Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ROAD TRIP // Bratislava, Slovakia

As it is only an hours drive from Vienna to Bratislava - but on our tempo, getting lost and road works and detours, two hours - we might as well stop in Bratislava for a few hours on our way to Prague. And I am glad we did! I really wish we could have stayed a few days longer, as we only visited the old city, and there was still so much more to see... Coming from the busy Vienna which was flooding with tourists, Bratislava seemed almost deserted. There were barely any tourists surprisingly enough, which only made the visit much better.
We parked our car in a parking close to the castle and walked our way down to the center of the old town. We got a small map at a tourist information center and started wandering around aimlessly through lots of small, charming streets. I could stroll around for hours, get lost in the streets of Bratislava, but knowing you'd find your way back. The city felt so small, yet it is still quite a big city. Only after having visited the city I learnt that it has got a nickname, namely "the little big city". For a capital city, Bratislava certainly gives you a "villagy" feeling. I loved the details of the city, the architecture and the art, the sculptures, the fountains, the houses,... It has so many interesting features that you wouldn't come across in other cities. Truly wish we could have stayed longer than a few hours...
We sat in an alluring cafe where we ordered fresh lemonade and later walked through a small touristic market on the main square and felt it was necessary to buy a magnet for our fridge - like we do in every city we visit. Such tourists. 

Bratislava Castle (Hrad)

Hlavné Námestie (The Main Square)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

ROAD TRIP // Vienna, Austria

So after having driven through pretty much the whole of Austria, with a quick stop in Salzburg, we arrived in Vienna. I don't even know where to start. I absolutely loved Vienna. We spent two whole days in this stunning city although it now feels like we were there for a week. The two days were so eventful, we didn't sit down and relax for a minute. Saturday morning we went to the Spanische Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School) where they have « practiced for nearly 450 years and continue to cultivate classical equitation in the Renaissance tradition of the haute école. The objective of classical equitation is to study the way the horse naturally moves and to cultivate the highest levels of haute école elegance the horse is capable of through systematic training. The result creates an unparalleled harmony between rider and horse, as only Vienna's Spanish Riding School achieves ». We weren't able to go to one of their shows, so we went to "Der Morgenarbeit" (Training), which was just as beautiful to watch. The amount of people who come to watch the training is incredible, we were lucky to get a seat. Definitely recommend going to a session if you are a horse lover!

Spanische Hofreitschule


After having lunch in a cafe - where we came back to twice in the two days we were there - we went to the Hofburg Palace. I grew up watching a Dutch TV series called "Sisi", based on the life of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. In the series they were so in love and and she seemed like the kindest person on earth. After visiting the museum my childhood crumbled. Franz and Sisi's love wasn't at all as real as they made it in the series. Sisi is often referred to as "the depressed empress". For a certain period in her life she only wore black dresses, not beautiful, colorful, blue and pink dresses like in the series. Okay, I know, it is just a TV show, were everything is made into a perfect love story. But hearing how the real story goes, how she was murdered by a anarchist, somewhat ruins my all time favorite story from my childhood. 

Wiener Musikverein 

Mozart Orchestra

The main streets of Vienna were flocked with tourists, it was crazy how busy the city was. And in between all the intrigued tourists there were these men dressed up as Mozart, selling tickets for the, you guessed it, Mozart Orchestra. I can't help but imagine the world 300 years ago, when everyone was dressed like that. How different everything must have been... Even though I am not the biggest fan of classical music, if you are in Vienna you are basically obliged to go to at least one concert. Vienna is the birthplace of classical music and it really is worth the experience. The concert hall of the Wiener Musikverein was so beautiful, golden walls, paintings on the ceiling and the most stunning chandeliers. Our seats were on the second last row so with all the heads in front of us it was hard to really see the orchestra, but then again it is all about the music, not the view. Here's a video of a part of a song that everyone knows. 



Crown Prince Garden

Sunday morning we went to Schönbrunn. Our hotel was just next to the park in which the palace is situated so we could be there quite early. 9am, not too many people there. Nevertheless, after our tour through the palace (40 rooms!), the gardens were filled with tourists. Queues of hundreds of meters long to get tickets... Glad we had gone early! After the tour we walked up to the Gloriette, where you have an amazing view of Vienna. However, I thought the best part of Schönbrunn was the Crown Prince Garden. I loved the vine cover passage! 
In the afternoon we went for a boat trip on the Danube. For some reason I always get so tired when I am on a boat. Not sure whether it is the wind blowing in my face or the motion of the water, but yes I dozed off... And I must say, the Danube isn't the most picturesque river out there. 

"An Der Schönen, Blauen Donau"... (No Johann, not really)

Saturday, September 06, 2014

ROAD TRIP // Austria

10am and already up in the mountains. Me with my All Stars, skinny jeans, handbag and fake Ray-Bans, between all these professional-looking hikers... Hiking is not really my thing. However after being dragged out of bed and going up with the cable car to the Lünersee, my morning mood slowly disappeared. The lake was truly mesmerizing! The water was such a beautiful blue color and the contrast with the greenery was just gorgeous! We walked around the lake, starting off with a hill and oh boy, pain in the ass, but the view certainly was rewarding! And to be honest, the rest of the walk wasn't too bad actually, it was mostly downhill or flat and with such a stunning lake next to you, you kind of forget your tired feet. 




Falling in love with Austria. First Lünersee and now Achensee. Woah. Looking back at these photos it just seems surreal. But that really is me on that rock and that really is me on that pier. Achensee was rather modern compared to Brand, the village we stayed in when we went to Lünersee. Brand was full of chalets and had so much character, but it was more a place where you would spend your Christmas holidays. During the summer the main activity is hiking. Achensee was a beautiful little gem in Austria, but unfortunately we only stayed one night there, as it was a stop on our way to Vienna. The few hours we spent there, I mostly sat on the pier, enjoying the picture-perfect view. Until it started raining...