On Christmas Eve we took the train from Bratislava to Budapest, where we spent four nights in a lovely boutique hotel. The stores were just closing when we arrived, and most shops, restaurants, and attractions remained closed until the 27th. So, we stocked up on groceries and took advantage of our kitchenette during that period. We enjoyed the pool at our hotel, and watched a few fun movies, including Christmas Vacation. It was in German, but we found ourselves reciting a good portion of the script from memory.
On the 28th we took the train from Budapest to Salzburg. This was one of the new Railjet trains operated by Austrian Federal Railways, and it topped out around 230 km/hr (~140 mph). It was five-hour trip, but Norah did well and we checked into our hotel in Salzburg by late afternoon, took a walk through the newer part of the city just after dark, and had dinner at a great Indian restaurant.
|Hall in Tirol.|
On New Year’s Day we took the eight-minute train ride to Innsbruck, the Tyrolean capital, and from there took a fantastic funicular and cable car ride up the mountainside on Innsbruck’s Nordkettenbahn. Our destination was Seegrube, a ski area with an elevation of approximately 2,000 meters. We rented a sled and played in the snow for over an hour looking out over beautiful scenery before heading partway back down for a stop at the Alpenzoo, Europe’s highest zoo.
The following day we took the train to our final destination, Vienna. We spent our final afternoon, evening, and the following morning relaxing and sightseeing. While it probably wasn’t enough time to really do Vienna justice, we got a good feel for the city and were able to at least see the main sights.
Our short return flight to Sofia went smoothly, and we were back to our apartment well before bedtime. Wherever home is, I think you appreciate it more when you return from someplace else, and this trip was no different. Sofia felt comfortable and familiar, and a pleasant contrast to the more touristed areas we’d left behind. I particularly appreciated our taxi ride home, which cost the equivalent of €4.50.
Overall, the trip was a great success. I was happy that Norah adapted as well as she did to sleeping in five different locations over twelve nights and missing naps on our travel days. I was also glad that we were able to successfully navigate the wide variety of public transportation options within and between our destinations. I wasn’t sure how easy things would be on the train, metro, or bus with a child and the corresponding extra baggage, but it was all quite successful and left me feeling empowered. Given the time of year, a lot of our exploring was done after dark, but I actually appreciated the opportunity to see the cities at night.