Flying to Slovakia my journey was high above the clouds so could not sense where I was physically was passing over, but I felt like a bird finally free and spreading my wings. As I came to land it was as though I was going through ice caps, the clouds did not look fluffy but irregular blocks of ice, and I was about to enter Atlantis.
Upon arrival it hit me what it must be like to not understand any word of a language, I had not looked at my Slovak phrasebook that much, but there was English alongside them. It felt like old and new meeting at once, the Slovak words making me curious not just to their sound but the traditions and people of the country I now stood.
Bratislava herself made my eyes feel at first like I had stepped into a television, so many advertisements along my path. However, her charm is something to behold, with an old town of architecturally stunning buildings and a majestic river, which at sunset was as turned my breath to light and shone over all it was touching.
The views from Bratislava castle were like seeing a new friend opening their arms and giving a giant hug, knowing I could trust her with my every word and step. The bridges made me feel I could achieve my goals, the high towers felt like I could build a life here and the red roofs, an eternal warmth of love not danger was in this city.
The Danube herself sung and danced whenever I saw her. My first impression was Strauss was right with his famous piece. An art gallery (Danubiana) sits in the middle of the river; inside was like walking on water among some incredible works of art, the statues outside felt like his guardians of all forms of Earthly life.
The trip to Plavecky hrad (castle) is a story in itself through a magnificent forest and up a steep hill to reach her ruins but rewarded with views (although hazy) worth every step of the climb. No cold and ghostly feelings from the castle herself, but a tree overlooking the view felt like the final guard to keep the ruins safe.
The day trip to Vienna along the Danube at first was spoilt, for when entering Austrian waters a fog descended, which as it lifted felt like Styx had been steering the boat. I have travelled to Austria before, the richness of the architecture to the German language made me feel like I was now in familiar but foreign ground
Upon going to leave I cried, not just in sadness to say goodbye to Blanka but to this “little big city” that had left a big impression on me and I had left a little part of me there. The flight back among the patterns of black and orange across Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands and finally to the UK. I will return soon I hope.
© Fi S. J. Brown