Thankfully, by the end of our trip the transportation system in Vienna seemed a lot less complicated than it did at the beginning. However, making our way to the Sudbanhof station to catch a train to Bratislava proved to be a bit more challenging than either of us would have liked. When we got back from breakfast and checked out of the hotel, we realized we only had about 15 minutes to make the 11:05 departure. Knowing that would be pushing it, we relaxed for a few minutes then decided to just get to the station and wait for the next train at 12:05pm.
The U-bahn ride to Südtiroler Platz was easy but between the poor signage and construction where we came above ground, it took us a good 10 minutes to figure out where exactly we were and then which direction to head for the train station once we arrived. This is a huge train station and it is a good third of a mile from the U-bahn stop. By the time we hoofed it to the station, bought our tickets and found the correct line, we made the train by about 7 minutes. Whew! (We figured out later that we were meant to transfer to a tram, so we did that on the way back, but it was definitely not obvious.)
The train ride took about an hour and we saw quite a lot of small towns, green fields and windmills.
The next part of our adventure began at the train station in Bratislava… we arrived at the Petržalka station which is only about 1.5 miles from Old Town but unwalkable because of a busy highway and bridge over the Danube. A little old lady at the tourist desk reaffirmed our plan to take a bus to old town, then a tram to our hotel. But after watching every bus (save for the number we needed) stop, we found out that almost every bus crossed the Danube, and decided to get on the next bus and just get off at the first stop after the river.
Once we got to the Old Town side of the river we walked up what we thought was the main street trying to find our location on the map (thankfully we pack light!). After a few minutes wandering and speaking with a second kind old lady, we were able to figure out that we were 10 blocks north of where we expected and therefore only about three blocks from our hotel. Hooray!
In general, we thought Bratislava was very easy to navigate once we got our bearings. Plus, I think the whole exploring thing is way more fun when you are not rolling your luggage behind you on cobblestone streets. :)