Travelogue: Slovakia – Bratislava & Poprad

Our trip to Bratislava continued from Cesky Krumlov with a private tour with CK Shuttle that includes a stopover at Wachau Valley, Austria (7050 Kč). The car was ready for us by the time we arrived at the stipulated meeting time and the rather lean driver lifted both our luggages and walk as though they were as light as a feather. The friend and I looked at each other, impressed

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Our ride

The drive was scenic, much safer this time, less motion sickness as well. If there is one thing I learnt from this entire trip, I realised I am prone to car sickness quite easily. =/ We were given a choice to stop by Melk but decided to spend time at Dürnstein instead but now that I think of it, perhaps we should have given it some time at Melk as well cos there was really nothing much to see at Dürnstein =/

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Abbey Church
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Stift Durnstein

So we walked along the Danube river in the really really hot sun (no kidding), wandered the quiet streets (they close at 11am like o.o) and hiked up the hill to the ruins of the castle which we gave up halfway. But we still managed a shot of the town

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We took photos of some dogs along the way. So cute! The owners (this old couple) were trying to engage in a conversation with us but it was chicken talk duck talk cos of language barrier
Him: where are you all from?
Us: Singapore!
Him: Singapore where?
Us: Singapore, in South East Asia. Near Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia?
Him: … Blank Look. Are you all Dutch?
Us: (awkward laughter) …

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The start of a hike, which we did not make it there

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Honestly, I feel cheated. Wachau Valley didn’t quite turn out what I expected. I’m not going to say it’s money well spent for the addition of the stopover. But oh wells, not like I am going to back again

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BYE BYE!

We finally reached the town of Bratislava in the evening and checked in to VIP Apartments located in old town area. The apartment is modern, clean and pretty big I must say. Quite impressed. Ha. I know there has been bad reviews on the noise coming from the pub below. Even though the receptionists told us they had installed a new set of soundproof windows that cost them €50,000, unfortunately there are still some noises. It didn’t really affect us cos we fell asleep after while but I guess they really did what they can to reduce the noise. Well, unless you expect them to tear down the whole apartment and build a soundproof wall.. #justsaying

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Dinner was at Prašná Bašta, a restaurant near our apartment cos we were too tired and lazy to venture far. Actually we wanted Thai but it was full so we went to our next option. The location of the restaurant needs some venturing. It felt like we were going to some dungeon. The place wasn’t crowded which is good so our food can come faster

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Some bread to start

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Veal Stew with Butter Dumplings €12.50

The friend ordered a veal stew thinking it will come in a stew form, or so we thought it would be. So when the dish came, we were like what is this?! That being said, the veal was very tender. The butter dumplings tasted like the dumplings I had in Svejka, just smaller in size but bigger in portion, made a little better by the sauce. But considering how the friend was still talking about this dish towards the end of the trip, it should be quite nice

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Salmon Steak with Butter, Potato Gratin, Spinach €14.50

My salmon tasted like salmon. Cannot go wrong. The fish was nicely done, crisp and juicy

Prašná Bašta

Zámočnícka 399/11, 811 03 Bratislava, Slovakia

The next morning started with breakfast at Mondieu. It’s one of the breakfast places that opens at 8am which is good cos they satisfy early eaters like us. And we needed an early one cos we had a tour at 10am later

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Very French-like cafe

Spot le friend peeping out

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Two-Tone Chocolate Coffee €2.30

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Chocolate Cappuccino €2.60
Well, it tasted just like mocha

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Brioche French Toasts with Fresh Berries €5.20

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The toasts were fluffy, eggy and soft. They tasted delicious with the honey drizzled on it and it only costs $8 for this filling portion #cannotbelieveit

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Egg Benedicts with Ham & Rolls €4.80

I laughed when I saw the egg benedicts came with 3 eggs. Usually with 2 eggs, it is already difficult to finish them. I wished the friend good luck

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I really like Mondieu. I think the breakfast here is one of the best we had in Bratislava. The place is cozy and it makes a good place to chill for a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. An option to consider if you are looking for a cafe in the area

