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Published: January 6th 2017
I was happy to have packed the night before as the last thing I needed in the morning was to stress about packing also. Also, because the journey ahead was slightly terrifying... First a bus, than 3 trains and 7 hours later we would be in Vienna... that is if we got the tickets and made all the connections of course! I couldn’t believe that there was nothing direct to the west of the country from Balaton... It looked like wherever you wanted to travel to from the lake, you had to go through Budapest. Back to Budapest we were going then... There wasn’t too much time between some of the connections so I wondered if we would even have time to buy the tickets... And if any of our trains was delayed, well... we would just have to improvise then... I actually wrote down quite a few possible trains in case we did miss some, but still hoped we wouldn’t need to look into any of that...
We decided to go slightly later in the morning to enjoy our breakfast at the guesthouse. It was very generous and tasty so there was no way we were skipping any of
that! Besides with the tight train schedules I doubted we would have any time to look for food so breakfast would just have to keep us going for the whole journey. While sitting at the terrace and waiting for our breakfast I looked with hope at the sky... It was quite overcast that morning, would we be so lucky to have a slightly cooler day for our journey? Not this time unfortunately as by the time we finished breakfast it was all sunny and late 20sC again... I guess we would have to endure the heat once again.
After breakfast we quickly grabbed our stuff and headed for the bus stop. Once the bus pulled over the driver looked at us (mostly at our backpacks and the pram) with slight resentment. Poor thing! He had to get out of the bus and open the luggage compartment especially for us! After that Mr Grumpy ushered everyone to the bus and soon after we were on our way to Balatonfured. Since we were leaving Tihany more than an hour ahead of our train I thought we would have plenty of time in Balatonfured to buy some more food for Millie (as
we were just about to run out of everything!) and maybe even get some snacks for us, but I underestimated how much time it can take to cover 8km it would seem... With a stop every few hundred metres, slightly round trip and a slow driver it took us just about 40 minutes to cover that distance. No shopping and it turned out that we were able to get the tickets only to Budapest... I guess a stopover in Budapest was going to be slightly stressful after all... Funnily we had just about enough Hungarian forints to pay for the tickets – after the purchase only 105HUF left in our wallets (which is about 35 Euro cents). I was positively surprised about the family discount we received as well – not only we didn’t need to get the ticket for Millie but we also got 30% discount on our tickets! Slightly strange logic and a bit unfair for people travelling without children, but in our case it worked out just perfect!
When the train pulled over at the platform, I was slightly terrified... Only 3 small carriages, 2 of them looked pretty full already and the platform was still
full of people waiting to board the train. Thankfully the train stopped with one of the doors right in front of us. We squeezed in with our backpacks and the pram inside and that was it, it would seem... Passengers who were already on the train somehow didn’t notice the people trying to board the train as they had their luggage spread out on the seats, while others were sleeping taking the whole seats... Stepping over the bags and bumping into people with the pram and backpacks, we made it to the middle of the carriage and actually managed to get two seats! And that was thanks to some older guy, either a grandfather or a grandfather wannabe who basically made us sit in front of him and his wife. The whole journey he couldn’t take his eyes of Millie, smiling and commenting (in Hungarian) on every move she made. At one point he reached out his hands to take Millie... and a few seconds later had her sitting in his lap... and the next moment he started pulling out all sorts of stuff from his luggage which could serve as a toy for her. It was slightly weird if
not creepy but sweet at the same time... I guess you have to trust in people’s good intentions sometimes... With the three of us (his wife was lost in a book) entertaining Millie, the 1,5h journey went really fast.
