The following morning we frequented our favorite coffee shop again, then headed to the Spanish Riding School to watch their morning practice. I believe it’s the last traditional dressage school in Europe, and their riding is most impressive, particularly if you’ve ever attempted English riding before. We ended up a little turned around because our map was terrible, but we did get to go through a lovely park that way. Our next stop was the Museum of Torture….a bit of a strange choice, but Niamh and I were deathly curious (so to speak). It was actually quite interesting. The entrance was a just a door to a 4 by 6 foot shack that covered a staircase with black walls leading underground. Good and creepy, eh? They gave us booklets in English since we don’t speak German, and sent us off to meander through the exhibits. There were little galleries throughout that showed reenactments and the tools of torture used in Europe, and the booklets described not just what things were, but the history of it in Vienna. It also strongly emphasized that the museum was opposed to actual torture. Since everybody still had an appetite afterwards we stopped off at a Greek restaurant for lunch, then headed for the palace. This was by far the best palace so far. Some of the Hapsburgs had resided there, and it had the grandeur you really expected from a palace. The gardens had a labyrinth that we explored (it wasn’t a very difficult maze). It was a great day with a strange array of activities, and we decided to hit up another Austrian restaurant for dinner. I got a traditional dish that I would describe as Austrian mac and cheese, but could only eat about half of it. We headed to bed, though sadly my night did not end there. At about 3 in the morning, I woke up with a stomach ache, so I went for a stroll around the hostel…..that ended in the bathroom with an unfortunate visit from the mac and cheese. It was a long night.
The next morning we were set to leave for Bratislava, Slovakia. We went back for a last breakfast at our coffee shop, but I just went with tonic water. Since I was feeling surprisingly less nauseated, we decided to attempt the train since it was a fairly short ride. The train turned out fine, but the metro to the train was touch and go from stop to stop. We made it to Bratislava, found the hostel, and everyone decided to take the afternoon off. I had some orange juice and a bit of a nap, the girls bought me some pretzels at the shop later in the afternoon, and I felt just fine – sort of a 12-hour bug. We went to a restaurant a few doors down for dinner, and watched Hostel in our room. For those of you who don’t know, Hostel is a horror movie about people being abducted from a hostel…..in Bratislava.
Saturday we decided we should actually see some of the city, so we headed up to the castle. It was full of old artifacts and interesting paintings, though we weren’t allowed to take pictures. And being on a hill, as castles so often are, it had a perfect view of the whole city from its tallest tower. We came down off the hill and headed for the main square. We stopped to see the Blue Church, which as you might have guessed is blue, but there was a wedding going on so we only got to see the outside. We passed a massage place and decided to get impromptu massages, since things are relatively cheap in Bratislava. We also realized we had done two of the things they did in the movie Hostel – go to the spa and to an art show. Luckily no one was abducted. I had some traditional Slovakian food for lunch, including a cabbage stew and what turned out to be the Slovakian equivalent of pierogies. The beer was my favorite part, though: a dark Zlatý bažant. The main square didn’t have much to offer beyond restaurants and shops, but it had a lot of character and was just a pleasant place to spend what was left of our afternoon. We never made it to the UFO bridge, but went back to our hostel to rest. Eventually we reemerged and headed back to the main square to the Irish pub for a few drinks and to get the feel of the town. I would definitely go back to Bratislava.