A Travellerspoint blog

Hungary

Enjoying Budapest, Hungary

Tuesday 20th July to Friday 23rd July

Tuesday 20th July

Decided to head for a bike ride around Tihany, a small peninsula jutting 5km into Lake Balaton. This was nice, but turned out we could only bike along special biking tracks and not into the nature reserve down the footpaths! We found this out by trying to do just that and being stopped and told we couldn’t take bikes down there!

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After a drink and some internet research on Budapest and it’s campsites, we decided to just head straight there tonight. After a three-hour drive we managed to negotiate Budapest and found the city campsite, called Hellar camping. The campsite was near the city centre and had a deal that if you stay 4 nights the fourth night is free! We were also happy to find a campsite full of young people, a rare occurrence. As night was already upon us, we decided to leave venturing into Budapest till the morning.

Wednesday 21st July

Headed for the Metro stop and managed to procure ourselves two 3-day passes, the next thing we emerged in the square in central Budapest. It was big and pretty new, apparently most of the older buildings are in the hilly Buda side of the river. Budapest is actually, or was actually, two cities in one. Buda is the hilly side of the river with the castle and Palaces, Pest is the flat side of the river. We decided on walking down the River and over the bridge to the Buda side to have a wander around the old touristy bits. There was a funicular railway to the top, but the price was silly for the short journey.

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So instead we walked in the sun up lots of steps, till finally exhausted we got to the top! The views over the city were great, we continued around taking in the sights.

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Sight seed out, we decided on finding some arty and Bohemian area’s of the city. The tourist information pointed us out some streets in the Jewish part and off we trotted. The streets were full of big grand but shabby looking residential buildings and a few small shops. We turned down one street though and stumbled across something we didn’t know about, but apparently Budapest is famous for! Ruin Bars! Yes ruin bars, there great! In-between two buildings, where an old building would of stood, there was a bar and lots of old painted garden furniture!

Garden Ruin Bar!

Garden Ruin Bar!

So we sat and had a drink outside in this cool place. Anywhere else this little bit of disused land would have been a small temporary car park! But here it was a garden bar!

Enjoying the sun in a Garden Ruin Bar!

Enjoying the sun in a Garden Ruin Bar!

After a bite to eat at a nearby place, £6 for two big pizza’s and 2 beers, we continued around the streets to find more of these bars.

Down this street hides a Ruin Bar!

Down this street hides a Ruin Bar!

Lorna spotted an old Dentist sign and an open door, leading through a passage way and into a courtyard with lots of old garden furniture and a bar! The place was an old disused building, a courtyard completely surround by a three-story building. The very top wasn’t in use, but all the other spaces and rooms had been turned into art studios and rooms for lounging in or doing something creative in! Fantastic idea, take an old disused building and create a bar and space for being creative! We felt right at home and happy to have found the place. Also the drinks were very cheap, so we sat happily taking it all in while drinking! We very much like this city so far.

Inside one of the Ruin Bars!

Inside one of the Ruin Bars!

Thursday 22nd July

Decided to head into Budapest later, as the sun was hot! In the afternoon hopped on the Metro and up to the House of Terror! It is the former headquarters of the Hungarian secret police and now a museum.

House of terror

House of terror

It wouldn’t be a happy place to visit, but it would be interesting and good to find out what people had been through. I think the security people and staff working there are either miserable and stern or just playing the part! At the desk they demanded to know where we were from and how old we were!?!?! Anyway tickets bought we entered past a soviet tank surrounded by pictures of many many victims of the regime.

lost faces of terror!

lost faces of terror!

The place was very interesting and thoroughly depressing at the same time. First the Nazi Hungarian party of the Arrow cross ruled and controlled the population through fear and brutality then it was the turn of the Soviets. It was very much George Orwell 1984! People taken away by the secret police, interrogated and tortured in the basement of this very building or sent off to the work camps in Russia. It was a total totalitarian state, calls monitored and no one dared speak out, for fear of their lives! Heading down into the basement was grim, seeing the cells and the torture rooms. It was bizarre coming back out into the light of day, people had to go through so much and it shows how quickly such a state could happen and scary how much control governments can and have!

