Note: this is gonna be a long enough post to read, so get comfortable and I hope I won’t bore you too much!
Hello blog friends,
In the middle of September the father of my children and I went to the most amazing holiday to Europe sans the boys! What a blast that was!
The trip was actually a gift for our 20th wedding anniversary. We booked our flight quiet long time ago, we flew from Perth to Bangkok then Bangkok to Vienna. Thai Airlines was good enough, although I didn’t like their choice of movies and the food was just average. It was a long flight, about 18 hours altogether. The good thing though, Thai Airlines was always on time, we had a good run, thanks God! 🙏🏻
We booked all our accommodation through AirBnB for this trip. We love to stay kinda local, or experiencing local style. It is cheaper than a hotel room. Plus, we can wash our clothes, make our own breakfast when we don’t feel like to eat out every morning, because again we are a budget traveler 😄 Of course if you stay at the hotel you have room service, breakfast might include, and there’s laundry service too. Again, it’s preference and depends on how much money you would like to splurge. For us we rather spend our money on other stuff than hotel room.
We arrived in Vienna at 6.30 in the morning. It was a very long queue at the immigration section and it was so slow😪 . I had a bit argument with a Chinese tour guide, you know, because he suddenly decided that it was ok not to wait for his turn and just out of no where standing right in front of me??!! Like, helloooo….I hadn’t slept for most of the 18 hours flight and now you did this to me??! The rest was history because I managed to make him go back to where he was before!
Because we were in the rush and tired we didn’t really think straight, so we just took a taxi to our Airbnb and it was so expensive! The host actually told us there was bus from the airport, so there was lesson number one to learn. For the rest of our trip we never ever took a taxi anymore 😃
Our apartment in Vienna was really in good location. Close to train station, bus stop, restaurants and shops, yet it was not in the big road, so we like it. The apartment itself was very good. It was kinda old Vienna style with modern kitchen and bathroom. Bed was comfy, there’s television much to le hubby excitement, even though most of the channels were in Deutsch 😆
After unpacked and showered, we headed out to look for nice cafe for breakfast. After half an hour or more, got lost and every thing, we finally settled at one cafe shop. Croissants, fresh orange juice, and warm coffee did good to our stomach and soul. Then we continued our journey walked through Vienna and didn’t get back to our apartment til after dinner. I remember from my Fitbit we did 18 something km that day! Don’t ask how sore my legs were but we slept pretty good like a good baby that night!
If I have to describe Vienna in words, I would say, Vienna is gorgeous, sleek, modern, and a bit pretentious. I love the old buildings and churches, and all the beautiful architectures and statues. Vienna also is an expensive city. Especially if you eat out in the touristy area.
One of our culture shock about Vienna is, that the people are not that friendly and helpful. At one restaurant, after waiting for a while we tried to get the waitress attention to come to our table. So, when le hubby saw one that closest to us, he said, excuse me… before he even finished his whole sentence, the waiter look at us with her cold expression and no smile, and with one finger up she said, one minute OK, I’ll come! We were a bit shocked but also found it very funny 😄
Later, I read that SERVICE is still a foreign word to many government offices, stores, restaurants, and coffee shops in Vienna. In larger stores, especially in boutiques, you are often judged by your appearance; hair, clothing, and shoes. So, I guess that’s the answer of our confusion of the customer service in Vienna. We also had the same situation with this “wait one minute” attitude at another restaurants in Salzburg. When we dined at the restaurant nearby our apartment the behaviour was changed a bit. They were a little bit friendly and willing to help, or maybe because we just showered and wore a bit nicer clothes!😜
We mostly walked or took a train/tram/bus in Vienna. Transportation is pretty easy but getting direction was always a problem for us😝 Language barrier is the obstacle I think. Us, with broken German and the Austrian with broken English . Most information will be in German. But whenever I tried my rustic minimum Deutsch speaking, I noticed the Austrians became a bit friendly and crack a smile!
- St.Stephen’s Cathedral Catacombs
- State Hall National Library
- Exploring on the local trams and eating/drinking at local pub
While in Vienna we also squeezed in one day trip to Salzburg. It was only an hour or so train trip one way. Salzburg is soo pretty, I like it better than Vienna, actually! When we got there, it was sunny Saturday afternoon and there was a market thingy going on under the Festung Hohensalzburg (Hohensalzburg Fortress) , it was really a beautiful day. We ate so much at the market, all the fresh produced including some hams and other meats with cheese and the sausages and of course some sweets too. Gone my diet heheee….. actually I don’t do diet, it never works on me!
