A Travellerspoint blog

Budapest

overcast 15 °C
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yep, in the city that has always intrigued me. The name alone is inspirational.

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Last night we arrived at Keleti station and I was swayed by the guy at an information booth to have a look at an apartment that his firm had an association with. Half an hour later I rejected the smelly place and we ended up back at the station. We finally found a hostel smack bang in the centre of the tourist district and when we got upstairs the room wasnt cleaned nor could they find any sheets for us. The guy at the counter was very apologetic and offered a discount. I couldnt be bothered moving again so we took it and slept ontop of some doona covers.

Today we took a tour in a big opentop redbus and got a feel for the city. I like it, perhaps even more than Prague and wow you should see the wrought iron scattered around, so ornate. I have been on a photo frenzy, snapping up one doorgrill after another.

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After the bus tour we found a great vege restaurant and gorged ourselves on greens and legumes...

Our gear jettisoning has slowed but Lute did leave her watch in the shower at a camp ground in Slovakia. One hour later she realised, but it was gone like the wind. So thats the second item lost, my rough guide to Czech/Slovakia dissapeared at a hostel in Olomouc, which was damn annoying. Since then we have been using the Lonely Planet website shop which allows purchase and downloading of chapters from most of their books.

Its interesting, every time we move into a new country there is an initial sense of vulnerabilty that slowly fades with familiarity. Jumping out of the train here in BudaPest I felt it acutely, especially as my initial accomidation plans had fallen through at the last minute.

Travelling without a computer in the backwaters of Eastern Europe makes it difficult to keep a blog going and to effectively plan ahead. Of the few places I found with internet most were only open during business hours and that is not where one wants to be when the sun is shining. So we have been flyin a little blind which is sometimes frustrating when you miss convenient bus or train connections. Because time online has been so limited I have not even responded to the comments that have been made to my blog....sorry to you all. I have been reading them and will attempt to reply over the next few days as we do a bit of housekeeping and wash some very smelly clothes.

Posted by Estebaan 08:30 Archived in Hungary Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Cravings for a good salad in Levoca, Slovakia

semi-overcast 20 °C
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The czechs and the slovaks ARE BIG on cheese and meat and we have hit overload.

The last week has seen us hiking in the Mala Fatra Natrional Park in the western Tatra mountains and in the last few days in the eastern Tatras. I think we have all been a bit dissapointed with the Slovenski Raj Εƒational Park in the East. This park appears to be a mishmash of pristine areas and logging coups and most of the hiking yesterday was on logging trails. The Mala Fatra NP on the other hand was well worth while, the highlight for us was stumbling upon fields full of fruiting alpine blueberry on the last hike from the top of the chata vratna chairlift.

We shed 5kg of gear in the Czech Republic and our packs are somewhat more mangeable. Due to poor public transport access we hired a small Skoda in Kosice and are now touring on four wheels. Its much easier to get around to the campsites and I am happy with the decision. So far, we are roughly travelling on about AU$100-day which is what I had planned.

The scars of socialism are clearly evident in the towns, with concrete apartmentblocks commonplace. The older people seem somewhat stern and watchful and poverty is hard to ignore.

Posted by Estebaan 04:36 Archived in Slovakia Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Helfstyn - Hefaiston

sunny 21 °C
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tears coursed down my face for the fourth time yesterday. I could not and did not want to hold them back for somewhere deep inside me I knew they were part of the healing I needed to part with my family and blacksmith brothers and sister.

The festival closed zesterday and we are all suffering from a lack of sleep. I had anticipated that after everybody had left the campground it would get quieter but I hadnt counted on the French trumpet player whose beer fueled blasts cut the cool quiet night air way into the morning. On the positive side, it kept me awake long enough to get me out of my tent and have one last drink with the Belgian smiths. What a fine group of men they are and we all have parted on the mutual understanding that we are all going to meet again. To all of you who read this blog I thank you from my heart, for it was the generosity of your spirits that has made this one year sojourn in Europe so special. And Patrick, you know.......bedankt voor alles.

So what was the festival like.....umm, well I have forged some new friendships and strengthened some old ones. the quaility of the steelworks exhibited and created within the castle walls were astounding and I have been enormously enriched and inspired. There were too many damn people to enjoy the festival during the midday hours and I estimate thousands rocked up to see the blacksmiths in action and see the works created.

The boys and Lut are now sitting in the middle of the square in Lipnik n. Becvou as we wait for a bus to take us deeper into East Czech. The plan is to reach Roznov tonight and have a look at Czechs largest open air museum of wooden architecture. Our packs are still too damn heavy but some jettisoning has begun.

We are all feeling a little exposed and uncertain.

Posted by Estebaan 13:16 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged family_travel Comments (7)

On the way

sunny 25 °C

A quick entry. We arrived in Olomouc zesterday and everzthing is going relatively smoothly except that my pack is too damn heavy and I havent been able to find fuel for the fancy multi-fuel stove. These damn kezboards are a little bit different and buggered if I can understand a word of Czech. Tomorrow we head to the blacksmith festival at Helfstyn castle and then eastwards into Slovakia where I am looking forward to unpacking the tent and breathing in some fresh mountain air.

Posted by Estebaan 18:51 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Departure

overcast 17 °C
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what a blur! We are almost away. In seven more hours we leave the comforts of Belgium and take a big silver bird to Prague. I am soooo ready to get movin. I weighed in our fully loaded haversacks last night and the results are as follows:

Steve: 23Kg
Lute: 17Kg
Max/Victor:~13Kg

I reckon they are too heavy but theres not too many luxuries. Most of the weight comes from the essentials required to hike and camp (tents, stoves etc) and I am uncertain how much of this is actually going to occur. I have now read that they dont allow free camping in the remaining wilderness areas in Croatia (i think this has someting to do with remnant landmines). Well if jettisoning is required it will be done.

The highlights of the last few days are as follows:

- Replacing my 20yr old Trangia metho burner with a fancy new multifuel model. I havent had time to use it yet but its a nicely designed bit of kit. Unforturtunately they dont recommend you burn unleaded fuel in it due to all the additives.
- Last drinks at the Witzli Poetzli. I hired Dirk, a busker that I met on the local shopping strip to serenade us with his violin and the regular flow of Belgian beers/wine put the 20 or so people who turned up into a merry state.
- Watching our 700kg shipping crate almost fall off the rear of the hired moving van. The hydraulic hoist of the van really wasnt strong enough and sagged as the pallet trolly rolled onto it. This was one of those "oh fuck" moments that fortunately didnt end in disaster thanks to the warehouse fork lift driver.
- Flowing tears and strong emotions as we said final goodbyes to Lutes mum and dad last night. Jos doesnt think this trip is responsible and his final words to me as he walked out the door were "make sure you look after Lute and the boys Steve".

OK gotta move. Our final breakfast in Belgium is about to begin, god I am going to miss the Belgian bakeries which must be the finest in the world.

Posted by Estebaan 23:49 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

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