When it comes to traveling, I feel like I developed a pattern. I tend to always strive for places and destinations that are far away, the further the better. At least it looks like that when I look at the stamps in my passport. Colombia, New Zealand, the U.S.A, Mexico … all of those places are at least a 7 hour flight away.
I only started to realize that about a year ago, when people I talked to were always sure that wouldn’t be interested in a trip to Italy, because “I’m sure you’ve been there already”. They were always pretty surprised when I told them that I hardly knew Europe yet. I haven’t been to Italy really, I haven’t been to London or Paris and I haven’t even been to Bratislava, which is literally RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER.
So in May, a friend and I decided to check out Bratislava for a couple of days. Not knowing what to expect, because, well, it is so close to Vienna and the Austrian border, we were a bit afraid it would be pretty much the same but smaller.
Although I’m living in Vienna for a couple of years now, and the connection between the hungarian capital and the austrian one is pretty amazing (there is plenty of busses and trains, that take you there for under 20 Euros), I haven’t been to Budapest for more than a stop-over. When friends told me a couple of weeks ago, that they will be stopping there on their backpacking trip, I was totally up for joining.
So last week I took the Flixbus from Vienna and three short hours later, ended up in a city that looks so similar to Vienna, but it SO TOTALLY different.
Since we only had a couple days to explore, me and my friends just dropped our bags at the hostel and started into the bustling city.
Since no great day ever started without breakfast, this was exactly where we were heading first. Thanks to my favorite travel inspiration (Instagram 😉 ) I found this very cute and stylish breakfast place named “Szimply”. It was kind of hard to find at first, since it is located in a patio, but totally worth looking for. We actually ended up there twice; this is how good it was! 😉
The café itself is tiny and for coffee you have to cross over to the other side of the patio to get it from a different place, but the breakfast there was amazing. Great quality of food perfectly seasoned and gorgeously arranged. And most important – they have an amazing variety vegetarian and vegan breakfast options. Being a vegetarian myself and traveling with a vegan, finding veggie friendly places to eat wasn’t actually as hard as we feared. At the Szimply we opted for a sweet quinoa bowl with fruits and flowers, pan fried eggs with lots of salmon and been purée and the best avocado bread I’ve ever had.
After breakfast we started our Budapest exploration, we walked all over Pest, passing impressive monuments, street artists, Baumkuchen stands and a loooot of fellow traveler. One of the most memorable place we came across was the holocaust memorial. The „Shoes on the Danube“ memorial is one of the most moving memorials I’ve ever seen.
Gyula Pauer and Can Togay , two sculptors, created this touching memorial in memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944 and 1945.
Next we crossed the bridge over to Buda.
Buda and Pest have been united into one city only in 1873 and from what I’ve seen there is still a huge difference between the two sides of the city.
Buda with its hills, the Castle Quarter, the museums and the cobblestone streets makes you feel like you just went back into imperial times. Besides of a couple of tourist groups we didn’t meet any other people and the whole area felt like it is just there for being looked at and admired. Over at the Buda side of the City, we also had quite a hard time finding a place to stop for coffee. Since we tried to avoid “touristy” places, we wandered around Buda for quite a while till we found a café.
One thing I really liked about Buda is the view from the castle hill. There is a couple of famous viewpoints, like the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Citadella fortress, where you’ll have a splendid look over Pest, the Danube and the gorgeous Chain Bridge. To get up to the castle, you can either walk through the gardens underneath the castle, wander through the part of town underneath the hill and find the steps that take you up the hill, or you take the more comfortable way and ride up the hill with the Funicular.
On top of the hill – Buda Castle
Pest on the other hand is full of life and you wouldn’t have to walk more than 2 minutes to find a coffee place. Pest is also where all the nightlife is happening. From the famous ruin bars ( there is more than 30 of them) to hundreds of pubs and clubs, there is a chance to party in Pest every night of the year. But Pest has more to offer than just party; it is great for shopping, eating out and there is lots of historic sights on this side of the Danube as well.