We also met up with my friend Mindy who lives in Bavaria. We kinda texted each other and I told her that I’m going to Salzburg on Saturday. She said she could meet us. When I was on the train to Salzburg, I said to her I won’t have any wifi once I’m out of the train so how are we gonna meet up? She just said we worked it out. I was thinking there’s no way we could meet up but anyway, let’s see, if it happens, it happens. I got signal when we had lunch at the restaurant so I texted her. She said to meet her at whatever street in half an hour. So…le hubby and I tried to navigate our way to the street she mentioned. We got there and there was no sign of her. We took our time walked around the area. After about half an hour, I tried to get a wifi signal by standing in front of the restaurant, but it failed. So, I was walking away from the restaurant and suddenly I heard someone called my name, and there she was! It was really a surprised. In the crowded of people, there was some festival going on where all these Austrians dressed up in dirndl , how did she spotted me? Maybe because I was wearing yellow top 😛
Mindy and I have known each other long enough through blogging. I follow her on social medias long before she has her daughter. We first met in flesh in 2016 in Jakarta. Then now, in 2019 in Salzburg. Thanks for meeting us babe, if you read this 😘 It was too short, hopefully next time will be longer and will be in western Australia!
I always wanted to go to Prague since ages ago. Every time I told le hubby about that, he always said, “I’ll take you to Prague on our 20th anniversary”
Yup, it took me 20 years to see Prague, because unfortunately we don’t grow money trees in our backyard and we have two boys to educate for their future life. But, I made it eventually. So, here I am in Prague!
We took 4 hours high speed rail-jet train from Vienna to Prague. The train journey was enjoyable and pleasant. Along the way we could see some not so pretty places like typical communist run down old buildings and poverty scenes.
It is not us if we don’t get lost or confused every time we arrive in new place, read new train station. Soooo……after spending almost an hour, within trying to find where to buy metro tickets, where was the platform, and where the exit of Prague train station, not to mention language barrier (from German now to Czech) we finally arrived at our second Airbnb in Prague. The owner of Airbnb was very patience waiting for us 😇 The apartment was very spacey, it has washing machine which was a life saver 😜, location was pretty good, closed to restaurants and tram station and also to Prague castle!
Prague is a very beautiful and wonderful city. It’s like you live in fairy tale stories in children’s book but it’s real. Every corner and nook of the city is so pretty. Colourful old buildings, castles, churches, museums, houses, cobbled streets, etc, with its own histories, made me feel like I was in the different world . The pictures don’t do it justice, the rest will stay in my heart and memory forever.
After we got our stuff sorted, we walked our way to Prague castle. It was about 5 in the afternoon. The weather was nice, not too cold yet. During our trip, we had been blessed with good weather, only one day in Vienna & Bratislava that was gloomy and rain.
I’m not gonna write all in details places that we went in Prague, since we had been to so many places and I couldn’t remember all. But for me most of the places that we visited they’re so stunning, magical, and made us both astonished and speechless. All the history written made us could not imagine it could happen. I have some advises that might be useful for you if you ever going to be in Prague;
- Try to visit St.Vitus Cathedral either very early in the morning or later in the evening. First, we got to St. Vitus Cathedral around 4.30nish in the evening and it was magical. The Cathedral just stood there, big, grandeur, and so grand and the surrounding was even a bit eerie because there were not so many people. The next morning around 10nish we came back to the same spot and oh la la….first the queue to get the ticket was already long, and the crowded, you couldn’t even take a single photo of the Cathedral without people milling around. There was (again) wedding photoshoot at that day, I felt really sorry for the bride and groom, but then why did they choose wrong time at the day 🤔
- According to our host Prague is always busy all year around, I did find it a bit suffocate around the town centre especially the tourist areas such as Old Town Square and Charles Bridge. Another tip, don’t go to Charles Bridge in the middle of the day, especially if you want to take a good picture of it. Instead go early in the morning, or later at night and you can truly appreciate it.
- Also don’t get tempt to attend a classical concert in Prague. Usually the musicians are trained artists but not the symphony orchestra players you will hear at a proper concert.
- Be very careful of pickpockets on the tram number 22, as this tram is a great way to see a lot of the city in one go from Karlove to Prague Castle.
- If you can, try not to have dinner at the restaurants on Old Town Square. You will be paying 3x more than you should be. Yes it is nice to sit on the square and watch the world go by, but just don’t eat there. Le hubby and I usually ate at our local area near our Airbnb, there are lots of variety and cute places too.
After three days being in the city of Prague, we opted to do some little hiking at The Bohemian Paradise National Park. It’s only an hour drive from Prague, but it’s quite a change from hustle and bustle of the city. Peace and quiet and fresh air and even more beautiful scenery. We booked our trip through Airbnb app and Lucas our guide is very knowledgeable and funny. We highly recommend Lucas! We had a great day!
We also went to Kutná Hora, about 2 hours drive from Prague. The history of Kutná Hora and its surrounding is linked to silver mining. Initially established as a mining camp, in the 13th century became a Royal Town, competing with Prague. Kutná Hora is part of the National Heritage list since 1995 and the only town with the UNESCO status in the Middle Bohemian Region. We visited Bone Chapel, the cemetery chapel . The chapel is decorated entirely with human bones, some of which were assembled into pyramids in 1511 by a half blind monk (can you imagine it?!) It is estimated that there may be the remains of as many as 60 thousands people here ☠️ Also, we went to St. Barbara’s Cathedral which is also part of UNESCO heritage, and the architectures and interior of the church is gothic baroque style.
