These last few weeks I’ve been travelling up and down and around the continent. Namely, Copenhagen, Berlin ,Vienna, Budapest and Poland.
My girlfriend and I needed a holiday, so we decided to become intrepid travellers. We spent 10 days in the first four countries (Denmark, Germany, Austria and Hungary), and then the rest of our two week stay in Poland for a wedding.
We’ve always been used to going on city breaks for a few days at a time, so we decided to incorporate that into our planning.
In each country, we spent one full day there, touring and seeing the sights and enjoying the food. And then the days either side of it were spent travelling to a different country. Doing it this way made the time go by SO quickly. Before we knew it, we were in Budapest already… and then Poland… and then, oh, back in the UK.
But that doesn’t mean to say we didn’t make the most of each country while we were there. And it was amazing how much we could do on a budget. We didn’t need to go inside all of the palaces or museums or galleries or things like that — instead we spent most of our money on food and travel!
We landed at the airport and then bought our train tickets. We were staying in an AirBnb right out in the sticks, about a forty five minute train ride away, so we thought it best to buy a 48-hour travel pass. To our surprise, it cost us a whopping £76 for two people. That was almost all of our budget gone in one go. And the worst part was, there were no ticket barriers on the trains and there were no ticket inspectors wandering up and down the trains… so we could have got on for free and nobody would have know.
Top Tip: try it and let me know if it works.
Once we’d checked in, we went to the local supermarket and bought some rations for the evening and following day. Our host was really nice and the room was adequate for what we wanted.
On our first day, we travelled into the centre before 9 am, and went to visit the statue of The Little Mermaid just north of the centre. Afterwards, we wandered through the streets, watched the changing of the guard at the local palace, and then had some food. One of the popular tourist attractions was a round tower, which was made completely out of stone, and contains no steps; instead, it’s a curved incline that goes right to the top of the tower, where you can look out around the city from above. Fortunately, it’s not too high, but is quite dizzying when you get to the top!
After, we ventured down to Tivoli gardens, where we wandered around the theme park, had some food, and watched as others decided to go on the rides. The gardens were pretty, but the rides looked basic and lacking excitement and thrill — so we decided to pass.
Before our flight the following day, we went down to Nyhavn — the harbour with all the pretty coloured houses and buildings that you’ve probably seen online somewhere — we decided to kill some time and venture out on a river cruise. It was good fun, the sights were nice and it was a very nice way to round off the trip.
Then, we had our 45 minute flight to Berlin.
They say first impressions are everything. Unfortunately for Berlin, they weren’t great. It looked dilapidated and was covered in graffiti as we entered the city on the train. Plus, where we were staying was the student-y area and was, according to the smart people on the inter web, one of the rougher parts of the city.
As for the rest of the city, it wasn’t that great either. While it was scenic, it didn’t live up to the image I had of it in my head. It’s difficult to describe what I was expecting, but that certainly wasn’t it. We did, however, visit all the historic WWII landmarks, and the Reichstag. Annoyingly, we were supposed to go to the top of the Reichstag and view the city from the dome… but that didn’t happen because we forgot to confirm the booking.
While in Berlin, my girlfriend introduced me to the currywurst — a bratwurst in a curry sauce — and it was delicious. And relatively cheap, too.
My favourite part about Berlin was perhaps seeing the Berlin Wall. Some of the graffiti and artwork on there is astonishing. We probably took more pictures of the wall than we did anything else while we were there.
During our stay in Berlin, we discovered something completely unrelated to the holiday. Electric scooters! They were everywhere, and they’re just like the bikes you see in London and other cities. All you have to do is download an app, create an account, find yourself a scooter, and then you can use it to whisk yourself around the place wherever you want to go. Then, once you’re done, leave it anywhere in the city and someone else can find it. We had the best time zooming around the streets, panicking and trying to avoid the panic. I mean, who needs travel insurance anyway?!
Our trip to Vienna started off badly. We landed at 2 pm, and couldn’t check in until 6pm. We had no idea where we were, nor where we needed to go — in the previous two cities, we’d been using an app called Citymapper to help us get around the place. But Vienna didn’t have one, so we made it up as we went along.
