I get back from Devin Castle to Hostel Blues and up to the room. James is still asleep. Wow. Blew the day away. I get him up for a little intel gathering sesh. We’re winding things down here in Bratislava. To continue our Plan B mission (Bratislava, Budapest, Bucharest and Belgrade) we’ll need to find a safe house in Hungary’s capital. Our initial queries result in a wealth of shit to do in an incredible looking city and a baller hostel named Pals right in the main square around St. Stephen’s Basilica. We book a couple of nights there and will figure out the rest along the way.
Getting on dinner time now so we decide to investigate Check-in Girl’s other traditional Slovak food recommendation, simply called the Slovak Pub. It’s just around the corner from the hostel but we take a mini detour back to Old Town for a little dusk walkabout. We follow the loop through Hviezdoslav Square under the trees…
…and then back through Michael’s Gate.
Lots of good looking spots in this area too. Beautiful spot to enjoy a beer on a patio but we’ve got our tummies tuned to the Slovak Pub.
We find the Slovak Pub just a couple blocks from Hostel Blues. There’s a long entrance way and then steps leading up to the place. A chalkboard on the way in says they have the best Halušky in town. This is the mini dumplings dish we pigged out on at Viecha u sedliaka yesterday.
The entrance has an altar above the door. Lot’s of interesting decor in this hallway actually.
We get up to the main room and get seated. It already seems better than Viecha u sedliaka. Where that was more like a family place with zero flare, this place has a more lively atmosphere and feels more like an old fashioned pub. I can see locals liking the U Sedliaka better but Slovak Pub is more up our alley.
Interesting.. ceiling.. thing
We put in a round of Zlatý Bažant, the most widely available Slovak pilsner, and a sheep milk cheese plate to get things started.
Ice cold steins. Fantastic
The sheep milk cheese plate is delicious. Crumbly and braided with a similar taste to goat cheese.
A couple of Halušky dishes come out and we’re diving back into dumplings, cheese and bacon bits. This one is creamy and amazing.
And this one is more hearty, beefy and also amazing.
We also get a larger stuffed dumpling dish, which is one dish too much, but damn is it good.
Yep, this place is tha bomb. We might have just doubled down on this joint had we come here first. We get another round of the Golden Pheasant to finish up and chill.
At a neighboring table there is a Korean girl with blue hair sporting a trendy white sundress and tall red platform shoes enjoying her meal by herself. She’s on her phone just chilling, doing cutesie stuff, taking pics for the gram, etc….
She keeps glancing over but I don’t think it’s that she’s interested in hanging with fellow travelers. Probably doing it more because she’s overly self-conscious about being the only Asian girl in the place while also being super dolled up pretty and acting influencer-esque, recording herself on her phone and whatnot. Maybe doing multiple takes of her experience. Seems like there’s an interesting story here but we just leave her be. She’s obviously working on some sort of social media travel post that’s important to her.
But some local dude with a beer just goes right over and sits with her, claiming there are no other seats available. Totally just interrupts her meal. She’s adjusts quickly and is being polite but obviously would rather not be entertaining this fool. He’s trying to initiate conversation in English awkwardly, especially since she’s more fluent in it than him. She’s acting interested but clearly isn’t. He’s being very forward now, reaching for her hand. This Fucker. Ok, I’m gonna go over and clear this prick outta here.
She’s only half done her meal but discretely gets the bill anyways, says, “It was nice meeting you!” and just up and leaves quickly.
MacKay is watching this all go down, he’s disgusted with it as well. “If he gets up to follow her we’re going after him”, “Definitely.” Instead, he nurses his beer dejectedly and sits on his phone the rest of the time. What a fucking douchebag. She was having a good time too. So were we for that matter. Atmosphere’s kinda meh now, “Get going?”, “I think so.”
On the way down the stairs we look around a bit more
I’m not sure how official this lonely planet ranking of 23rd best pub worldwide is but I’d definitely chalk this place up as a killer traditional food and hang out spot. If it wasn’t for that little predatory episode we probably would have been happy to kick it here indefinitely.
We dumpling waddle back to Hostel Blues. “Grab the lappy and do the blog and beer thing downstairs?”, “Hostel common areas are a danger zone for productivity. You know there’s most likely gonna be someone there to drink with”, “Well if that happens.. so be it”, “Fair enough.”
Down to the danger zone and it’s exactly as expected, Emil looks back at us “Ohhhhh well look who it is?” Dominic is there too, “Thanks for getting us drunk last night you Canuck fucks!” They’re having drinks with three new faces: a dark skinned Grecian guy, a jock Aussie dude and a smiley girl from Kingston, Ontario.
I get called out by the Aussie almost immediately for the King Gizzard shirt I’m wearing. The others haven’t heard of them, Dominic asks “What do they sound like?” and the Aussie just scoffs. I give it a shot, “Well I think they kind of started as progressive punky psychedelic rock but have since put out albums of folk, jazz, vibey shit, and the last one is thrash metal”, “What? That makes no sense”, “If you listen to it, it kind of does”, “Psychedelic folk punk jazz metal?”, “Yep haha. Not all at once. But yeah”, “Ok. Here try these chips!”
