RedSea

The woman at the castle and the man on the beach: You can leave your partner at home!

I used to go sailing on the red sea in Egypt every weekend. One morning my friend and I walked onto the beach and took a seat. A man was sitting with a smile ear to ear and with his shirt open so his round belly could enjoy some of the UV rays blessing us that fine morning.

As you do in these situations we got chatting pretty quickly. This retired Swedish man had spent the last few years bobbing around on a little boat and pretty much stopping wherever he felt and then leaving off whenever he felt. A beautifully romantic lifestyle! He would return to Sweden for a few months each summer.

RedSea

During our first few days in Budapest we wandered up to Castle Hill in Buda. A woman asked us if we would take her picture. We obliged and got chatting. She was from Ivory Coast but had been settled in the United States for many years but used any chance she could to travel around to different parts of the world. We discussed our love of travel for some time.

Both of the woman on the hill and the man on the beach were solo travellers, remarkable but not the most interesting thing about them both. They also both traveled solo despite having long term partners back home. In both cases they explained that their partner wasn’t into travel like they were, so they had come to an arrangement and left them at home.

I often hear people say they can’t travel because their partner doesn’t like the idea but I think this is, in the long term, not healthy for any relationship. Repressing such desires only strains things and despite it being hard to stay apart I feel that fulfilling the travel bug, even without your beloved partner, is something that may actually make a relationship that much stronger.

In a relationship we need to love and support each other. Supporting your partners will not to travel is as important as them supporting your will to travel and although the time apart could be difficult I personally think it’s an absolutely healthy and fine thing for people with opposing view on travel to do.

So if you have been using your partner as an excuse not to travel maybe it’s time to look at it again and consider upping and going on your world wanders as a solo traveler.

 

Charconia-Front

You know what I really Love?…

I’m loving my time in Hungary and I loved my time in New Zealand and Egypt before that but all of these countries lacked something very dear to me.  They lacked something so fundamental that for a moment it actually made me hesitant to visit!

You can have too much of a good thing though, right? So when I can’t find this “thing” in a place I grin and bear it knowing that the time apart probably makes our bond stronger!

So what is the “thing”?

You guessed it, Trinidadian Dahl Puri Roti! Ok, maybe you didn’t guess it!

Charconia-Roti

It’s ok though because every time I swing by a roti-bearing country / city I rush to find the nearest roti shop and get my fix! This trip to the UK I found one nearly on the doorstep to the place I grew up in Deptford, south east London.

Dahl Puri Roti isn’t just any flat bread. The soft, layered and flaky delicacy is stuff with spiced ground and cooked split pea and then rolled very thin to be cooked in a hot tawa.

Then it’s stuffed with delicious filling. I normally have channa (chickpea), pumpkin, spinach and whatever other amazing veggie fillings they have! For the meat lovers you have plenty of options too including goat and chicken.

Oh and to top it off, any self respecting Trinni roti joint has their own special home made hot sauce…. Oh it burns but oh it’s so so good!

If I had to explain what it’s like then I would say Trinidadian food mixes Indian, other Caribbean and South American cusines in an amazing way!

I LOVE TRINNI ROTI!

You know the terrible thing about all of this! I have never been to Trinidad & Tobago! There are probably a gazillion reasons to visit that beautiful part of the world but the chance to have roti at the source is enough reason for me. I will go there one day!

Where can YOU fall in love with Dahl Puri Roti?

I just found my new London favorite. Chaconia in Deptford, South East London. The journey in on the train to Deptford train station is worth while and you can take a walk up to Goldsmiths College to grab a coffee or beer in the trendy and up and coming area.

Charconia-Front

The lady that runs Charconia is amazingly nice and has plenty of time for everyone, as do many of her customers. We were in a little bit of a rush but in the relaxed atmosphere ended up staying a while and chatting with everyone! She even gave me cooking tips so I can try and perfect my own roti (a 3 hour process) at home!

If you don’t have a chance to get there then there is a half decent place in Tooting too called Roti Joupa, some call it the best in London but Chaconia was better in my opinion.

Outside of London, UK I have found plenty of Trinni roti in Montreal, Canada (actually where I first discovered it) and hear that Toronto has a fair share too. Brooklyn in NYC has a few places and I’ve even found it in Boston.  Most places with a Trinni (or Guyanan) population will have a dahl puri roti place somewhere!

