Prague and Bratislava: 13-14th April 2023

WHERE ARE PRAGUE AND BRATISLAVA? Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic whereas Bratislava is the capital city of Sloviakia.   

WHAT LANGUAGES  ARE SPOKEN THERE AND WHAT'S THE CURRENCY? Czech is the main language of the Czech Republic and the currency is the Czech Koruna. Around 80% of Slovakia's population speaks Slovak  followed by Hungarian and the currency is the Euro.  

3 INTERESTING FACTS: 1) Mala Street in Prague is just 50 cm (20 inches) wide!!  2) Bratislava's nearest capital city is Vienna of Austria, just an hour by bus. 3) The Czech Republic and Slovakia are crammed full of medieval castles.

Prague's main train station - you'll find this upstairs

HOW TO GET THERE? Prague Airport is around 10 miles from the capital city. The most convenient way to reach the capital city is the direct shuttle bus or taxi. I got in very late but taxis were plentiful right outside the terminal. Bratislava Airport is just around 6 miles from the city centre. I flew with easyJet from Gatwick to Prague which took around 1 hour 50.

WHAT DID I DO AND WHAT DID I THINK? Oh goodness. More recent trips have involved last minute bookings where I can check out the weather in advance but my trip (originally to just Prague) was booked some time in advance.... and the taxi driver at the  airport said that the weather was going to be awful the next really bad! My plans to amble around the city were put on hold  and it was a case of either braving the weather or checking out the museums. As I've said elsewhere, I don't have the attention span for museums! I'm your 'get there, take a photo and move on' kinda person! Even if I were to visit a museum, there's no way that I'd spend a few hours in each one so, that night at the hotel, I was frantically googling where could I get to as the main train station was quite nearby and my flight home the next day was late in the evening. I mean, I'm more than happy to sit on a train for sometime, seeing the countryside, not sitting in a hotel room (which I had the option of doing if I paid a bit more) and at least I'd be doing something with my time. So, what did I go? I went to Bratislava in Slovakia which would mean another tick on my quest to visit 25 countries this year. 

There're a few train companies that go between these capital cities and, at the main station in Prague Main Station, you have to find the right office as there's no central office coordinating them.  The main part of the station is fairly contemporary although the platform for the train to Bratislava was almost hidden away in the 'north' section. The signage was baffling but a couple of people helped me. The photo at the top of this page is the older part of the station and it's well worth heading up the escalator as it's really pretty and you can have coffee and cake there. It's also so much quieter than the concourse below. The journey to Bratislava takes around 4 hours though it went quickly. What I've discovered so far is that train travel in mainland Europe is much cheaper than the UK, even when you pay on the day. There was  very little difference in cost between the different categories of train seats so going business class was great. I was in a compartment for 4 people and we had someone come and take orders for food and drink. The food was really varied and actually very cheap. But paying for business class, you're offered a bottle of water and a small bottle of Prosecco with a plastic glass. I need to point out that my very early train left Prague at 6.45am so it felt wickedly exciting to be offered alcohol at that time of the morning - though I don't drink! 

I'd read that the main train station in Bratislava has a huge 'Welcome to Slovakia' sign which I was very keen to photograph but it wasn't there. As I went to step out of the train station to head into the city centre, I saw that the weather was absolutely awful and many people were reluctant to step out into the street. With an hour until the next train back, I decided to check out the eateries there and bought a few souvenirs. Some places accept only Euros rather than cards. 

Should you get there, you might like to check out the Astronomical Clock and watch a puppet show at the National Marrionette Theatre...or you could shoot an AK47, visit the Sex Machines Museum and climb a ladder to peek between the buttocks of 17 foot tall giant statues where you'd hear a famous Queen anthem being played!! Look up the artist Cerny whose art installations can be found all over the city like the upside down horse, the climbing babies and the hanging man.

Would I go back? Yes, totally. I'm very aware that I didn't 'do' Prague so it's somewhere that I'd like to visit and see all the places I'd planned. This might have perhaps seemed like a waste of a trip and I know that I saw more of the trains and stations than the cities but it was nonetheless a break from daily life....and that's always a winner!