Pre-Bratislava jangles

In Bratislava, Travel on Saturday 27th May, 2006 by Guy

In 48 hours (or approximately two revolutions of this greatest of planets, for apparently arbitrary reasons) I shall be standing in Bratislava, the capital of the Slovaks, staring rather mindlessly and perhaps even with a frown at the medieval wonders around me. But I will only be doing this to counteract the possibility of hyper-ventilating, because confounding any behaviouralist’s predictions, I will very excited indeed.

Bratislava is currently somewhat neglected by tourists who prefer to visit its more famous and glamorous competitors, Prague and Budapest. And yet, consider this: Wasn’t Bratislava (formerly Pressburg, formerly Pozsony) the capital of Hungary between 1541 and 1784 while the Turks were partying and debauching (or banning partying and debauching, I’m not sure which) in Buda? Don’t consider it too long, because it was. You’re welcome. Also: was it not a stronghold of the Great (and no doubt Modest) Moravian Empire until the bygone year of 1278? Again, it was, which is why it has that most famous of the Bratislavan sights (relatively speaking, indeed) the incomparably named Bratislava Castle:

Bratislava castle (courtesy of

And does it not have the weirdest manhole cover anywhere on this (revolving, as we’ve established) planet? It does:

The most marvellous manhole cover of all time and space (courtesy of, the premiere manhole website. No kidding)

So there you are, I like it, despite it being the capital of a puppet state between 1939 and 1945 which was rather nasty, to put mildly, to the city’s Czechs and Jews, killing many of them. It should be acknowledged, though, that the Slovaks are intensely interested now in sweeping away any vestiges of the more shameful periods in their modern history, and I want to support them in this effort. Whether taking a cheap flight there and back with a few days of pottering about in their capital is a very valid or useful form of support I shall leave to your wise judgement.

Pictorial approximations of my time there will be available from the two main Guy’s Photography Channels, (or more specifically, once I get to take some pictures and then upload them as appropriate, here) and In the meanwhile, why not gaze upon others’ more worthy if less personal efforts at capturing the spirit of the place here, should one exist? I think you should.

To fully immerse myself in an Eastern [or it Central now? Who decides these things?] European mindset, I was intending to hook myself up to that VR machine I got a couple of years ago from the Overlords, but then I remembered I don’t have one yet. [The Overlords always forget to give me the gear I request. I blame their horrendous bureaucracy]. So I went for what seemed to be the next-best alternative: reading a book. I have a copy of The Good Soldier Švejk, courtesy of my mother, so I’ve been working through that, and what a delight working through it is. The introduction, not too dryly written, made the author sound like a crazy hobo mofo, and the book the best example of his crazy work, not least by describing just how ridiculously popular and critically disdained it was at the time. Yes, I was very much relishing it by the time I got to the story proper. And already I’m very much enjoying it. The English is rather more formal than the Czech and German used in the source material, as is admitted in the introduction, but the chutzpah of the whole enterprise really shines through. It should take me a couple of years to finish, but that will be about when I write again on this blog, so I’m not too concerned about this. Perhaps I’ll do other things in the meantime to pass the time.

Thank you for listening, and I do hope we stay in touch.


2 Responses to “Pre-Bratislava jangles”

  1. I believe it’s in Central Europe! And thanks for the lesson, I don’t really know my European history. 🙂

  2. There is a new English translation of Svejk underway. Book One is out as a paperback, Books One and Two have been published as an e-book. Books Three and Four are being edited for publication. To learn more and to buy follow the links below. 🙂

    Get “svejked” [shvaked] at
    Visit the Svejk Central pilot site at

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