Mondieu

Laurinská 7, 811 01 Staré Mesto, Slovakia

We went to our meeting point outside Gorila Urban Space cafe to meet the guide from Authentic Slovakia to kickstart our wine tour (€79/pax) which we had booked previously. We chose the option to tour around in a retro car aka a Skoda, which is really cute and funky. Well, the other option is a modern car lor

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The car and our guide guide, Juroj. He is a funny guy, lame at times and speaks very good English. But he really entertained us during the whole trip like telling us about the fake seatbelt and reassuring me he will try not to crash the car … So if you happen to have the same guide, rest assured you won’t be bored. The tour started with a quick trip to the Soviet Memorial known as Slavin which we learned the significance of it

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We also learnt it’s a favourite place to skateboard

And then cos we had some time to kill before visiting the vineyard, we went on a hike to see the ruins of a castle above the town of Svätý Jur. I think they need to add a disclaimer that says you need to be physically fit to do this. The hike was tiring. We climbed up a steep trail with steps that felt like rocks, slide down slopes, explored what it used to be an underground room with no proper path and of course in all hoping you stay alive at the end of it even before the wine tasting started. I was telling the friend we always tend to do these YOLO nonsense when we travel. Lol

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Trying to get a shot of where we started but there’s not much of a view with so many twigs and branches

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A lot of imagination is needed to visualise the castle. This used to be a room in the castle. When the guide told us, we were like ohh… with lots of ?! in the back of the head

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And the guide decided it was a good time to take a rest and have our refreshments

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Which came in the form of kofola, Slovakia’s version of coca cola which don’t taste quite like coca cola

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And Horalky wafers with peanut fillings and cocoa coatings. This wafers are like Slovak’s favourite snacks. They were our breakfast on days that were too early to grab anything. So we just had these wafers on the train and they were quite filling actually

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Rule of thumb when you don’t see anything. Just sit and slide. And worry about coming up later. lol

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So when the guide told us we don’t have to go back the hard way of coming uphill, we were very happy. But when we realised how we were going downhill, omg. How is this easy at all! So yups this was the way we came down, just rocks and soil. I know it doesn’t look like anything much but the friend is afraid of heights. I’m just afraid to fall. Ha

I was glad when we were finally done with the hike, so we went to grab some sausages and cheese before meeting the local wine producer at his place

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And while the guide was away.. hee

Well we went all the way up the hill which I don’t know why since the ones at the top were not his anyway. Then he could have just showed us the first row without making us hike some more right. Our wine tasting was really hard earned =/

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In any case, wine, sun and view

I was damn tired at that point of time cos of the earlier activities we had and the super hot weather wasn’t helping. I was glad when we went back down to his underground cellar where the wine tasting finally started

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It was so cooling underground

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Slovakia does more white wine so we get to try more white and rose. The wine had different acidity. I liked his rose. It was light and refreshing without being too sweet. And we tried so many others as well, so much that it was an overdose

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Wine from the winemaker, food from the local mart

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And the producer gifted us with a bottle of rose which I finished the entire bottle myself with a bag of chips #growfatdie

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And on the drive back, the guide told us this is the ugliest building in Bratislava. lol

I thought this tour was fun and personalized, and I would recommend anyone to try if they are touring Bratislava. Just be prepared this might be energy draining for some

We were so tired after the tour we went back to our apartment to rest and wear the wine out before heading out to explore the city. We settled our dinner at Green Buddha cos we wanted some comfort food after so much wine in our body. This Thai restaurant is actually pretty popular given it was full the previous day we visited, but not too sure with tourists or locals

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Hlavné námestie, the main square of Bratislava

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Church of St Elizabeth, known as the Blue Church or Marshmallow Church

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Man At Work (Čumil). It is believed luck will follow you if you touch his head, and you will get pregnant if you touch his nose. ha

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The friend decided to get an icecream before we head into dinner

