We've crammed loads in since Vienna; we've done 4 Countries in 2 weeks.
First we went to Bratislava; the campsite was great; it was right by a lake, which was good because the weather was sooo hot. Bratislava was nice and cheap and the beer is strong. We went into a bar with these 2 lads we met from Leeds and ordered some beers which we realised were 12%. We were there for 2 days before we met Yerma and Deb. We met Yerma on her own because Deb lost her bag in the train station in Czech Republic with all her money, passport and cards in it; so she had to wait for another train to come through that had her passport on it but everything else had gone. She finally got to us at about 10:00pm and we did a BBQ in the dark, by candlelight Hahahaha.
We went to the castle which was nice, but it's under reconstruction so we couldn't go inside or get many pics.
There's loads of bars and little cafes all round the centre, but we wouldn't recommend eating in them, there so busy with only 2 waitresses serving so the wait for food and drink is stupid, one night we all went out for what was planned to be a late night but we started off at a restaurant which was nice, apart from the woman serving us. We all ordered our food by saying what we wanted and pointing to it on the menu, when it came to Deb ordering she did the same but the waitress for some reason didn't like it and snapped at Deb saying that she could understand English. Any way Pablo and Yerma's food came out and mine and Debs side dishes arrived but nothing else, so after waiting for ages the waitress asked if me n Deb had ordered anything, she said she'd forgot so we told her again but still nothing came after another long wait so we told her to leave it and decided to move on to another restaurant which was loads better but by this time it was about 11:00pm and we'd all had enough so our late night turned into an early one.
After Bratislava we went to a small village in the North of Slovakia to do a hike in the mountains, it was called Martin on the edge of Mala Fatra national park. We had some amazing views of the mountains from the campsite. We spoke to the man who owned the campsite about a route through the mountains; he drew a good route out on a map for us, which we forgot! One of the routes he'd drawn took you through the forest for 10k from one trail to another, which we were laughing at saying did he think we were professionals, as if we were goin to do that. We started walking and just followed a trail of markings on trees through the forest on the side of a mountain. It took us about 5 hours to get to the top of the mountain. We were all knackered by this time, so we decided to go off the trail and run down the side of the mountain through the trees, which only took 2 and a half hours to get to the bottom of the mountain then we had another 6k walk on a road back to the campsite.
When we got back we looked at the map and realised we'd not done the route that we'd planned to, we'd done a lot more and ended up doing the one that we were joking about. Overall we'd hiked about 30km and we'd been gone for about 8 hours. We were all so tired and sore, but it was a brilliant day.
After the hike we walked to a nearby restaurant, we all had a starter, a main course and a load of drinks and it worked out about 7euros each. Nice.
Next stop Budapest.
We left martin at about 8.30am, didn't get to Budapest till 3pm. We stayed in Budapest for two nights, Yerma and Deb decided they wanted to stay in the centre after they'd seen how far away our campsite was. To get into the centre we had to walk for about 15mins, mainly on the side of the road because there were no paths, then get 2 buses, took about 40mins altogether, and was a right pain in the ass when we had to do it late at night because all the houses had dogs outside and as you walked past they jumped at the gate barking at you.
We didn't stay in Budapest for long because we had to make our way into Croatia to make sure Deb and Yerma were in the right place for their flight home.
Probably would have moved on pretty soon anyway seen as though the campsite owner was a big ugly mardy German woman who didn't know the slightest about customer service or smiling for that matter. She found it a big effort to explain to us were the washing machine was.
THE DRIVE TO BELGRADE:
We set off from Budapest at about half 9 in the morning and didn't arrive in Belgrade till about 7pm, just about everything on the way was a nightmare from start to finish.
Most of the roads were just long and straight and quite empty, which can get quite boring when you're the driver, as we all learned from Pablo……… We were driving along for ages then we approached some road works, the car in front of us started breaking but Pablo hadn't seen and as we got closer I realised we hadn't slowed down so I screamed 'break' Pab slammed on just in time but everything in the van, including Yerma n Deb in the back ended up in a heap on the floor, the table leg twisted and Yerma was trapped underneath it, the cutlery drawer came flying out, amongst most of the other stuff in the van. We pulled up at the side of the road to sort everything out; made sure everyone was ok and carried on driving.
We'd only had our passports checked once at the Austrian border which was because of the football, but all the other borders didn't even have police there doing checks at all so we drove straight through. However Eastern Europe is well different.
We arrived at the Hungarian border which was horrible, we gave our passports to one policeman, he took a look at everyone as normal but then got to Pablo's, he went inside his little hut with the passports and closed the window then he called for another police woman, who looked at his passport then asked for another form of photographic ID. The photo on his passport is about 6years old so he gave her his driving licence which looks more like he does now, just minus the hair (Hahahaha). They both went into the hut for ages then came back out and did a check on the registration plate, we'd been there about 15mins and they were still examining his passport. They looked at the codes on the back of his licence to make sure it covered him for driving the van, then again came out looking at the passport then at Pablo, then the police man asked Pab to unlock the back door, he opened it, the police man stood there for a second then gave us the passports back and opened the barrier…….. Strange, but we reckon it was some sort of scare tactic to see if you crumble under the pressure or something.
Just after the Hungarian border there was another border control but the barrier was up so we thought it was part of the Hungarian one so we carried on driving through, until a bloke started whistling and shouting 'this is the police u must stop' oops. We handed over our passports again and about three police man walked round the van but this time it was ok, we apologised for driving through and explained why then they were smiling and all fine, they stamped our passports and off we went.
