A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: degoiabeira

Day 08. Budapest

Pan-European Voyage

snow

In the morning, I met my host for the next night. Her name is Szintia, she is fluent in four languages, including Russian, she can cook extremely well and she was just back from Rome, which determined our menu for the day.

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Budapest has some nice socialist-looking heighbourhoods which remind me of the thirties. This building was constructed specifically for people who worked in a nearby factory (the picture to be photoshopped):

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Seeking for some Nargles:

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The Danube was as gorgeous as ever.

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There were some nice trams:

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Everybody knows about Budapest's architecture, and I am not that proficient in it, but here is a picture which gives an idea:

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In a café, we observed a blue moon which strikingly resembles one of my university lectors:

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Back home, Szintia taught me how to cook a vegetarian lasagna with zucchini. :)

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I have to admit that I had expected more from Budapest, but anyway it is a nice city.

Posted by degoiabeira 12:09 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Day 07. Maribor - Lendava - Budapest

Pan-European Voyage

snow

I woke up just in time, that is, at 10 am. I had already seen Maribor in the afternoon two days earlier and at night the previous day. Maribor in the morning was just as attractive as ever.

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When I came at the meeting spot, Zdenka was not there. I examined the timetables and found out that there was a cheap train to Bratislava that had left at 10.50, which made me sure that Zdenka had already left for Slovakia (she didn't want to go to Hungary). By the way, there is free wi-fi outside the train station. Then I walked some 6 km to the north until I found myself in a settlement called Pesnica pri Mariboru, where lies the motorway to Hungary. I got a ride of some 40 km instantly. The driver had learnt some Croatian at school, but he didn't really master it, so we ended up speaking a kind of a Slovene-Croatian pidgin, which was fun. He let me out at a petrol station close to the town of Sveti Jurij. I decided to follow the motorway eastbound. The roadside looked more like a ditch, with reed and all, and, moreover, it was limited with an ominous-looking fence.

Indeed, quite soon I heard a police howler, there stopped a police van and they invited me in. I was informed in a rigorous sort of voice that it was not permitted to walk on the motorway, like in Slovakia, and that I was subject to a fine of 150 EUR. That wasn't exactly the thing I wanted. They checked it out in a brochure and the actual amount of the fine to be paid turned out to be 75 EUR. I still didn't fancy the prospect of being fined, so I told them the truth: after all, I am a poor student from a stick-in-the-mud country and I was going to exit Slovenia as soon as possible. One of the policemen looked through my passport and became particularly interested in the Indian visas for some reason. Possibly, he had never seen the Devanagari before. I already knew the solution: I thrust some paper in Russian in his hands. It worked, and much better than I could have expected, both policemen were amused with the Cyrillic script. We had a nice conversation and they took me for some 50 km, wished me luck and let my out close to an abandoned border crossing with Hungary.

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This particular crossing was actually the least hitchhikable place I had ever seen. I gave up my fruitless attempts to hitchhike there and left exploring. I found out I was in a Hungarian-speaking settlement of Dolga Vas in Prekmurje. I decided to walk to the town of Lendava where I could probably take a bus or a train or even spend a night in a case of emergency. The walk took me some 50 minutes, which is confirmed by the name of the settlement (Dolga Vas means 'a long village' in Slovene). Lendava looked moderately beautiful.

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I didn't bump into any bus or train station, but I noticed a sign saying 'Hungary' and decided to follow it. It was a mere country road, but there was no other option left.

It was a long way, and at some point it started getting dark. I got really worried, nervous and all, but I didn't give up, though everything made me think that was a wrong way. Finally, after some 12 km, I came to a motorway which was certainly the one I needed. The only trouble was that I had to cross the motorway. It took me more than half an hour to find a way. I found myself at a petrol station in the extreme east of Slovenia at night. Hitchhiking by thumb seemed really useless, given that it was all dark. I decided to ask some Polish truck drivers for a ride, hoping to impress them with my love for Poland. But there were no Polish trucks around. I got really nervous once again.