Anyway, we both agreed it was time for a drink, so headed off to another ruin bar close by.

Inside another Ruin Bar!

Inside another Ruin Bar!

After this we eagerly went into an Indian restaurant near by to fill our taste buds with the Indian spices from Birmingham we had been missing! After we headed back to the Jewish quarter in search of more Ruin bars and found our favourite and best so far in Tuzrakter. A place full of life, rooms and garden furniture, actually even old plane seats!

Our favourite Ruin Bar!

Our favourite Ruin Bar!

This is apparently a centre for alternative arts, is great and is living and breathing. Different floors leading to different rooms full of different things, even open jamming sessions (although there were non going on when we went!). I would love somewhere like this in Birmingham, even in London for that matter. There are similar places, but they are either in the case of Birmingham too smooth and refined. Or in London too clicky and trying to hard to impress. Here it seems to be so laid back, open and welcoming to all. It’s just an old building with a bar and space that people utilize. Not only that, there are no doormen or money having to be paid to enter and enjoy it.

Budapest itself we had noticed was a very relaxed city, walking around or even getting on the underground no one was in a rush or barging past you. Anyway, we enjoyed a few drinks and a few more and watched some live music and checked out some more bars! We both really like it here, I could easily live here for a while!

Arriving back at the campsite we bumped into Zoe, who we had met in Bulgaria on her travels. Also we met another young British couple in their motorhome, Patrick & Hannah, who had been travelling the same amount of time as us. They had been north up and around Scandinavia, so we sat and had a good chat before crashing to sleep!

Friday 23rd July

Sadly our last full day in Budapest, we left in the afternoon again because of the heat and went off for a wonder by the river and to the grand market hall. There we sampled some traditional and fattening Hungarian food.

We then strolled off to find the Memorial on the riverbanks to the people shot and dumped in the river by the secret police.

River memourial, Budapest

River memourial, Budapest

After it was time again to hit the ruin bars, we were becoming slightly addicted to them!

down the passage a bar awaits!

down the passage a bar awaits!

We hadn’t ourselves, before here, been out in ages so we seemed to be making up for it in Budapest! Plus we just loved these bars come creative spaces. We also planned to meet up with the Australian couple tonight, we’d met before, that had also been staying at the campsite! Also an old school friend called Neil was living in the city, so we arranged to hook up. So another night was spent wandering around the Jewish quarter venturing into these bars then getting the night bus back to the campsite. Also during the course of the evenings I had just about managed to be able to order two white wines and soda water in Hungarian! Although often the bar staff still didn’t understand! There was one bar mind we went to where after a couple of nights they all now recognised me and said hello!

Parliment Budapest

Parliment Budapest

Bus in the river!

Bus in the river!

Budapest

Budapest

Posted by marklorna 05:05 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Around Pecs to Lake Balaton, Hungary

Thursday 15th July to Monday 19th July

Thursday 15th July

Decided to head southwest to the city of Pecs, as it’s supposed to be pretty and also this year it is the European city of culture. The closer we got to Pecs the more the countryside changed from the boring plains to lovely rolling hills. There were a few campsites to choose from around the outskirts of Pecs, so we decided to check them all out and find the cheapest one. The first one was quite far out but was a lovely small campsite in-between hills and woodland, but not as cheap as we had hoped. So we continued on and on, all of them not cheap and none of them matching how lovely the first was. We also stumbled across a festival taking place beside a lake near the town of Orfu. I was eager to go, as one highlight of summer is festivals and I was missing them. Also just missing music I suppose, we hadn’t really been to any gigs or I hadn’t played music with anyone for a while now. In fact I hardly ever pick up my guitar at present, never seem to be in the right frame of mind as it were. Still one thing I will do when we get back is immerse myself in music again. Anyway we had a quick attempted blag at getting into the festival at the VIP entrance but that failed, I’ve never been any good at blagging! Over at the main gate, there wasn’t really anywhere for us to park the motorhome safely and besides, we knew full well we didn’t really have the money to spend on festivals. So we departed and left the revellers to their work. After another couple of disappointing campsites, we ended back at the first one. Having lost a good few hours and wasted fuel, of course! It was by now early evening so we found a spot and finally relaxed.

