The Never Ending Story.
Trip Start Aug 14, 2013
20Trip End Jul 19, 2014
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The following day was a public holiday and as we walked from our hostel into town we passed through streets lined with clothing and department stores which were, to my pleasure, closed. After exploring local cathedrals and museum buildings we arrived at The Imperial (Hofburg) Palace to discover that the holiday being celebrated was the Austrian Independence Day
At the end of the day we walked back to our hostel to change and prepare for an evening of class and culture. We were taken to the one of the cities many palaces where we enjoyed a beautiful meal and attended a concert from the traditional Viennese Chamber Orchestra, complete with champagne. We fall asleep that night humming the sounds of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Strauss.
The next day we head east and travel to Slovakia, a relatively young country which only gained independence in 1993. We stop for lunch in the capital city of Bratislava, enjoying a quick bite to eat a little window shopping.
From here we continue on towards Hungry, finally arriving in the twin cities of Buda and Pest, which sit on opposing sides of the mighty Danube River. Together these cities make the beautiful Hungarian capital of Budapest. After settling into our hostel we quickly board the bus again and enjoy a driving tour of the city, taking in the incredible sites of the National Palace, Heroes Square, Parliament House and Fisherman's Bastion (Halaszbastya). The view from the Castle Hill (Varhegy) offers an incredible view over the entire city as the Danube river cuts its way through the center. That evening we eat diner at the hostel before heading off to see one of the cites many 'Dive' bars. Dark and dingy with all manner of "art"and paraphernalia hanging on the walls. An interesting cultural experience if you are ever find yourself in this part of the world. There are just some places like this that must be experienced, because words simply cannot explain.
The next day we wake to another chilly but sunny day. A small group of us walk into town to see the impressive Jewish synagogue, through the food and crafts market near the old square and down to the river
From here I leave the other girls and escape another afternoon shopping to cross the 'Liberty Bridge' and visit the 'Hospital in the Rock'. The walk is long and chaotic but I eventually find myself in a quite peaceful part of town, I have of course taken the long way round to my destination but it is worth it in the end. I explore the cobble streets of the Castle Hill district before heading into the mountain caves to see the hospital which was carved into rock to treat and protect the wounded during the Second World War. The tour was quite interesting with a fascinating history, although the wax figure manikins were not quite up to Madame Tussaud's standards, but it did help demonstrate the cramped and uncomfortable conditions the medical teams worked in during the war
That evening we ate a late dinner in a small wine bar close to our hotel. The atmosphere there was amazing and if we're were not all so sick it could have been a great 'girls night out', but alas tired and aching bodies prevailed and we fell into bed hoping for a good nights rest.
It is important to note here that there was a respiratory virus making its way through our tour bus since the start of the tour and I'm ashamed to say that it was quite possible that I may have been patient '0'. But sharing is caring and the girls in my hostel room sounded a symphony of coughing spasms and runny noses which lasted throughout the night. It was my experience that this virus lasted 5 full weeks which peaked with a severe case of tonsillitis I developed towards the end of the tour. It took 5 Boxes of decongestants, 3 boxes of antipyretics, nasal spray, 8 Packets of throat loungers, numerous tissue boxes, one course of oral antibiotics and a Ventolin inhaler to see me through
But, the show must go on and just because you are traveling does not mean you will not get sick, in fact it only makes you more perceptible to illness. But thankfully you can always count on a nurse to travel with a well stocked pharmacy.
Returning to our adventure we then made our way to the polish city of Krakow. This previously unknown city turned out to be one of my favorite places on the entire tour. This small and quaint old town is nestled away from the growth of modern development. It is steeped in history and contains endless old school charm, ancient architecture and mouth watering food. While the country of Poland was decimated during WW2 the ancient city of Krakow miraculously escaped the worst of the war. We step back into the Middle Ages and explore all that this little town has to offer.
Dinner that evening was quite an unexpected surprise
As he guided the small group (6 girls) down a small dark ally way and into a narrow street one block behind the main square we were directed through the door of a small shop front and into a beautiful courtyard where we were seated and ordered the most delicious meal. Between us we ate several types of Pierogi (dumplings), Kielbasa (sausage) and sauerkraut. And all at such a reasonable price. This restaurant, whose name I wish I remembered, was quite the find and proof that it sometimes pays to get away from the main square filled with tourists and hefty prices and aim to go where the locals would go. On the way back to our bus we stopped at a small cafe for ice cream.
The following day we were free to explore the old city and Lisa had made plans to catch up with a school friend who serendipitously happened to be there at the same time. Without wifi it seemed difficult to arrange a meeting time and place until, as luck would have it, we happen to walk right past her on out way into the town. From there it was a day of surprise, fun and reminiscing. The tour breaks up into small groups and we enjoy the atmosphere of the main square
There is plenty to do in Krakow if you keep to a slow and relaxed pace, it's not a town to rush through the day. There are a few things of interest here and it would have been nice to have a few more days to explore and enjoy the relaxed, small town atmosphere. Should anyone ever find themselves in Krakow and if I ever get back there myself, be sure to check out the Wawel castle, the nearby Wieliczka Salt Mine and tour the 'Schindler Factory' and Jewish ghettos. I'm told they are all worth the visit.
The following morning was another day and another story but you are just going to have to wait a little longer to read about it.
Until then my friends.......
Love Erin :)