In Bratislava’s main station, there’s a mural depicting the achievements of Socialism. You know, all the normal things like the oppressed breaking their chains, scientific endeavour symbolised by Sputnik, and pleasingly multi-ethnic groupings getting on together.
I don’t know whether the trains ran on time in the old Czechoslovakia, but under capitalism I had to wait an additional 35 minutes for my delayed train to Budapest. So, not so different from the UK, then!
I had heard that German is more widely understood then English in Slovakia. That may be true—given that Vienna is only half an hour away, it wouldn’t be surprising—but in reality, the only occasion I had to use German was in dismissing an aggressive beggar! The police turned up later on and turfed out all the indigents and mendicants, but she was back in the waiting room within a few minutes. Now I understand why the Austrians keep their stations so bitterly cold!
Bratislava is a nice little city, with a picturesque old town not ravaged by unsympathetic development—excluding the major highway that runs a few feet from St Martin’s cathedral. The interior of the latter, incidentally, I was unable to see, as it’s closed for a week. This week.
I found some nice cheap places to eat and drink in Bratislava, carefully avoiding the obvious tourist traps. I stopped in a couple of cafés with free WiFi, where I could enjoy good coffee, a tasty snack, catch up online and leave a generous tip for the equivalent of £2. I had something of an ulterior motive with tips: by rounding to the nearest SKK 50 (about £1), I could avoid having to deal with coins at all.
The train to Budapest was fine, apart from the delay. Splitting the train into smoking and non-smoking sections: a great idea. Having them in the same carriage, without even a door between: brain-dead stupidity. And yet it’s a fairly common practice in continental Europe. Sort it out!
Today, I’m going to see what Budapest looks like in daylight. I’m looking forward to it.