First impressions

My first days in Bratislava were, as expected, days of discoveries. There’s not much of a cultural shock an European could experience in Slovakia, especially in Bratislava. Travelling so much helped me realise Europeans are not very different, especially the young onesūüôā. Slovakia may look very vintage but, in many ways, it is extremely modern (at least Bratislava is, probably because of being so close – geographically – to other cultures). Westerners might notice a lower level of life and all its consequences, also the¬†abundance of soviet-style buildings. Let’s not forget the annoying¬†bureaucracy, so¬†typical¬†in the former communist block. But I come from mighty Eastern Europe and all this looked like home. And I think Bratislava is really pretty.

There are fun (and not-so-fun) facts about Bratislava & Slovakia I discover every day. Here are some of the first impressions:

  • Slovak lunch time starts at 11.30 am. Many Slovaks take their lunch break between 11.30 am and 12.30 pm, even if they normally start working at 9-9.30 am. To be able to join them, I had to give up breakfast.
  • Slovaks love to celebrate name days, even if they are not so popular (like Andrew or Stephen).¬†Name days are more often celebrated than birthdays, especially after a certain age, so I was told. Apparently it’s my name day on October 27th. Where I come from (Romanian-Orthodox religion), this day is dedicated to some other event.
  • You’re not supposed to thank the person who’s giving you medicines. If you have a headache and someone gives you a painkiller, don’t say anything.
  • Bratislava’s public transport is (almost) amazing. Seriously, it’s better than the one in Leeds. Mostly on time and a great network, even during the night. The online journey planner is good, but it does lack few information (e.g when to change platforms). Unfortunately, every time a route changes, the announcements are made in Slovak only. Also great about public transportation in Bratislava: low prices, the various kinds of tickets you can get from the ticket machines and the¬†70-minute SMS ticket you can get for¬†‚ā¨1 by sending an empty SMS to 1100 (valid also for night transport).
  • Taxis are cheaper if you call for them instead of¬†hailing¬†one on the street. Doesn’t really work if you’re a foreigner thoughūüė¶
  • Drivers never seem to¬†give way when a person moves onto a crossing. Still looking for the local laws!

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