Category Archives: Bratislava

Austria Day 5: Along the Danube

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After a good day in Bratislava, it was time to come back to Austria for the rest of the trip.

The GPS was programmed successfully for a 2 hour drive to Krems. We went there to walk the quaint town, to buy from a Thomas Sabo store and to visit an Orange store to try to straighten out my SIM card problem. We were successful on 2 of 3 fronts. The town was lovely, the Sabo charms purchased, but after 1.5 hours of backing up and restoring my iPhone, the card still didn’t work. Chances are very good that Verizon/Apple didn’t execute the unlock successfully. In hindsight, not a good use of time and not very important. Hotels have wifi and not difficult to find a hotspot in many places.

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We then decided to drive to Melk. Our cruise had visited there and we had enjoyed the town. A beautiful abbey sits atop the hill, and the town has winding streets with cute shops. We first dat and had coffee/tea in the square.

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I was looking to recreate a great picture from our cruise, when after a morning tour of the abbey, a few of my shipmates and I grabbed a beer at a supermarket and sat on a bench drinking well before noon. Alas, while the bench was still there, the supermarket wasn’t. When I get home, I’ll publish the original picture.

We drove along the Danube to Durnstein, where we are staying in a fancy hotel, the Hotel Schloss Durnstein. It is our splurge for the trip.

After arriving. We walked through the town and were headed to the ruins of Richard the Lion Hearted’s castle, but it proved too steep to make it all the way up.

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We walked back to the hotel and enjoyed dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, which sat on a patio above the Danube. The food was delicious, we both had salmon, but we mainly enjoyed the sun setting and the cool air coming off the water.

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Austria/Slovakia Day 4: Czech’ing Things Out

Might have to skip pictures for now, as hotel Internet is very slow.

I got a decent night’s sleep, but Ellen still hasn’t. That needs to come soon.

After breakfast, I walked to the Europcar office 2 blocks away to pick up our rental car. This is always a fun part I the trip, finding out what kind of car and beginning the part of the trip where we have complete control over the transportation.

First news I got was great news. Our last city in Austria is Innsbruck, so we decided to fly back home from Munich, which is much closer than driving back to Vienna. The rental car woman said hey had a car with German plates for us, so that would save a €100 one-way fee. Pretty sweet!

The car is a Renault Megane wagon, 6 speed. The only implication of German plates was it lacked the required Austria autobahn toll sticker. An auto club was just a block away, I was told, and I could get the sticker there. So that’s just what I did, gladly paying €8 for a 10 day sticker instead I €100.

Went back to the hotel to pick up Ellen and get started. The car came with built-in GPS, but the maps only included Germany and Austria. We had brought our own Garmin, so I entered the address of our hotel in Bratislava and we headed out.

We drove along out of he city, through farmland and with sign pointing to Prague. It dawned on us hat this wasn’t right, just about the time we crossed into the Czech Republic. It was a weird border town, with casinos, a zoo and adult “entertainment.” I re-entered the hotel information and we set out again. We needed to retrace most of our path back towards Vienna before heading east to Bratislava. Luckily, a lot of the trip had a speed limit of 130kph.

We made it to our hotel just about 1pm. It is in an old palace just north of the Danube. We set off almost right away to explore Bratislava. We did the Rick Steves walking tour, which took us through the old town, seeing the town hall, restaurants and shops and the holocaust memorial.

We then climbed up a very steep hill to get to the Bratislava Castle. Not much to the castle now, it is being restored, but a great view of the UFO bridge, the defining contribution of the Communist era.

From on top of the hill, it almost looked like the Communists created the city using Sim City. The ugly apartment buildings were all south of the Danube, with the factories all next to them. Hard to change everything all at once.

We stopped for a Slovak beer (yum!) and a snack. It was late enough that we went from there straight to dinner, to Flowers which was recommended by Rick Steves. We both had pasta and ended up stuffed and happy.

Tomorrow we head back to Austria for the rest of the vacation.