Bratislava’s Communist Era Still Reigns at the Old Train Station

After three days in Bratislava of soaking up the sights, sounds, food, and centuries of history, it was time to return to Vienna, then on to the enigmatic Balkan country of Romania for a few weeks of exploring.

I bid a fond farewell to the staff at the hostel, then hopped on a trolley and headed for the train station.

Buying a train ticket back to Vienna at the old station turned out to be a linguistic challenge. I looked around for a young person with cell phone in hand, figuring they likely knew some English and might be able to help translate.

I found such a young man who helped me quickly acquire a ticket. When I complimented him on his English, he thanked me with a smile, and said he watches lots of online movies in English. He politely excused himself and rushed for his train.

While waiting to board my train, I pondered a massive communist-era mural on a wall of the main hall above the entrance to the platforms. It had many hallmarks of socialist thought, including a proud steel mill worker holding tools, and the red banner of socialism with doves flying above.

As the sun lowered in the sky, I boarded my train for a relaxing one hour journey back to Vienna. Vienna – a place where glaring vestiges of the Cold War communist era are non-existent, and communication is easier for me because of German being rooted in Latin as is my native tongue of English.

As my train rumbled over the tracks on the way back to Vienna, small villages nestled among individual plots of well-tended farmland gradually gave way to large stretches of barren land, and eventually, city lights.

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2 thoughts on “Bratislava’s Communist Era Still Reigns at the Old Train Station

  1. Hi Merrilee, very interesting to note that you were happy with the hostel in Bratislava and that the staff were friendly (and English speaking). I say this, because whenever I have tried to buy a ticket at Bratislava’s ancient railway station, I have rarely found a cashier who speaks English. This is in sharp contrast to the brand new Bratislava bus station, which did have lots of English speakers when I was last there.

    On another point, I would never ask a lady her age, but I do know that senior citizens travel free on Slovakia’s railways on showing their ID. Out of interest, how much did your ticket from Bratislava to Vienna cost? (I think the bus costs about 10 euros each way but there are special offers, especially if you buy a return ticket).

    When this horrible virus pandemic is over, as it will be, I very much look forward to re-reading your blogs very carefully and travelling around Europe, especially central Europe, probably by train.

    Thanks for inspiring us to look forward to the time when borders and airports will open again, allowing us to travel once more! Here in the UK, we are not allowed to leave our homes except for specific reasons, and even then only locally. We’ve already been in lockdown for a month or so and it looks like continuing for at least another month.

    Interestingly, Greece has recorded 30 times fewer deaths from the virus per million than the UK. Greece has a lot of senior citizens and its government imposed a lock down very early to protect them. It seems to be working and everyone is waiting for a safe and effective vaccine.

    1. Hi Lee,
      Thanks for your comments, as always!

      Interesting you called Bratislava’s main train station “ancient’ It is indeed old. The communist-era mural I described and had a photo of was testament to it being at least from the communist era. With regard to ticket agents seldom speaking English there – I found the same issue/problem. Finding a young person who spoke English and could translate for me was my solution.

      With regard to seniors going free (or getting a discount) on Slovakia’s trains – I was told I needed a Slovakia ID for this privilege. I paid 11 Euros each way. Many things you read, especially for tourists, say the bus is the better way to go between Vienna and Bratislava., rather than the train. I preferred the train as I felt it was a better way to be in touch with Slovakia’s “old world” and the locals. I loved the way the train meandered through the countryside stopping at local train stations. And the people watching both on the train and at the old Bratislava train station was fascinating.

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