Articles

Expensive, Big, Fast. Bratislava

In Culture on July 11, 2007 by Petr Bokuvka

Our city is expensive, big and “fast” and it is still far ahead of the rest of the country. This is, in short, the outcome of a vox populi research made among one thousand Slovaks about their capital, Bratislava.

I lived there for two years, while working for Radio Slovakia International. Bratislava is a very exceptional place. Its downtown is very small, even when compared to Brno, but its atmosphere is unique. Its tourist attractions can be covered during a three-hour visit, which is exactly what many visitors do: they come to Bratislava from Vienna, where they spend their vacation.

Bratislava IS indeed expensive. Rents are high because of the influx of people who come to the town, looking for jobs. Or having found one. A normal newcomer must start in a “panelak” (concrete apartment building) because looking for a better apartment takes time and patience. So you need to live SOMEWHERE in order to look more in your spare time.

Bratislava IS expensive in terms of food: it pays to find the cheapest grocery store near your apartment and do the shopping on the way home from work. Quite often visiting a random store doesn’t pay off. The famous radio station building was in the very downtown where it was hard to do grocery shopping on Sundays when I had to go to work.

Bratislava IS expensive in terms of public transportation: a 10-minute ticket costs 14 crowns. For the same price you get a 40-minute ride in Brno. Which is strange given that Brno has 13 tram lines, same as Bratislava, but is much smaller.

Twenty percent of respondents said the city is dirty. Yes, and no. There are definitely things that will surprise you. A normal reaction of such a surprised visitor would be: “How can a city that has such a beautiful pedestrian zone in the historical center have a train station that is SO damn ugly, dirty and old?”. Simply put, there are way too many shocking details…

But still worth visiting… Two or three low-cost airlines serve Bratislava from most European capitals. Eurolines and Student Agency buses from Prague, too. A decent expat community. See for yourself…

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