Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest
Exploring new cities, countries, food and languages
First of all: I loved our 5-days-trip. I loved spending time with (some of) my best friends from my Bachelor studies. I loved exploring new and unknown cities. I loved the food. I loved the atmosphere in every city (they are so different!). I loved the coach trip from Bratislava to Budapest (TV screens with individual program for every seat, free hot drinks – for roughly £6!). I loved our hostel in Budapest (Minoo House – great place!). I didn’t really love the weather but that could’t dampen our mood :)
Travel route: Flight from London to Bratislava, coach Bratislava-Vienna, coach Vienna-Bratislava, coach Bratislava-Budapest, flight back to London
* more images will be inserted shortly :)
Even though we didn’t really have much time in either of the cities – which are all capitals situated at Danube River – we managed to see quite a bit – mostly afoot!
Thankfully Bratislava isn’t very big so our journey started slowly(-ish) by exploring the pretty historic district which burst with old-town charm – there is the Old Town Hall which dates back to the 13th century, the pretty Slovak National Theatre, the Grassalkovich Palace, the House at the Good Shepherd (extremely narrow in the front) and the distinctive Bratislava Castle.
Apart from that, Communism has left its mark in Bratislava – the Slovak Radio Building, which looks like an inverted pyramid, was rated as one of the 30 ugliest buildings in the world (!). The Nový Most (New Bridge) which spans over Danube River looks like a concrete UFO and the Námestie Slobody (Freedom Square) is probably the strangest/ugliest fountain I have ever seen. Furthermore the areas around the historic center are full of (partly really shabby) concrete housing blocks – including the student accommodation where our friend stayed.
Nevertheless Bratislava is well worth a visit. It’s full of history, great people and awesome food :)
Vienna is probably the most venerable of the cities we’ve visited. It’s very sleek, posh and proud – pretty much almost perfect. And there is lots to see! We spend hours and hours just roaming around – from the Prater with its Giant Ferris Wheel to the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Imperial Vienna with its magnificent buildings to the ice rink in front of Vienna’s city hall and the Hundertwasser House. It’s absolutely packed with history: there are over 27 castles and more than 150 palaces to see! There are 1,715 bridges in Vienna too – four times as many bridges as in Venice. Paired with modern architecture it makes an absolutely interesting mix – I guess I really have to go back in order to absorb the whole atmosphere better. There really wasn’t enough time :)
Budapest is a very pretty city which was formed by uniting the cities Buda and Pest (as well as Óbuda) in 1873. It is a city full of historic and impressive buildings without feeling as posh as Vienna. In contrast, it has its shabby areas and grey buildings but the overall atmosphere is breathtaking. Even though the weather was at its worst (rain, snow, grey skies) we’ve seen quite a bit of the Hungarian capital.
You get a great overview over the city from Buda Castle – the famous Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament Building look very pretty from there. St. Stephen’s Basilica is well worth a visit as well is the Nagy Vasarcsarnok (Central Market Hall). The Jewish Quarter is a great place to be – it feels like a secluded backyard with little cafes and restaurants everywhere. It is not far from the impressive Dohány Street Synagogue and the The House of Terror Museum. Furthermore we’ve seen the Hungarian State Opera House and the slightly remote Hősök tere (Hero’s Square) and the Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park. It contains elements from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style and feels a bit like an enchanted place..
I absolutely recommend to go into one of Budapest’s natural spas. It’s great fun and so relaxing and you can go quite late at night too.
But again, time was short and there is so much more to discover – really really want to go back. And it’s cheap too!
We found the best food on our travels at the Slovak Pub in Bratislava – Cesnaková polievka krémová v bochníku posypaná syrom (Creamy garlic soup in a loaf of home-made bread), Kapustnica s klobásou a kyslou smotanou (Cabbage soup with sausage) and Slovenská misa pre 2 osoby (Slovak platter for 2 persons; including: dumplings with bryndza, pirogi with bryndza, dumplings with cabbage). It’s been absolutely delicious!! I highly recommend all of it as well as the weird braided and smoked cheese strings – Korbacik (whip).
Images from Slovak Pub Menu
Vienna – obviously – was the best place for an authentic Sacher torte. It was beautiful – obviously – but really quite filling :) And sticking with sweets – if you should ever try ‘Mozart ball’ (even though its a sweet from Salzburg), go for brand Mirabell – they’re the best!
In Budapest the market hall was a wonderful place to be. A beautiful structure and so much to eat! It smelled fantastic everywhere (lángos!) and we tried a bite of baked goods there.
We learned a handful of useful Slovakian and Hungarian phrases (since we’re all German we skipped learning typical Austrian expressions) while we were traveling.
One of my three friends was on an Erasmus exchange in Bratislava, so he introduced us to Slovakian hellos and goodbyes:
Dobrý deň! = Good day!
Ahoj! = Hello/bye (we liked that one ;))
Dovidenia! = Goodbye!
Ďakujem. = Thank you.
Prosím. = You are welcome. (Also means ‘please’ and ‘pardon?’.)
Ja som = I am
Áno. = Yes.
Nie. = No.
You actually can come really far with those little phrases (nevertheless we were more than happy that they understood English – and sometimes even German). And it’s absolutely recommendable to learn a few words – the Slovakian people seemed very happy that we tried (and probably largely failed :)).
Hungarian was a bit more difficult as none of us had actual day-to-day experience and it is a very different language and very hard to learn.
Szia! = Hello/goodbye!
Köszi. = Thank you.
Igen. = Yes.
Nem. = No.
It’s hard to say which of those cities I liked most – they are so very different. Vienna is posh and beautiful, a proud city full of ancient magnificent buildings.
Bratislava, though not even 50 miles away, is a whole different affair. It’s very small for a capital and while the city centre is very cute and full of renovated old buildings, the areas around testify to the Iron Curtain. Used to ‘western’ standards we were stunned by the state of the student accommodation where our friend lived. Nevertheless I really enjoyed Bratislava. The people we met were very friendly, the food was amazing and the atmosphere was great too.
Thinking about it, I think I enjoyed Budapest the most. Even though the weather was by far the worst, I liked the mix of ancient impressive buildings, market halls, the amount of natural spas (awesome!), the imperfections, the foreign currency, the slightly scruffy but very authentic city – which was so different to Vienna.
Hi, I'm Anni. I'm a VFX Artist. 3D lover. Multimedia Producer. Travel enthusiast. Nature lover. DIY fan. Music devotee. And much more.
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