Monday, 31 December 2012

Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna, 13.-20.10.2012, Part V

This shall be the last update of the year. I'll try my best to squeeze everything into just this one post.

Our breakfast.

So, now we were in Austria! In the morning, we had breakfast at a nice little gasthaus type place and then walked all the way to Schönbrunn Palace. Everyone had told us to go there and that it would be an amazing place. It really is gorgeous out there, especially the gardens! We decided not to go inside the palace as we both think seeing different rooms is just really boring, but we did see a lot of things outside the palace.


 





We then noticed a children's maze that you could enter for an extra fee...of course we had to do that! It was almost too easy to find your way out, though, heh.





Our next plan was to climb the hill for the views...that was until we noticed there was a zoo...with koalas and pandas, which neither of us had seen before. We just had to go there! Apparently, Schönbrunn Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world, too, and it was a pretty good place with lots of different animals, such as...

...a rhino...

...elephants (this one is eating)...

....monkeys...

...KOALAS!!!...

...PANDAS!!!...

...and giraffes.
We both agreed that going to zoos is much nicer than going to palaces, heh. We still wanted to do the insane climb up the hill, though, even though we were quite exhausted from walking to the palace and around the zoo. Tia had also gone for a run in the morning! But yes, up the hill we went...




Hehe, I was EXHAUSTED :D!
Right, then we still had to go back down and walk all the way to the metro stop. Yes, we decided we wouldn't do any more walking but instead would catch the metro downtown where we'd have something to eat and then go and check out the Ring Boulevard where you have all the old buildings and sights.

Here we are! This is the Opera House.

Austria!
Really good food! Don't ask me what it was, though, I don't remember anymore. Veggie lasagne, maybe?

Apfelstrudel for dessert, yum!
And then we embarked on our sightseeing tour of the Ring. Tia had been to Vienna before so she showed me around and told me what all the buildings were, which was pretty nice.

Hofburg Palace and Mozart's statue.

Hofburg Palace.

The Rathaus.



A theatre.

Can't remember what this one was but it's a gorgeous building nevertheless.
And then it was time to go shopping again! As you can possibly guess, this holiday wasn't that relaxing, heh. My trips are never about not being busy and having time for yourself - I'm always going from one place to another all day and then ending the day completely knackered and exhausted. I should probably learn to enjoy beach breaks...:D 

Anyway, I didn't buy that much this time and, instead, I left Tia to do her shopping and went to meet up with my Erasmus exchange friend Mirjana, who lives in Vienna. It had been over five years since I last saw her and it was so nice to get together again! We went to a really lovely coffee shop called Café Ritter for coffee, sacher cake and a long chat. Mirjana was incredibly hospitable as well and treated me to absolutely everything! I can't tell you how much fun it was to see her again after all this time. We talked about our time in Växjö and everything that has happened to us since. We had a lot of catching up to do. Then we took the metro to Stephansplatz where Mirjana got me some typically Austrian waffles, and then we met up with Mirjana's boyfriend Thomas, who I also know from Växjö, and Thomas's aunt. The four of us went to a sushi place and chatted some more, and I got to present my extremely vast vocabulary of German words, heh. I had so much fun! Wish it could've lasted longer! Mirjana, Thomas and Thomas's aunt were going to the theatre so we had to part ways, and so I went back to our hostel to meet up with Tia again. I hope we'll see each other again soon!


Mirjana!
Us!

Horses and carriages outside St. Stephen's Cathedral.

St. Stephen's Cathedral in the dark.
When I got back to the hostel, it turned out Tia hadn't eaten yet so we went to yet another restaurant so that she wouldn't have to go hungry, heh. We ended up having the best night ever! Let's just say that wine was consumed and lots of hours were spent awake, talking about absolutely everything. I think we finally fell asleep at around 3 am or so? It was so worth it, though - what an epic night, as much as I hate using the word epic

And that was basically our holiday in a nutshell. The following day we didn't do that much anymore. We had to check out at 10 am, and as we'd done so much the day before, we didn't really feel like going anywhere new. We spent some time sitting at Starbucks, drinking hot chocolate, then went to a restaurant for a burger (I swore I'd never have another burger in my life after this trip but of course I've now broken that promise, heh), did some grocery shopping, and then headed back to Sudbahnhof for our train back to Bratislava. It took us pretty much all day to get back to Budapest as we had to change trains in Bratislava and our train was late as well. It wasn't until 10 pm that we arrived at our hostel in Budapest. Luckily it wasn't Rastel anymore, but our new hostel, the Red Bus, wasn't that amazing, either. Its location was better, though, and we'd only be staying for one night so that was okay. We paid around 20€/person/night for this hostel. We still went to McDonald's for another meal (NO MORE BURGERS, PLEASE!) and then came back, packed our bags, read a little bit and then went to bed. 

The following morning, we decided to leave for the airport immediately. We'd ordered a taxi via the reception and that cost around 13€ between us. Not bad considering the airport is quite far away. We spent quite some time playing different card games at the airport until it was finally time for us to check in for the flight and go through security. All in all, yet another great trip in great company! I really recommend Bratislava and Vienna to everyone, and also doing a trip like this where you travel around from country to country even if you only have one week to do it. It's really worth it! I also recommend Budapest but make sure the weather is good ;).