So again we were driving on the long boring roads for ages then we go to yet again another border control, this time the Serbian border. We handed our passports over which was fine, the policeman stamped them but then he asked for our green card????? We didn't have a clue what this was, so the police man said 'insurance' we gave him our European insurance certificate but he said 'no no your green card' we told him we didn't have one so he asked us to pull up at the side of the road. We read in our Europe on a shoestring book that you have to purchase a green card to drive on Serbian roads but it said that they could be purchased at the border for 120euros, however we didn't have any money yet apart from Slovakian, so Pab got out to see if we could buy one on the card, the police man said the man who supplies the cards wasn't there and we'd have to wait an hour for him. Pab explained that we were only staying in Serbia for one night so the policeman gave him my passport and told him to put 50euros in it and bring it back to him. We didn't have enough euros but Yerma had some English money so we put £40 in. The policeman said if we got pulled by the police we had to tell them that we had lost our green card since getting through the border and said that if we told them what really happened they wouldn't believe us.
Anyway after practically bribing the Serbian police we finally got into Belgrade, but the chaos wasn't over yet. The roads in the city centre are crazy, there's no road markings so the cars just drive wherever they want to, the only thing that controls them (if you can call it control) is a policeman (more like mad man) stood in the middle of the road blowing a whistle. We discovered that there aren't any campsites anywhere in Serbia so we decided to find a hotel; that was the easy part; the difficult thing was trying to find somewhere to park the van. We found an open top car park which was perfect for us as there were obviously no height limits, BUT…. The bloke on the barrier said no campervans. We pulled up on the side of the road outside the car park which was a one way street, to decide what we were going to do. Yerma and Deb jumped out and ran across the street to a hotel to see if they had any room and where the nearest car park was. They came back and said we could stay in the hotel and there was a multi story car park at the side of the hotel. As we tried to set off the van wouldn't turn over (the same problem we had when we had to get a new starter motor). Pab did the hammer trick and the van started. We got round to the car park and there was no way we could fit under it. The Hotel security guard told us to go park round the corner but we explained that they wouldn't let us, he was just on his way round to give them a rollokin, then he said we could park in a space at the front of the hotel, which normally costs loads of money but they let us park there for free because of all the trouble we'd had. The People in Belgrade are really nice and helpful. One positive thing about the drive was the sunflower fields, all the way from Budapest right through to Croatia there are fields full of Sunflowers which go on for miles, tried to get some pics but you cant see how full the fields are.
So anyway after the nightmare day things started to go right. We all got showers and got ready to go out. We ate at this really traditional restaurant in the Bohemian Quarter where we all ordered far too much and felt really ungrateful because we left loads but the food was gorgeous. There was these old blokes playing Spanish kind of music on guitars while you ate, then this woman came dressed up, she was the lady of Suburbia and she was telling us the history of the street and the restaurant, then she did a song with the men on guitars. Pab mentioned that he wanted a photo with her, then she came up, tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to dance with her…………check the pics out, well funny. After dinner we went to a few bars then we made our way down to the floating bars on the river, some of them have live music, but we'd got down there a bit too late so we went into a few of the night club type bars…………CHEESY is the only word to explain them. One of them was called 'Brave Heart' we read about it in the lonely planet book and it said this was the place where all the blokes took there trophy girlfriends to show them off. Every girl in the world must be a trophy girl, there were about 20 people there and not one girl was what you would describe as a trophy girlfriend. We had one drink there then went on to a cheesy trance club which was so sleazy and full of bent security guards going in the toilets with the clubbers doing lines n stuff. Again we stayed for one drink and made our way back to the hotel, good laugh though.
We left Belgrade about 1ish the next day and set off to Croatia. There isn't one single campsite in the North of Croatia and it was starting to get quite late and we realised that if we carried on driving we wouldn't reach the campsite that we were trying to get to until midnight. We searched hotels on the sat nav but it didn't recognise any, luckily we spotted a police car so Pab asked them where the nearest hotel was, they said they'd drive to one so we could follow them. It was only round the corner and it was nice and cheap. We learnt from the waiters in the hotel that the English say thank you too much, he said in Croatia no-one really says it at all.
The next morning we carried onto the campsite and finally got there at about 3ish. The campsite was set on a gorgeous rocky beach which was great for us to finally chill out, especially Pab, seen as though he'd drove 29hours in 4 nights.
Yerma and Deb stayed in Croatia with us for 2 nights then flew home.
The only down side to the campsite was the lack of facilities. The toilets were Turkish toilets (for people who don't know these are just holes in the ground that you have to squat over) ERRRRRRRRRRRR. I wasn't impressed at all. I discovered one English toilet so I went to go in but for some reason some dirty scrubber had done a poo on the floor instead of in the toilet.
The other thing that they didn't have were washing machines and because of the mardy German Woman in Budapest who found it too hard to explain where the washing machines were in her campsite, we'd accumulated about three loads of washing that we had to wash by hand, then we had right trouble drying them as we'd got a washing line but no pegs so when the wind blew all our clothes got flung onto the floor, we managed to get them dry within 2 days though.
We stayed for another 2 nights in Croatia then set off to Italy (which will be on the next blog).
So after the longest blog yet we'll love ya and leave ya Xxx
Sorry it's so long, once Hayley gets typing she's like a woman possessed, I reckon I could have fit it all into a paragraph.
4 countries in 1 paragraph I don't think so.