I cannot believe it’s officially been one month on the road. I’ve learned so much about long term travel and about myself so far. This post is super long so bear with me. There will also be typos/grammar mistakes so beware. 😉
Related Post: Diary from Around the World: Week 3
I’ve spent the last week in Austria where I started in Innsbruck (capital of the Alps) and then took a train over to Salzburg. I stayed in Salzburg a few days and then did a day trip to Hallstatt which is the fairytale town you may have seen from my instagram (@travelingspud). Then I took a train to Linz to meet my friend Babsi and I ended up staying with her two nights and then off to Vienna for 4 nights.
I’m currently in Slovenia right now and left today from Bratisalva, Slovakia (the capital of Slovakia) where I spent 2 nights. I wish I had stayed more, but had a press trip lined up here in Slovenia!
Here’s what I’ve been up to…
Innsbruck, Salzburg and Linz Austria
Woah, what a beautiful country. It started out in Innsbruck (my time there wasn’t that awesome). I wrote a bit about the kitchen mice and stuff in my last post. After Innsbruck I went to Salzburg and I became obsessed. This was truly the first place I was alone, alone and it was so great to kick up my feet and relax somewhere for a few days after being on the go for so long.
Salzburg was the perfect place to relax because it’s small enough and manageable enough, but there was still a ton to do. I toured around each day and it was nice to not be in a rush. I ate lots of pretzels again, got rained on a few times and tried to get my 10,000 steps in each day. This has actually been sooo easy by the way. I’ve been averaging about 16-17K steps a day and I try and hit at least 10k every day for my daily workout since I don’t have a gym.
I met cool people in Salzburg that I also mentioned in my last post. After staying here for a bit I got a 12 euro train to Linz, which is in the top middle of Austria. My friend Babsi picked me up from the train station and she cooked me AMAZING dinner 2 nights in a row. I couldn’t believe how amazing a home cooked Austrian dish was. Sometimes, (actually always) it’s nice to know locals in a city or country because you get to really learn the culture.
We had homemade dumplings, potatoes, Schweinenbraten (a crazy pork roast dish), cabbage and gravy on top. I also drank sturm wine which is slightly fermented grapes, but taste slightly sour. You can only get this from the end of September until mid-October so I was lucky to get to try it. I loved it and drank a full bottle (1.5L) in the 2 nights I was there….
The next day we had leftovers, but she made a very traditional dish with the leftovers. It was mixed with eggs and spices and I thought it was even better than the night before! For dessert she made me homemade Kaiserschmarrn (below) which is a large pancake cut up with applesauce, apricot sauce and caramel to dip it in. I died and went to heaven at her house. Linz doesn’t have a ton of stuff going on because it’s more of an industrial city, but I still got a lot of exploring in and enjoyed lounging at Babsi’s house.
Vienna, Austria & Bratislava, Slovakia
After Linz I took a train to Vienna where I stayed for about 4 days. The train was only about an hour and a half and so easy. It only cost me about 15 euro. The first night in Vienna I met an Irish girl and we decided to grab dinner together and then party since it was a Friday night. I stayed at the Wombat Nashmarkt hostel which was pretty fun and we went down to the hostel bar with our free drink vouchers. We met some really cool Australians, a French guy, girls from Uruguay and a guy from Slovakia. We played a traditional Austrian drinking game where you pound nails into a log with a hammer. It seemed dangerous as hell in a bar, but it actually was pretty fun! We drank a lot and I took jaeger bombs (YUCK) with these young Australians. YOLO. Then the Slovakian guy who lives in Vienna told me he would take me around the next day for a free tour of the city. I agreed and even though I was super hungover we met up at 10am to see the city.
It was fun getting a tour from someone who lived there. He showed me all the amazing architecture and took me down a great route and I felt like I saw everything! We stopped to get Käiserkrainer which are these massive cheese filled bratwursts in a hoagie bun. SO good but so filling and salty. As you can tell…I’m basically eating my way thru Austria at this point.
I met up with my Irish friend and another girl from London and we went to the Nashmarkt across the street (which was awesome btw) and got some more sturm wine and had a traditional goulash, bratwurst, dumpling and egg meal. It was SOOOO good and so fresh from the market. It was a fun spot to get food and fun to hang with these two girls.
The rest of my time in Vienna I ventured around to see more sites. I walked to the Schönbrunn Palace and luckily got there on Sunday around 9am and no one was there! My Irish friend went the day before and couldn’t even get in because it was so packed. I got lucky, but it also pays to go to these tourist attractions early.
I also hit up the Cafe Central which is a famous cafe known for Mozart and famous writers and composers who would go there. Vienna is known for their great cafes and I went to a few to blog a bit and relax.
One of my highlights of Vienna was going to the Vienna Opera. We waited in line for 2 hours to get standing tickets for 4 euro to the opera. Normally these tickets go for 200 euro at least. It was definitely a ton of standing which was not the best part, but it really was an amazing experience. My first opera!
