Bratislava & Vienna

What’s to say about the trip we recently enjoyed? Bratislava is a thoroughly charming town. It might well be a city, but for those of us who have lived in the London’s, New York’s, Mexico City’s and Tokyo’s of the world, it’s hard to call Bratislava a city. But it is charming, with an abundance of history, a decent choice of restaurants and enough sights to see to fill up a weekend. There’s a ton of statues in the city too, that range from the quirky to the downright bizarre. It’s a freaking bargain too. Flights there are frequent and cheap. We stayed in a decent Ibis at less than £40 a night. Good meals can be had on a budget too.

We didn’t really go to see Bratislava though. We went for Vienna. I know, different countries. But Vienna and Bratislava, I have been told, are the world’s two closest capital cities. The train ride is easy, quick and cheap. About an hour each way, £10 for return tickets. We packed our passports, just in case. It was unnecessary. There were no passport checks. Just very frequent, and mildly annoying, ticket inspections.

What’s to say about Vienna? The list of famous Austrians is long and notable. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ferdinand Porsche, Fuchs and Klimt, Haydn, Mozart and Strauss, Daniel Swarovski, the von Rothschilds, Doppler and Mach, Freud and Asperger. Then there was dear old Adolf Hitler, who wasn’t content with life in Austria and set out to conquer the world. Emperor Maximilian I appears to have wanted more than just Austria, but he settled for conquering Mexico instead. Of course, it didn’t end well for either of them.

You won’t find much mention of Adolf in Vienna. Not the country’s finest hour exactly. In fact, I found no mention of him whatsoever. Nada. Perhaps that’s because his name contains just two syllables per word. I know of the law that prohibits holocaust denial and suppresses Nazi revivalist movements. I didn’t know of the law which insists all proper nouns be at least twenty five syllables long, and should contain amongst them a minimum of three consecutive sharp consonants without the intrusion of a vowel. But it must exist. And all the museums obey. It’s a serious headache navigating the place, trying to get from the Natchenschungenmeisterkund to the Kitchenschaffermundt. Ok, I’m making these names up, and designing them to be awkward. But, hey – that’s exactly what the committees in charge of naming museums, buildings, train stations etc did in the first place.

Vienna isn’t by any means a massive city, but it is a cultural giant. The equal of any in Europe or elsewhere. But I have more to say on the museums tomorrow. I’ll finish today off by saying that Vienna is great. It’s pretty expensive, so the Bratislava route is a good one for those on a budget. In winter it’s freaking freezing. It’s not huge, but you’ll get lost easily. Getting lost in winding, magical back streets is fun, and the coffee is good when you stop for a cuppa to relocate yourself. We had two full days. You’ll want – need – more.

I have sets of photos on Flickr – Bratislava is here and Vienna is here.  And for those of you not fussed enough to leave this page, I’ve experimented with WordPress’ new Gallery feature below. Click on an image and  they’ll open up, all nice and big for you. Or embiggenedschaffenfreud, as they say in Austria. Probably…

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