This trip already feels like forever ago although it was just in October. I seriously cannot say enough good things about this trip. The weather was fantastic, the leaves were changing into stunning fall hues and we rented a car so we were able to go at our own pace. Greg and I finally got around to going through our 2,000 + photos which is why you are only now hearing about the trip! Yes, we go overboard with taking photos on our trips. Greg is the designated photographer and let’s be honest half of the trip is stopping to take photos. But it is so worth it! And I personally think Greg is very talented.
Even though I am drastically narrowing down my photo selection here, it is still photo overload so I apologize up front. But can you blame me? Look at this gorgeousness.
We flew into Budapest and arrived exhausted due to our red eye and delays. After a quick power nap we ventured around:Walking across the Danube on one of many bridges in the city.
At the citadella on Gellért Hill, overlooking the Danube. Gellért Hill was named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill. Walking to the citadella at the top was quite a hike. Luckily the walk was through a really beautiful park lined with pretty houses (mostly ambassadorial residences) and statues. Plus, it was a great way to wake up!
Our second night we rode the ferris wheel! And yes it offered magnificent views of the city at night.
Speaking of the city at night:We had about a day and a half in the city before we went to Vienna and a half a day on our way back. Here are some highlights from our time in the gorgeous city:
Saint Stephen’s Basilica and Dohány Street Synagogue in the bottom right.
We got to walk up steps to the very top of the Basilica and the view was breathtaking:Heroes’ Square, Oktoberfest, Vajdahunyad Castle:
While heading toward the Chain Bridge we saw this guy below. He is a giant escaping from the underworld! We knew that it was recently done because the sod was still being laid out on top of his head but didn’t know until just barely (when I googled “giant man from ground Budapest” ha) that the statue was part of Art Market Budapest, an art festival.
And here I am just looking out at the city on the bridge:After we walked across Chain Bridge we took the funicular up to Castle Hill.
And had a good time hanging out outside of the Royal Palace.
Where we happened upon a movie set! A worker told us it was for an American movie titled Spectral which upon looking it up does happen to be an actual movie so go see it when it comes out!Matthias Church named after king Matthias, 13th c, and Fisherman’s Bastian- a lookout terrance named after the Guild of Fishermen who defended this section of the wall during past wars. Before we walked around the bastian we visited the labyrinth where Dracula was held prisoner.Parliament, one of my favorite things in Budapest. The architecture is really just stunning and it is so impressive – not only at first sight but from through the city (see: night photo above).
Us riding Tram 2 around the city. It was a nice walking break and went through a lot of fun areas.
We made an impromptu stop at the National Theater and stopped by the ethnographic museum for a photography exhibit.
We loved walking around at night and seeing all the city lights, including walking across the chain bridge once again.
Visiting the shoes on the Danube was very moving. The memorial honors the Jewish people who were killed during WWII by fascist militia men. The victims were ordered to take off their shoes before they were shot by the water’s edge. Bratislava
On our way to Vienna, we had a quick stop in Bratislava, Slovakia. We went to mainly say we had been to Slovakia and it was convenient. However, we ended up slightly regretting it. Almost right after crossing the country border we were pulled over by two cops. They were outside their car in front of us and waved for us to pull over.
Once we pulled over we were asked for all of our identification and rental car information before being informed that our headlights needed to be on at all times day or night. While skeptical at the time I have since investigated the matter and it is a legit law in Slovakia. Your headlights need to be on while driving, not just at night. So we got a $20 euro ticket, despite Greg protesting that we were Americans who just didn’t know. The officer’s response was “you don’t follow the laws where you are?” Touche.
Right after the ticket incident while searching for parking to see the castle we drove down the wrong way on a road and were informed so by a cop. Luckily he was only joking about owing another $50 euro. We simply had to back up while being watched by on-lookers.
Well we finally made it to the castle. To discover that it was closed on Mondays. Oh well.Vienna
Vienna was so great! So Greg and I already have our future children’s names picked out. Well we have names we like now and think we will remain liking them for years to come but who really knows. Our current picks are Vienna and Pierce. Given this, Machelle suggested that while we were in Vienna we get a photo of the two of us by a sign with the city name on it. Well of course we thought that was a fantastic idea and would make perfect nursery decor! Then once we arrived in the city we quickly realized we did not think that through. In Austria they speak German, which we knew. What we did not think through was that this meant the spelling of Vienna would not be what we expected. No, it is Wien. So we saw plenty of signs with Wien on it but the only place we saw Vienna was at the airport during our layover.