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna, 13.-20.10.2012, Part IV

The following morning we packed our bags and walked to Keleti for our train to Bratislava. The sun was shining and, as we had some time before our train would leave, we just sat outside enjoying the warmth for an hour or so, aaaah! Our train left at 11:25 am and arrived in Bratislava at 2:09 pm so it's not too long of a trip at all. And I have to say that it's just so much fun to be able to catch a train from one country to another! Living in Finland, you just can't do that. The only country you can catch a train to is Russia but then that's not easy at all as you'll need a visa, which seems like a pain to get, so it's not like you can just decide to jump on a train and find yourself in another country a couple of hours later. I wouldn't actually like to live in Central Europe myself but the train aspect of it is great, I can't deny that.

Goodbye to Budapest for now!

The ticket was hand-written and all :D.

Some of the views along the way were pretty gorgeous...




Aaaaand then we were in Bratislava. Everyone had told us not to spend too much time there as apparently it was the most boring one out of the cities we were visiting on this trip...they couldn't have been more wrong! We loved Bratislava! It's quite small but extremely pretty and welcoming, there are lots of coffee shops, restaurants and pubs everywhere, the sights are few but definitely worth seeing, and the shopping is great! We were quite annoyed that we wouldn't even be spending the night as we instantly connected with Bratislava much better than with Budapest. Should never listen to what other people tell you...Oh well, we decided to enjoy the city as long as we could, and after leaving our stuff at the station and getting another return ticket (between Bratislava and Vienna, for 11€), we walked downtown...or, tried to walk downtown, got a bit lost, asked a bunch of uni students for directions, and finally found the extremely idyllic city centre.

The railway station.

Obchodna Street, where we did A LOT of shopping! You can also see the gorgeous castle in the background.

We were starving and decided to go to a place called Burgerland. They had burgers from different countries - I had a Thai burger and Tia had a Greek burger, if I remember right. It was sooo good! Much better than McDonald's or Burger King.
After having something to eat, we decided to do all the sights first and then come back down to Obchodna for shopping. Our train to Vienna wouldn't leave until 6:46 pm so we had quite a few hours to squeeze everything into. The climb up to the castle was quite tough but we made it and it was so worth it! What a gorgeous castle, and amazing views, too!

The Church of the Trinitarians.


Another church.


One of the sights in Bratislava is this bridge, Novy Most, with its top shaped like a UFO.





The gates to the castle!

Slovakia!




I was there, too :).

The Danube.
Then we came back down and had a look at the Old Town. It was a regular old town really, but it would've been fun to have the chance to sit there with a nice meal in the evening. Oh well, maybe there'll be another time...We saw one of the main sights, St Michael's Gate, and also some sort of park full of cats, before heading back to Obchodna for shopping. I spent so much money at Gate and New Yorker! We both did, and as we'd only brought one suitcase to share between us, we were beginning to get worried about all the stuff fitting inside it and Ryanair's weight limits...

The Old Town and some Hare Krishnas :D.

St Michael's Gate.

Cats in a park!

After our shopping session, we headed back to the railway station and on our way there, we accidentally bumped into the Presidential Palace, or the Grassalkovich Palace. Brilliant, now we've seen that as well!



It was a pain to drag everything we'd bought back to the station but somehow we managed to do that, got our suitcase and put everything in there and our other bags. Then it was time to leave Slovakia for Austria! I'd been to Austria once before but that was back in 1989 and it was just a day somewhere in the countryside as we were travelling around with my mum's German friend and her family back then.



Anyway, the trip was very short, just a bit over an hour, and we arrived in Vienna at 7:59 pm. We then caught the tram (#18, a single ticket was 2,20€ and there's a machine on the tram that takes cash) to Mariahilfer Gürtel and went to our hostel to check in. This time we were in luck! We'd booked a room at Happy Hostel without knowing much about the place but it turned out to be an absolutely adorable hostel! We got upgraded to a room with its own bathroom and kitchen as well! The room was huge, sort of like what we had in Stansted back in February. Aaaaah, so heavenly after the horrible Rastel! Also, the older woman working at the reception was the nicest person ever and made us feel like home immediately. We both paid 24€/night so it was more expensive than Rastel, but still, there's no way I'd call it expensive. I really recommend it to everyone, and it was no youth hostel, either, so older people could easily opt for it, too.



We were hungry again and so we decided to go out for a bit, to see if we could find something to eat before going to bed. I immediately fell in love with Vienna! I had no idea it was so similar to London somehow! The main shopping street, Mariahilfer Straße, is amazing! I've never studied German and have, probably as a result, never been interested in German-speaking countries, but I have to say that Vienna quite changed my feelings. At one point I even told Tia that I'd like to take a German course, and I actually might do that at some point, too. I can only imagine how beautiful Vienna is around Christmas, with all the lights and Christmas markets!

Anyway, we got ourselves some pizza and then went back to our room. I was completely knackered and extremely happy to finally be allowed to sleeeeeeeep :).