Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bratislava: Seen On The Menu

Roasted Bull Glads

Fried Lard

Meat Pieces on a Guillotine

Ah, I'll just have the green salad please...

Wandering Around Zurich

The clean and modern Holiday Inn Express at the Zurich Airport proves to be a good choice. Besides its very reasonable price (by Swiss standards) of not much more than $100 per night including breakfast, this hotel offers a free airport shuttle and a free shuttle to and from downtown Zurich.

We enjoy yet another gloriously sunny day as we stroll around our third and final major European city of the trip, through another Old Town and down to Lake Zurich.

The hotel shuttle drops us off and picks us up across the way from the Bahnhof, i.e. the train station.

We consult our little map occasionally but mainly just wander.

During our saunter a strange - weird - sight suddenly catches our eye, something apparently man-made that both hovers and darts above buildings across the canal. Definitely a UFO...

An hour or so later the mystery is solved when we spot this as we walk by a van and several busy-looking men with various pieces of equipment.

We talk to a very pleasant fellow who says his crew has been filming for Swiss Television. His company features little remote-control helicopters which are utilized to shoot up to five minutes of video before having to land and recharge. He provides the name of their company's website, Flying High, with quadro-copters and octo-copters available for hire and for sale. For example, one can buy a "HighEnd Quaddro" for 4,800 Swiss Francs. It was all fascinating even if we're not in the market for one!

We eat a lunch of raclette in a hotel restaurant. It's certainly filling as you melt your pre-sliced cheese on little trays in the T-Fal appliance and then pour it over the various goodies that you've been cooking on top. The little burlap bag was quite full of cooked new potatoes, and they stay warm throughout the meal.

Our final night in the dorm-like annex building of the ZRH Mövenpick, paid for by United Airlines as the result of that 24-hour mechanical delay, is frankly lousy, but it makes us appreciate even more how fortunate we generally are in our travels and we remind ourselves what a terrific trip this has been.

From Bratislava To Zurich Via Vienna

Bratislava is one place we'd love to visit again. There is a lot to see, the Slovakians seemed very friendly and welcoming, and the prices are far more reasonable than those in Western Europe.

Still, it was time to leave, with a taxi to the train station, glimpsing a high-rise residence during the ride and reminding ourselves how fortunate we are to live in a place where everybody can have a back yard.

Then it was onto the train for an hour's ride back to Vienna.

Bratislava Sheraton

The Sheraton is a gorgeous boutique hotel located in a lovely square just across from the new opera house and adjacent to a large shopping mall, the Eurovea Galleria.

You can spot a side entrance to the mall in the lower left hand corner.

The new opera house, where we enjoyed Tosca, is not that large - we would guesstimate it as not much more than a thousand. There is literally not a bad seat in the house, but if one can sit in Row 3 center for 20 Euros as we did, why consider the back of the balcony?

The Sheraton bar offers a wicked Happy Hour, with not only drinks but tasty appetizers on sale at 50% off, all in a lovely setting. A couple of Tanqueray and tonics each and this plate totaled less than $20. Try that in most big-city hotels.

Lunching in Bratislava's Old Town

We chose well.

Bratislava's Old Town: Statues And Other Sites

Why Zwinger Fast Food you ask? It's supposedly the narrowest building in Central Europe.

Tourist Tramming In Bratislava

Bratislava has an Old Town that is wonderful to wander around on a sunny day. First we succumb to the temptation of taking a tourist tram up to visit the old castle, where we enjoy the great views on yet another sunny day, while planning to stroll after the ride.

Once we've arrived at the top, we hop out to enjoy the views.

Our cheerful young guide points out that those distant smokestacks are in Hungary.

Learning that those equally distant windmills (below) are in Austria is a visual reminder of how crowded European countries can be.

And of course there's the old castle itself, worth a photo before we climb back into the tram for the ride back down.

Cruising Down The Danube On A Sunday Afternoon

Vienna to Bratislava via hydrofoil takes about 75 minutes. We start off in the Canal from the center of Vienna and enter the river, enjoying our views of the many fishing cabins along the shore and the passing river traffic.

Almost before we know it we find ourselves in Slovakia for the first time as we approach its capital, Bratislava.