Friday, May 2, 2008

In Bratislava

I arrived in Bratislava, the Slovakian Capital, late last night from Kiev after a missed connection in Prague and a five hour layover.  It was a long day and I wasn't a happy camper. When I have days like yesterday I think I should give up traveling.  And when I have days like today, I'm glad I'm still doing it.

Bratislava is only an hour from Vienna and not far from Budapest.  It was formerly called Pressburg and had large German and Jewish communities.  I had heard of Pressburg before but had no idea that it was modern day Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.  The Jewish population today is about 800 out of a total of 400,000+ of which 90% are said to be Slovak. is a website which tracks the Jewish history of Bratislava.  Tommorow, May 1, is the European Labor Day Holiday which I will have off and use to tour the city.  I will also see what Jewish sites I can find along the way, perhaps the Jewish Museum if it is open on the holiday. 

My hotel is next door to the embassy which is right in the heart of this very attractive city.  The city fathers have spent a lot of money since the breakup of the Communist Bloc to restore old buildings and to spruce things up. They have a beautiful old Opera House and apparently a very active theater and cultural scene.  Most of the narrow streets in the city center are for pedestrians only  and are filled with lots of outdoor cafes and restaurants.  It is typical of the cafe society one finds in most of the old cities of Central Europe. People sit in the cafes for hours visiting and drinking cafe, wine or beer while musicians play in the squares for tips.  I must say it is very pleasant, especially when the weather is nice as it was today, I only wish that Gertrud and a few friends were here to share it with me. 

The wikipedia page below has a lot of information on Bratislava's culture and history.

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