We get checked in back at the hostel and take our bags upstairs. The elevator is, let’s say, “vintage”, and the floors are weird – they’re sectioned off by city, ours is Berlin, and once we swipe into that area we’ve got a private room with a private shitter. Very handy given the state of our guts over the last several days, although we do seem to be on the mend thanks to the Brat maybe. We throw down our shit and head back downstairs to check out the rest of the joint
There’s an add for a Bratislava pub crawl on the wall. Looks dangerous. Free unlimited beer power hour?!
The hostel girl gave us recommendations for two traditional Slovakian places, the cheaper of which is called “U Sedliaka”, so we decide to hit it up for a late lunch. It’s not busy, only a few people in there, open windows overlooking the busy street below – seems like a great spot, and looking at the menu it’s pretty cheap too.
We reference the notes that Check-in Girl gave us for can’t miss items. She’d marked off the potato dumplings and garlic soup.
We order up a good selection of grub, it’s a “platter for two” – potato dumplings with goat cheese, garlic soup and a loshka with duck liver. A couple large pivos to wash that down.
Despite there being almost no one here the service is ridiculously slow, we wait a good ten minutes for the beers and half an hour in we’ve finished our beers and the soup hasn’t even shown up yet. Are they heading into the country to pick the garlic? We order a couple more beers. A good thirty-five / forty minutes in our server informs us there’s no garlic soup – or something to that effect, we think. She doesn’t really speak English.
The Slovak Pub (ticked above) is the other place for traditional Slovakian food outside of the old town that we’re supposed to hit up, on recommendation by the hostel girl. Apparently it’s rated as one of the top fifty pubs in Europe, that’s enough to make it a must on our list. Maybe check it out tomorrow.
Five or ten minutes later soup lands on our table. Soooo they do have soup. That’s weird. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like a garlicky French onion soup. It’s good. Will definitely keep the vampires off of us.
Wow duck liver pancake. Holy shit that’s a strong taste. Like blood and dirt.
Daaaaaamn the platter is giant. Shit. Well, there goes dinner cause this meal is huge.
We plow through the meal but we’re waddling by the end, that’s a lot of potato in its various forms. Potato dumplings, bacon, cheese, hard to go wrong with thems and these.
Our next destination is the Slovak Radio Building, apparently one of the “ugliest buildings in Europe”. We Google up some pics and Murphy does find it pretty ugly but I totally disagree, I dig it – it reminds me of the best aspects of 1970s eastern bloc architecture, where as a departure from stark brutalism (ugh) some communist state buildings of the time seemed to aspire to a kind of utopian-internationalist-socialist futurism, like they were trying to imagine what 2020 would look like after the Soviets won the Cold War. (That’s my interpretation based on practically no actual knowledge… and it turns out this building started construction in the sixties, not the seventies.)
I’m rambling on about my thoughts on the matter, particularly the point that although I have zero tolerance for authoritarian regimes (be it Nazi or Commie), they do have a certain panache when it comes to fashion and architecture, and I cite the SS uniforms designed by Hugo Boss as an example – designed by H.B. the guy himself too, not the company. Again, Murphy totally disagrees, and tells me he’s going to start recording my musings to narc on me for my perceived undemocratic sympathies, haha. “Or should I turn my phone mic off so ‘The Listeners’ don’t know I’m associated with you.”
On our way to the radio building we pass through parts both more modern and more classic, check out some sculptures…
We pass through Námestie Slobody (Freedom Square). A nice big open area and green space with an interesting fountain.
The center piece of the square is the Fountain of Union, which is currently not operational. Built in 1979-80, it is a 9 meter tall linden flower, a national symbol of Slovakia. The Tilia cordata is Slovakia’s national tree, also known as the littleleaf linden. The sculpture weighs in at 12 tons. All of the underground circuitry that keeps the waters flowing is severely damaged and would take an estimated million euros to fix.
Too bad, I’d like to see what that looks like cascading from the flower onto the terraced steps, sculpture reflected in the pool.
We find a majestic looking place nearby and go up to the gates to take a peek. It’s the Summer Archbishops Palace, a 17th century building that used to be for the Archbishop but now houses government offices.
We reach the radio building and it lives up to each of our expectations…
This controversially ugly/beautiful inverted pyramid used to be a state-owned, nation-wide public service radio broadcast tower. It was started in 67 and finished in 83. The building is 80 metres high and has a 522-seat concert hall with a large concert organ inside.
Sometimes you can spot Jennifer Lawrence faking a Russian accent on the front steps
It’s getting late in the day and by the time we get turned around to the hostel the cornucopia of potato dishes will likely have worked themselves a good way through our guts, which incidentally are feeling a lot better than they have been… I’ve been playing it safe to some degree since Tallinn but I think it might be time to tie one on, I’ve got an itch that needs scratching…