Slovakia Two Ways with Emerald Waterways
Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Starcontinued her weeklong Danube Delightsitinerary this morning as we arrived in our second country – and second capital city – of the trip. Today, we’d explore Bratislava, Slovakia in two ways: first, with an orientating walking tour of the historic city center, and then with a visit to a local village in the afternoon for a look into the life of an average Slovakian. The latter is part of Emerald Waterways’ complimentary EmeraldPlus excursions that are designed to provide culturally-enriching experiences ashore.
Up until 1919, Bratislava was known as Pressburg. Today, it is the only national capital that literally borders two independent countries; in this case, Austria and Hungary. Its current name is also a lot of fun to say: Brat-ees-lava. Bonus points if you can roll the initial ‘r’ like the locals do. Bratislava is located between kilometres 1862 to 1874 along the Danube, where kilometre zero is situated near the Black Sea.
You’ll hear about Velvet a lot in the history of Bratislava – but not in the Stanford White, Red Velvet Swing kind of way. Submerged in the communist regime of the Eastern Bloc, the citizens of Bratislava were among the first to anticipate the fall of Communism and the start of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. In 1993, Bratislava became the new capital of Slovakia following the Velvet Divorce that resulted in the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. This created the countries of Slovakia and the Czech Republic that exist today.
It’s hard to imagine in 2014, but this cruise that we’re on simply would not have been possible 25 years ago. On my first visit here in 2012, one local told of how simply crossing the bridge that spans the Danube – which leads to neighbouring Austria – would have been reason enough to be shot prior to 1989.