One of my favorite places in Pest was definitely the market hall. It is full of fresh fruits, great variety of typical hungarian food and all sorts of souvenirs. Also, the hall itself is pretty spectacular.
The Jewish Quarter in Pest is known for the ruin bars and its young, hip vibe. I loved everything about it. There is pop up food festivals, affordable restaurants and unique shops, something to discover around every corner.
At night, Pest is definitely the better place to be, not only because of all the entertainment, also because the view from the esplanade at night is top. Strolling along the Danube at night, looking at the brightly lit castle on the Buda side is breathtaking.
For dinner we found another great vegan friendly place close to our Hostel. It was called Napfényes Étterem and I pretty much fell in love with their rague.
More about my trip to Budapest, including a review on a visit to one of Budapests famous Spas in a follow up post!
At the beginning of may, me and my boyfriend decided that we wanted to get out of Vienna for a couple of days. Since Austria is perfectly located in the midst of some of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the decision wasn’t that easy. In the end we decided to spend a weekend in Prague.
When we got to the accommodation booking part though, we realized that, booking a week in advance at the peak of spring break isn’t helping with finding affordable but still livable and nicely located hotel or hostel rooms. After about 15 minutes of „no way, I’m not sleeping in a 8 people mixed dorm this time“, I remembered the great experiences I had with airbnb during my last travels to Dublin and Rovinj, so I decided to have a look , what airbnb offered in Prague.
I was amazed, there was at least 15 accommodations in my „wish list“ within 10 minutes. All of them were located in the center of Prague, all of them had amazing ratings and feedback and best of all, the prices for staying were even lower than what the hostels I found charged for a 8 people dorm.
We picked our favorite and wrote an Email to the host. Only an hour later we had our reply and the confirmation that the room was ours for the weekend.
A special hint for all of you who consider booking an Airbnb accommodation: Airbnb gives you a 20 euros voucher if you invite a friend, and this friend books with Airbnb. Also the friend who accepts your invite and books with the link you sent him/her, gets a 20 euro voucher. Since I was already on Airbnb, I just had to send an invite to my boyfriend and we ended up paying even less. 🙂
When we got to Prague, we had some troubles with finding a free parking space ( in a lot of areas in Prague you can’t park, or you can only park for a few hours). So we ended up getting there late, our host , who left work especially to meet us in the apartment, was extremely understanding , trusting and considerate. She left the keys for us in a nearby restaurant and we just had to pick it up there.
We realized when we got to our booked room, that it wasn’t simply a room, but a whole apartment. Our host wasn’t spending the weekend in Prague, so we ended up living there on our own and her two gorgeous cats. This was definitely the best way to experience Prague for the first time. We felt like we moved there.
The apartment was located in one of the best neighborhoods in Prague, we were surrounded by dozens of great restaurants and pubs and the famous Charles Bridge was about 5 minutes walking distance away.
I highly recommend Airbnb for finding the best places to stay in Prague. Coming home to your huge and beautiful apartment (and your two cute weekend-cats) was definitely far better than returning to a hostel dorm with snoring and drunk spring-breakers in the bunk next to you.
I am living in Vienna now for almost 6 years, which is quite shocking for me to be honest… where did the time go? well… anyway… Since day 1, Vienna and I have this love-hate relationship going on. Every year during the loooooong winter months, when all the Christmas markets closed up , when the Christmas decorations and all the lights are gone , my love for Vienna slowly but steadily fades away. Every year I feel like there is no colors and life left in the city… everywhere you look you see GREY… grey facades, grey streets, grey skies, grey faces and worst of all… grumpy Viennese people.
Every year, this is about the time when I start daydreaming about moving to faraway places again. My thoughts wander to south-american beaches, untouched New Zealand landscapes, to hot and vivid cities and crowds of joyful people.
But then… comes spring. And with the first warm day of the year, you can see Vienna transform into one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And for that reason, come spring… every year Vienna wins over my heart again.
