It was very cold when I was in Sofia. Like, really cold. So cold in fact that sometimes you had to go indoors or even go back to the hostel because you couldn’t feel your hands through your gloves.
It snowed several times, it got dark very early and it was sometimes literally too cold to be outside. The good thing about that was that there were relatively few tourists, but that didn’t necessarily make up for the very real risk of frostbite.
Sofia does seem a little ‘further away’ than the other cities I visited in Europe. I think it’s because of the alphabet; everything prior to Sofia had used the same letters as English and so even if you didn’t understand it you could figure out some of the easier words just from your knowledge of English and common sense.
Sofia, on the other hand, uses the Cyrillic alphabet which looks quite similar to Greek and is much harder to decipher if you don’t know the language. Most of the shopkeepers and waiters do speak English (more so than in Romania) and a lot of the street signs are also in English so it’s not hard to find your way around, but Sofia does still feel very far away from home.
Bucharest is one of those cities that no one seems to really like. In fact, the best thing I had heard anyone say about Bucharest before I went there was that it wasn’t ‘as bad’ as they were expecting.
The Romanian guys who worked in the hostel I stayed in in Brasov seemed quite offended that I was going to Bucharest and kept going on about how ugly and dangerous they thought it was.
Bucharest really isn’t that bad, but it’s not that great either. The old town is pretty nice (although it’s too big and commercial to have the same appeal as Brasov) and they have a really vibrant nightlife scene with loads of clubs open until the early hours.
We went to the right bus stop this time. Remember that if you’re ever in Brasov and you want to visit Bran then remember that it’s Autogart 2, not Autogart 1.
The bus stop is a thirty-ish minute walk away from Kismet Dao hostel, and it was freezing, but it was still doable. The bus journey itself is really scenic and it’s a great way to see more of the Transylvanian countryside if you’re only in Romania for a few days. The bus costs around 5-7 lei, which is around £1.40.
Bran Village is beautiful with its mountains and vampire tourism. It was a freezing November day, but I think I think the cold weather adds to the Transylvania experience. I really cannot imagine Transylvania in the summer. I don’t think it would be the same.
I’m afraid I’ve been lumbered with work for the last couple of days and so I’ve been neglecting this blog. Updating it every day might have been a bit of an ambitious idea, but I’m going to try harder so don’t give up on me!
Today is my last day in Budapest. ?
I’m in this restaurant on my own and the waiter guy was so clearly judging me for going there alone (or more probably being a woman eating alone) which is weird because the whole reason I decided to come in here was that there were two other people on their own. Actually strike that, another lonesome guy just walked in so there are THREE of us now.
I don’t normally eat in actual restaurants alone, I’m more about the food courts, cafes and informal places without waiters, but I’ve been walking for about four hours ever since The House of Terror and if I didn’t eat and drink soon I was going to go mad and/or collapse. To make up for the awkwardness I’m trying to look all sophisticated and writery so they think I’m reviewing this place so they stop judging and start giving me free stuff.
So on with the blog. I’ll get to the beautiful city which is Budapest (or rather Buda and Pest as it used to be) in due course, but first, let’s catch up with the last few days in Prague.
People in Prague really don’t celebrate Halloween. Or rather they do but apparently, it’s on the 2nd of November and is more of a ‘day of the dead’ type thing. So it was a bit weird bring in the hostel and seeing everyone else Halloween photos from back home when I literally just saw one group of people dressed up here and realistically they were tourists, but the night was still quite fun.
I ended up drinking with some Spanish and German people in the hostel kitchen and played an array of confusing drinking games. I also went over the bridge onto the other side of Prague and walked up a very big hill to get an amazing view of the city. The lovely Kavita took me up there as she was somehow already an expert on the entire city (make sure to look at her blog).
1st of November
This was my last day in Prague and I’d finally got to grips with the city (with a lot of help from Google maps, of course, thank God for 02s European travel offer) so I made my way back across the bridge to take a look at John Lennon’s wall. There was a guy playing the guitar and singing his songs and it was a beautiful example of street art.
I accidentally ended up having the healthiest lunch ever mostly because I went into this healthy foods cafe place because I wanted to charge my phone and they had plugs and so I ended up having a meal made up entirely of vegetables. It was really nice though.
