A Travellerspoint blog

Hungary – Luxury 13/34

We love it here!

sunny 32 °C
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The trip down to budapest was quite a long one and took us through slovakia and numerous snowboarding resorts it was pretty cool! We stopped for a McDonalds in Slovkia then headed on to Budapest. Navigating to the hotel wasn’t too bad to be honest. We were almost there then took a wrong turn but I managed to get us back in the right place again and we checked in. We told the bell boy we weren’t paying €10 per night for parking and made him park our car right out front of the hotel. Our rooms in the Gellert were ok. Not real luxury but considering it was the same price as a travel lodge in the UK and you got free use of the spa it was worth it. We headed straight for the spa and tried out all the different things. There was a mens and womens area and these had lots more things in (including naked people) the baths were in there thermal and healing. They were at 36 and 38degrees it was lush! You had to go in the ice pool for as long as you could bear then head into the hot bath it was really invigorating. That night we went out for tea and I had a cheese dish and dale had spagetti. It was again ok for the money but I have had better. An early night was just what the doctor ordered!

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Next day and we decided to explore the city a bit, we went to see the independent statue and citadella which had a waxworks museum in the bunker. The best part of that was seeing all the stuff from call of duty world at war in the flesh so to speak. We then saw the St Gellert Statue before heading over to Pest. We went to the national museum…must say not the best or the most interesting. Most of the signage was not in English and there was a lot of stuff on the history of Hungary and to be honest I wasn’t that interested. Onwards to McDonalds and then bck to the hotel for another heavy spa session of about 3 hours it was awesome! We ate again along the same road near the river in pest and walking distance from our hotel. This place was nicer although they gave me a greek salad and covered it in Pesto which I am allergic to. They changed it but then forgot to add my olives! They looked really nice as well ☹ but I couldn’t be assed to ask again! All in all I would definitely recommend Hotel Gellert in Hungary and I WILL be going back sometime soon when Ryanair has cheap flights!
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Stats:
Countries McDonalds eaten in:9
Spa sessions taken:5

Posted by LizaBrooks 01:27 Archived in Hungary Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Estonia to Auschwitz!

10/34 Countries in 10days!

sunny 26 °C
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The ferry over to Tallinn took only bout 2hours and it was a fairly pleasant crossing. They had great coffee on there but I did fall over as the boat was pitching in the surf! this was our first time navigating blind without the satnav and it was not really that bad an experiance. With me navigating a Dale driving we were soon out of the centre of a Tallinn and on our way to Parnu in Estonia. Parnu is described as the top coastal tourist destination and filled with hot seas and sandy beaches it sounded exactly like the place we would like to go.

Enroute we had a minor mishap with the law. We got pulled over by the police and having provided all the documents they required they then insisted that Dale was speeding! 87km/hr in a 60 which apparently was a 6000KR fine! Not good but in the end they let Dale off with a warning but from then on we paid extra close attention to any speed signs anywhere!
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When we arrived at Parnu it was fairly easy to find the lonely planets recommended site which was at the back of the town. They had availablity and the nice man let us pick our spot. Sadly not for the first time the ground was too hard to hit the pegs in but a near by Fin came to our rescue and gave us a hammer to beat them in with. We then headed down to the beach in search of a mud bath as Parnu is famous for these. We got there and found that the old mud baths place was now in disrepair and no longer open so we sought to find an alternative at a health spa and after eventually finding one we were told they had finished for the day (this was at only 2pm so clearly Estonia is the opposite of Scandinavia with their late starts!). We then found Dale a blow up matress as he had been complaining of hip pain from the hard soil (I had lent him my green camping mat but apparently it wasn't helping). From here we headed down to the beach and spent a few hours here enjoying the sunshine it was beautiful and the sea was warm as promised. Dale had a kick about with some Estonians holidaying there and took one for England!
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That night we took advantage of the free wi-fi LP should really mention this as it was good! and I uploaded some photos onto here form my Amsterdam blog.

