Our next stop after Vienna was Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. Frankly, I found Bratislava intimidating, because it was the first time I’d ever been in a country where the written language (on signs and so on) made no sense to me. I understand enough German and French to get by; in Amsterdam the language was close enough to German for me to guess at meaning (don’t tell the Dutch that!); anybody who lives in California has some idea of Spanish. But the Slavic languages are a mystery to me. Fortunately everyone I really needed to talk to spoke English.
The earliest recorded town in this location was founded by Celtic tribes around 200 B.C.; when the Roman Empire expanded this far north, the town became part of the Limes Romanus, or the border of the Empire. The town has had at least four names over its history; the country has only been independent since the Velvet Divorce in 1993.