Backpacking in Budapest

Tatra mountains and Budapest: Backpacking in Europe (w 2)

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A new day, a new week and maybe a new me!

I woke up and I had a nice breakfast (I like big meals). 

I did some research about where to go next. I remembered that last day (a Serbian guy from the hostel) recommended me to visit a city called Banska Bystrica. So I thought why not and I continued my solo backpacking trip…

Centre of Banska Bystrica is worth to visit

I looked at transportation, some busses were heading there, but they were leaving too soon. Then I thought about another option – hitchhiking. Why not try this out, I have to backpack on the budget. So I asked people what they think about hitchhiking in Slovakia. I did get different opinions about that: “Yeah you can try…, I don’t recommend it because of this pandemic situation, but you can try…  better to use transportation.”

I still tried hitchhiking

I walked out of from the city and slowly started to go to Banska Bystrica. I think I did everything right: I pulled up my thumb, showed my honest eyes, smiled and wore a catchy t-shirt. In the beginning, I was so excited about hitchhiking, but after when thousands of cars had passed by, I thought that do they even know what the thumbs up next to the road mean? Showing them that they are driving well??

Okay just kidding, maybe they were afraid of this corona thing and didn’t want to pick up any stranger and that’s okay, I understand. I realized that one of the benefits of solo travel is that you grow your patience. Indeed I was frustated, but I made that decision.

I walked about 15 km with my backpack, and then I reached to a smaller village road. Finally, the first car picked me up straight away. I got my first hitchhike ride to the next village. Then again another ride a couple of kilometres away to the bus station. I had some time before my bus was leaving, so while I was waiting I tried to get on the car, but with no luck (better luck next time).

I Finally made it

I liked it more than the capital (Bratislava). When I drove there with a bus I had no place to sleep, so I was ready for the wild camping. But in a last minute I was accepeted by new host from CS. My host Milan, picked me up from the city center and we went by his car to a smaller village where was a small cottage. It was a whole new experience with no proper electricity and water. I loved it! In the evening some of his friends came over and I heard so much about local life. Wonderful experience.

CS cottage house near to Banska Bystrica

On the next day, Milan and Miki (hosts) went to work, so I went on by myself. I looked around in the city and went hiking outside of the city to Malachovske hill. In the evening we went together with Miki out to see how is the nightlife here in Banska Bystrica. We met there also Miki´s friends and they offered me a chance to go hiking the next day and I was obviously down with that.

Welcome to Tatra mountains

On the next day, after a night out, we went hiking. I thought we are doing some small hike somewhere, but when I sat in a car, they said: “Are you ready to conquer low-Tatras highest peak Dumbier?” An old legend says: “Great things are done when men and mountains meet!”

Low Tatra - Ďumbier
The double Slovak cross on the peak of Dumbier mountain in the Low Tatra mountains

We might go for a longer hike than I expected and of course, there we went. It was about an hour ride from Banska Bystrica and finally, we were ready to start our hike. I hiked with Lucia, Denka and Tobby (Denka’s dog). It was about 2 hour of hiking and then we reached to the cottage. It wasn’t a peak. There was a small restaurant, where we order soup and beer. Fun fact: I have never drunk beer with this kind of view.

Cool story about the guys who carry different goods (also beers) from ground to cottage – They usually have over 40 kg on their shoulders and they deliver different goods from the start (1000 m to cottage 1740 m) There are only a couple of places where they still do it. It’s possible to do with helicopters, but these guys are tough and they want to keep old traditions alive.

We continued our journey and within one hour we made it to the top. What an amazing view. We saw low-Tatra mountains, far away were also high-Tatras. This hike was all worth it. So in total, it took about 6 hours to reach on the top and back.

Next stop? Yes, you are right – Hungary

Next day I thought, now when I hit my goal (hike in Tatras), it’s time to move on. After Slovakia, I started backpacking Hungary and when you think about this country then the first place what comes into mind is… Yes, the capital Budapest! I have been there once (seven years ago) and back then I only had good memories. So let’s see how’s the country has changed. Budapest is pretty far from Banska Bystrica, about 6-hour ride away. This time I went by bus, I wanted to arrive there on the same night.

At the first night, I used again my favorite backpacking app Couchsurfing. This time Arian hosted me. He´s from Iran. He showed me around and of course in the night Budapest looked so lively. This city has so awesome vibe, people are friendly and Budapest is doing a great job to be on the same level as Vienna (when it comes to renovating architectural buildings). 

Citadele – celebrating the arrival

Discovering every corner in Budapest

Next day I went to explore the city. I had 24h transportation ticket, so I moved really quickly and saw many places. Their transportation system is one of the best. Basically you can go everywhere fast and smoothly.

Within a few hours, I saw Hero’s square, Margarit island, Fisherman castle and Buda castle. These are the spots what every tourist is recommended to see. After the tour, I set my sight to my new sleeping spot – hostel. Hostels in Budapest are super cheap. With 10 euros you can spend your night in several places.

Budapest is also known as the party spot for many Europeans and I did meet lots of people from all over the Europe. There are pubs in every corner and most known bars here are called ruin bars (Basically underground bars). Budapest nightlife was busy and for sure everybody enjoyed it.

View to Citadele at night

Next day I had a little hangover. But I didn’t let that hesitate me and I still went on a hike. Buda side –  one of the most known places is Citadele. Up in the hill, you can have an amazing view of the Pest side and also Donau river. After seeing that, I took my feet and went to the Margaret island. Over there was located one of the thermal spas. Budapest is well-known because of thermal spas. 

When I was planning a backpacking trip I read a fun fact about Budapest. I heard that thermal spas are good for a hangover. So I went to test it out. I don’t know if it had any impact, but indeed I felt better after the thermal spa. There were lots of pools with different degrees, swimming pools, thermal spas and saunas as well. 

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet!”

Last day of the week

I was between two options: be another night in Budapest or move on to another place. 

I chose to end my long weekend in Budapest. I went on a hike (again) together with my backpack and explored unseen places for half of the day. Also, I tried to find a host (CS) and again I had luck. This time I stayed at Laszlo´s place. With him, I discovered even more places and with a 50-minute train ride, we went to another city called Szentendre. It’s a small city close to Budapest and it has a small Italian spirit through their city.

Laszlo is a local guy and he gave me some tips for my next adventures in Hungary. Also, he knew all the popular clubs and pubs and so I did go there to explore Budapest famous ruin bars. I had one and a half hour sleep, but the next day I was sharp and ready for my next adventures. My first solo travel experience in Budapest comes to an end. It was fun for sure!

The journey continues to magical Lake Balaton.

Want to get to know more about Budapest? Here is more information!

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Banska Bystrica

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