A taste of Slovakia: What to do with 3 hours in Bratislava

Day 5 of my Eastern Europe tour with C the World takes us for a short visit to Bratislava en route to Budapest.  As this was a short stop with limited time and so much to see in this beautiful town, below are some ideas on what to do based on my time there.

1. Take a guided tour or walk around yourself

As part of the tour package, we had a short guided tour of the town that showed us some of the historic sites and buildings.

TIP: The guided tour is good for an orientation of the place, however, if you have only 3 hours I would suggest you skip this and rather walk around on your own as its small enough to do so. Also look up anything specific you want to see as I understand there are a few monuments and pieces of art located across the town.

2. Try the local Slovakian food

Whenever I travel I love to sample and experience the local traditional foods.  The food in Bratislava did not disappoint and there was a variety to choose from – even for those fussy eaters.

Note: Most foods include pork or pork fat though so ensure to ask your waiter what is used in the dish if you don’t eat pork.

Some must try local foods include:

  • Bryndzové Halušky (Gnocchi with melted goats cheese sauce and crispy bacon bits)
  • Orechovnik (Slovak Nut Roll/Pastry)

We ate at Segnerova Kuria,a restaurant on the main street leading to the lookout tower. I would highly recommend this place as it has an extensive menu but more specifically it offered a to-share platter with 5 different Slovakian dishes. There was enough food for 3 to share.

This was a great score as we got to taste a variety of dishes which included:

  • Bryndzové Halušky
  • Strapačky (Traditional Slovak gnocchi dish but with sour cream)
  • Ručne robené domáce pirohy plnené bryndzou podávané s kyslou smotanou a opraženou cibuľkou a slaninkou (Homemade potato pastry filled with sheep cheese with roasted onions, bacon and sour cream)
  • Ručne robené domáce zemiakové gule plnené údeným mäskom, podávané s kyslou kapustou a opraženou cibuľkou (Homemade potato balls filled with smoked meat, served with sauerkraut and roasted onions)
  • Savoury pancakes (not sure what the Slovakian name for this is, but if you ask for pancakes this is what you will get)

20170430_121259

My favorites were the savory pancakes and the traditional gnocchi.

The savoury pancakes were the best here than anywhere else I tried them thereafter on the trip.

3. Go up the central tower

20170430_124348

To go to the top of the tower. You have to enter the museum at the left hand side of the arch. It’s the 1st wooden door and will cost you €4.50 entry fee.  The view though is worth it!

Entrance to the Museum and look out Tower

About five to six flights of stairs later you will be at the top of the tower and will have a magnificent 360 degree view of Bratislava. The museum itself houses a collection of medieval weaponry, armor and some clothes of officers.

20170505_171526

20170505_171708

4. Get a beautiful Slovakian souvenir

There so many pretty and interesting shops and market stalls – you will definitely want to buy something here!

The cost of souvenirs are much cheaper than in Germany and Vienna. You will also likely find a more unique gift (compared to the usual souvenir stuff you see everywhere else).

20170505_170723

20170430_114649

20170430_105305

Hope you enjoy your Bratislava visit and what it has to offer.  If you have other great tips and unique things to see/do in Bratislava please leave a comment.

Happy travels fellow adventurers 🙂

Patrick and Julia Show us Frankfurt

Hello Germany!

After a small delay with my flight I finally get out of arrivals to met my Spanish beauty of a friend Helena at Terminal 1 and we head off to the Regional Train Station to take the train to Frankfurt Main Station – Our holiday officially begins! Wahoo!

It’s been 9 months since I last saw Helena and 3 years since Julia and Patrick where in South Africa on secondment. I cannot wait to see them. As with any holiday…your friends and travel companions truly make it even more memorable.

Hotel – 24 Hours by Levi’s     

Our hotel was a mere 5 min walk from the station and as we walk in we are impressed with the funky feel and vibe. The building is painted to look like it is a cardboard box. The front desk looks like its made from washing machines and the guy at reception is really cute 🙂 ha ha…plus our room is a pretty good size.  The hotel has a vibey bar and restaurant down stairs during the evening/night – with a nice cocktail selection and food menu.

IMG_20170423_193558

Warning for non-couples sharing: There is no door separating the shower/bathroom from the main bedroom room (the toilet is however separate). Luckily the room is big enough for you to sit in a section out of view of the shower to provide some privacy – so we managed.

Rating: 8/10 I would definitely stay there again and would choose the 24 Hour range of hotels in the future at other locations. You get all the comfort, style and amenities of a top hotel for a fraction of the price. Plus!!! Did I mention the hotel has 1 or 2 Mini Coopers and few bicycles available for guests to use for free!!! Now that’s service.

