The week leading up to Easter is dubbed in Spain as “Semana Santa”, or the Holy Week. It is the country’s biggest religious holiday, and events happen each day of the week, from Sunday to Sunday. This important time of celebration means that schools take the week off, allowing us some time to travel. We saw what we could of the Easter processions in Madrid, then traveled east with friends, to explore several new locales.
Bratislava. Sound familiar? If not, take heart, because 4 months ago we would have answered the same! This city is the capital of Slovakia, and was our first stop on our journey. It sits on the Danube River and is home to many beautiful cathedrals,(no surprise) and a hilltop castle (again, no surprise). Although we only spent 1 full day and 1 night there, we used every moment to explore and experience the city and its offerings.
Transportation was simple and pleasant to use. We traveled by bus as well as light-rail, some of which seemed quite antique. One handy feature we experienced was the omnipresent ticket dispensing machines. Every single bus or train stop had a machine installed, which made buying single ride tickets a snap! While there were several main roads in the town, most of it was pedestrian and light-rail only zones, which was quite pleasant.
Our self-guided touristic route featured the town plaza, the hilltop castle, walking along and over the Danube, visiting cathedrals, searching for iconic statues, and trying out traditional cuisine.
One such church was unique, unlike any other we have yet seen in our travels; it was all bright blue! Even the pews and the walls on the interior were painted the same. It looked like it was definitely ready for the bright colors of Easter.
The castle on the hill had been remade, but kept to look like it had many years ago.
The back doors of the castle courtyard led to a sprawling garden full of blooming flowers and replete with cherub statues. From here the view of the river and its several bridges was marvelous.
The food was hearty, and our favorites were sheep-cheese pierogies and thick pancakes filled with blackberry jam. There was also a fair amount of coffee consumed as we walked the city.
Overall, we feel we made the most of our day in Bratislava and we were ready for the next stop on our trip, Budapest.