Friday, January 25, 2013

A Guide To Wandering In Ružinov, Bratislava

Welcome to Ruižnov, Bratislava.  You should visit.

"But I only planned for one day in Bratislava!  There's nothing to do there!"

Really?  The Ružinov neighborhood of Bratislava was my home for a year and a half and I never got bored.  So when I received a Couchsurfing offer in that neighborhood in the summer of 2011, I didn't hesitate to accept.  The apartment I stayed at was no more that 5 blocks from my old apartment. Ružinov is a jumbled labyrinth of streets, parks and apartments that makes getting lost a pleasure rather than a task.

But really; why should you visit Ružinov?  Ružinov is the neighborhood of flowers.  The entire neighborhood is one giant, grassy park where many of the streets are named after flowers. Hidden among the parks and colorful Communist-era panelka flats are many small restaurants, cafes and "krcma" or family pubs, where you can feel like a local.  For all of you backpackers who want to brag about a "local" story here's your chance.  And even at this short distance from downtown, the prices drop noticeably.  All it takes is a quick 10 minute ride from Old Town on the "Eletricky" Line 8 or 9, and little explorer's spirit to find yourself in a world totally different from downtown Bratislava.  For those who need a little help, I have some recommendations.

1. Strkovecke Jazero
Strkovecke Jazero is the perfect place for a picnic on a sunny day or a few hours of fishing.  Bring a blanket, a couple of sandwiches and few liters of Corgon beer (or Kofola) and pick on spot on the shore.  If you're too lazy to pack a lunch there are two good restaurants located right on the water.  I've spent many evenings with lovely Slovak girls watching the sunset over this scenic urban lake.

2. Hostinec u Deda Restaurant
Like many neighboorhood pubs in Slovakia, Hostinec U Deda is well-hidden among all the flats and forests of Ruzinov.  When you're close enough you'll easily recognize it by the commanding deda (grandpa) standing guard over the entrance.  The inside is a kaleidoscope of Slovak books, posters, furniture and other random things hanging from every inch of the walls.  Once you take in the decoration of course you have to eat the food.  The menu features traditional Slovak cuisine, like brnzovy halusky, and a great selection of cheap Slovak beers on tap.

3. Kastiel' Prievoz 
I frequently roll my eyes and joke that you can't walk more than a block in Europe without running into yet another castle.  Prievoz Castle doesn't sit high on a noble mountain or isolated in a rolling field, but sits unassumingly in the southern part of Rusinov on the appropriately named Krasna Street (Krasna means beautiful.)  It's a little, historical gem in the middle of the Communist-era suburban mess of Bratislava.

4. Espresso Planetka Pub
Hahaha! If you find this place, send me an email and I will personally buy you a beer wherever we happen to meet:  Planetka Pub looks traditional on the outside and wonderfully kitschy on the inside.  It has some of the best pizza I've found in Bratislava and a giant patio that's perfect for sharing many drinks with friends on a nice day.  This pub (and the nearby park) is the location of many of my most memorable parties during the year and a half I lived in Ruzinov.  That summer of 2011 it also served as the concert venue for a special show I put on with a friend as part of a "Slovakia Reunion Tour."

It's very easy to get lost in Bratislava, but that's half the reason you traveled here anyway.  Here's a Google map of the locations mentioned: Ruzinov Map

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