Bratislava: very nice but nothing to write home about

Public Art in Bratislava

It is one of the most common traps for anyone writing a blog: I’ve been to a place so I must write about it. As if the act of merely being somewhere is a story worthy of telling to the world. Let’s face it; sometimes we visit a place and while it may be nice and we might have a lovely time, nothing happens that provides us with a reason to write about it.

Our recent day in Bratislava is a great example of this. The small capital of Slovakia is pleasant enough to stroll around for a day. And stroll we did. We found the much-photographed public statues:

Public Art in Bratislava

Public Art in Bratislava

We crossed the bridge over the Danube and took a few pictures of the UFO Tower. The €6.50 for the lift to the restaurant and viewpoint at the top didn’t strike me as good way to spend our money so we moved on.

UFO Bridge Bratislava

We wandered up to the castle area. Most of the buildings were shut but they did look very impressive from the outside.

Bratislava Castle

The Christmas market was in full swing and made for a lively festive atmosphere, although the cold December rain didn’t encourage us to linger after our evening meal.

Christmas Market Bratislava

And the colourful houses on both sides of the cobbled streets in the old town make for a very enjoyable wander with a camera, providing plenty of photo opportunities.

Bratislava Old Town

I’d happily recommend an overnight stop in Bratislava and there are probably enough places to visit nearby to make it a good base for a weekend break. Prices are reasonable: for under £70 we stayed in an excellent 4 star hotel (Art Hotel William) with one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve enjoyed, while the bus fare from the airport into the city was €0.90.

But what would I write about it? Nothing newsworthy happened to us while we were there. We didn’t strike up a deep and meaningful conversation with a local person. Neither did we get stranded on a deserted motorway or have to negotiate our way out of a hostage situation. Even our 2.5 hour train journey to Budapest the next day (€14.50) was uneventful.

In short we spent a pleasant but very ordinary 24 hours as tourists in a European city. Nothing less, nothing more. On reflection I don’t think I’ll bother with a Bratislava post after all.

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15 Responses to “Bratislava: very nice but nothing to write home about”

  1. Heh. Very witty. I love just ‘being’ in a city, that sense where you are alive and present in the moment and just happen to be in a new and exciting place. That is why i love entries like this. Sure, nothing exciting happened but I liked your experience enough to want to visit there myself.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:48 am
  2. It’s okay to find a destination unappealing. That’s what makes humans interesting – its diversity. I am with you on this one: I don’t do things or go places just because everybody and their mom has done it too.

    Now I’ve never been to Bratislava before, but I definitely felt like “this place is blah” with other destinations. It’s like there’s something missing, a spark, a surge of excitement, something, that I definitely feel whenever I get to a place and love it. Usually, I reason out saying I wasn’t looking right, but who knows.

    Finally, this is the kind of post why I keep coming back and reading (as opposed to skimming) your blog in my feed. Other travel blogs are so formulaic nowadays, that you almost can predict what they will say next even as you are just reading the first paragraph. Yours, on the other hand, is unique, and makes a reader feel like there’s an actual human who wrote this. Kudos, and keep up the good work. Here’s to hoping you’ll have better destinations this 2012!

    January 3, 2012 at 11:44 am
  3. I know what you mean! Have been in that position myself, thinking that I HAVE to blog about somewhere just because I’ve been there.

    I like the way you’ve managed to write about what appears to be a very ordinary place (I’ve never been) and just say that it is quite ordinary, yet still make the post interesting. Bratislava does kind of look nice for a mini break though 🙂

    January 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm
  4. Thanks for the kind comments and I’m glad to have encouraged others to visit Bratislava despite my words. To be fair I would happily return there in the summer and have another look around. There are far worse places to spend a day or two.

    January 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm
  5. I get your drift Andy… but the old hack in me says ‘shame on you’. You should have gone found a story. No matter how dull the place… there’s always an angle if you hunt hard enough for it. No?
    (But then maybe you were just visiting rather than on a writing trip?)

    January 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm
    • Thanks Jeremy. Thankfully I was just visiting on a weekend break with my wife so didn’t really concern myself too much about a lack of an angle. But with every new place I visit there’s an urge to write something up on the blog – it’s this that I’m questioning here. If I’d gone out on a work-related trip that would be another matter…

      January 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm
      • Well. I was thinking of making a similar point. If there’s nothing much to say… why say it!?
        Something I struggle with on holiday – I click into writing mode and start looking for stories. I almost don’t enjoy the trip without it.

        January 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm
  6. HC #

    Funny, I passed through Bratislava in 2009 on the way to Vienna, and spent an hour where? An H&M retail store.

    January 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm
  7. Thomas Kent #

    Hi Andy,

    As I know you’re partial to the Partridge oeuvre, why not enliven your 7th paragraph by instead saying “That was the best cooked breakfast I’ve had since Gary Wilmot’s wedding.”

    January 4, 2012 at 7:09 am
  8. The more places you visit, the easier it is to fall into Andy’s ‘must write’ trap. Try going somewhere, anywhere without any knowledge of it whatsoever, then compare what you write to the tourist information publications…

    It think I’ve just found a new angle!

    January 4, 2012 at 9:45 am
  9. Is there a flip side to this, though? Are you desensitised to some of the finer points of a destination purely because you’re a very-frequent traveller?

    It reminds me, somewhat, of a post by Derek Sivers about how things which are obvious to you can be amazing to others.

    I guess the real question, then, isn’t whether or not a destination is interesting to you. It’s whether or not the destination is interesting to your audience.

    I don’t know what the answer is with regards to Bratislava, it just made me think 🙂

    January 4, 2012 at 11:39 am
    • Great point John. Even though you maybe didn’t consider Bratislava to be worth writing about, your readers may still be interested. Just this post alone conveyed a sense of Bratislava that someone completely unfamiliar with the city may find useful.

      Personally, when I find that nothing about a city really stands out to me, I try to at least post a bit of a photo essay with short descriptions (very similar to what was done here), just so readers at least get some idea of the place. I don’t think every blog post has to be some huge exciting story.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm
  10. I quite like Bratislava; it reminds me of how Prague used to be. It is nicer in summer, though, especially arriving by boat on the Danube (from Vienna or Budapest). Although you might not have meant to, I think you’ve managed to make Bratislava interesting to your readers 🙂

    January 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm
  11. I quite enjoyed Bratislava, but I can see how it wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes. I actually would like to go back!

    February 8, 2012 at 8:54 am
  12. You’re right . When you visited Bratislava in the future, stay longer and check out the neighborhood.

    July 5, 2012 at 1:04 pm