Monday, October 3, 2016

Bratislava: EU Summit with 27 Heads of State

One never knows what can happen when travelling abroad, so when we arrived in Bratislava one sunny Friday morning, we had no warning that we would be joined by 27 heads of state and a flotilla of secret security personnel. Convening for the Bratislava Summit to discuss the present state of the EU following Brexit and to discuss a common future, we found Slovakia's capital city almost entirely empty as most were told to avoid the city centre while the conference was underway in Bratislava's Medieval Castle standing high on the hill overlooking the Old Town and winding Danube. In the midst of the temporary mayhem, Bratislava is charming with an old town full of narrow pedestrian cobblestone streets of pastel-coloured 18th-century buildings, lovely cafés and verdant bicycle paths that weave along the Daube. 

Walking up from the waterfront there was a massive police presence

Tanks and security personnel were positioned throughout the core of the city

The city was closed to traffic and residents were given the day off to keep the area clear

As we strolled through the Old Town, there were more locals wandering around enjoying the warm day

Neighbourhood cafés, cobblestone streets and charming squares animate the Old Town 

Bratislavian fellow watching activities in the square below 

The market area in the town square

Portable coffee stand with modern espresso maker and old vintage radio

Wooden toys on bouncy springs in market

Slovakian dried fruit garlands in Hlavne Namestie, Bratislava's main square

Maximilian Fountain also known as Roland's Fountain, is topped by a statue of Maximilian II,  
the king of Royal Hungary, to provide a public water supply since 1572

Detail of the fountain with peeing cherubs

Schokocafe Maximilian with mobile news posters decrying Erdogan's purges

Crazy water misters were installed around Bratislava to provide some reprieve from the heat

Čumil the Sewer Worker is perhaps the most photographed bronze sculpture in Bratislava

The clock tower of the Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall

Ornate carved wooden door of the 17th-century Holy Saviour Church 
on the Franciscan Square in the Old Town 

We walked through the old quarter enjoying the beautiful day

Movie Theatre on Hviezdoslav Square

Bridget Jones film in Slovakian

Ganymede's Fountain in front of the old National Theatre

Zylinder Café

The cousin of the French croissant, the Italian cornetto and the Austrian Kipferl, the Slovakian Rozky crescent-shaped pastry filled with walnuts or poppy seeds 

Created in the 16th century, the Rocky is a popular mid morning treat with coffee

A shot of strong Slovakian coffee, and we're on our way

The pretty tree lined cobblestoned promenade of Hviezdoslav Square

The 9th-century Bratislava Castle, whereto EU Summit was taking place this day with 27 heads of state including Italy's Matteo Renzi, Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Francois Hollande

Police watching activity on the Danube and the area around the castle

A picturesque restaurant on the leafy square seems like the perfect place to have lunch

Little boy playing in the park across from the restaurant

Too sweet for words

The modern open air exterior of Kogo Mediterranean Restaurant in the historic centre of Bratislava overlooking Hviezdoslav Square

The beautiful outdoor tables of the restaurant on the cobblestone promenade of Hviezdoslav Square 

The menu featured Italian and Mediterranean cuisine

Warm garlic bread twists, ciabatta and Slovakian rye bread

A Slovakian 2015 Pinot Blanc 

Cold, dry and delicious

 Carpaccio di Manzo with parmigiana, arugula and pine nuts

Grilled Avocado with Poached Prawns, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

Grilled Spicy Shrimp alla Diavola

Tuna Nicoise Salad

Sautéed Spinach with Ricotta and Peperoncino

Salted Caramel Gelato

After lunch we were allowed to go back to the ship which had been blocked by the police for a few hours due to the EU heads of state taking a Luncheon cruise down the Danube

Police were stationed on and around every bridge in Bratislava

Security helicopters whirled overhead watching for suspicious activity on the Danube

Armed security speeding by watching our boat

Dozens of Zodiac inflatable rafts patrolled the water as the EU Summit boat with the heads of state  approached and passed right in front of our cabin balcony

EU leaders aboard the Regina Danubia flanked by a flotilla of waterborne security 
make their way ups the Danube and towards our ship

 The ship pass right in front of us and they return from a two-hour working lunch cruise to discuss relations with Britain once it jumps ship from the European Union

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