I also was loving the Austrian clothing style. It’s AMAZING. I haven’t gotten to properly dress for fall weather since before I moved to San Francisco, so seeing all of these amazing pea coats, boots and scarves made me want to buy a whole new wardrobe.
After Vienna I decided to take a bus to Bratislava, Slovakia. At first I had a weird connotation of Slovakia in my brain…it reminded me of communism, Soviet Union, and I just didn’t know much about the country or if it was safe. After coming to Austria and meeting so many people who had been I realized all of my thoughts about it were wrong and it was safe and people loved it.
I decided to get a 5 euro bus ticket there….yep 5 euros! The trip took only one hour from Vienna.
I’ve just left Bratislava today and loved my time there! Of course I had some stories of getting there. It seems like my travel days are always the most freakin stressful days. Sometimes trying to figure out how to get somewhere in a different language isn’t easy.
So it of course it was supposed to be super easy to get to Bratislava. All I had to do was buy a 5 euro bus ticket which I did, but of course I went to the wrong train station and the info counter dude had to tell me to go to the other main station and to get there to take another train 9 stops to the other main station. It was down pouring rain and my umbrella broke of course so here I am sweating under all my clothes and it’s rainy and now I have to stress to get to another station. I ended up making it, but once I got there it was the train station and I couldn’t find the bus terminal! The info guy again told me where to go and I had to walk like 10 mins from where I was to find it. I ended up getting there just in time, but it was stressful! Luckily the Slovak Lines bus was really nice and had tvs and lots of space. The ride was also only one hour so it was super easy and exciting to cross the border.
I got to Bratislava and did the free walking tour (I love free walking tours) and immediately met 4 friends. 2 of which are big travelers (one with the travel blog, https://www.carolinelupini.com/, I loved her and she she was leaving Bratislava to travel to Iraq which will be her 59th country! Then her friend Tony was finishing his last European country, Slovakia, before heading off to Sri Lanka. Such cool people. I also met a guy from Slovenia who told me everything to do here.
I learned a lot in Bratislava and one thing that stuck in my mind was that Slovakia lost 75% of its tourism because of the movies EuroTrip and Hostel because they were based on Bratislava. You can tell they are really trying to improve things here and I have no doubt this will be a popular city to visit on the Euro backpacking list in a few years once people start finding out about it! Slovakian food is very rich and they love their cheese. I had a salad and I think they put an entire block of cheese in my salad. They also use lots of cream and I don’t hate it, but I also am in need for leafy greens.
Today I arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia. To get here I took a bus to Vienna from Bratislava and then a city train to the Vienna bus stop and then another bus for 5 hours here. It’s been a long day of travel, but I’m glad to finally be here…my 18th country!
I really didn’t want to leave Bratislava or Slovakia so soon, but I set up a press trip for my blog with the tourism boards here in Slovenia. I also got a free 3 nights stay at Hostel Cecilia which is an old Yugoslavian prison that I’ll do a post on it later!
This is one of my first actual press trips so I’m anxious to explore and see how it goes! After 3 nights in Ljubljana I’m heading to Lake Bled for some hiking and trips to the castles with Bled tourism as well.
A word on the blogging aspect: I’ve been blogging in my spare time which has been a great project for me as I’ve been traveling. I decided the other day to reach out to the Slovenian tourist boards for my blog. Ljubljana and Lake Bled tourism boards have both agreed to host me for free in their cities and Im so excited to experience the country and tell everyone about it!
I love going to countries off the beaten path so I can’t wait to explore tomorrow.
I’ve also finally gotten into a little bit of a groove and have figured out how I like to travel. I realize I love when I only book one or two days at a place in advance. I love the flexibility and knowing I can extend my trip or go somewhere completely different if I want to. I’ve met so many people who have given me great recommendations on what to do that I wouldn’t have otherwise even known about.
I also realized that I really like to get a feel for a country before hopping to another one. I’m not good at the city hopping and love to get to know the culture in places before moving on. That is why I spent 2 weeks in Austria and wish I spent longer in Slovakia.
Another thing I learned is to not arrive to a new place in the dark. I learned that the hard way and I also realized that I hate travel days when it’s raining. My umbrella broke also and I need to get a new one.
So far my backpack and luggage have been great. I didn’t need to bring all the toiletries that I did. I also lost a piece to my brand new camera yesterday at the castle in Bratislava. I was so sad, but I retraced my steps and found it on the ground! Sooo lucky omg! This shit happens to me but I always seem to find my stuff and I feel so lucky when I do.
Anyway, that’s pretty much all for now! I’m exploring more of this prison I’m staying in tomorrow plus exploring more of the city tomorrow. Feel free to watch on snapchat: @kwilliams300.
Until next time! Also, I did a few posts on Iceland in case you missed them.
What to Pack for Iceland in Fall & Winter
Epic Stops I Made on Iceland’s Ring Road
Diary From Around the World: Week 3