03 Eisenstadt, Austria and Bratislava, Slovakia Trip #2

While Salzburg was lovely, for my second trip I wanted to see some green, lakes, and more of mother nature! Vienna and Salzburg are lovely cities, and there is a lot of green in general, but it would be still nice to see just completely green green grass and stand in front of nature. Hence, for my second trip, I decided to go to Eisenstadt, a small area down to Vienna that is popular for fishing, cycling, and hiking!

I figured I can take the train and get off at one of those green areas…except the problem is I didn’t realize the green area that I wanted to go is not exactly accessible via train. I only realized that once I was at the train station. People where kindly explaining to me, “no madam you are on the wrong train,” or “Sorry, madam I don’t think you can go there.” Nevertheless, I didn’t want to go back home. So I just took the train and went to Eisenstadt. (And since I still had a whole half day left after that, I also went to Bratislava. )

Eisenstadt and Bratislava (Trip 2: May 28)

The train ride itself was lovely! Because the train passed through lakes and fields that I wanted to go, you continue to see the long field stretched out under the blue sky.

Train ride to Eisenstadt

Yet, when I did finally arrive in Eisenstadt, I was confused. It was not like Salzburg where the train station was crowded. In fact, there weren’t that many people, even though it was early. I did, however, recall that there was a famous palace owned by one of the Hungarian nobility: The Schloss of Esterházy. I took off to the streets to find a city center..and here I found it!

In front of Schloss Esterházy

The Palace was bigger than I thought. But since there weren’t a lot of tourist compared to other areas, the entry fee was a bit more than what I wanted. Nevertheless, I went to three exhibitions, in which 2/3 was only in German. Still, I was happy to make this visit for it was fascinating to learn how this noble Hungarian family had such a large influence in this area. It’s because Hungary is only 12km away from here and for the Esterházy family, this was a good way to keep its family peace and business out of the constant political circle in Budapest. Music and culture, in fact, flourished thanks to the Esterházy’s family. (Note: This was where Joseph Haydn spent his summer times.) The Palace contains some hidden secrets that are not found in other palaces that was interesting.

Inside Esterházy, Eisenstadt

For instance, I noticed how the Princesses’s room collection had many traces of Asian influence. But this is a small city, one noble family that is hidden in the mainland, how were they able to access so much of anything Asian in the 13th-16th century? According to the guide, who was explaining it all in German, the Asian influence was a popular thing at that time and was a pride to show off. Thus, today, one is able to see  hints of Asia in between the baroque architecture and rich stucco decorations.

Asia’s influence found in Esterházy, Eisenstadt

But, since I still had the entire afternoon, I decided to make another trip…this time to BRATISLAVA, Slovakia! (Yes, I’m crossing borders and it’s easy because it’s Europe!)

Located just 40km away from Vienna Airport, Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital city, is another popular and easy place to travel from Vienna. In fact, some Viennese friends have suggested I check out air tickets from Bratislava than Vienna because there are more cheaper deals and its easy to get to Bratislava from Vienna. (Note even the map above, the location is really close from Vienna, closer than other Austrian cities!)

Train ride from Vienna to Bratislava, passing the Danube River

While the city is small compared to other Western European standards, Bratislava and it surroundings are known as one of the second most prosperous region in Central and Eastern Europe with a per capital GDP of around 167% of the EU-27 average. Located across the Danube River, Slovakia had gone through a long history of being under Hungary, Germany, Soviet and Communist ruling  of Czechoslovakia until it gained independence in 1993.

Nevertheless, the city was able to cherish its culture and history because it remained as a capital city from 1536 to 1784 and again since 1960: It was the coronation city (1563-1830) and the seat of the diet (1536-1848) of the Kingdom of Hungary for many years, and has been the capital of the federal state of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia since 1960, and has been the capital of independent Slovakia since its independence in 1993.

Bratislava, Slovakia, 2012

Due to my train rides, I arrived in the city quite late. Most museums and tourist sites were already closed, so I decided to walk around the city center. Since its small, it was not that hard to find. Once I found this corner I immediately found myself walking into the Old Town part of the city. Though the weather was a bit gloomy cause of the rain, I still had a glimpse of this city. It was definitely different from the glamorous cities such as Vienna or Salzburg. But it had its own charm. Though I spent few hours here, it was an interesting one. But probably not worth more than a day though. The key was that it’s so accessible from Vienna – as in, it’s so easy to cross borders within a day.

Here are some photos from Bratislava!

Bratislava, Slovakia
Center of Old Town in Bratislava, Slovakia
Inside one of the churches in Bratislava, Slovakia

Train station in Bratislava