Euro Trip Week 1 Round-Up

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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 outย the famous Szimpla ruin bar in the daylight hours. And I took a LOT of pictures.

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 with 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

Sighisoara, Romania

Sighisoara, Romania

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 discount)
  • 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 discount)

*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.

Romania

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!

 

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.

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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53 Comments on “Euro Trip Week 1 Round-Up

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  1. hey there, what camera do you use? your photos are amaazing!

      Thank you! I’m using an Olympus E-PM1 camera at the moment!

    It seems you are have great trip so far ๐Ÿ™‚

    It seemed like a great adventure! The route through Romania it’s a great one and we’re happy you enjoyed our beautiful country. Next time you come, there are a lot of other places worth discovering / exploring, such as the Danube Delta or the painted monasteries of Bucovina… ๐Ÿ™‚

      I LOVED Romania, and definitely want to come back again someday.

    Wow, Amanda, what an amazing trip you are having. Great photos, too. A lot of your experiences remind me of home stays and village stays i had in the Czech Republic in the late 90s. It is always so wonderful and eye-opening to really meet the local people.

      I get the feeling not a whole lot has changed in parts of Romania since the late 90s. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well except a few more tourists and more satellite dishes. Lol. It’s been a really good trip so far though!

    You sure had a full week! It all sounds wonderful. I love the Merry Cemetery and the beautiful green rolling hills.

      Very full! Check back next week, when I’m going to write more about Merry Cemetery AND the Romanian countryside! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Wow week 1 looks like such a whirlwind! Sounds like you are having a wonderful time.

    What did you think of the wine?

      I don’t really drink (as in, I don’t drink at all), but I did have a few sips of some different wines. And I will say I did not hate the Bull’s Blood.

    Sounds like you’re having a great time! I love all the photos, looks like such a beautiful part of Europe. Eastern Europe – inching its way up on my list of places to see soon!

      Ali, you are so close to Eastern Europe that you’d be silly not to explore a bit of it on your own! So far, everywhere we’ve been has been pretty great – definitely an underrated part of the world! And the best part? It’s super affordable!

    It seems that you are really very busy, even if you are just getting started with your trip. I guess that it was just the right place to start your tour.

      Yes, very busy indeed! But that’s a good thing for now. I’d rather be busy while traveling than bored!

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