Dominic pushes a bag of Slovak potato chips my way. “Oh nice, trying out obscure chip flavors in other countries is one of my favorite things to do”, “Me too! I can’t place the taste of these. They’re delicious though.” I try them out. Oh yeah, they are delicious. Perfectly salty, kind of tangy and then a kick of spice too. What is that? “Dijon or spicy mustard? Maybe horseradish”, “Hoooooorse radish. Ya ya!”
We get some beer and gather round. Dominic tells us the free walking tour he went on earlier was good. It sounds exactly like what MacKay and I did yesterday on our walkabout actually. Old Town, Michael’s Gate, Námestie Slobody square, the Slovak Radio Tower. It sounds like they went to all four gates in the city and got some history on each. Apparently it went a little long though and he only had time to get to the castle and back afterwards. “That’s good though. Basically what we did yesterday”, “Oh you guys are soooooo cool. You’ve already been there, done that”, “Haha nah, Canadians are just naturally way smarter and more efficient than the Dutch”, “Oh ok, we’re getting right into it then! haha….”
I ask the Greek guy his name and where in Greece he’s from. Can’t pronounce the name but he says he’s from Thessaloniki. “Oh cool. We met a girl in Innsbruck the other day from there as well”, “Really?”, “Yep, it was her birthday and we…”
We also tell the story about going to Greece twice in one day on the Mongol Rally. Long story short we drove from Bulgaria into Greece, had a nice lunch in a bullshit rundown border town, then crossed into Turkey. Only to find that they don’t accept the transit papers for non-local vehicles at that particular border crossing. So we weren’t allowed into Turkey and had to go back into Greece to the Bulgarian border again, re-enter, and then drive to the Bulgaria-Turkey border.
This resulted in a totally ridiculous looking full passport page of stamps going out of Bulgaria, into Greece, Out of Greece, denied at Turkey, back into Greece, out of Greece, into Bulgaria, out of Bulgaria, and into Turkey. “And that’s how you get 8 stamps in one day and look like an incompetent drug mule”, ‘Or a highly effective one!”
We continue doing rounds of travel stories like this for a while and everyone is getting a decent buzz on and laughing it up. Then MacKay starts telling another story. These guys know this to be a reliable source of entertainment at this point and everyone instinctively pulls in, ear sensors dialed. Dominic says, “Here we go, gather round the campfire everyone” and Emil adds, “I think it’s your voice. You should do cartoon voice overs.”
MacKay starts talking about how he got locked out of the room last night in his underwear. Dominic interjects, “Wait.. what apartment were you in?”, “One of the ones in ‘Berlin'”, “Ohhh I fucking haaaaaaate you. I fucking hate you, man!”, “Hahaha oh shit are you on that floor too?”, “I was thinking.. what kind of asshole would do something like that? And now I know…” he points at MacKay, “this kind of asshole. The drunk Canadian kind of asshole. Not so polite after midnight, eh? Ohh I fucking haaaaaaate yoooou!”, “Hahaha sorry man. I guess I was pretty drunk actually. Anyways, this girl opened the door and gave me this nasty look…”, “Yes! Ya that was my room. She was in our dorm. We all hate you haha.”
MacKay finishes up and everyone’s just shaking their heads. Emil starts laughing again, “I woke up thinking oh my God those fucking Canadians got me wasted”, “Oh James, you should have just blamed it on the drunk Austrian kid!”
All of the front desk employees we’ve met over the past few days are all here tonight as well. They’re at stools along the front having drinks too and chair dancing to a bouncy playlist over the hostel speakers. It’s one of their birthdays and they cut up some cake and share it around. Good vibe in Blues tonight.
Oh fuck, that Dance Monkey song by Tones and I comes on. This damn song is playing everywhere we go. The hostel crew are asking for requests so we toss a few dance tracks their way to keep things on vein. Emil requests Be Mine by Ofenbach.
Never heard it before. It’s decent, fairly standard. “Is this what the Austrian youth is listening to these days?”, “Better than fucking Bieber!”, “Hey now. He’s a national treasure”, “He’s the Nicholas Cage of music!”
A couple more rounds and it seems like things are petering out, people peeling off one by one. I suppose it is a Monday night. It’s basically down to the four of us from last night. We have a few more rounds with Emil and Dominic and tell them we’re taking off tomorrow for Budapest. Emil says he’s going to be there too. “Great! We can get you drunk in Hungary too then”, “Do you have facebook? You can message me where you’re at and I’ll come meet up”, “Sweet!”
We exchange info and everyone splits off to their rooms for the night. Honestly, sometimes hostel lounges just organically turn into the best bars. You get to meet people, see them multiple days in a row, get comfy and chatty. I like a good relaxed atmosphere like this one that you can talk in as opposed to party hostels with blaring music and obnoxious jager-bombers yelling in the background (although sometimes…). The Bratislava – Hostel Blues vibe nails it perfectly. Or at least we’re able to turn it into that.
Ok, back to the room. Lights out. Budapest tomorrow. Plan B part two. I anticipate good things.