Budapest – in one day

Although I’m living in Vienna for a couple of years now, and the connection between the hungarian capital and the austrian one is pretty amazing (there is plenty of busses and trains, that take you there for under 20 Euros), I haven’t been to Budapest for more than a stop-over. When friends told me a couple of weeks ago, that they will be stopping there on their backpacking trip, I was totally up for joining.

So last week I took the Flixbus from Vienna and three short hours later, ended up in a city that looks so similar to Vienna, but it SO TOTALLY different.

Since we only had a couple days to explore, me and my friends just dropped our bags at the hostel and started into the bustling city.

Since no great day ever started without breakfast, this was exactly where we were heading first. Thanks to my favorite travel inspiration (Instagram 😉 ) I found this very cute and stylish breakfast place named “Szimply”. It was kind of hard to find at first, since it is located in a patio, but totally worth looking for. We actually ended up there twice; this is how good it was! 😉

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The café itself is tiny and for coffee you have to cross over to the other side of the patio to get it from a different place, but the breakfast there was amazing. Great quality of food perfectly seasoned and gorgeously arranged. And most important – they have an amazing variety vegetarian and vegan breakfast options. Being a vegetarian myself and traveling with a vegan, finding veggie friendly places to eat wasn’t actually as hard as we feared. At the Szimply we opted for a sweet quinoa bowl with fruits and flowers,  pan fried eggs with lots of salmon and been purée and the best avocado bread I’ve ever had.

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Summer quinoa bowl
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Pan fried eggs
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Best avocado toast ever ❤

After breakfast we started our Budapest exploration, we walked all over Pest, passing impressive monuments, street artists, Baumkuchen stands and a loooot of fellow traveler. One of the most memorable place we came across was the holocaust memorial. The „Shoes on the Danube“ memorial is one of the most moving memorials I’ve ever seen.

Gyula Pauer and Can Togay , two sculptors, created this touching memorial in memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944 and 1945.

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Shoes on the Danuba

Next we crossed the bridge over to Buda.

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Chain Bridge

Buda and Pest have been united into one city only in 1873 and from what I’ve seen there is still a huge difference between the two sides of the city.
Buda with its hills, the Castle Quarter, the museums and the cobblestone streets makes you feel like you just went back into imperial times. Besides of a couple of tourist groups we didn’t meet any other people and the whole area felt like it is just there for being looked at and admired. Over at the Buda side of the City, we also had quite a hard time finding a place to stop for coffee. Since we tried to avoid “touristy” places, we wandered around Buda for quite a while till we found a café.

One thing I really liked about Buda is the view from the castle hill. There is a couple of famous viewpoints, like the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Citadella fortress, where you’ll have a splendid look over Pest, the Danube and the gorgeous Chain Bridge. To get up to the castle, you can either walk through the gardens underneath the castle, wander through the part of town underneath the hill and find the steps that take you up the hill, or you take the more comfortable way and ride up the hill with the Funicular.

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Easiest way up – Ride the Funicular

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On top of the hill – Buda Castle

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Matthias Church

Pest on the other hand is full of life and you wouldn’t have to walk more than 2 minutes to find a coffee place. Pest is also where all the nightlife is happening. From the famous ruin bars ( there is more than 30 of them)  to hundreds of pubs and clubs, there is a chance to party in Pest every night of the year. But Pest has more to offer than just party; it is great for shopping, eating out and there is lots of historic sights on this side of the Danube as well.

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St. Stephens Basilica in Pest
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Art is all over Budapest

One of my favorite places in Pest was definitely the market hall. It is full of fresh fruits, great variety of typical hungarian food and all sorts of souvenirs. Also, the hall itself is pretty spectacular.

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Central Market Hall

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The Jewish Quarter in Pest is known for the ruin bars and its young, hip vibe. I loved everything about it. There is pop up food festivals, affordable restaurants and unique shops, something to discover around every corner.

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Foodtruck market in the Jewish Quarter

At night, Pest is definitely the better place to be, not only because of all the entertainment, also because the view from the esplanade at night is top. Strolling along the Danube at night, looking at the brightly lit castle on the Buda side is breathtaking.

For dinner we found another great vegan friendly place close to our Hostel. It was called Napfényes Étterem and I pretty much fell in love with their rague.

More about my trip to Budapest, including a review on a visit to one of Budapests famous Spas in a follow up post!

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One day in Battambang

 

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Ta Dumbang statue in the middle of Battambang, people come here to pray.

