Spending almost 40 days in countries once behind the ‘iron curtain’ was long enough. We liked them all for different reasons: Estonia for its spa towns, Latvia for its beaches, Lithuania for its capital Vilnius and Poland for affordable dining, but we’d had enough of social housing blocks and villages busy with billboards.
We chose to enter the ‘west’ to Austria via Slovakia rather than the Czech Republic; because Slovakia uses the Euro, is more open to wild-camping and the capital Bratislava looked accessible to visit.
After purchasing a 7-day motorway vignette for €10, our first stop was Trencin, which was about halfway from our spot in Poland and Bratislava. It also had a micro-brewery, which we learnt via the ourtour blog; so it was a perfect stopover.
Parking at the swimming baths next to the river and football ground, we made the short walk into town through a little drizzle.
Dominated by the castle above, the old town square (which looks very new), features the usual baroque church, water fountains and several eateries including the Lanius Brewery. Beyond the square we found second-hand shops, 60s government buildings and strip clubs!
Back at the Lanius Brewery we both enjoyed their ‘Bohemian Ale’, picked because of the name and the fact we were not far from ‘Bohemia’, it was their own take on a Kolsch beer from Cologne (you cannot call it Kolsch if it’s not brewed in Cologne).
Risking the temptation of sampling all their beers, which included an Irish Stout and the average price was just €1.70; we went back to the van for the night.
The next morning was Bank Holiday Sunday back home, and just like home; it was raining here. With so much of our trip being warm, the rainy days haven’t dampened our spirits; in fact we use them as a great excuse to stay in the van and watch netflix or iplayer.
For €2.50 each we enjoyed a short swim at the pool, which had an amazing view of the castle, but the real reason was to make use of the showers.
All cleaned, we moved onto Bratislava in the evening, a city which wasn’t a capital when we were growing up and neither of us knew much about. Parked right beside the Danube river, we had an amazing view of the castle and waterfront.
The next day we walked into town, crossing the UFO Bridge and directly into the 18th-century old town. In between visiting the castle, the blue church and Cumil (all the usual tourist spots), we made a few refreshment breaks at Mestiansky Pivovar (both of their establishments) and The Black Dog, where we tried pickled brie; sounds disgusting but it was very nice.
Just before supper in the van, we had a final drink at Dunajsky Pivovar, a boatel with onboard brewery and the same amazing view from our van.
Bratislava is definitely on our list to visit again. The location of the free parking, a pleasant old town to explore and great beer at fabulous prices, which give Poland some competition; all came as a complete and welcome surprise.