Friday began our first official day of the tour. We woke up and met our group at a hotel near the Vienna airport. There are a few members of the group within my age range, but the majority are in between my mom and grandma. The whole group is comprised of smaller groups - couples, siblings, parents and children (adult children), etc. I think that every small group has at least one person with Slovak ancestry… as far as I can tell, people don’t see Slovakia as a high-priority tourist destination, but people who descend from Slovakia seem pretty interested in learning more about it.
We drove from Vienna to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. We crammed hundreds of years of history into an hour and a half tour of Bratislava’s historic district. We learned about the various kings and queens who ruled over Slovakia, the changes from one country’s rule to another over time, and lots of entertaining stories and trivia as we explored the (mostly) pedestrian streets. Outdoor restaurants, famous homes and concert halls, clock towers, statues with quirky back stories, and the opera house were all stopping points during the tour.
St. Martin’s Cathedral
Winding Old Town streets
Old Town Main Square
Welcome to Old Town!
We loaded onto the bus and drove a couple of hours to Banská Bystrica, our home base for the next couple of days. I’m sure I would have loved to see the countryside, but I was too busy sleeping. I ended up seeing very little of the countryside as we traveled because I am really good at sleeping on buses.
The group arrived and checked into our hotel. Mom and I took a short walk from the hotel to the town square, just to check things out and see what we were up for the next day. The town seemed pretty, quiet, and simple. Solid start to the tour and first full day in the motherland!