Battambang was one of the cutest cities I’ve been to in Cambodia. We arrived late in the afternoon with the Angkor Express Boat , that I already told you about in one of my previous articles. Since we were really tired we just grabbed something to eat, went for a short walk and then right into bed.

The next day we got up very early looking for a Tuktuk driver to show us the best of Battambang, since we just had this one day. A few minutes later we found one and hit the road to the Bamboo Train.

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Let the journey begin 😀

 

Bamboo Train

The Bamboo Train is one of the most famous attractions in Battambang that is why we had to go there and check it out! With this train you don’t actually get somewhere, it is just for the experience – you drive 15 to 20 minutes in one direction and then the same way back for around $5. It wasn’t very comfortable, very bumpy and the train gets really fast – it was fun though and you get to take some really nice pictures.

 

 

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I really enjoyed those views

 

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Getting the train off the tracks

Since the way there and back is the same, they have to get the train off the tracks to let the other trains pass. After an hour and a half we were finished and went to the next stop on our list.

 

Wat Banan Temple

This is a really small but beautiful temple a little outside of Battambang and it is definitely worth going there. You have to go up a very steep staircase but once you are on the top you get a really nice view.

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It’s a long way up there, but definitely worth the effort.
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Nice temple at the end of the staircase.

Killing Caves and Phnom Sampeau Temple

Our Tuktuk driver told us a lot about Cambodias history and the victims of the Khmer Rouge who came to death at those killing caves. It is unbelievable what happened at this place not that long ago.

From the Killing Caves it is a nice walk up to Phnom Sampeau, which is also a really beautiful temple around Battambang, it is more modern than Wat Banan though.

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Phnom Sampeau temple
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Be aware of those cheky little monkeys up there ;P

 

 

Last stop Battambang Bat Caves

After walking down from Phnom Sampeau our last stop were the Bat Caves, this was just amazing – at 6 p.m. millions – and I really mean millions – of bats come bursting out of this hole in the mountain and fly towards the countryside, where they spend the night.

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Bats looking for food

 

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Bats come bursting out of the mountain

 

 

After that our Tuktuk driver brought us back to our hotel and his friend drove us to Phnom Penh the next morning, which he arranged for us! What a lovely day 🙂

 

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Valle de Cocora , Salento Colombia

Salento is a typical paisa village located about 20 kilometers away from Armenia in Colombia, it is located in the famous eje cafetero ( the Colombian Coffee region). Besides of being a truly beautiful place itself, Salento is the perfect starting point for a hike trough the Valle de Cocora, which , for me, is a definite MUST SEE in Colombia.

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Surreal landscapes in the Cocora valley.

The Cocora Valley is famous for it’s huge wax palm trees, which are actually a national symbol of Colombia and to be honest… one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen so far.

When staying in Salento, it is pretty easy to get to the Valley, you simply wait at the main plaza, where there will be a couple of old pick up trucks lining up at several times of the day. (Leaving hours start from 6.10 in the morning)  I’ll recommend you to start in the early morning hours, since there is always a high risk of rain in the mountains of the valley during the afternoon.

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The cars will stop right in front of the entrance of the valley and you’ll have two options to start from there.
You can take the short way (the one on the left) , which will lead you straight to the wax palm fields. This way doesn’t take more than 90 minutes to walk and you’ll have a great view on the wax palm trees without much effort. But, obviously you’ll miss out on all the other highlights of the walk.

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The view from the top of the mountain is breathtaking.
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Crossing rivers on wobbly brides is one of many adventures.
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The weather changes really fast up there, so be prepared for any kind of weather.

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So anybody who is in decent physical shape… DO TAKE THE LONG WAY! 🙂

The long way will take you about 5-6 hours, you’ll cross wild rivers on dangerous looking rope bridges, you’ll climb steep hillsides, you’ll walk through ankle deep mud paths and you’ll also come across a hummingbird sanctuary. It will be an experience you’ll never forget, I’ll promise you that.

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Another important thing is to ALWAYS be prepared for changes in weather!  When me and my friends went on the hike, we were lucky enough to be close to a lodge, which is located halfway of the way on top of the mountain, when it started to rain heavily. I don’t want to imagine how our walk would have turned out otherwise, because we definitely didn’t bring appropriate gear.

So… pack the rain jackets and make sure you wear proper footwear! 😉

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The lodge I mentioned is called Finca la montana and it’s the best place to rest a little while drinking the famous hot chocolate with cheese

 

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You get your hot chocolate with a piece of cheese on the side.

