Well this is all a bit surreal.
I have removed myself to Bratislava for a week. I visited the city several times for work in the late 1990s, and until now, never found my way back to see it as a tourist.
Those trips bring back very mixed memories. Mostly they are positive, and the challenges of the work were fascinating. On the other hand I was subcontracted to a Madrid law firm and their approach to project management verged on the chaotic.
Back then Bratislava Airport had very few flights and certainly nothing which was of any use to someone traveling from Scotland. I had to fly via Brussels to Vienna, and get from there to Bratislava by car.
To be fair, the Ministry of Justice did send a car to collect us at Vienna Airport. It was a Tatra 613, with a rear engine which made the front of the car lift up when the driver hit the accelerator.
This time I took Ryanair non-stop to Bratislava.
In a moment of nostalgia, I booked my first night here at the hotel we used back then – the Danube. It was very good in those days, and is now part of the Radisson Blu chain. It is still very good.
It brings back memories too, of our morning meetings before heading off to join Slovak counterparts for our sessions with them. What were we expected to achieve? What were we likely to achieve? What would we get for lunch in the staff canteen? Would our counterparts be there? Sometimes their bosses would have different priorities.
Needless to say we had “de-brief” meetings in the bar at 5pm.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2022
I first visited Bratislava more than 50 years ago, not long after the Soviet army had rolled into Czechoslovakia. The city was drab and monochromatic. Struggling to spend the few dollars I had exchanged, I bought tepid beer at the ubiquitous kiosks that were found in socialist paradises throughout Eastern Europe. Thirty years later I drank in an Irish pub where slinky Slovak barmaids pulled the pints. The drinkers chose the local brews while the posers drank the pricier imported beers.
I can imagine. Certainly I enjoyed seeing how it has moved forward since the 90s.