9 countries in 1 year! – My year in travelling

I know, I know, we’re already on day 15 of 2017 and I’m just now coming up with my last year’s travel roundup because, you know, stuff got in the way so I’ll make this quick and mostly visual. 🙂

  1. Stockholm, Sweden / February 24-28, 2016
    Tour of the city in celebration of my wife’s birthday.

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    Stockholm, Sweden
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark / April 29 – May 1, 2016
    Weekend city trip in celebration of my birthday.

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    Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. Zadar & Plitvice, Croatia / May 5-9, 2016
    Exploring Zadar with a day tour to Plitvice Lakes as extension to my birthday celebration.

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    Plitvice, Croatia
  4. Bratislava, Slovakia / July 26-29, 2016
    Exploring the city as first leg of Donauwelle.

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    Bratislava, Slovakia

  5. Vienna, Austria / July 29 – August 1, 2016
    Exploring the city as second leg of Donauwelle.

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    Vienna, Austria
  6. Budapest, Hungary / August 1-4, 2016
    Exploring the city as third leg of Donauwelle.

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    Budapest, Hungary
  7. Luxembourg, Luxembourg / August 20, 2016
    Family day tour of the city.

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    Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  8. Transylvania, Romania / October 19-25, 2016
    Road trip through Transylvania starting in Timisoara, ending in Bucharest.

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    Hunedoara, Romania
  9. Mallorca, Spain / December 24-27, 2016
    Road trip on the island of Mallorca in celebration of Christmas.

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    Mallorca, Spain

As you can see, it had been a very hedonistic year, one we won’t allow ourselves to have again in a very long time but it was good while it lasted and we will treasure these memories for a lifetime! It was a year that has inspired me to blog, to travel and see the world, and to learn. It has left me curious for more places and sometimes frustrated because there is only so much to see and we can’t always have enough resources to just go, let alone have the time. But I do look forward to our trips we got planned for this year and we’ll just have to make the most out of it. 🙂

So which one of these places do you guys think I liked best? And which ones appeal to you the most?

Donauwelle: Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest in 10 days

We called this year’s summer trip the Donauwelle. Literally, it means Danube Wave, and it’s a traditional cake often found in Germany and Austria. The goal was to visit three major cities where Europe’s second-longest river flows through:

Bratislava → Vienna → Budapest

We’ve been extremely busy these past few months because of our move to Berlin last month and that’s why I had not even prepared half an itinerary for this trip. It’s the first time we’re traveling with no plans whatsoever, we just did some minor research on the best sights of each of these cities. This has proven to be a little chaotic but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was afraid it would be. I’m sure we’ve missed a few sights and some of our tours were badly timed but I am just glad we have survived it and we are back home with no regrets. 🙂

So here is an outline of our trip:

July 26-29, 2016 – left for Bratislava from Berlin SXF with Ryanair. Booked a studio apartment via Airbnb for three nights. Airbnb 116 € for 3 nights / Ryanair flight 50,98 € for two – Berlin SXF to Bratislava

July 29 – August 1, 2016 – left for Vienna via Twin City Liner (ca. 1h 30m boat ride). Booked a whole apartment via Airbnb for three nights. Airbnb 145 € for 3 nights / Twin City Liner boat ride 50 € for two – Bratislava to Vienna

August 1-4, 2016 – left for Budapest via Orange Ways (ca. 3h 15m bus ride). Booked a whole apartment via Airbnb for three nights. Airbnb 78 € for 3 nights / Orangeways bus ride 20 € for two – Vienna to Budapest

August 4, 2016 – flight back to Berlin with Easyjet. Easyjet flight 132,82 € – Budapest to Berlin SXF

Links to each individual post below:

Bratislava → Vienna → Budapest

Donauwelle: Bratislava

The first leg of this summer’s trip was Bratislava. Aside from not having done much research about the places we’re about to go to, we didn’t know what to expect from Slovakia’s capital beforehand. I always had a feeling that, given its history and location, it has an inferiority towards the capitals of the neighbouring countries. I must say, though, it might not be as big as say, Prague or Vienna, but it is charming in its own right, and it’s easily one of my favourite cities so far. As I go further into this post, I will discuss more about why it’s a must-go for everybody.

