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Ostalgie at Lake Balaton

One of my favourite foreign words is a German one. It’s ostalgie; a wonderful, can’t-be-translated-into-English word that literally means ‘a nostalgia for the east’. Basically it describes anyone who reckons that although the communists are generally perceived to have been some of the bad guys of twentieth century Europe, they also did some pretty cool […]

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Perfect days in Budapest

I have to be totally honest on this blog. I have to remember that at the end of the day, this is essentially a travel journal that got slightly out of hand. So I have to be clear that one of the biggest reasons why I decided to guide tours in Eastern Europe really wasn’t […]

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Stepping foot inside the Hungarian Parliament (and I didn’t even faint)

My favourite building in the world is the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. Full stop, no more contenders. To me, it is perfection. Over the years, I have made this very public. I have read about it, taken photos of it, compared it with the building from which it was inspired (the Houses of Parliament in […]

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An evening at Budapest’s thermal baths

I first visited Budapest’s Széchenyi thermal baths back in October 2011. I was in town with friends for almost a week, and we figured that we had plenty of time to check out those pool things we’d heard so many people talking about. We loved them so much that we went back the next night. And […]

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View from the Office Days 11-20

So I’m on the road again. Quite a bit actually; in the last ten days I’ve found myself in Prague, Split and plenty of places in between. I’ve been on a tour guiding training trip, which is basically a fortnight of getting to know destinations, activities and food in all the new places I’ve been […]

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Getting naked in public

Hamam. Onsen. Sauna. Bath. To some, they are words associated with indulgence and luxury. To others though, they are reason for white-knuckled panic. For one main reason. You have to get naked. In public. Most Westerners freak out at the very thought of parading around in nothing but a birthday suit, myself initially included. The […]

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The third ‘B’

I love ’em. Europe-wide, they’re the three places I feel I could stay for months. One is highly publicised – Berlin, one stole my heart the moment I arrived – Barcelona, and the other showed me enough in a few days to make me come running back for more. I’m talking about Budapest, and yes, […]

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Back in the USSR

Well, I’m not going to Russia on this trip but I think Budapest was as close as I’m going to get (until the Baltics, anyway). I’m all Cold War-ed out, if that’s at all possible. Budapest really grew on me. It reminded me in a lot of ways to Barcelona – it was muggy, the […]

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The other side of the curtain

Less than twenty years ago, when you crossed from Austria to Hungary you were usually crazy, a cocky backpacker or a spy. You weren’t one hundred percent certain that you would be able to get back. However, when I crossed over this morning, the only thing that was different was that I got my first […]

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