Have you ever had Roti and do you LOVE it as much as I do? If not Trinni roti then what do you REALLY love?

SantendreRestaurant

Hungarian Service Is Terrible and They Are Rude

I have been living in Budapest now for 6 months. Even before I arrived and steadily throughout the last months I have been repeatedly hearing a menagerie of comments about Hungarian traits.

Hungarians are often said to be rude and unfriendly. I’ve heard countless people complaining about the lack of and terrible poor service in bars, restaurants and shops. Hungarians never smile and in general you’d probably be better welcomed walking into a Parisian cafe wearing a Union Jack. Many people complain about them being work-shy and lazy, just constantly complaining, politically inactive but doing nothing about it. You’d think the entire country was full of ill-tempered anti-social wasters.

So, is any of this true? Well, it depends on how you look at it. In general, I would say the answer is a huge NO to almost all accusations.

Service can be slow but I personally think it feels relaxed. If a culture is that way then I can deal with that. Who am I to come in and demand nation-wide change because I got super special fast service in far away country with different approaches? Are they rude? Not at all. I’d say that it’s true that sometimes Hungarians smile less than, say, Americans or even Brits (this is a sweeping generalisation). However, it is in no way a reflection of their mood or their willingness to help or get involved in a conversation.

SantendreRestaurant
I don’t mind waiting ages for my food in this place!

Are they work-shy? Well, everyone I know seems to want to work. Sure, sometimes they slack off but who doesn’t? And with so many people having to slave away for near unliveable wages the lack of willingness to please “The Man” is bound to breed at alarming rates.

And as for politics… I’m going to throw out some political opinion here:

The government seems willing to change the constitution at any moment. They claim to be conservative but then tax the hell out of anything and very much hurt the middle class with their policies. There seems to be no viable alternative, especially as there is a fear of leaning too far left for very legitimate reasons. So the country is left with a lot of people either just happy to be out of pseudo-communism or feeling they have no role in governmental change.

Before I get attacked about the Parisian comment, it’s a joke! I feel the same of France. Before I visited, I was given all sorts of impressions of how the French were. My experiences in France have always been amazing. I love the French!

As a traveler, one comes across discussions of “how people are” all the time. Expats and travellers discuss these things with frustration and love. If you meet someone from a certain country they will often reel off the traits of their fellow country-folk (I have found myself doing it about us Brits).

But I think all this stereotyping is overall a negative thing. Sure it’s fine to discuss some cultural differences and make distinctions between places but tarnishing everyone with a single brush stroke can be counter-productive, even if your intention is to be positive. Besides, any stereotype or generalisation can be deconstructed and proven wrong through concrete individual experience.

I try to approach each new place like I don’t know anything about it but with an assumption that people are mostly good in each and every place.

People are people and people are everywhere. We are different in ways but overwhelmingly the same. We all want a comfortable life. We want to laugh, love and avoid crying. We want good food, good friends and want to be proud of who we are and where we come from.

Next time you attribute a trait to a place or it’s people just relax and say, “That’s just the way it is here.” When I say “here” that could mean that very place, that entire region, country or the whole planet earth. It really doesn’t matter.

If you come to Hungary and the service is slow and the staff don’t smile just remember this post, start a conversation ask them how their day is going. You may make a fast friend.

Oh, one thing in Hungary. Just don’t talk about the weather, it is seen as rather unnecessary ;)

SONY DSC

Start Off On The Left Foot

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

That’s a common question and one that as a slow nomad I can’t really answer. However, once upon a time, pre-nomad, I would have probably said that I wanted to be traveling, or living in another country.

I always wanted to travel but I rarely did anything to change my predicament because the plans to organise myself for travel were always something I was going to focus on after something else. I felt life had a lot of complex barriers that had to be knocked down first before the travel itch could be scratched.

These excuses constantly meant that the life changing event of travel was always stalled. If you plan to do anything after something else then it will likely never happen.

Things happened, including the death of a close friend, that kicked me in the behind and made me realise that I was slipping into a comfort zone, falling into the standard life. I wanted to travel but just marching to the same beat as everyone else was the easy and safe option.

I needed some serious mental change, serious things had to change in life and sacrifices had to be made.

If you want to acheive something then sometimes you have to just take a different route to everyone else, think about starting out on the left foot rather than the right like everyone else. You have to take a different step to those around you, their steps may be fine for them but this is your life and your march to your beat.