Nest day as we were headed to Sigulda in Latvia for a spot of outdoor activities. The navigating for this 3hr trip was slightly harder with us going along some deserted rough roads to find the place...not ideal and was a bit scary! We eventually found our way to KEMPINGS Pludmale and found that there was no one anywhere to be found to pay. So we went over the tarzan adventure centre over the road and had two go's on the superTarzan zip line. I was clearly rubbish as this as I started spinning out of control on the wire and on the first go lost my sunnies in the shrubbery. Dale saw them fall off but after 45mins of hunting I knew in my heart they were lost forever. Dale luckily had a pair that were not perscription he could lend me but its not the same as mine :(
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We then thought we would have a go on the bobsled track but found that the summer run was not in operation as the track was having major refurbishments which wasn't ideal for riding on! So we went into the town and had a look around the palace and some view points before heading to a Cafe and getting some lush Eclaires with chocolate cream inside them! We then went back to the campsite and led on the beach by the river for a few hours this was really relaxing. We tried to had an early night but there were people up quite late on the site which wasn't great. During the night Dale went into the car to sleep as his blow up bed popped!

Next day we were up really early - we had to be with a 1100km journey ahead of us. Dale took the first shift and everything was going well. Lithuanian drivers have indeed got a death wish but no worse than an adventure in Rome! We made it into Poland around lunch time and I took over driving here taking us down to Warzsaw this is where it went wrong! With Dale unable to navigate a city we got very lost and bytime we swapped roles we were so lost we had to resort to using a compass to try and find ourselves...sadly the compass always said we were going north so that was no help! A few locals hurrassed later and we managed to get on the city centre map and I was able to get us out of there. This whole process did take an hour though which wasn't great! We then stopped at a McDonalds for tea and Dale hit into a parked car. No damage really but not speaking polish the man kinda kicked off a bit and in the end Dale had to pay him 400ZL but it was cheaper than going through insurance as he had a £350 excess. I forgot to mention that I kinda had a cock up as well as I thought poland was on the Euro so didn't pre-order us any currency! This was a bit annoying but if this is the worst cock-up the we're doing well. It was not getting late and we were not making good time. Krakow was still 300km away meaning that we were looking at a midnight arrival if we were lucky. This was the case and at midnight we were on the '44' heading towards Auschwitz when we decided to sack it in for the night and book into a nice layby and sleep in the car. This was a bit eerie in a way. Being this close to those death camps and things wasn;t nice to to mention we were just parked on a main road but we survived the night and had a reasonible nights sleep.

Auschwitz wasn't far and after avoiding all the people trying to con us into getting us into their paid carparks when the Auschwitz one was FREE we made it to a christian retreat camp site thing. We are currently camped in the posh gardens! Its quite funny but a really nice place and the showers are great! We went down to Auschwitz one and were shocked by the prices...not because they were expensive as 24ZL for a students guided tour was great but for the fact that polish paid much less! If that sort of thing happened in the UK people would kick straight off! not very fair I don't think! and not a good example for an EU country. The site was not that big and took about an hour or so with the guide. I was shocked with the precision that things happened here. People were stripped of everything nothing was wasted. They took the money sometimes which was hidden inside shoes or sewn into clothing, they gold teeth (after gassing) their jewlery everything. They were stripped naked in their thousands and sent into the gas chambers to die thinking it was a shower! Shocking really shocking. We saw the wall where around 10,000 people have been excuted by gunshot it was a very somber place. Oh I forgot to mention the hair! They even shaved their heads and took the hair to be made into fabric for Nazi uniforms! Thats how sick it all was. We then missed the tour bus to Auschwitz II as it was not really pointed out properly we saw it driving off without us so we decided to pick up a few bits in the two by car and then head over ourselves.
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Auschwitz II was more shocking than the first it was HUGE and went on almost as far as the eye could see. This is where the real bad stuff happened with the death line here where people were brought in by the train load the gas chambers were capable of gasing upto 2000 people in one go. We got to go into the living quarters if you can call them that and walk along the line. I really didn't like it here there was something not feeling right about it all and it just wasn't good I felt like I was intruding on something I shouldn't be. Especially in the rooms it was really not a nice feeling. Contrary to what I have been told before birds do sing here. There was a rooster crowing and some small birds singing in the camp so myth dispelled!
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We came back to the Christian retreat and there was some english people pitched near us the guy Andy used to be the manager of homebase in Chippenham and knows Dale's aunty what a small world it is! We're just looking at the plan for the next couple of days and heading to budapest tomorrow for the weekend to Hotel Gellert which is a luxury Spa hotel! I can;t wait!

