We have just finished an epic trip from Beijing to Moscow on the Trans-Siberian railway. Since starting our round the world trip four months ago we had spent a few months in Africa, time in Dubai with the family and then the Trans-Siberian trip. Time has gone so quickly but after getting off the train in Moscow we were now officially in Europe for the next part of our adventure.
The original plan for Europe was a quick visit. Our good friend’s Vicky & Alvaro were getting married in Madrid so we were to join the wedding and then have a family holiday in Spain. We would then pop over to the UK & Isle of Man and spend time with Benn’s family and our friends. We thought maybe three or four weeks maximum for Europe and then we would continue on to South America. How wrong we were! Our supposed few weeks in Europe turned into three months and ten European countries! We had a great time and went to many new places & countries that neither of us had visited before which was great but we realized that the high prices in Europe really made a large dent
in our travelling budget so we were definitely ready to leave when the three months were over.
Vicky & Alvaro’s wedding in Madrid was magical. A real fairytale wedding and we had many good friends around us who had travelled in from Canada, Hong Kong & Europe. We had a blast, got way too drunk and ate lovely food. The perfect start for our time in Europe. After Madrid we headed to Barcelona where we met Benn’s Mum & Dad and spent a few days in Barcelona and then up the coast to Costa Brava. We spent a relaxed week on the beach, ate more nice Spanish food and drank way too much which seems to be the theme in Europe!
In Barcelona we managed to get some tickets to Barcelona v’s AC Milan in the group stages of the Champions League. It was amazing to be in the Neu Camp, something like 95,000 people. The stadium was packed and the atmosphere electric. The score was 2-2 to the disappointment of the Barca fans but we had a great time. Benn still can’t believe that my first ever football game was watching Barcelona at the Neu Camp!!
After Spain we headed to Milan for the weekend which was a surprise trip for my birthday. My good friend Elaine was living in Milan for a year studying and Benn hoped to surprise me with meeting her for my birthday but after booking it realized that Elaine was back in Hong Kong for a couple of weeks holiday. So the plan didn’t work but we had a great time anyway and it was great to finally see Milan.
After Milan we flew over to Krakow, Poland. We add the customary tour to the Auschwitz ‘death camp’ which was so eye opening and sad but we are really glad we went. Krakow itself is a lovely town and we were totally surprised. We had a great few days exploring the town and eating nice Polish food washed down with local beer.
After Poland we caught a train to Slovakia where we stayed in ‘The Ginger Monkey’ Hostel which was based in Northern Slovakia in the High Tatra Mountains. In the winter this part of the country is taken over by the skiing crowd but we were a couple of months before the snow would start to fall. The
village we stayed in was very quiet, low key with only a few hundred houses. We had beautiful mountain views and spent many hours sat enjoying them. Our time in Slovakia was very lazy mostly spent around the village but it was very nice and it felt good to be in Slovakia which was never on our intended itinerary. We had a great night out to the local nightspot with the other travelers and staff at the hostel. It was a hilarious night and everyone got way too drunk, noticeably the Australian girl who was in her first week working at the hostel who we ended up carrying home. She was very shy the next morning when her memory started coming back!
After Slovakia, we took a train to the Hungarian capital, Budapest where we stayed for a week. Budapest is known as the ‘City of Spas’, the city itself being situation on a fault line with hot thermal water being naturally produced.
We spent much of the week exploring the city’s thermal baths & spas. We managed to visit three different baths, Gellert, The Szechenyi Baths & Rudast Baths. All of them were amazing but so
different. We spent hours at each one and with outside temperatures that were around 5 degrees Celsius, the 40 degrees water certainly warmed our bones up! Budapest is a huge city but simply beautiful. The country has amazing architecture, beautiful buildings and sights to see. We walked for miles around the city and it quickly became one of our favorite places on the European part of our trip. We had some great nights out and managed to find some great live music venues. The local bands were some of the best we had ever seen, so original and different from anything we were used to in Asia.
We spent our final night in Budapest partying in this huge event known as Fridge festival, which had a skiing and snowboarding freestyle competition and also loads of different bands & DJs, such as Scooter, Freestylers and many others. It was a nightmare for the first couple of hours as we didn’t have any tickets and we asked tons of people before we finally managed to find some tickets. The weather was totally freezing but I managed to warm up in a nearby restaurant while Benn continued the search to find us
some tickets. Our perseverance paid off and we had a great night at the festival, a great end to our time in Budapest!
Next we continued by train to Vienna, the Austrian capital. It was a quick stop and we spent a couple of days exploring the city, which was beautiful and as usual we managed to take tons of pictures. We experienced some good Austrian food and had a couple of good nights out. We stumbled on a bar called the Red Room which happened to be hosting an open mic night when we were there. The room was literally filled with musicians along with their guitars, saxophones, harmonicas and other sorts of instruments. We had a great time here listening to the guys putting some great impromptu performances together, very impressive!
Our next stop was Prague, the capital of Czech Republic. We slowed down a bit in Prague and spent five days taking in the local sights and the usual eating and bar hopping. It was the first time we had visited Prague and it really is a beautiful place. It was now approaching the end of November and the weather had turned bitterly cold with
some days reaching around -4 Celsius, which is quite a bit different from what I have been used to living in Dubai, Hong Kong & the Philippines. We could feel the cold weather forcing us to end our time in Europe and head to warmer climates of Central & South America. As we were so close and had time on our hands, we decided on one final week in Europe so booked a flight ticket from Prague to Stockholm, the Swedish capital. Fingers crossed for some warmer weather in Sweden and we will let you know how that went in our next update!
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