After a spectacular New Year’s in Banská Bystrica, we set off on a whirlwind, couchsurfing adventure through Slovakia. Our goal was to spend about a week making our way over to the Ukrainian border, the next country on our list. We’ve done a bit of couchsurfing here and there, but in Slovakia we definitely had the best luck finding hosts so far. Maybe it was just the right season, who knows, but we immediately found some great people that happily took us in along the way. So here we go!
My Top Five of Hungary
We spent a few weeks in Hungary, travelling mostly in the area around Budapest, and I loved it! It was a country I didn’t know much about, but I had been curious to know more for a long time. Especially with everyone raving to us about how incredible Budapest is, I was sold and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. I will hopefully visit again, but for now, here are my top five things we saw this time around!
The Puszta Great Plains
The Puszta Great Plains is a large, incredibly beautiful region encompassing most of southeastern Hungary. We were lucky enough to be volunteering along the northern edge of the plains, quite close to Hortobágy National Park, and flocks of cranes flying overhead brightened up our mornings. The region is characterized for its grassy, treeless plains stretching out into the horizon, but famous for its bird-life, Hungarian Grey Cattle, and the Hortobágy Stud, one of just two breeding centres for Hungarian Nonius horses. While we didn’t manage to see one of the amazing talents of the csikós (mounted horse-herdsman, a.k.a. cowboys for horses) check out the (slightly cheesy) video above for a glimpse into this amazing tradition!
…Meanwhile, in a remote village somewhere on the Hungarian plains…
Yes indeed, that was a straw bale dressed up to look like a pig from the video game Angry Birds, but wait, we’ve got the WHOLE collection!
The tiny village of Tiszaigar, population of 946, is a cheery, little community near Tisza Lake in the Great Plains of Hungary, a two-hour drive east of Budapest. The Tisza people take great pride in their hometown, keeping it clean, building a beautiful fountain garden, and taking care to decorate according to the holidays. This year there was no particular theme but they chose to create several straw bale Angry Birds characters (including the giant slingshot), a straw bale Mater the Tow Truck from the movie Cars, and a maze for the kids to wander around in and get lost for hours. What were we doing in a wacky place like this you may ask?
A few people have been asking me about what kinds of Scandinavian food we’ve been having so far, so I wanted to take a second to tell you all a bit about what we’ve been eating!
First up, Norwegian fish cakes or fiskeboller. Mostly made from spices, flour, and fish puréed in a blender, they look like pancakes but with a dense consistency, and are very tasty! Siv (Nathanael’s cousin) made them for us one night and they were delicious. We had them with Norwegian potato dumplings served with a sweet sauce.
Sweden, Sweden, Sweden! We had a brief stop in Gothenburg on our way to Copenhagen, so here are some pictures! We decided on staying just two nights since we weren’t thrilled with our hostel and we were eager to see Copenhagen. Besides taking a moment to make the obligatory Batman jokes, we also found time to take in a rather interesting art exhibit (you’ll see what I mean).
So due to Nat and I being crazy excited for our trip, we’ve been talking to our friends and family about it for months. Okay, maybe a year… and a half. Maybe two years. Anyway, since we’ve been talking about it for so long, we’ve been slowly collecting travel-related gifts as birthday and Christmas presents. Amongst them, we’ve collected a beautiful collection of travel journals to bring with us to help document our journey.
So now we are left wondering, what are we going to write about?? As you can see above, we can choose plenty to write about and we can easily devote an entire journal to each aspect we pick. I’ve already managed to pick a couple of things that I’m really excited about.