We only stayed in Rzeszow for one night and then we started the first good drive of the trip. Up until now, due to the very high temperatures everywhere, I have restricted our driving to two hundred miles a day. Hardly got started before I was putting her back in the garage. Today I have decided that, as the temperature has dropped to mid-twenties centigrade and it is cloudy, we will do a full four hundred miles.
Great decision because the roads in Poland are in first class condition and by and large the traffic is light to middling. The weather played ball and remained reasonable all day, although it did rain for about an hour. Fortunately, I saw the warning signs and put the top up before it started, so all text book stuff. Including several stops, we were on the road for seven hours.
We arrived in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, at around 16:00 hrs; this is the 17th country of the road-trip, including ten totally new ones for Bridget, taking her tally now to 62. We are staying here two nights, giving Bridget the day off and me the opportunity to explore Bratislava.
Until recently the city was known as Pressburg. In 2017, Bratislava was ranked as the third richest region of the European Union by GDP (PPP) per capita (after Hamburg and Luxembourg City). Almost every nation recognised by the United Nations appears to have ruled here at one time or another so its history is complicated. Its relationship with Hungary, however appears to have been the dominant one. Its history understandably, has influenced the rich architecture of the city which I am not even going to attempt to describe, but instead have included in this post, a slider of photos of a good sample.
The Pressburg name was lost when Bratislava was included in the new Czechoslovakia in 1918. It gained independence following the 1989 Velvet Revolution in the 1993 Velvet divorce.
It has a large tourism industry, which surprised me being so near to Vienna, with an estimated 1 million tourists each year. There was certainly considerable evidence of this with a large number of guided tour groups endlessly circling the old town. Bratislava also straddles the River Danube (not so blue these days) and the left bank of River Morava. The city also borders both Austria and Hungary.
From everything I could gather in Bratislava, their history was very familiar with that of Prague, although Bratislava was the seat of many Hungarian Kings and Prague was the centre of the Kingdom of Bohemia. Today however, Bratislava although ahead on the scale of GDP per head of population, it is years behind with regard to tourism. Prague currently welcomes over 8.5million tourists a year, that is 8.5 times the number that Bratislava sees.
Prague is a sophisticated city with a population double that of Bratislava, at approximately 1.1million people. The masses of architectural sites cover the and Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Again, I will prepare a slideshow of some of the hundreds of examples. The city boasts all the cultural, financial and political necessities to rank alongside Rome, London and Paris.
PS. You will notice that I have not identified every building in the slide shows. This is not total incompetence on my part, but the image is to show the architectural features many do not look up to see, and also many of the buildings are not recognised individually as part of the city’s history.
Next post I will be moving into Southern Germany and hope to have something special to report. I want to try to escape from the usual.