Vienna and flying in the theme park. 

Our last day in Slovakia was here! Bratislava was such a great city and it certainly charmed us. Luckily our transport to Vienna was next door to our botel, so a slightly dodgy hotel breakfast later we were on the boat travelling up the Danube river.

It was so easy to book, it’s around 20Euros for a one way trip that takes about an hour and 15 minutes. On the way we passed Devin Castle, an old fort high atop a rocky crag on the border of Slovakia and Austria. 

We waved to a pretty riverside town and mostly passed through forest with lots of little fishermen’s huts lining the banks. It felt fun to speed along on a catamaran with the wind whipping around us. It didn’t feel like much time had passed before we hit the city limits and passed through onto the canal, before arriving between steep walls to the centre of the city. 

We disembarked and through my brilliant sense of direction headed towards the hotel I had booked via St Stephen’s cathedral, a huge spectacle towering above a small square surrounding it, with a beautiful spire touching the sky above us. 

After passing several cake shops we found our way to the underground, where it was only a short journey up to the museum district and our hotel viennart in the museumsquartier. An easy friendly check in later and we were sorted, with lovely clean rooms and great views out over Vienna. 

A quick freshen up and getting our bearings we went out to take our time wandering past tye different museum buildings and parks that lay before us. The weather was again brilliant and it really helped make the holiday.  

Vienna is such a grand city, and we were quite happy to explore without going out of the sunshine into the galleries and museums surrounding us, instead preferring to leisurely pass through parks and relax in the sun with a beer. Plus there was enough to see outside without heading in. 

We walked through Heldenplarltz and Volksgarten, passing through to the Spanish Riding School, something Peter insisted we must do. We picked up our tickets for the following morning and returned to our trail via some interesting fountains and buildings. 

Our path took us past the parliament building and we stopped off in a park a short distance along from there. We wound our way round to Rathausplatz where they hold an outdoor cinema in the summer which looked really fun. 

As we found ourselves getting carried away with no purpose to our walking we swung around the Sigmund-freud park, hopped onto an underground, fueled up on huge sandwiches and headed to the Vienna Opera building. I loved the road crossing lights, with the walking man or woman hand in hand with another man or woman. It was a cute little thing but a nice sign with the little heart in the middle.

The sheer amount of culture in Vienna is amazing, with nods to historical figures of all types around every corner as we looped around the city.

We found ourselves walking through another park, with hordes of pokemon go players glued to their phones. It was nice that there were so many people out enjoying the greenery and the hot weather. 

After the park we were back on the streets, walking past lovely art shops and clothes stores. Through little arcades and across wide shopping streets with the smell of food and the sound of laughter all around us. 

Our plan now was to walk back to the hotel and relax for a bit, ready to go across the city to Vienna’s own theme park: Prater. 

We arrived early evening and joined the various groups of all ages heading towards the entrance. It’s free to get in and you pay for the various rides. We had come for the big wheel and hopefully sunset views from the top. 

It’s a really vibrant place with an old school feel, lots of bumper cars, food stalls and rides like water rapids, ghost trains and this snake that flipped people up and over again and again. 

If we hadn’t been budgeting we would have gone on so many rides but we ended up spotting one which took you high up over the park, and span you round while you sat in a little chair with metal chains securing you to the main pillar. I think we egged each other on a bit to go on it but it was totally worth it.

It went so high! Peter had his eyes closed for a lot of it but I enjoyed looking out over the city and even managed to get a great photo from up there. 

I enjoyed the adrenaline thrill and we were buzzing as we walked away. Going round the rest of the park you could see how much fun it would be and I’d definitely go back there. 

Our main aim was the big wheel and with the sun getting low in the sky it was time to board. Some people had booked to dine in some of the cars going round and it was funny to watch the waiter go in and fill their wine glasses and deliver their next course while they waited patiently for the next journey round. We even got to see models of a post apocalyptic Vienna!

It was soon our turn and we jumped in, luckily with only a handful of others due to a huge group of Chinese behind us. 

The views were as stunning as I had hoped and you could see for what felt like forever. 

It was very romantic and you got a good amount of time to go round and soak up the views. 

Once we landed it was food time, we decided to just grab something in the park and ended up with traditional pretzels, schnitzel and erm…chicken wings. All washed down with a refreshing fruit beer. 

By this point the sun had set and the park too on a whole new look with all it’s neon lights shooting into the sky, the only problem was a sudden influx of midges, hordes of them under every light which made my head itch. Again there were rides we really wanted to go on but hadn’t brought the money to do it. 

This one had 5 loops! 