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Tom Yum Hed €5.50

Spicy & Sour Soup with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

The soup was comforting, spicy but not too sour

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Gai Chicken €6.50

Chicken satay Thai & Indonesian Style served with Peanut Dipping Sauce

The chicken was a little dry though the peanut sauce was nice

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Yam Talay €12

Spicy Seafood & Glass Noodle Salad with Vegetables

My glass noodle salad had way too much vegetables. It was honestly not quite what I was expecting. I think I see more vegetables than the noodles itself. It tasted like tao-geh mixed with celery

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Dilla €24

Steamed Thai Style Fillet of Black Cod, served with Spicy Lime & Chilli Dressing, Crunchy Shallots, Fresh Fennel & Green Mango Salad

Her cod tasted weird. It had a strong cod taste but the friend said it was okay with the sauce

Honestly the Thai food here was just okayy. It tasted like 30% Thai and its freaking expensive. The whole bill came up to €55.40 and I was thinking hmm what did we spend on. LOL. I think I definitely can get better, cheaper Thai back home but then again, since we are in an ang moh country with limited Asian options, beggars cannot be choosers. I won’t recommend this place unless you are seriously craving for some spicy food

Green Buddha

Zelená 365/4, 811 01 Staré Mesto, Slovakia

Ending with some night view before we head back to the hotel

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UFO tower in beautiful colours of sunset

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The illuminated Bratislava castle

Next morning we had breakfast at Urban Bistro which is just down the street from our apartment. I kinda love the location of our apartment for the ease and convenience of getting to everywhere else. The cafe has a pretty interior and some different drinks other than your usual latte and tea, though they don’t taste particularly good

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So chio

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English Breakfast €7.90
Everything you will usually see on a standard plate. This was a normal but a very filling breakfast that lasted us for a few hours

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There wasn’t any standout in the food and drinks here in my opinion. Mondieu does it better and I chose the latter anytime

Urban Bistro

Michalská 5, 811 01 Bratislava, Slovakia

We went for a free walking tour organized by Befreetours that took us to explore the town and provided some insights to their history. This tour starts at 11am/3pm and is pretty informative. You also get to meet tourists from different countries. Even the guide mentioned the party that day was very colorful. Lol

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Statue of Hviezdoslav, the meeting point of the tour which is located near the US embassy. He’s a very famous poet and the reason why literature is a focus in Slovak’s culture, though the guide also mentioned he’s the reason which cause students to hate poetry. LOL

Some other sights of the tour which we have discovered some ourselves and some yet to be explored include statue of Hans Christian Andersen, St Martin’s Cathedral, Black wall beside the church, UFO tower, Cumil, Michael’s Gate and the Blue Church. It is rather interesting to hear the stories and viewpoint from the guide to how the city has progressed and what each monument means

IMG_95581.One of the main attraction, St Martin’s Cathedral is the biggest Catholic church in Bratislava

2.The crown on top of the cathedral is believed to be able to withstand a horse O.O

3.The crown symbol marks the path of procession

4.The UFO tower & bridge is a symbol of barbarism as the bridge was the main reason for the demolishment of the synagogue

5. Statue of Hans Christian Andersen, the famous author behind Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid. Touching his finger is believed to bring luck

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And the Michael’s Gate, the only gate that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications

The tour is operated on a tips-only basis and lasts about 2 to 2.5 hours. I like walking tours on the fact that you get to learn more about the city. If not half the time you visit an attraction, take some photos and go. So do give it a try if time permits

We managed to grab a cup of coffee from Coffee Brothers, a very small and cute coffee-on-wheels. And then as I was looking through my albums, I realised I lost some of my photos when I was transferring them from my camera. Hais, I need a moment of silence here =/

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The coffee is a little bitter but the smooth finish makes it easy to drink

