From Vienna, I hopped on a bus and headed to Bratislava for the day. As you cross the border from Austria into Slovakia, the fact that the latter country was recently part of the USSR is readily apparent. The buildings are more utilitarian; the historical remnants are less well kept, and the infrastructure (buses, highways, etc.) is not as advanced as in Austria. Nonetheless, it was a nice place to spend a day. There was a pretty castle, where no fewer than five couples were having wedding photographs taken, a neat bridge and a good walk along the river front. I also noticed some nifty stenciled graffiti, that had itself been decorated with graffiti! While I was in Bratislava, there seemed to be some sort of festival, where a fashion show was on, so I got to see a lot of rail thin Slovakian women parading along the runway in the latest fashions.
On the way back from Bratislava, the bus was full of really, really drunk Irish guys, who got an cheap EasyJet flight from Dublin to Bratislava. They were there to see a football game and spent most of the bus trip singing Irish drinking songs, which was actually quite a lot of fun. Then they sung the Irish national anthem – in Gaelic. Then they implored me to sing O Canada, which they agreed to sing along with what they knew of the song (which pretty much ended at O Canada). The words to the song were supplied by someone at the front of the bus.
Also at the back of the bus was a woman from Austria who works for Philips, and had just transferred back to Vienna from Budapest, where she’d been working for about 7 years. She and I actually chatted for most of the ride – when our conversation wasn’t being interrupted or drowned out by the Irish lads. In spite of the fact that she’d just returned from a couple weeks horse riding in Ireland, I wasn’t allergic to her. I have, however, confirmed that I am still quite allergic to hazelnuts. A few times. When we finally arrived back to Vienna, she offered to give me a ride back to the hostel, which the Irish boys found hilarious and noted that I’d received “the promise” and started with pelvic thrusts. Nice. Anyway, she was picked up by a friend, and then chatted in German while we drove through Vienna. 20 minutes later, I was safely at Vienna’s Westbahnhof train station, a short walk from the hostel. I wished the ladies a safe trip, and headed back to pack my things for Budapest.