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Entries about slovakia

Here for the Habsburgs

So! The Habsburgs were a family that pretty much ruled most of Europe for almost 700 years, from the late 13th century until WW1 in the early 20th century. Mostly through strategic alliances (ie marriages), at their greatest point they controlled Germany, France, Spain, Italy and much of eastern/central Europe. At some point they also had the Netherlands, Belgium, and some other western European lands. Eventually it was the Habsburgs that were the Holy Roman Emperors as well! And through Spain, they technically also had their fingers in a lot of Asian pies.

However, it wasn't just lands that made them great. For the most part their capital was Vienna, and Vienna was a place of great learning and culture.

Probably the most famous contributions are two women, or at least they're the ones I remember! Maria Theresia was born in 1717 and became Queen when her father Charles died. She married a guy called Francis Stephen partly because she loved him (unfortunately he had a rather public mistress) but also because she couldn't legally be a holy Roman emperor. She was also the only child, I mean, that's why she got all the power, but she really did prevent the Habsburg dynasty from dying, which it almost did. She made some really great reforms, like compulsory education for children. And she had 16 kids, 1 of whom was the famous Marie Antoinette, who married into the French monarchy and was guillotined during the French revolution.

And pretty much the only reason the dynasty really failed in the end was because just before WW1 the Austrian empire was allied to the Germans, and obviously that side lost in the war. The Holy Roman Empire had been dismantled by Napoleon, and after that Austria had been forced into a dual Austro-Hungarian empire. It was this empire that got completely broken up by the world war into the smaller countries we see today (almost). And so the end of the Habsburgs as a world power.

Okay, a lot of that was recent research haha. But a family like that can't be forgotten, and one of the only reasons I even went to Vienna was to see the influence they had on their capital. To breath in history.

Vienna felt like a bunch of huge ornate buildings in close proximity with each other. A lot of the nice ones were baroque or renaissance I think. When I say huge I really mean huge huge, and crowded into a small city, like how sg has. Build more and more until eventually it's saturated. Yes most of the buildings were gorgeous, but it's still overcrowded.

To be honest it was a real boring and tiring day haha. For some reason Vienna doesn't have free walking tours, even though Prague had like 5 different operators and even bratislava has one. They must have some kind of law against it! So I followed two online walking tour guides, it wasn't bad but not enough infooo.

My alarm rang at 8am, and I only really got up at 8.20. From there it was a 20min rush to change, wash up, pack my day bag, half run to the station, buy a ticket, and get up to the platform. Pleased to say that I made it with a couple of minutes to spare. Living life on the edge hehe. Trains are every 2h by the way, so that was important.

Strangely, I had shwarma and noodles for brunch. So in Austria, a gastronomic city, I eat Turkish and Chinese food. Okay. And then walked around the entire day. With extremely frequent rest stops cos my feet were dying and it was so hot.

Got to enter the crypt of the Habsburgs! So I stood among the dead of one of the most influential families of all time. Paid 4.5 for that experience, I guess I consider it worth it.

Had apple strudel (wasn't very good) and latched on to free WiFi. Later I counted money in my head and decided that I had enough euros to go around (I only need it for Slovenia) so decided to splurge on a good dinner. Had Saffron risotto with chicken and prosecco at an Italian place, La Piazza haha. But then towards the end of that good meal, I realised with horror that the actual money I had on hand was not enough. So I paid by card sigh that was lame and a waste of money. I was only short by 1 plus!

Then back to the train station, I had to wait more than an hour because the train, which is supposed to be hourly, skipped the 7.21, which I would have been just on time for. Read 20,000 leagues, forgive me for saying that it's a bit boring. I got to the part just before they head out hunting in the undersea forest.

Tomorrow is a quick walk up to the memorial, and then my bus to Budapest! Where I'll soak in baths for the afternoon and rest my weary feet.

Ciaoooo

Posted by seaskimmer 15:08 Archived in Austria Tagged bratislava vienna history austria slovakia Comments (0)

Bra-tislava

sunny 31 °C

Bar-tislava
Where on earth is bratislava??

