Euro Trip Week 1 Round-Up

Monastery

In case you missed it, I’m currently traveling through Europe, exploring hidden corners and must-see spots in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the UK. I’ve been posting daily updates from my adventures on Facebook and Twitter, but in case you missed some of those, I’ve also decided to put together a weekly round-up to update anyone who’s interested on what I’ve been up to for the past 7-ish days.

Here we go with Week 1!

 

Day 1

My adventure began in beautiful Budapest, where I stayed with a lovely local woman named Maria in a spare bedroom that I found through Roomorama. I purposely arrived to Budapest 2 days before my Intrepid Travel trip began in order to explore Hungary’s capital a bit. I could have easily spent 2 weeks there and would still have had things to discover!

Budapest

Pest, as seen from across the Danube.

Day 2

I walked. And walked. And walked. I crossed 3 of Budapest’s bridges (the Margaret, Chain, and Elizabeth), rode a funicular, explored Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion, enjoyed strolling along the Danube, and even checked out the famous Szimpla ruin bar in the daylight hours. And I took a LOT of pictures.

(For more of those photos, check out my Budapest photo essay.)

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest

Fisherman’s Bastion

Gellert Funicular, Budapest

Gellert Funicular

The Danube, Budapest

The Danube

Day 3

After transferring to the hotel where I would later meet my 3 Intrepid tour mates, I set out up Andrassy Avenue, bound for Heroes Square and the Szechenyi Bath and Spa. After soaking for a few hours at the beautiful bath, I met up with my tour group for dinner, and then hit the Danube for an hour-long narrated river cruise after dark.

Heroes Square, Budapest

Heroes Square. It used to include a few Habsburgs, but they were removed after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Szechenyi Baths, Budapest

The Szechenyi Baths

Budapest

Hungarian Parliament illuminated at night

Day 4

Officially the first day of my Intrepid Travel trip, my group and I headed to the train station and caught a morning train to the town of Eger in northeastern Hungary. While Eger is cute and colorful and boasts a nice hilltop castle, the region’s real draw is its vast collection of wine cellars in The Valley of the Beautiful Women. After dinner, we went on a short “cellar crawl” (like a pub crawl, but with wine) through the valley, tasting some local specialties and chatting up a guy who turned out to be one of the biggest TV producers in Hungary.

Eger, Hungary

Eger from above

Eger Castle

Eger Castle

Eger, Hungary

A street in Eger

The Valley of the Beautiful Women, Eger

The Valley of the Beautiful Women

Eger

Wine tasting in a cellar in Eger

Day 5

From Eger, we took a bus ride to the gorgeous town of Debrecen, where we had a few hours to explore before taking a train across the border into Romania. From the train station, we took a mini bus to the rural region of Maramures, where we would stay for 2 nights at a fabulous local home stay in the traditional village of Vadu Izei.

Debrecen, Hungary

Colorful Debrecen

Romania

Crossing the Romanian border by train

Romania

Rural Romania

Vadu Izei, Romania

The view from my balcony in Vadu Izei

Day 6

Today was spent exploring all the amazing things Maramures has to offer. We began the morning with a visit to Merry Cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage site where colorful gravestones tell the stories of the dead through pictures and poems. We then had a picnic in the Romanian countryside, visited a UNESCO-recognized painted wooden church in Budesti, met woodcarvers, and got a glimpse into a traditional Romanian home. The long day was rounded out by a visited to Barsana Monastery.

Merry Cemetery, Romania

Crosses in Merry Cemetery

Romania

Our picnic spot

Budesti Wooden Church, Romania

Budesti Wooden Church, built in 1643

Budesti Wooden Church, Romania

Inside Budesti Wooden Church

Romania

Inside a traditional Romanian room

Barsana Monastery

Barsana Monastery complex

Day 7

We left Vadu Izei before 5 a.m. in order to catch a mini bus and then an 8-hour train ride to the medieval town of Sighisoara, Romania. This fortified fairytale town is full of old, old buildings and a lot of stories. It’s the birthplace of Vlad Tepes (AKA Dracula), and has an interesting Saxon history. We went up the town’s clock tower for some nice views, walked up to an old gothic church on the hill, and enjoyed strolling the colorful, cobbled streets.

Sighisoara, Romania

The main square in Sighisoara

Sighisoara, Romania

View from the clock tower

 

The Week in Numbers

Each week, I’ll try to give you an idea of how I’m traveling, and what things generally cost.

  • Number of flights: 3
  • Number of trains: 3
  • Number of buses: 1
  • Number of mini buses: 3
  • Number of taxis/shuttles: 4
  • Number of times it’s rained: 2
  • A meal in Hungary: $8-$16 USD
  • Gellert Funicular (one-way): $3.75 USD
  • Entry to Szechenyi Bath: $15 USD
  • Hour-long narrated Danube cruise: $17 USD (student)
  • A meal in Romania: $3-$7 USD
  • Using a train station toilet in Romania: $0.30 USD
  • Photo license at Merry Cemetery: $1.50 USD
  • Entry to Sighisoara clock tower: $0.70 USD (student)

*Note: I’m not quoting the price of accommodation, as it’s all been included so far. Also, I’ve been getting student discounts here and there; the regular adult price would be higher.

So there you have Week 1 of my European adventure! Come back next week for Week 2’s round-up.

If there’s anything more you want to know about my weeks, tell me in the comments!

 

*Another note: Intrepid Travel has graciously provided me with a complimentary 18-day tour through Eastern Europe. But all opinions, as always, are entirely my own.

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