As mentioned in my last post, Brno happened on a whim. We really tried to plan our travel schedule in advance as responsible parents do but as it appears, that’s not our mug of beer. So with just a day left in our travel itinerary and unable to stay any longer in Vienna (as we couldn’t extend our Airbnb stay) we chose a 70-min bus ride to Brno in the Czech Republic.
We were also (un)lucky to witness Viennese traffic and in almost Bollywood-like fashion reached the bus station with luggage, toddler and stroller in tow just as our bus was about to take off.
We chose Brno over Salzburg and Prague both of which, in my opinion, require more than a day. It is the second largest city in the Czech republic (and an important center of higher education with 13 universities located within) but was just adequate for us to stroll around the city centre and explore some of it’s architecture and history. That said, I still believe that any city needs atleast 3 days of your time if you truly want to immerse in the culture, go off the beaten path, strike random conversations with locals or just people-watch and hunt down local food & drink joints.
A youth-centric apartment just a minute off Námestí Svobody (or the Freedom Square), located at the city centre, was our base for the day. The square is surrounded by colourful historical buildings and peppered with shops, restaurants and cafes. We reached Brno late into the afternoon, starving, and chanced upon (well not really – thank you Google) a Nordic vegan café few metres from our apartment. Tucked into vegan burger and tempeh salad, downed some beers and indulged in people watching (one of those things I absolute love!). On a side note, Brno is so much cheaper than Vienna, it is student city for a reason!
Having finally decided to move our backsides and burn those calories consumed, our main stop for the evening was Spilberk Hrad (Castle). Atop a hill, the castle was the seat of the Moravian empire way back in the 13th century and eventually turned into a brutal prison during the Austro-Hungarian empire few centuries later. It was converted into a museum in the mid 1950s and has been so ever since.
We visited the stunning Bratislava castle just a few days before so Spilberk Hrad didn’t amaze me as much however I loved the climb uphill despite the omnipresence of snow. The view from atop was panoramic and just as we reached the castle and took a few photos, both our phones ran out of battery. We took it as sign to loiter around, pay more attention to the place and just enjoy the moment, sans gadget.
Eventually, we made our way back to the city centred and jumped at the first restaurant we saw – a Nepali one! You read that right, odd as it may sound, but to be honest we had spent a week in East Europe eating insipid vegetarian food (local cuisines are meat-heavy and not the most veg-friendly) and it was time to binge on some rice and curries!
The next morning we took a walk and literally ticked some of the popular sights off our list – St Peter & Paul’s Church, a stroll on Veveri street that houses a slew of beautiful buildings, Villa Tungendhat – a pioneering prototype of modern architecture as well as a lot more other lovely churches and buildings that I couldn’t care knowing names of!
A final mention on the trams of Brno. I didn’t have the time to get into one but they pass right through the city centre and across Freedom Square. These are by far the most colourful and quirky ones I have ever seen!
And in yet another bizarre repeat, we lugged baggage, toddler and stroller for a good 3kms to the Brno train station and just about made it in time to catch the train to Bratislava.