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Published: July 30th 2013
We’ve had a busy month!
We arrived in Hungary hopeful like the weather, after all the rain and the problems with flooding, the weather forecast was better and we were ready for the next part of our adventure! We headed first towards Lake Balaton the largest lake in central Europe, but after the luxury of the Croatia sea the murky water and over priced tourist paraphernalia left us disappointed so we decided to head to Budapest.
A lot of campsites and camperstops have a price list near the entry, so we know what we are getting in to before we go inside and we have become quite wary of the ones that don’t because often enough they will just try and get as much money out of you as possible. When we arrived at our campsite in Budapest we had been travelling all day and were tired and had little patience. I went inside to find out how much it cost to stay and the owner seemed intent on distracting me. When I asked how much it cost to camp per night/personelectric etc she first tried to distract me with a ‘welcome drink’’ (which I would have
to pay for) then when I asked again about the cost, she suggested I inspect the toilets ’the cleanest around’. The third time I asked she suggested I find a suitable pitch, settle in and come back to her and then the forth time she said it would cost 25 euro per night. I said I would go and speak to my friend, but she said she couldn’t allow that and must come with me! When I got to the van, I told Ange the ridiculous price and she started searching for other campsites in the area. The owner was hovering next to us muttering that she couldn’t leave us ‘’unattended’’ as it wasn’t allowed!! Before Ange had even found one other campsite she had reduced the price to 20 euro, then to 18 and finally to 14 euro at which point we said ok, we will stay. She then suggested we come back inside for a ‘welcome drink’ (still not free!), which we declined and went off to find a pitch. Ok so everyone is on the make, but she really took the biscuit!!
We arrived at the campsite in Budapest tired and with little patience
after a long day of driving. Either tiredness makes me into a formidable barterer or the owner was really desperate for us to stay, as within 5 minutes of our arrival (and near again departure) she had knocked over 10 euro’s off the price of the campsite; winner! After our amusement at her obvious desperation that we camp there we wondered what we had gotten ourselves in to! But Budapest was fantastic, it’s a beautiful city and we treated ourselves to the open top tourist bus (mainly due to the 38 degree heat!) and saw the city in style! We had started our day in the Gellert thermal baths on a recommendation from my best mate :D They where to die for, though the obligatory swimming hat’s were not! We got there early and were one of only a handful of people there enjoying the 40 degree thermal baths and then jumping into the icy 12 degree plunge pools. There where steam rooms up to about 45 degrees which we only could stand for about 5 minutes and then ended up in the outdoor wave pools. I was expecting something along the lines of the glades wave machine at the
local swimming pool I had gone to as a kid, but Jesus the waves were huge! We had a fab time swimming about and jumping around in them for a while, but when I went to get out I realised I couldn’t! Every time I tried to get out the waves would literally knock me off my feet and made me vow to immediately perchance a swimming costume with straps!!!
The rest of Hungary was a big lack lustre, though the Tokaj Region wine more than made up for it. We decided to continue onwards and upwards towards Slovakia, and were wierded out immediately by the megaphones blasting out music from the telephone poles in almost every village…Still not sure what that was all about! We had a whirlwind romance with Slovakia though; amazing food, beautiful old castles, incredibly cheep beer (1 euro for ½ litre), hiking on the Slovensky Raj and screaming our heads off on the crazy waterslides at the AquaPark.
We hadn’t planned on it, but one night after a few beers we decided we would head into Poland, mainly to visit Auschwitz as we where so close by. This trip
has taught us a lot about recent history, as the effects of the 1st
world war are still painfully obvious in places and having read a lot about the Holocaust we wanted to pay our respects. No amount of reading has quite the same effect as seeing the place though, the first glimpse of Birkenau makes you hold your breath, but it’s much worse inside. What hit me initially was how sturdy and new looking the buildings were, I expected to see dilapidated old places, not somewhere almost as good as new, somewhere built to last. Even the sheer amount of ‘tourists’ doesn’t remove from the horror of the place.
