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  • Day23


    November 7, 2017 in France ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    Stéphane managed to keep track of all our expenses on the trip, so we thought we would share:

    We spent a total of 2156€ for 2 people in 18 days (20th of October – 6th of November 2017), visiting 8 countries in Eastern Europe.Transport was our biggest expense with 936€, of which 596€ were for car rentals (including fuel). This could have been avoided if we were on a stricter budget, but we think that it really made the trip. Getting off the 'beaten track' and having the time to explore and stop to enjoy the views, was definitely a bonus.Read more

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  • Day22

    A night in Budapest

    November 6, 2017 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    The last two days have been mostly travelling through Bosnia>Croatia>Hungary to get to Budapest in time for our flight.

    The train from Mostar to Sarajevo was pretty but it was very foggy at 6am when we got it so we couldn’t see much unfortunately! Then the bus from Sarajevo to Zagreb was a bit horrendous. It cost sooo much more than the train and was packed with people. The woman in-front of me insisted on having her seat reclined fully giving me zero space to move. Always fun! And that journey took around 7 hours due to huge queues at the borders.

    We enjoyed a quick visit of Zagreb by night and then took the train to Budapest in the morning. It was pretty good, only one random bus journey in the middle due to rail problems. We had our own cabin for most of the way and it was so much cheaper than the bus which is surprising.

    Finally arriving in Budapest last night, we managed to explore some sights! We walked around the city and then went on a boat tour around the Danube. It was a wine tasting boat tour so we got to try 7 different Hungarian wines. Amazing! We also decided to take a ride on the ‘Budapest Eye’ which was cool!

    Budapest seems like a lovely city with so much to see, I hope I can come back to see the rest soon! But for now, we’re putting the trip on hold as we make our way back to France again to visit family.

    To be continued... :)
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  • Day20

    A day in Mostar

    November 4, 2017 in Bosnia and Herzegovina ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    We started today with another free walking tour around the city. Due to low season, it was a very small group (only 4 of us). The tour started in Spanish square- exactly where the front line of the war took place in the early 90s. Despite the war ending 20 years ago, it felt so recent due to the many buildings that are still half destructed from shell bombs. You can also see bullet holes all over the buildings and areas where buildings used to be. It’s very surreal. Our guide told us that a lot of these buildings have not been fixed due to financial problems and also because there is a law that ensures all reconstructions have to honour the original building design. A lot of these buildings are from the Austrian/Hungarian ruling and therefore were quite fancy and unfortunately too expensive to redo. It’s a shame. A lot of old communist style cheap buildings remain - and there are a few reconstructions going on in the city but the amount of abandoned buildings is insane. Despite this, the old town is still a very pretty place and this very obvious and recent history just adds to its character. Our guide had pictures before the war which he showed us at the same locations that they were taken... looking at these was a good way to get a better idea of the history. Cannot recommend these free city tours enough!

    There is a beautiful bridge that goes across the river in the heart of the old town. The bridge is famous for its impressive design that was built in the 1500’s. Unfortunately the original bridge was destroyed during the war. It is now a UNESCO heritage and was reconstructed. There is a diving club that is based on the bridge and as soon as they raise a certain amount of money each day (€30 in summer, €50 in winter) then someone from the club will jump off the bridge. It’s pretty high, 23 meters! We were lucky enough to be there when someone jumped too! Scary to watch. The club also organises training to jump which is a half day of practicing on a training platform before attempting it. Bit too crazy for me.

    We spent a lot of time by the bridge, eating ice cream, bird watching and chatting to a local who was telling me all about how it used to be when he was young. We visited a war photo exhibition on the bridge too which was very interesting to see but so heartbreaking. One of the photographers wrote about Mostar: “Though the fighting has stopped, the scars of war, both physically and emotionally, still remain. Mostar is a multi-ethnic city but a divided one; and it will take several generations for this to change.” :(


    The rest of the day we just wandered and as we were back to cheap prices again (yay) we had an absolute feast for lunch. It was sooooo good. We tried fried bread called ‘Peksimet’ and a vegetable and rice dish (a bit like ratatouille), called ‘Duvec’. Delish!

    I could easily stay longer here- especially to learn more about its history. A trip to Serbia would be really interesting to compare the different versions of events!
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  • Day19

    A day of travelling

    November 3, 2017 in Bosnia and Herzegovina ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Breakfast in Croatia, Lunch in Montenegro, Dinner in Bosnia... not often you can say that!

    Sadly we left our amazing accommodation and beautiful Dubrovnik today and headed back to return our car rental in Montenegro. We took the wrong road and accidentally ended up in Bosnia which we weren’t meant to do with the car so that was a bit stressful but everything was fine! Phew. On our way back to Podgorica we took a détour up the mountains to Ostrog Monastery- a big white church that’s been built into the rocks. It was very pretty but it was the view from up there that was the most incredible part. It was very peaceful- although I can imagine it being a completely different vibe in high season. We sat and ate a picnic up there in the sunshine with the amazing views- feeling very lucky.

