Despite the mishap with the train reservation (and another lesson learned), I figured I would at least make it up to Bratislava Castle for the view over the city.
It was later afternoon now, so most of the things inside the castle were closed for the day, but the grounds were still open to walk around.
Google Maps were a bit wonky here as I tried to figure out what way to take up to the castle. I mean, it’s right there, right above you … but how does one get up there? Where’s the sign pointing the way?
Whilst in Prague, I stayed in a hotel just below Prague Castle. However, again, there was the question of the best way to get to the castle. I asked the hotel manager. With a groan, he walked me outside the hotel, pointed up at the castle, and said, “There. That’s how you get to the castle.”
This must be where I get my dry Czech humor from.
Back to this particular castle. There was a road leading into a tunnel, but it looked like only cars could pass through, as there was no pedestrian sidewalk. Since I didn’t want to become a latke, I avoided that tunnel.
There’s a road, I noticed, going up a hill and through a residential neighborhood. I figure, it’s heading up, the castle is up, why not go up this road?
But there’s no signs along the way. I’m not entirely sure if I’m just climbing this hill for fun through some local houses or if I’ll actually get up to the castle.
Then, like a beacon, I see this miraculous sign:
Ah ha! I am on the right path after all!
I can’t help but go inside and tell the proprietor that a) his sign pointed me in the right direction, b) it’s freaking hilarious, and c) it’s excellent advertising. He tells me that it works both ways – seen from the direction from whence I’d come, it is the last coffee shop before the castle. Seen from the opposite direction heading from the castle to town, it is the first coffee shop from the castle. Well done. Besides coffee, there is chocolate and loads of nice treats. May as well, right?
I do end up with a coffee to take up to the castle with me, and there it is – the entrance gates to the grounds.
It’s just about sunset (by the way, thank you, end of daylight savings time, for giving me an extra hour of daylight every day on this holiday!), and this is the best place to be in the city to watch a sunset. I set up camp with a few other tourists and locals and watched it drop over the horizon.
The view from the castle yields the contrasts which my tour guide had talked about that morning – the red roofs and churches of Old Town and the block apartments of Communist Bratislava across the Danube. It looks a bit like the city was chopped in half during that time, with the remaining Old Town getting to stay whilst the other side was leveled and made way for industrial production.
I sat up on the old stone wall around the castle (it’s pretty new looking because there was a fire some time ago that wiped out the original structure) and listened to the church bells strike the hour. I felt quite happy to have stopped in Bratislava, to have the chance to see a small but mighty city bathed in glorious sunlight.
A few more hours, that’s all I had in Bratislava.
I had dinner at a local restaurant, collected my bags from the hotel, then took the bus I knew so well to the train station to hang out until my train showed up.
I was glad I brought food with me, because there wasn’t much open at the station that hour of the evening – around 9 PM. I found the one electric socket in the hall, hooked up all my gadgets to charge, and sat on my suitcase, people watching as trains came and went.
I had the feeling that this was going to be a long night, and honestly, I wasn’t too far off.