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Where To Go, That I Don’t Know

Trains are the most fun way to travel, use them! (click to see larger)One of the reasons that I came to Hungary was because of where it is located.  It’s a landlocked country that has strange lands on all sides of it.  You can take a train, car, bus, bike, canoe, hang glider, rollerblades, or any other conceivable form of transportation and end up in a different country without having to cover much distance.

Sounds great, right?  It is, but it has it’s pros and cons.  Imagine you had a huge craving for something sweet and cold, so you went into an ice cream shop.  Now pretend that they had 2 million different flavors that all looked tasty.  How do you decide?  That’s the decision I’m facing now.

I’m a little over a week away from my spring break, and, as usual, I haven’t decided where to go.  There were good deals on discount flights to anywhere in Europe, but those are becoming more scarce as the time draws closer.  But, trains and buses could easily get me to a new land.  All I have to do is decide which.

So, I’m going ask for your help.  Where do you think I should go?  Let me lay out some of the places that I’m considering, but feel free to suggest anywhere else.  I have about a week off of school (ten days, I think), and keep in mind that I get paid a Hungarian teaching salary – translation:  cheap is good.

 My experiences in restaurant cars have always been awesome, is that a general feeling? (click to see larger)

Bosnia - A nation that wasn’t even on my list of places to go until I realized it’s right next door, but putting that aside, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this country.  I was attracted to the city that hosted the spark of World War I, but rumor has it that there are a few other incredible towns around. 

Pros:  It’s close and reasonable priced (and easy to plan at the last minute).

Cons:  I don’t know if there are enough things to occupy me for 10 days.


If this was my car, I would definitely be driving somewhere! (click to see larger)Ukraine -  An intriguing country that I really don’t know much about.  It’s another neighbor of Hungary, but it’s at the far corner and it seems that the cool places are deep in the country.

Pros:  I could take trains and/or buses and I think the prices are good.

Cons:  I think it takes a long time to travel there by train, and I’m not sure how easy it is to get around once I’m actually in the country.


Bulgaria – This is higher up on my list, but I think I’d have to fly and the flights aren’t very cheap at such a late date.  Plus, Istanbul is a city that I’d really like to go to, and it may be easier to see both of these places at once.

Pros:  I’ve heard it’s very cheap once you’re there.

Cons:  Getting a flight there wouldn’t be cheap.


Trains are great, but there's a lot of time spent waiting in stations (not always in the best weather). (click to see larger)Poland – It’s a popular country to visit, but one that has never really been that attractive to me (I don’t have a good reason why).  However, I rarely hear anything bad about it, so it’s probably worth visiting.

Pros:  I can get there by trains, and I’m under the impression that the infrastructure is fairly modern, so it would be easy to get around.

Cons:  I’m just not that excited about it.


Greece -  There were (I stress the past tense) cheap flights to Greece, but I was thinking of using it more as a starting point.  I’d like to explore some more of the former Yugoslavian countries, but I don’t know how easy it really is to get from one place to the other.

Pros:  If I could get around, I could go to some off the beaten track locations.

Cons:  The flight fares have gone up, and I don’t know for sure that I could get to the places I’d really like to go.


Those aren’t all my options, those are just the first five that I thought of.  Let me know that you think.  Have you been to them and liked them or not liked them?  Have you not been there but always wished you have?  Does one sound like a great idea or horrible idea simply because you don’t like the name?  Any reasoning is welcome!

 The form of transportation isn't important, but it's time for me to cross some borders like this one into Italy. (click to see larger)

Hungarian word of the day:


This word is pronounced “Hot-aar” (the second part is kind of like what  pirate says), and it means “Border”.  It’s my intention to cross at least one border on my next trip because I haven’t been out of Hungary since I left for Christmas.  That must be some sort of record for me.

Reader Comments (10)

Hallstatt, Austria or Cinque Terre, Italy. Treat yourself. If you cannot actually go to either, stalk the lands through Google (or the equivalent). You are welcome.

Have you decided to stay in Budapest for another year?

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Hey Alex -
Have you been to Bled, or elsewhere in Slovenia? You should visit Ukraine sometime, but it is a big country - and transport is very slow, and not easy. The Cyrillic alphabet makes both the Ukraine and Bulgaria a bit more difficult. But Bulgaria has a few English speakers and much better transport. They have nice beaches. I went about 5 years ago, and went with a Bulgarian tour group to Istanbul. It was fun, and pretty cheap.

