My real job takes me to places all over Europe as of late. I’m currently blogging from my hotel room in Bratislava. If you haven’t heard of Bratislava you’re not alone, neither had I. This former Soviet block country is waking up to capitalism in a big way. It reminds me of Moscow back in the 1999 when I visited there.
The old part of town is suppose to be quite beautiful. Unfortunately, I’m in a more “industrial” part of town and probably won’t get time this trip to tour. Too bad for me because judging from some of the pictures, I’m missing some pretty sights. And speaking of pretty sights, the women here are very beautiful. They’re strikingly thin, healthy looking and tall. Again, not unlike the women I saw in Moscow (notice the word saw, not met. I am after all a happily married middle-aged geek).
Bratislava is going through a spurt of hyper-growth at the moment. My Slovakian colleagues tell me that the number of cars in the city has doubled in the last four years. That’s some fast growing for a city of 400,000. You still see many of the old Soviet era housing blocks many of which are in disrepair, but they’re are building cranes everywhere and many recognizable industry names like Siemens (my parent company), Samsung and Sony.
English is spoken here like most places in Europe owing to the large influx of outsourcing and good old American culture. They seem strangely attracted to disco era music if what I’m hearing on the radio here is any indication. The currency is the Slovakian Crown which is running about 32 crowns to the Euro at the moment or 25 to the US dollar. Many places except either Euros or Crowns but not every where. Most hotels here exchange Euros for Crowns with no commission costs.
Food has been great. My only complaint is that it’s a bit salty and I have a pretty good tolerance for salt. Most of its your standard fair and quite recognizable Western palettes. I had a really good anchovy pizza that only a real anchovy lover can appreciate. The one thing they don’t have is sandwiches. One of my colleagues asked at several places and always received a strange stare as if he had asked for some alien dish.
Alcohol is very good as well. It’s wine making country after all. The hotel we stayed at was owned by a vineyard so you can imagine the selection great. I’m more of a scotch and brandy man myself but the we had a few Pinot Noir’s that my colleagues felt were outstanding. I in turn found a locally made brandy that was simply superb. It’s called “Karpatské Brandy Špeciál” (the Carpathian Brandy Special) and it’s a winner. Beer is also excellent. I tried Topvar and Zlatý Bažant brands and was not disappointed. The proofing scale is different here. In the US we use a proofing scale where one simply divides by two to get the alcohol content (trivia, this is always measured at 60°F). In Slovakia, you’ll see ratings like 12° Proof. Dividing by 2 is approximately the alcohol content in percentage by volume. I say approximately because 100% alcohol in this scale is 175 and not 200.
I did get to the old city later in the week and was it worth it. This is a very pretty, Napoleonic city with great shopping and great eateries. Really really nice. I hiked up to the castle which appears to function as a parliament now. From up here, you can see the Danube river which bisects the town. Truly a beautiful view. There are hundreds of historical buildings and wonderful places to explore. I plan to “educate” myself about this place before I visit again.
I did manage to get some actual work done while I was there. Don’t you just hate it when work gets in the way of play?