SNP Bridge with bus no. 29. The place is nice for walks and there are many monuments and statues.

– Hike in the Small Carpathians mountain range. Bratislava lies on the southeast slopes of these mountains. Hiking routes are well indicated. The entire country is covered with hundreds of miles of extremely well-marked hiking trails, that especially in the national parks lead though gorgeous landscapes

The castle Červený kameň is located about 30 km north-east of Bratislava; it can be reached by bus from Mlynske Nivy bus terminal.

1185834_459327187543303_1130328230830524178_nSlovak are proud of their traditions and cuisine is part of it. Local specialties mostly involves (smoked) meat, cheese, potatoes and flour. Soups are quite common either as an appetizer or as a main dish.

Bryndzové halušky, similar to small dumplings with sheep’s cheese and topped with pieces of meat, is the national dish of Slovakia and are recommended.

Another specialty in Bratislava (and Slovakia) is treska. It is a cold salad made of Codfish with mayonnaise and vegetables like onions and carrots. Treska tastes very good with rolls.

For a great typical dinner, the two must to visit restaurants are: ‘Slovak pub’ and the ‘Bratislava flag ship restaurant‘. the second one has wonderful interiors.

10672385_458464590962896_5424521057026799745_n If you want to have fun as locals do, watch a hockey match! Slovak are crazy about ice-hockey.Slovakia is among the best European countries in this sport.

Bratislava has a popular club, HC Slovan Bratislava and locals are very proud of it. The club plays the international Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), the second most important hochey competition in the world, after the northern american/canadian one.

The ice hockey arena (official name is Ondrej Nepela Arena, known in slovak as Zimný štadión Ondreja Nepelu, and nowadays as Slovnaft Arena) is brand new, rebuilt and reconstructed to host the ice hockey world competition in 2011, is full of bars, restaurants and other premises. It is easily reachable by public transportation.

braFinally, suggesting to drink beer would be to easy 🙂

I will try, instead, to suggest two ‘off the beaten track’ places:

Kelion. Is a tea room, not only. It is in a quiet city area, far from traffic and noise, in a nice family house. If you want a proper relax and cosy atmosphere it is the place for you!

Bistro St. German. Is a cafe’ nearby the Hostel Blues. Good food and organic drinks available. Beautiful interiors. Great to chill-out. No smoking inside!

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BratislOvE… :)

2013-11-20 10.48.01Bratislava has one of the smallest historical centers in Eu but this means that the charm is more concentrated.

The Danube river gives a lot of charm to this small European capital.

Bratislava was the perfect location for  a bunch of italians’ reunion, in fact my friend who lives in Prague has good italian friends that live in Nitra, a small slovak city, so the meeting point was BratislOvE 🙂

Bratislava is easily reachable from the main central Europe capitals (Budapest, Prague, Wien) by train or bus

2013-11-19 13.58.04  Our base was Patio Hostel in a street very close to the centre, clean and with nice staff. Hostel Patio offers laundry included in the price, WOW!!!!

2013-11-16 21.27.25 After the check in at the hostel we went out for a proper slovak dinner, with halusky (small potato dumpling similar to italian homemade gnocchi) and pierogi (very popular in Poland and Russia too, kind of ravioli) with cabbage and slovak cheese, then a city walk helped our digestion… 🙂

The city centre is very compact and everything is within a short walking distance, even the castle a the top of the hill is easy target.

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The next day we discovered the city with natural light. Fist stop was this ‘pyramid’ listed among the ugliest building in the world, then the Danube banks, a political demonstration (it was the freedom celebration day) and something else.

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Controversial Europe

 European issues (related to religion, ethnic, politic…)…

Europe is not only monuments, churches, nice cities. If you like to have a better overview of this continent, you shouldn’t miss the chance to understand more about controversial situation and critical relations, often related to religion, ethnic, political reasons.

Below you can find some examples. When you travel in certain region, cities and countries, try to read about their history and political/social background…your trip might be more interesting.

Northern Ireland

belfastartThe Troubles (Irish: Na Trioblóidí) is the most common term for the ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast “Good Friday” Agreement of 1998.  However, sporadic violence has continued since then.The key issues at stake in The Troubles were the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the relationship between its mainly Protestant unionist community and its mainly Catholic nationalist community. Unionists and loyalists generally want Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom while Irish nationalists and republicans generally want it to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland. The Troubles involved republican and loyalist paramilitaries, the security forces of the United Kingdom and of the Republic of Ireland, and politicians and political activists.  Read more here.

Famed artists, like U2 (sunday bloody sunday) and The cranberries(zombie), dedicated songs to this topic…

More pictures from belfast and northern ireland:

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Serbia

mitrovicabridgenonatoThe Kosovo War was an armed conflict in Kosovo that lasted from 28 February 1998 until 21 June 1999. It was fought by the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Kosovo Albanian rebel group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and NATO. The KLA, formed in 1991, began attacking police stations and Yugoslav government offices in February 1996, which resulted in an increase in the number of Yugoslav security forces in the region. This led to an escalation into a conflict, although it was initially viewed as an insurgency. The KLA was regarded by the US as a terrorist group until 1998 when it was de-listed for classified reasons. The US and NATO then cultivated diplomatic relationships with KLA leaders. Despite initial western claims of 500,000 Kosovo Albanians killed or missing, subsequent investigations recovered the remains of only several thousand victims. The NATO bombing and surrounding events have remained controversial. Read more here.

The pictures above and below was taken at Mitrovica(Serbia) with a bridge that divides the city in two parts, one controlled by albanias and one by Serbs).

More pictures from Mitrovica:

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Similar controversial situations can be found in Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic and mostly all the former east block (for the relation with russian and former Soviet union empire), in western Europe, in Spain for independence claimed by Basques and catalans, in Hungary for the critical relations with neighbours countries like Slovakia and Romania for territories, in the Balkans region for similar issues and for the former war that declared the end of former Yugoslavia…