When I went to Slovenia two years ago, they had special fares from Budapest to Ljubljana. That might still be true. Bosnia should have decent beaches, but in fact - they hardly have a coast line. Split, etc are part of Croatia. I love traveling in Poland - the language is a bit difficult - but essentially similar to Bulgaria, Ukraine, etc. but they write things with "our" alphabet. The transport is fast, the people are friendly - indeed, polish girls are at least as beautiful as Hungarian girls, not that you would notice.

Whatever you do - have fun! My first choice - especially if you visited none of the above would be Poland with Bulgaria second.

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKent

Hi Alex, if I were you I would go for the benefit of the unexpected: choose Poland. The least of expectations on your side, much to offer on theirs (check out Zakopane, it is close, beautiful and highly enjoyable). Few people speak English but many try to make fiends in pubs, so the language barrier only applies for the first 5-10 minutes. Anyway, enjoy your spring brake! :)

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Is that a train station in Bulgaria? It looks like a train station from a movie.

If I were you I would also choose Poland. You didn't mention countries on the west side of Hungary. My very first choice would be Austria, yes Hallstatt for instance. Rather expensive though. Wien is very similar to Budapest, but smaller, so it doesnt worth a visit. But the hills and mountains-they are gorgious!

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternative

For Ukraine you still might need a visa.
Look into it before you hop on the train.

To Lisa:
Most European capitals have several railroad stations, serving different parts of the country. For example, Vioenna has the Sud bahnhof and the Westbahnhof. Paris has six(!) railway stations. Budapest has three, the two on the Pest side were built in the 19th century (The country was three times the size what it is today). That is the 19th century architectural style you see; those are the "outside tracks" for boarding or disembarking on the picture, there are four or six tracks in the main railway building

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNetuddki

I live in Poland and it's fantastic - Krakow, Gdansk, Warsaw, Wroclaw are all good to visit. But my second choice would be an ex-Yugoslavia trip: i have been to both Slovenia and Serbia and they are great places to go. If you add Bosnia and Croatia to the mix you have a good 10 days' worth of fun. Also, my Bulgarian friends told me that Belgrade has the "feel" of Sofia, so you would get a sense of Bulgaria as well in ex-Yugoslavia (i.e., "southern slav")

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFriz

Thanks for all the comments! First, I'll say that I was looking at these countries (and none to the west) since these are much more affordable to travel to. That's why I wasn't thinking about places like Austria.

Those places both sound awesome! I'd love to go to them, but I think I'll hold off a little more hoping that someday I'll have more money. Until then, I'll have to be happy with the virtual tours.

I have been to Slovenia (twice) and loved it. So, I probably shouldn't go back there on this trip. You make a good point that the sizes and difficulty of travel mean that this week off may not be the best time to go to Ukraine or Bulgaria - I'll wait for a longer trip. If Poland's that high on your list, it's much more enticing to go there. Plus, I think I'll have to see for myself if the Polish girls are "at least as beautiful as Hungarian girls"...

That's true, it's much easier to be pleased when expectations are low! I love making friends in pubs, it's the best way.

It's a train station in Budapest, Hungary. It's a very pretty city with a lot of picturesque architecture.

I do miss seeing mountains, so I would like to go to Austria for that! The only problem is the price, so I think I'll wait a little before going to see more of Austria. Hopefully these other places would be cheaper.

I'm pretty sure I don't need a visa for Ukraine, but thanks for reminding me to check! That wouldn't be a fun experience...

They both sound great, it sounds like I won't go wrong with either one! Which are the best places in Poland where I should spend the most time?

Thanks again for all the feedback!


March 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterAlex Hoskinson

I'm Polish and I don't recommend Zakopane - it resembles Aspen, it's a place with overcrowded streets and slops, never ending queues to cable car. Kłodzko could be better solution - the mountain town with the underground touristic trail for instance.
Cities like Cracow or Warsaw are overrated and very expensive, especially Cracow.
If I were you, I would choose Wrocław, Gdańsk (Trójmieście) or Poznań.

Wrocław is host city of EURO 2012 and candidate to European City of Culture 2016. You'll find there unforgettable atmosphere ( students' place) , a lot of historic monuments, recreation area , pubs and clubs. The place where modernity sticks with past.
Poland offers also spectacular sceneries e.g Mazurian lakes or Polish Seaside - but it needs sightseeing tour. ;)

Having visited Budapest last year and knowing a lot of Hungarians I have to admit that Polish girls are prettier ;P But I'm not the right person to judge ;)

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue


Thanks for the advice! I ended up going to Poland, but there are so many places that I didn't see that now I have to go back. It looks like I'll be having some more trips there in the future (I seemed to be unlucky finding the beautiful girls, though, so maybe I was in the wrong place)!


April 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterAlex Hoskinson

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