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The long road home

The Baltics and Eastern Europe

SLOVENIA | Thursday, 14 August 2008 | Views [531]

On the Ferry from Finland to Estonia we met some other Kiwi's travelling in a Camper, so we were real pleased when we bumped into them again int he camping ground in Tallinn, and again in Riga.  Tallinn was a very pretty city, a beautiful old town which was unfortunatly very crowded with FIVE cruise ships in the Tallinn Harbour.  From Tallinn we headed down to the coast to a beachside town "Parne" for a night, it was a lovely beach, but being the Baltic Sea it was quite a hike out into the ocean to get past knee deep! 

In Riga we did a day trip out to Sigulda, which had been described as "The Switzerland of Latvia", we both agreed it was a fairly ambitious title! We also celebrated my "pre-birthday" the last day of my 20's, Simon managed to find me a cake and some Jacobs Creek Bubbles... luxery! 

We were crusing through the Baltics pretty quick so after Riga it was on to Lithuania for my real birthday! My Birthday was spent on the Curinion Spit in Lithuania, its a small sandy spit which is half owned by the Russians (Kalingrad) and is really quite pretty.  My birthday was spent drinking a fantastic bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne, sent over by some London friends and eating Caviar (when you are that close to Russia, its not extravagent!) before recovering the next day on the beach.  Lithuania had a beach system we had never encountered before, and we must have missed the sign for "female only" because it seemed we ended up on the "Ladies only" part of the beach, and poor Simon got told off when he went for a swim... so we moved.  In our defence though, there were other guys around.... we had though we were avoiding the nudist beach!

Because we were not allowed through Russia (so frustrating, we considered seeing if they would let us through with our Russian Visa's from last year...) we had to drive down to Poland the long way, around Kalingrad. The roads in Poland were probably the worst we have seen in Europe, deeply grooved and rutted, potholes the size of a small child. They were single lane roads but they tended to drive like they were double (or even triple) lane, it was very slow going.  One of the weirdest things in Poland was the prostitutes on the sides of the road, touting for business in the middle of the day on a national highway.  I thought they were selling Blueberries, OK, so she was wearing a bikini, but it was a hot day.  I did think the high-heels were a little over the top though...then I saw more and more girls (wearing less and less) and decided Simon was right, it probably wasn't just blueberries they were selling.

We skipped through Poland, overnighting in Warsaw (where we had been before) and visiting Krakow to see the Salt mines and the old town (we were getting a bit UNESCO-old-towned-out) and spent a night out at Auschwitz and Bikenau visiting the musems and the former camps.

Slovakia was next on the list, we had heard good things about the National Parks in Slovakia so headed in for some hiking.  We did an 8 hour hike in the High Tatra Mountains, that was really nice and we were up pretty high, we then headed into the Slovensky Raj park for more hiking.  This was hiking that Health and Safty in NZ would not have approved of!  The path followed a river upstream and where there was no chance of putting a path along the side of a cliff, they sort of bolted little platforms to step across along the side of the cliff (it looked like BBQ grill plates bolted to the side of the cliff!) and huge long ladders up the sides of waterfalls.  It was a lot of fun (and pretty scary to!)

It was short drive from here to Egar in Hungary where the Red Wine "Bulls Blood" is made.  Our camp ground was right next to where all the vineyards do their tasting, and at EUR 0.30c a glass Simon and I spent two very good afternoons there (and it was hot outside the wine was in nice cool dark caves!) Here we met some Australians who we gave a lift into Budapest the next day and met again for dinner that night.  Budapest was a pretty city, although compared to the rest of Hungary it was really expensive.  Simon and I spent two days checking out the city, eating Goulash and drinking more Bulls Blood before heading on to Lake Balaton, the biggest lake in Europe (in Hungary).  It was a beautiful lake and a nice campground to relax after the incredibly crowded campsite in Budapest (we could barely get our door open they had parked so close!).

Currently we are in Slovenia, our "Doris" has just had her service and we have checked our Lubijana and are now heading up to Bled.  We meet Simons Parents in Italy on Sunday and are looking forward to seeing them and eating Pizza!

More updates will hopefully come soon! (although given that this one took 4 months, dont get your hopes up!)

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