Europe By Bus | Days 28-30 | Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt was the place that surprised me the most.

I had never visited Frankfurt before, but I had been through it several times on the way to Munich so I had already caught a glimpse of the glass buildings and the river. I imagined that Frankfurt was kind of like a huge canary wharf. Upmarket, glassy, rich and a little soulless. 

I was wrong.

 

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Europe By Bus | Days 25-27 | Vienna, Austria

The Roommate From Hell

I’m going to tell you an uncomfortable truth. Girls snore.

I’ve stayed in many hostels during the past year or so and 99% of the time it’s fine. You may see more than your share of boys in boxers and you do occasionally get some creeps but, for the most part, you either meet people and have a good time or you just get a good nights sleep and explore on your own.

I stayed in Vienna City Hostel which has since closed down. The hostel was fairly nice in that Travelodge kind of way. It didn’t feel like your typical funky yet grimy hostel, and it didn’t have a particular social vibe either, but it did have a large dining area, the beds were comfortable, and it was close to the city center.

Those sorts of hostels always feel a little sterile to me, but it can be nice if you rank comfort and functionality over the vibe and character of a place.

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Europe By Bus | Days 22-24 | Sofia, Bulgaria


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.

 

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Europe By Bus | Day 20 | Bucharest, Romania

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.

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Europe By Bus | Day 19 Part 2 | Stranded In Bucharest

This is the story of how I got stranded in Bucharest, Romania.
 

In order for this story to make any sense, you need to know two things:
 

Number one:

I am terrible at reading maps.
 

Number two:

I had an irrational fear of taxies due to the fact that I’d read and heard so many warnings against un-booked taxis in Bucharest.

 
 One of the guys who worked in the hostel in Brasov told me about some girl who had had to pay around 50 euros for a trip which should’ve cost 10 because the drivers hiked up the taxi price.

I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I was really wary of getting a taxi in Romania. It may seem a little paranoid (and it was!), but when people who are from the country you’re visiting keep warning you about the same thing in said country you do tend to listen to them.

If any of you get stranded in Bucharest,  I recommend you do get a taxi and just have a clear idea of how much it should cost. Learn a tiny bit of Romanian, negotiate the price beforehand and go enjoy your night.
 

Don’t do what I did.

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Europe By Bus | Days 16-17 | Brasov, Transylvania

Let’s pick up where we left off in Brasov, Transylvania.

 

 

Brasov is the perfect medieval town. 

They do have an Orange shop, a Mcdonalds and their fair share of tower blocks, but the buildings inside and around the walls of the Old Town are still magnificently old fashioned despite the modern purposes those buildings are now used for.

Brasov is the Transylvania from my dreams. It looks how you might imagine Transylvania would look if your only experience with the region is from American horror movies.

It isn’t hard to imagine that vampires (or Strigoi as Romanians, unfortunately, don’t tend to believe in Vampires themselves) are lurking around the corner, but aside from the slightly spooky element, I have to say that I felt pretty safe in Brasov.

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Europe By Bus | Days 13-15 | Budapest

Did I mention how awesome my hostel in Budapest was?

I stayed at Friends Hostel & Apartments. This hostel is literally two minutes walk away from Oktogon station on the Metro, it’s within easy walking distance to most of the places you’d want to go, it’s literally five minutes away from the best vegan burger place ever, and it’s also five minutes away from Haus of Terror.

I stayed in the six-bed female dorm and it came with sofas, a chandelier, mirrors, comfortable beds, a kitchen (although the microwave did not work), and it’s close to loads of shops and takeaways. This was one of the nicest rooms I have ever stayed in and it only came to £5 a night!


 

 

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Europe By Bus | Days 11-12 | Budapest

3rd November 2016

Oh, Budapest. Beautiful, cheap and historical Budapest. I am seriously considering moving here.The food is cheap, the metro system is really easy, the city is gorgeous and you can go to warm outdoor pools all year round. What more could you want?! Did I mention it’s basically a Mecca for vegetarians?

****

Traveling and working as a freelance writer is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I mean it sounds fantastic. Surely you earn your money back as you travel, actually do something productive whilst still seeing all the sights and you spend your days sitting in fabulous cafes daintily typing away whilst everyone admires you? That’s the dream, right?

