One of the many stag dos I’ve been on in the past few years took me to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. In the limited time I had away from the pub, I broke into a Champions League stadium and enjoyed the best wee I’ll ever have…
After a heavy first day and night on the local Zlaty Bazant beer, I woke with a bit of a hangover and thought I’d quickly see what Bratislava had to offer before our noon paintballing appointment.
As lovely as the old town is, it’s tiny and can be seen in ten minutes. I was more interested in seeing the SNP suspension bridge across the River Danube. This links central Bratislava with the grim-looking residential suburb of Petrzalka and is home to the UFO, a bar and observation deck on top of the bridge’s reclined single support column. Petrzalka has a population of around 150,000 and does not look nice or particularly safe – I laughed when I found out one of the lads on our stag do met some locals and ended up at a house party in a Petrzalka tower block the night before.
Getting there was a problem – in my still-sozzled state, I couldn’t find the footbridge for pedestrians so walked along the central reservation of the busy dual carriageway. Dangerous and probably illegal, it was worth it for all the waves and beeps I got from drivers, and I had the chance to take some photos I’d not have been able to otherwise.
Once I had crossed the Danube, I took the elevator to the top of the UFO and enjoyed a cracking view of the castle and the old town across the river. I had a Zlaty Bazant as a hair of the dog and pretty soon needed to spend a penny. I’ve seen some fine toilets on my travels, but those at the top of the UFO will surely never be bettered. From the art-deco urinals inside the glass-fronted gents, you get panoramic views of Petrzalka with its cranes, tower blocks and industrial parks.
The area is also home to Artmedia Bratislava, who were Slovakia’s leading football team until recently, and I could make out their stadium below me. Looking at my watch, I realised I’d have time to have a look at the stadium before meeting the rest of the lads.
The previous season, Artmedia had qualified for the Champions League and had beaten Celtic and FC Porto, so I was keen to see what the stadium looked like. Unbelievably, someone had left one of the gates open. At the time it was my job to research the statistics that went into the football management game, LMA Manager – Slovakian football was my area of expertise and I probably knew more about it than anyone in Western Europe, so walking in to the stadium was a dream come true. I strolled around the pitch and then set foot on the hallowed turf of the Petrzalka Stadion – one of many highlights of my trip to Brat.