Note: While in Prague, you must try to eat Kurtos or Trdelník they call in Prague ( which means a hollowed out log) or Chimney cake. It is made by depositing layers and layers of dough on a cylindrical spit. It is then covered in sugar and baked on an open fire and you can choose the filling, either nutella or vanilla ice cream . In my opinion, the best one is the one at the bottom of Charles Bridge, because they are not too sweet. Also, you must try Camembert grilled cheese at the market, it’s heaven!
- A trip out of Prague to The Bohemian Paradise National Park
- Bone Chapel at Kutna Hora
- St. Vitus Cathedral
After 7 hours train ride from Prague to Budapest, and another hour got lost (again) to find the right metro that our host told us to get on, plus got to argue and fight with the officers at the train station, we finally arrived at our Airbnb number 3 in Budapest!
Just to remind you if you go to Budapest and buy tram/metro/bus tickets, do not forget to validate it by click it on the machine. We didn’t know about it. We bought the metro tickets. We past one officer at one station and it was ok, he checked and we went by no problem. Came to second station, this officer put us aside, asked for our passports, and told us that we didn’t validate our tickets. I was arguing and refused to pay 16000 HUF (AUS$80) but then I saw that he was still holding our passports , he had gun, and I’m in post-communist country. Soo… if I got sent to jail and became a sparrow….heheee…too much watching Red Sparrow 😝 By the way, most of the scenes in Red Sparrow were in Budapest and Vienna. Have you watched the movie?
Our Airbnb in Budapest is located right in the middle of the city, near the train station, the Great Market Hall, and the touristy souvenir shops. It’s right in Vaci Utca. The apartment is very Hungarian style, a bit vintage. The mother of the owner of our Airbnb is living next door. I tried to have some conversation with her, but it was so hard since she only speaks Hungarian. But I learnt couple words from her like Igen = yes, Nem = no, Köszönöm or Kosh = thank you and Szia = hello or can be bye too 😜 Our apartment is in 4th floor that we can reach either by stairs or a vintage lift. Funnily enough even though it’s right in Vaci Utca but we couldn’t hear the noises.
Budapest is so wonderful, I like it better than Vienna. Eating out is cheaper than in Vienna. But again, if you dine out right at the centre of touristy area you still paying 2 or 3x more. Buda and Pest is connected by bridge over the Danube river. Things are more expensive in Buda area than Pest. Pest is more lively at night time too, more restaurants and shops.
If you only have 24 hours or so in Budapest, I recommend you to stroll along Andrassy Boulevard where the Hungarian State Opera is located, you also can have coffee at Cafe Parisi and go to House of Teror after. Then you can take cable car from Chain Bridge up to Buda Hill where Mathias Church is located. From here you can see the beautiful Danube river and Pest from Fisherman Bastion. Don’t forget to have a look at Hungarian Parliament building at night time, it’s so gorgeous and grandeur. Also walk along the Danube river where you can find Shoes on The Danube sculpture. The ruin bars of the Jewish Quater is also worth to explore.
If you really want to, go to Cafe New York for tea/coffee and cake. I recommend you book online first, otherwise you will end up in the long queue. I like the interior and atmosphere of Cafe New York, but food wise it’s just average. They could do better with much nicer cutlery sets and white plain china plates though!
- Walk along Danube River
- Fisherman Bastion
- Gellert Hill
- Great Market Hall
After Budapest, we went back to Vienna and squeezed in one day trip by ferry to Slovakia. That’s the beauty of living in European country that you can just do this thing easily, I’m jealous 😛
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is set along the Danube river by the boarder with Austria and Hungary. The town centre is small enough and much quieter than even Salzburg. It was raining on and off when we were in Bratislava. We managed to go to Bratislava Castle that perched atop a hill and overlooks old town and the Danube. Bratislava is pretty little city, in my opinion. It’s not as busy and crowd as other big cities, which I like. The Blue Church is also one of the main attraction in Bratislava. I reckon two days is enough to explore Bratislava. From Vienna you can go by bus or ferry. We went with Twin City Liner, apparently at the moment it’s only one ferry company operating from Vienna to Bratislava. It took 1,5 hour one way.
If you ask me, I love Praque the most, followed by Budapest, Salzburg, Bratislava, and Vienna.
And that’s the end of our 3 weeks European holidays. I had a wonderful time and I’m beyond grateful and thankful to be able to do this trip with my husband. Thanks to my mother who looked after the boys, Sammy, and our house, and also to my darling boys to let us have our time alone and managed not to burn the house or kill each other 😝
Now, I’m back to gritty nitty of life, ups and downs! I hope you all have a good week to start with and be kind to yourself and others 😘