In reality you either end up neglecting the sightseeing because realistically not everywhere has WiFi and spending all your money at cafes kind of defeats the point of earning the measly fees that my sort of entry level freelancing brings you, or you neglect the writing in favour of sightseeing and end up panicking at your blank pages and long to-do list.

Even though a tablet is a lot more convenient and generally safer to travel with, it is a bitch to write anything lengthy on. My tablet randomly decided to delete my words, change my letters or just invent new words of its own and so half the time I end up shouting at it and then realizing I’m in public and everyone thinks I’m insane.

I’m still loving the freelancing dream, don’t get me wrong, and it’s been really helpful (especially as I only started buying food to cook at the hostel rather than eating out two weeks into my trip), but it’s not as easy as people think.

***

On my first proper day in Budapest, I went for a walk and stumbled upon this great little vegetarian cafe. They sold samosas, pakoras, vegetable filled pancakes, veggie burgers, stuffed zucchinis and loads of salad. They did put carrots in the samosas and pancakes (which is a huge turn off for me) but that’s just my weird prejudices more than any reflection on the food. It was nice, healthy and at around 2100 forints pretty reasonably priced.

It was nice, healthy and at around 2100 forints pretty reasonably priced. The only drawback was that their wifi flat out refused to cooperate so my plan of working in quaint little veggie cafes just did not work out.


 


 

Oh, the health.


 

 

After that, I somehow ended up walking to Nyugati pályaudvar and went to the big West End shopping center which is packed full of shops (some like H&M are pretty standard and some I can’t remember seeing before) and ended up giving my tired face a complete makeover with the makeup testers. Apparently, that’s allowed which makes me wonder why anyone buys makeup if you can use all the brands for free, but realistically they’d catch on quite quickly and bar you for life.

Next, I ended up going into this indoor marketplace. Not the market that Google tells you to go to, I don’t even know what this one was called, but it was still pretty cool. I got a huge beer for 350 forints (about £1) and ended up doing my work at a little table via their surprisingly sprightly wifi.
 

 

Next, I ended up going into this indoor marketplace. Not the market that Google tells you to go to, I don’t even know what this one was called, but it was still pretty cool. I got a huge beer for 350 forints (about £1) and ended up doing my work at a little table via their surprisingly sprightly wifi.


 


 

 

I hadn’t planned what to actually do when I got to the other side, but there was a slope clearly leading towards the massive beautiful building on top of the hill so I walked towards it. There is a train you can get which will take you up the slope but I really don’t see why you’d pay to use it when the hill really isn’t hard to climb. And I really, really hate hills so that is saying something.


 

 

I didn’t actually know what the massive building was at the time (I figured it was a castle of some sort) but it was pretty so I just walked towards it.

 

The walk isn’t long at all and when you reach the top you have an amazing view of the city. It turned out the big beautiful building was Buda Castle (duh) and the walk takes you right up to the Budapest History Museum.

The museum is really impressive. It’s all inside the former palace itself and the first floor talks about the history of the palace and who lived in it. All that stuff is pretty standard but when you go downstairs things start to get interesting.

There are loads of relics from the original palace (it’s been destroyed and rebuilt a few times as I recall) and then if you go down done more stairs you end up in an uncovered old part of the palace complete with a chapel, sellers, and a prison.


 


 


 

 

 

There was also a really interesting gallery which explored the role of children in art and how they have been depicted throughout history, and another exhibition called ‘Light and Shadows’ which looks at Budapest’s history from Roman times to the end of communism.

I walked in not knowing anything about Hungarian history and left with loads of new knowledge. Budapest had not had a peaceful history. Budapest (or rather Buda, Pest, and Obuda) has been at war pretty much consistently until very recently. They got invaded by the Ottoman Empire, they got taken over by the Nazis and they suffered under communism to name a few.

It’s amazing this city is as beautiful as it is considering how many times it’s been at war. Budapest’s history could rival Game of Thrones.

After the museum, I walked around the rest of the castle area. The viewing platform is amazing and it definitely highlighted one of the bad things about traveling alone; no one to take pictures of you and selfies just is not the same.


 

 

 

 

 

 

My day ended with an awesome burrito from Gringos Amigos, an awesome Mexican fast food place just a few minutes away from Deak metro station. It’s not that cheap for Budapest but it was really needed and very tasty, plus it’s still cheaper than it ever would be in the U.K so you can’t exactly complain.