A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about history

Eastern European Escapades

Budapest, Krakow, Prague

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All throughout the year, one of the things that gave me hope and motivation to get through those long hours at work, was my plane ticket booked to Budapest on the 28th Dec.

Initially, in my naiivity I thought that over New Years I would comfortably travel for 2 months wherever I want in Europe before returning home. But after London sucked all the money from my savings for nights out, paying the rent and just living, I settled for a solid two weeks backpacking around Eastern Europe.

It isn’t a eurotrip without waking up at ghastly hours to catch a ryanair flight. Before the break of dawn, I was at the airport eagerly anticipating the following weeks. I was joining a topdeck tour (for those who don’t know, topdeck is a tour company where mostly Australians party around Europe) and I was looking forward to a week of late nights, cheap drinks in some culturally rich and vibrant places.


After landing in Budapest, Hungary, so began the challenge of making my way to the hostel. Now, Hungarian really is a strange language, indecipherable to the girl who can only speak English. Thanks to precise directions and one too many glances at maps and street signs, I made it into the heart of the city. And wow, Budapest is beautiful! A mix of Euro-Asian archictecture with such recent history and bold culture, I was enthralled.
At the hostel, The Wombats (which I would highly recommend) I met two lovely Australians, who will feature in this blog a lot due to our shared love for adventure, and we joined the tour. It was slightly intimidating joining a group of 40+ who had already been traveling together for 2 weeks, however, everyone was so fun and welcoming. With our cute Polish tour guide, we did a driving tour of the city. Personally, you haven’t seen a city unless you’ve seen it under the cover of darkness. We drove up to the castle on the hill which overlooked the Danube and the entire city and I was swept away with its beauty. Church spires protruded from the sea of buildings reaching for the heavens and golden lights glimmered under the moonlight.

That night, we had traditional hearty Hungarian cuisine with amazing beer, whilst socializing with our group. Seriously, all Australians. We then went to a renowned ice bar which, yes you guessed right, is a bar entirely made from ice. The only problem was that my glass kept melting in my hand, resulting in sculling my drink. Afterwards, we went to probably one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to quite a few). In Budapest, there are a lot of ‘ruin bars’ which are converted bars which used to be either Nazi, Soviet or military buildings. With funky music, a vast selection of beer and cool vibes, I was in my element.

Hungarians are absolutely lovely people, but drunk, sleazy Hungarian men are not. At all. And the Hungarian accent really isn’t the sexiest out there either I’m afraid. With flirting being translated to a strange potential stalker relationship, I think it’s safe to say that my future husband will not be Hungarian. After fighting the leeches off, us girls were free to finally dance. And the music was amazing! We don’t know how this happened but suddenly it was 4:30am, and with our wake up calls being 8am every morning, it was time to call it a night.

The next day was a free day, starting a little slow and quiet after a big night, we headed to The House of Terror. Despite the touristy name, it was remarkable. This building which lies on one of the main streets of Budapest used to be the Soviet headquarters where prisoners were held and tortured until the 1970s-80s. Afterwards, I went on a free walking tour of the city by myself where I met these lovely Romanians. I absolutely love the free walking tours which are usually offered in all major cities across Europe. They’re run by local guides who are knowledgeable and passionate about their country and work off of tips, so if you’re on a super tight budget aka moi, it’s perfect.

After galavanting around the city all day, that night, I was joined by two others and we went to the thermal baths. The best money I’ve ever spent in my life! We arrived at 7pm and paid a discounted price (score) and stayed for nearly 3 hours. With the temperature lingering around 0degrees outside, words cannot describe the orgasmic feeling of diving into a pool which was 38degrees. The three of us found a corner or the pool, put our heads back, our feet up and just relaxed. We even bought champagne. That night I absolutely passed out after being nourished by the thermal waters cleansing my mind and body.

The next morning was a struggle, 3:30am wake up for a 4:15am departure. Those hours don’t even register to me. Luckily I was able to pass out on the bus for a few hours. This is what I absolutely love about Europe, there’s so many countries within such close proximity, that sometimes you don’t even realize when you enter a different one. Within one day we drove through Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland. I still can’t get my mind around it. Back home you can drive for 10 hours and still be in the same state.

A grim start to the day as we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camp. The whole day I just felt sick. And not because of the cough I had picked up from all the sick people on tour, but this intrinsic feeling deep within me, knowing that horrendous acts occurred on the very ground I was walking on. In November whislt in Munich, I went to Dachau, which was such a moving experience, I didn’t know how I would handle the most infamous camp that was responsible for millions of deaths. There were two particular accounts where I broke down. The first was seeing the room full of hair they cut from the prisoners. And the second, was a story that our guide told us of the first Christmas in Auschwitz. In the main square they put up a huge Christmas tree in the main square. Prisoners hopes and spirits were slightly raised before being crushed on Christmas morning to find corpses of their loved ones under the tree. The whole experience of being there left me feeling empty and numb, something I’ve never felt before. It made me realize just how important history is and how we shall never forget, but learn from the past in the hope of living peacefully in the future.


