A Travellerspoint blog

The Tatra Mountains


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After being told the site was full we stopped in a field to see where we would be going next, it is the one little problem of day to day planning, sometimes we come unstuck, but, just like the unexpected lake the day before, there is something great around the corner.
And there was, after 26 months and over 200 campsites we have found the best one, small, in the hills, swimming pool, great showers and washing up, Internet, the works. This site is run by a Dutch couple who used to be campers so they know where to put hooks in the showers; the whole site has a rustic feel and the owners have made everything in it, from a pretend byre in the showers to a quirky way to support a hose for the loo waste.Jacqui was in her element as they had cats, dogs, baby chickens and rabbits. Lots of little extras like wild flowers on picnic tables and even their own jam and Slivovitz in beautifully decorated jars and bottles. They even had a zip wire,
This area is the low Tatra or foothills I suppose, so we took a walk along tracks the site owners suggested, there are maps for campers to use and they have even marked the routes around the hills by adding signs to trees. Our walk ended at the pub, 95 cents a pint and we caught the bus back.
We stayed a couple of nights knowing there are more great sites around the corner and we headed for a lake again. This time, however, the beaches were crowded and there were such attractions as Aquapark Tatralandia and Baby Play Park, we decided to avoid these and were looking for somewhere to turn round when we drove through a village and happened upon a car park for a local hiking trails. There was a pub and a football pitch and we got charged €3.50 to park overnight.
Next morning we walked up to the waterfall and back, 3.5 hours, up a dried up stream bed and across bits of rock holding on to wires and chain. I'm sure the waterfall is more dramatic in early summer but it was a good walk.
Expecting our 3 in a row to have finished our run of great sites, we headed higher into the Tatry Mountains and drove through a number of lovely ski resorts doing their summer season. We found a stellplatz behind a panzion with a bar and restaurant, electric included, on a roll now!
This village is called Tatranska Lomnica and has some really grand hotels and a small electric railway that we used to go to the couple of local towns of any real size; the return fare was €3 and there wasn't much going on in either town! The fact we have gone higher, now over 2000 feet, means we have cooled off a bit especially at nights.

Posted by cjpolley 22:39 Archived in Slovakia Comments (2)

Unexpected in Slovakia


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We were heading towards a campsite in the hills in southern Slovakia called lazy days when jacqui shouted "motorhomes!" and I took the next left a bit quick, well the local driver shouldn't have been that close! We drove across a track and found the lake that Jacqui had briefly seen, a large logging lorry gave way to us on this narrow track, then it was on to a grass area around the lake. I asked a fisherman about parking and he motioned us to drive round the other side of the lake, probably to get rid of us. We stopped next to what looked like a few tents and caravans obviously here for more than just a days fishing.
I walked over and said hello and an old chap introduced himself as Pavol, or Paul, he had had a couple and was very friendly; a young guy Filip and his family told us there was no problem with parking overnight, Filip is learning English at school.
We set up and Pavol popped over to say hello to Jacqui who then started to cook roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, the works. Before we had a chance to eat Filip's family had walked with a bottle of local vodka and some homemade sheep's cheese. Well we had to respond with the rhubarb and custard vodka we were given by Aly and Richie and it turns out rhubarb is rhubarba in Slovakian, who knew?
Pavol had woken up by this time after his afternoon snooze, I was handed a tin of local beer and someone else got out the slivovitz which even Jacqui had a go of.
Our Sunday roast was a bit delayed and appreciated after that drink, but the welcome these people gave us was amazing and unique in our travels. We have often shared a glass or two with fellow travellers but never a whole local family turning up at our van like that.
We left next morning with lots of hugs and a promise to sent Filip our blog and we encouraged him to keep up his English. We only had 30 miles to go to the campsite we had aimed for the previous night, when we got there we were told it was full!
Good job we were prompted to drive to that lake!

Posted by cjpolley 09:24 Archived in Slovakia Comments (1)

Eger


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We had never heard of this town either. We only turned up here because it was a convenient stop at a campsite, we knew about the wine region but the town was a delightful surprise. We walked into the centre the first evening to find a bite to eat and we found a very lively pedestrian area, Jacqui spied out the market and we had a beer, so far so good. Strolling on further we found the main square with illuminated fountains outside the town hall and then a concert just about to start under the castle walls. We were treated to an orchestral performance with music they we hadn't heard and to a solo flautist who, we found out afterwards does jazz and dance as well as classical music. There was a large appreciative crowd and when we left we realised we still hadn't eaten, cue the brilliant burgers at Corner2.
Next day we revisited the town to get more of an idea of the history as well as poke about, the now open market. The castle is famous for its defense against the Ottomans, where 2000 defends held out against 40000 turks, I'm sure it was a lot but numbers can be exaggerated.
We had booked a wine tasting and a meal and turned up at 6 to be taken down into the cave carved out of the rhyolith, a soft rock a bit like Pumice which regulates the temperature to about 10 °C all year. The famous wine from here abouts is Bull's Blood and is a blend of up to 5 grapes. We tried the two types of white and then I tried some red, they were top quality and let patron was a character. The meal was a little disappointing, pork stew with micro pasta but the paprika paste it was served with was so good we had to buy some next day.
A bit of a lazy day followed all that wine but we did manage a walk in the Valley of the Beautiful Woman, where there are about 40 wine caves. We got dragged into one by an old crone who was a great advert for what happens if you drink this stuff for too long, even the whites are about 13.5%! We did try another cave and bought 2 litres of a blended red and 2 of a merlot, in plastic bottles the chap charged us 30p each for, the wine was only €2 per litre.
All in all a really good stumble upon and for some reason it has a Beatles museum, we didn't go.
We were leaving the next morning but had been told about a salt hill that was worth seeing so drove back the way we came into the town to take a look, it was about 8 feet high, we did expect a bit too much I suppose!
Note from Romania, Jacqui noticed that the ordinary villages were dotted with mansions, mostly unfinished, with decorative gates and fences, they really were over the top. Keeping up with the Jonescues I expect with a bit of Disney added