And suddenly, when I had already lost hope, there appeared a Russian truck. The driver got out and I, desperate, came up to him.

'Hey there, you are heading to Budapest, aren't you?'

He apparently didn't expect me to speak Russian, but he answered in a weird accent:

'Yeah I am, what's it to ya?'

'May I go with you?'

'No ya may not.'

'And why may I not?'

'Dincha see the plate sayin' "Hitchhiking prohibited"?'

'No I didn't.'

'Hahahaha, didja like me joke? Yeah ya may go with me, just a mo'.'

He wanted me to show him my passport to prove him I was Russian, dunno why would he want to know that. This was one of the happiest moments of my life. He offered me tea and took me right to Budapest. It is the longest ride I have ever had, the distance is like 300 km, which is not much, but anyway.

He stopped the truck in a faraway neighbourhood of Budapest, for he needed to pass some documents to another Russian person from Budapest. The person turned out to be an Armenian-born man, which means that he is always ready to help. He took me right to the neighbourhood where I was going to stay. My host met me and we spent some two hours watching pictures he had taken in Cuba.

That was one of the craziest days I had ever had.

Posted by degoiabeira 19:59 Archived in Slovenia Comments (0)

Day 06. Ljubljana - Maribor

Pan-European Voyage

snow

We woke up relatively late after a rocking night and set out discovering Ljubljana.

It is one of the most livable cities I have ever seen (surpassed perhaps only by João Pessoa, Brazil). It combines some important natural and urban features, which is not so common throughout the world. Well, I generally fall in love with every former Yugoslav city I visit.

There is some cultural space:

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There is some awesome architecture:

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One can even see the Triglav Mount from there:

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Not to mention this thingy with the weirdest selection of languages I have ever seen (English, Croatian, Russian and Albanian):

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Then we went to the motorway in order to hitchhike back to Maribor. We got a ride to Celje quite soon, but it had already gone a bit dark when we arrived. We used the same hitchhiking spot we had used the previous day, but it didn't work so well. Finally, there stopped a young lady who spoke a fluent Serbian. She was heading eastbound and was kind enough to take us halfway. We spent some half an hour in the town of Poljčane in a café run by her Serbian friend which I will use the opportunity to advertise: it's called Makasy and it is really nice there.

From Poljčane, we took a train to Maribor. Zdenka and I were hosted separately, so we arranged to meet at the train station the next day at 11 am. I headed to the bar where my host was employed. It took me more than an hour to find the street, but at least I explored well the Old Town.

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My host in Maribor was a native speaker of both Croatian ang Hungarian from the region of Prekmurje. He was busy working, so around 1 am I left for his place alone; I think I still remember the way. :) Maribor is a great town to wander around.

Posted by degoiabeira 19:03 Archived in Slovenia Comments (0)

Day 05. Graz - Maribor - Ljubljana

Pan-European Voyage

sunny

We woke up early the next morning, since our host had an exam that day. We were going to hitchhike to Ljubljana through Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, Villach and Bled.

First of all, we had to get to the hitchhiking spot. A single tram trip in Graz costs more than a euro, that's why we decided to save some money and walk instead. So we had an opportunity to see the city a bit.

One can find lots of baroque buildings in Graz. I am by no means a fan of baroque, though. However, I absolutely loved Graz's modern architecture: one can find there pieces of constructivism and blobitecture.

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Note the building on the background.

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The rest of the city looks like this:

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The spot was the worst hitchhiking spot ever. We waited a bit and came back, desperate. (Later, we learnt we had chosen the wrong motorway.) The train to Klagenfurt cost some 35 EUR, which made us refrain from the idea. Instead, we took a train to Maribor, Slovenia, which cost 14 EUR, which is an absolute robbery. We liked Maribor at once, but we were going to dedicate the following day to Maribor, so we didn't really stop there.

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I was particularly impressed by the presence of swans right in the Old Town.

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We walked through the whole of Maribor to find ourselves in its southern outskirts. We successfully hitchhiked our way to Ljubljana through Celje. By the time, it had already got all dark.

