I thought I was going to be the first to call it this….but NO…evidently not so.
Bratislava in Slovakia (Pop about 470,000) has actually been labeled the “City Of Fun” by several others in the past, and long before our visit in the Spring of 2013 (well this is what I’ve recently read on the almighty Google network anyway).
Mind you it’s really not at all surprising that others have also graced it with this name. With its oh-so-charmingly comical elements and its deeply embedded sense of humour, this tag just seems to be a rather perfect fit somehow. I believe it describes modern day Bratislava remarkably well. And after our early info-walk around the old town area, on what was now Day 13 of our wonderful river cruise, this was precisely the catch phrase that had begun to echo in my brain as we’d soaked up the cities new contemporary atmosphere.
However, I should probably also add, our visit just happened to coincide with a sort of “Schoolies” day in the city. Many of Bratislava’s final year High School students were out and about, wandering the old town areas, looking to create some mischief of their own and having, what looked like, a jolly good time.
They were obviously fund raising…..trying to collect donations (more precious penny treasure from we, the impoverished river cruise tourists, who had already given all of our carefully saved pennies away to the wonderful Viking Company LOL– see my post “Lost in Regensberg” for more about how our personal penny treasure had already disappeared).
Schoolie funds raised would soon be put towards their own after dark celebrations that evening. These, we were told, would begin just after sun-down that same evening. As the moon began to rise and the sun began to set and sink behind the old city horizon, the young were obviously about to put on their new shoes and party like they’d never done before!
By then it would be time for all self-respecting Viking River Cruise Tourists to be sailing on!
Well I guess many people would have cringed at the thought of having a bunch of rowdy, out-of-control Schoolies partying all around on the streets as they explored a new city, but actually ….this was NOT the case at all. These excited young people appeared to be quite well-behaved albeit VERY VERY boisterous, VERY VERY happy and VERY VERY noisy. I found it a most convivial atmosphere and I believe it actually added to, rather than subtracted from, our morning visit to this wonderful mid-sized city.
Geographically, Bratislava, Slavakia is close by the Carpathian Mountain range of Central Europe. According to Wikipedia, it occupies the Southwestern corner of the new nation. Sprawling around the Danube, the little Danube and the Morava River. It is actually renowned as the only independent National Capital to border two independent countries….namely Austria and Hungary.
Indeed at one time in this cities’ early history (1526 -1867) Bratislavia had been the grand capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and part of the larger Habsburg Family ruled territories. At that time it had been called Pressburg (1536-1783).
Post World War 1 it became part of the new nation of Czechoslovakia.
Post World War 2 it was forced into a far more serious chapter in history when it became part of the organised communist block of countries. Bratslavia then remained oppressed, socialist and centrally ruled for near on 5 decades until, in early 1993, it is described as undergoing the “Velvet Divorce” from these restrictive socialist ties.
The separation heralded in a whole new era as Bratislava became part of the new Republic of Slovakia.
Perhaps it is because of, or indeed perhaps it is in spite of….. all those years of strict control (I’m not actually sure which), but Bratislava today exudes the most wonderful sense of humour.
While the city was largely refurbished in the late 20th century, its historical town centre remains fairly intact. But wherever you go, wherever you look as you wander the city’s streets today, there’s evidence of so many new and lighter, one could even say, more whimsical touches. They all add to the cities new and cheerful atmosphere. As you can see from my photos, modern Bratislava is indeed a most wonderful experience…..a city just brimful of fun. Today it could easily become a new centre for the arts.
For more informative reflections on Bratislavia, Slovakia you might like to read these wonderful posts from Terri and James Vance at Gallivance on WordPress:
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