You may wonder why we went to Verazdin, seeing as there really wasn’t all that much to see or do there? It has to do with something called the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen Area is an area with 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders.
The catch is that you can only stay 90 days in these Schengen Countries once every six months. Our holiday is 92 days, so we needed to go to a country that was not part of the Schengen Agreement so that we would not have any problems.
Most people we have spoken to don’t know anything about this rule…but then most people don’t spend more than 90 days on holidays in a six month period!
However, there are going to be changes to travelling in Schengen countries that will affect anyone travelling to Europe. “World travelers privileged with visa-free entry to the Schengen member states will also be affected in the near future from recent changes that the EU has decided to implement. The most important change is that as of January 2021, travelers will need to apply for an online authorization, and wait for its approval before heading to the EU.”
It is very foggy when we start our drive to Vienna, only we soon realize that it is smog, not fog! It smells awful and bothered my eyes and chest. It clears up for a bit but then we drive back into the band of smog that stretches across the countryside. We have never seen anything quite like this before.One of the many small villages in Croatia. Most of these villages only have one row of houses along the highway, no side streets at all. Notice the pretty yellow and purple chrysanthemums growing along the fence. We saw lots of these flowers along the way. One fairly long stretch of the road has a shrine every 300 to 500 metres, and each one had fresh flowers placed in front of it. Another little village. We don’t see many people about and think that they probably have a hard time keeping people from moving to bigger urban centres. The highway mainly passes through farmland, and I quite like all the trees along the side of the road.
We finally get a bit of sunshine. There are winter crops planted which are just beginning to grow that are many different shades of green. We get to Bratislava about 3:00 pm, return our rental car and catch the Flixbus one last time back to our apartment in Vienna. We are surprised how quickly it gets dark now. This is photo taken on the bus just after 4:30pm. We catch an Uber from the Main Bus Depot. Twenty euros well spent. We are dropped off at our apartment door, which is the same apartment we had a couple weeks ago in Vienna. It almost feels like coming home. In three more sleeps we will really be home.
We need to return our rental car today. We rented it in Bratislava, Slovakia, which is about an hour drive from Vienna. We got the same type of car, from the same car rental company, for half the price we would have paid if we had rented it in Vienna!
It is so foggy that we can not see the tops of the wind turbines. There are lots and lots of them along the highway. When we pass some that are close to the road we can see just how enormous these wind turbines are.
As we get closer to Bratislava the fog lifts, but it is still a very grey day. This is the border crossing into Slovakia. Because of the European Union there are no border checks or stops, but I do miss getting a stamp in our passports though. We return the car, and catch a FlixBus back to Vienna. Just as the bus pulls up I realize I have lost a pair of sunglasses somewhere in the airport, but there is no time to go back and look for them. These buildings under construction near the Bratislava bus terminal have scaffolding all the way up to the top! I can’t imagine having to work on scaffolding that high off the ground. There is lots of construction in Bratislava, which has a population of 425,000. We get settled into our apartment and then head out to a life drawing session at 6:30. When we find the Kaffeebar it is in, we find out that the session was cancelled because it is Halloween. Oh well, we got to figure out the way there and I will try again next Thursday. Halloween in Austria is a time when adults get dressed up and party but the children do not go door to door for treats like they do at home.
Day 68, Friday, November 1, 2019
We both enjoyed having a quiet day. I stayed home all day and Bob went for a walk in the afternoon while I made us a yummy chicken dinner. Then we had popcorn and watched a movie. It was a nice relaxing day.
Our new bnb is in Schwechet, which is a suburb of Vienna. Today we are going to Bratislava, which is in Slovakia, to pick up our car rental. Doing this saves us over 400 euros, renting the exact same car from the same company. This is certainly worth a few hours of our time. The train we take to the Vienna airport from Schwechet isn’t very busy. We pass refineries that stretch for more than a kilometre. We find our Flixbus at the airport easily and it is just on hour ride to the airport. After stopping in the town centre of Bratislava we are the only ones left on the bus. We asked the driver to make sure we were on the right bus…it seemed strange that no one else was going to the airport. Our first view of the Danube River. When we get to the airport there were maybe a dozen other people there! The place feels almost abandoned, but we do find an English Time magazine with Justin Trudeau on the cover, so we can catch up on the news. We discover why there are so few people here. There is only one flight every hour or so departing from here. We pick up our car rental, a nice blue Škoda Octavia, and we take a side road back to Austria. We see several hilltop castles but no time to stop and explore today. This route takes us through many small towns. We were hoping to see the Danube as we are driving right along side it, but there just isn’t any place we can find to get down to the riverside. Guess that will have to wait for another day. The road narrows to one lane to go through this town gate. We stop for groceries on the way home and find a place to park our car on a side street near our apartment.
We take a Flixbus to Vienna today. We were going to take the train but Bob read reviews and they all said to avoid the trains! Service is terrible, the bathrooms are filthy, the seats you reserve are often not even on the train, and so on.
We have used Flixbus before and they are affordable, clean, comfortable and efficient. We take our very first Uber ride ever to the bus station. Our driver, who was originally from Azerbaijan, had a university education and spoke five languages! Bob had thought we could walk, pulling our suitcases on the cobbled sidewalks…I am so glad we changed our minds on that. We drive by the train station we first arrived at in Prague five weeks ago.The National Museum at the top end of Wenceslas Square. I didn’t recognize it at first from this angle. I drew one of the corner domes at the Urban Sketcher’s Meetup last week.
Not sure if I have a photo of the trams we used here in Prague so I snapped this one from the bus window. They run every few minutes and are a fantastic way to get around the city.Soon we are in the countryside. It always surprises me how quickly cities transition into rural areas in Europe. You are in the city and then suddenly you are not. The views here are quite similar to the countryside around home in Canada. There are those big round hay bales, and… then something we do not see at home. We see several huge haystacks of loose hay piled high. They must have a machine that throws the hay up onto this haystack?
No idea what was planted here but it was the brightest green!
This big double decker bus drives through small villages on narrow roads. I like being up high as I can see over fences into the yards of the houses we pass and sometimes into windows. I am always curious and love these little glimpses into people’s lives.
I also do some sketching today, standing outside waiting for our bus and then later on the bus. I forgot to post this page from yesterday so here it is today. Most of the museums charge a fee to take photos. That is what the big yellow sticker is about.We pass several fields of pumpkins, all lined up ready for harvest. Halloween is coming!