Leaving Budapest we had two options – drive or fly. It’s only 5 1/2 hours by car; so again it would take almost as much time to deal with airports, airlines, and luggage retrieval to fly, while if we drove we could see more countryside of Hungary and the bonus is that we could stop in Slovakia!
I booked the car via mydaytrip.com and was happy that for a little bit of extra money, I could request stops along the way. Slovakia’s long history under the rule of numerous other countries and regimes ended in their independence in January 1993 after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. This is how the Czech Republic and Slovakia became formally separate countries. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia with 425,000 citizens and the country overall has a population of about 5 million.
Several years ago my oldest son was in Bratislava for a World Archery Tournament and sent home pictures and talked about how clean, tidy and friendly it was plus it had good food. And besides that — we were driving through, so a stop is necessary in order to ‘claim’ to have been to Slovakia.
When we first told our driver we wanted to stop in Bratislava on our way to Prague, he asked us ‘why?’ and joked that there wasn’t much to see there. Okay he wasn’t joking but we all laughed anyway.
Our first stop was at the Blue Church, officially named the Church of St. Elizabeth and it was getting ready for a wedding! We didn’t get to see the bride, only members of the wedding party but we were happy that we were able to take a peak inside before it was closed for the ceremony. This art nouveau building is blue – inside and out. The church, consecrated in 1913, was designed by Hungarian architect Edmund Lechner.
The old town is quite small and didn’t take much time to wander through it. We thought the theatre was quite beautiful.
Grobmutter Restaurant, “Grandmother’s Restaurant” did not have very good food and had high prices, but I enjoyed the pig out front and the sense of fun in the town square.
We popped into the crowded and energetic restaurant Mondieu for a cappuccino, tea, and croissants before heading out of the city.
The man sitting on his scooter playing a harmonica, guitar and foot drums was a kick as we excited the city square. We are in agreement with our driver that there wasn’t much to do or see on our stop in Slovakia, but I am still glad we visited.
Arriving at our hotel in Prague, we were delighted to learn we had been upgraded to a suite, compliments of the house for being a Marriott loyalist! The Augustine Hotel is an understated building due to being a former Monastery. Located in historic Lesser Town, the 13th century St. Thomas church and monastery became a luxury hotel. There is quite a bit to do within walking distance from the hotel. The staff was great, the hotel was quiet, providing a perfect place for our 5 day stay in Prague.
In our room, we were greeted with fresh warm pretzels, home made sausages, local wine and 2 bottles of beer brewed by the monks.
Next door to our hotel is the Senate Parliament building and gardens. Started in July 1623 and completed in the 1930’s, it was called Wallenstein Palace and commissioned by the Czech general and politician Albrecht Wenceslas van Wallenstein. The palace was designated the seat of the Senate of the Parliament in 1966. There is seating in front of the Parliament where citizens gather to hear speeches. The gardens are not as extensive as they once were, but the dark grey artificial rock walls are beautiful and intriguing. There are images of gargoyles, snakes, toads and other creatures carved into the wall. And the chapel, while not open to the public was beautiful from the outside.
After long day driving from Hungary to the Czech Republic with a stop in Slovakia, plus a visit to the Senate building and gardens, it was time to head to our first Michelin restaurant in Prague: Kampa Park. Read more about Kampa Park in our ‘Eating Michelin’ link.