There are many ways to experience Bratislava, and if you have sufficient courage, you might want to try to view the Slovak capital while hanging from an elastic cord over the Danube, or tumbling down a hill in a giant plastic balloon.
There’s plenty of time to explore the city’s historical monuments, cultural sites and exceptional architecture, but if you want to cut loose and do something crazy on your trip to Bratislava, there is also a world of extreme sports waiting for you in the city.
Are you afraid? You should be.
“I thought I was about to find myself in the Danube,” said Peter Kováč, a 21-year-old student from Žiar nad Hronom, who was brave enough to try a bungee jump from Bratislava’s Lafranconi Bridge, a 25-metre-high plummet towards the water. “In a split second of a free-fall, I saw the oncoming water and my heart was squeezed by fear.”
The only restrictions on willing daredevils are that they weigh less than 110kg and part with €28 (€14 if there is a discount). Otherwise anyone is welcome to throw themselves off the bridge, with only the bungee keeping them safe.
“Everything underneath me was moving away,” Kováč said. “The pillars of the bridge were disappearing, the trees and benches on the shore were also becoming smaller, the SNP Bridge and even Bratislava Castle in the distance were moving. Everything except the river was in motion.”
Renáta Pospíšilová, a 20-year-old student from Poprad, also jumped from the Lafranconi Bridge. “People passing by started encouraging me [to jump]. I was standing there, staring downwards, looking at those people and I asked myself if it was all really necessary. Originally I felt courageous, but later on all these feelings were suppressed by fear. That was the moment my brain turned off and I had no choice but simply to jump.”
Even though the jump will certainly increase the adrenalin pumping around your body, you won’t even get wet. The same cannot be said of the experiences on offer at Čunovo, Slovakia’s paradise for water sports, where visitors are invited to paddle their way down a number of courses of rapids.
The area known as Divoká Voda was established in 1995 and since then it has hosted numerous prestigious European and world canoeing and kayaking events. No other place in Slovakia offers you a better rafting ride than Čunovo, but newcomers are as welcome as the experienced. One-hour raft trips are available with five other people and an instructor.
“It begins peacefully, but suddenly water drags you in like a sink and there is no way back,” said Slavo Mrug, a 23-year-old student from Stará Ľubovňa, who experienced the power of waves in Čunovo in 2010. “If somebody makes a mistake, the raft starts turning around, it rolls down the bank backwards and you do not know whether you will bump into a rock, or capsize or fall from the boat. That’s why you have to follow the directions of the instructor and paddle the way he navigates you.”
Rafting demands humility from its participants and respect for all the safety rules.
“Every instructor takes responsibility for his crew and therefore it is essential that everyone follows the instructions,” said Martin Janata, 19, a student at the Business Academy in Bratislava, who also works as a rafting instructor. “Sometimes there are visitors who ignore the rules, thinking that nothing can happen to them. But they soon realise how important it is when they are hit by the first wave. They not only see but also feel the strength of the water’s flow.”
IN A BUBBLE
Not far from Divoká Voda is another centre of extreme and unusual sports: Action Park, which offers the visitors also the chance to try “zorbing”–roughly the equivalent of standing in a giant bubble and running down a hill.
“I got into the ball and was strapped in and was suddenly overwhelmed by fear,” said Veronika Bugajová, a 19-year-old student from Martin. “But I realised that there was no way to back down. The ball was pushed and rolled down the hill and I felt like I was in a washing machine… I came out with my feet sore, like after a long night partying. But I still had a smile on my face.”
It does not matter if you are afraid of heights, water or speed. You can scream as much as you like as you enjoy the more extreme view of Bratislava.
This article was published in the latest edition of Bratislava City Guide , which can be obtained from our online shop.For those who would like to see it online first, you can read it for free here.
20. Sep 2013 at 0:00 | Karina Miartanová