A friend and I day-tripped this week to Bratislava to investigate the Slovak Christmasmarkt scene. Bratislava is much smaller than Vienna; the city only had two markets, both of which were easy to explore in a single day. I would describe the markets as minimally commercial, folksy, and heavy on the food offerings. That is not a bad thing.
Slovak Babicka had PR duty. Who in their right mind would refuse a Central European grandmother?
The Slovak spin on gingerbread involved lots and lots of icing, and their designs went beyond what I’m used to seeing.
There being no backerei or cafe at Vienna’s Hauptbahnhof (the main train station is currently undergoing expansion and is a bit incomplete), we were gnawing our fingers with hunger by the time we reached the markets. Hence the two dinner-plate sized Placzka (hot, greasy, and crisp delicious potato latkes), and the cups of hot honey wine (a bit like I imagine warmed cough syrup to taste).
The different holiday spirits may have been described in Slovak, but the mugs all read, “Merry Christmas” in English!
Still sated from our placzka we passed on the cabbage and liver crepes, which were a big hit with other marketgoers, though.
The craftwork available to purchase included the usual handmade soaps and leather and knitted goods as well as Slovak folk art pieces. I especially liked this wooden puzzle map of Europe.
My friend and I agreed that this was one aspect the Viennese Christmasmarkt scene could improve upon–providing ample areas at which to enjoy the ample epicurean offerings.
Speaking of ample goodies…
On our day outing we learned that the Slovaks language (or the English translation thereof) is quite literal. For example, the sandwich in the front is called “grilled cheese.” Of course. A wedge of grilled sheep cheese on dark bread. Whatever else could that mean?
With the placzka finally wearing thin, we stopped for a quick bite at a once elegant but slightly aging train station cafe while awaiting our return connection.
We both ordered a “Hamburger” and each received a microwaved ham-ish pattie in a bun, complete with warm cucumbers and warm mayonnaise. Foiled by a Slovak literal translation! Those liver crepes were suddenly looking most appealing…
A few comestibles and a couple of decorative pieces came home with me, including this pretty Czechoslovakian serving platter from a vintage shop we found in our wanderings.
All in all, a lovely outing.