A sliver of Slovakia

Posted on 2018-10-31

We only spent three nights in Slovakia, two of them in the capital Bratislava. After crossing the Czech border, we spent the first two days cycling close to the Morava river, that forms the border between Slovakia and Austria, more or less following the Eurovelo 13. For the most part, until we neared Bratislava, this border region seemed very remote, and we barely saw anyone on these first two days, as we cycled through forests and on dykes on the flat landscape close to the river.

Cycling on small paths through dense forests in rural Slovakia

Cycling on small paths through dense forests in rural Slovakia

Our first night in Slovakia was also the first time we tried wild camping, it being legal to do so in Slovakia. We had previously been told that many others have wild camped without problems in Germany (where it is illegal and laws are actually enforced if you are found) and the Czech Republic (where it is only permitted to camp one night and without a tent) before, but we have decided to be good German/Singaporean citizens and not break the law. For this night, we set up camp on a small clearing in the forest next to the Morava river, between the two villages Suchohrad and Záhorská Ves. During the Cold War, these villages on the border were considered places "with no prospects for development", and the villages still felt quite underdeveloped when we passed through them.

Our wild camp in a forest near Suchohrad at the Morava river

Our wild camp in a forest near Suchohrad at the Morava river

Arriving in Bratislava from the villages was thus quite a drastic change, with its many modern buildings and cosmopolitan feel. Just before arriving in Bratislava, we passed by the ruins of Devín castle, at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers, where there are also several monuments of the Iron Curtain, as this was an important frontier between the East and the West.

The Gate of Freedom Memorial at the foot of Devín Castle, keeping alive the memory of all those who were killed at this border during the Cold War.

The Gate of Freedom Memorial at the foot of Devín Castle, keeping alive the memory of all those who were killed at this border during the Cold War.

In Bratislava, we joined another tips-based walking tour of the city, that brought us to many sights of historical importance. Our guide shared quite a lot about the Slovakian history of oppression, and the Slovak national uprising against the Nazi regime, and it was interesting for us to hear a different point of view from our host, who felt that this focus on forming a Slovak identity neglects a significant part of the nation's history. After the tour, we also visited the Bratislava Castle, that overlooks the old town and Danube river.

View of Bratislava old town from the castle, with St. Martin's Cathedral and the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising across the Danube river.

View of Bratislava old town from the castle, with St. Martin's Cathedral and the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising across the Danube river.

After Bratislava, it was just a short distance to the Austrian border, where we would just spend one night before entering the next country, Hungary.

Photo taken from the Austrian-Slovakian border. The road on the left is Austria, the road on the right is Slovakia.

Photo taken from the Austrian-Slovakian border. The road on the left is Austria, the road on the right is Slovakia.