Speed travelling in Europe - 3000 miles, 14 days, 12 cities, 2 lakes

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Day 6 - Bratislava

Have you ever wondered how the early explorers felt as they sailed up to the point where their maps ran out?... did they really think they would fall of the edge of the world?! Well, it was a bit like that as we approached the Austrian-Slovakian border because the modern day explorer TomTom has obviously not yet ventured this far and so the maps on our sat-nav suddenly ran out!

That was not the only reminder of what a significant border we were crossing. The rather imposing buildings of the border control still oversee the road, and to either side, a wide strip of land stretches as far as the eye can see... once covered with wires and fences and now serving as a reminder of the east-west divide that once existed here.

Just a short hop from the border and the panoramic restaurant tower of the imposing Novy Most (New Bridge) signals that you are crossing the Danube and entering the capital city of Bratislava. Bratislava joined the Eu in 2004 and continues to be one of those central European countries that's on the up and up. Four and five star hotels now cater for the ever increasing tourist population, but as usual we tried to find something a little more authentic and ended up at the very jolly Caribicís Restaurant & Pension on ZizkovŠ which has a very pleasant location facing the Danube.

Now if you don't like squeaky beds and basic wet room bathrooms then Caribic is probably not your place to stay, BUT whatever you do you should really come and try their fish restaurant. I am a fussy old thing when it comes to fish but my sea bass (or at least we think that's what it was... our grasp of Bratislavan proved shamefully basic!) was simply the best I have ever had... rock salt, butter and a touch of fennell... yummy!

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We were up bright and early the next morning (Caribic is on a busy road) and off into the beautiful old town of Bratislava. It's nice and small for wondering around with the only slight challenge being the uphill climb to Bratislava Castle. Worth the trip though because it offers stunning views over the city and the Danube. The quaint Old Town (Stare Mesto) offers main other notable sights including St Martinís Cathedral (St Martin Dom), St Michaelís Tower (offering views to Austria and even Hungary), and the nearby Primateís Palace.

Lunch at a rather touristy restaurant was a nondescript chunk of white meat and some grey cabbage... a far cry from the delights of our fish dinner but at least the beer on this trip continued to ice cold and excellent. Thinking about it, four countries in a row (Belgium, Germany, Austria & now Bratislava) have consistently served up lagers that are just so out of the league of anything on tap in the UK. Note to self, definitely stick to my diet of Guinness, London Pride & Magners when back home!

Next stop Slovenia... no sat-nav and a rather large scale map mean it could take a while so we set off in the afternoon!