Let the adventures begin… Day 1 in Frankfurt

Our 1st day in Frankfurt was planned by Patrick, who showed us some great local spots and some of his favorite places which he often spoke off during his time in Johannesburg. What an absolutely fantastic way to start of my holiday…Helena and I were truly spoilt by Pat and Julz. We not only got to experience some beautiful countryside (which I love more than the city) but we also got to see some of the lovely places my friends love to go to and which they hold dear (like the venue Pat had his wedding reception at) – this made the visits a tad more special. Best of all we got to spend some quality time together catching up over good food and drinks. What more could you ask for!

If your looking for something different to do to which provides you with a wide taste of what Frankfurt has to offer (i.e. mix of some typical and off the beaten track places) – here’s my suggestion on what to do with 24 hours in Frankfurt:

1. Kleinmarkthalle (Old Town Market Hall)

Start your day with a early visit to the old town market hall to experience the hustle and bustle in the heart of Frankfurt city centre. The hall is filled with stalls selling fruit, vegetables, cheese, breads, sweets, flowers and yummy food to try.  It has a meat section too were you can see the various sausages and meat selections on display. A true market feel filled with local people doing their morning shopping. The queues are especially long since shops are closed on Sundays.

IMG_20170423_193649

Klienmarkthalle, Frankfurt City Centre

After taking in the scenery, grab something savoury or sweet (whatever your preference) from the Huck Bäckerei & Konditorie stall (which both Patrick & Julz swears is one of the best bakeries in town) and head over for a cup of coffee (which was really cheap with 3 cappuccinos and a cafe mocha costing less than 10 Euros in total) at the Frankfurter Kaffeerösterie stall to enjoy with your tasty treat (which is Patrick’s favourite place to get a good coffee).

20170422_124821

Julia, Patrick, Me & Helena enjoying some coffee and baked goods at the Klienmarkthalle

2. Walk through Römerberg Square and City Skyline

Once your tummies are full, talk a slow stroll throw the beautiful Römberberg Square which is surrounded by old century houses, cafes/restaurants and local musicians (No. 1 on the map below) . This is a very touristy area so you will find lots of tourists and many souvenir shops.  I think this is the most beautiful part of the city to explore.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next head towards the river bank and enjoy a photographic and panoramic view of the city skyline as you walk across the bridge filled with love locks.

20170422_132308

On this particular Saturday, the was a mini flea market on the other side of the embankment (turn right at the end of the bridge when you reach No.8 on the map), so we took a stroll through and along the river bank lined with trees (that looked similar to Baobab trees to me as result of their pruning) as we made a loop to come back across the next bridge.  We then decided to walk a little further down to the Opera house before we headed back to the car to take our main trip into the country side.

Frankfurt City Map

3. Wiesbaden Town

A small historical town with beautiful buildings and parks (architect lovers would like the place). For a Saturday, the town was pretty quite. We made it just in time to catch the next sightseeing tram/train – which took us around the area, showings us some historical buildings and funny stories behind some of the houses. The audio tour is in German but they do have a book with English, Spanish and other translations. With some hot coffee’s in our hands, we headed off on our little tour. Patrick has been waiting for visitors so that he can do this tram tour 🙂 – I am glad he got to experience it with us.

This was a nice stop en route to our final destination and it was an opportunity to see more of the surrounding areas. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but I saw some nice little shops, places to eat and opportunities to be outdoors in a beautiful park. We had a fun time, but this is largely thanks to the company I was with.

4. Schloss Freudenberg (“Castle Joy Mountain) & Cafe, Wiesbaden

We passed though the cherry blossom trees on our way for a quick pit stop to Château de Freudenberg for some coffee and cake. This was the place Patrick had his wedding reception and it was fantastic to hear him talk us through the event and settings.

Tip: Cherry Blossom season is around April/May and cherry picking season around June/July depending on the weather. Both are beautiful times to visit the area.

The place houses varies exhibitions and would be fun if you have kids. The unusual games located across the garden and within are centered around using your senses. On certain days they have a cocktail night with a live band playing. Our visit took us to the mini restaurant situated inside the left corner of the house. On the menu was a rooibos and orange tea – I was surprised to see rooibos on the menu 🙂  so off course I had to try it. It wasn’t the same as the real rooibos we get at home.

The decor of the restaurant is quite interesting, on the one corner there is hole with insects/ants coming out onto the ceiling. Not as creepy as it sounds, in fact it was very cool and interesting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This isn’t a must stop visit, but if you in the area and would like to stop for a nice cup of coffee and a bite to eat it makes for an unusual and interesting stop especially if you have kids with you.