Generally the complications of life are what hold people back. Financial and mental commitments, physical commitments such as owning a home or simply having too much stuff. Simplifying a life in all aspects is something that I genuinely feel is a first step for many preparing to travel or make any big life change.

So I have added my 7 day free email course for those who sign up for the mailing list. A general look at various aspects of life and how you can take real steps to simplify, clear the clutter and get yourself prepared for taking on the challenges that you really want.


Click here to sign up and get my FREE Simplify Your Life mini-course

Keletti-Station

A Simple Way to Secure Your Backpack on a Train

I was fortunate to meet fellow nomads Betsy and Warren when they passed through Budapest last year. It was just after their horrible incident that they dubbed The Great Train Robbery.

Basically while on a train from Vienna to Budapest one of their backpacks, containing, a Macbook and passports, was cleverly nudged back from the overhead rack and taken off the train by a thief.

The thought of it still makes me feel a little light-headed. I can’t imagine losing my backpack right now. Not because the sentimental loss, rather finding the cash to replace the items. Of course decent travel insurance can go someway to alleviating the worry but at the end of the day the ideal situation is that you don’t loss your stuff!

Now, since the Great Train Robbery I have been in higher than normal alert. Profiling everyone who gets on the train, hugging my pack close to my heart. Ok, maybe not that bad but I am a little more careful.

And I thought I would a simple tip for reducing the chances of your pack being lifted.

Most packs these days come with clips and straps, they are used for securing things to the pack or tightening the bag in usual circumstances but I have been using these for security.

So, obviously, keep your bag nearby and use the strap and clip to secure it to something. A table leg or rod on the upper shelves works great as you can see in the pics below.

Secure-Pack-2 Secure-Pack-1

Now this isn’t exactly total security but this simple trick takes away the chance for a thief to just pick up the pack and skidaddle off. They need to operate an additional step which in many cases is a sufficient deterrent.

If your backpack needs to be away from you, if you need to sleep and or know are just worried in general then this trick can be enhanced by using a simple bicycle combination lock instead of the pack’s straps. Also putting little padlocks (you can buy specific pack locks on Amazon <– Affiliate link) on the zips stops people from being able to open your bag and take items out.

Do you have any comments, stories or tips to share?

Castle from Slavin Red Army Monument

A Weekend in Bratislava

As I start this post I am on a train heading out of Bratislava, the Slovakian capital. I’m feeling a little bitter-sweet after my weekend and am sitting here wondering if ill ever return to give the city a little more attention.

Brats-1

During our short stay we were screamed at by an over eager museum attendant, had to wait an hour to get our noodles and then was shouted at by the waiter, add the fact that our plans to try all the vegan restaurants in the city was thwarted by it being the weekend and you’d think we had a terrible time. However there is a charm to the little city and on reflection there were plenty of positive experiences. Overall I had a nice time.

An Overview of Bratislava City

Bratislava was a city of industry for much of its communist past but it’s small and beautiful old town has remained intact. This along with the position on the edge of the river Danube and the renovated castle sitting up on the hill create a picturesque scene. Most of the touristic draws are located within this central area including alleys of interesting shops and restaurants to the intimidating churches and splattering of trendy bars.

What to do

For a small city Bratislava hosts a fair few museums and packs some interesting history,  if that’s your thing. There are also plenty of places to shop, eat and drink plus the river and all the general activities that come with that.

The castle

Brats-Castle-Out-2

Brats-Castle-Int-1

Sitting up on the hill watching you every move it feels like an obligation to go and see it. Recently renovated the interior houses a treasure room and exhibitions which can be seen for 6 euros (standard price, Jan 2014). Personally I think just going up there and walking around the grounds is enough. The exhibition and treasure room were interesting bit nothing very memorable for me.

Brats-Castle-Out-1

Museums

We visited the national museum, the pharmacy museum and the armoury museum along with the house of the Good Shepherd (the Museum of Clocks).

I’ll start with our favourite! For a start the House of the Good shepherd is an awesome little building and the quirky 3 storey museum houses some fine clocks. It won’t take you long to peak around and costs 2.50 euros but something about this little place just made me smile!