Here’s how our trip went by:

July 26, 2016

The Airbnb we have booked offers Airport pick-ups if you stay three nights minimum. Surely, we have availed of this service. We arrived in our apartment at around 17:30. By then, we were dead-tired because we have had to stay up all night to fix our old apartment to make it turnover-ready. So, not surprisingly, we hadn’t done much that night but, thankfully, we were right in the historical centre and there was enough to see within a 300 metre radius. Our host has recommended a nice restaurant we must try – something I would have frowned upon and considered a tourist trap if I wasn’t too tired to look for another place – so we went and we were glad we did. It was right around the corner, and it’s called Bratislavská Reštaurácía, a flagship restaurant with a very nice traditional ambience and excellent authentic Slovakian food. With fair prices, too.

We then just checked out the grocery stores for our breakfast we would prepare the next morning and just called it a day because we were, in fact, just really tired.

Airbnb 116 € for 3 nights / Ryanair flight 50,98 € for two Berlin SXF to Bratislava

July 27, 2016

After breakfast, we walked to the old town to see what it has in store and there was, in fact, plenty to see. It wasn’t as crowded as many other tourist destinations which helps if you like to take some decent photos. One very much photographed site here is the Man at Work statue.

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Man at Work

Another site one can’t miss seeing as you go towards the water is the UFO Tower. It’s basically an odd looking tower, resembling some kind of UFO. It’s an interesting site, too, as it is on the bridge. And since we didn’t know where to go next, we decided to give this one a go for a view of Bratislava from the top.

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View of Historical Centre of Bratislava from UFO Tower
Entrance fee to UFO Tower observation deck: 7,40 € per person

From there, we got the idea to go to Bratislava Castle. It’s a quick hike from the bottom of the hill which is also easily reachable by local transportation or by foot from old town. We didn’t enter the building. Instead, we just enjoyed the sights, sat on the lawn, and just indulged in a serving of gelato from the restaurant. After a whole day of walking around town, you will surely have noticed all the signs that say “lemonade available here”. We have tried a few jars from various places and we have found different flavours from each restaurant.

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Lavender and blueberry
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Standing on the grounds of the castle, this church looks huge and it’s so close

July 28, 2016

Another one of the things one will have noticed by now is Bratislava’s reading culture. We have spotted a few bookstores, bookstore cafés, bistros or restaurants with used books you can grab, or just booths with used books in them. The number of these places really surprised me for a small city like this one. And so we had breakfast in one of these places before going around some more. Today, we had seen the Church of St. Elizabeth, or otherwise known as the “Blue Church”.

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Lil’ Blue Church

Today’s plan also included a trip to Devín Castle, which is located in Devin, a borough of Bratislava, about 10km away from the city centre. There is a bus that takes you right to the bottom of the hill and from there it’s a few minutes’ hike to the castle itself. You get the most amazing view of the Danube river from there, and also of the Morava river and Austria.

Entrance fee to Devin Castle: 4€ per person

I am still amazed by this magical little city. It’s just so nice to be able to explore almost everything by foot and just get lost. I’ve also never been to a city that is more enthusiastic for reading than this one. I even bought a few books from some of the bookstores we’ve passed by, many of which have a big selection of english books.

Tips:

  • Coins. Make sure you always have some! Cashiers always ask for change, it’s like the city doesn’t have enough of it. Our theory is that it gets collected in the local transportation ticket machines because they only accept change.
  • Walk. A 3-day local transportation ticket is pretty cheap, sure (10€ for 3 days), but most of the sights are best reached by foot.
  • Uber. It’s our first time trying it, and if you’re a big fan of the app and its services, you’d be surprised by how easy it is to get a ride here (because it’s just lacking in neighbouring countries).

Next stop → Vienna!