Day 1 – Bratislava, capital of Slovakia

SafeStay, 14 euros

I’m sitting on a pavement cafe in the Old Town of Bratislava, sipping a Sencha tea. The weather is fine, 20 degrees, and all is well, so far. My plan is to walk across Europe, following the Austrian Camino towards Liechtenstein and Switzerland before turning towards Le Puy-en-Velay in France where I started my pilgrimage in 2017. That will complete my route all the way to Santiago de Compostela.

Unfortunately I don’t have enough days left on my Schengen visa to comfortably reach Le Puy so I’ll stop somewhere and continue in Season 2. You can find the map on my website but even with the GPS it will take a major feat of navigation to find secretive Liechtenstein, 25Km by 10Km, nestled in the mountains between Austria and Switzerland.

Last night wasn’t so good. I booked and paid £32 for a room in the Easy Hotel in Luton, a special place where negative Ley lines converge and draw the life blood from your soul. I arrived on the last train at 00.40 and after some effort I roused the attendant who informed me that in line with airline policy the hotel was overbooked and I was bumped into the night with the promise of a refund. A taxi took me on a tour of Luton hotels for an hour or so until we found a Hilton in the surrounding countryside which gave me a room at their rack rate. Easy didn’t refund the £32 so I had a quick chat with Booking.com who promised to pay the whole bill.

One of the big hotels we visited was no longer a hotel. It’s now a refugee centre and that brought me down to earth. A reminder of the war in Ukraine and the change now rippling through Europe.

When I walked the Camino in 2016, my intention was to do that one pilgrimage and then return to the normal life. But here I am contemplating my 7th walk starting tomorrow. It’s amazing how much the world has changed in that time. Just think of five major changes since 2016. It’s not difficult, is it?

What a good idea
Tree planting occasions in the Presidential Palace Garden.
The earth fountain in the Presidential Palace Garden
The language here is Slovakian
Presumably the Castle
Julien Baker singing her songs at the Electric Ballroom in Camden Town last night. Last time I was there she wasn’t even born, neither were her parents probably

34 comments on “Day 1 – Bratislava, capital of Slovakia

  1. Rachel Birks

    Great to see you are back on the road Tim and what an interesting itinerary! Look forward to all the blogs and photos. Keep well and Bon Voyage! Rachel

    • Hello Rachel, that was fast! Thanks for your support, as ever. I can’t wait to start in the morning. With a bit of luck I should be in Austria for breakfast

  2. Nick Pegram

    It’s great that you are once again sharing your thoughts and experiences with us as you travel across Europe.

    Bratislava is really nice I have been there on a few occasions and the food and company is always excellent.

    Have fun, Nick

    • Hi Nick, you’re right! The food and beer are excellent. I must return

  3. Linda s

    Great to have mr Tim’s travels back ! Looking forward to sharing your journey !

    • Hi Linda, it’s great to have you back while I’m walking, Tim

  4. 2saunter

    Looking forward to following you along on this latest adventure. You’ve inspired me to also take an annual stroll somewhere. I’ll be doing the VF del sud later this summer, so we’ll be heading in opposite directions!
    gute Möglichkeit (if Google translate is to be believed)

    • Hi guys, I will look forward to hearing about that route. The very best of luck to you

  5. Jane Van Buren

    Buen camino Tim! I will look forward to your daily updates which are always informative and amusing .

    • Thanks Jane, it’s great to hear from you and is it already 6 years since the Camino?

  6. Good luck Tim, and looking forward to your very interesting daily blogs

  7. Kia Ora, Tim, I was wondering when and where you would be wandering this summer! Delighted to find that your feet are taking you on another challenge. I look forward to enjoying your journey vicariously because a permanent knee injury has grounded me. Kia kaha, Vicky

    • Hi Vicky, oh that’s not good. You must still finish Shikoku somehow. My knee surgeon only did one knee but he’s expecting me soon for the other

  8. Hi Tim Just thinking of you a few days ago and wondering where you would walk this year. An interesting choice! – I look forward to reading about your daily exploits – Take care – David

    • Hi Dave it’s good to see you back on the Exmoor lanes of Somerset and I really hope one day we’ll do a walk together

  9. I told you to get an Uber to Luton airport. Oh no, you said, it will be fine. I’m sure had Uber been around in 1247 the pilgrims would have used them.

    • It wasn’t exactly fine but I did get a great hotel all paid for by Booking.com. They made me sign up to the Hilton loyalty scheme at 2am to save £7.50. Had that failed I was ready to tell the taxi driver to take me to Weybridge and follow your learned advice. Hope you’re both enjoying the cruise

  10. Walkmag

    Looking forward to following you

    • Hi Walkmag welcome along and it’s great to have you reading my ramblings again

  11. Philippa

    Hi Tim, now that our weather has suddenly become drearily wet (I’ve no right at all to complain as we’ve had a glorious long sunny summer & autumn) I’ll look forward to reading your posts about unfamiliar places in Eastern Europe, best wishes!

    • Hi Philippa, welcome. Some will be familiar and some unfamiliar. It’s great to be back in Europe in the summer

  12. Dave Conway

    Hi Tim. An amazing read – well done you! Le Puy is well worth the trip so let hope you arrive safely.

    • Hi Dave, you’re right, Le Puy is a difficult place to reach, particularly if you start in Bratislava. Hello to Cath and hope to see you both on a suitable winter sporting occasion

  13. Hello Tim. A pleasure as always to accompany you on yet another adventure. I have been invited to join the Pilgrim committee at Canterbury Cathedral to find ways of improving the Pilgrim experience. I must pick your brain one day for some insight. Until our next beer, be safe, God bless and buen Camino.

    • I will certainly come over to Canterbury for a beer and to help you with your mission. I suggest presenting pilgrims with a small hamper to get them through France. Good to hear from you

  14. Rebecca

    Tim, I your front page post left me breathless. I assumed you were heading to Prague and Warsaw. Before I could flip to the next page, I was already scanning my mental calendar to see if I could possibly fly over to assist with translating… It was a bit of a letdown, as well as relief, to learn that you are traveling west through the Alps on a quest to find Lichtenstein. We are delighted to follow your blog wherever your travels take you, but just saying – if you ever make a Pilgrimage to Czestochowa, please keep me in mind.

    • Hi Rebecca, I don’t know why but there are Camino paths all over Europe except for Czech. But that won’t stop me. It would be a good pilgrimage because I have a bit of Czech blood in me but I would need a translator. All I can say is “Budvar”

  15. John S

    Hi Tim
    Great to see you on the road again and looking forward to the blogs. When the appointment at the Stade de France didn’t work out this year I knew you would find something to beat it.
    Bon Voyage!

    • Yes and where’s the Europa Championship final next year?? Just in case…

  16. Roger Clarkson

    That is a fair old walk, good luck.

    • Thanks Roger I think I should have started somewhere nearer the end

  17. Good luck on your new walk Tim. Enjoy.

  18. Peter Mastenko

    Just catching up with your latest adventure, Tim. I look forward to reading about the latest walk. Good luck!

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