Europe 2018: Hungary and Slovenia

I’ve just returned back to the U.K. after the most amazing adventure. Me and my gorgeous little sister spent two weeks travelling through Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. There is too much to write about in one post and so on this one I’ll tell you all about the Hungarian hysterics and Slovenian sites!

…BUDAPEST…

We left Liverpool airport very excited to arrive in Budapest. We arrived really late at night, about 11:30. We then had to get a bus, the 100E, across the city to the centre where our hostel was. We were very excited…Our first Hungarian bus! Hostel 1 Basilica was easy to find and slap bang in the middle of the city. Even though it was about 1:30 by the time we arrived, the city was buzzing and full of life. We checked in and found a bunk to sleep on. We were sharing a mixed dorm with 8 other people but they were all out partying apart from one Brazilian girl. She was leaving the next day but told us about the good places to go!

Our first full day was jam packed! We woke up and quietly got dressed so as not to wake the party goers! All the bunks were now full. All guys and one other girl. Me and Mol set off to get some much needed food. We’d resorted to eating an entire packet of Jammy Dodgers as a very early morning snack! We found a nice place in the centre and had some eggs and orange juice. A good refuel and we were ready for the day! Our first stop was the House of Terror. It’s an old building on the corner of a really nice street in the Jewish Quarter of the city. Overhanging the roof is a huge sign saying TERROR and all along the wall leading to the main door are small portraits of men and women from the Second World War. The house was the site of the old communist head quarters in Budapest and it is now a museum of the acts that occurred during nazi and soviet occupation. Very interesting for me as I am no history buff and so it gave me an insight into Hungarian history. After a sombre start we then left the museum and had a stop off for some ice cream. We couldn’t resist! We headed in the direction of the Danube river and crossed a bridge allowing us to get a great view of the parliament building. And what a magnificent building it is! Right on the edge of the river, it looks very grand. Half way along the bridge we made a quick detour to Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube river. It was busy with fellow tourists and there was a sudden rain shower so we didn’t stay on the island for long. Just walked down the promenade for a short while. Back to the bridge and we could see the Royal Palace with the Liberty Statue further behind on the hill. I wanted to find the Fisherman’s Bastion and Mathius Church and so we wound our way through back streets of Budapest until we happened upon them. We were pretty shattered by that point, we’d already walked about 10km. The Church was worth it though. There was a stone stair case winding its way up to a square that had the church slap bang in the middle. The view of the city was spectacular. We were happy we’d found it! On our way back we had to dodge a rain shower and hid in a doorway. Somehow I ended up spraining my ankle. We hobbled back to the hostel via the Basilica. We’d been looking forward to going out and seeing the night life of Budapest but my ankle was really bad and I could barely walk on it. Luckily for us we got chatting to 3 Brazilian guys who were sharing our room, Matheus, Mario and Rodrigo. We were talking for a couple of hours at least and decided we’d go for breakfast with them in the morning! Lovely!!!!

Morning came and we headed into the city with our new Brazilian friends. Rodrigo’s trip was shorter and so he’d checked out earlier that morning to make his way back to Brazil. We were with the two M’s! We found a lovely cafe where the walls were covered in post it notes! I couldn’t help but get the pancakes! After breakfast we all strolled/ hobbled to the famous synagogue and then did some more wandering. We all had so much to talk about. It’s amazing to talk to people from such different parts of the world! Brazil sounds exciting and I am very jealous of the birds there! Anyway, my foot was hurting and so we found a nice outdoor bar that was sort of squished in between two big buildings. We all had an iced coffee but later had a beer! The boys were leaving Budapest in the afternoon and so on the way back to the hostel we grabbed a Langos to try. They are a sort of flat bread/pastry thing covered in garlic oil! And we had ours with cheese! Such amazing street food, I imagine they’re amazing when you’ve had slightly too many beers! We said our goodbyes to the Brazilian boys and headed to Szeczenyi thermal baths. I am not sure what we expected, but it was a very random place. It was packed full of people and was more like a shallow public swimming baths. We had an idea it would be really relaxing but we were constantly splashed and surrounded by screaming kids. I think at a different time of day it would be lovely, but we didn’t quite get the hype… We headed back to the hostel and couldn’t go out again because of my ankle. There were 2 new additions to the hostel room in the form of two German boys, Lucas and Johan. We chatted to them and realised they didn’t want to party either and so we all huddled up on my bunk and watched the Mr. Bean film! It was so random and so funny. Both the Brazilian and German boys have the correct impression that English people drink a lot of tea. However, Johan then said he has been told that English people put vinegar on all of the food they eat. We certainly don’t do that up North!!