    Miraculously, we made it to Podgorica hassle free and without any traffic jams!! First for everything. I thought I was going to get in a weird situation with the police though. I was sitting with all the bags across from the bus station while Stéphane returned the car and two policemen came up to me and asked for my ID. I think they were confused why I had so much stuff- they asked me what I was doing and if everything was mine... (to be fair, I think we have taken a ridiculous amount of baggage) Everything turned out okay though and they seemed friendly - I just had ideas of corrupt police in my head thanks to our last Taxi driver and didn’t know what to expect.

    We then took a surprisingly expensive bus (€18 each) to Mostar in Bosnia which was 5 hours of extremely bumpy and windy roads through the mountains with possibly the most popular guy in Montenegro as a driver. (Don’t think there was one moment that he wasn’t texting or calling someone) - despite this... we made it there safe!
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  • Day18

    Old town Dubrovnik

    November 2, 2017 in Croatia ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Relaxing morning on our balcony in the sunshine today! Can’t believe the beautiful weather at this time of year. Stéphane visited a war photo exhibition (Balkan wars and Dubrovnik under siege) which he said was extremely moving and sad but also very interesting. I spent my morning catching up on my journal in the sunshine.

    We wandered around the old town for the afternoon- chasing after 'Game of Thrones' filming locations! You can see why the directors got so much inspiration from the streets and buildings here. For lunch, we managed to find an amazing vegan restaurant and after walking around for the rest of the day, we decided to buy a bottle of wine and watch the sunset on our balcony. Amazing sunset over the ocean!! Reminded us of the many we watched in Australia.
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  • Day17

    Sunny Croatia

    November 1, 2017 in Croatia ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    It only took two hours to drive over to Croatia today. We only have two days here so we decided to just visit Dubrovnik. We got an amazing shared house to stay in with a big balcony but seen as it’s low season we have the place to ourselves! It’s incredible, best accommodation so far!

    We went to copacobana beach for a picnic (with the biggest roll I’ve ever had- see pics) and spent the rest of the day wandering around the HUGE old town. It’s like every old town we have seen so far but on steroids. Very beautiful and thankfully quite quiet. It’s nice to see these alleyways with no one there- sort of gives you a sense of how it might have been like back in the day. We tried to get a nice spot for sunset overlooking the red roofs. It’s crazy how early the sun sets here though! It’s dark by 5pm! I guess it is November... just not feeling like it these days with all the sunshine.

    Despite the low season, you can tell this is a very touristy place from the really high prices for everything. Such a difference! Although, we found a good place for a cheap(ish) dinner which was like an Italian version of Subway. You picked what pasta you wanted and your sauce and veg/meat and then they would make it up for you fresh. Was pretty nice!

    Walking tours are unfortunately quite pricey here so we’ve used our trusty friend google to help us understand the city more and tomorrow we are going to try find some 'Game of Thrones' filming locations! 😁
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  • Day16

    Relaxing day exploring Kotor and Perast

    October 31, 2017 in Montenegro ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    We visited the cute little sea side town of Perast today. It’s iconic for two little islands which we got a boat over to visit. There was a little museum and church on the island but that was about it. The other island has a monastery but it couldn’t be visited. Very remote. It was lovely though and thankfully it was quiet being low season. Afterwards we drank coffee in the sunshine (it’s sunny but getting colder) while enjoying the views.

    The afternoon was spent wandering through the old town by day- it was still very nice but I think I prefer the atmosphere in the evening. Then we hiked up to the top of the fortress. We went the back road which avoided paying the €3 charge but it turned out to be the nicest route! There was a beautiful friendly donkey and hilarious goats all staring intensely at us as we got higher up. The views were incredible and so rewarding after having walked up! We made it in time for sunset so the sky was the most amazing pink colour after. The city lights all came on and we got to see the city by night too. Definitely worth doing! Tonight’s dinner was a traditional pastry from a bakery which was delicious and very filling! Followed by a Nutella crêpe which was too difficult to resist.

    We leave Kotor and head to Dubrovnik in Croatia tomorrow. Excited!!
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  • Day15

    Leaving Podgorica on another road trip

    October 30, 2017 in Montenegro ⋅ 🌙 10 °C

    We started our day with a few car problems- although the agency didn’t seem to think that an airbag warning light and a broken seat belt were problems... “no problem, no problem my friend. In Montenegro normal normal, no problem!”. Thankfully we managed to get another car and only lost an hour of our time.

    The journey was beautiful. We passed a big lake and headed straight to the coast. When we got there we were amazed at how crystal clear the sea is! So inviting to jump in if it wasn’t so cold. We continued our drive to Sveti Stefan - a tiny island that is filled with old brick houses. It was very pretty- and surrounded by turquoise waters. Stéphane braved the cold and jumped in for a swim - I got as far as my ankles. We went for a little walk around and had a picnic on the beach with the stunning views.