STATS:

Minor Collisions:1
Incidents with the law:1
miles driven: too many
Countries McDonalds now eaten in:7 (not for the want of trying in others!)
Pieces of Nazi memorabilia acquired:2
Money raise: £60 :( please donate to us www.justgiving.com/34countries28days

Posted by LizaBrooks 09:15 Archived in Poland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Helsinki - is all of Scandinavia really this lazy?

6 Countries in 6 days www.justgiving.com/34countries28days

24 °C
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And by that comment I mean like to stay in bed and have huge long weekends which in my book really can only be a good thing. We arrived at 10am local time and headed toward the campsite. On the way we passed a McD’s with a nice 24hr sign great we thought! Alas it was closed and when we questioned the lady at the camp site about this she almost laughed at our suggestion. We had the Monday in Helsinki which was probably the worst day to pick as everything is closed it would appear it is like their Sunday ☹ so after pitching tent we were struggling to find something to do which would be open on a Monday. We then decided to make our own fun and randomly drive around to see the sights of Helsinki. This went really well and there was plenty of on street parking although I am sure it was not free but we took it to be and didn’t get a ticket. We then had a through as there were so many Russian cars around if you wanted a Russian visa in a hurry Helsinki would be the place to get one! So we found out there the Russian Embassy was and went over there. The rude man on the intercom wanted to know what we wanted and we told him a ‘visa’ he the told us we needed to go around the otherside…like we were so stupid for no knowing that! He failed to point out they had just started their lunch hour though 10mins before so they would not be back for 50mins! We decided to head back to the car and return at 2pm hopefully with a shorter wait. We went looking for ‘west’ harbour and went back to the Silja terminal and asked someone there and they told us that was the west terminal – RESULT! Or so we thought.
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When we arrived back at the Embassy there was a bit of a queue forming by this point and se we joined it. We got inside and tried asking another rude man what we needed to do. We were just told door 1. We noticed that everyone else had a pile of forms filled in and when Dale tried asking one of the workers from room 1 for help they merely shunned him and pushed past NOT IMPRESSED! At that point people in the queue started talking and we reaslised these poor people had been trying to get a Visa for days! So we thought we would cut our losses and not bother wasting anymore time. But I really can’t believe how rude and obnoxious everyone in that embassy was when there were some people (clearly not us)desperate for their holiday visas and working permits.

So back to the camp site with the weather so beautiful the on site beach seemed like it would be a smart choice. I led there and enjoyed the sunshine. Dale was playing football. It was then that we met Joel. A Portuguese expat now living in Helsinki. He was telling us all about this website called (what we thought) Culture Surfing as it turns out we can’t find Culture Surfing on the internet so we think he meant Couch Surfing. There was a whole load of these couch surfers there it was an arranged Helsinki meet and they soon invited us along to their Sauna trip which was being held at our campsites Sauna. This was really good fun and for us cheap as we were campers only working out at €2 for the whole afternoon. This was great and it was a mixed sauna so bathers were allowed :D It was the best sauna I have ever had and I now know that the ones at the Olympiad are no where near moist enough or hot enough. The ideal range was from about 75-85C and with lots of water on. It was unbearabily hot but felt really good. After baking you then jumped into the cold lake. I only did the lake thing once using the excuse that it was quite cold but actually I am really not a fan of swimming in fresh water when its all green and murky looking although I am glad I did it the once. We left our new found friends and cooked our dinner and ‘tea’ which they all found very English! Dinner was good and quickly followed by a nice car clearout and bed.

