At times life can get so monotonous and uninteresting that one has to retort to options of taking a break and forgo things aghast to them. Even we lead a life of unprecedented doldrums and were desperately in need to have a few days off our regular schedule and explore some scintillating examples of nature’s beauty. That’s when a few of my college friends and I decided to chalk a sabbatical to Bratislava, Slovakia. The Slovak Republic or simply “Slovakia” is a state in Europe. Surrounded by Poland in the North, Hungary in the South, Ukraine in the East and Austria in the West, Slovakia is a small nation, with moderate population… Depending widely on the tourism industry, Slovakia attracts numerous tourists from around the world, throughout the year.
It was one of those staging memories of my life that I will savour for a few decades to come, may be more. The 10 days of furlough we had there is equivalent to nothing in the world, and mind you, I’m very particular about my choice of words. The natural landscapes, caves, mountains, towns and medieval castles, spas, folk architecture, ski resorts, and many more had casted a spell on us while we were there and I’m writing this article still spellbound.
The first cherry of our travelling cake was the Tatra Mountains, supposedly the highest mountain range in area of Carpathia, the erstwhile state of Bratislava. Captivated by the flora and fauna, the place had to offer, we bought a hell lot of souvenirs from the Krivan area. A more beautiful landscape couldn’t be asked for painters to paint the impressions of awe into the canvas or the poets to rhyme words synonymous to a mystery. The sunny balmy weather complemented the skiing and hiking we did in the lakes and moulded valleys. In all, this is where we had the most enthralling fun in the whole outing.
Closely matching the mountainous wonder and yet being completely different was the Banska Stiavnica. It being the main mining town is also the major attraction spots in the city. And boy! weren’t they so damn right about it? Take a stroll through this small town and you’ll be getting flabbergasted by the adjoining lake, historical ziggurats and the roads you’re walking. Everything seemed so perfect, so heart warming and lazy, that you’d wish to carry on with your little odyssey forever. Again the mountains wouldn’t let you go and assure that the edifices are well observed and visited. For the romantic punks, you have to stop your buck here, because the ancient pubs and cafes would really take your loved ones’ breath away. Also pinching interest was the canny mineral museum hosting manifestos of all the minerals and rocks ever dug from the region or elsewhere. This is surely a knowledge pot to those who are keen about archaeology.
Old Town seemed fascinating enough for a little description as well. Similar to Banska Stiavnica, the town is yet another neighbourhood one should surely go to. Housing a number of ancient buildings, it is also popularly known as the food capital because of the range of exquisite cuisines the place offer. The ‘BREATE-HUMN’ is the most famous bread one can avail from the local markets. The taste of the soft bread soaked in ‘VAMFUI’ sauce will dwell in your taste buds forever. Adding to the rich flavours are the whiskey shops and wine galleries. The food connoisseurs would feel at paradise being here.
Next up was the St Elizabeth’s / Blue Church, a simple glimpse of which will transit you to some interstellar space. Justifying its name, the church appears completely oceanic. A brisk walk from the huge iron gates to the main cathedral opened new horizons of human creations and surrealism. The interiors and the domes were definitely different from the traditional churches we go to. This one lingers in your mind..something not explainable in words… Simply outstanding!! Just outside the Church campus was the government – run souvenir shop. We all thought it would be cool to buy souvenirs for relatives and friends who could not accompany us on the trip. There were countless dolls, dressed in traditional Slovakian costumes, beautifully carved wooden figures, wooden pitchers (called as ‘črpáks’ locally), a Slovakian folk instrument, the ‘Fujaras’, human figures made out of wire and corn husks. Everything was so attractive, none of us could figure out what to buy and what to leave behind… I ended up spending a considerable share of my travel – money in buying everything present out there, some items maiden, some in pairs…
The city has had a flourishing history with many battles being staged in there and many kingdoms formed. One such historical realm in the country is Devin Castle. Located a few miles west of Bratislava, this castle was once part of the Roman border in the first century A.D. and later became the seat of the Great Moravian Empire and a strategic post during the Turkish Wars. The place has been entrancingly crafted. In order to revel in the mystifying elegance of this mega-podium, one ought to take a boat ride to the castle. The calm Danube River and the visible reigns of huge rocks and broken sculptures surrounded by hills can impress any historian. The cheap souvenirs act as the stimulant.
The next place we visited was UFO – the open air observation deck. This place is nothing less than a jewel in the beauty of Slovakia. You can enjoy a full, 360° view, stretching for about 100 kilometers from here, on a clear day. The UFO observation deck is big enough to cater a large number of tourists who visit to use the telescope and capture the panoramic view free of cost. The oval – shaped room offers the same, mesmerizing view to all. The epic environment out here invites you to have a seat and never go. UFO is the place where it all happens – the bestest of events, the sweetest weddings, the wildest parties…UFO is the centre stage. The East Bar offers a splendid view of the Bratislava city centre covered in a delicate sunrise; the West Bar on the opposite side of the deck provides its guests with captivating sunset views over the Danube river and the Devin Castle. It also houses the world’s 7th largest suspension bridge.
No exploration can terminate without paying a visit to the city’s best zoo. For animal observers and discovery clans, the ZOO of Bratislava is just the right place to be in. I can’t revive the moment in writing when I saw a white tiger staring at me with fiery yet prim eyes. It was lovely to see a lioness monitoring her little ones. You can even get to see a rhino or pigme hippo if you’re lucky. We weren’t that fortunate, though we managed to touch bisons and baby piglets. Not to forget we had Slovakia’s national food as well, which tasted something similar to a hamburger.
This is how we summed the whole of our venture to the SLOVAKIA. Needless to say after writing down this travel – experience, this was definitely the best time I spent with my friends; and it all happened right here, in Slovakia… I’m so damn excited to narrate my experiences to my boyfriend and convince him to plan a trip to Slovakia..this way, he will also be able to experience firsthand the magnificent Slovakia, and I’ll also get the chance to do the same a second time… ?