I ended up getting a private tour of the Alchemy Museum led by a really hot Czech guy as I was the only one there for that particular time. The Alchemy Museum is pretty cool. You go underground and see these little rooms where they used to make alchemy positions without anyone ever finding out until last century, and you get there through a real life revolving bookcase!
The fumes from the potions they were making used to waft up into the streets and they made everyone so high that they kept hallucinating and apparently they were all convinced that these fiery goats were coming at them.
Apparently, the philosophers stone from Harry Potter was a real thing( or person) which goes back to the BC times (maybe that’s common knowledge, I’m not sure). In any case, the tour was really interesting and I highly recommend it.
Oh, and on my way to the Alchemy tour, I stumbled across this art gallery which was full of neon heads and mechanical legs.
After the tour I met up with my local friend and we went to a bar/restaurant place that did loads of vegetarian options (there is nothing quite like a free burrito when you’re traveling!) and we went to a German bar and this awesome little tiki cocktail place. It definitely helps to know a local who can show you all the stuff you’d miss as a tourist.
On my way to the Alchemy tour, I stumbled across this art gallery which was full of neon heads and mechanical legs.
Prague is a really good place for vegetarians. They price the food by weight, but my plates were pretty packed and they were still really cheap.
Prague is a beautiful city which literally looks like it fell out of a fairy tale. It is a very popular tourist destination (even though I went in October/November it was still pretty rammed) and it’s not as cheap as the rest of the Czech Republic, but it is still one of those places that you have to see to believe.
Check back soon for my entries on Budapest, Brasov, and Bucharest!
Prague is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The architecture doesn’t seem to have been marred by the 1950s concrete horrors and the strange glass towers that so many other cities (including my very own London) are full of.
In Prague, pretty much every building, even regular shops, and houses look like it fell out of the 16th century. Prague feels like it has been untouched by every war and major tragedy of Europe’s recent past. It basically looks like a real life city version of Disney World, and it’s awesome.
Before I came to Prague, I was starting to worry that I was going to have a very lonely time in Europe. It’s not like I didn’t speak to people at the last two hostels, but I didn’t exactly go anywhere with anyone or really spend any time with them.
All that changed in Prague. My hostel was small, cheap and fairly basic, but the people were great. I actually knew someone in Prague already so my solo traveling was about to become (at least temporarily) much less solo.
One of the other people staying in my hostel in Prague was Kavita. When I met Kavita she was still making her way through Europe, but now eight months later she has been through Russia, she caught the Trans-Siberian Express, she has been to China, Japan, and SE Asia.
She is literally living my dream and I am incredibly jealous of her. Y’know when someone is more successful than you but you can’t hate them because they’re nice? In all seriousness though I’ve only met a few other travel bloggers during my hostel stays (perhaps people don’t want to bring it up because you don’t want to be that guy) and I’ve really enjoyed following Kavita’s brave and crazy journey. See here for Kavita’s take on Prague.
On my first night in Prague, I went for Indian food with my roommates and played strange Australian/American drinking games. After that, I met up with my friend from Prague and we went to Prague’s Radio One station where we sat around drinking beer and taking legal highs whilst these guys did their radio thing.
After that, we went to this pub which apparently never closed and I ended up falling into bed at 4:30 which meant the next day I was very hungover and only managed to stagger out of the hostel at 3:30 pm in search of vegetables. I did discover a very rejuvenating vegan buffet though (my first and only ever experience of Loving Hut) and all the beautiful buildings in the old town square including the astronomical clock perked me up somewhat.
Prague has a lot of overpriced weed products which don’t actually get you high. You can get the cookies and lollies that they sell in the shops in Amsterdam and they also sell this absinthe and weed ice cream mixture which was surprisingly nice (although sadly not real).
Don’t Forget The John Lennon Wall!
Prague really does look like a fairy tale city and I was lucky enough to go during October/November when there are fewer tourists so you can actually see things. They also have a lot of busking and amazing warm wine which works out to around £1.10. Seeing as it’s normal for me to pay £6 for a glass of wine at home this was very exciting.