Bratislava House of the Good Shepherd Clock Museum

Bratislava House of the Good Shepherd Clock Museum Pocket Watch

The Pharmacy museum and armoury museum are small little places which can be entered with a joint ticket costing 4.5 euros.

I didn’t really think the Pharmacy museum was worthwhile although the old cabinets and bottles are pretty cool. It was here that after being followed around by an elderly attendant she screamed at me ‘NO PICTURE’, when I raised my iPhone to snap the beautifully painted ceiling! The young attendant was just a tad embarrassed. Obviously we missed the sign at the entrance!

Pharmacy Museum Bratislava

The armoury museum was a little more interesting and is situated in a turret on one of the old city gates. The best bit though was being able to get out onto the roof and get a unique view over the roof tops of the old town. I took a 360 video below.

For 3.5 euros you can see The Slovakian National Museum.

Slovakia Nation Museum

Situated on three floors it’s not exactly grand but none the less is fairly interesting for an hour or two and has some highlights like various mammoth bones found in the country and this strange creature!

Modern Human

Restaurants

There are plenty of restaurants around with sandwiches, standard burger steak fare and Italian style food on offer. Of course you also find many advertising traditional Slovakian cuisine which may be worth a shot if you want to see what the locals, supposedly, eat.

I’m vegan so was excited to catch the 5 or so vegan restaurants in the city… We hit a snag with this plan though as it turned out the bulk of them close on the weekend. As we arrived late afternoon on Friday we missed almost all of them! We obviously did not research that well enough.

Most of the standard restaurants were open Saturday but things were more patchy on Sunday.

Here is a little look at some of the places we ate.

We are at Buddha Brothers (Hotel Danube / Park Inn, Rybné, námestie 1) where the food was nice enough but a little expensive for the quality, Botel Marina Indian (Nábrežie arm. gen. L. Svobodu) which again was ok but too sweet for our taste and Tokyo Sushi Bar (Panská 258/27, 811 01). We also grabbed a breakfast bagel at Bagel & Coffee Story (a chain with branches round town including one in the main square), standard but nice for a quick bite.

Noodles at Buddha Brothers

Noodles at Buddha Brothers.

Tokyo Sushi bar had the best food but we had an awful experience involving waiting 45 minutes for our first meal to arrive (just Lara’s soup) and then a further 45 for my meal and our starters to arrive. When asking the waiter when my food was coming (after 1 hour 14 minutes) he started shouting at us and saying he was just a waiter, what is he supposed to do! They took our tea, beer and a starter that never arrived off the bill but we didn’t leave feeling great about the experience!

We were obviously pretty sad about the vegan restaurant situation and we only managed to catch Lucy’s Vegan Food 10 minutes before closing on Friday. Lucy and her partner seemed like really wonderful hosts. We were able to leave with some yummy seed bread and a muffin we were sad we didn’t catch a full meal and longer chat there. Honestly it’s almost enough to convince me to do a mid-week return trip.

Lucy's Vegan Food Bratislava

Bars

January has been a no alcohol month for us so we didn’t go out and party into the wee hours but the bars looked pretty fun although nothing stand out or unique in passing. Trendy fare, wooded older style and the odd themed bar such as The Cuban style bar (Casa Del Havana, Michalská 1484/26) next to the Pharmacy Museum where we did grab a soft drink.

One thing to note is that smoking seems to be allowed in bars so some are just very smokey, some have specific smoking rooms and some seem to be smoke free.

Slavin, Red Army Monument and Graveyard

Slavin Red Army Monument Bratislava

On Sunday morning the skies were clear so we took a short walk to the highest point in the city. The Red Army monument is named Slavin and is in place to remember the Red Army soldiers who liberated and died during the 1945 liberation of Bratislava . This obelisk and cemetery gives the highest and possibly best view of the city as a whole. On a good day you can see three countries. Slovakia, Hungary and Austria.

Castle from Slavin Red Army Monument

Amongst the graveyard and grounds we spotted some of the amazingly cute red squirrels and interesting birds hopping around the trees.

Walking the old town

For us I would say simply wandering the old town, exploring arcades and alleyways and peaking through interesting doorways provided some of the best time spent in Bratislava. The ornate buildings sometimes impeccably restored / up-kept, sometimes worn and covered in graffiti can provide hours of visual candy. Meld that with a stops in a few coffee shops and bakeries, looking in some of the touristy shops and taking photos and you have yourself an affordable and carefree day in a lovely little town.