We had to get up at 5am in order to make it for our ferry. We were a the terminal at 6am and the nice man told us we were in the wrong place. We had been lied to the day before! Rubbish! So we had to drive into the other terminal which took about 10mins to get to. Just aswell we had left lots of time. We man bagels with cream cheese for breakfast which was pretty awesome and now we are sat on the ferry enjoying the free internet. I really need a coffee so think I best be off now.

I have tried uploading some photos but it seems that the ship doesn’t want to let me as it keeps coming up with errors.
I am not sure when the next entry to this blog will be as we are not entering the unknown as we head into Estonia!

Posted by LizaBrooks 21:50 Archived in Finland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The LONG and EMPTY Road to Stockholm

5/34 Countries go Chitty GO!

sunny 24 °C
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On the road to Stockholm we got to do another massive toll bridge this one was even more impressive than the last. There was also a nice collection of offshore windfarms to be seen which was great. When we arrived in Sweden it was exactly as I imagined very green with lots of pine trees…then there was more pine trees…and more pine trees. I think this went on for about 6 hours or so with no signs of civilisation…LITERALLY! We drove 400miles across Sweden and saw nothing in the way of towns, villages houses etc for 99% of the drive it was amazing for that alone. We had one moment of utter jubilation though when we passed two british coaches! We beeped flashed and waved as we had not seen any Brits for two days now it was clearly the highlight of the drive I was actually buzzing from it! Sad I know!

We found the campsite recommened by lonely planet after almost turning around having thought we had gone the wrong way. It was pretty crowded and had rock hard ground but I would stop there again as it was fairly priced.

After pitching we thought we would make some Fajhitas with the remainder of the peppers from the other night…we found a supermarket which had Turkey and it wasn’t till we saw the price of beer that we stopped and realised that the single turkey Breast was about £13! So pasta and butter again it was again very delicious and filling!
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This morning we woke up after I had a rather wet night where the ground was so hard we were not able to pitch the tent properly and I got really wet where it sagged. Waking up at 3am in this state isn’t nice ☹ Needless to say I was glad for a shower in the morning and the beautiful morning sun was a blessing!

We headed into the city centre and decided we would try and get onto one fo the city boat taxi things which take you on a tour. We found a parking area but it was extortionate! 40SEK per hour! So we went to the museums we wanted to visit direct thinking (wrongly) surely they would have parking for free. This was not the case and we ended up having to stick the parking on credit card but it was more reasonable than near the port so we were well away and quite happy. We put blind faith in the Lonely planet in its recommendation of what to do as we had no idea. I’ve never really heard much about Stockholm and so the Vasa Museum it was and I must say it was fantastic. A ship which sunk in 1628 and remained underwater for 333years only to be resurfaced and 95% complete is a site well worth seeing! They also did student discount which pleased me greatly as that was the first time I have got to use it on this trip so far!IMG_2595.jpgIMG_2592.jpg

Next stop the Zoo. This was as part of this Sweden in Miniture park (near the Vasa). The Sweden in miniture was pretty rubbish nothing really of much entertainment but seeing the raindeer was worth the 110SEK in itself :D We also discovered that the Wolverine is a REAL creature similar to a Badger. So I think my quiz team should rename themselves from the badgers to Wolverine as it sounds more exciting and it’s the biggest animal in that family. Also looks pretty bad ass!
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We decided a McD’s was in order so we found one…right in the centre. We took advantage of the fact we were foreign and parked right in the centre in a bus stop…bad I know but there wasn’t much else we could do and we were hungry by this point so Dale ran and got some food and I waited looking pathetic in case someone came. Considering it was the centre of the city I thought someone might but they didn’t so clearly I looked pathetic enough. We also accidentally drove down a pavemented off bus lane! But this was an accident and again no one cared I think they are really surprised and excited to see a UK car we keep getting waves and smiles everywhere we go.