So I will try to summarise the rest of the trip without being too wordy without pictures. Some of the pictures were intact cos I had it in my phone but otherwise… Lunch was at Orbis Street Food, a very popular place among the locals. This eatery has a limited menu but sells rather interesting stuffs and more so specializing in fries cooked in beef fat. They have Taiwanese fried noodles on their menu which we had absolutely no faith in. So we ordered meat in a cone and small fries to go along. The fries were addictive though and the friend thought it was pretty good, but skip the meat

We went up to Bratislava castle cos we practically finished most of the sights we want to cover. The castle sports a view of the town and it makes a very nice place to chill, stroll along and date. There is even a playground there to bring out the kid in you

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View from the castle

We settled our dinner at Zeppelin with cakes and pies cos we were not very hungry to start with. Zeppelin is a cafe/souvenir shop and the owners were so friendly. They even told us with much enthusiasm where to go on our next part of travel

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Homemade pies and delicious cakes that were located at the back of the cafe

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We had an oreo caramel cheesecake, pie with strawberry jam and some smoothies to go along. The desserts here are really amazing. It makes a good place to people watch as well. I highly recommend this place in town

Zeppelin Cafe & Souvenir

Sedlárska 364/10, 851 01 Staré Mesto, Slovakia

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Ending with some beautiful colours of sunset

Bratislava is a small city. It is so small we met 80% of the people in the free walking tour when we were strolling around. Still, the people that we have met, they are very friendly and warm hearted which makes it a lovely place to visit. Try visiting Bratislava during the weekday and weekend where you can see the difference in crowd and atmosphere. It’s like the whole place just comes alive during the weekends

Next morning, we checked out and continued our journey northwards 400km away. We booked a tour with Rajec Travel Agency that will take us to visit the city of Poprad and the Tatras Mountain. It was an early but long train ride which leaves at 7.55am so we took a cab to Bratislava train station (€7) which is just 5 minutes away from our apartment. So after some snoozing and blogging, we reached Poprad station where our guide, Ondreaj was waiting for us with a sign. Our first stop was at the town of Levoca, which we covered the square and the church and.. that’s it. Then we moved on to visit the Spis castle. We were very fortunate they were open that weekend we visited cos usually they only open on the 1st April. I was thankful this was less tiring (but still tiring enough) than the hike we had previously. We only get to visit the public grounds cos the museum was still closed. Still it was a sight to see when we climbed all the way up to the tower

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An impressive ruins

The guide was telling us to imagine if we were a princess living here. Actually not sure if I wanna live here since it’s so inconvenient to hike up and down and so far to town!

The guide also drove us through the town of the gypsies whom were used to a nomadic life until they were forced to settle down by the government. There was a contrast when you past through the city life and you see the living conditions of poverty next. And then you felt thankful for the life you had. We dropped by a small town of Kezmarok where we see churches and more churches (lol) before we finally checked in to Hotel Sobota for the night

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Cute little houses

I couldn’t exclaim how happy we were to be resting. We were freaking exhausted. And so dinner was settled at the hotel’s restaurant cos we were too lazy to venture out

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Home for the night

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Zdiar Cabbage Soup with Potatoes and Onions €2.90

Trying out Slovak’s cuisine. The soup was pretty interesting. It started out very sourish but it became pretty addictive towards the end. I guess it helps to get your appetite started

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Pork Tenderloin with Bacon, Onion & Smoked Cheese, served with Fried Potatoes €9.90

The pork tenderloin was dry at some parts and moist at some parts. I guess if they had kept the whole dish consistent, this would be an excellent dish, with a pretty good execution

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Sobota Beef Sirloin Steak, served with Potato Dumplings, Bacon & Sour Cream €17.90

Her steak tasted like steak. The dumplings were different as they were stuffed with potatoes. So it’s tasteless dough and potatoes

I actually thought the food was pretty decent given the location of the area. I won’t mind staying here again if I ever visit Poprad. And according to the guide, this hotel is one of the top ranked hotels in Poprad

Hotel Sobota

Kežmarská 988/15, 058 01 Poprad-Spišská Sobota, Slovakia

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Travelogue: A Peek into Czech Republic; Karlovy Vary & Cesky Krumlov

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