While I was saddened to leave the beautiful landscapes and laid back vibes of Bratislava, Austria was calling.
For transport between the two cities, I looked toward the famous Danube river.
I was delighted to find that travelling from Vienna via the waterway was relatively quick, cheap, and popular with locals.
The ride itself was fun! You can relax in your seat if you want, or you can stand outside in the somewhat cramped outdoor area, braving the strong wind and the spray of the water.
In no time at all, I was pulling up to the shores of Vienna.
My first port of call? The department store. I needed to get a traditional Dirndl for Oktoberfest to wear to the beer hall near my accommodation!
Thankfully I was able to get one that was on sale so the whole get up cost me only €30 or so.
Walking from my hotel to the beer hall, which was adjacent to the Prater amusement park, I'll admit I felt a bit silly. Once I got there, however, my fears were allayed. Of all the girls there, those NOT wearing Dirndls were very much in the minority.
Of course, the festivities were slightly wasted on me, being a solo traveller, but I did my best to talk to random people and ask them questions about the celebration. Towards the end of the night I took a somewhat tipsy jaunt through Prater, marvelling at the ferris wheels, carnival stalls, and death defying rollercoasters.
Over the course of the next two days, I hit up some of the most popular sites in Vienna.
My favourites were the Rathaus and St Peter's Church.
The latter provided a tower climb with an amazing view over the whole city - a must if you are in the area.
The highlight of the week, however, was undoubtedly Budapest, in Hungary.
I got there from Vienna via train which, if I remember correctly, was relatively affordable and easy to navigate.
I fell in love with Budapest almost immediately.
The city is huge, yet walkable, and the natives I ran into were incredibly hospitable.
I stayed at Activity Hostel, and couldn't recommend the place enough. Clean, affordable, and with friendly staff, the accommodation is just down the road from the Budapest Eye - a large ferris wheel which affords views over the city.
While the wheel is fun and worthwhile, you get better views only a short walk away at the top of St Stephen's Basilica.
While Budapest is well served with public transport such as trams, buses, and an underground, I mostly opted to walk everywhere during my stay.
The river runs right through the city, separating the Buda and the Pest sides, which means the city is relatively easy to navigate. I only ever had to located the river to figure out where I was and roughly where I needed to go.
Along the banks of the river is a beautiful memorial that everyone should see called Shoes on the Danube.
It honors people killed in Budapest during World War II.
One can see the metal shoes on a walk of the banks of the river - it's a beautiful place for a stroll.
Over one of the hulking bridges lies one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city - Fisherman's Bastion.
It's a bit of a trek to get up to, thanks to the height, but the views are well worth it. You can see the entire city, and can take some lovely pics from the archways.
Nearby, Mathias Church is worth a visit, though it is a little pricey for what it is.
Other highlights of my trip included Gellert Hill and Margaret Island.
The latter is a mini version of central Park, and is a great place for a walk or cycle. The musical fountain at the entrance is also well worth a visit.
The highlight of my trip to Budapest, however, will come as no surprise to those of you who are familiar with the city.
It was, hands down, the Szechenyi Spa.
Budapest is famous for its spas, and this one is the creme de la creme of them.
In Ireland, when someone says the word spa, they mean a building where there is maybe a steam room a sauna and a jacuzzi, and massages and facials are available. In Budapest, the word spa is so much more. The place is essentially comprised of a large outdoor area of different heated outdoor pools, an indoor area with pools of different heats, steam rooms and saunas, and, separately, there is a centre for massages and the like.
The place is absolute heaven.
Unfortunately I wanted to see as much as possible during my visit to Budapest, which meant I had only planned one day at the baths/spa. I should have planned for more.
But it may be a blessing in disguise - now I have an excuse to go back.
For now? It's onwards, to Bulgaria and Romania.
#vienna #Austria #budapest #hungary #europe #backpacking #blog #blogger #travel #trip #holiday #spa #baths #fishermansbastion #Szechenyi #Budapesteye #basilica #stStephens #matthiaschurch #writer #adventure #traveller #MargaretIsland #buda #pest #thesecorners #Prater #dirndl #oktoberfest #beerhall #boat #Danube