5. Elt Ville – Baiken Restaurant

Imagine a beautiful country vineyard with fields of grape vines, a old country house, wine barrels and scenery that makes you feel like you have just been transported to another country when compared to the concrete jungle you’ve just escaped – almost feels like your at one of the Cape Town wine farms. The country side, the places only known by the locals, where menus and signs don’t have English translations is the true German experience. These are the places I love visiting most when on holiday because here you get to really interact with local people and experience their hospitality and culture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The restaurant is cosy and rustic, the menu small – since its based on seasonal produce – which means you getting good quality food. At the time it was asparagus season so everywhere you went all menus featured asparagus. I am no wine connoisseur and I like Rosè/sweet wines which some may say do not qualify as wine – but they had what seemed to me quite a range of wines to choose from. I tried the sweetest possible white wine on the menu and although not sweet to my liking,  it was enjoyable and not too heavy for me. For mains I ordered the chicken dish with asparagus risotto and boy was it delicious! I finished the everything on that plate.

20170422_19590520170422_195847

This is a stop you do not want to miss!

Tip: Make sure you make a reservation to avoid disappointment. The place is small and in winter mainly the inside is used so space is limited.

Our last stop was to visit Sandra (Pat’s wife, since she couldn’t make supper due to an unforeseen delay) and to see their newly built home. We spent the rest of late evening here having a few drinks and a few laughs with their two cats. Their home is beautiful – its built with “black” timber which is so unusual but inside its so bright and airy, the unique finishes make it homey with Sandra’s paintings hanging on the wall, a bright vintage locker (the kind you would find in a locker/change room at the gym) at the entrance to keep your coats and a metal filling cabinet for your shoes. Love the idea! Unfortunately, I can’t share their address with you and you will have to find your own local German family to visit along the way 🙂

After a long day out, Helena and I decided to try out the cocktails at the bar downstairs of our Hotel. The restaurant was busy and the drinks were strong which meant we stayed and chatted for far longer than we planned. But when you live in two different countries and don’t see each other often, you can never have enough girly chat sessions 🙂

Day 2 in Frankfurt

After a good nights sleep, we were fresh and ready to hit the town. Julia took us out for breakfast to a really cool restaurant next to the river bank and we had a lazy Sunday morning chatting and eating lots of food!

After brekkie, Helena and I wondered around central town.

NB Note:  Shops are closed on a Sunday! Except for a few tourist shops, places to eat and the main station. So best you find something else to do out of town on a Sunday and if you a are shopaholic don’t plan to do this on a Sunday.  This was found to be common in many European cities visited – so best check beforehand the shopping hours of your location.

It being a bitterly cold day and with no shops open, there was not much for us to do after we walked around the main area. The freezing windy weather eventually drove us back to the Hotel were we were warm, had WiFi and could order a hot drink.

Beware of the dodge massage places

Continue reading

Hello World

Today marks my entry into the blogging world.  For years I have shared my pictures and stories of my wonderful adventures with family, friends and strangers along the way via Facebook and in person. Giving tips on things to do, places to see and exciting things to experience – all of which have been well received and often followed with “you should start a blog Viks” or “i love reading your posts, it makes me feel like I am right there with you” from my Facebook friends.

So I started with opening an Instagram account (Follow me: vikki.v) and loading few of my pics – as and when I remember to do so. And now I after numerous occasions of saying I must start blogging – I have finally set up my blog site 🙂 in time for my upcoming trip to Germany and Eastern Europe to see some of the good friends (across the globe) I made whilst at University of Glamorgan (now University of South Wales). Whoop Whoop #nomattertheweatheraslongasweretogether

A little bit about me –  I yearn to travel every chance I get (there is just not enough annual leave days in the year to quench my travel bug). I love to explore, try new things, meet new people, always looking for something new/unique to try and sharing these experiences with friends/family.  I can’t get enough of wildlife and wildlife photography – there’s just something special in having a moment with a magnificent animal and capturing that perfect shot – so again any chance to interact with an animal and you will find me there!  I am a lawyer by profession and currently work in the corporate governance space in South Africa – I love what I do and the company I work for. It provides me with the balanced life I want and an opportunity to feel like I am adding some value (even if in the smallest way) to the improvement and upliftment of our country.  And off course, my after work activities must involve dance – salsa, bachata and kizomba are my weekly activities with the vibrant Salsa Jozi community and fellow dancers within SA.  The feeling when you are on the dance floor, unaware of your surroundings, just feeling the music and energy being created through this artistic conversation you are having with your partner is unexplainable #MyHeartBeatsBachata #SalsaAddicst #SalsaSpirit #HNS #RooftopSalsa.

In short, I can safely say that I live life to the fullest 🙂 and I LOVE my life!

I hope my posts to come will reflect my zest for life and the wonderful people I have in it,  will help you in your travel and/or adventure plans, will make you smile, laugh and most of all inspire you to go out explore and live life to the fullest.

Hello World! Welcome to my life and seeing the world through my eyes 🙂

Lets start an adventure….