Just a few of the tourist t shirts. Unfortunately those were not the funniest, I can't remember those. I was so tempted to buy one of the funnier ones hahahahah.

Before I came, people have told me that there's nothing much to do in bratislava, like why are you going.. But I decided might as well, hey its near Vienna, and thus I get to visit both Austria and Slovakia at the same time, sounds worth it to me.

After a 4h train ride on which I was mostly asleep, I arrived at a kind of Malaysia haha. The buildings on the walk from the train station to the hostel were kind of blocky and run down, a far cry from Prague. But soon I was to really enjoy it. It was a really welcome relief actually from the splendour of Prague, this poorer place that wasn't jumping for my attention.

Anyway, by the time I'd checked in and loaded WhatsApp and replied the few that needed replying, it was 8 plus and I was starving, so I walked over to this pancakes place that the receptionist recommended. I think her boss is obsessed with it or something haha. So I had 3, because I couldn't just choose 2, and it was a good thing I did, cos they're not that big. Stewed veg, smoked cheese, sardines. And the skin was just like my grandma's popia skin! Yellow and soft, but a bit less oily and breakable. Mmm.

Showed, and that was it for the night. I was tired, but by the time I was done washing up and stuff the guys in the bunk next to me had started to snore! Like ughhh I was so annoyed but then I remembered that I had been talking in my sleep the past few nights (yeah, I do that) and decided to exercise grace haha.

Got to sleep eventually, and woke up at 6 plus as per usual (I think it's the sun) and went back to sleep and got up at 8 plus as per usual.

Walked down to old town, very pleasantly surprised to find out that bratislava is really small so you can walk to anywhere. Old town is pretty and windy, less obviously charming as Prague but delightful nonetheless. Did the free tour, the guide wasn't great but whatever la. I was kind of bored by the end, but I did learn some cool stuff. Like that jules verne stayed at the carlton at the square where I'd started on 20,000 leagues below the sea. How awesome is that. And that the velvet revolution is so named because it was a gentle one without much blood shed.

And a reminder that although in general it's accepted that communism is 'bad', that we should always evaluate our beliefs and look at underlying assumptions. These days we're very ready to believe at the snap of a finger that anything that 'restricts our freedom' is a violation of out rights and is BAD and should be protested against. But after all, what are our rights, what is best for us? And what is freedom? A reminder not to jump to conclusions after someone mentions a few key phrases. (pet examples of mine are the words recyclable, green and biodegradable. Don't believe everything the package says, it often only means that in the right conditions it will degrade. But duhh.)

I was heading over to Flagship, a restaurant recommended both online and by the tour guide. I ended up eating with a brit couple and an American dude, all of whom were on the tour. I had a glass of redcurrant wine, so sweet, so amazing. And shared a platter of traditional cheese filled dumplings with the American dude. Then walked over to the ufo Bridge, but there we took photos and I said goodbye, since they wanted to go up the tower (4eur, no need la) and I just went up to the castle.

Very proud of myself by the way. That was a real achievement for me! I had to leave though because it was fun but a little stressful anyway. I think that's a good enough balance between lone ranger and socialising for me. Pat on back for self.

Had a good think up on the castle walls, sort of. I think I've left my thoughts in a bunch of places already. That part of the wall, overlooking bratislava bathed in bright sunlight is one of them.

Walked through old town, had sort of dinner at another recommended place. Was still full so I only ordered a beer and garlic soup (traditional) in a bread bowl. But the soup was overbearing and not nice, and the beer was bitter and gross. I didn't finish either. At least the waitress was nice.

So here I am in the hostel, tired and sticky from the sunblock. Gotta shower and sleep soon. Vienna tmr. Another long day. I'm maybe needing a bit of a break, but I'm still loving the constant novelty of a new place. Looking forward to home, yet enjoying travel.

Posted by seaskimmer 14:06 Archived in Slovakia Tagged bratislava slovakia socialising Comments (0)

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