We decided to spend a couple of nights in Krakow before heading to the Czech Republic. Krakow managed to survive the second world war unscathed and it’s old town is gorgeous. The food was incredible-beetroot soup and dumplings-and we spend a lovely relaxing day strolling around the town in the sunshine, shopping and sight seeing. Very relaxing it was until the heavens opened! I have never seen so much rain in Europe, we were soaked to the skin in under sixty seconds and ended up
running through the now empty streets laughing at each other. The bus ride and necessary trip to the supermarket (for vodka of course) weren’t quite as funny as we slowly froze in a puddle of rainwater! We had been basking in glorious sunshine up till this point, but after Poland it all went terribly wrong and the duvet had to make an unscheduled appearance!
We hadn’t (haven’t?!) learnt our lesson and entered the Czech Republic with no local currency, no fuel and no plan other than to find fuel and currency and spent a couple of hours wondering what had happened to the whole of civilisation as we drove along empty road after empty road! When we finally found it we both adored the Czech Republic, especially Prague and South Bohemia. Prague is charming, and even if you don’t think so there is a lot of absinth going around to sway your opinion! We even got to see the change of the guard at the palace. The highlight of Czech for us was Cesky Krumlov; an absolute gem. It’s in the meander of the river Vltava and was only a 5km bike ride (or 10 km when
your drunk and cant cycle straight *cough* Ange!) from a very cheap lovely campsite where we managed to do 3 loads of washing for free! This was a seriously exciting event, as it can end up costing us 5 euro’s a go. We got wooed by 3 charming German boy’s in Kolovy Vary and impressed them with our new found vodka drinking skills (courtesy of Slovakia and Poland) though they had packed up their tent and left by the time we crawled out of bed the next morning! Perhaps not so clever after all…
Beautiful wide open countryside, fast cars + good roads = scary drivers, lederhosen, litre glasses of beer, pork pork and more pork (snitzel anyone?) it could only be Germany!
We spent 3 weeks exploring Germany, clocked up a fair few miles and a few pounds-that’ll be the pork and beer then. We spent a sunny Sunday in Berlin which is really beautiful (though I’m sure there is a crane in every picture I took, their pretty hot on regeneration) and vibrant. We saw lots of people out on the make with their street side betting scams,
which we found quite funny until we watched a young lad lose 100 euro’s in about 2 seconds. Felt sorry for him for five minutes until he told us he was a master’s student from London and really should have known better. Overdue life lesson for him!
One night we had pulled up late at an overnight carpark at the beach in Kagsdorf, North Germany. The office had shut at five pm so we thought we would just pay in the morning, which is a common thing to happen. However at 7am we were rudely woken up by banging on our doors, which turned out to be a bloke wanting to be paid as we had stayed there overnight. There where lots of other campers on the site and we where the only ones that seemed to have the wake up call. Later when we were about to leave we found a notice on our windscreen. It was printed on a sheet of A4 torn in half and looked to scruffy to be official but the paper was headed so we made some effort to translate it with out little dictionary to no avail and later online but it
still made no sense. We met up with a German family who spoke good English the next day and asked them what it was for. They looked at us worriedly and translated that we were to report to the police station in Kagsdorf and provide them with evidence we had paid at the camping place although we were still eligible for a fine. The family suggested the notice was quite important and we must keep the scrap of paper and return to the police station. Naturally, we decided that that wouldn’t be happening and headed down south. Doubt they’ll be chasing us down for that! South Germany has some seriously beautiful countryside and cute little towns, and we spent a few days cycling along the Mosel river and then driving along the romantic road, where we lost our knickers. Note to self; remove the washing hanging on the rear of your vehicle before driving away, it can get rather embarrassing!
If you ever visit Germany, these are my words of advice; Never have a Currywurst. Dirty!
So now we’re off through France via the Dordogne to Spain. I think we’re going to melt. Plan;
sunbathe and relax with family and friends after a few hectic weeks of driving….what a hard life it is!
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