Bratislava Castle © Andrew Ingersoll
Standing atop Bratislava Castle, I looked out across the Danube toward the communist block housing. It’s composed of big, grey, square blocks designed for one purpose: to house the working class Bratislava community. I was only a child when the red curtain fell in Eastern Europe. I vaguely remember history lessons on communism, but the message was always “democracy good, communism bad.” I felt privileged to be in such a place so vastly different to my American community. I am a firm believer in the fact that travel opens minds and challenges the ignorance of what we know to be “true.”
One of my grandmothers remarried after my grandfather passed away from cancer. Her new husband has three children. Regrettably, I never really got to know those two step-uncles or my step-aunt as a child. But I did however know one of them worked for the American embassy in Bratislava. So I thought I might as well see if he was around.
Looking down at the old city below, I could see Embassy Row from my perch at the castle wall. I made my way down to the tree-lined lane way. The American embassy was easy one to find. It was the one surrounded by barbed-wire fencing. I approached the guard and, matter-of-factly, asked to meet with my Uncle Sam. It wasn’t until I spoke those words that I realized the irony of my request!
After I reassured the guards I wasn’t joking, I was able to enter and Uncle Sam came down for a chat. We shook hands, exchanged some kind words, and I left him to finish his work day. Bewildered by what I had just done, I smiled. I met my Uncle Sam in former communist Slovakia. Huh? The world is an amazing place.
Bratislava is a short train ride from Vienna, Austria. I was only there on a day trip via train. Travel was on-time, easy and clean, as well as a good way to see the countryside.
Rick Ingersoll is one of the world’s experts on frugal travel and flying free and the author of The Frugal Travel Guy Handbook. A retired mortgage banker from Traverse City, Michigan, he has retired to Hilton Head Island,... All Articles
| Follow on Google+
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49
First 3 months
IHG hotels Purchases
Gas & Fuel Purchases
Food & Dining Purchases