We managed to find the Port for the ship eventually after travelling round in circles for ages looking for it. This was a mission and not well signposted we followed a Russian though and got there in the end! That is where I must leave you as right now I am sat on the deck of this magnificent Silia Symphony enjoying the beautiful sunshine while writing this! Tomorrow Helsinki where we are hoping to see many of the sites recommended by the lonely planet before heading back to the mainland Europe and descending down from Estonia!
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STATS:
Miles Driven:about 1500
Countries McD’s eaten in:4
Additional serious near misses with other road users:0

A few pictures from our time on the ship for your viewing pleasure. The sunset was amazing and worth every penny we paid for the trip! Fantastic! There was a lot of drinking done in the night club as the photos illustrate and I will never understand how a DJ doesn't know who Casacada is!!!!! MORON!

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Posted by LizaBrooks 08:35 Archived in Sweden Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Road to Copenhagen!

4/34 Countries

sunny 24 °C
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Well the Heineken museum was really good! We got eth discount thanks to the booklet that we picked up and that made it really reasonable. We also got two glasses of extra cold Heineken and a few tasters on the way around. There was a ride as part of the experience which was good.
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After we finished in the Heiniken museum we found our way to the Hardrock Café and decided not to buy anything as it was really expensive! Instead we went on a Mission to find a supermarket to get the ingredients for Fajitas for tea. By the time we got back to the tent it was pissing down with rain so we committed the cardinal sin and cooked inside the tent with the stove. I wouldn’t recommend it was it was really dodgie and not a pleasant feeling but the food tasted really good :D The weather soon cleared up though which was good and we were able to have a nice cup of tea in the sunshine.
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We got up early the next morning and packed ready for the 620mile mission to Copenhagen. The tent was a bit wet which was rather annoying but we just decided to bin bag it up and be on our way. The thing that shocked me most during the drive was the amount of wind farms! There were hundreds of the things and it was a real surprise that the UK hasn’t made more of the same and followed the example. Once we got over the border into Germany I needed a nature stop and an unintentional wrong turn later we were in a suitable place to take such a stop. I took over the driving from here and took us all the way to Denmark. Driving on the continent is easy apart from the crazy people that don’t indicate its pretty sound. We didn’t see ANY other British cars on the way to Copenhagen it was actually kind of surreal in a weird sort of way. We got to drive over a nice long bridge on the way to Copenhagen and when we arrived in the city we noticed that it carried many of the traits we had seen in Oslo. The place was empty! There was little or no traffic and when we arrived at the Lonely planets recommended campsite we were delighted to see the sea and lush green grass. Sadly the grumpy woman at Charlotte Fort camping told us there was no space for us so we would have to find somewhere else. After a VERY long drive this is that last thing that you want to hear and we were a bit gutted!
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So we went on to the TomTom’s next listed recommendation Absolon camping. On the way there we notice that the price in fuel varied by over 1DK from place to place and that actually Denmark was pretty cheap so we would fill up here before leaving. Upon arrival at Absolon we were greeted by a very nice man who took my CCI card (thank god I had one as I saw on check out that you must have one as a form of ID!) and told us we would pitch where ever we wanted.

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While trying to find a spot a stray child on a bicycle nearly impacted with the front of the car...would have been a terrible shame as it might have damaged the car. Silly girl didn't even look but we are noticing a theme emerging with cyclists and them just doing their own thing on the continent. The campsite was really quite and there was plenty of room for us so we pitched up and had a delicious evening meal of Butter and pasta and nice cup of tea. An early night was just what we needed after the noise and excitement of Amsterdam from the previous two nights.

The next day after packing up early we headed off to the Carlsberg factory pinned with high hopes it would be the best tour in the world…sadly it was not but not bad value for the price we paid (althought the lonely planet is clearly well out of date as it said it was free and it cost is €9 each). We met a nice man in the bar there who recommended some nice beer and let us keep the glasses they camp in. He also got us sponsorship from Carlsberg for the road trip to be breathalysed! Result! So next it was onward to Stockholm! We nearly hit a Cyclist again this time while performing a safe and legal U-turn for the much loved McDonalds...I think she was a bit pissed off :-p
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STATS:
Miles Driven:about 1000
Near Misses with cyclists: Countless
Serious near misses with Cyclists:2
Brewerys visited:2

Posted by LizaBrooks 07:57 Archived in Denmark Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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