Top 10 Newest Countries

I was just reading Lonely Planet’s list of top 10 countries that didn’t exist 20 years ago and was thinking that the European countries mentioned are already some of my favourite places to visit in Europe.

Czech Republic

I’ve been to Prague three times now and each time I fall in love with it just a little bit more. It’s the kind of place where you feel like you have stepped back in time and it completely matches my image of how a European city should be. If I could convince F that it’s a great place to live for a while (and if it wasn’t so damn cold) then I’d move there in a heartbeat. Last year I also had a quick look around Brno which is a nice little town where you can explore almost tourist free, unlike in the centre of Prague where you’d be lucky to run into a local.

Prague

Slovakia

I only made it to Bratislava for the first time last year and is one of the most laid back European capitals I’ve ever been to. Its adorable old town, unique white castle, tasty local beer, and super friendly people made me want to stay much longer than the afternoon I did. Being able to visit a fantastic walking city without being trampled by tourists (hello Prague!) was a lot of fun and I loved every minute in Bratislava. I’ll definitely return.

Bratislava

Bosnia & Herzegovina

My trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina was the biggest failure of a trip I’ve ever had. I spent almost 4 hours on the bus from Dubrovnik to Mostar only to discover the only bus back that day was in 30 minutes. So all I saw of Mostar was the main street heading in to the city, the bus station, and the main street heading out of the city. Yay! I did see enough to make me want to go back and these two posts convinced me Sarajevo would be one of the highlights of the Balkans. Even though my day trip didn’t work out I was so happy to be somewhere so different from the rest of Europe.

Bosnia

Montenegro

Unfortunately I only drove through Montenegro, spent the night in Ulcinj and then left for Albania first thing in the morning. From what I saw of Kotor, through the bus window, it looked beautiful, as does the Budva Riviera. There are a few other places in Montenegro I am dying to see, including everything listed here. This is another country I felt right at home in even though I only stayed for a matter of hours. Weird.

Budva

Photo credit: Andrew Pescod

Kosovo

It’s a shame I only got to visit Prizren and not the rest of Kosovo because I hear there is much to see in the rest of the country but Prizren was a great introduction to Europe’s newest country. Even though it’s small it’s a lively city and all the cafes and restaurants were full to capacity for the entire time I was there. The food was delicious, the people were so friendly I made about 5 friends in the 4 hours I was there, and it was ridiculously cheap. I <3 Kosovo.

Prizren

If I ever end up buying a car I’d like to explore all the countries in depth but for now I’ve only touched the surface of what there is to see.

Bratislava

After a number of failed attempts at getting to Bratislava, I finally made it there last month. We had a few days in Vienna, before heading to Krakow, which was plenty of time to include a day trip to Bratislava.

Vienna to Bratislava is only an hour or so by train and they have a special return day trip ticket for 15 euros which includes public transport in Bratislava. We got the tram to Sudbahnhof but it doesn’t stop right at the train station so we had to run to make the train. You save 3 euros if you buy the ticket before you board the train but we had no chance to do that but it was still a good deal.

I didn’t know anything about Bratislava before going and didn’t even have a map so when we got out from the main train station we just followed the crowd down the hill towards the old town. The first square we came across was kind of like a welcome to Communism:

Bratislava

Not far from there we stumbled upon the Presidential Palace.

Bratislava Presidential Palace

It was then on to the old town with its typical cobblestone streets, pretty squares, statues, fountains, and traditional coffee houses.

The cute main square has a few cafes where you can relax or you can go around the corner and admire the Primate’s Palace.

Bratislava Main Square

Primate's Palace

Bratislava is small and easy to get around on foot. I loved walking around the streets, visiting the local shops. I was surprised to discover they use the euro in Slovakia as I figured they still used their own currency like their neighbours Hungary and Czech Republic do.

Old Town

Old Town

Not far from the main square is the Opera House. There are lots of places to eat in that area and we chose a little pub type place with a great atmosphere but inedible food. The food was typical of the region with goulash and chicken paprika etc on the menu. It looked delicious but was like eating pure salt. F said the local Slovakian beer was fantastic though.

Bratislava Opera

Salty Chicken Paprika

Salty Grilled Chicken

Tasty Slovakian Beer

Next we headed up to the castle where you get great views of the city, including the thousands and thousands of high rise, communist era apartments.

Bratislava Castle

Communist Beauty

Bratislava has these quirky statues which all the tourists seems to think is a great photo op. I have no idea why but we did it too.

Friends

Bratislava Statues

 Me With Hair in My Face 

We finished the day with a hot drink and cake at one of Bratislava’s top Viennese style coffee houses, Cafe Meyer, right on the main square.

Cafe Meyer Bratislava

We then got the tram back to the train station and headed back to Vienna. I had a fantastic time in Bratislava. It’s a pretty city, very similar to Prague but much smaller and without the crowds. You can easily see everything in a day but it would also be a nice destination for a relaxing weekend getaway.

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