This GSOF Travel Log documents highlights from Chelsea Hamashin and Amy Belicev’s trip to Bratislava, Slovak Republic, from 11 – 12 JAN 2023.
As a global foundation, our work often requires us to travel to SOF-relevant locations near and far! Our Travel Logs document what we do on those trips and how they help further our mission.
This edition of the GSOF Travel Log features information and highlights from a trip to our October 2024 European Symposium location: Bratislava, Slovak Republic.
We conduct these site survey visits prior to the events to select venues, ensure that our attendees are accurately informed, and connect with our SOF planning partners in the host nation.
Read on to hear about our trip and get excited for our European event in October 2024!
Wednesday, 11 JAN 2023
Although our Symposium in the Slovak Republic won’t happen until October 2024, Amy and I didn’t want to be this close to the country and not stop in for a visit.
After a breezy 1.5 hour train ride from Brno (we tried 1st Class and it was quite nice!), we hopped off in Bratislava and were greeted by our Slovak SOF planning partners–Jozef and Vlado.
Our hosts had already picked out our dinner spot by the time we arrived, so we checked into the hotel and walked through some of Bratislava’s historical streets to go to the aptly named “Slovak Pub.” The wooden floors and antlered walls were reminiscent of a hunting lodge, but the snarky t-shirts and jovial servers made for a fun atmosphere.
Most importantly—the food was traditional and delicious!
We were well into evening but decided to see what venues we could squeeze in before calling it a day.
– Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel was located in a beautiful square by the opera house and had a lot of promise for a room block in 2024, although our favorite part about it was a nature-themed bar in the lobby that boasts the most famous bartender in all of Bratislava.
– Most SNP, or the UFO Bridge, is omnipresent in the skyline of Bratislava over a bridge in the Danube and is a great place for views and some signature cocktails. When you see it, there’s not much question about where it got its name. It has potential as a reception venue in 2024!
After a local beer (or two), some Slovakian folk music, and bonding with our generous hosts, we said goodnight and prepped for the final sight visits of the week (aka got some sleep).
Thursday, 12 JAN 2023
The venue for the 2024 Symposium is called Incheba. It’s an old and storied expo center situated along the Danube River, and in perfect view of the aforementioned UFO.
Jozef and Vlado drove us to Incheba, their translation and navigation skills coming in clutch to help us locate the expo managers.
Incheba is certainly large enough for our event–it has 4 primary Halls, and much like in Brno they are Halls A, B, C, and D. Halls B and D both are large blank canvases and we’re confident both would be a great fit for the Symposium and Expo!
Hall C was an interesting space that could make for an interesting show, but ultimately it has too many stairs. It was cool to see how it’s currently being used–as the stage for a Slovak local TV show.
After touring the venue, we continued our search for potential lodging hubs for our community. The first hotel we visited was AMAZING–The Grand Hotel Bratislava, a Luxury Marriott property located right on the Danube.
This tour legit took an hour and we saw every amazing amenity they offer–from a world-class gym to the coolest and most expansive Presidential Suite I’ve ever seen. When we asked about who stayed there, the first response was Princess Aiko of Japan. WELL then…I don’t think I should expect to quality for the honor of staying there anytime soon.
We also checked out the Sheraton in downtown, which was a lovely property as well and had some great city and river views and plenty of space to hold many of our 2024 Symposium guests.
Vlado and Jozef decided it was time for us to head out of town and see a bit of the surrounding area of Bratislava. We headed toward the Slovak Republic’s new and impressive X BIONIC SPHERE–the Olympic Training Center where their countrymen and women train for everything from swimming to equestrian events to rowing.
It was truly a beautiful and high-class venue, but unfortunately it’s not quite large enough for our ever-growing Symposium… but it’s worth a visit when you come to Bratislava!
After a whirlwind 24 hour visit, it was time for Amy and I to bid farewell to the Slovak country and our hosts. They graciously took us to the train station and put up with us all the way until we boarded our train! I like to think that it was because they enjoyed spending time with us and not because they were afraid that two Americans wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get on the train.
Like Radek, Vlado and Jozef were really great hosts and we know they are going to make fantastic partners for our 2024 GSOF Symposium Europe.
Despite a packed train with no power outlets and spotty cell signal, we managed to participate in Stu’s Corporate Partner CEO/SVP Virtual annual “state of the union,” reminding us that even though we spent a week focused on the future, we in fact had tons of very real work to do here in the present!
Amy and I spent the night in Vienna to make sure we didn’t hit any travel snafus prior to our big flight home.
Friday, 13 JAN 2023
For a “Friday the 13th” we had an uneventful trip back to the States. I really only mention this day to say: the Vienna airport was AMAZING.
- Uber to the airport? Easy and no traffic.
- Baggage drop? No lines, automated kiosks, friendly bag drops.
- Security line? In and out in 5 minutes.
- Terminal food options? Delicious, trendy, and affordable.
- Boarding and departure? On time and drama-free.
We don’t know if it was fluke or if it’s always like this, but so far it’s rating high in our international airport rankings!
Thanks for joining along on our latest adventure… stay tuned to the GSOF Europe event website for all of the latest, and we hope to see you in Bratislava in October 2024.