Ah Poland, the land of vodka. I absolutely loved Krakow. I may be a little biased in saying this because of my thing for Polish boys, but the architecture, history and culture is truly unique. That night we hit the town, of course, and ended up consuming way too much vodka. For the equivalent for 80p shots and drinks, how could we resist? And vodka is my drink of choice so I felt completely in my element!

The next day we went on a walking tour throughout the old streets of Krakow. My friends and I ventured up to the castle which was pretty incredible. We ventured through the Christmas markets buying bits and pieces here and there. Then we stumbled across the magic of Pierogis, traditional Polish cuisine which is like a little dumpling stuffed with various ingredients like beef, potatoes, spinach, cottage cheese and even strawberries. So good. We headed back to the hotel for a quick nanna nap in preparation of the nights festivities for New Years Eve!

We picked up a bottle of Zubrowka vodka for 3pounds and drank it with apple juice, creating the goodness of apple pie in our mouths. At 10 we headed into the main square where all the celebrations were occurring, after consuming vodka, wine and more vodka. With the temperature between -2 – 0 it was very different to the summer evening 28-30degree New Years I’m used to. All rugged up, we welcomed the New Year dancing, singing and drinking some more. 2014… WOW.

Thankfully we had a late departure the next day to compensate with the hangovers. So it was goodbye Poland and hello Czech Republic.


With everyone settling down with a quiet night, my friend and I decided to go out. And it turned into one of the wildest nights on the tour. We started off at an amazing lounge drinking cocktails and being all ladylike. We then headed towards a club we were told about before stumbling upon this wicked underground bar with amazing music. We got some drinks and became acquainted with everyone in the bar. We ended up hanging out with this group of gay French guys who were absolutely hilarious and the best dancers ever. Then met this group of German guys and ended up doing shot of tequila with them and suddenly it was 5am. How does that keep happening? Regardless, it was such a good night!

After 2 hours sleep, we went on a walking tour of Prague. Easily one of the coolest cities I’ve been to. The Astronomical Clock, main square, hundreds of churches and atmosphere of the city is so incredible! We ventured through the Jewish Ghetto, getting some awesome Czech food and walking along the river, soaking up all that Prague had to offer.

That night, surprise surprise, we went out. Prague is home to Central Europe’s biggest nightclub, with 5 storeys of pumping music, filled with tourists, it’s pretty insane. By night 7, my liver had pretty much committed suicide, so I was on the water. In the Czech Republic it is legal to smoke inside restaurants and clubs, so my head was spinning from the smoke. I called it a night at 3am and crawled into bed smothered in other peoples smoke and sweat.

The next morning we said goodbye to the tour as we finished up in Prague. My two Ozzies and I had a chilled day exploring the other side of the river, and ventured up to the castle. Such a magnificent view of the city. Feeling a bit worse for wear after a week of partying I went back to my hostel to have one of the best sleeps of my life.

The following night I went into the city to meet up with my friends to have one final night out to say a proper farewell to Prague. Unfortunately this is where my story becomes less than legendary because I became very sick. I don’t know if I ate something bad, or it was the alcohol pumping through my veins, but I was throwing up all night. So unfortunately, I had to cut my eurotrip short, as I flew back to London as soon as I could manage to get out of bed, meaning Vienna and Berlin… you’re still on my list, but I’m coming for you.

I had such an incredible time galavanting across Eastern Europe, meeting some wicked people and having some pretty (un)memorable nights. For anyone considering Eastern Europe, don’t think, just do it. There seems to be many stereotypes out there about the dangers of the east, but bad things can happen to anyone, anywhere. Not to scare you off but it’s true. I think as long as you maintain common sense and don’t let the alcohol control your decision process then you’ll be sweet. So that’s how I spent my New Years, drinking all around Eastern Europe for a fraction of the price you’d pay back in the UK.

So Happy New Year to you all, I hope 2014 brings health, good times and happiness.



Posted by missadelaide 12:43 Archived in Hungary Tagged food budapest prague beer culture history poland love hungary amazing vodka krakow czech_republic eastern_europe Comments (0)

A Wee Trip To Scotland

Make It Count

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Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful

- Joshua J. Marine

Somewhere between place and time, day and night… OK somewhere between Edinburgh and Newcastle, I sit staring out the window of the train with vivid memories of the past week flashing across the emerald horizon.

Scotland… you have delivered once again. 10 days is definitely not enough time to embrace all you have to offer, I’m not sure if a lifetime is enough. From your wee village of Largoward, mysteries of Loch Ness, the pristinely untouched Isle of Skye, ruins in St Andrews and the incredible cobblestone streets of Edinburgh… you are such a gem that will forever have a strong hold over my heart and fiery red hair.

