Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vienna, Austria Part 7... A boat to Bratislava

When we mentioned wanting to go to Bratislava, Slovakia, Herbert recommended that we try the hydrofoil boat, which takes people on the Danube to the capital of the Slovak Republic.  I had been to Bratislava once before, but it was by train on the way to Zilina, a city in the north near the Czech border.  I didn't see much of the city itself and besides, that was back in 1997.  I did remember the train trip was relatively short.  Riding in the hydrofoil one way was 35 euros a person and could be paid for by credit card.  The trip takes about 75 minutes.  Bratislava, like much of Eastern Europe, is very economical.

Since we found the dock on Saturday, Bill and I decided to take the hydrofoil to Bratislava and perhaps the train back to Vienna.  We arrived at the pier bright and early and booked tickets on the 8:30 departure.  We took advantage of the snacks being offered onboard.  I had a chocolate muffin, orange juice and coffee.  Bill had a croissant and coffee.  The boat ride was pleasant enough.  We went on the sundeck, upon which some people ride all the way.  It was very windy up there and by the time we got back downstairs, another couple had taken our seats.  Since the boat wasn't full, we took one of the "reserved" seats up front.  No one said anything to us.


The hydrofoil...


View from the back...


Snacks!  The WC was near here too.









A fishing hut.  Lots of these along the Danube.  Some were pretty fancy.





Bill enjoys the sundeck with all its wind!  For the first time in decades, his hair is long enough to blow in the wind.


We snuck into the reserved seating area.



Ruins on the way east.



Hainburg, Austria


On the way to Bratislava.






Yet another Armenian Genocide sign.




It's definitely not Vienna!



I got the sense that there's great art in Slovakia.  Wish I'd been there longer to see more of it.






In the old town.




A very "American" restaurant.  I think all these places were owned by the same entity.


We did stop here for beer and a potty break.  The music was great!





Bill poses by a statue.


Church.







Cops busting someone.


A pleasant park.





There was a line of trees obviously planted for certain European presidents.  I took a picture of the one for Armenia.




Elvis!


Church music played as we passed this old building.




A pile of pickles.  As we were headed into the old town, a guy was pushing a cart full of restaurant supplies.  He rounded a corner and lost a jar of pickles.  Bill and another American helped him clean up the mess and the pickles were all that were left.


A cool dial showing how far away many of the world's cities are from Bratislava.

When it came time for lunch, we headed back toward the old town.  I wanted to avoid the obvious tourist traps and fortunately succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.  We found a traditional Slovak restaurant in an old keller.  The music was awesome Hungarian and the food was delightful.  So was the service.


This place is awesome!


We sat in a little alcove under a stained glass window.




A little Bernard beer from the Czech Republic...

I started with smoked trout with apples and horseradish.  Bill had the Armenian salad, which was carrots with mayonnaise and lots of garlic.  Both were excellent!


Great starters!



Pork chop in potato dough and topped with cheese.  The salad had a delicious dressing that tasted a bit like t'zatsiki.  Bill had a pork and beef dish with very pungent peppers.


A lovely Slovak white wine.  It reminded me of Riesling.


And we split Hungarian cake.  It was topped with chocolate sauce and reminded me a little of Boston Creme Pie.






Only girls on staff!


This was an ad for plastic surgery, I think.  I photographed it because it looked like they were offering gender reassignment.


Time for church to let out.









After lunch, we happened upon a small art museum that was advertising free entry.  We availed ourselves of the opportunity and checked out more art!













A beery Sunday...



By the time we were done walking around Bratislava, we decided not to bother with the train.  We went back to the dock.  On the way there, we ran into a couple of Mormon missionaries.  I immediately spotted them and they caught me looking.  One of them spoke in flawless Slovak, which makes me think he must be a local.  They wanted to talk to us, but we were quick to decline!  Sorry guys.  Bill has already done the Mormon thing and it just doesn't suit us.

It turned out all the seats on the main deck of the hydrofoil were sold, but there was still room in the Captain's Lounge.  For ten euros extra (80 euros for two), you can ride in the small lounge behind the bridge.  I figured at least no one would be stealing our seats if we sat up there.  It turned out three Slovak couples were up there, too.  One male half turned out to be quite the comedian.  He asked the captain where the champagne was.  The captain was not amused and directed him to the snack bar.  He came back with a small bottle of prosecco.  I noticed the Slovak language sounded a bit like Russian and understood snippets of it, even though I never studied Russian.  In Armenia, Russian was used a lot and I picked up a little.


We waited in a small bar at the dock.  Beer was cheap and service was cheery...


We tried their schnapps/digestives, too... 



In the Captain's Lounge on the hydrofoil.  One of the guys running the boat looked like he wasn't a day over 19.  It was kind of cute.



Obligatory shot of Bill in the hokey Scottish pub.




Back at the dock.






I couldn't help but wonder how many people tried to escape to Austria via the Danube.






Back in Vienna.

We enjoyed our very brief trip to Bratislava.  I want to go back and see more of the city and perhaps escape to the country.  It was a nice change from the opulence of Vienna... very economical and definitely different.  Bratislava is well worth a visit and next time we'll stay longer.

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