Friday 16th July

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Woke up to another blazingly hot day and decided it was time we just sat still for a day. Since Bulgaria we seemed to have just travelled everyday, it was high time for a rest! The campsite was a lovely place called Camp Mare Vare and run by a very friendly and helpful Dutch couple. We set up the hammocks and proceeded to enjoy the sun. Also making use out of the campsite’s small, but wonderfully cooling little swimming pool!

Recently both our minds have been starting to think of home and going back! We try desperately not to think of that depressing fact of heading to the UK and getting back to work to earn money, but that is the way our heads are going now. I think it is because we are heading back north, slowly making our way back to the ferry. I mean it’s a good few months yet, but it can’t help edge it’s way into your mind. We are no longer heading south wondering about, we are heading back! Also our finances are getting very low, so the routes we need to plan now require not so much to-ing and fro-ing but limiting the miles as much as possible. All very depressing really, but I suppose inevitable as we head north and back into expensive Western Europe!

Also the plans for next year seem pretty open still, all we know is we need to go and earn some money. We both still want to head to Morocco again, but again we need to earn enough in a few months to get back there before the hot weather kicks in. Lorna at present I think has her heart set on going to Asia, while I’m unsure. I want to go, but at the same time I feel I need to surround myself with music and give myself a good push. I think I would love to go around the festivals for the summer. Anyway, were both happy to do our own things for a bit, as by the end of this trip we will have spent 24-7 for 12 months in each other’s company! I still think mind for that amount of time and as we are living in such a small space, we are still getting on great. One thing is pretty certain, that when we get back we will be able to save more money if we continue to live in the motorhome, even if it’s on a campsite! Also it would seem really strange living in a flat now! We originally bought our Hymer as an investment, as they seem to hold their value. Now though we have grown very attached to it, so I don’t know if we will part with it.

We have recently been in contact with some very knowledgeable and experienced motorhome full timers Margaret and Barry Williams. They have a great and amazingly useful website, www.magbaztravels.com It contains lots and lots of info on travelling and living in a vehicle full time. We have found it a great help on many occasions, I would recommend people checked it out, if interested or planning any trips. Anyway, in the course of our communications with them they commented that in the blog I hadn’t really spoken about what we wanted from the trip, or what the idea had been. So here is what we wrote back,

“I suppose we set out to look and learn about alternative ways of living, as well as seeing places outside of England. We feel that there must be more to life than the working 8-5 grind, paying bills, shopping at the weekends and living in a society who expects 2.4 children, a shiny car and a new Ikea sofa. Before we left we were living only for the weekends, now we are thoroughly enjoying the week!
We feel until you step out of this society you don’t really see everything around and all the other possibilities this can open up for life. A great influence to us starting to think about our journey was reading Living Off Grid – Journeys Outside the System by Nick Rosen.
We are enjoying feeling free to move about how we like without constraints and learning how friendly and generous people can be, as well as taking in different countries and cultures.”

I think now we have started living out of the normal society and travelling, it has defiantly opened our eyes and minds to many other possibilities. For one thing it makes you realise how cheaply you can live and how you don’t need most of the expensive items that life pushes onto you. Also we have travelled only round Europe and that is so small compared to the rest of the world! It puts life into a different perspective, makes you realise there is so much more out there and there is defiantly more to life than work! Although obviously some sort of work is required to earn money to get by and have a bit saved for a rainy day! Life is a journey we set off on to learn about the world around us and ourselves and I think that remains stagnated while were busy earning as much as we can and fretting about keeping up with everyone else!

Saturday 17th July

We had plans to go for a long walk and to take the bus to Pecs, but in the sun these went to waste. We did go for a small woodland walk near the campsite, but decided we would drive to Pecs tomorrow and see it. As we were paying for the campsite, we may as well sit and enjoy it!!

