Coffee, Airplanes, & Stranger Things: How to Spend a Few Hours in Bratislava

On the way to my Balkans trip, I made a quick stop in Bratislava, where I was flying to Sofia from. (Amazing tip by the way, you can ride RegioJet – Student Agency train – from Brno to Bratislava for 8 EUROS round trip!)

I arrived by train somehow both bright-eyed and sleepy on a very overcast day. On my walk from the train station to the center, I snapped a photo of this gnarled tree:


If you walk from the station toward the center, you’ll see some interesting and funny sights. Bratislava, like Brno, has some nice buildings with interesting and eclectic architecture – I love their colors but they are a bit washed out with the day.


Here’s a colorfully painted souvenir shop offering sewn goods, clothes, and other Slovak crafts:


A cute family bakery:


An *American* restaurant… “This is America!” For the record, that’s exactly what the Statue of Liberty looks like.


And an encouraging sight in this current age of radicalism!


I was making a beeline to one of my favorite restaurants, Soupa. And I was lucky, because they’re only only Monday-Friday and I was getting there Friday at noon. I realized, though, that this isn’t the most relaxing option, as there is always a line as well as limited seating and no one monitoring who comes in, so there is a big chance you have to sit with a stranger or feel the pressure to eat fast and so, leave sooner.


Lunch line out the door!
Finally. Notice the line that is still out the door!

My 7 euro meal included a potato veggie soup, a spiced veggie rice dish, and a chocolate-mango cake. Yum.


After I was pushed out of Soupa by my anxiety that I was taking seats from other hungry customers, I realized I had about three hours before I had to head to the airport. Not wanting to spend that time walking around because of the weather, I went off in the direction of the pretty Old Town hoping to find a nice cafe. A few twists and turns of cobblestone alleys later, I was not disappointed.


This church, with original city walls, is on the edge of the Old City center. Across the highway was the historical Jewish part, which was considered separate in those days too (but without the highway). On top of the church spire is a gold crown!


Descend into the Old City by way of the staircases. This sign, “E’leven Books and Coffee” beckoned to me from a modest doorway near St. Michael’s. It was such a lucky find. Inside, it was quiet and comfortable, and the shelves were lined with Czech, German and English books. I ordered a lungo and a lemonade, took a small stack of books to peruse, and sat down to enjoy.


It is clear that the coffee shop is devoted to books, with the drinks as just a bonus, as this cost me less than 4 euros!

On my way out, I was acquainted with the namesake of this sweet little cafe:


I would definitely go back if I were in the area again! Off to the airport, an easy half hour ride from the center with bus 61.

The really cool thing about the Bratislava airport, which is named Štefáník, is that you will find the explanation of this honor on a sign across from the giant, World War I-era airplane hanging from the ceiling above the hordes of coffee-sippers!


This airplane – an Italian bomber biplane – is called the “Caproni Ca 33,” and is the only existing replica in the world. It was flown by General Milan Rastislav Štefáník as he returned to Slovakia in 1919. The aircraft could fly up to 130 km/h and is made of wood, fabric and steel. The propellers are 100 years old and are original. Štefáník flew it in reconnaissance missions during the war. He’ll be remembered variously as a scientist, aviator, astronomer, military analyst and diplomat. The airport has had the name of this important Slovak since 1997.

It was a good wish for happy flying!


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