I was up bright on early on Friday morning to get to the airport on time for the 8.30am flight and was up and away in no time. I was nicely squeezed in between two big Slovak guys for the flight which made it extra cozy. We landed just after 12pm and I randomly bumped into a friend who was on her way to Vienna with her family for the Chrismtas markets. Small world.
Once through the airport I headed outside into the freezing day to get the local bus into town and arrived in at the Central Station in the early afternoon a tad lost. I got the general gist of directions in the city and meandered my way into town which was pretty quiet and got a bite to eat in the Old Town. I was mightly hungover from the night before so I was pretty impressed with my progress during the day so far. After a quick bite to eat I popped by the local market which was pretty sweet and then headed to the famous Manderela Apartments where I was staying for a couple of nights. After meeting the owner Vlad, I dropped my stuff, grabbed a shower and chilled for a little bit as I was completely wrecked.
After an hour or so, I decided to head out to see a bit of the city before sunset and rambled around most of the Old Town and down to the river before making my way back up to the main square to sample some of the Christmas Market for the night. The market was beautiful and all nicely squeezed into the main square in Bratislava, where the old towns peopl used to come to the first running water fountain over 150 years ago. The market had local food and mulled wine which significantly helped the horrific hangover that was now subsiding. While rambling around, I met some locals and had more wine with them as the market closed around 11pm. I was pretty wrecked so I grabbed a burger and made my way back to the ranch for some much needed sleep.
I managed to come out of my sleep coma at around 10am the next day and decided to get out and see the city and went on a run all around the town which was pretty beautiful. On the way back I stopped off at the local Lidl for some breakfast and after 30 minutes in the queue I was back at the apartment. Turns out queues aren't too bad in Dublin after all! I had some scrambled eggs, showered and then went out and about to see the city. I started off by crossing the Danube and making my way towards UFO tower which offers amazing views of Bratislava and as far as Hungary.
I then decided to grab the bus to Devin which has an ancient castle alongside the river. After waiting 45 minutes at the bus station like a prat I realised the bus didn't run on Saturdays much to my annoyance and a load of other tourists. Madness! Instead I first made my way up to Bratislava Castle and then hiked up north to the famous Slavín monument, which was well worth the 45 minute uphill walk. The monument commemorates fallen Soviet soldiers in WWII and offers amazing views of the city. After catching my breath I made my way back down to the old town for some lunch in the market. I tried some local food, a chicken burger with onions (alright) and a nutella crepe for dessert (not so typical).
I headed to the nearest Irish bar to watch the Classico and the bar was packed with locals and tourists. While watching I made friends with a group of Argentinians who were in town for a week or so and had a few beers watching the game. As the scoops flowed we all headed for some food after and more drinks. Someone then floated the idea of karaoke which went down a treat! The karaoke bar was packed and I reckon I'm the first Irishman ever to get a standing ovation in Slovakia for singing both roles in Shaggy - It Wasn't Me. After a mini bar crawl I made my way back to the ranch pretty wrecked and slightly inebriated.
I was up early the next morning to try get as much time in the city as possible. I grabbed some breakfast in the Old Town before popping into the main Solvakian History Mueseum in the square. I was back at the ranch to pack my stuff away at 11am and get on the road to the airport. I headed towards the Central Station and after a bit of guess work was on the way to the airport. I was a bit clueless which bus to get until I spotted two ginger parents and a freckly little kid jumping onto one...bingo! And I was on my way back to the Emerald Isle!
Bratislava is a small town but with plenty to see in 48 hours. It's cheap and the locals are very welcoming. The Christmas market was also a highlight, so I'd thorughly recommend it as a budget option for visiting Chritmas Markets on the continent in 2017. Cheers!