I chose Vienna-The capital of Austria and Europe’s darling, as the destination for my 22nd birthday celebration. For a traveler there is no such thing as mediocrity and keeping this in mind, my friends and I decided to do something different on this trip.. Let me introduce you to our “milestone plan”- an ambitious goal to travel across three different countries in one day, with the objective of having breakfast in Hungary, lunch in Austria and dinner in Slovakia. This may seem like an impossible feat to many, but I’am proud to say that despite several hiccups along the way, we ended up as Supernovas. Here goes how..
For starters, we landed in Bratislava, Slovakia amidst a snow storm. Unable to see much around we immediately took the express bus to Vienna. You can imagine our relief when Vienna came to us with sunshine and colors!
Vienna at first glance is an incredibly beautiful city. Austria as a country is immensely scenic. For the purpose of recreation, imagine “the sound of music” shot across Salzberg, another city in Austria. Vienna looks like a city that is culturally rooted and yet competitively urban.
The largest city in Austria, Vienna is buzzing with activity throughout the year. Picture well planned streets, colorful markets, eccentric jazz clubs, gorgeous public buildings- especially the public library and historic monuments spread generously across the city.
The city offers several photo opportunities through day and night, and has especially quaint and well designed traditional cafes and age old pubs.
The roads of Wein are always brimming with tourists, students, artists and performers. It is one of the few cities where you can clearly demarcate between large groups of people who are typical office goers and another group which makes its living through art! Walking around the city is easy, although there may be a language barrier for those not fluent with German. An impressive monument expressing the culture of this country is the Hoffgurg imperial palace.
The architecture of the palace is intricate and traditional, and today the palace is home to the National library, war museum as well as the Spanish horse riding school.
What intrigued me the most about the Hoffberg was the museum of Ethnography, which accounted the day to day lives of kings and queens that have resided in the palace over time.
The ring boulevard is another beautiful spot in Vienna which offers great pictures. The Austrian parliament, an imposing building can also be seen from here. The boulevard is scenic, historically rich and home to the Natural museum and the museum of Fine Arts, majorly inspired by the Italian renaissance.
In the heart of the city is the gorgeous St. Stephen cathedral, a magnificent church with an extremely large roof and high tower. The church square is the main part of the city center and is extremely tourist friendly.
We made lots of local friends here, and even struck upon a lucrative deal with a local vendor selling Opera passes. We were later upgraded to the VIP section of the show leading to a night dipped in the glory of ancient Wein and sparkling champagne.
We walked past Kalskirche, the building opposite the cathedral and then down the Blutgassen district road to the ever colorful Naschmarket! The Blutgassen district has intricate, winding roads and many hidden alley ways if you know where to look.
A foodie’s delight, the Naschmarket is like an Indian bazaar- dynamic and full of variety. We bought home a variety of spices and chocolates although a large part of the market caters to fresh meat and pork sausage stalls.
The anchor clock hangs proud at the city center, representing the Austrian spirit and culture. For those who love to shop, the street behind St.Stephen cathedral is a shopper’s absolute delight. Mainly a high street you will find everything ranging from Tiffany’s, Mcqueen, Prada to Ferragamo and Ferretti!
However, moving on to the traditional treasures of Vienna, the Belvedere palace and the peripherally located Schonbrunn palace are tourist delights. The Schonbrunn palace is immensely beautiful and is spread across giant acres of land. The palace provides front and back views of landscapes spread out till as far as the eye can see. We spent hours running across and exploring the snow spread grounds of the palace. The immensity of the property is awe inspiring and I recommend an entire day for this tourist spot if you really want to see every nook and corner of the schonbrunn.
Visiting the Schonbrunn gave us the opportunity to check out the train service in Austria as well, which was a delight owing to the scenic views of the country one gets through the journey.
Coming back to my personal ambition, I spent my birthday night at a high profile club of Vienna, Le Babenberger Passage- thanks to my absolutely amazing friends. This club is located under the ground and definitely not easy to find unless you know where to look.
The Passage hosts great crowds, international music circuits and interesting drink profiles, Absinthe cocktails being one of their specialties. Having spent a large part of our power trip in Vienna, we spent the rest of the trip traveling across Hungary and Slovakia! and this brings me to the goal story:
One day- Three countries
On the last day of our trip, we set out from Budapest in Hungary. We started the day early and left Hungary after a heavy breakfast from the International bus station of Budapest. Yellow buses available from here ride to Prague, Austria and other neighboring countries at hourly intervals.
Next, we landed in Vienna, Austria at around 2:30 pm and absolutely famished, made our way to our favourite street along the city center to Akakiko, an amazing restaurant serving fresh Maki rolls and heavenly sushi! You can find the link to the restaurant in case you’re curious- http://www.akakiko.at/ 🙂
Post an afternoon lavishly in Vienna, we once again made our way by road- to Bratislava! I must take a minute here to talk about Slovakia. I had a great experience in Slovakia, especially with the incredibly hospitable hotel staff. The city center of Bratislava is gorgeous! Lit up with fairy lights and theme restaurants, this square is absolutely delightful. Aiming to end the night well with a cuisine we had not tried before, we decided to check out this fabulous Spanish restaurant called Rio.. A must try in case you’re there.
Bratislava is often preferred for Bachelor and Bachelor-ette parties and is commonly called the party hub of Central Europe with a wide range of clubs and services to pick from.
Alternatively, Central Europe is a must visit for anyone who might be intrigued by the idea of contemporary influence of art on vanishing cultures. It is especially a delight for people who may love art, music and philosophy.
This trip made me richer by experience and ensured the birthday of a lifetime. Funny moments are always an integral part of any travel journey, and we had loads of these as well, with “Mom” fits in hotel rooms, best friend-ing locals at dingy clubs and especially this one incident where my friend Hrishi thought he was going to “die” because a taxi driver tried to zoom off before Hrishi was safely seated “inside” the taxi. Of course, this might have been because Hrishi was infact too slow to get in and the clueless taxi driver miscalculated his entry into the taxi. Irrespective, threw a raging tantrum only to be instantly pacified with a chocolate from the extremely apologetic taxi driver. This indeed is the story…of how hrishi and “that taxi driver Dave” became best friends.
So, if you want to visit three countries in a day, or set a similar milestone for yourself- try road tripping through Europe. Having done it myself, I must admit that it will definitely be one hell of an adventure. 🙂