The choice of hotel is always yours. However, as we return to Bratislava for the 5th year, we continue to recommend Hotel IBIS-Centrum. It is a part of the ACOR HOTEL chain which has moderately-priced hotels throughout central Europe. As you can see on their website, the hotel is bright, cheerful and well-maintained. Two additional features have made this the choice of most of our participants: a great breakfast buffet, all you can eat, and secondly, that it is a short walk to the Bratislava State Konservatórium and Old Town Bratislava. Typically, many participants choose to room together to split the cost. For an upgrade, however, parents often choose the spacious Hotel Falkensteiner next door.
There are many wonderful restaurants in the city of Bratislava! Compared to other major cities in Europe, food in Bratislava is fairly inexpensive.
For a quick lunch between festival activities, there are a number of convenient and student-friendly restaurants near Konservatórium, where you can eat like a local. Typically, their set-menu includes soup or salad, and a choice of entrée (vegetarian and non) plus a soft drink. You’ll have to spring for dessert if you’re so inclined. We’re disappointed to hear that several of our favorite smaller locales were forced to close during the pandemic; on arrival, we’ll receive an update from our local contact.
EVENINGS IN THE OLD TOWN
Unfortunately, for you night-owl-practicers, the Konservatórium is not open in the evenings. So, plan on using morning and afternoon times for your practice.
For evening meals, many participants prefer to explore the Old Town area, try different restaurants, have pizza (great recommendations there), or just pick up some yogurt and fruit to keep supper light. But, far more than nutrition and conviviality await.
While across the square, three centuries of Hapsburg church and state stare in solemn counterpoint upon the human carnival below, disapproving. Opposite the Archbishop’s palace, the inviting sounds of a traditional folk trio attracts customers to a restaurant featuring Slovakian cuisine. If you’re not hungry, sit outside and listen. Or browse the shops, many open late, or a bookstore, maybe an attractive photographic essay of this colorful city and land; or about famous composers who spent time in Bratislava. You know, you’ll want to bring some of the Source home with you.
A special suggestion: one evening, plan to follow the road up to the castle, stroll about the grounds. Pack a light supper in your backpack and picnic up there (no littering, please). The lights on the Danube and the city below will become a lasting memory, and worth the effort! Perhaps with a sunset thrown in? That should be illegal!
Our unstructured evenings offer you time for quiet reflection, the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with yourself, most specifically your artistic self. Reflect quietly on what you’ve experienced that day in Bratislava. Ask how your being there, at the Source, can affect you, perhaps alter your goals, or bring them better into focus.
Be pro-active, seek out quiet time: Study your scores away from the piano; hear every note in your head. Try each day to find something in the music that you hadn’t noticed before… and share that with someone.
Finally, get a good night’s rest for your orchestra rehearsal in the morning!
Evenings in Old Town Bratislava are a place of mystery and magic. A night-time stroll in its narrow streets suggests we’ve wandered into a long-forgotten baroque opera, its scenery faded, voices fragmented, stifled, our role un-remembered. An aura washes dimly the centuries-old architecture; faint whisperings speak of ancient conspiracies, cease suddenly, vigilant to keep their secrets; somewhere a window opens and a furtive phrase from “là ci darem la mano” escapes into the heavy night air; a cry, distant echoes, a dog protests, then silence. We walk on, in sotto voce, answering “là mi dirai ici…” A role magically remembered? The Old Town keeps its secrets.
Emerging from shadows onto the bright town square is like returning from an unknown land. The spell broken. Like Zerlina, we cannot resist. Street musicians play, acrobats entertain and amuse, no dancing bear tonight but an organ-grinder with his monkey. Life to be celebrated!