By this point I had no idea where I was going or how I was getting there. I was running low on cash, but wanted to spend a couple more weeks in Europe. I had to fly home from Frankfurt, so I wanted to stay in that region of Europe, but I wanted to hang out in places I hadn’t yet been. And add to that the fact I have an ongoing contest with Damien (at least in my own head) to notch up the most countries visited.
The solution: Austria!
Truth is I was mainly looking for a solution to visiting a new country or two, and while Poland was high on the list, Krakow was just as far as Vienna from Berlin, but starting to get a little far from Frankfurt.
From Berlin I hopped aboard a train travelling via Prague and wound up in Vienna. As I’ve been doing on a lot of my travels in the past year or so, I rocked up with pretty much no clue about the city, save for Sch_ö_nbrunn Palace and I only know about that because of an Andre Rieu DVD (that’s the kind of stuff you become well acquainted with, working at a record label).
So as you do, I pretty much headed straight to the only place in town I knew of. And man is it impressive! Honestly, it seemed like just another palace from the front, but it was all kinds on crazy awesome once you went around back. Huge gardens, massive water features, faux Roman ruins, the worlds oldest zoo and a labyrinth to boot! You don’t have to spend a dime to enjoy walking around the joint (although you can go on tours into the palace, the zoo has an entry fee etc).
Keeping in the spirit of the musical history Vienna is so rich in, I headed for a hardcore gig to see a couple of Australian bands, 50 Lions and Hopeless. Tiny venue, it was basically a cramped cellar underneath a trendy restaurant. Good times were had. While it was indeed small in there, it was still a decent turnout and the kids seemed stoked on it all.
Also regarding Vienna’s music scene, they’re very big on Mozart. They’ll show you anything and everything related to the Austrian Pianist, they’ll even try and sell you his balls.
During my brief time in Vienna I headed out to the Wurstelprater (amusement park) which in itself is little more than any old amusement park, but it is home to a micro nation known as the Republic of Kugel Mugel (roughly translated as “Spherical Hill”). Long story short, dude built a house that he didn’t have approval for, local authorities tried to order its demolition, dude tried to declare it a new country and succeed from Austria. Kinda funny, kinda idiotic. Get the full story here.
As it turns out, Bratislava, is not even a two hour train ride from Vienna. Seizing the opportunity, I proceeded to check off another country with a day trip to the Slovakian capital. I don’t know what was going on, but it seems as if absolutely nothing was going on. Like a lot of European cities it has a small old town and an adjacent castle on a hill, but beyond that it didn’t seem like there was much to see, and most places seemed to be pretty well shut anyway. No regrets on making the trek, but I probably won’t be heading back in a hurry anytime soon.