We had the best hot chocolate and dessert ever. And look at the architecture of St. Stephen’s Cathedral above.
Schönbrunn palace was really close to our hotel and the day we visited it was the most perfect autumn day I can imagine. It was 70s and sunny and just perfection. The maze (we got lost):
Please forgive the selfies. It is hard traveling with only two people! We visited the Albertina, Kunsthistorisches Museum and wandered around the city. I just love this photo of Greg walking in the city:
We walked through the Hofberg imperial palace grounds. And since in Vienna you have to see some music we went to the Opera! We saw Mozart’s Idomeneo in the Vienna State Opera house. Although the experience was fantastic and we loved getting dressed up the opera was much longer than originally expected (3 1/2 hours) and we could not figure out the language settings for the first hour so we spent an hour reading Latin. But it was still a really wonderful night! We were told that in Vienna you must try a sacher torte so after the opera we got the cake (and some more hot chocolate of course). Driving through Austria to Slovenia was breathtaking and we took a couple stops in Warth and in Wolfsberg. Unfortuantely in Wolfsberg we got another ticket (parking this time!). Slovenia
While every second of our trip was so enjoyable and full of beauty, Slovenia would have to be the highlight. Sometime over the past year we were told about Lake Bled by someone and after googling it we knew we had to visit it. So Slovenia quickly shot up to the top of our list. And somehow a year later we were there – it felt like a dream. Let’s just say that it did not disappoint in the slightest. Lake Bled was stunning and felt like fairytale land.
We were just so excited to finally be there!
In the middle of the lake there is an island with a church that you can rent a boat to get to. Greg did a great job rowing! I had a great time watching him:
After the island we visited Bled Castle which has this really magnificent perch at the edge of the cliff overlooking the city. Here it is over looking our hotel: Bled was just so great! On top of the castle and island, we went to Triglav, the one national park in Slovenia and hiked Vintgar Gorge. I really half expected elves to jump out at us at any moment. After Bled we went to Postojna cave. At the beginning of the tour they put you in these little rail carts and you ride on tracks for 15 minutes then begin the walking segment of the tour. It was so much fun but so so cold. Next was Predjama Castle – 10 minutes away from the cave outside the town of Postojna. The castle itself is built into a cave mouth and while touring it you can see the second drawbridge connecting to the cave.
Greg loves to jump in photos on vacation. At this pint in the trip he remembered that he hadn’t jumped yet so we took a few mintues to get the perfect shot. Taiwanese tourists admired his jumping skills.
No jumping for me: I imagine that this is where all the jousting took place:
And I can’t quite get over the storybook beauty here:The castle goes back to the 13th century. During the 15th century it was host to a year-long seige where Erazem took refuge from Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. Or so legend says.
As if Slovenia was not already outdoing itself, the next day when we visited the capital Ljubljana we were completely charmed.
After this shot an older man asked us if he could have a picture so we started just posing for him thinking “ok, that is interesting he wants a photo of us.” But then he corrected us and told us to get our cell phone out again. So he took a photo of us taking a selfie. So what you are seeing here is a picture that inspired someone’s artistic photography. We are actually standing in front of the Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity here.
Are you blown away by this little city yet?
At the Dragon Bridge. There are a ton of bridges in the city including triple bridge and this beauty:
We saw a few churches including St. Florian’s church c. 1672., St. James’ Church (pictured) and the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. We went up yet another funicular and visited another castle. Ljubljana castle was so well done though and offered a spectacular city view:
Ok I promise I am almost at the end!
After Ljubljana we drove to Budapest and stopped at this random castle along the way. One thing about driving in Europe is the sheer number of castles is outstanding. Just all the time on the side of the road there are castles on mountains, on hills, etc. Finally we decided to drive up to one of them. It turned out to be abandoned and all boarded up. I have since tried to find the name of the castle but have not been able to although I do know it was near Novo Mesto, Slovenia. And Greg really wanted to get in but I eventually convinced him to get down!