Judging a country by its name

A friend visited Bratislava at New Year. I hadn’t heard of the city before, and I knew very little about Slovakia, the country of this capital.

But hearing those unfamiliar words was like catnip. Slovakia, I thought. Why on earth had I never considered going to Slovakia before?

riding in

Of course, Bratislava’s proximity to other great cities – Vienna, Prague – was certainly a plus. I rode from Vienna to Bratislava this May, 79km, almost purely because I was entranced by the name.

I’m very glad I did.

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Of course, not all of Bratislava was pretty. The city is not dirty, just worn. Roads and pavements bubble and crack, while public gardens go untended. Some parts are plain ugly.

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But the old town is incredibly beautiful. Buildings like cakes; cobbled street after winding cobbled street, all set on hills, lending Bratislava a fairytale atmosphere. Churches swell the ranks and the architecture is even better than that of Vienna. Candy colours and elaborate detail mean I couldn’t stop taking photos.

16 23 24 26Have you ever travelled anywhere simply because of a name?