The one downer that happened in Prague was that my phone decided it didn’t have enough space for me to take photos and, considering that 1) I don’t own a professional camera so I basically rely on my phone and tablet for photos, and 2) I was making a travel blog which is kind of pointless without photos it really was quite distressing. I had to delete pretty much all my apps and it was still touch and go for the rest of the trip. These are literally the epitome of first world problems, but somehow it doesn’t feel right to see the world if you can’t also save it for later.
I really can’t imagine what staying in a hostel would have been like without the internet.
Imagine this: a small group of people sitting together in the reception/ bar area of a hostel in central Berlin. These people are not talking. In fact, none of these people have spoken to each other since they walked in, saw an empty seat and sat down. Most of them haven’t even acknowledged each other. Several of them are drinking beer, some are having tea, all in deathly silence.
Sounds weird right?
But then imagine the same group of people are all on their phones, tablets or laptops. They still aren’t talking to each other and they still aren’t acknowledging the world that’s right in front of them, but they are messaging their friends on Facebook, uploading their photos to Instagram and/or watching other people live their lives on Snapchat.
Suddenly it’s completely normal.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone and tablet. I like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. And honestly you don’t want to be social and do the whole “where are you from and where are you going” all the time. Having a phone or tablet means you can go into a cafe, bar or restaurant by yourself and sit and eat by yourself because you’re not just there on your own staring into space. You’re not alone because you have a phone, and it makes everything easier.
But all the same, I just can’t imagine what it would have been like in the ’60s or even 10/20 years ago. If we didn’t all have our phones as shields what would we do? Would we make an effort to meet each other or would we all just sit there staring into space? I honestly don’t know.
I think it’s a lot harder to meet people in the bigger, more established hostels. Or maybe it’s harder to meet people in Europe. Or maybe it’s hard to meet anyone who isn’t a super needy desperate man. Or maybe it’s just me.
Berlin is really nice. There is this Indian restaurant that does vegetarian kebabs and thalis right next door and the owners speak just enough English that you can successfully order food. I eat tons of vegetables at home and its hard to keep that up abroad when the only vegetarian stuff you can easily get without going into a restaurant is sandwiches, so this place has been great and the guys who run it are so friendly.
I finished working at about 5 pm and spent the next few hours getting lost on random streets. I haven’t seen the wall or any of the iconic stuff yet but I somehow managed to come across what I think is museum island.
Berlin is really artistic and it’s full of beautiful architecture. I didn’t think it would be given the whole Soviet thing but some of these buildings could rival the beauty of Munich.
Hello and welcome to Europe By Bus! In this post, I’m going to introduce myself and let you know what this website is all about!
I am a freelance writer, blogger, and journalist from London. I graduated in 2014 and literally the day after I left university I started working in a call center selling bin bags. The job wasn’t bad (and it was definitely necessary for sorting out my sleeping pattern!) but I always had the idea in the back of my mind that I would save up enough, go traveling and then deal with adult life. In March 2016 I left my full-time job to go to Australia with my parents to visit family, and since then I have traveled to fifteen countries in the last year, launched a (semi) successful freelance career and had the opportunity to work and travel at the same time! Last year I had never even left the country by myself and the idea of going to New Zealand on my own for a week was terrifying, but now I can safely say that solo traveling is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Europe By Bus
I originally started my ‘Europe By Bus’ blog in October 2016 when I embarked on my first real solo backpacking trip from London to Sofia, Bulgaria. You can find my original blog here.
I knew I wanted to keep a travel blog during my trip, and I knew I wanted to make something which wasn’t just the generic 20 something backpacking diary. I’ve always loved buses (whilst other people may find the concept of travelling on a bus for 8+ hours horrific I genuinely enjoy it!) and whilst I’m not afraid of flying I don’t exactly relish it either, so I decided to see if I could get from one side of Europe to the other without catching a single plane. Travelling Europe by bus and train is pretty easy as most of the countries are in the same land mass, it’s mostly pretty cheap to get from country to country, and you get to see far more than you’d see on the plane.
This blog will show you that you don’t need to get a plane to travel. If the thought of planes fills you with dread, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out. This blog is also about budget travel, freelancing whilst traveling, traveling as a solo female, staying in hostels, Europe, Eastern Europe, and the wider world. In addition to my Europe By Bus adventures, you can also find details of my plane trips and tips, stories and advice for Mexico, New Zealand, Australia etc.
Thank’s for reading, and please feel free to get in touch!