A Bad Experience in Bratislava, Slovakia: How Not Planning My Trip Led to it
Updated: Jul 2
Many travelers will constantly talk about traveling with flexibility, travel without plans, travel freely. It is the natural antithesis to the people who plan their trips down to the minute. There are absolutely pros and cons to each style and usually a middle ground between planning and keeping flexibile will, in my experience, lead to the less stressful situations while still gaining incredible memories.
This blog is about a time where I chose to visit the destination of Bratislava completely on a whim with no plan other than it being a stopping point on my way from Vienna to Budapest by train and had a bad experience.
The way I typically go about trips is to spend many hours in front of the computer figuring out where I am looking to go, when I will be going, and for how long to spend in each location. The ensuing steps will pertain with how to piece it all together with flights, trains, or other means of transportation as well as accommodations. My itinerary is usually rather set for the most part after bookings are made primarily because flights are non-refundable for the cheapest rates. Once I have built my itinerary as far as destinations go I will then make lists of all the things I could do or see when I am visiting. This list is just a general list without specific time or dates and can be adjusted once I am at the destination. With this list though, I have a basic idea of what I might want to do so that I am not wasting valuable time without a single clue of what to do.
The Trip Backstory
I was staying in Vienna, Austria at the end of January and my next stop was Budapest, Hungary. In the morning I made it to Wein Central Train Station and walked up to the counter to get my ticket. It was a 1 hour train ride from Vienna to Bratislava, Slovakia. I paid to put my bag into a locker and tried to speak with the worker at the desk about the times for the next trains that would leave for Budapest (it was not easy). Something I learned very quickly is that, in my experience, English was not very prevalent as a second language both speaking and with the signs/screens. Most countries I had visited in Europe with the exception of Poland had English options on the ticket machines for any public transportation.
Arrival into Bratislava
This presented a major challenge considering I had done zero research previously about what to see in Bratislava or what bus number would get me to downtown. After walking in and out of the station multiple times and asking quite a few people (to no avail due to language barrier) I finally decided to just take a random bus from the adjacent bus station and hope that it was going in the correct direction. Fortunately, it was Bus 93 that took me right into the center of Bratislava (so a little bit of luck was needed).
A major issue that was prevalent for me while visiting Bratislava was that it was absolutely freezing cold. This lead to difficulty walking the streets as the air was frigid and also the sidewalks had accumulated a bunch of ice. The final issue that came from this winter weather was that a great deal of businesses were closed. After a walk from the bus stop along a variety of streets, I reached Bratislava Castle. This seemed to be the main site to see in the city and it had a great panoramic view of the city. This was just about it though. I had no idea what else to do while I was there so I took Bus 93 back to the train station and got my ticket on the next train for the 2.5 hour ride to Budapest.
Bratislava, Slovakia is not a Bad Destination
My personal experience with Bratislava was less about the destination itself and what it has to offer, but was more based upon detailing the reasoning behind why I tend to plan out my travels with better layout before visiting. I am certain that had I done some prior research and laid out at least some top things that I would be interested in seeing before arriving to Bratislava, I would have experienced a better time there and would not have decided to cut out early on my way down to Budapest.
A future blog will detail my specific planning style of how I layout my trips and piece together each one of them and what I have learned along the way that has best helped me make the absolute most of my travels. If you have any questions or comments you can always reach out to me at email@example.com or on Instagram @travelinggibson. Thank you for reading and good luck with your travels!