Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 5-Budapest to Bratislava

Today we travel from Budapest to Bratislava. We have a private motor coach hired.
After an early breakfast(which I will miss, if ever in Hungary stay at the Mercure in downtown Budapest, their breakfast is delicious and features many local food items) we departed on private coach for Bratislava. The connection between these cities is less than three hours, as the capitals of Slovakia and Hungary are the second closest national capitals in the world (behind Vienna and Bratislava). This means that our first three cities we visit will be the three closest national capitols in the world. The general layout and vibe of Bratislava is different from Budapest. First, it is about a quarter of the size with respect to population. Where Budapest has approximately 2 million residents, Bratislava has only about 500 000. Bratislavans as a whole are generally more conservative in their outlook than their Hungarian neighbors.

We arrived in time to check into our hotel directly before heading into Old Town for lunch. Our hotel here is one of, if not the, nicest hotels in the city. We ate at a buffet restaurant in the Old Town, which is quite an experience. Following lunch, we were given a tour of the Old Town by a professor of architecture at the technical university. Some of the highlights included seeing the Cathedral, which hosted 11 coronations of kings and queens, and the Naty bridge, constructed by the Communist regime in the 60's and cutting through the former Jewish quarter of the city. The bridge has a strange UFO like structure at its apex. It houses a small café/restaurant where we stopped for a coffee following our walking tour.

To further the slower pace of life in Bratislava, a few of the students purchased dinner from a local grocery store. Others had dinner in what will become our favorite hangout- The Slovak Pub.