Peter Soponyai

Budapest, Hungary

Hungary – The Heart of Europe

Posted by | Guest Spot, Hungary, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | No Comments

Hungary is a fairly small country located in Central-Eastern Europe. Due to it’s location it has a number of natural resources that makes it the perfect destination for travelers who enjoy the outdoors or a bit of getting in touch with nature as opposed to the urban jungle that makes up many places where things are just a networked series of grids and paved highways. One of my favorite things about my home country are the natural thermal waters. Hungary has over a 1,000 of them. The Romans, no strangers to the good life, were the first to take advantage of this naturally occurring phenomenon, but Budapest also offers some of the finest examples of the “Turkish Bath” found anywhere, with public baths scattered throughout the city.

You will most likely start your journey in the capital city, Budapest and generally this will be your base of operations for your stay. As a major city, you’ll find every single modern amenity and creature comfort you could ever want, not to mention plenty of history and sites to see, especially if you are someone who has a craving for Celtic and Roman history. I suggest you spend a few days exploring it’s districts, visiting the usual tourists spots or perhaps taking a boat journey on the river Danube; these are all common things to do if you are just a tourist here, and they are all worth your time.

Hungarian CastleSadly, most visitors rarely go outside the city’s borders. and it is here that the true Hungary exists. If you have the chance, take a look a bit further to the country side, to the roaming hills and lush forests and the rich and warm culture that is waiting to be explored. The country has thousands of years of history and it has left the mark on the scenery as well, ranging from castles to monasteries, natural and artificial caves and the vineyards. Oh, the wine of the Hungarians! No trip would be complete without trying some of the famous wines of these lands, but that’s another article entirely!

If you are fortunate enough, you might be able to catch one of the cultural festivities, such as the Fövárosi Nagycirkusz, or Great Circus of the Capital, or the Sziget Festival on Óbudai Sziget , which is a rock festival dedicated to music. These cultural events offer a unique series of opportunities to learn more about Hungarians and how they lead their lives above and beyond the travel guides and Internet articles. Hungarians, like many European people, know how to have a good time, but the only way you will ever learn how to party like us is if you take the time to “live like a local”, as Tim (the owner of Marginal Boundaries) is always saying.

If you like to discover new flavours, you cannot ignore Hungarian cuisine, which is considered to be some of Europe’s finest. Paprikas veal or chicken is a common dish, which is a creamy soup-type specialty that uses the eponymous spice, paprika, while töltött káposzta are cooked cabbage leaves stuffed with meat and served with a sour cream on top. We also have several goulash type dishes, usually meat-based. And you can’t forget Hungarian coffee shops and cafes, which are very Viennese if you had to compare them to somewhere else.

Hungarian HouseWhile the countryside itself is still fairly simple, the same can be said of Italy and Greec or Bulgaria or many of the other countries of Europe, but don’t let this fool you into being mistaken about Hungary. This country is just as modern as any other. You find all the services and commodities you are used to, only they cost a fraction of what I’m currently paying while living in London

As such, Hungary is an ideal destination for anyone looking for a quality vacation with a budget, or if you are interested in doing the immersion travel route and staying in the country for a longer duration. As part of the European Union and the Schengen plan, your ability to stay here depends on what country you hail from, but most people can stay for up to three months on their passport alone. Beyond that, you need a visa just as with any other country.

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Transportation in London for Newbies

Posted by | Guest Spot, Live Like a Local, London, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | One Comment

London is a huge metropolis. The streets are all alike, the underground is a big maze. It is easy to get lost here. I can’t tell how many times I have found myself walking down a street, not knowing where I am only to find a building or fence that I thought I have seen before. I could not have been more wrong.

When you arrive to the city, I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of London A-Z, it has all the underground lines and all the streets and districts (boroughs) listed in a clear and concise manner. It is a tremendous help. The book is not expensive and it will save you a lot of time.

There are a few options to chose from when it comes to moving around the city. An obvious one would be public transportation. Let me warn you though, public transport in London is expensive. The city is divided up to zones; the more zones you cross in any one journey the more expensive the fare will be. This is not true for buses, as they have a fixed fare no matter how many stops you take.

Oyster CardAnyone who spends more than a few days here should pick up an Oyster card. It is a small electronic card that you can buy from most news stands that gives you a discount on every trip you take. I don’t have to tell you how quickly those add up. It is a must have.

They can be topped up with money on a pay as you go basis, or you can add travel cards to them (weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.). You have to touch them to the Oyster reader at the beginning of every journey and touch them out at your destination. Be sure  you do this, as there is a penalty if you forget to do it.

The C Lane in LondonWhat most tourists don’t realize is that stops are fairly close to each other. Buses stop almost on every corner and the underground stations are no more than 10 minutes walk apart. So if you are travelling small distances, it is a good idea to get your A-Z and do a bit of walking.
Be wary though, the cars are going the opposite direction here (if you are from the U.S. or Europe or most of the rest of the civilized world). It is easy to look the other way and find yourself in front of a car. Always make sure you look both ways!

If you have time, it can save some money if you cut out the Tube (that is what Londoners call the underground) and take buses instead. But with congestions, travelling time can add up. It is something to think about.

Speaking of congestions. London being a major city, traffic is hectic and for that reason they have a congestion charge in the inner zones. It costs £10 every day and it allows you to drive into roads marked with a big C. There are some exceptions however, such as electric cars and motorbikes. If you happen to drive one, you are free to go wherever you like.

Bikes in LondonBicycles are another great option. It can be a lot of fun, and with Barclay’s hire a bike scheme, it just got a lot easier. They are the blue bikes that you can find near most stations. You can chose a pay as you go theme, or get a pass for them. In the later case, if your destination is within 30 minutes, you will not be charged extra. Just remember to ride on the left side of the road in the bicycle lanes.

There are a few extra ways to travel here, which can still be used with an Oyster card but they are charged as separate services. These are the trains that go outside London, as well as boats and the newly built cable car service. But more on those later.

I hope this article will be of use to you, if you are thinking about visiting this magnificent city. Enjoy your time, take lots of pictures and let us know how your trip went!

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

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