I had no idea when I got up yesterday how it would unfold, other than I was going to head to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, first thing. I walked briskly early in the morning to the Danube and got a seat on the first sailing on the Twin City Line heading to Bratislava. I paid a little extra for a window view and enjoyed looking at all the fishing houses on the banks during the easy 75 minute journey. It was an international clientele on board and I heard numerous languages being spoken. The ship’s people were encouraging people to join their guided walking tours for when we disembarked, but I declined. I had already researched that a local student-led tour started 15 minutes after we got there, so I quickly made my way down the tree lined boulevard to the center of town and met Janna. I almost always go for the student-led tour because (1) they can use the money and (2) they get a younger group of guest so they walk more swiftly and cover lots more things and (3) I just love the enthusiasm of the guides.
Janna explains that Slovakia was once Moravia and goes through a decent history bringing us up to date with this man who was the local poet, revolutionary thinker and basically the Shakespeare of Slovakia. He was so cool he got to be a one named guy ( like Cher, Bono, Sting…) and make up his name ( real name Pavel Országh–not nearly as cool) which translates to “Slav of the stars.”
This is the beautiful cathedral of St Martin where all the Hungarian queens were crowned. That is a crown on top of the spire and even tho it looks tiny, it’s 700 pounds of real gold. Next to the cathedral was a touching holocaust memorial for the 100,000 Jews of Slovakia who were rounded up and ultimately perished in concentration camps.
Just as I suspected, Janna had us hiking up to the castle. Looks like an upside down table and has beautiful gardens in the back. The country’s parliament building is next door to the castle. The views from the castle are amazing. You can see this bridge the communist built to link the old town with where all the people actually live on the other side of the Danube. They call this the UFO bridge.
This is St Michael’s gate, the only city gate to be preserved of the medieval fortifications.
Ok, I’m thirsty. Bye bye Janna and hello brewski. Now that I am refreshed I remember Janna said the reason the shops are closed today is that it is the Feast of the Virgin Mary. Any shop that is open gets a 100,000 euro fine. Yikes! But this is the one day of the year the town has a street fair and since she told me where to find it I head over there.
Oh my gosh the entire town is here–so fun and all locals. I don’t hear a word of English ( or French or Spanish)–just Slovak)
Yes please, some local cheese would be great.
Yes quadruple please. The bartender sees me coming and makes multiple aperol spritzes and then prays over them. I’m pretty sure this town knew I was coming. Ok got to leave. I’ve been here 6 hours and I could stay longer but I bought a ticket for the 4 pm return so I run to my boat( those aperol spritzes really make you fly, don’t they?). Nice journey back on the Danube. I’m in my apartment about 30 minutes when I remembered the Vivaldi concert at Karlskirche is tonight. I decide to just get ready and go and see if I can get a ticket. Color me lucky. The young man says they have one ticket—top of the price range ( which is a whole 15 euros more), but he told me I’d like it. Sold. But first I take a nighttime picture of this amazing church. This is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Vienna.
My young friend was right that I would like this seat. Any closer and I’d be giving the concert. I really can’t do justice to how beautiful this setting was for the beautiful Vivaldi music. I was mesmerized for several hours.
What an outstanding group of musicians. Four arias by the countertenor Nicholas Spano and four concertos with the primary violinist Dimitris Karakantas.
I leave the concert and have a vague recollection that the concierge at the Hotel Sacher ( who I was fortunate enough to spend an entire afternoon with– watch for a coming post about that) had told me about a place at the Naschmarkt called Nemi. I wandered about a little lost for a while and it was getting pretty late. Miraculously I found it and it was still open, I first ordered the Muhammara, a spicy red pepper dish ( which I ate before I thought to take a picture) and then got the Jerusalem Plate shown above. That a nice glass of Gruner Veltiner made a great meal.
They came around and said “last call” so I headed out through the Naschmarkt, went down into the subway and emerged near my apartment shortly thereafter. Not a bad way to spend 17 hours.