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Day 3: Vienna

On Monday, following a spontaneous suggestion of Tim's, we decided to go to Vienna. Although I knew that the two cities were very close, I hadn't intend to visit Vienna this time around because I thought we didn't have very long to spend in Bratislava itself as it was. With the centre of Bratislava being smaller than we anticipated, however, we decided to give Vienna a try.

Hoping to make an early start, I thought I had everything taped by setting the alarm on my phone for 8am. It went off as planned and I snoozed it for a further half hour, enjoying the novelty of being able to lie in bed on a weekday. Casually glancing at my watch, I was utterly horrified when confronted with the fact that it was in fact already 09.30. It seems I had forgotten to put the time on my phone forward by an hour!

It was a rather rushed start to the day then and we didn’t really have time to have breakfast before we jumped on the train to Vienna. The journey took just over an hour and seemed remarkably good value, with a return ticket costing just €11. Having arrived in the Austrian capital, we actually had no idea what to do, on account of not having planned in advance. We came out of the Sudbahnhof and followed the mass of people in front of us, hoping they would lead us to the town centre. Coming across some roadworks, we struck off into what looked like a small park and unexpectedly turned out to be the Belvedere gardens.



The gardens were truly beautiful and we enjoyed a pleasant stroll through them before hitting the main road once again. The buildings began to look grander and more imposing and we could see that we would soon be in the centre of things. At one point we came across an anonymous war memorial with text in Cyrillic and spent some time trying to decode it. It turned out to be a memorial for the Soviet soldiers who had died in the fight to liberate Vienna from the Nazis in 1945.


As we approached the main shopping streets it started to rain and we dived into the nearby tourist information office. Picking up a free town plan proved to be no problem at all, although purchasing stamps for our postcards was slightly more of a challenge. With the rain becoming more intense, we popped into an Australian pub and fortified ourselves with burgers while we waited for the storm to pass. Pass it did and within an hour or so it was bright and sunny again. We walked through the main city centre, crossing the Danube canal and seeing the famous Stephansdom.


My plan was to get us to the Prater for a glimpse of the Riesenrad, but it proved to be a longer walk than I had anticipated. We got there in the end, and saw the giant wheel looming high above us. Babel asked me whether I wanted to go on it, and suddenly I wasn’t entirely sure… We did go on it in the end though and, slow and creaky as it was, there was a great view of the city.


We were also able to spy a wide range of other rides in the surrounding theme park that we wanted to try. Tim convinced me to go on the dodgems to start with. I was a bit unwilling, because I’m not really a fan of rides where you’re in control of your own destiny, but in the end it was okay because the only other people driving were small children. To cool off, we went on a ride similar to the river rapids that you get at Alton Towers, except for the fact that the dinghy you are sitting in is lifted high into the air and then set off down a giant, curving slide. The weight of the people in the car causes it to spin round like a walzer, which is both scary and exciting at the same time. We followed that up with a log flume, and then I had the bright idea that we should finish off with a rollercoaster. I saw a great, old-fashioned one with a twisting, turning track and it reminded me of one I went on at Scarborough many years ago.


We got into the train, but due to Tim’s larger than average girth(!), we were unable to get the safety bar to lock into place. I started having flashbacks to the time my sister and I failed to get the bar on a chairlift to close on time and had to endure an entire ride down a mountainside with nothing to prevent us from falling to our deaths. I tried to check with the man operating the ride whether everything was safe but he just grunted at me in a very Austrian way and before we knew what was happening, the train had pulled out of the station. As we climbed the steep hill to the first drop, I was convinced that the bar wasn’t going to hold us and that Tim would be thrown out to his death. Luckily, the bar did hold – I should have had more faith in the power of TÜV – and we were soon sitting on firm ground once more, enjoying an Eiskaffee!

The walk back to the station seemed long and we stopped en route for an expensive apple juice at the Opera House. When we eventually arrived back in Bratislava, we found that our train terminated at the station Petržalka rather than Hlavna Stanica, so we were rather confused. We initially tried walking off, in the hope of finding the river and a bridge back into the Old Town, but the risk of getting lost in Europe’s biggest housing estate seemed too great, and in the end we managed to jump on a bus back to the town centre, where we found a beautiful Italian restaurant on a side street and enjoyed an enormous pizza.

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