Noel Cowards ‘Brief Encounter’ was set on a railway platform in which a couple waiting for different trains fall for one another. Returning to Bratislava after a six year absence rekindles affections in another brief encounter. We left Kitzbühel to drive the 300 miles to Bratislava on a morning with glorious sunshine, in sharp contrast to the Austrian monsoon we had been enjoying. The first half of the journey was through the valleys along minor roads, before switching to motorways for some fast cruising; all relatively trouble free until we arrived in Bratislava.
I last was here some 6 years ago to review Rezidor’s Carlton in the centre of the old town, and again drove here. This time we chose an hotel in the suburbs not to Review, but just as a night stop on our way to the High Tatra mountains on the border between Slovakia and Poland. The changes apparent in Bratislava on arriving in the city, and on the road out eastwards, are stunning.
First of all there is a new motorway, not on my three year old satnav. Not only that but a new set of inner roads lined with car dealerships, stores etc. showing the increased affluence now evident in this, one of the newest European capitals. The area the hotel is in is primarily residential, with street cafes and bars speaking of the adoption of a relaxed European lifestyle that on my previous visit I thought would take 15 years to take root here after years of totalitarian rule. This small country has transformed itself in six.