All lit up for night time, still with people arriving, we left to go back closer to the hotel and have a drink. It ended up being harder than we thought and we had to walk past our hotel till we found a small pub with outdoor seating jutting out onto the road. 

A few beers and some excellent music later it was time to head back and get a good nights sleep. Tomorrow was a full day in Vienna. 

Bratislava and the party beach. 

We woke up with the sound of the waves lapping up against the boat. There was nothing really wrong with the hotel, and for the price/location it was perfect. We went to sample the breakfast which was very basic and set off to climb the hill that looms above the city. A quick tram journey back up to where we had started our tram journey the day before and we were at base camp. 

The walk up is pretty simple if you just take every turn that is heading uphill. We were walking up to see the war memorial Slavin. Dedicated to thousands of soviet soldiers who liberated the city in WWII. It was opened in 1960 and I imagined it was a stark reminder of who the Slovakians should be grateful to for their ‘freedom’. 

Politics aside the walk up is nothing to write home about, lots of interesting houses and little shortcuts upwards. We had somehow walked round to the back of the memorial and were struck by the size of the memorial. You could feel the history of the place with the graveyard and monuments scattered about the hill. 

I think that coming up the way we did was better, as we walked towards the huge steps leading up to the memorial at the front, Bratislava unfolded before us and you could see for miles in the sunshine. 

We walked down the steps and worked out a route through the city that would take us past some more of the sights. Grabbing a quick snack we walked through the gardens of the presidential palace when it started to rain! We took shelter and as the rain passed overhead we continued our journey to the front of the palace. 

Our wandering took us through another park with what looked like a huge water feature which was in complete disrepair. It all looked very Soviet-bloc era, a lot of the surrounding city had this vibe to it, away from the kitsch old town. 

Our wandering took us past the church of St Elizabeth, a bright eggshell blue church that looks really cute. I’m not one for religion but some of these buildings are so pretty in the midst of chaos. 

From here we walked past some dilapidated towerblocks and towards the shopping mall for a coffee, just as we entered the heavens opened and it started to absolutely pour down. We spent some time walking the length of the place which was super modern and with an impressive water feature. Then took the time to have coffee and cake, this was lomg enough for the rain to cease and we walked out into beaming sunshine again. 

After seeing a lot of the city we had heard about a beach type pop up bar that was meant to be pretty cool, so we crossed the danube and found ourselves walking along it’s banks on the opposite side to the city. 

The Magio beach was down as one of the top things to do in Bratislava and in the sunshine you could see why. It looked like something I’d imagine was in Ibiza with trendy chairs and pools dotted about on decking with chillout dance music pumping out. 

We sat and got a couple of beers and started to sweat in the afternoon heat! It was boiling hot and so nice to have the cool river breeze around us. 

After a couple of beers we decided to move on, if I was there with a few friends etc I think it would be a really cool place to hang out and enjoy. 

Carrying on up the river we found ourselves in a huge green park with the floor dappled from the sunlight creeping through the close knit leafy ceiling. As we walked round we noticed the crowds of people of all ages playing pokemon go. There were a couple of nice statues and a lovely fountain which shimmered in the bright sun. 

Finding ourselves crossing back over the danube into the old town we came across a man peeking out of his drain in the floor, completely made from metal of course. Then we went for the ice cream, it was pretty good, but I think we had built our expectations up the day before!

We sat and enjoyed soaking up the sun and the city atmosphere before gettong a beer on one of the small streets when evening set in and we went back to the boat to relax and get ready to go out for dinner. 

We had a beer on the boat sat outside looking over the river, and walked back to the big square to find food. We settled on a lovely place with huge wooden tables with thick planks, surrounded by trees and the sound of water trickling through. As dusk fell the trees lit up with lanterns strung between them. It was magical surrounded by the old buildings and people walking past laughing and chatting. 

We ordered drinks and starters and i had a huge tasty pizza while Peter had steak for the 2nd night in a row! Again we over ordered and were stuffed by the end, I think I got chips on the side too! So we tried to walk it off and looked for somewhere to have another drink. As we walked round in the dark it became increasingly clear that we were too fat, tired and lazy to stay out so we agreed to go back to the hotel ready to be fresh for our trip up the danube to Vienna. 

For more information on Bratislava, check out this blog post over on MapsandMerlot :

Bratislava and a stay on the danube. 

I have been a bit bad, I started this blog as a way for family and friends to keep up with me and my friends as we went round SE Asia. I enjoyed writing and decided I would try and write about each holiday I went on. Unfortunately I decided for some reason not to write about a great little trip I took to Bratislava and Vienna. 