If you have ever played the video game Fable then you may have felt like you have been to Bratislava’s old town already!

Cannon-Brats

CoolBuilding-Brats

VanGough-Brats

Devin castle

A short city bus ride or river cruise (April-Sept only http://www.lod.sk/en/) out of Bratislava sits the ruins of the once grand Devin castle. For those who like clambering around ruins it’s probably worth a visit and we sadly did not get the chance. Maybe next time.

Wikipedia tells you about all you need to know about Devin here.

Bus 29 can be taken from the bus station below the New Bridge (Novy Most) near the bottom of the old town on the castle side .

Sculptures, Graffiti and Modern Bratislava

Walking around you’ll notice a lot of sculptures, statues and graffiti.  Many of the statues and sculptures are forgettable and likewise the graffiti is ugly. However there are some awesome sculptures and graffiti so just keep your eyes out!

Statue1-Brats

Graffiti-Brats

There are also some interesting new modern additions such as swanky boat-shaped buildings and the tower on the New Bridge.

Bratislava New Bridge Tower

A short walk into the suburbs will also give you a glimpse of the industrial and communist past.

Where we stayed

We stayed at an aparthotel / hostel with the odd name Freddie Next to Mercury. For 72 euros (including obligatory city tax) we had a spacious apartment for two nights. It’s situated very close to the train station around 15 minutes walk to the main old town square.

The staff was friendly, the hostel clean and wifi fairly reliable. I’d be happy to stay there again.

In the summer season I imagine this place gets quite lively but when we stayed it was pretty quite. They have a nice breakfast room with a kitchen but we had a kitchenette and fridge in our room so did not need to make use of it. There is also a common room in the basement but it was locked when I went to have a peak.

We booked our stay at Freddie Next To Mercury through Booking.com. <– affiliate link, we earn a small commission if you book through this link, so thanks a million if you do!

Room Freddie Next To Mercury Slovakia

How to get there

Bratislava Train Station Welcome To Slovakia

The easiest connection is by train from Vienna which takes about an hour and costs around 15 euros return. We took a very comfortable and easy train from our home in Budapest and only paid 5250 Hungarian Forints (17.50 euros) each for an open return valid for 3 months. It took approx 2,5 hours. We purchased this from the Keleti railway station a few days before travel. Trains also pass through from Poland and Germany.

Buses are also available from nearby major cities are also available and you may be able to find an even cheaper deal with these.

Note: Prices as of January 2014.

My quick tips

  • If you can, visit in the summer.
  • Make your trip from Tuesday to Friday. Most attractions are closed on Mondays and Sundays are very quiet. Some restaurants close on the weekend too!
  • Enjoy the city with a group of friends and you could get bored alone unless you are an expert at making new pals!
  • Don’t feel guilty if you skip the interior of the castle and most of the museums.
  • Beware that smoking is allowed inside to check the bar or restaurant before entering of this is a bother.
  • Grab some vegan food at Lucy’s!
  • Look out for the blue Church on the edge of the old town, here’s a pic!

The Blue Church Bratislava

Conclusion

I liked Bratislava but I didn’t love it. A few negative experiences have led bad marks on the canvas of memory.

However I know it’s a fun little place that could be really enjoyed and if friends were arranging a trip if be happy to join them. If you are staying in nearby then a day trip or overnight trip may be plenty so you can put the pin in the map and say you have been there! Of course I am sure, like any place, there is also a lot to be discovered if you stay longer and really dig into the beating heart of the place.

Have you been to this little city or do you have plans to go?

If you have any questions or comments please take the time to leave them below and if you use any social networks we would appreciate a Like, Tweet, Pin, Plus or whatever you have!

More Bratislava resources:

NotAllThose

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost But Most Of Us Are!

The quote ‘Not all those who wander are lost’ has almost become the motto of the travel community. Keep an eye on Facebook and you’ll see it popping up on varying worldly backgrounds, in fancy fonts, over and over and over. The quote is a fantastic snippet and exudes a feeling that us travel loving-types feel drawn to.

NotAllThose

Snowdon, Wales, UK.

In the Fellowship of the Ring, the quote features as the second line of a poem that Gandalf wrote about the ranger, Strider {spoiler alert!}, who turns out to be Aragon the King, hurrah!

