Day 1 In Bratislava, Slovakia

Today we had the opportunity to leave Vienna for the day to see Bratislava, which is the capital of Slovakia. It was only two hours by bus from where we were staying in Vienna, so we took advantage of the opportunity.

Upon arriving, one of the first things we noticed was the fact that there is a lot of graffiti art all around the city. It turns out that the city actually designates open walls for locals to graffiti because they want people to express their artistic abilities without being punished for doing so. Therefore, graffiti art is legal in Bratislava, which was definitely unique to hear. We also noticed various columns built throughout the city. During the 17th century, the black plague swept through the city, so these columns were built with the Virgin Mary on top of them for the locals to pray to.

Bratislava is known as the coronation city and the city of the Habsburg monarchy since the 17th Century also consisted of the Turks taking over Budapest and Hungary. For this reason, coronations would take place here, including the coronation of Maria Theresa (who has been mentioned in prior posts). Throughout the city, you can see pictured crowns on the ground, which shows the coronation route.

There used to be a Jewish synagogue where we began our tour (pictured below), but it was taken down in 1967 because a new bridge had to be built for transportation purposes, and was completed in 1972. As we continued walking, we came across a memorial commemorating the Slovakian Jews who were taken to the concentration camps and to Poland since Poland was the closest country to transport them to. The word “Remember” is written on the bottom of the memorial.

As we continued walking, we came across fortification walls from the 13th century. We then spotted a building currently owned by the city that used to be a pharmacy back in the day. On the wall, there is a sign in German, Slovak, and Hungarian which is proof that the Slovaks could speak three languages during the Habsburg monarchy.

Nearby on the Royal Street, we saw a house where the noble Keglević family used to reside. Their daughter wanted to learn how to play the piano, so Beethoven actually came to their palace and taught her how to play.

Moving along, we passed by “Bird Fountain.” Red wine came out of the fountain during coronations, so all of the locals would come to drink from the fountain for free. After they finished drinking, the locals were said to have sung like birds, hence the name Bird Fountain.

Shortly after, we stopped at a building where Mozart played for Maria Theresa when he was only six years old. Following his performance, everyone in attendance clapped, and in his excitement, Mozart jumped on Maria Theresa and hugged her. Those in attendance immediately stopped clapping in shock because Maria Theresa’s own children didn’t even hug her in public, but much to everyone’s surprise, she hugged Mozart back.

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Last Day In Budapest and Night 1 In Vienna, Austria

Before leaving Budapest, we stopped off at Nagy Vasarcsarnok, also known as the Central Market Hall. On the first floor, you can find all kinds of foods, snacks, treats, vegetables, meats, and of course, paprika, the most important spice in Budapest. Clearly Budapest knows its target market too, because the entire second floor is dedicated to tourists, seeing as it’s filled with souvenir shops. Throughout our trip in Budapest, our tour guide told us that Vienna likes to brag about having the best strudel known to man. She mentioned that in Budapest, you can find all kinds of strudel that Vienna can’t even compare to. We had to put the strudel tasting to the test before heading to Vienna, so when we came across a strudel shop in the market, we naturally bought as many different flavors as possible. We bought an apricot-curd cheese strudel, a pumpkin-poppy seed one, a sour cherry-apple one, and a cabbage one too. As surprising as it was, the cabbage strudel was delicious and far exceeded our expectations. Vienna was going to have tough competition in this strudel taste-test.

Upon leaving Budapest, we passed a memorial for the 1956 Revolution, which remembers the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 that played a big role in the Soviet Union’s downfall years later.

Before arriving to our hotel in Vienna, Austria, we passed the Vienna Parliament Building. There is a statue of Pallas Athena in the front of the Parliament House, which is the goddess of wisdom. The running joke is that the only wisdom on the property is just the statue and not the people inside.

When we stopped off at our hotel, we had some downtime to settle into our hotel and change, before our evening excursion. Our excursion was a viewing of the “City of Music” show which featured the classical masterpieces of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss, two of Vienna’s most famous citizens. Mozart was a child prodigy who blossomed into one of history’s greatest composers and Strauss, also known as the Waltz King, composed the Blue Danube, which is the world’s most famous waltz.

Our group sat in the very first row of a small theatre, and to be quite honest, my sister and I thought we would end up falling asleep right in front of the orchestra. However, the music was incredible, and there were opera singers and dancers accompanying each song. There was something special about being in Vienna and hearing the beautiful sounds of Mozart and Strauss. And while I thought maybe the free champagne we received was what made it special, I have to say, listening to such intricate music and knowing that it had originated where we were sitting really made the experience that much more incredible. (But the free champagne definitely helped too!)