Sunday 18th July

It was time to finally leave the campsite and continue our journey to Pecs. Before we left though we got chatting to a nice Australian couple called Tom and Elise. They had been travelling around for the same length of time as us, but by van and plane to places. The rest of our trips were actually pretty similarly planned, so no doubt we would bump into them again. We ended up doing a book swap, new books to read were required. I say book swap although we only had one to actually swap, they ended up giving us loads of books! One thing during this trip, is we have read so many books! Unlike most motorhomes you see, we don’t have a satellite dish to put up every night. We haven’t missed TV in the slightest really, as most things on it I found I watched wasted your evening and then left you thinking, why the heck did I just watch that rubbish! Of course a good documentary or comedy show you can’t beat! We have the laptop to watch films on and some comedy series we brought with us, it’s good for rainy days. Anyway, we were happy to get some new books to read, so then bid them farewell or bon voyage. Although we were both heading to Pecs, so we would probably bump into each other in a couple of hours! We drove off and realised we hadn’t got any contact details off them, as the rest of our journeys were similar I’m sure we’ll meet them again.

We headed into Pecs and found somewhere to park near the old town. The old town seemed pretty quiet, probably due to it being Sunday, though the buildings were grand and beautiful.

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I think due to it being the European city of Culture they had cleaned and tidied up all the buildings, and all these grand old places looked new!

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That in combination with it being a sleepy Sunday, just didn’t grab me that much. It was very pleasant to walk around though, maybe again we have just seen too much!

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Water fountain, Pecs

Water fountain, Pecs

We left Pecs and headed northwest towards Hungary’s massive lake Balaton. After all the campsites we had stayed at recently, we really needed to find some free parking spots. As campsites cost money and that is something that is getting lower and lower at present. The problem with finding a free parking spot is the driving around looking! So some days the cost in fuel may be the same as a cheap campsite anyway! We seem to be pretty picky about where we free park. We prefer choosing somewhere quiet and out the way, rather than a lay-by by a main road. As long as you don’t pull up in front of someone’s home or block gateways and lanes, then surely it’s causing no harm. Plus we never leave any litter etc, everyone should always respect where they are.

Anyway today was one of those driving around days, although most of it was at least on route to the lake! We eventually found somewhere that would do as the sun went down! It was outside a small motor cross track, near the village of Somogyamos.

Wild camping by motorcross, Somogyamos Hungary

Wild camping by motorcross, Somogyamos Hungary

The weather has been great so far, but with the weather had come mosquitoes! They always seem to bite Lorna, so every night she seems to have a ritual of going around the motorhome killing them! Otherwise she doesn’t sleep, I think she has become obsessed!

Monday 19th July

Got up early and headed off to a town called Heviz, on the edge of lake Balaton. In Heviz they have the worlds biggest biological natural thermal lake and we wanted to take a swim in it. Even though the water and mud on the bottom are slightly radioactive! Still the minerals and the waters are said to be very good for you. The place is and has been for years a spa, but we paid a small price for a 2-hour visit and headed in. There is a massive building over the lake, and people bobbing about with rubber rings in-between the lilies!

Thermal spa lake, Heviz, Hungary

Thermal spa lake, Heviz, Hungary

After a visit to the sauna and Jacuzzi, we went and dipped in the lake. It was strange swimming around past the lilies in a warm lake, but very nice. Apart from the Sulphur smell, you know that lovely rotten egg smell!

Lorna in the lake, Heviz

Lorna in the lake, Heviz

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Anyway, was a great way to spend the morning and very relaxing. The later part of the day was spent driving around trying to find a place to free park again! We eventually did find one not far from the lake near the village of Vaszoly, down a track.

Posted by marklorna 04:55 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

From Serbia to the thermal camps of South Hungary

Monday 12th July to Wednesday 14th July

Monday 12th July

Decided we didn’t really fancy going to Belgrade, so instead decided on bidding farewell to Serbia and getting into Hungary. Hopefully to find a nice cheap campsite with a thermal pool! Off we headed up north to the border near the Hungarian town of Szeged. Before leaving though we wanted and needed to register again with the police, as the free campsite hadn’t done that and we didn’t want to have any problems at the border. We had seen loads of Police stations on our travels, but typically now we needed one we didn’t see any. One we did eventually find told us we had to go to a different station, we couldn’t find it though so carried on to another town. Eventually we got our police cards signed and headed for the border.