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Ljubljana's student life is just amazing. It is a major hub for Erasmus students (our host was a Portuguese-speaking Erasmus student from Germany), and we arrived just in time to witness an Erasmus farewell party, which I took part in. I met some gorgeous people from Poland and Macedonia. I tried to speak Polish as much as I could, just for the old times' sake (some five years ago I spoke Polish better than Portuguese, you see, and I still love it). After having drunk some żubrówka and other national beverages, some of us headed to a club, and now I can state that Ljubljana is just made for nightlife. A stylish city, Ljubljana is. And it looks rather safe.

Posted by degoiabeira 12:52 Archived in Slovenia Comments (0)

Day 04. Bratislava - Hainburg an der Donau - Graz

Pan-European Voyage

snow

From that day on, we were going to travel together until January 30 (that is to say, until our arrival in Budapest). Our initial intention for the day was to first hitchhike to Vienna, then to proceed to Graz. And, well, it went almost that way.

Early in the morning, we went to the Old Town of Bratislava. In many places, they say that Bratislava is not at all European and that no one sane could like it. Actually, I liked Bratislava less than I thought I would after having seen Košice, Prešov and Poprad. But in any case, it is by no means as bad as I feared it could be. Yet another Medieval town with a profound cultural background that I unfortunately didn't get to know too thoroughly.

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Bratislava is situated on the left bank of Danube (and only partly on the right), close to the borders of Austria and Hungary, the former in a walking distance. We thought that the best spot to hitchhike to Vienna was the abandoned border crossing, and we headed there. The first thing we had to do was to go across the Danube.

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We found the motorway going to Vienna. As I had discovered previously, it was forbidden to walk on the motorway in Slovakia for some reason. But we didn't care very much. At some point, we realized that we could take a shortcut, which we did. Quite soon, we noticed that we came to a wrong place. The border crossing was there, unlike the motorway. :/

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The road traffic was scarce, not to say absent. We waited for some half an hour before a car finally appeared out of thin air. It took us to the town of Hainburg an der Donau, the existence of which I was blissfully unaware of until that very moment. But there are worse places in the world, you know. There are better places as well.

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A truck stopped within a minute after we started hitchhiking. The driver only spoke German and Turkish. I hardly speak both. Zdenka knows some German (and I assume, she speaks it rather well) but she hates it as much as I do, so she avoided using it. We ended up telling him we were going to Graz. As far as I understood, the driver was going to take us up to Vienna.

When we entered Vienna, the driver turned south-west. He kept saying something, but I understood only the word 'Graz', so I thought he was going to change the itinerary for us. Ah, I am so naïve. Sometimes.

I only started to suspect something when the driver parked in a kind of a hangar. He said that we had to wait for a moment and left us inside alone without any clue of what was going on. 'The moment', however, lasted some four hours.

Fortunately, to the driver's credit, there was free wi-fi in the truck, which was weird. Moreover, there were thousands of Coca-Cola cans at our disposal. We found out that the hangar was situated in the village of Leopoldsdorf bei Wien, quite close to Vienna itself. But I thought that he would take us to Graz directly, so I put aside the idea to head off to Vienna. We have even observed lots of unusual things in the hangar.

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Finally, it went all dark, the driver came back and we left the place. In five minutes time, he stopped in the village of Perchtoldsdorf and told us it was the best spot ever to hitchhike to Graz. It seemed at least dubious.

Fortunately, an Austrian woman took us to a petrol station right by the Vienna-Graz motorway (and made us accept free coffee), where we instantly got a ride to Gleisdorf (it was a nice ride, the driver was a businessman or somebody like that, and he was highly proficient in Brazilian politics, having visited Brazil several times). It took us some ten minutes (and some 5 EUR :/) to get to Graz from there.

Our host in Graz was a Brazilian student who had lived in Paraguay for most of his youth. We had a nice conversation with him and his cool friends, which made me think a bit better of Austria.

Posted by degoiabeira 23:36 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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