When you finished all of the walk, you’ll end up exactly where you started. Unless you get there really late, there will also be trucks to take you back to Salento.

 

Welcome to the jungle (Koh Kong Cambodia)

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Riding the long tail boat through the mangrove forest of Koh Kong

Koh Kong was our last destination in Cambodia, since it’s located right on the border to Thailand. They offer lots and lots of tours and activities there like island tours, kayaking, fishing, hiking and so on.

We decided to do the Cardamom Mountains Trekking for one day which was around $20 per person plus a little tip for the guides. This tour included pick up from our home stay, drinks and lunch (we got some fried noodles with shrimp and fresh fruit).

The Tuk Tuk driver picked us up at 8:30 in the morning and brought us to the boat, it was just my friend and me and those two really nice guides. It took us around one hour and a half up the river until we got off the boat and directly into the jungle with which I fell in love with immediately.

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One of the guides walking in front of us clearing the way with his machete

 

After a while we stopped to take some pictures, I have no clue what time it was by now, I was so amazed by all of those gorgeous views that I didn’t check my watch even once. The hike itself wasn’t very exhausting or hard, it was pretty hot though which made it a little challenging but one oft he guides always reminded me to drink something 🙂 and once my water was finished I got a new one within a second.

 

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Short stop to take pictures at this amazing viewing point

 

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After this short break we went deeper and deeper into the jungle.

Around noon they took us to a really nice place where we had lunch, got to take a swim and explored the jungle and the amazing waterfalls by our-selves.

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This is where we had lunch. We didn’t see any other people during our trek at all.
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Our guide , showing us around.

After lunch break we hiked back to the boat and arrived at the city around 4.30 p.m.

What an amazing day 🙂  so if you’re planing on a short stop in Koh Kong traveling from or to Thailand you should definitely consider staying the night and trekking the jungle!

If you’re more into relaxing and beaches another tip is the Koh Kong Island Tour which I really enjoyed too, I’ve never seen such a beautiful and quiet beach before! Koh Kong Island is just a really tiny island where you can spend the night in some cute little huts, if you want to.

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The beach looked like a postcard ❤

 

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Crystal clear water and white beaches.

 

Posted by Kerstin

Hold me fast, cause I’m a hopeless wanderer

Since I remember , I ‚ve got a serious case of wanderlust . Especially during the winter month, when it’s cold and ugly in Austria (yes I know… a lot of people actually like winters…. I DON’T ;P ), I always long for going places and seeing more of the world. Preferable the warmer parts of it, although…I probably wouldn’t say NO to going on a trip up north either.  So , the last few weeks, I was thinking a lot about my future travel plans and the places I always wanted to see and the things I’m already longing to do for such a long time.

So when sifting through my laptop, I found my Bucket list from three years ago. I loved reading it, especially because I was able to do some of those things in the meanwhile ! 🙂

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The famous Maid of the Mist

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Approaching the Niagara falls

But now my wanderlust is even worse! 😉 I guess I have to start booking flights soon.

So here it is… ❤

  • Go to Oia,  Santorini and ride up the hills on a donkey
  • Walk the Chinese wall
  • See the Jesus Statue in Rio de Janeiro
  • Machu Picchu (walking the full Inka trail)
  • See the Pyramids of Giza
  • See the Taj Mahal
  • Drink a Guinness in a pub in Ireland 
  • Paris, gaze at the Eiffel Tower while eating Macarons
  • London ( I can’t believe I still haven’t been to London! :O )
  • Australia – Ayers Rock, Great Barrier Reef
  • Learn how to surf
  • Carnival in Venice
  • Go on safari in Africa
  • Bath in a hot pool in Iceland
  • See the northern lights
  • Kiss in a summer rain
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • See the Grand Canyon
  • Walk the “walk of fame”
  • Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National park
  • NEW ZEALAND ❤
  • Spend Queens Day/Kings day in Amsterdam
  • Barcelona – Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Camp Nou
  • Niagara Falls
  • Party in Las Vegas
  • Miami Beach
  • New York – watch a Broadway show, party, visit Central Park, etc.
  • Chichén Itzá in Mexico
  • Swim in the Caribbean sea
  • Eat a real Sacher Cake
  • Go on a road trip on Route 66
  • Ride a horse on the beach
  • Whale watching
  • Tibet
  • Sky dive
  • Travel for at least a year around the world
  • Get backstage at a rock concert
  • Get fluent in speaking Spanish
  • Take a photography class
  • Learn how to dance salsa
  • See the forbidden city in Beijing
  • Spend a year without winter
  • Take part in the carnival celebrations in Brazil
  • Work for a wildlife project
  • Walk the Golden Gate bridge
  • Write an article for a well-known magazine
  • Go to Mumbai
  • See Stonehenge
  • Travel along the Nil
  • Climb a volcano
  • Hawaii
  • Ride an Elephant
  • Sit on a cliff in Ireland while reading a classic novel
  • Go to Sweden and find Michels house
  • volunteer abroad
  • Fly a plane
  • Swim in the Dead Sea
  • travel alone
  • Scuba Dive
  • Watch the sunset while being on a hot air balloon ride in Kapadokya
  • Ride one of the fastest roller coasters on earth
  • Costa Rica
  • Spend a week in the wild, just living off nature
  • Own a house at the beach
  • Go to Disney world
  • Be in a movie
  • buy spices at a market in Morocco 
  • Spend St. Patricks Day in Ireland
  • Take  a shower in a waterfall
  • Go sand boarding
  • Eat Sushi in Japan
  • Spend New Year’s Eve in New York City

