Saturday, February 18, 2012

{days twenty nine and thirty}

{a weekend getaway to bratislava}

hello all! i'm really excited to tell you all about my trip to bratislava, slovakia! it was exhilarating to travel to a new country with just three of your friends. and i'll admit a little scary, too! but well worth it all in the end.

it all started friday afternoon when me, paige, aly, and alexa caught our train nervous we had boarded the wrong one but hoping for the best! as soon as our tickets were checked and we were sure we were heading the right direction we settled in. the train ride was only an hour so it went by pretty fast! we got to see some more of the country side, and finally we arrived in bratislava!
it was not at all what i expected.
i didn't really know what to expect, but this definitely wasn't it.
it was bleak, grey, and rainy. but we faked optimism until we found our bus that would take us to our hostel. we walked a little ways from where our bus had dropped us off to our hostel location. as soon as i took one look at the place, my stomach dropped. it was a tall grey building that looked real sketchy, and we started freaking out a little bit! hahaha but we went in and relief washed over us as the inside was very welcoming, homey, and CLEAN. they took care of us and sent us up to our room which was great. we immediately broke open the cookies we had brought and make a "cookie toast" which is our new tradition every time we travel to a new country. after splurging a little on chocolate goodness we were ready to hit the town! we went down to the reception desk to get some tips on what to do, and after we told him we don't drink beer he seemed at a loss for ideas. (i guess most people don't come here for sightseeing, but oh well!) he gave us a map with directions to old town and recommeneded some good, cheap restaurants with traditional slovak food and sent us on our way. since we had just binged on 54 boxes of cookies, we decided to explore a little before eating some dinner.
we walked down the street for a while and wandered into awe...



the main square of town

heading up to the castle!

the beautiful cathedral

the creepy tunnel alexa ran through after a triple dog dare from paige.
quite possible the best video ever taken.

we made our way up to the castle grounds and stumbled upon this incredible view of the skyline!

the old castle wall

isn't she a beaut? well, after walking around the castle we had built up an appetite again. we headed back down to old town and definitely took the longest way possible to get there. but it's ok, because we kept ourselves entertained by talking in british accents the whole way to disguise ourselves as american tourists. it definitely worked. well, we finally found the slovak pub nestled in some buildings and up the stairs. when we walked in we were the only girls! everyone was staring at us, and it was a little awkward. but we were hungry.

traditional slovak food!
i got something called pierogi or something and paige got garlic soup!
and boy was it garlicky, but so delicious!
after dinner we were exhausted so we headed back to the hostel to get some rest. we didn't want the receptionist guy to see us coming home so early, so we snuck past the check-in as good as we could with our huge backpacks and marshmallow coats.

i took my shoes off and my sock was covered in blood! gross huh?
my foot had been hurting when we were walking, but i didn't think it was bad enough to be bleeding.
oh well.
the rest of the night was full of girl talk and cookies.
what more could you ask for?
we slept in until 9 and had check out at 10. then we were off the see this beautiful city in light of the sun!
we were meeting adriana and becca up at the castle, but got a little sidetracked by the incredible view.
oh, by the way me and alexa were wearing the exact same outfit basically. totes unplanned and unavoidable because we had only brought one shirt. 
oh well, i liked it! 

by some miracle, we found adriana and becca wandering around the castle. then we went into the gift shop, and i bought a handmade doll from slovakia and a hand painted ornament. they're both beautiful!

our friendly receptionist had told us about some ruins of a castle in the city of devin, so after exploring the castle we caught a bus to devin. it dropped us off and we had short walk to the ruins. 

the enjoyable walk to the castle ruins

the castle!

view of the town devin

the weather was perfect, i didn't even need to wear my coat!
best day ever 

i got some pretty sweet moves

i am a tourist, therefore i must jump off walls in front of ancient ruins and take a picture of it.

the danube river

best picture sequence ever.

the cemetery we found on our walk back to devin

we made it back to bratislava and decided to walk through the town a little bit more. one thing i really liked was that it was so small, so you could get from place to place pretty easily!

our exploration proved more than successful when we happened upon the most delicious homemade chocolates shop.  so naturally, i had to make a toast to bratislava with my nutella and vanilla fudge.
we decided anything from that place had to be good, and we were right!

they had these creepy men all over the place. during the day, not too disturbing. but at night with only their silhouettes... extremely disturbing.

paige getting a little to close for comfort.

*****read this before proceeding to the next photo*****
we were in desperate need of a restaurant for dinner, and had walked all over the city searching for one. i finally spotted the sign "sushi bar" down a street and suggested we tried walking in that direction because there was bound to be more options. well... as we approached we realized it wasn't quite the type of sushi bar we'd been searching for...

we had originally been searching for a restaurant called "flagship". we had literally walked up and down the street it was supposedly located. we found something we thought might be it, so i led the way. after walking through a wooden door, curtains, a corridor, and some traditional slovakian tunes, we walked into a cute little restaurant! we figured it was a tourist trap and it would be too expensive so we left. after walking around for another half an hour, we walked into the travel guide office and asked for recommendations. the lady gave us directions and as we walked out the door she yelled, "it's called flagship!" and then we realized the place we had been before was indeed the flagship. hahahaha
then, i had to go to the bathroom. we followed the signs to the WC and 30 cents later i was ready for dinner. this probably looks gross, but it wasn't! it's kind of the equivalent of american macaroni and cheese! but better. mm mm mm.
after dinner, we did what we had come here to do all along: the YSA activity with the bratislavan institute! it was so much fun, we played a minute to win it and the prize was a sketch of the castle! unfortunately, all the games had to do with coordination so any chance i had of winning was out the window. let me just give you a little taste of our tasks:
1. keep 3 balloons in the air for a minute, no hands allowed: fail.
2. balance a cotton ball on your head, walk across the room and dump it into a bucket, 5 times in one minute: success.
3. string 7 needles on a piece of thread in one minute: fail.
4. string 23 penne noodles on angle hair noodles into a bowl in a minute: success.
5. guide someone through an obstacle course of desks, chairs, balloons and toilet paper without touching any of these things: success.
6. unroll a roll of toilet paper by spinning around in a circle in 30 seconds: success. (most nauseous i've ever been in my life)
well, i guess i did pretty good! but it was mostly embarrassing. oh well, what's life for?
well, around 8 o'clock, i figured it might be good to see when the last train left. so we checked the train schedule and saw we had until 8:45 till the bus left or else we were there until 10. we asked some of the missionaries how long of a walk it was and they said 25 minutes. by the time everyone had their coats and backpacks on, it was 8:20. the missionaries offered to take us there. (thank goodness!) well, long story short, we ended up SPRINTING for 25 minutes to make it on time. hahahaha i'm sure it was quite the site! a bunch of american girls with huge coats and backpacks running through the quiet streets of bratislava, led by two men in suits. we made it in the nick of time, with literally 24 seconds to spare. we got on the bus and stripped down, drenched it sweat. seriously, that's how much i sweat after a ballet class or a three mile run!
running + marshmallow coat + backpack = sweating like there's no tomorrow
after cooling off a little, taking some monumental pictures and laughing a lot we settled in for the train ride back to our home in vienna.

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