…LAKE BALATON…

Next day and we were up early to eat breakfast at a street side cafe and head to the train station for our next destination, Siofok. Siofok is a town on the edge of Lake Balaton. This lake is the biggest in Europe and is known as the Hungarian sea! We arrived there and realised we’d messed up our accommodation and so rushed and panicked to find somewhere else. Luckily we found a cute hostel a short walk from the station (my ankle was just getting worse by this point!). Our room was in the roof of a converted barn, it was really adorable. We dumped our stuff and went to the “sea side”. It was another strange one for us… We went to the main free beach and it was just a promenade with the lake one side and a grassy field on the other. It was packed with people and so loud. Maybe areas in Hungary involving large bodies of water just don’t suit us? The sea side did have chimney cake though, so we got to try that!! It was delicious! That evening we went for tea near the harbour. It was gorgeous at that time of night. There were lots of swans and house sparrows and the sun was setting at the far end of the lake. We were happier.

…LJUBLJANA…

We decided to only have one day in Siofok and so the next day we woke up at half 4 in the morning to get an early train back to Budapest, to then get another train from Budapest to Ljubljana, the capitol city of Slovenia. I had woken up with a horrible cold and so coupled with my sprained ankle, I was in the wars a bit! But, the adventure must go on!!! It was our longest and most exhausting day. Constantly on and off trains and buses. It took us about 10 hours to get from Budapest to Ljubljana. By the time we got there we needed beer! We checked in to another hostel, this time just a room of 3 and then we wandered into the centre. Ljubljana is gorgeous, in fact, the whole train journey through Slovenia had been gorgeous! We crossed Dragon Bridge and saw the castle on the hill. It was like walking through a fairy tale city. For a moment we were sleeping beauties! Mol had researched places to eat and so we headed for our favourite choice. We were not disappointed! I had traditional Slovenian dumplings with cheese and a mushroom sauce and of course we got pudding! Whilst we were eating the heavens decided to open and there was a really heavy downpour! We were sat outside under huge umbrellas but after a while they got too sodden and the rain was just seeping through and onto us! It was so funny and so dramatic! Luckily, by the time it came to us leaving there was a break in the rain long enough for a hobble home. We got to meet our new room mate, Christopher from Germany. He was travelling on his own and it was nice to talk to him about his travels so far. I think he was sick and tired of my coughing by the end of the chat though!

The next day came and another busy adventure day was upon us! We fuelled up with a huge breakfast by the river. It was delicious! Then we walked to the bus station to catch a bus to Postojne where a huge series of caves are found. We had a short wait once we had bought our ticket and then we boarded the small cave train to take us 2km into the cave entrance. It was all very magical but also a bit chilly! Once in the cave we had a tour guide lead us a further 2km through the cave system to reach the deepest point of the cave. It was amazing. A fairy grotto! Stalagmites and stalactites. Columns and curtains. It amazes me just how beautiful nature can be! The tour guide told us loads of facts, mine and Molly’s favourite was that it takes 50 years for a stalagmite to grow a single mm!!!!! Wow! She also told us about the little dragons that are one of the 100 or so species living in the cave system! From the caves and Postojne we headed back to the city and onto another bus taking us to Lake Bled. We arrived there and found we had stumbled across even more magic. Lake Bled is a smallish lake, it’s about a 6km walk all the way around (just about do-able on a sprained ankle) and has the bluest water I have ever seen. I used to say that the colour of the sky was my favourite colour, but now I think it’s Bled Blue! We enjoyed walking around the lake and chatting and laughing. There’s a small island in the middle of the lake and so we found a nice view point to walk up to to get a better view. By the end of the route my ankle was pretty much ruined and so we stopped for food. There was a mini festival on and so we got some street food and enjoyed listening to the local music. We were tired by the end of the day, we got the bus back and collapsed into our bunks!

 

…ZADAR…

Up early again….This time to get our shortish train journey to Zagreb, the Capitol city of Croatia. We only had a few hours in Zagreb and we were quite relieved. It didn’t have much charisma for us. Maybe we were just tired and I was slightly delirious from my cold… But we weren’t huge fans. We ate pizza and Molly walked and I limped to the bus station. We got our bus to Zadar, a city on the coast of Croatia. The views from the bus were gorgeous. We arrived in the city and found our apartment. It was rented out by an old Croatian couple who didn’t speak a word of English but they were so so smiley and greeted us with happy vibes. We had a quick freshen up and headed out. There is a famous sea organ at the harbour and a sun salutation. The sea organ is amazing. It’s steps that go down into the sea and when the waves crash against it the air under the steps is pushed out through small blow-holes, creating a mesmerising sound. Unfortunately we didn’t get a good look at the sun salutation. There were so many people trying to look at it. It was a shame really. I’ve been told that it is a sort of solar powered art installation that makes patterns of colour. Would have been lovely to see the full effect, but we just saw some purple lights around the edge. Anyway, by this time we were hungry but even more, we were thirsty and in need of gin. We went to a gorgeous Garden Bar and chilled out to some relaxing music and watched the harbour below us. We then found a place to eat and decided on an early night.

 

By the end of our first week, we had already met so many amazing people and made so many amazing memories. But… we had one more week of adventuring to do. Next, we headed to Split and it’s islands. That needs a whole other post though….

xx

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