Bratislava to Hainburg an der Donau, 25Km
Gasthof Zum Goldenen Anker, 69 euros
Actually there’s cheaper rooms in Hainburg but I feel I owe it to Booking.com who paid for my half night of luxury in Luton. And anyway this is rather pleasant because it’s right on the banks of the Danube and I have a litre of Zwettler on the table while the most enormous river cruisers pass me by, sailing upstream. The river flows for 2850Kms from its source somewhere in the Black Forest to its mouth in Ukraine’s Black Sea and it hasn’t far to go.
I had an interesting walk today. After quite a lot of fussing around I finally heaved my pack onto my back and set off from the hostel towards downtown Bratislava. First stop on any pilgrimage (for me) is of course Starbucks. There were other cafes around the Square but even the Slovakian army were there so I went in and ordered a cappuccino and croissant. The next priority was St Martin’s Cathedral where I found a nun who stamped my credentials. Now I’m officially a pilgrim on the Camino.
The border with Austria comes quickly but not as quickly as I was expecting. It’s not the river because Slovakia continues on the opposite bank. I crossed the bridge and walked past some old Czechoslovakian border defenses and then I found it it. The old Iron Curtain is a distant memory, all mercifully swept away. I stood on the border and reflected on the terrible history inflicted on Europe by the USSR. I took a selfie. On a more cheerful note, the Austrian border control buildings lay derelict, swept aside by Schengen.
I soon found the Danube again and continued through the woods to Hainburg. For some reason, the lady in the hotel thought I was French but as soon as I returned a few French words of greeting she knew at once that I am British and normal order resumed. As I sit here watching the Danube flowing towards it’s destiny I wonder why I don’t come here for my holidays every year.