Strider wanders but is certainly not lost. His purpose in life is very well laid out. Like some kind of sleeper agent, he has been in waiting.

For the average traveler who relates to this phrase (yes that’s me too) we don’t exactly have that feeling. The words have taken on a different meaning.

Without a fixed destination, randomly wandering the globe, no sturdy plans for where to go next, a sense of freedom can often reign. Of course we are not lost. Why does anyone have to follow the standard plan, the one etched into most of our minds culturally from birth. Diverting from the acceptable plan does not mean we are lost or have lost it!

But geography is not what I am talking about here. Many of us are totally and utterly lost and if we are not, maybe we want to be! Ask any traveler what they are looking for; they are always searching for something.

The need to expand our world view, see other people and how they live, the general intrigue of breathing different air, watching new sun rises and sunsets often grows in a petri-dish of discontent. The discontent isn’t necessarily hatred or unhappiness but a knowing. A knowing that there is more out there and not only more but things and feelings impossible to describe without feeling them.

That itch to feel these makes us feel like something is missing and needs to be found. That, for me at least, is the feeling of being “lost”.

My first exposure to travel opened the door. For the first time I could see the forest and I wanted to go explore. As I wandered the forest I actually became more lost. It was much bigger than I could have imagined yet so small. The feeling of being lost has grown so much that even when supposedly home, I feel there is still so much to find. It’s like I just realised there was an extra few hundred doors in my upstairs hallway! Stuff I didn’t even know I was missing is around me!

Yet travel isn’t about curing the feeling of being lost. It’s about finding out what you were missing and experiencing that- even if you had no clue that you were missing it before!

Travel is amazing. It’s helped me lose myself even more and learn so much. But content-ness has to be found within too. Hopefully as I lose myself more in the world I will start to find myself more within.

Why don't you notice me anymore

Keeping a Relationship (With a Place) Fresh and Interesting

We all know what it’s like. The first time a country or a place can take a pee in front of you the excitement and freshness is over. From then onwards you don’t wake up with the joy of seeing that place lying next to you, of simply looking at that place and smiling uncontrollably. The magic is gone, and reliance and comfort in simple existence begins.

Why don't you notice me anymore

I’ve been in Budapest nearly two months now. Much of that time has been a whirlwind of rushing around trying to find a place, trying to sort out immigration stuff (ongoing) and in between being a “tourist” with late evening walks down the Danube, trying to navigate the order of Hungarian supermarkets, using terrible Hungarian with shop assistants who laugh their ass off at me, and hanging out with other foreigners in famed Ruin Pubs.

But now, as the Autumn draws in and we begin to settle, the urgency to do everything is fading. Things that were fun a few weeks ago, such as going to the supermarket, are now routine.

Are we falling out of love? No way, we are just getting used to each other.  However, that IS NOT an option for us nomads. Of course we need comfort but we need to keep exploring, trying new things and keeping the sense of wonder alive.

If you find yourself suddenly settled and complacent about where you live, even if you plan to be there forever, you need to get up off your backside and find your lust again.

Like you can never know every aspect of a person, you can never know every aspect of a place.

Here are some tips to keep relationships spicy and interesting.

Split your social time between knowledgable locals and new arrivals

When traveling, this becomes evident in the beginning months upon arrival.  Speak to locals about the things you have been doing. Almost without fail you will teach them a few things new things. Likewise they will give you some tips too.

As well as finding yourself a local haunt, make sure you join events where you will constantly meet new arrivals and people passing through.

Ask everyone for their favourite things to do, and plan to do them!

Even if a suggestion sounds boring, what is there to loose? Jot it down, plan it and do it. You will have amazing experiences and of course some awkward funny ones too!

Never allow yourself to complain about the way the inhabitants are…

This is a big issue with expat groups over the world. People come together to just complain about how bad the place they live is and it’s easy to get sucked in and start believing it! In general, if you have a problem with the local people than YOU are the problem because there are a lot more of them than you and they are doing just fine with their ways!

Never stop learning the language

It’s easy to get to a level where you can get by and never advance. This also goes for places where the language is the same! Keep learning local sayings, special words, ways of speaking and keep trying to improve. Using a new saying with a cashier can make a boring trip to buy some bread into an interesting and fun experience.

