• the small brass circles with crowns etched on them (178 in total), spread over the Old Town, which indicate the route of the coronation processions that took place around the city when Bratislava was the city where Hungarian kings were crowned – between the mid-sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries;
• the stately plaques explaining the history of various landmarks, in this case Michael’s Gate, the eastern entrance to the Old Town and the only surviving watchtower of the original city fortification;
• and underneath it, the compass with the direction and distance from Bratislava to 29 major cities around the world – most tourist guides wrongly claim they are all world capitals, but the nerd in my will quickly point out that Istanbul is visible in the above picture. (Notice my next destination in the lower left corner of the picture, as well as home a little above it.);
[Update: This, I learned almost a year later, is Bratislava’s Zero Kilometer, a feature common to many capitals around the world, such as Madrid and Moscow, although it is usually the spot from which distances are measured within the country, rather than to cities outside of it.]
All of them – somehow made more beautiful by an accidental leaf or two. The mellow autumn sun didn’t hurt either.
One of the best things I stepped on was an installation of nine metal squares, not firmly fixed to the ground. When stepped on, they would sway and make different tinkling sounds. A kind of a Central European street version of those music/dancing games that are so popular in American arcades, but much cooler.
As we stood on top of them, it stopped raining and the sun came out. Though we made no sign of intending to leave, our taking a picture seemed to be the last drop for the little girl who, up until that point, had been hanging out on the side, patiently awaiting her turn to play on them. Finally, she gave up, rolled her eyes and walked away, and we stood there – tired, smitten and a little foolish.