Eastern Europe in 10 Days

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When my friends heard that I was going to Eastern Europe, they were all highly concerned about my safety. Well, I won’t deny that there are causes for concern, but I think it is alright if you take necessary precautions like travelling in a group, always keeping your valuables close to you, and not going back late at night.

Instead, the one thing about the trip that had me frazzled was that it is such a chore having to use different currencies for each country! It was no easy feat to accurately budget for our travels, and I ended up paying transaction fees at ATMs several times over.

In chronological order, these are the places I went:
1.    Bratislava, Slovakia
2.    Vienna, Austria
3.    Budapest, Hungary
4.    Prague, Czech Republic
5.    Krakow, Poland

The entire trip lasted less than 10 days, a whirlwind affair, which was really not enough to cover so many places. It was insane. If you’re intending to go on a graduation trip or just a tour around Europe, I’ll recommend you not to squeeze in as many places as possible, but to actually take time to enjoy and appreciate each and every place you go to.  You’ll be less tired too as travelling around, especially on night trains and buses (to save time) can be really draining.

It’ll be nearly impossible to tell you where to go in each place, so I’ll use this space to just tell you how I felt about each place, and the highlights of my trip!

1. Bratislava, Slovakia

I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to go to Bratislava; I went there simply because Ryanair landed there. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life! Bratislava is my favourite stop of the entire trip, and is only 60km away from Vienna. Stop here if you can!

Europe’s old towns are beautiful, and Bratislava is a charming city with castles and pretty random sculptures on the roadside… there’s just so many things to discover each step you take.

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And like Singaporeans, they like to “taupok” people too! The guy in the blonde wig was getting married, and I guess this is how they like to celebrate! The pictures also show one of the many quirky sculptures along the street.

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It started with just two of them…

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… then more guys joined in!

Another highlight of this city was also going to my first-ever blue church!

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The next day, we travelled to the outskirts to find some castle ruins.

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Doesn’t the picture below make you dream of white horses and fairytales? However, a friend from Bratislava told me that just behind the water, enemy soldiers used to fire at people hoping to cross over to the other side when communism was still in place in Eastern Europe.

2. Vienna, Austria


To be honest, Vienna was really disappointing. That could be because I went there with such high expectations – only to be let down. I’ve learnt classical music since young, so I was really looking forward to visiting the land of music. 

However, upon arriving at Vienna, I felt that it was a little fake and way too touristy, not as real as Bratislava. We were cheated by the many people standing outside the opera houses into buying really expensive tickets to a performance at the grand palace. Although the palace itself looked good, the performance was held in a hall with really bad acoustics.

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At the Vienna Shoenbrun Castle, remember: You should only pay for STANDING tickets, which will cost you less than 10 euros! I would also recommend that you get your tickets in the morning as well or risk having them sold out.

Another thing I’ll always remember about Vienna is GOOD FOOD. We went to eat at this place called the Centimetre Restaurant at Lenaugasse 11, Vienna 1080. Food at Centimentre is quite cheap and good, with big portions – just look at our “wheelbarrow” portion below. We went back the second time and ordered a “sword”, which was an even larger portion!

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3. Budapest, Hungary

Another one of my all-time favourites…. Hungarians are really good looking! See for yourself at Hungary! 

The next best thing is also that they have really nice baths such as the Szechenyi bath at Budapest (below), so do remember to bring along a swimsuit.

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Budapest is steeped in history, and I would encourage visitors to join the Budapest free tours to find out more. And just a note, tips for the guides are recommended!

Heroes Square is my favourite place in Budapest. It was where heroes protested against communism and fought for democracy. Just standing at the exact same spot, I felt and admired the courage and bravery of the heros, who were willing to stand up and fight for the future of their country.

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4. Prague, Czech Republic

I didn’t have much time in Prague, so I went on two tours to cover as much as I could. They are the Prague Free Tour and Prague Castle Tour, which pretty much cover all noteworthy attractions in Prague. Yet despite the beauty of the city, Prague was too crowded for my liking.

This is the beauty of Prague, ‘nuff said.

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5. Krakow, Poland

The sole purpose of my trip here was to go to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

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This is what I wrote the night after my visit:

“I couldn’t take photos inside Auschwitz, to respect the dead, but I could take pictures outdoors.

It was really a life-altering experience. A place that I used to read about in history books finally came to life, and I stood where prisoners died, where they were tortured and beaten.

The selectors, the ones who chose who to live or to die, were the doctors, the ones who pledged to save lives.

I saw the moulds of hair which they cut from the prisoners, and which they sold to make fabric. I saw the shoes the prisoners wore.

I learnt that the start of the torture was in the cramped overcrowded trains, where people lived without food and water, with only a small hole for ventilation. I learnt that was why the number of people who made it to the death camp from Oslo were the lowest, because the journey time was the longest.

I learnt the extent of human cruelty.

I saw the valuable possessions the Jewish people brought, thinking they were going to have a new life.

But I also saw the shoes each of them wore, I saw where they stayed. I learnt that sometimes it is better to die than to live.

Because the world must see and know, and never forget.”

This is a place really worth a visit. I suggest you pay for a guide, or join a tour, which brings you there. That will help you better understand how it was like.

I hope my travelogue has inspired you not to miss out Eastern Europe during your Europe adventures! Enjoy!

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