    We continued our journey to Kotor, via the windy mountain roads. Such incredible views of Kotor from the road! I think a car hire is a must if you’re visiting here, and the driving isn’t too crazy either (especially compared to Albania!) So we arrived in Kotor just after sunset and it was such a beautiful little town! Jaw dropping first impressions. We are staying in an amazing hostel (hostel pupa) just on the harbour for only €8 a night per person. (And that was paying a bit more for a 4 bed dorm- I think it was only €6 for a 10 bed which is quite good for here.) We are just on the doorstep of the old town so we went for a wander. It’s another world! You feel like you are walking through a movie set. It’s a UNESCO listed town and you can tell that its been taken care of. Everywhere you looked there was something to see- so many hidden lanes and a restaurant, bar or souvenir shop on every corner. Old churches and museums were scattered about too with an incredible amount of cats everywhere! They looked healthy and well fed though and we later found a shopkeeper dedicated to feeding them which was good to see. For dinner, there was plenty choice! We chose a nice little place to sit outside with heat lamps, blankets and a man playing saxophone. Bliss. And to top it off we had a little kitten visitor and a friendly dog. I was in my element!
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  • Day14

    Crossing more borders to Montenegro

    October 29, 2017 in Montenegro ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    It was a relaxing morning for a change! We had a lovely balcony so managed to get some sun before we spent the rest of the day travelling!

    We arrived at the “bus station” to get the bus over to Montenegro - the taxi driver just dropped us off at the side of the road so we had no idea where to go. After asking a few people and hotel receptionists, we were none the wiser. A fairly friendly looking guy offered us a lift for €30 which was slightly more than the non existent bus so we thought it was a good idea. We arrived at his old Mercedes (couldn’t be any other car in albania could it) and we were on our way! He was very chatty considering we didn’t understand what he was on about. I think he was mentioning the terrible traffic, corrupt police and something about busses... it was a quick journey across the border which was great but unfortunately we were faced with very bad traffic going into Podgorica which took forever. Thankfully our friendly driver had ran out of things to say!

    We spent most of the rest of the day looking into car rentals etc but explored a little in the evening. The city didn’t seem too exciting and I got a bit of a weird unfriendly vibe from the people. A cute little dog made our day though as he came around with us as we walked all around the city. We called him Jack and when we stopped in at a bar for a drink we lost him. Amazingly though he found us back at our hostel like 2 hours later! Adorable, wish we could keep him :)

    Another good thing about the city- we found a great little restaurant with amazing pizzas and pasta and live music! Although, it’s so strange that smoking is still allowed inside everywhere here- didn’t like that too much.

    Good news is we got a good deal for a car rental at only €37 a day and the guy dropped it off for us this evening so we’re all set for another road trip tomorrow morning! Yay!
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  • Day13

    Driving along the Adriatic Coast

    October 28, 2017 in Albania ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    We enjoyed another lovely breakfast this morning with an incredible view of the ocean. :) spoiled! Today was mostly just a day of driving up the coast to then return the car in Shkodër (north of Albania) but as the scenery was so stunning, we stopped plenty times along the way. Gorgeous turquoise coast line, next to huge ragged mountains and passing people walking their goats amongst the crazy driving- only in Albania!

    We visited another lovely castle high up in the mountains of a town called Kruja. Very scary road to get there as it was so tiny and steep with two way traffic... but we made it! It was worth it though as the views were stunning and you could see for miles! And..it wouldn’t be a proper road trip without a huge traffic jam so we finished the day off waiting in traffic for about an hour (of what should have been a 5 min journey). Great fun. It was amusing watching all the Albanians try to overtake and undertake each other though- mad. And there was a guy selling a puppy and a baby rabbit at the side of the road! Can’t say I wasn’t tempted...

    We were happy to arrive safe in Shkodër and give the car back! We ventured out for some food but it didn’t look too promising at first. We then came across a little traditional looking place so thought we would give it a try. It was amazing! The waiter was so lovely and made us feel so at home. He gave us some great recommendations for what to eat and the best wine that €2 (for 0.5 litre!) could buy! Such a great find and a lovely way to finish off our trip in Albania!

    I can’t comment on meat dishes, but if you are heading to Albania and want to try some great local food- you need to try;

    Albanian breakfast pancakes
    Stuffed peppers
    Baked aubergines
    Traditional pie (a bit like a crêpe)
    Traditional beans

    It was all so good!! :) I would recommend this country to travel. (Although I think that I would have felt slightly intimidated if I was travelling alone- often you would struggle to find a girl anywhere in the evening, bit strange) However, the people were friendly and did not harass us even in the bigger cities. Driving culture is another story... but overall a must visit for the beautiful scenery!
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