Back In Boarding School 

Author: Mariza

18 Augustus 2017

We left beautiful Budapest by train this morning. Hungarians call Lake Balaton their sea. It’s the local weekend and holiday destination and we happened to be there for Hungarian independence day weekend.

Ruzow booked our accommodation and was very proud that we came in right on budget. Especially being right on the lake. Well, well, well…

We got off the train and started our two kilometre journey in midday heat with backpacks and all. An hour later we learnt we were in the wrong village and that our accommodation is miles from the lake.

We caught a local bus to our village where our friendly hostess awaited us. Things only went downhill from there, I’m afraid.

Our accommodation is a boarding house for school children who go on sport camp in summer. Rooms with eight bunk beds each. And one bathroom for boys and one for girls, on the opposite side of the building from our room. We may use the kettle in the industrial kitchen area, but that’s all. The beds are homemade with cheap, thin foam mattresses. No air con and no fan. No towels either.

At the moment there are no school children. The last group left a few days ago. So they rent out the rooms to people who want cheap accommodation. Mmm… That means a lot of interesting characters!

We walked more than 5km to the lake and then had to pay entrance fees. By now it’s already late afternoon and we find it hard to pay for an entire day at a place we don’t really want to be at. (We prefer the quiet side, which is a long way from here.) But we are hot and in desperate need of a swim. So we pay and make our way to the lake with hundreds, if not thousands, of local holidaymakers. The water is not as clean and clear as we expected and there is black silty sand at the bottom. At least it’s nice and soft underfoot, even though it gets into everything.

Our friends told us to try langos at the lake, which is a traditional savoury donut (“vetkoek” for our South African friends and family) with garlic, sour cream and cheese. Not recommended for everyday nutritional dinner, but fabulous comfort food!

We walked about three kilometres to the next village and caught the local bus back to our boarding house. Nicely tired and with nothing to do in Köröshegy, we opted for an early night. Not a good idea!! Loud music, booze and a great deal of marijuana right outside our open windows made for a long sleepless night. We shall end our visit to Lake Balaton later this morning. Sometimes you cut your losses and move on swiftly. This shall be us in an hour or two. Back to beautiful Budapest.

– Mariza –

Buda(p)best, Hungary

Author: Jarik

The enthusiasm of two of our co-hikers, and now friends (Steven and Klaudia) of the gruelling Salkantay Trek in Peru, convinced us that we should include Hungary, and especially Budapest, their home city, in our itinerary.  Our travel plans for south eastern Europe were very flexible –  actually we did not have the faintest idea where we wanted to go. So, we decided to include an arc from Slovenia, through Hungary and Romania to reach Sofia, our final destination for this side of the world.

The third overnight train for our adventure delivered us to the centre of Budapest mid-morning, but too early to check in at our lodgings. The four kilometre walk from the station to where we could store our backpacks at an affiliated hostel turned out to be a great introduction to the city. Still abiding by MapsMe, that previously took us via non-existent paths in Croatia, we walked up the Buda Hill passing the Royal Palace, over the Chain Bridge, through List Square, along the State Opera House, St Stephen’s Cathedral and meandered through the Jewish District (now packed with street cafes and pubs). Unfortunately, the weight of our backpacks was such a distraction that we only realised that we had walked along all these landmarks when we recognised them during our guided walking tour later that afternoon!

We spent our first night in Budapest in a very basic apartment located above a “ruin bar”. These bars were the new occupants of dilapidated buildings in the historical Jewish District that were deserted after the Second World War. Dark doors set within derelict facades open up to waterholes with interesting décor that captivate the senses. Noisy places, especially at night. So we were glad to move to a spacious apartment located very centrally in the city the next day.

Budapest is a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. Architectural masterpieces of large scale and grandeur line the banks of the Danube. Behind these, there are street upon street of ornate low-set buildings opening up to numerous beautiful squares filled with sculptures, fountains and restaurants. We opted for the “menu of the day” more than a few times. This gave you a selection of hearty and deliciously paprika laden traditional Hungarian dishes for about A$7 which went well with a dry Hungarian rosé.

We caught a tram to Margarit Island for our morning runs a couple of times. A five and a half kilometre synthetic running track takes you once around the island. It is clearly a favourite of the locals and a great inner-city facility.

A “must do” in Budapest, is an evening dinner boat cruise on the Danube when the stately buildings are dressed in their finest, glowingly lit to accentuate their features. This was an excursion we could not afford on our tight travel budget, so we opted to catch a public ferry instead. The first ferry we attempted to board was jam packed and did not allow us on. We did, however, managed to board the last ferry of the night, which turned out to be just perfect. As we zig-zagged across the river, daylight faded and the buildings came to life in golden hues. Spectacular!


The evening of 20 August was even more spectacular. Hungarians were celebrating over a thousand years of nationhood and the capital city was the centre of the festivities. The streets were alive with people, the banks of the river a bustling hive of music and stalls. The evening culminated in a fireworks display rivalling a Sydney New Year extravaganza. Here we were, standing on the banks of the Danube amidst the crowds, Strauss’ famous Blue Danube waltz giving the cues for the exploding colour above us, majestic buildings bathed in light all around us. We are privileged.

– Jarik –



Beautiful Budapest

Author: Ruzow

Budapest is a lovely city bustling with activity on the banks of the Danube River. I loved all the old buildings that the city is mostly comprised of. Every building has its own unique architectural style, ranging from Gothic to Art Nuevo. Another great thing about the city, is that there are no highrises or skyscrapers. This is because there are laws in place that forbid any structure to be taller than the parliament building or the St. Stephen’s Basilica, which are both the same height. This preserves the original look and feel of the city.


The city is full of cafes, restaurants and ruin pubs (a ruin pub is a colourful and lively Hungarian pub that is located in the bottom floor or basement of an old abandoned apartment building). We also visited the beautiful parliament building, walked over the Chain Bridge, went to the City Park and saw all the other sights of the city. But my favourite, was definitely seeing all the different buildings and going for a run every morning on the lovely running track on Margarit Island.


Getting around Budapest is quite a painless exercise thanks to the amazing public transportation system featuring metros, trams and busses on every street corner.

We stayed in a few different parts of the city, which meant we got a great perspective of life there. It was interesting to sit at the apartment window and watch all the people outside going about their business. It gave me insight into the Budapest way of life.

Our second last night in Budapest, was definitely my highlight. The day before, we realised that we were coincidentally there for the National Day of Hungary. This day has been celebrated for over a millennium. It was a day full of music, huge crowds, celebrations and brilliant fireworks on the river in front of the parliament building and the Chain Bridge. I felt privileged to be part of an event so important to the Hungarians.

I enjoyed every moment in Budapest and wouldn’t mind coming again soon.

– Ruzow –



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