13.04.2017 - 27.04.2017
Let's talk about Hungary...
The last country where I have to remember random numbers for currency conversion, learn new words for 'please', 'thank-you', 'hello', learn the proper way to greet people, navigate public transit, cross the street, form queues, etc. The last place to try new candies (an Ellie traveling requirement), stuff myself with local foods, drinks, snacks and sweets. The last of 4 continents, 18 countries, 77 cities, and 94,110km in 8 months!!
I appreciate how my traveling has come full circle. On my first backpacking trip four years ago, I started out in Hungary, meeting our relatives and falling in love with the country. This trip, I ended with Hungary, reuniting with so many people, exploring places new and old, and falling in love all over again. I have also enjoyed looking back at how much I have grown, learned and experienced on this trip, as well as in the 4 years since travel became a part of my life.
Maddie and I took a train from Salzburg to arrive in Budapest just before Easter. We explored a lot of the city during our 2 weeks, in between visits to other places. We hit up the Opera House..
Views from the Fisherman's Bastion..
(basically a huge hot tub!)
Matthias Church and Szent István (St. Stephen's) Basilica..
Returning for my favourite rose gelato by the basilica after 4 years was thumbs up..
And my personal favourite spot in the city is the Citadel, and view from Gellért Hill..
(The citadel is the home of the Liberty Statue that just turned 70 and celebrates Hungarian independence!)
Our 'cousin' Pearl (or Gyöngvér), (and her fiancée Mark) were amazing tour guides for a couple of our days there...
We were so lucky to be hosted by so many relatives. We celebrated Easter in Patak with amazing food and amazing company..
We enjoyed participating in the Easter procession..
Trying on Hungarian dresses..
(Where I should point out my sideways pose accommodates a shirt that was not made for my slightly above average sized shoulders!)
We drank many a glass of palinka (a must try fruit liquor that's strong, tasty and served before basically every meal!)..
And ate many a delicious dish, including langos (or Hungarian pizza).. possibly the best fried bread I've ever eaten, traditionally served with sour cream and cheese..
Easter Monday was spent in the small village of Hóllokö celebrating Hungarian traditions..
(The boys sprinkle water on all the girls as part of a very old custom. There was also egg painting, folk dancing, dresses, and arts.)
I enjoyed walking the streets that my great-grandparents grew up on!
We also enjoyed amazing countryside views..
And a weekend visiting a few places with relatives Bernadett and Laci, who have our eternal thanks for everything that they did for us in our two weeks!
These are the streets of Eger..
And views from the minaret that we had to coax Maddie to climb (in all fairness, I was pretty scared up there too!!)
After many an hour in malls on some rainy days, we also got to shop in some traditional houses in a town called Mezökövesd..
Maddie and I did a bit more on our own, visiting the great view from the castle in Visegrád...
We took a trip to the Gödöllo palace, beloved home of Queen Elisabeth (Sissy) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire..
(photos not allowed inside but I prefer not to listen to silly rules when no staff are around and they refuse to give me an audio guide.. I'm quite the rebel, I know!)
Also enjoyed was the biggest Basilica in Hungary found in Esztergom..
With amazing views from the basilica's dome..
And the bridge that borders Hungary and Slovakia..
Lastly, we hit up the cute streets of Szentendre...
Our final sister tourist activity back in Budapest was a beautiful dinner cruise on the Danube..
All smiles to end this amazing adventure..
I've learned a lot on this trip, about myself and about the world. I'm full of a million recommendations both specific and general about everywhere that I've been. And as I seem to only be able to talk about my trip these days, anybody that has any questions or wants some travel ideas.. you know who to ask!!
It would only be fitting to end my 8 month long blog by saying thank you! Thank you first of all to all the relatives in Hungary for an amazing final two weeks! Thank you to everyone I met along the way! I was blessed with so many encounters, both brief and lasting, people who helped with little things when I was a confused tourist, people I spent tours, day trips, meals, drinks, and many other activities with. People who I will never see again and people who will be friends for life! Thanks to everybody who was a part of this trip in one way or another. Thank you to everybody who took time to read my blog. And of course, thanks to my loving friends and family at home, supporting me with texts, emails, phone calls, Facebook, Instagram, social media etc. I'm so lucky to be coming home to all you wonderful people. Canada, I'm coming home!!
"It's intoxicating to strip away the excess: it's just me, my backpack, and the world" -Rachel Friedman, The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost