So, most people have watched the film Hostel? And most people would know that it is based on the city of Bratislava in Slovakia. I assume that a lot of you would have no interest in visiting this terribly portrayed city, or on the other hand the film has inspired you to visit such a city.
So, what was my experience when I visited Bratislava in 2008? Hmm… an interesting one!
I arrived late one night on a train with a Canadian girl I had met in Budapest. Our first experience outside of the train station was an aggressive argument with a taxi driver who refused to negotiate a ridiculous price and assured us that all transport was finished for the night. It wasn’t the case and we took a bus to our hostel.
As we contemplated a night in to recover from our cheap-red-wine-hangovers we heard a knock on our dormitory door.
We opened to a Mexican guy who asked the simple question “Want to come make party with us?” How could one decline?!
Being with a group of Mexicans we did a Tequila shot pub crawl around the centre of Bratislava. After clearly consuming too much alcohol we thought it would be a great idea to climb a water fountain in the centre of the city to take a picture. Well, when the police drove by they did NOT find it very amusing that we were climbing all over one of the most iconic attractions in their beloved city. We were interrogated for what seemed like hours (while trying to contain laughter) and were terrified at the prospect of what was going to happen to our passports & ourselves as they studied them intricately.
Luckily, we were let off (I think due to the little English the officers could actually speak) and continued with our Tequila-crawl.
During one of my days walking the street of the hostel I was approached by a young girl who was begging for money. She had some sort of a clipboard and was claiming to work for some organisation who was collecting donations. She seemed so sweet, but when we kindly refused to part with the little money we had, she started to swear and rant (in perfect English) as we bolted away afraid that an older relative was going to appear from nowhere and attack us.
Another noteworthy experience I had while in Bratislava was at a night club that was an old bunker in a mountain. My Irish friend Georgina and I went with a group of people from the hostel for a night out on the town. We arrived at the club and were greeted by the biggest bouncer I have ever seen in my life, who seemed reluctant to let us in, but did so anyway. After walking through tunnel after tunnel we reached the centre of the club. Everything seemed OK… It wasn’t relatively busy, but the music was pumping & the beers were cheap.
A few hours passed and it must have been around 3am. I took a look around us at the tables of locals spread around and couldn’t believe my eyes. Every SINGLE person (besides us & the bartenders) were ASLEEP. The ENTIRE club was asleep!! Now, number 1: if you could sleep through the volume of that music then you deserved medal & number 2: they were “team sleeping”. Now when I say “team sleeping” I mean that some of the groups or couples were carefully positioned to be leaning on each other in such a way that you knew it wasn’t the first time they had done this.
We were extremely creeped out, as you can imagine, and decided to get the F*** out of there! As we walked back through the tunnels we came across even more people sleeping, this time leaned against the corridor walls with their heads in their laps & one girl against the door of the toilet.
On the nod? I think so!
So was it all bad? No. I stayed in that damn city for a week and a half in one of the best hostels I have ever been to in my life. I partied everyday with new guests and I managed to get into a routine with the local hostel staff… They would come and wake me at 11am and say in a huff “Its check out time! Are you staying, AGAIN?” I would then pass them my credit card and they knew just to whack another night onto my bill. I got a tattoo, met some amazing people, including the Americans I ended up living with in Prague & left with many stories to tell!
I also managed to scare the sh** out of all the other guests by playing ‘Hostel’ in the common room and then telling them it was based on the city they were staying in.
Will I go back? Not in a hurry as I have so many more cities to see. Its not a place that’s high on my list to visit again, but I think that EVERYONE should experience such a city at some point in their life! I just hope you have the same unusual and out-there experience that I had! 🙂