Breakfast in Hungary, lunch in Slovakia, dinner in Austria and then back home to bed in Budapest. It can be done! And enjoyed…
It’s just a two-hour drive to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia,which was once the capital of Hungary. Hungarians still call it Pozsony. We were able to park in the old town and stroll the streets, and quickly found a delightful café w ith organic ice cream, the chocolatiest I’ve ever had.
We walked up to the Grassalkovich Palace, the residence of Slovakia’s president, where we watched the changing of the guards outfitted in bright red and blue. The palace was built by the same Count Anton Grassalkovich who built the one here in Hungary at Gödöllő, which I mention because it’s where my husband and I had our wedding reception. I mean, if you’re going to marry a dashing Hungarian, or any other European for that matter, then I think you have the right to go all out with the princess thing. Anyway, both Grassalkovich Palaces were once the home and meeting place for the Austro-Hungarian aristrocracy and the Habsburg monarchy, since Grassalkovich was advisor to Empress Maria Theresia.
After a stop for lunch at an Art Nouveau-style, rather touristy restaurant opposite the Palace (we had halusky, of course, the national dish of dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon), we strolled back down to depart for Austria. We contented ourselves with seeing Bratislava Castle from afar, and agreed that next time we’ll ride the elevator up to the UFO that hovers over the Danube – the observation deck of the Novy Most Bridge.
Just 45 minutes in the car and we were at the Neusiedler See, a lake called Fertő tó in Hungary. The two countries share this lake, though the Austrian side has most of it, and is home to most of the cute villages that line it. The area is both vibrant and relaxing – people are windsurfing and biking, kids are playing at the many playgrounds that dot the shore, but there are plenty of cafes, ice cream shops and quiet walking paths along the lake. It’s a good bike ride in spring or fall, 133km around, of which 38km are in Hungary. I mentioned it in this post http://wp.me/p1Mrmn-5L.
We walked along the reedy shore, made plans to come back in summer for the outdoor theater performances at the Lake Stage in Mörbisch (this year features Strauss’ Die Fledermaus http://www.seefestspiele-moerbisch.at/home/index.htm).
Then we had dinner at a heuriger in Podersdorf, http://www.jagakoella.at. This is the quintessential Austrian summer experience – dinner outdoors of soup (try liver dumpling or garlic cream) followed by wheat and rye breads with Austrian hams and cheeses. And wine… Blaufrankisch (Kekfrankos in Hungarian) from the neighborhood.
Then down to the lakeshore for great Italian ice cream, and then it was two hours’ drive back home to Budapest.
Here’s a map of our trip: http://g.co/maps/dbdxa