My year abroad is rapidly coming to an end, and with only four weeks until I return home, there is some much needed travel to be done. I decided to revisit Scotland for two reasons; to spend some time with my UK family and to get one last encounter with the beauty of Scotland. At the beginning of the year, Edinburgh was the first destination I journeyed to purely alone. I believe this was a life defining moment for me. To be in another county, alone, no idea where I was going or what I was doing, but knowing that there was something there for me, is a pretty remarkable feeling.

If you can’t be inspired by Scotland, then I genuinely don’t know what can. Everything from the people, the architecture, culture and the breath taking scenery is screaming to be captured in a photo, painting, book or (on a more amateur note) blog. I had such a lovely time relaxing in rural Fife. Sleeping until the afternoon, playing dress ups with ‘the wee pest,’ drinking red wine and Prosecco, and just chilling was such a nice change to the routine, dreariness London offers. I completely understand how so much great literature has come from Scotland, and I hope to be published one day as someone who was ever so inspired by this country.

Returning to Edinburgh, that feeling hit me again. Walking the familiar cobblestone streets, I felt a sense of home. Edinburgh is definitely somewhere I could see myself living, which says a lot. I checked into my hostel (High Street Hostel) and was immediately told about the free pub crawl that night. For any of you looking for accommodation in Edinburgh, look no further. Really cheap, awesome kitchen/lounge area (pool table and all) Thursday nights they have the free pub crawl and Fridays are burger nights which are wicked. Anyway, the people in my room were so cool and friendly. From all over the world, they invited me to join them for dinner and drinks… who could say no right? We got some vodka and lined our stomachs with amazing pasta, to kick off the start of a memorable night.
Before we go any further, vodka redbulls for 1.75… enough said.
The drinks went down, we danced and sang the night away, I think, with some cool and very attractive locals.

Night 2 was very similar to the first, though we were at a slight disadvantage due to our hangovers. Nonetheless… we carried on. The second night I met up with some of the locals we met the previous night and ended up at a house party drinking rum and eating home-made Tiramisu, before heading to a club in the city to dance the night away until 4am. What a night!

The next afternoon as I was walking down to Waverly Station, a strange feeling overcame me. Maybe it was a mega hangover from a big weekend… but it was some sort of closure. That Edinburgh had done its job. Saw me arrive as a young, naïve, girl and leave as a (still young) open-minded, strong, confident, slight alcoholic, young lady who knows I can achieve anything. Cheesy I know, but I guess that’s one thing that will never change.
I know I will return to Edinburgh one day. It is no doubt one of my favourite cities I’ve experienced, each time meeting new friends, having different adventures, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and creating new memories which will last a lifetime.
So to Edinburgh and your beautiful country, thank you.

Posted by missadelaide 11:01 Archived in Scotland Tagged food rain beer winter scotland home history travel adventure friends life beautiful old uk amazing drinks vodka cold cobblestone Comments (0)

This Is The Rhythm Of The Night

Brilliant Bavaria

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=="Rhythm is a dancer, it's the souls companion"==

Sometimes, all you need is a breath of fresh air to re-ignite that passion, motivate your actions and clear your mind, and what better way to escape than jet setting across Europe to the traditional and beautiful city of Munich.

I tend not to write about my travels, however, the past 96 hours have been so revolutionary, mind blowing and incredible that there's no way I couldn't... and now I am back home, exhausted from a very full on weekend eating pretzels, bratwurst, drinking steins and diving into the culture of Munich, I realise just how lucky I am.

So, Thursday morning, my travel buddy and best friend, Jess, and I embarked on our journey. Tube, bus, plane and we were in Munich, Germany!
Thankfully Jess speaks and understands German, whereas I on the other hand know, [i]hallo, ja, nein, danke,[i]... and that's about it, but I was ready to take it all on.
Our hostel was right near the main train station, The Euro Youth Hostel, which I would highly recommend to anyone travelling to Munich. They have comfortable beds, large rooms, hot showers and an awesome bar which we got much too friendly with.
After a quick unpack and gaining our orientation we burst out onto the cold street in search of food and adventure.
Only a quick stroll to the Marienplatz, we were in the centre of the city where Christmas was lingering in the air. Beautiful lights flooded the street and we wondered down the cobblestone path to the Rathaus, a spectacular building with a glockenspiel and clock tower. I bet the Germans play a game called spot the tourist infront of the Rathaus, as we eagerly anticipated the chiming of the bells and movement of the figures in the tower as the clock struck 6... little did we know it only goes off once at mid day, so after a few minutes we awkwardly put our cameras away and kept walking. I swear some guys behind us shared a giggle amongst themselves.
We walked up and down the Marienplatz in search of reasonably priced food. As we were almost about to give up hope, we found what seemed a hidden restaurant. Behind a heavy iron door and down some stairs was the bustle of a cute restaurant/drinking hall which our stomach's couldn't ignore. Sharing a table with a cute elderly German couple and old sleazy Austrian men, we had beer, pretzels, bratwurst and saurkraut. Oh, and believe it or not, the Austrian men pulled the classic German joke, "ah, you are hungry for German sausage?" We awkwardly laughed, finished our drinks, said Auf Wiedersehen and left.
The icy air chased us back to our hostel and we took refuge at the bar. We were both extremely tired so we ordered two soft drinks before two
Australian's (seriously I swear we're everywhere) questioned our choice of beverage and before we knew it, we had downed 2 cocktails and 2 bottles of prosecco between us. Whoops!
We stumbled to bed and knew that this weekend was going to be amazing!