Basically this means I’m writing about a holiday from 5 months ago, so there may be gaps in my memory but I’m sure I can recall most details and use my pictures to fill in the rest. So here goes! 

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, a gorgeous looking country nestled between The Czech Republic and Austria, and probably overshadowed by both. In my quest to visit every country in Europe it was on the list and a cheap destination, made even cheaper by booking a one way flight there and one way back from Vienna as the two are so close. 

This worked a year or so ago when we visited Sofia, Bulgaria and Istanbul, Turkey. It’s a good way of seeing two countries/cities on a 5 day trip. 

The flight was uneventful and it was easy to jump on a bus from the airport to the outskirts of the city centre. From there it was easy as we took a tram down to the river where we were staying. I had booked a Botel, a hotel in a boat, as I thought ot would be a fun experience. As we walked along the riverfront we went past some lovely looking botels and I knew for 30 quid a night they weren’t ours. Our boat was moored up a couple of hundred feet from the main bridge into town with the famous UFO restaurant high up on the opposite bank! I had been looking forward to seeing it for years and it didn’t disappoint. 

The location really couldn’t have been better and once we had checked in and Peter had been very silent on what he thought of the (very) basic room, we went off to see the sights. The weather was absolutely gorgeous with the sun shining and, after grabbing a coffee from a little vendor we crossed under the main road towards the castle that overlooks the old town. 

We wandered up through small alleys and up winding steps, through the gatehouse and emerged into a nice shady park. We had a good wander through the trees and enjoyed some great views over the danube and towards the old town walls. 

The castle itself is lovely and we climbed up to the main part before heading down the other side of the hill, circling the castle and having a quick toilet break/looking at dodgy art in the local gallery. As we wound our way down we found ourselves opposite the walls we had seen before and noticed a great little bar selling cheap beers. We had to stop and have a break, enjoying the lovely view opposite. 

After just the one beer we followed the path back over the main road and entered the old town by a lovely church. The old town looks old and quaint, and some of the buildings were crumbling. We navigated our way to the main streets filled with restaurants and little gift shops. 

Somehow we had managed to make our way to Michael’s Gate, one of the sights to see in our travel guide! We paid to go up to the top, up spiral staircases past historical artifacts until we reached the 360° balcony. The views were stunning, even with Peter worrying about the integrity of the floor.

After enjoying the view and getting some good shots we walked back down and continued to explore the beautiful old town.  The nicest thing about Bratislava is that you can just wander and see random statues/monuments, old soviet era looking buildings and cute littoe restaurants or bars. The old town really has got a bit of magic about it as we encounted squares lined with outside seating, fountains in their midst and beautiful buildings in the background. 

One such square, which was more of a huge rectangle, had water features running through the middle of it and trees lining either side. We stopped for an early afternoon bite to eat in one of the many restaurants. Enjoying the sunshine which made everything 10x better. The food and drinks were delicious and cheaper than in the UK. 

After making sure we had seen the majority of quirks and hideaways we popped back to the hotel to get ready to go out in the evening. We had to time it well as we were going up to the UFO and wanted views of the city before nightfall. We crossed the bridge and found the entrance, paying the entrance fee as we weren’t booked in for a meal. 

It was definitely worth it as we found our way to the very top, with amazing views and to top it off the sun was setting in deep yellows and oranges over the danuce as we stood and looked out over the city. Even though I had looked forward to it just because it’s shaped like a huge UFO this made it all the more special. We soaked up the atmosphere and when the view had been exhausted we went down to the bar and got two reasonably priced cocktails while the place vibrated with every truck passing underneath. It was a really enjoyable thing to do and the sun set in front of us as we sat and enjoyed the drinks. 

Our plan now was to go back over the bridge and to a restaurant in the same big square from before. I forget the name but it had a lovely covered outdoor area and we sat and enjoyed a Slovakian wine with great food and a cool ambience. I think we spent loads on dinner even though it was well priced but we ended up getting 3 courses! 

(Goat cheese panna cotta)

Lovely and satisfied we had noticed an ice cream place with a huge queue all through the afternoon and evening and made a mental note to go the next day. For now though we had heard about a skybar so we went up the lift and into a darkly lit bar, we sat down next to the window but couldn’t see loads. Once we had our drinks we went onto the balcony where it had started to drizzle with rain, once again the view at night was incredible. We were lucky with the amount of great panoramic sights we got to see in Bratislava. 

A couple of cocktails later and it was back to the boat, listening to the sloshing waves beneath us we drifted off.