Tag Archives: Europe

Australia to the UK without a plane… The last leg

Standing in Brussels train station with our backpacks on, it was hard to believe that 17 months prior we had started our journey in Cairns Australia. We were one train journey away from making it halfway across the world without using an airplane! Passing the check in desk and the chatty British lady at immigration, we sat and waited for the train that would take us back to British soil and bring an end this epic odyssey of ours….

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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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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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Snuff, Solidarity and Hitler’s bunkers…Gdansk and the wolfs lair

Nothing helps you to get to know a country like turning up at 6am on an overnight bus, after getting barely any sleep. This was the case with Poland, for us. I naively thought that perhaps we might have a problem finding somewhere open for a coffee at the early hour, but no. All the bakery kiosks were open and all the buses had been running a full timetable since 4am! It was as busy at 6am in G’dansk as it would have been at 9am in any city in the UK…the Polish early starting and solid work ethic was in clear view and we were glad of it…for the caffeine hit at least!

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Sand, sea and a lagoon…The Coronian Spit

With Russia to the south, a lagoon towards the mainland and the Baltic out to sea, the Coronian Spit is a unique corner of Lithuania and Northern Europe. The spit itself is not only a beautiful national park, intertwined with cycle and walking paths, but also a UNESCO world heritage site due to the ever shifting sand-dunes which make it. The area is also a draw for german tourists (let’s be honest where isn’t), who come in search of the summer-house of Thomas Mann, a famous german writer, situated in the small town of Nida. This town is also where we stayed for our trip to the spit, in one of the most difficult to find guesthouses this journey had yet thrown us…don’t worry we eventually did.

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Castles in the woods and daisies in the beard…Sigulda and Liepaja

Since moving to Australia and then travelling through Asia we had not seen spring for many years. It felt like in Perth (where we lived) spring maybe lasted a week before the scorching summer sun came out! So to see blossom, the light green of new leaves on the trees and wild flowers growing amongst the hedgerows was lovely. To celebrate the fact we made daisy chains in the sun and filled Ryan’s beard with as many flowers as it could hold…travelling had changed us into flower power hippies, at least for a little while in the Latvian countryside!

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Pickled vegetables in a zeppelin hanger…Riga

As we rolled into the Latvian capital of Riga, the sun was shinning and there seemed to be flowers everywhere. Not only were all the parks and gardens choc a block with multicoloured tulips and pansies, but there seemed to be flower sellers on every corner, or someone clutching a bunch. So we discovered Latvians like flowers…we were also to discover they like pickled vegetables, smoked meats and drunkenly fighting at bus stops (obviously not all Latvians, just two gentlemen in particular) but that was all to come!

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