Break your routine

I need some form of routine to function properly. My lack of routine has been largely responsible for the lack of content on this blog of late. However, you can’t allow that to be set in stone. If on Monday you do your washing but someone invites you out to a new place then you’ll just have to wear your boxer shorts inside out for a day! Don’t let routine ruin it for you!

Plan some time away from each other

If you stare at a painting for long enough it just becomes a blur of colour, nothing special, just something that’s there. A place can do this and sometimes it takes leaving for a short period and coming back to realise what it is you love about it. Even if it’s taking a bus over to another city for a few days or going on a long round-world-trip; make sure you plan some time away from each other!

Bring other people into the relationship

Remember we are talking about a place here, not an actual relationship with another person! But when it comes to the place I live, I love sharing with others. Having friends visit gives you a reason to show the place off and remember why you chose to live there. Send your pals details of cheap flight deals, offer them free board at your place and tempt them over.

Now, what tips do you have to add to the mix? Do you still have lust for where you live?

HungarianSea

13 Observations From My First Few Weeks in Hungary

I’ve been in Hungary for three weeks now and must say it’s been a fine time. We have not had a proper chance to settle down yet because we have been busy apartment hunting and trying to gather details for our resident permit application. However we have walked the inner circle of Budapest countless times, been drunk more times than we should have been and even taken a little trip out to a popular Hungarian holiday destination!

So what are some of my first observations of this new and exciting country?

DownTheDanub

Trying to speak Hungarian makes people laugh…. A lot!

We are trying hard to get the basics of this new and different language down. So while out and about we try our best but often get laughed at. The things is this is a happy laugh and people could not have been nicer to us in our first few weeks. People seem to really appreciate our attempts at wrecking their unique tongue!

Hungarians make mountains out of mole hills…. And seas out of lakes!

Budapest is surrounded by “mountains”. However none of these are over 500m and the tallest “hill” in Hungary is 1014m, just scraping by as an actual mountain! Also I was told they call The Balaton lake “The Hungarian Sea”! Seeing as the country is land locked it’s understandable!

BudaHills

Hungarians wear moustaches with pride

It’s more older men proudly carrying their finger twirled masterpieces but I am seeing some younger men pulling it off too. This may be a little hipster but, hey, if you wear it well who cares what label it has!

Bucharest is NOT in Hungary

Look, before you berate me for this, I knew it wasn’t in Hungary. However more than one person has asked me (from abroad) how I am settling into Bucharest and Hungarians seem very well aware that foreigners often mix up the “Bu”: Budapest and Bucharest!

While much of the outside world sees the city of Budapest as one Hungarians treat it distinctly as Buda and Pest!

Buda and Pest are treated by many here like very different worlds. Of course, in many ways they are with Pest being the perfectly flat heavily populated, happening city and Buda being the suburbia of rolling hills and large stately homes. However with such amazing transport the two can equally enjoyed by anyone.

MiddleBrige

The public transport is out of this world!

Let’s try and get the list right here. Trams, trolley buses, buses and metro lines make travel around the capital extremely easy and available pretty much 24-7. I haven’t waited longer than 5 minutes for public transport and not once has the time of night been an issue for us getting home safely and quickly. In the Buda hills you can even take a cog wheel driven train up into the hills and then jump on a year-round ski lift!

The ambulances have 3 different sounding sirens!

I was under the impressions that a major accident was happening every time I heard sirens in the distance. The 3 distinct sounds led me to think that all 3 emergency services were heading to sort out a major incident! Then yesterday, I saw an Ambulance pass lights blazing and realised that it was using all 3 of those different sounds I had been hearing!

Hungarians put paprika on EVERYTHING… except Langos!

Since we arrived we have been told how much Hungarians put paprika spice on everything. Paprika is a big part of Hungarian culture and as well as the spice it’s also what they call hot peppers, regular sweet peppers (capsicums) and pretty much all kinds of peppers. But the red powder we know as paprika in the USA and UK is put in and on and in almost everything.

While at the Balaton we needed some basic food. Being vegan our options were limited but we were told that Langos, a traditional Hungarian fried dough, was vegan and that it was a yummy stodgy food. It is yummy and we had the plain version called Langos Sima. As instructed we rubbed olive oil and garlic all over it.

I also added salt and of course paprika only to be told that I wasn’t supposed to put paprika on my langos. On eerything else, yes! Just not on langos! However leftfield my langos was it was still yummy!

LangosSima

Nobody understands why we choose to move to Hungary!

