Last October I visited Bratislava on a day trip from Vienna. For one of my students it’s her hometown, and her immediate reaction when I told her was: “Why? Prague has so much to do, it’s amazing. Bratislava is nothing.” A charming sentiment. I was undeterred, of course, and off I went. We arrived just in time to meet a friend for lunch at Lucy’s Vegan Food, a nice colourful little cafe that’s only open 11am-3pm on weekdays (mainland Europe really needs better opening hours). As it’s so small, it might be worth reserving if you’ve got your heart set on lunch there.
Service was really friendly, and the menu is in both Slovakian and English: always a bonus. Most of the dishes consisted of similar vegetables (peppers, courgette, onion, etc) and tofu cooked with a different grain and seasoning. That meant everything was fresh and simple and easily thrown together.
I had the lime tamari rice, which was supremely zingy and flavoursome. The veg was nicely cooked, but of course, the spongy little tofu pieces were my favourite.
Dr HH had the spicy coconut noodles, and my friend had the pad thai – they look pretty similar here. The noodles were good and nicely spiced, though a little lacking on the coconut front, according to Dr HH’s report. Still, we were three satisfied customers.
There were 4 dessert options, none of which were on display, which is always disappointing. We were all drawn to the chocolate cheesecake…and dismayed at how teeny tiny it was. Imagine how much better it would have been as a slice! And how much better value for money. Grumblings aside, it had a good, nutty base and a creamy, coconutty, dark chocolate topping.
All in all, it was a lovely, cheerful, colourful little place and I’d happily go back. Minor quibble: wine is only available by the bottle. At lunchtime! Fortunately, there’s an extensive tea menu, including a pina colada variety.
We had a very quick scoot around the city centre, which has its share of beautiful, grand buildings like all other European cities. It was quite exciting being somewhere similar to Prague but without the vast crowds of tourists clogging everything up. Wide streets and fewer tourists are the best things about Bratislava!
We didn’t stay long in the centre because we wanted to travel a little out of the city to visit Devin Castle. I have been misled more than once by the word “castle” in the Czech Republic. Their idea of a castle is my idea of a a boring building. But my guidebook had given me hope about this one: I’d seen a picture of an actual turret. So we hopped on a bus, had a 20 minute journey then walked up the hill to this amazing sight:
Perched atop a rocky cliff was the castle. Best of all, entry was only €4 and there was hardly anyone there!
There is a small town below the castle, but it is largely surrounded by beautiful countryside: rolling hills, a wide river, autumnally-coloured rooftops. It was amazing.
There isn’t too much to see in the castle itself, it’s largely in ruins. Unfortunately, the far part of the ruins are off limits, and there is no funding to make this part safer to visit. I can’t believe people aren’t lining up to sort this out – maybe the entrance fee should be higher after all. It’s a great place to spend an hour or so looking around, and the surrounding area is meant to be ideal for hiking, so it would be nice to make a day of it in nicer weather.
UPDATE: Lucy’s Vegan Food closed down in 2016