Three Countries In One Day

Enchanting. Beguiling. Magical.

All of these adjectives could be used to describe a very special day I had last month, when I had three different meals in three different countries.  This may sound exhausting, but it was actually leisurely and, indeed, enchanting.  That’s because I was traveling in an area of Europe where three capital cities are located less than 200 miles apart—and whose fates and histories are forever intertwined.

I woke up in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, and enjoyed a strong coffee in the Central European fashion.  In the early morning light, I strode down to the Fisherman’s Bastion, an impressive architectural feat that stands as one of the symbols of the city.  I love Budapest because it has a small town feel in a capital city, especially in the quiet of the morning.

I joined my fantastic guide, Tamas, and we set out for our daylong adventure.  After many stories in the car as we drove through the beautiful countryside, we crossed we border into Slovakia in a few hours’ time and arrived in Bratislava for lunch. 

Bratislava, once the cultural, economic and political center of Central Europe, is enjoying a resurgence of interest in its history, food and culture.  Until 1989, the brilliance of Slovakia was hidden behind the Iron Curtain.  Now both the history of Bratislava as a European hub in the Middle Ages, and as a city under Communism, are on full display in this city of contrasts.

After just an hour’s drive from Bratislava, Tamas and I arrived in ViennaAustria.  There, we were treated with an incredible evening at the famous Schönbrunn Palace, where we had dinner and listened to Mozart and Strauss waltzes played by a chamber orchestra.

Linking my journey is the Danube River, which has long been celebrated in literature, art and song. Moviegoers can hear Austrian composer Johan Strauss’s famous waltz, On the Beautiful Blue Danube, in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Art historians and art students are undoubtedly familiar with the Danube school, a German tradition of landscape painting developed in the region in the sixteenth century.  And the supernatural story The Willows by English author Algernon Blackwood, set on the Danube River, is widely believed to be one of the earliest stories in the modern horror genre.

Because of the legacy of the Iron Curtain, this area of Europe has been less visited than others.  I can’t stress enough how wonderful a journey to this part of the world can be.  While travel programs could certainly have three meals in three countries in one day just like I did, there are many other reasons to travel to these and other regions along the Danube.  Prague, in the Czech Republic, and Krakow, in Poland, are very easily accessible from Vienna, Bratislava or Budapest.  Each city, and each country, in Eastern and Central Europe, has lots to offer, whether it be history, art, ceramics, music or food.

Hart Travel Partners is ready to help travel leaders navigate this enchanting part of the world.  Contact us to start planning your Danube adventure today!

Kind Regards,