We woke early; well our alarms went off early we actually rose about fifteen minutes later. This meant we had two and a half hours to get our train to Vienna. Individually taking showers and packing our bags took up much more time than we thought. Finally though we were fed and ready to leave. Due to the fact that Budapest is pretty cheap we decided to get a taxi to Budapest Keleti train station, this actually worked out cheaper than getting public transport! However with public transport you don’t always get stuck in traffic jams, in taxis you do. As luck would have it, we got a large dose of bad traffic.
We now had fifteen minutes to find our train and get on it, easy. Except Beno wanted to go get a drink. We split up. Two of us would get drinks and two of us would find the train. Guess where it was? The farthest platform from where we were. Twelve minutes had now passed from us splitting up. We were getting worried that we would miss it. Finally around the corner came the other two. We shouted to them, to alert them of our position, and then we all ran to get our train. Not only were we on the farthest train, we were also on the farthest carriage. Fortunately we made the decision to just get on the train, just before the doors closed. That was too close, we all agreed. Eventually we found the table we had pre-booked, hoisted our bags into the luggage racks, sat down and relaxed. Two more hours and we would be in Vienna.
The train was great, it was well worth the 3€ we paid to reserve seats. We were in large comfortable chairs around a table. Significantly more relaxing than the virgin trains in the UK. Also this train came with free WiFi which was really useful. It meant we could find out exactly where the hostel we had booked for Vienna was. Fortunately it seemed to be only a few hundred metres from the train station! Very lucky seeing as we booked it very last minute during our final night in Budapest.
Before we knew it we were in Vienna, we had booked our seat reservations for the train to Prague, found our way to the hostel “Do Step Inn”, and we were sipping our free welcome beers. It was turning out to be a good day. When we made it up to our room we were also pleasantly surprised, a lovely en-suite, a TV and all in a 4 bed private room all for just 20€ a night. Bargain. As we had been sat down for a while we all agreed we wanted to stretch our legs. So as per the recommendation from the lady at reception we headed over to Schonbrunn Palace. Now when I said we wanted to stretch our legs I was imagining a small 10-15 minute walk. Which I might add is how far the lady said it was. It was not. That’s for four 18 year old boys as well who do not dawdle and didn’t get lost. It took forever to get there. However it certainly was worth the long walk. It is a very grand palace with if not more beautiful surrounding gardens. In the hot summer sun it was a great place to go. There was a lot on offer, all costing extra of course, however if like us you are looking for something cheap to do you can walk around all the grounds for free. You can also walk up to the Schonbrunn Gloriette which is situated on the top of a large hill offering fantastic panoramic views over Vienna. A superb place to take photographs and also appreciate the delicately planted flowers of the gardens.
After the long walk home we were feeling really tired. It had been a long day but tonight we had decided to cook a meal ourselves for the first time. Naturally we went for one of the easiest meals. Pasta. With a lovely tomato and sausage sauce it went down a treat and we all felt nicely brimmed. However our meal hardly compared to the amazing aromas filling the kitchen from other groups’ meals.
Somehow after a short rest back in the room we suddenly all felt really energised. We decided than instead of have a night in we would catch the metro two stops into the centre of Vienna and have a little walk around to get our bearings and get a feel of the city at night time. This was great. We suddenly got an appreciation of how pretty it was. Every building, literally every single one, looked amazing. It was like walking in an architects dream. In a city steeped in history our short excursion left us buzzing for the following day in the city.
The next day we woke feeling fresh. However we were all soaked in sweat. We had drastically underestimated the benefits of having air conditioning. We sorely missed it already. However before long we were all showered, dressed and ready to explore Vienna. This would be our only full day as we would leave for Prague tomorrow. We therefore from the off made it our quest to see as much as we possibly could. A quick breakfast followed by a free tram ride into the centre. We didn’t realise you had to validate tickets in these small machines, so when asked we played the ‘dumb tourist’ and we got away with it! When we surfaced from the underground we were right next to the Natural History Museum so that, naturally, was our first port of call. As we were students we got free admission. Great success! We began in the Body Works exhibition which was amazing. If this ever comes to a museum near you definitely check it out. We then wound our way through the permanent exhibitions until we had seen everything. Job done.
As it was now nearing lunchtime we ate our self-made sandwiches by the fountains outside the museum. Then with some extra energy in our bodies we were fuelled to hit museum number two. The Museum of Art History, free again, we really were on a roll now. It was turning into a much cheaper day than we had envisaged. After a good look around this we began to walk towards parliament and to see the various churches around the city. We spent the majority of the afternoon doing this. I really think it is a great way to discover a city. To just walk around and not have any plan. Just go where your feet take you. If you get lost for ideas, ask a local, and then just carry on. It really is good. Before long we had our bearings and knew where we wanted to go and how to get there. I also had the app ‘City Maps 2 Go’ on my iPhone which is an app with offline maps which you download for which ever city you want. You can then see where you are using the GPS function on your iPhone however it uses absolutely no data. It simply turns your iPhone into a handheld walking GPS. For less than £2 I really recommend this to anyone planning to do this type of travelling. You will never get lost!
Slowly we made our way back towards the hostel, managing to ride the underground for free again. We stocked up on some food from a nearby supermarket and set about cooking our pasta bolognaise. We had also managed to pick up some very reasonably priced alcohol so enjoyed that during dinner. We enjoyed it a lot. So much that we got through a few bottles. We then began our ‘epic’ game of GIANT chess. It was great. Vienna was great. A city steeped in culture and one which I would love to return to.