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Monday, December 30, 2013

Castle Hill and Szimpla kert, Budapest, Hungary

My first morning waking in Budapest: still suffering from jet-lag so waking up super early even though i'm still exhausted. Robert and I went to the supermarket and bought some breakfast. I introduced him to vegemite which he said he liked, so i was glad. My initial plan was to get people to taste it without explaining how to eat it (thinly spread on toast with butter) and be amused by their reactions but i decided that was too mean. (If you're not familiar with it, vegemite is a salty brown paste and if you try to spread it on toast like peanut butter or eat a large amount from a spoon it tastes quite awful). After this i went for a walk, bought some gloves from a second hand store and came back. Later in the day Robert and i got coffee from a Melbourne themed cafe then walked around some shops before walking up to castle hill. To get there you cross a large bridge to the other side of the city and walk up a lot of steps. But the steep journey is worth it, the view is amazing (first photo: view of the Parliament building and the Danube river). Robert told me a story about a statue of a horse, it has giant golden testicles and students often rub them to get good luck before their exams. You have to actually climb onto the horse to be able to reach it and i wasn't too game. But apparently it works. We went back to the apartment and i had a bit of a nap before we met some other couch surfers at a famous bar called Szimpla kert. It's a really interesting place, with many crazy things on the walls from a giant ear to a light up switch board that activates different things in the room. There is also various kinds of furniture including a dentists chair and a car. The whole place has a really fun vibe and good music. Later we went to a club and went dancing. Outside there are these people dressed as clowns who's whole job is to keep the people outside lining up (or leaving) quiet. They "shhh" you if you talk too loudly. After an exhausting (but fun) day, i fell asleep quite quickly. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Arrival in Budapest!

After about 20 hours in the air, i arrived at my first destination, Budapest, Hungary. I had arranged accommodation through couch surfing and my host met me at a Mcdonalds near his apartment. I caught a bus and subway, and found the place really easily. Robert, my host, was quite friendly. He told me tales of his couch surfing adventures and travels across the globe. Later in the evening we took a walk through the city and i got to see the Christmas markets which were very beautiful with illuminations. For dinner i was invited to his co-workers dinner party and i had the opportunity to taste some traditional Hungarian food and drinks. By the end of the night i was so exhausted i could've fell asleep at the party. But it was a fantastic first day in Hungary and another reason i love couch surfing. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Summer Christmas

This year I had decided to spend Christmas with my Dad, who lives in NSW (a few hours from Sydney). It was to be my last stop before leaving on my European adventure and i was excited to be close to the beach this year. On my arrival I went to go snorkeling with my brother and his girlfriend as it was an especially hot day (44c/111f). I made a short video with my GoPro of some of the local wildlife including sand rays, crabs, and some water spouting coral.

 Have a look if you're interested :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What to buy?

If you’re from Australia and travelled overseas or have been here from somewhere else you might know that it’s a pretty expensive country. When I first went to Japan I was surprised with the cost of things, it was much cheaper than I expected! So now that I’m planning a trip to snowy Europe I have to decide what I want to buy while I’m here and what I’ll get when I arrive. I don’t want to spend a lot on thermal clothing here if it is significantly cheaper over there. I went onto the tripadvisor Budapest travel forum the advice I was given was to buy there rather than here, so that’s what I’ve decided to do.

Some things I already own like good quality hiking shoes and a knitted hat but most other things I probably won’t buy in Australia, most things I will need should be available there, I hope :p That being said, one thing I am definitely bringing with me is a big jar of vegemite. One thing I love doing is seeing people’s reactions to trying it for the first time.

For my birthday (17th December) I received some fabulous gifts from my lovely friends, including some travel items I had originally planned to buy for myself (luggage tag, travel diary etc).  A few things I knew would probably easier to buy here like personal items but apart from that I won't get much else.

So that’s it for now, I’m getting excited and a bit nervous about my trip as it is only 2 weeks away now. So much to do, so many people to catch up with yet so little time. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spontaneous international travel is difficult...

So i've been wanting to go to Europe at the end of this year for a long time, but I didn't really put it into action until recently. While that sounds fine in theory it’s been difficult to organise visas and things related. Today I had a visa interview and realised I wouldn't be able to get my passport back if I sent it in today, so now I'm trying to find another way to do it. I'm still going to Europe as planned, but whether or not I will be able to get a working holiday visa in the UK is still undetermined. But never fear, I have back up plans in place ;)

Sunday, November 24, 2013


So I've been studying for exams and researching my trip the last week, nothing too exciting and the other day I found some shot glasses! I plan to give them to my Couch surfing hosts as thank you presents :) 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My adventures begin

My adventures begin

I had decided a while back that I wanted to visit Europe. I'd been to Japan, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Canada and the US so it was time for something different. I was due to graduate November 2013 so I thought new years eve would be a fun adventure. But what to do? I wanted something unique, not to just get drunk at a club (I can do that at home) so I researched and came up with a thermal bath party  Szechenyi bath parties Budapest. After looking at some pictures I was sold, how many people can say they have done this on NYE? 

After attending a Europe travel expo I booked the tickets for the party on the 30th December and organised to visit a travel agent. Usually I book flights online but I thought a big adventure to a country I don't know anybody in might be aided by someone who was more knowledgeable. 

I also decided that a short holiday wasn't something I wanted. No Contiki 2 week visit would satisfy my desire, I like to get to know a place better and move at my own pace. The next plan was to get a working holiday visa, my initial thought was to go somewhere more exotic but my lack of foreign language skills lead me to end up in England. So 2 months travelling through Europe and end up with a few months in England - this way I can make short trips on the weekends. I've applied for the visa interview later this month.

A lot of people have been asking me, "how can you afford this??" Especially since I am a student and took a Disneyland holiday earlier this year. Well to be honest It's hard, I saved up a lot in the first half of the year and took a student loan. Also I plan to use Couch Surfing to save on accommodation costs. If you're not familiar with this basically the idea is you stay on people's couches in the area for free. It's a great way to meet local people and get a perspective that isn't so touristy. Everyone i've met using Couch Surfing has been really friendly and awesome people.  Those not familiar with it wonder if it is safe, but the system is quite regulated. 

So now here I am, still at the planning phase but counting down to December 26 when I leave Sydney. Stay tuned!