I last visited Bratislava in 2007. It was high summer, stinking hot and my friend and I, backpacking at the time, arrived rather reluctantly. Not that it was Bratislava’s fault. Bratislava is a beautiful town – was then – is still. The problem is that Bratislava was tainted with a string of uneasy events that occurred prior to us arriving. And it was too soon after the shortcomings of Budapest (also not Budapest’s fault). So my friend and I found ourselves unenthusiastic, and we only stayed two nights, skipping the third in favour of Vienna.
Recently we were privileged to be invited to a wedding in the Midlands, England. In my mind this conjures up visions of vast expanses of land and rich estates – a kind of Pride and Prejudice meets Downton Abbey – small towns, cute country lanes, rolling hills, hearty food and wide varieties of dialects. My husband and I opted to add a few days of unplanned driving – the aim was to wander aimlessly, traverse the hills, take in whatever sights we happened across, and eat and drink till we burst. Goal achieved! As I mentioned from my last visit to England, my opinion of the country has changed somewhat from being a boring (normal food, English-speaking) destination, into a familiar one that reminds me nostalgically of home.
With the longest day of the year just around the corner, what better place to spend a long weekend, we thought, than right up north in Helsinki!
We flew into surprisingly warm weather, and it stayed that way almost the entire time, save for a small sun shower one afternoon – 25 degrees in Helsinki is almost unheard of in June! I was very happy to note upon arrival that our hotel (Hotel Cumulus) had decent curtains that blocked out a fair amount of the night-daylight. Though if you tend to be light-sensitive, I would recommend taking an eye mask anyway. The hotel was perfectly located, only a 5-10 minute walk to Market Square, right near a big supermarket and across the road from a daily market. The subway station was also right there, along with the bus stop to the airport.
Ljubljana is a place I’ve always wanted to visit (and always wanted to be able to spell correctly), and since it’s only a couple of hours drive from where I now live in Austria, it’s surprising that it’s taken me over three years to get there.
Visiting the London area in the past (eg. When I was living in Australia) was always a bit of a lowlight. Not bad, of course, just not as exciting as the rest of the trip.
It was a place that was easy, where I knew the language and had friends to stay with. It was a rest stop, a place to recuperate. Or it was simply the most practical or cheapest place to fly in and out of.