Thursday, August 11, 2011

Local Adventures

This last weekend, I went with my fellow interns and friends Hyunyoung and Dulce on an exciting tour of Bratislava' outskirts that saw us hiking in green European forests, picnicking at the foot of castle ruins and sharing a relaxing Austrian dinner on the banks of the Danube River.

We started our trip with a tram ride to the suburb of Dúbravka, where we picked up a trail heading over the hills to Devín, a town with an awesome old castle. There weren't many signs, but every once in a while there would be a tree marked with a red line that would tell us we were headed in the right direction. Even with these markers, we only narrowly managed to avoid missing the trail back down the hill, thanks to our great guide, Dulce.

We arrived in Devín around 2:00 or 3:00pm and staked out riverside spot under the shadow of the town's castle, which used to control a strategic bend of the Danube and was destroyed by Napoleon's troops in 1809. After our nice strenuous hike and our lunch, we decided that the best next course of action was napping in our peaceful riverside spot.

Post nap, Dulce, Hyunyoung and I wandered around the grounds at the base of the castle where Dulce (who is fluent in Slovak) met and befriended an old man who is the owner of a winery in Devín that makes a delicious young wine.

From Devín, we took a 30 minute ferry ride up the Danube to Hainburg an der Donau, which is a cool old Austrian town with a lot of history. Much of its medieval city walls are still intact. We explored Hainburg on foot and I was able to nerd-out pretty hard at the town's history museum.

As the sun set over the windmill-lined Austrian horizon, we shared an Austrian dinner at a riverside restaurant. The amazing part of this trip was how far we felt we had gone, but how close we actually were to Bratislava. Our bus ride back to the city was probably only 20 minutes.