We arrived into Bratislava in the vast, empty bus station. Stepping out of the station, it was like a ghost town with hardly anyone around. We crossed the road to wait for the trolley bus to take us into town where the hotel was. We had about 20 minutes to wait. A couple of buses passed by and Eldad and I noted how modern, quiet and clean looking the buses were. Before long, we heard a clunking engine round the corner and the hissing of bus breaks… we turned to see a 1950’s style bus with metal seats and a wooden door to the drivers seat – as luck had it, this was our bus. We climbed aboard and held on for the bumpy ride.
The city of Bratislava is very beautiful. It is well kept and easy to walk around. We meandered through the old town, which was gorgeously picturesque but eerily devoid of tourists and in fact, people altogether. It was lunchtime and we were both pretty hungry so we selected one of the many restaurants offering schnitzel and ordered lunch.
After lunch and a wander round, we headed back to the hotel for a short nap, after all we had been up rather early. As we began to unpack our things, I noticed a yellow card fall to the ground… It was my credit card! It had managed to wedge itself between an iPad and a Kindle, I was glad it was not lost, but then felt very guilty about waking the hotel guy up over nothing.
When we re-emerged from the hotel, it was dark and we thought for sure there would be more people out and about for the evening. Again, we found the restaurants quite empty. We were both quite full from lunch so decided to just have a drink out. We came across a very cool café and surprise, it had people inside! We ordered some cheese and local wine, and enjoyed a lovely evening in the cosy setting. It was here, we decided to head to Vienna for a day trip the next day.
We jumped on a train about 9am and arrived in Vienna only about an hour later. It was a wonderful site, stepping out of the station into the wonderful square in front of St Stephens. The city of Vienna is very beautiful and we headed to the tourist office to make a plan for the day. The first stop was the Albertina museum. An impressive museum.
We then wandered the streets, admiring the architecture and spectacular buildings. After we had wandered around for a bit, we both realised, neither of us knew much about what we were actually looking at. I suggested we take one of the tour buses as they provide commentary and context around the monuments and buildings, plus it was a good way to keep out of the cold for a bit! So we sat on the bus for about 45 mins circling the town and finding out about the history of ruling families (read Hapsburgs), famous architects and more.
After our morning of sight seeing, we stopped in for lunch at the famous Figlmüller. Almost everyone who has been to Vienna knows this place. The schnitzel is the size of the plate, but that didn’t deter me. It was delicious.
After lunch we reclined in a pretty café for cakes and coffee. Feeling full we decided to continue strolling to work off some lunch. As it got darker, we popped into a bar for a digestive Schnapps. This was not the schnapps I remember from home which is sweet and tasty. No, the Austrian schnapps is almost indistinguishable between flavours, but with an overwhelming smack of alcohol. At the bar, we met a man from Canada who had grown up in Hungary and travelled to Vienna and Europe frequently to visit family. We spent a couple of hours chatting away before realising we had better get back to the train station before the last train left.
We had been informed that the trains ran hourly until 9:30pm. We arrived at about 8pm – there was no train until about 9:45pm so we had to wait. This train station was no place to hang around at night so we went in search of a place to sit. After 15 minutes spent on edge and high alert in a rowdy tavern with the undesirables of Vienna, we found a nicer place a little further up the road to wait.
On the ride back we got chatting to an Israeli couple who had been travelling around Hungary and Slovakia. We were very tired by the time we reached Bratislava and collapsed into bed after our long day.