However, Vienna was our favourite, so I guess it balanced out in the end anyway. Everything in the city was so clean and need and well organised — the trains/metro were really nice and spacious as well. Way better than the UK’s. The overall experience in Vienna was far better than anywhere else. our room was much nicer than all the others, and we saw a lot more than we had originally planned.
Before we started the holiday, we tried to create an itinerary of what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go in the short space of time that we had in each country. We even bought a book with advice and tips. But the thing we relied on the most was Google. While researching, we discovered it had a “Things to do in a Day…” feature, so we tested it out and printed them out for all of the countries. Vienna’s only had 6 things, while the rest of the countries we visited had 10 (or thereabouts). But, when we were there, and we realised that we could walk everywhere, we saw a lot more than we had originally planned.
The weather in Vienna, too, was incredibly hot. 33 degrees, and we were wandering around. I had my backpack on which made it even worse. (Oh, and by the way, between us we only took two backpacks — we managed to fit 10 days’ worth of clothes each in a backpack!) But, what surprised me the most, was that they had water fountains dotted around the centre so we could fill up our water bottles and stay hydrated.
In Vienna, we ate a lot of food. The highlight was having lunch in Cafe Central, Vienna’s most famous cafe. Apparently Freud’s been there, and even Hitler. It was slightly expensive, but what do you expect from a historic cafe with such a reputation?
We left Vienna with high expectations, and on the final day, we had to walk a mile to get to the bus — we would be spending the next 3 hours driving down to Budapest.
As our overall stay in Budapest was shadowed by our experiences when we first arrived. Again, we didn’t know where we going, it was hot, we were tired, and we were stay in a poor part of town. As we checked into the room, we found ants in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, crawling over the food. So we decided to leave it, and first thing the following morning, we checked into a hotel near the bus stop where we would be travelling to Poland.
Suffice to say, we weren’t happy with Budapest so far.
And, on the day we spent wandering around and travelling through the city, it was a Sunday, so all the shops and restaurants were closed. Not great. But we did manage to find a nice restaurant along the river that served delicious food. We both tried the goulash and loved it.
This, however, does not mean to say that Budapest wasn’t a nice place. In fact, it was very nice. I loved the castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and the parliament building — all of them were very pretty. But the best thing about our stay there (aside from the air conditioned room after a day of 35 degree heat), was that it was a national holiday in Hungary, and the country was celebrating its independence. As we walked across the bridge, earlier in the day, I noticed loads of fireworks on the side. And, after some Googling, we realised it was they were for the special day. So, we waited until the evening, found a nice spot along the river, and then watched the fireworks light up the sky across the city’s three bridges. They were pretty spectacular and awe inspiring. And I got some lovely pictures of it too.
We left Budapest on a high, and then we had to leave at 6 am to get the 7-hour bus journey up to Poland.
We spent the final days of our holiday in Poland for my girlfriend’s cousin’s wedding. There, we tried to relax but we were preparing for the wedding that we found we didn’t have much time to.
However, while we were there, I experienced a lot of Polish custom, tradition and culture. There’s a plate smashing tradition that happens the day before the wedding, so we went to their house, smashed a few plates and then left. It’s good luck apparently.
On the day of the wedding, we ate and drank so much. I’ve never seen so much vodka before in my life. I think they spent at least half the budget on vodka itself. The after party started at about 3 pm, and we left at 2 am, and there was still food coming out at that point. I ate my bodyweight in Polish cuisine, and I have no regrets.
It was a two day affair, and on the second day, it was a lot calmer, but there was still so much food and drink. Although we had to be sensible because we were flying out at 6 am back to the UK.
And that concluded the end of our holiday. When we got home to my parent’s house, we tried to sleep but couldn’t because we were having a BBQ.
We’ve been trying to catch up on sleep ever since.
So far, it’s not been going well — I almost fell asleep writing this!
If you’ve made it this far, I think I should probably reward you with some photos. Below is a list of my favourite ones. Im yet to put them on social media, but will do when I remember.