When asked “What are you doing here?” and we reply “Oh, we moved here…” it’s always followed with a pronounced “WHY did you move to Hungary?” Of course, once we have explained our position I think we have won them over!

A couple of times a year everyone throws their junk into huge piles on the street!

About a week ago we were walking through a neighbourhood and the streets were piled high with junk and people picking through it! I commented that they area must be having a lot of renovations. When we left that area we realised it was all over, everywhere in Budapest!

CollectionDay

It turns out that a few times a year people put their old junk on the streets of Budapest (Maybe all of Hungary?) and the local government comes and collects it for free! Of course people come and pick through it before the official pick up but it makes for quite a sight!

Budapest has lots of lizards and they eat little bugs that look like tribal masks!

First we noticed this cool little red and black bugs that looked like they had carved masks on their backs. This is one of the first words I learned in Hungarian: Bodobács!

MaskBug

They are hatching in their thousands right now and where you see these bugs you also see really cool little skinks! I love lizards so I’m extra happy to see them on my daily walks.

lizard

Budapest has the most plush McD I have EVER seen!

I don’t eat at McD but if I did… I would probably eat here!

PlushMcD

The buildings and bridges in Budapest are nothing short of amazing.

Budapest really is stunning. Every district has a new and interesting building, highly detailed and I am sure with many stories to tell! As my time draws on I am keen to learn more about the details of the architecture, the era it was built and the symbolism of the many statues and patterns carefully crafted onto each masterpiece.

BudaCastleArea

If Hungary was a fine wine then I have only had a smell of it’s bouquet so far. As time rolls on and we learn more I hope my understanding and enjoyment will grow and grow. Of course, I am sure we’ll be opened up to some of the darker aspects too and our opinion will become more well rounded and informed.

Have you been to Hungary or even lived here? Do you have anything to add to our list?

BalticBakehouse-Main

Baltic Bake House, Liverpool – Get There Before The Hipsters Do!

Liverpool is a fascinating and thriving little city but beyond the shiny city centre much of the city lies in decay and shows signs from it’s depressed industrial past. Of course there is a lot of beauty that can come from the ruins of days gone by and just a short walk from the centre you’ll find yourself in the Baltic Triangle. This area was once home to thriving workshops and warehouses related to the massive industry from the Liverpool docks but now many of these impressive buildings lay unused and open to the elements.

OldWarehouse

One of the old warehouses just dying for trendy renovations!

But it has a charm about it, one that makes you want to take pictures using Instagram and make Vine videos of you dancing like a moron. Yes, it has a hipster appeal but it is in it’s infancy.

Behind the tarnished walls office and workshop space is already opening up to many creative startups and budding commercial artists. It won’t be long before the trendiest cafes and bars in town are lining the streets, occupying the charm of it’s past and becoming the place to be for anyone proud of being able to grow their first moustache.

One of the first of these trendy little places to take a hold is the Baltic Bakehouse. Decked out like one of Brooklyn’s finest with bare wall to one side and bags of flour to the other it creates a space that you feel comfortable in. Cool but not too trendy.

BalticBakehouse-Main

But forget all of that. Forget the awesome sourdough bread selection, the mouthwatering cakes, the free wifi and the friendly staff. This place is ALL about the toasters.

It’s ALL about the toasters…

BalticBakehouse-Toast

Take a seat along the simple bench seating, order yourself a few slices of sour dough and make use of the toasters on each table. Toast your own bread, spread your own spread. For some reason there is much more satisfaction spreading peanut butter on your bread in the relaxed surroundings of the Baltic Bakehouse than in your kitchen at home! I don’t get why but there just is!

I’ve been a little tongue in cheek so far but I really do love this place and of the breads I have tried I rate them for quality too. I’m vegan so I didn’t get to try the cakes but all of the breads are vegan.

BalticBakehouse-Menu

We stumbled on this place by accident while exploring the edges of the centre and it’s just another reason why I always recommend getting yourself of the beaten path following your nose. If a street looks interesting then walk down it, that’s what brought us to the bakehouse.

If you are in Liverpool you should give them a visit. Opening hours and location can be found on their website.

This is NOT a paid review or ‘asked for’ review. We just loved this place and I felt like writing about it and sharing some pictures. On my travels I try my best to support smaller local business over the chains.

Anyone can travel, lets show you how!