Posted by cjpolley 11:58 Archived in Hungary Comments (2)

Budapest


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Our motorhome app lead us a bit astray by recommending a site that turned out to be a long way out of the city, next to a railway track and under a flight path; we only stayed a night and moved to within 3km of the city centre to a friendly site with a 3:4:4 going on.
After our first foray into the city on foot on the Friday afternoon we decided to stay longer here as there is no way a couple of days here would be enough. Where Vienna is majestic and shiny, Budapest is grand and lived in and just as wonderful a city. The castle sits looking over from Buda to Pest and the views are great from the look out points but the castle is no longer the fortified edifice of the Austro-Hungarian empire, this Hungarian city played second fiddle to Vienna.
We rode our bikes along the side of the Danube to look at the buildings on both sides, the parliament was the most intricate icing job along the river. But there are hospitals and hotels and basilica which are all worth viewing, the modern buildings have been added sympathetically, lots of glass and glamour from the art nouveau style, cafes and bars still open since the 20's.
We took a guided tour of the Opera and learnt that it was built with money from the Hapsburgs and local contributions, the only condition from Vienna was that is should be smaller than theirs. Allegedly the King and Queen arrived for the opening night and he stormed off before the end of the performance because he also didn't want a more beautiful opera house than his in Vienna. This was the only time the Royal box was used, the Queen came on her own and sat in a different box, we think this is the famous Sisi that we found out about in Vienna. The tour ended with a singer doing a bit from three operas, bit of a laugh and not too serious.
On our last full day, Jacqui got her hair cut in the morning and then we walked to the market after lunch, bit of a schoolboy error there as the food section looked great. The building was different from the tiled Mediterranean markets we like so much but still a great place. We had walked there through a neighbourhood which held part of the university and looked to have as many bars and restaurants as the city centre but better value.
We think Budapest should be on everyone's list, weekends do get full of stag and hen parties but the weekdays are still buzzing and lots going on. Fantastic city.

Posted by cjpolley 07:01 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Back to Hungary


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Again no real plan but just drive over the border into Romania and see a couple of towns. The border was much more like we are used to, scanned passports and no stamp.
Turns out our first attempt at looking at a Romanian city, we interrupted the Grand Prix practice by the local car drivers on the outer ring road, combine that with building two shopping centres on where we found to park and we had no chance.
Kept going to the WORST ROAD we have come across in just over 2 years, Romania has this strange system where the toll companies own some of the roads, the rest are left to R&R. The particular stretch of road that gave us real trouble was about 5 miles long and we couldn't get to 10 mph! Lorries, tractors, 4x4s and us were zigzagging across the road in both directions avoiding pot holes, subsidence and the lack of any surface at all. It must have looked comical from above, but a solution was at hand for the really bad bits, they were repaired with cobbles, much better!
We were aiming toward a small campsite that had good reviews and the owners cooked for anyone who wanted feeding. Our extended day meant we were ready to be cooked for, so we pulled in to the tiny site to be greeted by 30 Dutch motorhomes on a bloody rally. The owner asked us to park on his front lawn, that was our first thoughts as well away from the throng of campers and Jacqui whizzed up a wymwom, ask her what that is.
We left next morning to head back into Hungary with not much of an impression of Romania, Serbia had us interested from the first couple of hours, strange things feelings, we will see on later forays this way.
A shorter day saw us in a small, pretty city called Szeged, the z gets added to an s even szex! The only site was by the river and looked okish. The city was small but obviously had been rich in the past and we had a good evening in a beer garden. The bar staff kept apologising for only having Hungarian beer, which I couldn't understand because the ones I tried were great. Jacqui enjoyed Szex in the Malata (that's a Hungarian cocktail!) Made from cherry beer, Metaxa Brandy and Mango, made her smile in more ways than oyne.
Turns out the location of the site was not so great as a disco boat, that's what they called, went up and down the river from 10 til 4am. In the morning I looked for the waste facilities and found a manhole to use, OK in a small village, but no water to rinse out with. I enquired at the office and ended up explaining a few ways to bring the site up to standard, just simple things like shower heads; having paid €20 a decent place to rinse waste away would have been good.
Anyway off to Buda & Pest.

Posted by cjpolley 05:27 Archived in Serbia Comments (0)

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