Countries: Czech -> Austria -> forgot Slovakia -> Hungary
Stops: Kutna Hora -> Vienna -> forgot Bratislava -> Budapest
Playlists: our wonderful friend DJ Bruno's playlist that melted our hearts and a Spotify Classic Rock Legends.
We had a pretty wired ride into Austria from the last stop after having some coke and coffee. And I mean WIRED. We talked silly, did crosswords, and really just ended up singing once our friend's playlist randomly came on on the iPod. Not a single crossword clue was uttered for an hour and 27 minutes. We had the windows rolled down, hands thumping across the door, steering wheel, and dashboard. We were partying it up as we cruised through Czech countryside and small towns. It's safe to say we were the coolest kids on the block.... if you ask us.
A few notes to make about the ride:
1. The towns are so small, they have a sign with the name as you enter, and not even 500m later, there's a sign that you've reached the end of town. For literally 3 houses, what's the point even?
2. We went from insanely hot and sunny weather of 35 degrees, to out of nowhere, the sky was falling. The hail was so big and hard, it destroyed our wording on the hood of the car, and everyone in the vicinity was pulled over. You can say, the roads were so deep we basically practiced driving through Mongolian rivers.
We continued to rock out until we reached Vienna. We were told to not bother with Vienna and just go straight to Budapest because apparently Vienna sucks. Aside from taking forever to park (the internets doesn't lie when it says there's *nowhere* to park as a visitor. Most articles I read recommended parking outside the city and paying for cabs or trains), the city was astounding. We are so happy we did the detour! Justin flew his drone like the happy kid that he is right in the heart of the city, and all the way to the top of the St. Stephen's Cathedral which is intricate and huge it's hard to imagine people building it back in the day. We checked out the opera house, and my favourite part of the city is the combination of the ancient architecture with super modern buildings. In any shot, any angle, you get a combo and it's just outstanding.
We, of course, found our way to a traditional Austrian restaurant and took our food to go since we already spent more time in Vienna than planned. We're really bad with this timing thing, we want to see everything! I was adamant that I would not leave without trying goulash and Justin, of course, had schnitzel. I wasn't too impressed with schnitzel after Germany, but maybe I was just biased because it's never really blown my mind before either.
I was wrong. Both the goulash and the schnitzel were incredible. And monstrous. We opened the schnitzel in the car, and it just smelled like Beavertail. It was soooo tender and flavourful considering there was no sauce or anything with it. I've also had spaezle before and wasn't impressed - just dry and chewy. This time, it just melted right in your mouth.
Highly recommend the "Four Square" app. Trip Advisor has let us down, spoons, any recommendation site has been hit or miss - this app, man, it blows our mind every time. Hasn't steered us wrong in years - even better than recommendations we've received from locals.
So back to Vienna. True, it was pricey as promised, but it was 100% worth it.
On the way to Budapest, the plan was to stop at Bratislava and meet with our Australians. As things would have it, 2 hours into our trip, I ask justin where Bratislava is since I thought it was half an hour to an hour. We check the map. Turns out we've been on the wrong highway going directly towards Budapest and skipped Bratislava altogether. So now we're 2 or so hours ahead of our friends - we'll see if we can occupy ourselves and stay awake until they reach us.
Fun fact about Hungary: you need to pay for a vignette to use the highways at the border. Apparently, you also need to do that in the other countries (Czech, Austria, and Slovakia) which we lucked out of fines when we realized we never got them. That said, we thought we'd say screw it and skip it (we thought the vignette was for Slovakia which we'd only be in for half an hour as we pass through). About 100m over the border we see signs that the roads have camera surveillance (scans your license plate), not actual cops that we figured went to bed at this point. So we decided to not be stupid and took the first exit, did a U-turn and went back across the border, bought the damn thing for €13 and went back into the country. A few kms in, we saw cameras, and I'm pretty sure it snagged the person behind us. I saw it go off. So that's the last of the gambling we'll be doing.
We mosied over to the address the Australians gave us, only we went to the wrong one and didn't want to be ringing doorbells at midnight. So we found a quiet street and set up camp against a bush.
We are now at their apartment all clean! I forgot how to shower and almost walked out without rinsing. I then did our laundry in a sink - the water turned black after one shirt was put in (not even scrubbed yet!). Gnarly.
We have also now changed our plans and our two teams will be traveling together from here on out. We'll check out Budapest today (last night, I actually couldn't breathe at how beautiful it was). And then instead of diving 12 hours to the Romanian beach party, we decided to skip it and drive to Transylvania to check our Dracula castles instead. It's closer and much cooler; the party was more of a checkpoint with other teams to make friends and convoy. We now have some pretty awesome friends :)
Oh, and we both forgot it was out anniversary yesterday. Going to buy the most ridiculous looking card in whatever language and translate later, haha.