A Travellerspoint blog

August 2017

Capital Swapping

Bratislava

sunny 23 °C
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After two days exploring the Austrian Capital, Vienna, our final day was to cross the border with Slovakia and explore their capital Bratislava, less than an hour away centre to centre.

Although Austria is firmly classed as Western Europe, most of its borders are with Eastern European countries, which even twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall are still much less developed - as I had found when I visited Graz four years earlier.

Arriving by train in Bratislava, it had taken less than an hour, and yet it felt as though we had travelled fifteen years into the past - despite this city being on the border with Austria. Dilapidated, broken, full of trolleybuses and communist architecture, it may have been developed, but it felt a world away from where we had just came.

Welcome to Slovakia

Welcome to Slovakia

Leaving the station, with it's big sign welcoming us to Slovakia, we headed towards our first sight - Slavín, the War Memorial located on one of the largest hills just outside the city centre.

Slavín

Slavín

After a short walk up the staircases and roads climbing up the hill, we arrived at the top for views over the city and of the impressive monument, before we made our way back down and to outside the Presidential Palace.

At Michael's Gate

At Michael's Gate

The next area to visit was the heart of the city centre, and after walking through the Michael's Gate, we arrived in the busy centre full of shops and cafés. Making our way through the city streets we passed busy squares before arriving at the Hviezdoslav Square, outside the Opera House.

Bratislava Old City

Bratislava Old City

By now we had seen much of the city, with our next sight being the icon of the city itself - the castle. Located on top of an imposing hill over the River Danube, we climbed up to the top where it was incredibly windy - so much so that even the courtyard of the building felt like a wind tunnel.

After a look around the grounds, we then made our way back down towards the bridge crossing the River Danube, and with it, I had met the Danube in each of the capital cities along the river, Budapest, Belgrade, Vienna and finally Bratislava.

Castle over the Danube

Castle over the Danube

After photos of the castle over the river, we quickly made our way to the nearest bus stop so that we could catch the next train back to Vienna from the other station on the south side of the river - and the only one on the tiny portion of Slovakian land located west of the Danube.

Running across a flyover to get to the bus stop, we made the short journey to take the train back to Austria in enough time. Once the train left the station, it wasn't long before we headed out of this suburb and crossed back over the Austrian border. Less than an hour later we were back in the Austrian capital - two of the closest capitals geographically, and yet world's apart in time.

After going back to the hotel for a lovely rest, we decided to have a traditional Austrian meal again tonight. After researching we found a restaurant in the city centre of Vienna, and headed there shortly after. Passing some restaurants with queues on the street, we were relieved to find ours was nice and quiet. Traditionally styled with wooden tables, we both had schnitzel and shared a apple strudel, as the restaurant got busier and busier, eventually surrounding us entirely by Asian girls. Clearly cheap traditional food is a staple of any Japanese holiday!

Surrounded by Asians eating Apple Strudel

Surrounded by Asians eating Apple Strudel

After a lovely finish to our holiday, we went back to the hotel to chill and get ready for the flight back the following morning.

The holiday was much quieter than the last few, yet still kept us busy and gave us lots to see - the large Austrian capital as well as a short excursion over the border to it's smaller Slovakian cousin.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 12:22 Archived in Slovakia Tagged restaurant river city hill castle border vienna&bratislava Comments (0)

The Viennese Wetz

Vienna

all seasons in one day 26 °C
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Less than a month after having visited Salzburg, Chris and I were heading back to Austria, and this time to the capital - Vienna. Although I had been to Austria three times previously, this was the first time I would be actually flying in, as all previous times had been en route via a neighbouring country.

After taking an early morning flight, we arrived in Vienna mid morning, and made our way to our hotel, where we hoped to be able to check in early, or at least leave our bags before exploring.

Upon arrival our room was being cleaned, and so we waited for ten minutes, whilst being offered a complimentary drink, despite being two hours before official check in - brilliant customer service!

With the weather at home being terrible (rarely above 20C, despite it being the middle of summer), the hot and sunny 35C Vienna was welcome. However as a storm was to hit tomorrow, this would be our only day with these kind of temperatures, and so we made the most of it going out in shorts. Did we need a raincoat? Not today we didn't!

We headed over to the Schönbrunn, where our first sight was the zoo, where one year old pandas and koalas lived - something unique! Beginning with the panda talk, it became clear that for many of the animals the prolonged heat had worn them out.

Panda Cub

Panda Cub

As we toured the zoo the clouds started to darken and noises could be heard. Hoping it was just lorries, it soon became clear this was impending thunder. Hoping we could avoid it was too much to ask, and as we were almost done in the zoo we headed up a wooded hill when the heavens opened. Without raincoats or umbrellas we ran from tree to tree to avoid the rain, before entering a farm animal building along with many other visitors who had the same problem as us.

After hanging about for 10 minutes, the rain looked like it had eased a little and so we decided to carry on anyway - we were far from the metro station and still had a few things to see.

Gloriette

Gloriette

Leaving the zoo we entered the Schönbrunn Palace Gardens and ran between the trees viewing the Gloriette before heading down towards the Palace building itself. Even in the rain it was pretty but it was a shame the rain prevented us from spending more time enjoying the area.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace

After having taken photos between the trees and under what little shelter we could find, we headed back towards the metro station as the rain stopped - typical!

Having grabbed food we headed back to the hotel where we could dry off and have a good night's sleep after the busy long day. However not long after we had fallen asleep, the bulk of the storm arrived and in the midst of over thirty flashes of lightning we went off back to sleep.

As the storm had arrived early, it did mean that the following day would be almost entirely dry, despite being over 10C cooler. After having had breakfast, we headed into the city centre to view the old city.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral

Beginning with the St. Stephen's Cathedral, we then headed via many souvenir shops to the Hofburg Palace, the Royal Palace and where the Spanish Riding School is based.

Hofburg

Hofburg

By now we had made it to the Ringstraße, the ring road where some of the grandest and most important city buildings are located. Beginning at the Burgtheater, we crossed the ring outside the City Hall, where the Vienna Film Festival is held.

City Hall

City Hall

Walking around the building, we then went past the Parliament building and headed down to the Museum Quarter and the Maria Theresa Square, where many of the buildings were in the same style.

Charles Church

Charles Church

We then diverged from the ring road and made our way to the Charles Church, before arriving at our last destination in the city centre - the Heroes' Monument. This monument, a Russian language Soviet War Memorial was completely out of place in the imperial city, but highlighted the mid 20th century reality of this Central European city.

Soviet War Memorial

Soviet War Memorial

Having seen the sights of the city centre, we headed back to the hotel for a rest before we went for an evening walk to the Danube, not far from our hotel, where we could see the UN buildings over the mighty river.

The Viennese Danube

The Viennese Danube


The Prater

The Prater

Heading back our last sight was the Prater, where we would grab dinner in the Rollercoaster Restaurant and tour the amusement park.

Rollercoaster Restaurant

Rollercoaster Restaurant

After a busy day we went back to the hotel and chilled before our final full day tomorrow in Bratislava.

Vienna, like all the other Central European capitals of Prague and Budapest is very grand and has beautiful buildings. However despite it being on the Danube, the river flows on the outskirts of the city and with very little hills I personally prefer the others, who also have the river, bridges and hills to see, whereas the focus on Vienna is simply it's grand buildings. Nevertheless it's a beautiful city, and was a lovely place to visit.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 11:13 Archived in Austria Tagged rain architecture culture palace zoo city parliament vienna&bratislava Comments (0)

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