Monday, July 9, 2018

Eastern Europe by Car | Slovenia, Croatia & Hungary Travel Vlog (Part II)

After a lovely time in Maribor and Ljubljana, Slovenia, it was time to move on. Bled, Bohinj, Tolmin, Novigrad, Plitvice, Zagreb and Budapest, here we come!

Our next destination was by Lake Bled, where we stayed in a hostel. The first night, we shared a room of 8, and the atmosphere was great (everyone was very friendly) and it felt very secure (we were able to lock our stuff up safely underneath the bunk bed). The next two nights we stayed in the same hostel, but in a private room with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. It was small but cute, the bed was comfortable, and it was way way better than the actual hotel we paid to stay in on our first night of travel! At Bled, there was so much to do we could have spent a week there rather than just two full days. However, we did make good use of the time: we rowed to the island, which we briefly explored, and hiked up to the castle. We also went around the lake several times, and spent our second morning lying in the grass, reading and swimming in the refreshing water. Although restaurants with vegan options were more limited, burgers at the Public Bar and Vegan Kitchen were certainly worthwhile, and pizza at a nearby place were also really good. Picnicking by the lake is also highly recommended ;). Oh, and while you’re at it, be sure to use on of several ropes hanging on the trees surrounding the lake to swing into the water – this was one of the highlights.

After a great time in Bled, we spent a day in Bohinj (beautiful lake, beautiful hikes and (17.8 degrees) ice cold water) and then carried on to Tolmin to our next hotel. We stayed here two nights and it was lovely, although the car ride there was a little less so (horrible winding mountain pathways that seemed to go on forever and ever). Although we had booked a room, Patricija had an apartment free and allowed us to make use of that for the same price. We now also had a kitchen and bathroom to ourselves, and after an eventful hike the first day (7 hours in search of Waterfall Berri, followed by a hike/climb back uphill to the car at the top of the mountain) we stayed in all day watching series, cooking our own meals, reading, watching football and generally just not budging more than was absolutely required. It was lovely.

After Tolmin, we did not go far and stayed two nights in Idrsko, which borders Kobarid. From the hotel, we could easily walk to Kobarid center (c. 30 min) and Kozjac waterfall (c. 30 min to the entrance, followed by an additional 30 min to the waterfall). The owners of the apartment were very friendly, and we had a room in a house shared with several other kind people. The room was not too big, but shared facilities were very spacious. There was also a cute cat that went in and out, and the possibility to use the laundry washing machine. As there was no air conditioning though, the room tended to get very very hot and we had to sleep (or at least try to sleep) in 29 degrees. In Idrsko, we not only visited Kozjac (which was beautiful, but also more touristy than the yet-undiscovered and difficult-to-find Beri) but also went canyoning. Sliding and jumping down waterfalls and smooth rocks has been the highlight of our trip so far! Our highest jump was about 8 meters (and our highest half-belayed slide was 13 meters), although the guide may adjust this depending on skill level. There are different companies throughout Slovenia that provide canyoning trips, and they also all have different paths and difficulty levels.

On our way to Croatia, on June 24th, we stopped by the Skocjan caves before traveling onward to Novigrad. Here we arrived at our best hotel so far. The hosts, an Istrian family, were super-sweet and offered us drinks, ice cream, and vegetables to use from the back garden. They also offered us advice and tips on what to do, where to park near the center, where to eat, etc. The little house we stayed at was spacious, clean, well-equipped, and simply perfect. There were some problems with the Wifi, but that is the only minor problem we encountered. We were very close to the center, as well as Istralandia Waterpark (both of which we visited). It was sad when, after three nights, we left to go to our next destination: Plitvice.

After a long drive, we arrived at our next hotel, where we had a room with private bathroom, and a shared kitchen. Wifi was practically non-existent, but all the facilities were good and the host was super-sweet and helpful. On our second day, we visited the Plitvice National Park (we walked there for about 40 minutes, although I believe there is parking available).

June 28th: off to Zagreb! We didn’t do all that much around here to be honest. The first night we went for a meal (I had the loveliest plate of tofu, walnut pate, veg and rice, and then we shared veg tempura and raw pancakes with cashew/coco cream, banana and forest fruits). After this I went on my first ever pub-crawl…which is why the next day was pretty uneventful. Basically we slept in and were scavenging for food all day after that. So yeah. The hotel was super-cute though – it was a blue room in a yellow house, and the host was very friendly.

After Zagreb, a 4-hour car drive got us to Siofok. We stayed at quite a normal hotel, with a very cute touch – orange bedsheets, curtains, etc. It was just so cute! Wi-Fi was good and we had everything we needed. As the weather was bad, we stayed in (and watched the Belgium-England game). The next day we went around Siofok for a bit and then went off to Budapest (another two-hour drive). We visited my old school (AISB) and then sought out our hotel. Being at the center and finally SURROUNDED by vegan goodness, we took a while to pick out our favorite restaurant, where we enjoyed a lovely meal. The following two days, we walked around Budapest, visited an old neighbour and ate out at some lovely fast-food places. It was bittersweet when we returned to Bratislava after almost a month of travels!

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