Hungary & Slovakia

Few countries to catch up on since my last post!  Funny how we just don’t seem to have any time in the day but trying to pin down an hour or so to go through the photos and regurgitate some nonsense isn’t as easy as you’d think.  And that’s despite no work (well very little), no commute and no TV!

It’s a good life, but can be exhausting.   Moving on nearly every day, trying to cram as much in as possible means we’re always on the go – although with school holidays it’s been a lot  better the last two weeks.

After Slovenia, we teamed up with our new buddies Nat & Ben on a roadtrip and set sail for Hungary.  First stop was the thermal baths in Heviz.  Ben, James, Abbie and I braved the freezing temps to hop in the pools and have a swim around.  It was a bit weird to be honest – the waters are famed for their amazing healing properties (yeah, yeah..) so it felt somewhat like a hospital upon entering.  Dudes in wheelchairs and old decrepit folk obviously were looking for more than a bit of fun.  Seeing the many pot-bellied, white-skinned Hungarian, stony faced blokes going for a dip with a bright pink rubber ring under their armpits was a bit weird too!  Anyway was nice to swim in a thermal lake that’s apparently 38m deep in places.

Following the swim, emboldened by having companions, we set off alongside Lake Balaton looking for a spot in deepest darkest Hungary to wildcamp.

By sheer luck, before long we came across a perfect place for what we were wanting.  Level area big enough for two vans and no one about for miles.

Best of all it had a firepit so we gathered several tonnes of firewood and burnt it all down to nothing with only a few toasty marshmallows to show for it.  A great intro to the remote woods of Hungary.

Day 2 in Hungary we headed for Budapest.  Staying in big cities, campsites are the go for security and we found a really interesting one a short bus ride from the centre.  It was an old tram station and still had the old buildings and trams about the site.  Aside from the pitch they also included electricity, a welcome drink and Hungarian breakfast.. even a bottle of wine on departure – if you are ever in the area.

We spent a long, long day traipsing the streets of Budapest.  Thank God our kids are troopers – not many 6 years olds will cop an 8km walk like Abbie.  Here is Abbie’s first ever post on the subject of Budapest –  Have a read and give her some comment love!!

Parliament – biggest building in Hungary
Parliament – biggest building in Hungary

 It really is a lovely city and during the 7 or 8 hours of walking, apart from just getting lost amongst the lovely buildings and along the river Danube,  we managed the following:

1) visited the old ‘hospital in the rock’ – a WW2 and secret cold-war subterranean hospital and nuclear bunker.  Tour was really interesting and I was especially stoked to score an old gas mask and accessories for a princely 3 Euros.  Not your usual gift shop postcards & snow globes fare!

2) James and Abbie got acquainted with a lovely golden eagle

3) The kids also had a go at archery, something which James has now gotten quite passionate about – since then we’ve picked him up a bow and arrow set from a ‘middle ages festival’ in Austria (see later posts for details)

4) Checked out the local undercover markets.  A lot of tacky tourist stuff but some interesting stuff amongst it all

Next day, we left the land of Goulash aiming for Slovakia, a country we hadn’t planned to visit (Hungary wasn’t on the original list either), but what the hell – wasn’t far so another one to check off the list!!

We stopped by Memento Park in Budapest on the way which houses many of the Soviet-era communist statues and had a lot of fun there!

Comrade Cadiz
Comrade Cadiz

After a couple of hours of driving or so, we arrived in the capital Bratislava.  After eventually finding a park we discovered the ‘old town’ part of the city which was nice enough but not exactly on a par with what we’ve been used to.  I guess after 3-4 months of visiting the top spots in Europe, one gets a bit picky but nevertheless we had a nice lunch and the highlight, for me, was James’ meeting with Joseph which he is going to talk about in his blog.

All I will say is how we’ve noticed James, in particular seems to draw certain people to him and form an instant bond which is amazing to watch.  A complete stranger 10 minutes earlier but then the two of them are hugging and Joseph is saying in his big strong Ghanian voice how James will really be someone.

He was a man of faith and took us into a centuries old chapel full of nuns and a crucified Easter Jesus when James told him Daddy didn’t believe in God.  Joseph responded ‘He will, don’t worry’.  On cue, the heavens opened and we ran through pouring rain back to the van heading for Austria and I felt like I was personally dodging the lightening bolts…

In fact, that day we had brekky in Hungary, lunch in Slovakia and dinner in Austria.  Cool huh?!

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