We exited the Serbian side of the border fine, but seemed to choose a busy day to get into Hungary. The Exit festival in North Serbia had just finished yesterday and the border guards and customs were ready! They came in the motorhome screwdrivers in hand ready to take us apart, but were very surprised and disappointed when we told them we hadn’t actually been to the festival! Instead they gave us just a quick look and a few stamps on the floor, to check nothing was hidden there! Next thing we were driving away into Hungary and off to find a campsite on a Hungarian camping map we have.

We headed for a town called Morahalom, where our map said there was a campsite, but there was nothing! We found a map in the town that showed a campsite in a nearby town, so off we headed. Again we found nothing, this time with phrase book in hand we stopped a passing cyclist and asked in Hungarian where the campsite was? Now normally you ask a question from a phrasebook, which is great, but you can never normally understand the answer back! Never less a few points in the right direction and we would be off. When the guy spoke back to us mind, we were completely baffled! Hungarian seemed like a series of strange noises. Like the character in the cartoon Catch the Pigeon, who speaks like “eeck blip pah bbrrr brrr clunk”!! So we stood having a sort of conversation, him not understanding us and us wishing we had never stopped to ask! It ended up very uncomfortable and somehow we ended up following him down a couple of streets to a pension (bed & breakfast type place). We sort of tried to thank him in Hungarian, although he had no idea what we were saying I think. We then waited for him to cycle off round the corner, before making a hasty exit away from the village and towards another campsite on the map! We eventually found a campsite by a bathing lake in the village of Kunfenerto. Well a field with some toilets, that reminded us of a school playing field! Still it was late in the day and we wanted to stop, so this would be fine.

Tuesday 13th July

Decided today to head for a campsite with a thermal pool and enjoy the weather while it was hot. Off we headed across the very flat Hungarian plains. Still at least in Hungary the fields were broken up by woodland, unlike Serbia where all you could see for miles was flat agricultural land.

On the way to the campsite we passed by a large place selling fuel filters etc, now it was very much time I changed all the filters so we stopped off to buy some. We also needed another part connected to the fuel filter, as recently we had been leaking Diesel. Not only slightly dangerous I suppose, but more importantly it was costing us money! Thankfully the guy spoke English and within an hour we had hold of three new filters (Oil, Air & Fuel). He wasn’t able to sort out the other part, but contacted a Fiat garage for us. They would be able to order the part, but we would have to head there. As it could be one of two parts and they would have to see it first.

So off we headed back to the town we had just come from to the garage, assured that when we got there they would know all about it. Of course we got there and they didn’t have a clue what we were on about! One guy there spoke broken English and he ended up having to call his girlfriend to translate what I wanted, as our phrasebook didn’t really cover it! They had a quick look at the leak and asked to wait as they would be able to fix it rather than order an expensive part. So we sat the rest of the day in the sun at the garage waiting to be seen. They had a few cars to do before us, besides he understood we didn’t have a great deal of money and I suppose they were doing us a favour taking a quick cheap look. Anyway near the end of the day they had a look and within no time had changed the fuel filter for me and replaced two washers. Those two washes stopped the fuel leek. I was annoyed with myself of how simple the problem was and the fact I could of done it myself! Still I will know next time, that’s the thing with mechanics I suppose most of the time it’s just a case of trial and error. Still we paid a very small amount for the work and finally headed on our way.

We arrived at the campsite in Kiskoros in the early evening, as the reception desk to the thermals was closing. They gave us an electronic key for the gate and off we went to set up. It was basically a small field beside a thermal pool complex, housing a few outdoor pools and indoor ones. We had planned to stop for a couple of days, relax in thermals and enjoy the weather. Also get the filters changed, but as the price was a lot higher than we had expected, we would be only staying one night! Anyway the day had been hot and sweaty and one of the outdoor pools was still open for the campers, so off we went for a dip and a cool off.

Posted by marklorna 04:53 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

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