May 9, 2022
Our guide Martin was wonderful with great since of humor who promised us an easy walk and not to be too boring. He was studying economics at the university and his wife had recently had a baby. He felt it necessary to have more than one job because having only one was not good for the brain.
He started our tour at the riverside and called our attention to the bridges behind us. The bridge on the left was the first bridge for the city that crossed the river and was named after King James upon its inauguration but later changed when the country became independent. Hitler invaded and renamed the bridge Hitler and when the Nazis left the city gave it another name I couldn’t possibly spell or pronounce. The people of the city by now just referred to the bridge as The Old Bridge so that became the official name to this day.
Another bridge was built upstream a few hundred yards away and that became known as and then named as The New Bridge. All was good until a boat crashed into the Old Bridge so it was torn down and rebuilt. The Old Bridge was now newer than the New Bridge and such is Bratislava, old new and old made into new.
This country has seen several changes in the time, the worst was when they were given two options during World War 2: become part of the Nazi regime or be forced to become part of the Nazi regime. They took the easy route until the Russians liberated them from the Nazis but then made them communists. Finally the Soviet Union collapsed in 1993, the Iron Curtain came down and they split from the Soviet Union. Czechoslovakia and part of that country had a “ Velvet Divorce” becoming Slovakia and Czech Republic.
-Slovakia is not Slovenia however during the Olympics the Slovenia national anthem was played when the Slovakia hockey team won-ouch.
-Slovakia is not slang for Czechoslovakia and Czechoslovakia became Czech Republic anyway.
-The town of Bratislava is in Slovakia and there is no “via” at the end of Bratislava like BratislaVIA.
-Don’t get me started on why the Skoda car not being pronounced “SkoDIA” because they are made in the former CzechoslovaKIA and that the KIA is not made by IKEA.
Our tour wound through a few cobblestone streets and courtyards until we came upon a cannon ball stuck in the wall above the door of the city hall. Apparently you could get financial help if Nepolian’s army damaged your building during the war and these cannonballs began appearing in buildings as people scammed the system.
At the end of our tour we came upon the most photographed manhole on the planet. Without any rhyme or reason, or political statement (rare these days) there is a bronze statue of a man rising out of a manhole in the ground that was installed for pure whimsy and fun. Like many statues in Europe, if you rub it you will have good luck, but this rubbed statue will also help with fertility. I passed.