Our good friend Viktoria is from Slovakia, so on our tour of Central Europe we took a short daytrip to Bratislava, the capital city. We were fortunate to arrive in October 2018 as the city and country were remembering the centennial of the separation from the Hungarian Empire to form the country of Czechoslovakia in 1918 (after World War I) and the 50-year anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion (by the Soviet Union) of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The country and the city have seen great turmoil within our generation. In fact, if you’re as old as we are you might remember this photograph of a brave soul in Šafárikovo Square resisting one of the 2,000 tanks of invading troops on August 21, 1968. Unlike the young man facing a tank in TianAnMen Square in 1989, this man, Emil Gallo, was gunned down on the spot.
By 1989, Communist rule in Czechoslovakia ended. In 1993, Slovakia and the Czech Republic became two separate countries.
Small reminders and memorials are scattered throughout the city.
This statue honors Bulgarian partisans from earlier conflicts.
We know about the Holocaust in Germany, but sometimes forget that many people were impacted across Europe.
Bratislava today is one of the most beautiful cities on the Danube River, with a modern business center and charming Old Town.
As we walked from the train station we passed Grassalkovich Palace, the home of the Slovakian president. Although it is late in the year, the large gardens still had plenty of beautiful color.
Bratislava Castle is a striking figure on top of the hill overlooking the city. Although the site has been occupied for thousands of years and protected with multiple fortresses, castles became passé in the 1800s and this one fell out of use. Fortunately, a restoration starting in 2008 has brought it back to its former glory.
King Svatopluk I ruled this area of Greater Moravia in the 800s. Now he guards Bratislava Castle on his horse.
Like our other Old Town experiences, Bratislava has plenty of shopping, tourists, cafés and very old buildings. Michael’s Gate and Tower are about 1,300 years old, part of the fortification for the city that remains from medieval days.
Speaking of cafés, on to our dining experiences…First we had the national dish of Slovakia: Bryndzové Halušky. It is a potato dumpling like gnocchi, but smaller. Then it’s smothered in sheep’s cheese and sprinkled with bacon and scallions.
Continuing our journey eating cakes, we found an excellent cake shop in the Old Town, Konditorei Kormuth. We expected it to be good as we saw the bakers hard at work out front.
Inside are cakes “made with love.” They are treats for the eyes and tastebuds. Not only do the cakes look and taste lovely, but they are also served on elegant porcelain china.
View the cake shop gallery. It is very difficult to choose just one cake. They are all works of art (like the cakes Viktoria makes!)
The whole elegant porcelain china pattern continues, whimsically, in other areas.
We almost felt that we had been here before.
Zbohom from Slovakia.
(Bratislava was a midpoint of our Central Europe trip. We’ll catch up on other cities in future posts.)