We had only a few minutes to change trains and with so many people in the train it would take a while even to get out. I spotted the train to Budapest when we were pulling up to the platform so we knew where to go to straight away... Well kind of... We boarded the train and I realised that the departure time of this train was scheduled later than the one we were supposed to take... Hmmm... And then I saw on the next platform lots of people waiting for another train. Quickly ran to the next platform, yep! That was our train, ran back to get Grant and Millie and sprinted to catch the right train this time... We made it! And before we even realised we were in Budapest already. We weren’t exactly too happy when we found out that the journey to Vienna was going to cost us EUR80! I guess that’s the price when booking
tickets at the last minute... No family discount this time either... 1euro bus tickets from Bratislava to Vienna suddenly came back to my head... I guess we could’ve planned our trip a little bit better... Too bad, but there was no point in crying over it now... The journey to Vienna went very smooth and soon after we were catching a local train to our accommodation. Pheew! Finally arrived... Even though things went just as planned and we actually did make all the connections, it was still a tiring journey and even though it was only 5pm, the only thing we could think of was food and bed! Quick visit to the local supermarket and we were ready to call it a day...
Not having breakfast included in the accommodation as well as not knowing any places to eat around can certainly be an advantage when travelling sometimes. This time it simply meant breakfast at home which actually was a nice change, what made it even nicer was the fact that I didn’t even need to prepare it. Thanks Grant! 😊 We definitely needed a breakfast before walking to the centre as our apartment was located more or less
5km away from it. As much as I love my walks, on an empty stomach I can get a bit grumpy... I’ve actually been to Vienna before with a school trip. The trip was organised by my history teacher so she made sure we visited every historical building and museum while there. Since we were there only two days then, these two days involved running frantically from one place to another and being bombarded with information in between. So the trip became nothing but a blur unfortunately... Visiting Vienna now again, it almost felt like visiting it for the first time – we were definitely going to take our time walking around this time...
It was a beautiful day and it was nice to stretch legs after being stuck on the trains the previous day. We wandered around aimlessly between the streets in the centre. I have to say that I actually enjoyed our walk to the centre much more than a walk around the centre itself. It just felt very busy, not only because of the amount of people walking around, but also because of all the noise around – centre wasn’t closed for traffic so lots of
cars everywhere, some road works, some building repairs... We couldn’t really admire architecture too much either as it seemed as if there were scaffoldings everywhere! I found it to be quite surprising actually – wouldn’t they wait for the end of season to start the renovations? I know it was the end of August now, still... Being in Budapest only a few days back and seeing the similar architecture there – I have to say Budapest was winning in my eyes with Vienna big time! Maybe it’s because everything was centred there around the Danube, while here Danube was somehow forgotten... But then maybe we were simply still under a charm of that gorgeous small village we just visited and suddenly the noise and crowds were just a bit too much to take...
So during the first two days in Vienna, we walked around some of the famous landmarks – Hofburg Palace, Art and Natural History Museums, numerous statues, St Stephen’s Cathedral... We contemplated visiting some of these places and also taking a free walking tour to get to know the city even better and yet we did none of that... Hard to say why now actually, I guess
we just didn’t really feel like it... Walking around and admiring the buildings from the outside was just enough... The architecture was most definitely impressive and yet the city seemed to be lacking in atmosphere... One thing that we did enjoy a lot was walking along the canal though – funky, some slightly disturbing graffiti on the walls, a couple of bars and restaurants here and there, even a swimming pool and a beach volleyball court as well – therefore a stroll along the canal was quickly incorporated into our daily routine.
On our last day we went for a trip to Schönbrunn Palace. This 1441-room palace used to be a summer residence for the imperial family. This time we decided to actually check out the inside of the palace as well – you can’t really wander around the palace on your own, so we joined one of the tours. Our tour guide, even though an Austrian, had a pretty impressive British accent and was bombarding us with some very interesting facts about the imperial family. We were walking room by room, having in mind that Maria Theresa, Franz Joseph and the like were walking these rooms before us
as well... We also visited the Hall of Mirrors where a six-year-old Mozart gave his first concert... Very well preserved rooms, lots of items and furniture on display and a very good guide – altogether well worth a visit and money!
Altogether it was nice to spend a few days in Vienna even though I felt as if we didn’t really get to know this city at all... Probably because we didn’t really give it a chance and full attention it deserved... The city without a doubt is full of art, culture, history and incredible architecture – and yet it didn’t really make any impact on us at all... Maybe next time with more money in our pockets we would be able to appreciate it a bit more... For now we were going further with ‘The Sound of Music’ tunes stuck in our heads... Next stop: Salzburg!
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