237. Extreme East-West Divide

Although most of Eastern Europe is now well entrenched in the European union, nowhere have I seen such a drastic change in such a short distance than on either side of the Danube driving in to Bratislava.

As soon as we crossed in to Austria from the Czech Republic, it seemed really striking just how perfectly manicured the Austrian countryside is. As we approached Vienna, the city was incredibly modern (apart from the beautiful palace/museum buildings). Even the industrial areas seemed to be really well designed.

From this…

…to this

Bratislava, however, was such a drastic change. Most of what we saw seemed like a complete slum, except for the square in the very centre, full of beautiful, older buildings, which appear to have been really well kept though apparently were only really refurbished five or so years ago. Interestingly, many of them simply had nice facades for the tourists, and if you could catch a glimpse of the back/side of a building it was hard to believe it was the same one.

With facades like this…

Hiding buildings that actually looked like this

But at least there was Eastern Europe’s version of Moulin Rouge!

On the way out, whilst looking for a supermarket (always good to stock up on the cheaper side of a border) we found ourselves completely surrounded by cookie cutter blocks, in the most impersonal, slum like “suburb” I’ve ever been in. It really astounded me how there could be such a huge difference on two different sides of the same river.