Buda at night

The two original cities of Buda, and Pest, which lie either side of the Danube make up the spectacular modern city.

Pest from the Budapest Eye


The history of Hungary is one of being fought over for hundreds of years.

In spite of the destruction that has occured in the past that there are many interesting places to explore, many that have been restored several times.

Some of my favorites are:

  • Dohany Street Synagogue
  • Main Market Hall
  • Matthias Church
  • Hospital in the Rock
  • Hungarian Parliament (from the outside)


In the last couple of years of World War II over 500,000 Jewish people were murdered in Hungary.

They are remembered with several memorials; including this shoe sculpture on the banks of the Danube.

Check the Offbeat Budapest website for more information on this and other poignant memorials.


Budapest has a big bar scene particularly around the old ‘Jewish Quarter’ with bars every few metres in that area.

Ruin Bar before the crowds

One thing that I have never seen before, which are common in Budapest are ‘Ruin Bars’.

They are literally set up in partially ruined building with an eclectic range of furniture that looks as though it has been rescued from the dump.

The bar scene does mean that on weekends Budapest fills up with groups of men, and groups of women, from all over Europe on pre-wedding parties.


The currency in Hungary is the ‘Forint’ written HUF.

While in Budapest; most transaction can be carried out with a bank or debit card.

At many, but not all businesses, euros can be used although the change will be in forint. (some businesses will take euro notes, but not coins)

Turn ‘Lay Overs’ into ‘Stay Overs’

When you are travelling long haul you will normally need to stop at least once.

These ‘lay overs’ can be anything from an hour to 12+ hours.

Instead of hanging around the airport for hours why not book into a hotel for a couple of days and see a different city, or country.

Popular Stay Over Locations

Travelling from Australia to Europe I have had stay overs in :

Flying between Australia and North America I have stayed over at:

  • New Zealand
  • Hawaii
  • Los Angeles when flying from the East Coast of the USA.

Advantages of Stay Overs

  • An extra place to experience.
  • Helps reduce the effects of ‘Jet Lag’.
  • Two 8-10 hour flights with a couple of day rest in the middle are a lot easier on the body than 20 or more hours continuous travelling.
  • In some cases it can actually save you money.
  • Less stress about missing a connecting flight.

Saving Money

When you are planning a long haul flight don’t just look at direct flights look at flights that may take in another city close to the route.

Its not impossible on some routes to make up to a 40% saving, which could pay for a couple of nights hotel stay!

My Personal Stay Over Travel Hack

Having been caught out several times with immigration delays on entering the USA I now always arrange to stay over at least one day at the city that I fly into.

River Cruising

I’m currently cruising the European Rivers from Amsterdam to Budapest so here are some travel hacks.


As you can see from the above photo it was a bit of a grey day in Amsterdam when we boarded the boat.

But as our Cruise Director, Roland, says “There is no bad weather: just a bad choice of clothes.”

A good jacket, and every cabin has an umbrella, . . . so no worries.

N.B Generally the further you get from the oceans the better the weather.


With River/ Canal Cruising its likely that there will be some adjustment to schedules.

On the narrower rivers and canals the amount of traffic can make a difference to the timing, especially when there are lots of locks.

Sometimes either too little, or too much, water mean that traffic is prevented from moving on the river.

The best advice I can give is to chill.

The Captain, and the Cruise Director, however will work with other ships and coach operators to ensure that you get the best chance to have a memorable holiday.

On our cruise a damaged lock mean’t that we had to change ships.

The faster coach transfer, across country, meant we were able to spend additional time at two of the ‘ports’.

Cabin Location

For this cruise we had a cabin on the second of three levels on the port (left) side of the ship.

Next time we will probably pay extra to have a cabin on the higher level as the additional 2-3m of height makes it easier to see over the canal/river banks.

We will also aim to choose a cabin on the starboard (right) side as it gives a bit more privacy when the ship is docked. (except when another cruise ship pulls up alongside)

Time on Ship, or Time on Shore?

If you are on a one way river trip the direction can make a difference.

Going upstream the ship will be going slower so you might find yourself on the boat longer.

Going downstream the ship will be able to go faster so the time ashore may be longer.

Explore Instead of Eating

On a river cruise it’s unlikely you will go hungry with three large meals and snacks; so if you really like exploring it might be worth skipping a meal.

A couple of times a meal was served while we were in port, but we got off the ship and had another couple of hours for sight seeing.

Friends or Acquaintances?

Some people like to make friends with other couples early in the cruise and stick with them, eating meals together.

For us we try and meet as many different people by dining with different people at each meal.

It’s really up to you.

Disclaimer I haven’t been paid, or received any benefit from this post.

Drying Clothes

I only travel with a few pairs of boxer shorts and socks so washing every couple of days in a necessity.

So how do you get things dry?

Here is what I do.

Step 1

After washing and wringing out the items I lay them out on a bath towel.

Generally I aim to cover about half the towel.

Step 2

Fold the remaining half over the clothes.

Then fold the middle over again.

Step 3

Roll the towel tightly from the edge.

Leave for a couple of minutes.

The clothes won’t be absolutely dry, but no more than a bit damp.

Hang them up overnight and they should be dry by the morning.

Checking Out Checklist

Have you ever left anything in a Hotel Room? . . . . I know I have.

Here is a quick checklist to help stop you losing stuff.

  • Wardrobe hanging space
    Wardrobe shelves
    Coat hook behind door
    Under the bed
    Room safe
    Desk drawers
    Bedside tables top
    Bedside drawers
    Bathroom shelves
    Bathroom drying rail
    Bathroom basin (I carry a multi size basin plug)
    Chargers + cables
    Travel power adapter

If you can think of anything else . . . leave a comment.

Walking Hazards

I’m currently touring around Europe which has reminded me of a couple of the hazards walking around another country.


Bicycles are a much more common form of transport in Europe than most places.

Many places have differentiated areas where the bikes have priority such as this paved area in Hamburg . . . so make sure you don’t wander onto it.

The problem is that the cyclists don’t always stick to their area, especially when they are passing another cyclist.

In Amsterdam where the streets are narrow and the footpaths tiny it can make you very nervous.


Not just in streets but on the footpath.

If you have a spinner suitcase cobbles can be a real issue.

Particularly a pavement with bands of cobbles like this.

As well as the extra wear, and the noise, the case is constantly twisting in your hands.

With my normal carry on I will often walk up to a km from the station to my hotel.

If I’m travelling with a spinner case I will be getting a taxi for anything over a couple of hundred metres.