 

To be continued….

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Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
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Queensday (Now Kingsday) in Amsterdam
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Obligatory walk-of-fame picture! 😉
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Golden Gate Bridge

Posted by Lisa

Fernweh

Ich muss ja ehrlich sagen, ich bin ein Mensch der IMMER Fernweh hat. Ich weiß auch nicht woran das liegen könnte, schon als ich 8 war, wollt ich immer in einem Internat wohnen und nicht daheim. Am liebsten wär mir noch ein Internat in einem fremden Land gewesen. Nicht das mich jetzt jemand falsch versteht, ich komm aus einer total normalen Familie, mir hat es an nichts gefehlt und trotzdem weiß ich ,dass ich immer schon weg wollte.

Zum ersten mal wirklich befriedigen konnte ich mein Fernweh mit 13. Damals hab ich mein gesamtes erspartes Taschengeld hergenommen und bin für 2 Wochen zum Sprachkurs nach Malta geflogen. Damals mein erster Flug und mein erstes mal außerhalb des Europäischen Festlandes. Ich kann mich bis heute an das Gefühl erinnern, dass ich bereits bei Betreten des Flughafens verspürt hab. Bis heute ist das mein Lieblingsgefühl. Diese Mischung aus Aufregung, Ungewissheit, Vorfreude, Neugierde, Glück, Freiheit und Anspannung. Es gibt nichts besseres!!!

Seitdem dreht sich bei mir eigentlich jeder Gedanke um die nächste Reise. Gespart wird sowieso nur für das nächste Flugticket und die Liste an „Places to see before I die“ wird täglich länger.

Am liebsten würde ich ja das Reisen zum Beruf machen. Schon immer hab ich auf die Frage: „Was willst du denn beruflich später mal machen?“ geantwortet : „Mhm… ich weiß noch nicht wirklich, aber auf jeden Fall möcht ich was machen mit dem ich um die ganze Welt reisen kann.“

Diesen Gedanken hab ich natürlich bis heute nicht aufgegeben und auch wenn ich mir auch jetzt noch nicht sicher bin was ich genau mal beruflich machen werde, weiß ich doch ,dass ich dabei nicht NUR in Österreich arbeiten werde.P1070406

Niagara Fälle – Foto von der Kanadischen Seite aus geschossen.

Im Laufe der Jahre hab ich auch schon einige der oben erwähnten „PLACES“ auf meiner Liste abhaken können. Ich hab schon über ein Jahr in den USA gelebt, ich bin für ein Monat in meinem Traumland Neuseeland rumgereist, ich hab drei Monate in Kolumbien gearbeitet und mir dabei so viel wie möglich vom Land angesehen. Ich war schon in Mexiko und in Kanada, hab mir alte Maya Städte und die Niagara Fälle angesehen, war schon am Grand Canyon und bin im Abel Tasman Kajak gefahren.

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Valle Cocora Salento Kolumbien

All das hat mein Fernweh aber nicht gemindert, sondern ganz im Gegenteil sogar verstärkt und ich kann es kaum erwarten das nächste mal am Flughafen zu stehen und nach meinem Gate zu suchen.

Die nächste große Reise steht zum Glück auch schon in Planung. Peru und Argentinien sollen es werden. Da ich aber erst voraussichtlich im Spätherbst wieder für längere Zeit aus Österreich weg kann, muss ich mich in der Zwischenzeit mit einem Kurztrip ( 2 Wochen 😉 ) Spanien ablenken.