I’m definitely getting too old for hostels. I swear I either used to be able to sleep through more, or function on less sleep, but either way something has definitely changed. Last night we had two girls in our dorm who were on their way to Bosnia with school. They were chatting at the top of their lungs as they prepared for bed at around midnight, which was ok because…at least they were going to bed. But nope, showered, pj’d and teeth brushed they grabbed a bottle of vodka, two cartons of juice and headed out the door. Some hours later they returned – cue more door slamming and loud chatter, then they were up and about at 6 preparing for the next leg of their journey! Luci is far more cool, calm and collected than me, so when she snapped at them to please be quiet you know they were annoying!!
Having learned that Vienna is a mere hop skip and jump from Bratislava, Luci and I made our way to the station and were soon whizzing our way along the Danube towards the Austrian boarder. Hello country 29! I’m on track, woop!! Feeling incredibly cosmopolitan, and incredibly hungry, our first port of call was lunch, soaking up the sun on a bustling city street for a couple of huge pizzas and pressès.
Central Vienna is far more akin to what I’d expect from a western capital, and markedly different to what we had become accustomed to since leaving Berlin almost two weeks ago. Familiar shops and brand names surrounded us, and I began to switch out of tourist mode and into city – aka, it was shopping time! Anyone who has been to Europe with me will know I have a soft spot for Bijou Brigette. For 4 cities now Luci has calmly put up with me gazing wistfully through shop windows as we walked by to see historical sites and catch tourist groups. But today, finally, we got to go in, yay!! 20 minutes later I came out with a lovely new pair of earrings costing €5…Lucinda came out with 3 necklaces and 3 bracelets at a total of €120. This is why we’re friends 😛
The hours sped by in the sunshine and it was soon time to meet our 3.45 free walking tour of Vienna by the miniature of St Stephens church. The first port of call was the guides collecting a €1 euro registration fee…on a free walking tour? I call shenanigans. No sooner had the last euro been pocketed and last hand stamped the guy who had been collecting disappeared. Really weird.
The tour was underwhelming to be honest. The group was far too big for one guide (around 60 people) and the woman leading us struggled to make herself heard over the various city noises in the background. To start with I rushed to try and get to the front of the crowd to hear her stories and tales of what we were looking at, but there was little to no personality behind her patter so I soon lost interest. Perhaps with a smaller group this would have travelled better, but with 60 it just didn’t work.
However, she did lead us around the centre showing us monuments and areas we were unlikely to have found alone, especially without a map as we were, and we saw some stunning architecture. Any stories we did catch focused on Sisi, and Marie Teresa, who we sort of feel like were stalking as they spent most of their time in Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava!!
Around 2/3rds of the way around the tour we gave up. Too full of energy to be traipsing around standing in the shade and straining to hear we instead elected to treat ourselves to wine and radlers and sit in the sun.
The tour finished at 6, and we wanted to be on a train by 7. However, rather than coming back the way we came (where’s the fun in that?) we utilised the handy trip advisor app to cross the city back to the main train station. Easy! Problem was, it wasn’t our train station. Ah. Time for a new chapter in the life of Katy and Tig, where we learn that Luci does not like to be a. Wrong or b. Lost and Katy is quite used to both. At 8.20 we completed the ‘should only take 30 minutes’ walk and to our relief there was a train to Bratislava leaving in 20 minutes. Excellent, that’s even time to pop into a shop for snacks! Feeling very pleased with ourselves and munching on salads and falafels we settled in for the journey. Around 10 minutes in Luci wondered out loud what the word which appeared after ‘Bratislava’ on the destination screen could mean…hmm. I tell you what it means Luci, we’re going to the wrong station! Oops! Cue wide eyed panic from Tig, and giggles from me.
This is more like the travelling I’ve been used to, everything up until now on this trip has been far too smooth and easy. Trying to reassure Luci that it was fine, and we would get home and this really wasn’t that bad we soon worked out that the station we were heading to was in the residential south of the city, some 11km away from our hostel. However, there was a bus and that would only cost €0.70 euro – easy peasy!
By 10.30 we were back safe, showered, packed and in bed, yet from the thanks and praise I’ve received from Tig you’d think I’d single handedly negotiated a peace treaty between warring nations. All in a days backpacking!
Tomorrow is our final day, so we’re up early to explore Bratislava!