Bratislava, Slovakia – a weekend away – Sunday

Bratislava CastleThird and final day saw us braving the uphill walk to Bratislava Castle. To be fair, it’s not very far, although I expect those people who thought Slavin was beyond physical capability would need to pack at least some Red Cross supplies for the journey. You get some great views, not so high as Slavin, but more directed over the Danube and also over St Martin’s Cathedral. I’d read that the museums inside are a little dry and dusty and Mrs C isn’t a great one for museums, so we wandered around outside and admired the restoration, which is dead smart.

Primaciálny PalaceThen we dropped back down to the Old Town and thought we’d brave the inside of the Primaciálny Palace. It was a good move. For only 2 euros each, you get to see the inside of this 18th century palace, which has been very nicely restored. There is an attractive corridor of paintings leading to a view down on to St Ladislav’s Chapel, then back along the other side of the corridor to enjoy some splendid 17th century English tapestries depicting the story of Hero and Leander, before finally visiting the Hall of Mirrors (slightly disappointing, don’t expect Versailles) where the Peace of Pressburg was signed after the Battle of Austerlitz. A nice little interlude – not dry and dusty at all.

St Martin's CathedralThen we thought we’d take a look in the cathedral, which (as we had planned ahead) we knew would be open for tourists. As it was, we caught the tail end of a Christening service and lots of well dressed locals were all taking photos inside (which the notice on the door says is a strict no-no). So we pretended to be friends and relatives and took a few photos too (not of the baby though, that would have been intrusive.) It’s a nice little cathedral – very small, not over-ornate, and perhaps not very spiritual-feeling either. Nice vaults and windows though.

Camel PubIt was lunchtime so we decided to give the Camel pub on Ventúrska a try, as the man outside had been working very hard to coax people in. It seemed to have a good menu so we plucked up courage. It’s very small, but quite comfortable. When we arrived, the only other people in there were an English couple talking quietly to each other and two English ladies (in their 70s according to Mrs C) who were singing along to the songs on the MTV channel. Whilst we had our dinner, they serenaded us with their arrangements of Cockney Rebel, Hot Chocolate and even a bit of the Jagger/Bowie version of Dancing in the Streets. It was rather entertaining to hear them enjoying themselves!

A place to park your Penny FarthingBizarrely, when the food you ordered arrived, it came in through the front door. I guess it was prepared and cooked in the restaurant next door – but I don’t know for sure. Maybe they take your order, ring for a takeaway and just add a mark-up. It made the other English couple snort with laughter. I had a Wiener Schnitzel and it was massive – in fact there were two cuts of meat and they were both massive. Mrs C opted for a mushroom omelette, but even that (price 3 euros) looked mighty hearty. I had a Zlatý Bažant – lovely – she had a white wine – slightly disappointing from the look on her face.

Old TownTo take the taste away, we thought we’d have a little post-lunch drinkie, and, again on recommendation, discovered the Bratislavsky mestiansky pivovar on Drevená. We found at least two floors of bar and restaurant area, but there may be more. We probably should have eaten there instead, but nevertheless my homebrewed beer was cheeky and Mrs C’s white wine was acceptable. The service was good but not over-friendly. I can see how at night time it could become Definitely The Place To Be.

All StarsAfternoon nap – you guessed it – followed by a wash and brush-up and a final night on the town. Sunday night. How lively would it be? Not very. Some places we had earmarked for a return visit were in darkness. But first, we did want to catch some of the Carling Cup final match in a sports bar, and we found the perfect place – All Stars on Sedlarska. I’m not sure you’d go there for any reason other than to watch sport and drink pivo, but that’s as good a reason as any. From where I sat I could see nine TV screens in super-duper HD quality. The beer was jolly nice too. The wine, I’m guessing from Mrs C’s grimace, wasn’t exactly Chateauneuf.

PrimiAnd so to dinner, and we finally chose Primi near St Michael’s Gate. It’s very large and swish, and we were sent downstairs to the non-smoking level, which was very atmospheric and attractive. Our waiter was very understanding about the coeliac issue – and also very helpful and honest too, as we both initially went for the Shashlik and he advised us that actually it’s not very good and recommended some other dishes which were great. I had the Pork tenderloin steak with rice and vegetables and it was sumptuous. Mrs C had the chicken steak with a shallot sauce and potatoes. Looked great. The waiter recommended a bottle of Slovak Cabernet Sauvignon at what appears to be the standard posh restaurant price of 29 Euros, and it was extremely good. For pud Mrs C had the hot berries and ice cream again (safe for coeliacs) and I had the Hot Choco Sticky Cake which was pretty darn magnificent. All in all we thought it was a really nice restaurant, and I expect in summer its outside seating areas would be fantastic.

Cafe VerneWe decided to go to the Slang Pub again but it was shut. So we went to the 17s bar and had another nice glass of red each. It was quiet in there though, and despite the sign on the door that said it would remain open until midnight, come 10.30 they decided to wrap up for the night. A bit early we thought, even though we had a flight the next morning! So, desiring to the extend the evening just a little bit further, we moved a couple of buildings along and ventured into Café Verne. I had read this was a great little place except that the service was poor. Well we found the service to be perfectly fine, and the wine was nice, although perhaps not quite as good as 17s. But by 11.15 they too had had enough and we were the last to leave, despite their opening hours being till midnight. Is Partyslava beginning to face hard times? Is the tourist pound/euro on the wane?

Quirky BratislavaSo to sum up – Bratislava: quirky and charming, excellent for food and drink; good for the arts; the attractive Old Town is all pedestrianised and easy to get around; without venturing further afield three days is more than enough to do it at a nice leisurely pace. If there are more good deals at the Marrol’s hotel, we’ll be back for more self-indulgence!