We woke on Friday, slightly hungover, extremely hungry and even more adventurous... so we downed some water and manned up to face the day. Now where else do you go in search of hearty German food in Munich but the Hoftbrau Haus, and boy did that deliver. I had some Ox Goulash which was absolutely amazing and we tried to have a stein but our stomach's were still slightly unsettled from the previous night, so we settled for 1/2L Radler (beer with lemonade) which I still couldn't finish! =( At least I tried haha
Extremely satisfied we retreated to the hostel for a nanna nap = pure bliss
After our much needed sleep, we got pumped up for BASTILLE!
[Quick side note* For those of you who don't know Bastille, go and download their album right now. It will be the best thing you've ever done for your ears. Oh and the lead singer, Dan, we're engaged, he just doesn't know it yet]
We headed out to the venue where we befriended a cute German couple, Tom and Christine who helped us with directions and we hung out with during the show.
Words honestly do not do it justice. They were AMAZINGINGLY INCREDIBLE!!!! His voice is literally hyptnotising.
As soon as he played the opening chords to Overjoyed, my favourite song, I literally broke down crying. It was so moving to experience such musicality and passion coming from one person's mouth/heart. By far they are a million times better in concert than on their CD.
Also, the fact that we made friends with people around us, really does determine how music brings people together, where language isn't a barrier and together we are unified through incredible music.
On a massive adrenaline/emotional high, we headed back to the city, contemplating life as one does after experiencing something so moving, before crashing into bed.

Saturday was an absolutely miserable day, cold, windy and raining, which was fit for our destination, Dachau.
All throughout school I have studied WWII and the Holocaust but no amount of notes, facts, stories or videos could ever prepare me for the pure sickness I felt walking through the gates thousands of Jews walked through 70 odd years ago.
Even as I write this, I feel sick, reminded of the complete emptiness I felt. Tears flooded from my eyes as a pure emotional response to being there, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I won't continue, you know what's there and what happened, but even still I just cannot possibly imagine what it would have been like.
The strangest thing was the contrasting beauty of the surrounding area. The trees were beautiful oranges, reds and golds and leaves smothered the earth and alongside the perimeter is a beautiful stream. I guess that's Mother Nature's way of reminding us that there is still beauty in the earth despite all the horrendous acts mankind inflicts on one another.
I feel like I will never forget my time there, I never could.

Upon our return to the city, to lighten our spirits, Jess and I did the most joyful, childish, happy thing one can do in winter in Munich, we went ice skating! Ah! We had an absolute ball! Although I somewhat resembled a baby giraffe taking its first steps, I managed not to fall over and actually make it around the rink whilst children zoomed past. After the biggest work out we've had in a long time, we skated until our legs shook and our cheeks ached from laughing, we engaged in some apres ski tradition.
We met up with a friend of mine who took us to a local pub where I finally did it... drank 1L of beer!!! Ta DAAAAA
And devoured an amazing dinner. We drank, ate and chatted for hours before we were given a first class guided tour of the back streets of Munich before getting lost and saturated by the icy rain.
After a lovely meal and drinking sesh we called it a night.
Emotionally and physically drained we slept like logs.

Which brings me to now. Back in London. Same old house, same old room, but definitely a different me.
Munich really is an incredible city which has so much to offer. The thing I love most about it is the vibe. It's not like other big cities, London, Paris or Rome, still bustling but in its unique way, maintaining a strong Bavarian traditional flavour making you feel as though you are experiencing the true Germany. The combination of incredible food and beer, music, history, culture, friendships and adventure was perfect and really made me open my eyes and heart, changing something within me.
I had one of the best weekends of my life and with only 2 weeks left of work before my next adventure, I am hungry for more.


Posted by missadelaide 09:17 Archived in Germany Tagged beer winter history germany music love europe adventures amazing ice_skating cold munich bavaria bastille dachau pretzels steins euros understanding weekends best_friends life_changing Comments (0)

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