sábado, 16 de mayo de 2015

May 15 - Bratislava, Slovakia and Vienna, Austria

Bratislavský hrad
Bratislava Castle is on top of a hill overlooking the river and the city. I must admit, it is a decent view of the city and surrounding area, even if that is slightly bleak. I didn't tour the castle, but you can enter into the inner courtyard and see the inside structure too.

Maximiliánova fontána
Maximilian's Fountain was constructed in 1572 after King Maximilian II ordered its construction to provide a public water supply for the citizens. The original fountain contained a statue of Maximilian in a suit of armor, though the statue has been damaged and rebuilt several times, so there's no way of knowing whether the current fountain looks like the original.

Fontána svätého Juraja a drak
The Fountain of St. George and the Dragon comes from an ancient myth of a general in the Roman army, George, who came across a town being terrorized by a dragon. The town was deciding who to sacrifice to the dragon by flipping a coin, and when the king's daughter lost to the coin flip, George went after the dragon and killed the dragon with a spear. This is symbolic of the constant battle with evil and Christianity's battle over the heathens. Interesting, eh?

Modrý kostol svätej Alžbety
The most notable characteristic of the Church of St. Elisabeth is that it's blue. And not just a little blue, but it's all blue. The exterior. The interior. Even the pews are blue. Well, of course not every single piece of the church is blue, but a large majority of it is. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style to be part of the new school that was designed by the same architect. It is dedicated to St. Elisabeth of Hungary who lived her entire life in Bratislava.

So I'm assuming most of you have seen Euro Trip? And know the scene when they find themselves in Bratislava? Well...it wasn't quite as bad as in that movie, though it could be because it has been several years since that was filmed. Anyway, the city still is kind of bleak and unwelcoming. It's definitely not somewhere I will ever go back to. Maybe it was the cold and cloudy weather that succumbed the city that day, maybe the Slovakian language, maybe the lingering feeling of communism...there was just something that I wasn't a fan of and don't have a desire to see again.

Schloss Belvedere
The Belvedere Palace sits on a HUGE piece of land with a large reflection pool in front of the upper palace and a huge park with fountains and sculptures behind it, followed by the lower palace. There's also a stables, orange grove, and more here. The palace was built for Prince Eugene of Savoy of the Habsburg dynasty after he successfully won a series of wars against the Ottoman Empire.

Hofburg Wien
Hofburg Palace was the imperial palace of the Hamsburg, with the oldest part of the palace being from the 13th century. The palace has been expanded several times since then, and today houses several museums, a stable, horse riding school, the home of the President of Austria, and more. It's quite beautiful and definitely a jewel in the center if the city. When I got to the palace, there was a gentleman playing his cello. Crazily, he started playing the song that has been stuck in my head for days and that I was just singing while walking there!

The Town Hall from a distance, especially if you don't know what it is, looks like a gorgeous castle! It wasn't even on my "to see" list, but I was drawn to it like I'm usually drawn to chocolate or wine! It's probably because it was lite up with a red light...and then a pink light...and then a white light... But yeah, it was gorgeous. They're setting up for the Life Ball, which is the world's largest fundraiser for AIDS! Who knew?! It was very interesting to see what has been set up so far.

Domkirche St. Stephan
The exterior of St. Stephen's Cathedral reminded me slightly of the cathedral in Seville, probably because they are of the same style, but it made me miss Seville... Anyway, I got to the cathedral just 15 minutes before they were closing the doors for the night, so I had enough time to check out the interior a little, say a prayer, and light a candle for my grandparents before they were ushering us out. One thing I particularly liked about this cathedral is that the candles are placed into sand, so I had the idea to draw a little in the sand as though I was a kid again. (I'm trying to stay young at heart.) I drew a candle with a cross, alpha, omega, and a flame on top, and then put my candle into the flame portion of my drawing. It was fun. :)

The only thing I didn't like about Vienna is that their public transportation system isn't loaded into Google maps! Usually that is amazing and will tell you exactly where to get off at and transfer to another metro line, etc. And, since most cities fail to have a good map of the public transit system overlaying a map of the city, it's hard to know which line to take and which stop to get off at if you're not from the city. However, usually I prefer to walk anyway so I can see how the people from there actually live and not just the major touristy attractions, etc. It's good exercise too! I did take the underground to get back to my hostel quickly at the end of the night, which was crazy because after I hopped on, I looked up and saw Jens, a German friend who had studied abroad at UWP! What are the odds that he would be in Vienna visiting his aunt when I was there traveling through the city? Furthermore, that we would both get on the same metro car at the same time?! He only had to go one stop, more, so we didn't get to catch up much, but it was still really cool to have happened.

One fun thing about my time in Vienna is that I was tired when I got to my hostel, so I didn't go out to check out sites right away. Instead, I vegged at the hostel for a couple hours and even washed my clothes (which if course were still damp the next morning...I can't wait to have a washer and dryer again...). Then, I went out at like 7pm, which was amazing to see the city at night! The fountains were all lite up and several of the buildings too. There weren't a million tourists everywhere either. Ugh, so serene and beautiful! I definitely wouldn't mind living here in the future!

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