Have a bloc party in Eastern Europe
You may remember Student Flights National Marketing Executive Pamela Olah from such musings as her Croatia sailing trip blog? On the same trip our intrepid exec also did Eastern Europe with Busabout on their Classic Rhapsody Trek through the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and down to Croatia and shares the highlights of her nine-day Eastern European adventure with us.
Of Eastern Europe heritage, I've always been fascinated with exploring the 'Motherland'. I'm obsessed with the culture and history of the Eastern bloc, so I was keen to take a peek behind the iron curtain and mingle amongst the locals. Coming off the back of a Russian adventure and having experiencing Communism in all its glory, I wanted to continue the journey but, as always, time was limited, so for me the best way to get around was with Busabout via their nine-day Classic Rhapsody Trek. Here are some of my tips:
While the tour departs from Prague, it actually leaves early in the morning so there's no sightseeing included. My hot tip is to arrive a couple of days earlier so you actually have time to explore this amazing city in all its glory. A quirky pit stop on the drive across the Czech Republic is at Kutna Hora to the Sedlec Ossuary, a famous UNESCO-listed church made entirely from human bones! Fun fact: the chandelier is made up of every single bone in the human body. Creep factor: 10.
Poland... what a peach! The rich beauty and diversity of this country is utterly amazing. On the way to Krakow we visited the Auschwitz Nazi death camp and learnt so much about the tragic history that affected millions. Heavy stuff, but fascinating.
As a city, Krakow is really beautiful and boasts a castle district, historic Old Town, many parks and so much more. I highly recommend doing the bike tour but a word of warning: it's first up in the morning after the infamous Krakow pub crawl. You know how they say you never forget how to ride a bike? Turns out you can if you're still hungover.
Last stop in Poland is the stunning alpine town of Zakopane. The landscape changes so much you'll feel like you're in The Sound of Music. You know, because you spontaneously break out in song because the hills are alive and what not.
Oh Budapest, you bangin' babe! What is often hailed as the 'Paris of the East', this beautiful city perches itself on the banks of the Danube River and has more bridges than you can poke a stick at.
The food is amazing, the drinks even better, and there's lots of awesome ruin bars scattered across the city worth checking out, like Szimpla Kert. You get a whole day to explore Budapest, which I recommend using to go exploring the markets, check out the castle district, go shopping, and then finish with an evening thermal bath, of which there are surprisingly many. Must eat: langos, a traditional Hungarian specialty that is a deep-fried flatbread with your choice of toppings.
Another interesting pitstop on the drive through Croatia is the Balkan Open Air War Museum, which has tanks and planes from the Balkan War of the early 1990s. It was so bizarre to see what I remember only hearing about on the news as a kid.
Plitvice National Park has to be one of the most amazing natural beauties in the world, no wonder it's UNESCO listed as well! Famous for its multiple lakes arranged in cascades and crystal-clear, aqua-green waters, set your faces to stunned for a day of jaw-dropping marvelling. The tour comes to an end in the harbour town of Split but not before one last pub crawl, of course. My last word of advice: stay on to link up with the Busabout Croatia Sailing trips departing from Split the next day. You'll regret it if you don't!
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