There are hundreds of things I really love about the city during spring and summer, definitely to many to list them all.
I love that there is so many parks in Vienna. You never have to walk more then 15 minutes to stumble upon a piece of gorgeous nature… even in the center of the city. Definitely among my favorites it the Augarten in the second district, besides of the beautiful tree alleys and the imposing remains of the Flaktürme there is also a special kind of crowd hanging out in the Augarten. From sporty people with their slack-lines, Frisbee players, footballer or runners, to artsy people painting in the middle of the lawn or playing their instruments , or groups of people laughing their hearts out whilst doing laughter yoga and kids having the time of their lives on birthday parties. You will find everything in the Augarten, this, for me, plays a big role in creating this special kind of Augarten vibe that I love so much.
I also love the fact that it is totally normal for everybody that you just sit outside in summer ( anywhere in the city and at all times of the day) with a can of beer in your hand and do nothing for the rest of the day, other than maybe grab something to eat and call your friends to join you.
I love that in summer, almost everything in Vienna happens outside, and the best part is, that most of these things are for free. Especially if you like movies, Vienna is probably the best city to live in during summer.
Volxkino, Kino unter Sternen, Kino wie noch nie… those are just a few of the many open air-movie events that happen in Vienna all summer long. For me, an official movie addict, it’s always a mission impossible to decide which one I want to go to…especially because I can’t (or at least shouldn’t) spend every single evening watching a movie somewhere. I’m afraid all those papers for university won’t write themselves! ;P
I also love that with the whole drinking in public places, come hundreds of outdoor events. This year, I feel like there is a public pop-up party, street festival, pick nick or other kinds of open air -events happening every day. Starting from the classics, like the Donauinselfest and the Stadtfest to new events like the Spontantechno parties, organized by http://www.openairs.wien.
There is so many new things happening now in Vienna, there is new stores , bars, cafe’s opening up every single day, Vienna is full of life during summer and at the moment I wouldn’t want to live in a different place at all. Definitely not until it gets cold again… then I’ll probably be dreaming about moving to South America, Australia or New Zealand again.
But I’m sure… even though, Vienna and I are going through rough patches every winter… I’ll fall in love again with the first day of spring.
For more pictures of Vienna in Summer follow me on Instagram 🙂
This summer I was finally able to tick off something on my bucketlist which was on there since I can remember… The Plitvice lakes.
Me and my girls went on a quite spontaneous roadtrip to croatia in july. Our main destination was Rovinj ( one of my favourite cities all over the world – Post on Rovinj will follow), but since we were driving all the way down from Austria and 4 hours of driving more or less didn’t really matter anymore, we decided to take a detour via the lakes.
When we got there it was already past noon, so we didn’t loose any time , put on our hiking boots and went towards the ferry which took us to the other side of the main lake. Starting from there, we just had to follow a wooden pathway which toos us around the 16 lakes!
The lakes are most famous for being arranged in cascades. Walking through this wonderland like scenery makes you feel like you are walking in a fairyland.
Thousands of different shades of green and blue, untouched nature and the clearest water you’ve ever seen… I totally fell in love with that place.
We stopped for a coffee at a restaurant close to the topmost lake and right next to it, a shuttle takes you all the way back to the ferry. This restaurant was also the only thing I didn’t like about the Plitvice Nationalpark. It was extremely touristy and stood in such a contrast to the rest of the nationalpark that we felt like we’ve been jolted out of a dream.
I would recommend to avoid taking a break at the restaurant and bring some snacks instead.
In total, it took us around 2.5 hours to walk all the way through the nationalpark. It was by no means straining and the pathway was in a very good condition.
The only thing we were a bit dissappointed of was, that we couldn’t go swimming anywhere in the nationalpark. But thinking about it now, imagining these crystal clear lakes full of tourists would totally ruin its charm and also potentially ruin its flora and fauna.
For all of you who consider traveling to Croatia one day… make sure to put the Plitvice Nationalpark on your bucketlist!!