Author Archives: allthewaysthereandbackagain

Hungary to Belgium in three days…The Penultimate leg…

Our time was running out on our epic seventeen month odyssey, and with some family to meet in Belgium, it was time to make the penultimate journey of our overland adventure from Australia, and get from Budapest to Ghent in three days (with a quick stop in Vienna)…

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Wine and more wine…Hungary

When we thought about visiting Eger in Hungary we did not expect to be listening to trance like Indian classical music on an outside stage in the city’s castle with a thunder-storm looming on the horizon…. But luckily for us things are not always predictable! We had managed to visit the town on the Museum night, meaning they were open for free and with loads of activities on offer…people dressed up in medieval costumes and firing old school muskets ( it was a crowd pleaser), as well as some traditional folk dancing. It did feel a little like we’d stumbled into a huge town fair and with gigantic cauldrons of goulash on offer… we were right at home!

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Goulash and hot water…Budapest

Getting to Budapest from Ukraine was a little more difficult than we would have hoped. After a quick layover in Uzhgorod, and an incredibly sweaty bus journey to a town called Chop we stumbled into the remote train station hoping for a train. Even before we had deciphered the cyrillic timetable, an old lady had, without using one word of english, convinced us to share a taxi with her! After a quick Vodka/Cigarette stop-off for the driver, we headed for the border and off to Hungary!

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Getting drunk at the ballet…Lviv

Before I go any further I should point out it wasn’t us who had too many drinks at the ballet. For a ridiculously cheap €4 we got some pretty decent seats in the stalls of Lviv’s Opera House (though the stingy could have gone as low as €2) and though neither of us are dance experts, for that price we could totally get on board! The night was made more interesting when a couple of ‘merry’ gentlemen decided the orchestra needed a bit of extra help so started conducting from the front row and shouting ‘bravo’ very loudly whenever there was a lull in the music. They were in fact kicked out not once but twice, the ballet so entrancing that they just had to sneak back in for a bit more conducting action. Ah Lviv a very memorable beginning…

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A wedding in the mountains…Zakopane

Climbing up a steep hill in the baking heat with our backpacks, we were distracted from our guesthouse search by the sound of music coming from a small church in seemingly the middle of nowhere. A group of people had gathered outside, watching avidly as groups of men in traditional felt suits, and women in embroidered dresses and scarves walked out of the church singing as they went… We had accidentally stumbled into a traditional polish mountain wedding. As a group of folk musicians played, the wedding party climbed into waiting horses and carts, and with a final a-cappella song from two men on horse back with felt hats, they were off. The ten or so horse-drawn carts headed off through the country lanes awash with colour and song… and just like that all was quiet again…just a little church in the countryside.

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Europe’s largest market square and bands on the roof…Krakow

From 8pm-3am, six days a week, the same soviet style blue van pulls up next to the kerb in a suburb just outside Krakow old town. The two men get out of the van each night, dressed in white coats like butchers or doctors, and without talking to each other, cook up hundreds of delicious traditional kielbasa (polish sausages) for passers-by. The huge banger is cooked over a wood fire, and served up with a bread roll and a dollop of mustard.. This was polish fast food at its finest, and the que of ten people in front of us let us know we had found a winner…

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Dumplings in a new old town…Warsaw

Possibly the best place in Warsaw to watch the world go by is on the monument steps opposite the royal palace. From here you can watch the bored novelty balloon sellers trying to sell the helium filled angry birds, nervous looking Mormons on religious converting missions, over enthusiastic tour guides hawking for business and even the odd irritated local weaving through them all, all set against a backdrop of a grand palace, cobbled streets and even a river beyond. There may be nicer places to spend an afternoon in Warsaw, but I’m not sure if we found them…

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