For the next leg of my journey with Jen, we took the ICE Train (Deutsche Bahn) from Regensburg, Germany to Wien Westbahnhof (Vienna). We arrived in Vienna after 11pm. It felt as if it was in the high 70s as we walked the few blocks to our 20€ accommodation for the night, Wombats City Hostel Vienna. It was a funky place with tons of people hanging out, but once upstairs – completely quiet, clean and secure. My only complaint is that we arrived on the hottest night of the year and my top bunk was suffocating. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much.
We were up early and off to take the metro over to the water to catch our hydrofoil to Budapest. We briefly stopped at Mexicoplaza so that I could take more architecture photos and then waited to board the hydrofoil. We had been worried about the 5-hour ride in the heat, but quickly felt relieved as we found seats in the air-conditioned cabin. Almost immediately we spent thirty minutes in the channel to empty the water and lower our boat to another section of the river (I took video). Though we didn’t stop, we did take photos of Bratislava as we sailed by. The hydrofoil is a great trip one way, and then I’d suggest catching the train on the way home.
It was hot hot hot when we arrived in Budapest and we immediately found an Asian sandwich shop for me to grab something quick, then we hopped on the No. 7 bus to Blaha Lujza ter where our apartment was. Renting an apartment in Europe is a great way to go, especially if you have food issues like I do. It is also good for the budget and we lucked out with an apartment in the center of “Pest.” We spent the afternoon on the “Pest” side, which began with checking in and cooling down in the apartment with much needed air conditioning before venturing back out into the city. FYI – Budapest embraces air conditioning, so when one feels a little overheated it is possible to duck into a store for a little shopping…
We took the tram and jumped off in the opera section of Pest, wandered through cute shops and cafés and finally stopped to sample a local beer at an outdoor café before making our way to Oktober street to have dinner at the “Hummus” restaurant. Great food, then a quick stop at a grocery store on the way back to grab breakfast for the next morning. In our hot and tired state it took a little longer to get on the correct Metro home, lol. Upon arriving at Blaha Lujza ter I was greeted by the “Golden Arches” and a giggle reminder that had Jen and I saying “Mc Donalds: NO!” As our host had pointed out that that was the wrong direction to our apartment. There were still plenty of people out enjoying the city as we settled in for the night.
We slept until around 10am. After purchasing a 24-hour ticket (also good for our return train in the morning) we headed to Deak Ter to catch a metro to the Elizabeth Bridge, a bus over the bridge, and a crazy little bus ride up to the Citadel. The view from the Citadel was amazing, a panorama of Pest from the Buda side. We enjoyed lunch with a view fans blowing the air to try and keep some of the heat away at the Citadel café.
We managed to catch the correct tram back to the Pest side of the river, a quick ride on the Metro and we were at our final destination – the Szechenyi baths.
Taking a plunge in room after room of mineral water baths at different temperatures, from 20 degrees Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius, felt amazing after a long week of relentless heat. The large pool area outside was a fun stop as well, and the center of the pool had this little round about whirlpool that sent you rushing around the circle.
We returned to the apartment in the evening to drop our shopping bags and then headed to a local Indian Restaurant: “Shalimar Indian Restaurant Budapest” (yum-o). We headed back toward the square for our final stop at a local pub for a beverage and some people watching out the window of the bar. The next morning we caught the train to Vienna.
We arrived in Vienna mid-day and walked to The Red Carpet Hostel where we had a private room. It looked like an old hotel that had been converted to a hostel, but seemed to have an older crowd than the Wombat. We checked in, dropped the bags and took the U-Bahn to Stephanplatz Square (named after Stephansdom cathedral) for an Italian lunch, a little sightseeing and shopping. You can’t walk a block without running into a living version of Mozart, and there are too many Mozart stores to count. The history and architecture is fabulous. We walked around for hours and then took a forty-minute carriage ride through the streets. We stumbled across a Mandarin restaurant and had dinner, took the metro back to the hostel, had a few cocktails in the bar and went to sleep.
The next morning we had breakfast, packed up and went to the train station to store all of stuff before heading over to the Belvedere Palace to enjoy the architecture and the museum. There is an Upper and Lower Palace that were built in the 18th century as a summer residence for Prince Eugene if Savoy with gardens and many fountains. In the afternoon, we headed back to Stephanplatz for lunch and some final shopping, and then hopped on the ICE train back to Germany around 4:30pm. I was ready for my day off before heading to Poland…