Slovakia is a very overlooked country in Europe. It's proximity to Poland, Hungary and Ukraine scares most travellers away, including Europeans themselves!
It's a country with a brutal past due to it's occupation by the Nazi's during the second world war. To this day, you can still feel remnants of it everywhere; from old tanks rusting away in rural fields, to museums dedicated purely to the civilian struggle against the Nazi's. However, millenials growing up today are positive about the future and evidence of a fresh energy is starting to show.
My trip to Slovakia began with a few days in Bratislava, the country's capital.
Bratislava's main district is the old town. It's a sleepy little part of the city where most tourists go, but it also has a couple of universities, museums, office spaces and administrative buildings in the mix. The best part about the old town is that it's so walk-able which makes it easy to stumble upon some beautiful cafes, bars and shops.
There's a pretty decent craft beer scene in Bratislava, given the fact that the country was part of Czechoslovakia for a long time. Not only is the beer delicious but a pint of beautifully brewed beer will only set you back €1 - €2! 🍻
The nightlife in Bratislava is mainly targeted towards university students, which means you're in for a grungy, post-WW II-underground-basement-kinda-vibe of a night. The live music scene is rough, not in a fist fight sort of way, but more a indie-metal kinda way.
Alas, there are some more sophisticated places to have a nice meal and a drink. I'd highly recommend Urban House for that.
Overall, Bratislava is a quaint little city. It's not the kind of place I would want to live, but it's worth a stop as you make your way up to Poland. Accommodation and food are extremely affordable compared to the rest of Europe. It's worth spending a day or two to stroll the streets and try the local fare. After a heavy meal of beer, meat and potatoes, be sure to take a walk up to the Bratislava Castle to get a great view of the city. On a good day you can see Austria and Hungary.
Part II tomorrow: Banska Bystrica