If there were two words that would describe my Balkans trip, it would be epic fun. Our tour started in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It was a spring to fall season and everything was slowly turning into shades of red, yellow, and gold. The flowers were exquisite and flock of swans was swimming in the lake. We spent our day cruising the streets around Lake Bled and taking pictures of each other in the park that was juxtaposed to the beautiful scenery. We went around the city and visited the Postojna Cave. Later that night, we spent our evening in a speakeasy that was said to be high-end. Our tour guide was telling us to dress up for the place because people who go there are usually in suits and dresses. The party started at 11pm and lasted till dawn. When we arrived at the drinking place, the locals warmly welcomed us like a VIP. They were amazed with our Asian features and since we were the only foreigners there. I guess having golden skin and snub nose has its perks. These local yuppies treated us free shots and booze. It was a huge celebration and the aftermath clearly showed what a fun night we have had.
Our fun night continued when we passed by Slovakia for a day. In the morning, we made use of our time walking around Bratislava to see castles and other sight seeings. of course, we didn’t miss the Havana Night. Just like in Slovenia, we had an awesome time with locals. Few shots and cocktails later, we were wandering around the city taking photos. We didn’t feel a slightest bit of fright even if we were intoxicated. I guess with a small population like that, violence is not an option. Cheers to the good men of Slovakia!
The following day we moved to Budapest, Hungary and our short stay was short and sweet. We spent the day walking around visiting different churches like Saint Mathias and Saint Stephans, Heroes Square, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Buda Hill to name a few. The panoramic view from the top of the hill was, for me, the best.
Our last stop in the Balkans Tour is in Romania, which was a very interesting journey for us. Our day started with a visit to the Palace of the Parliament where the National Museum was. It was so huge! This was probably the biggest infrastructure that I have ever seen. They said that the parliament is third largest and heaviest in the world. After that, we moved to the famous concert hall in Bucharest, Romanian Athenaeum. The interior was truly a Romanian pride. With its traditional fresco technique, the inside of the circular wall of the concert hall was painted with the important moments of the Roman history. A stroll at Herastrau Park is a must when in Romania. This was where we saw the unison of Romanian culture and the nature. And of course, who could forget the Arcul de Triumf where the victorius troop marched under it after Romania gained its independence.
Tomorrow was another day for us as we went along with the tour going to the town of Hunedoara in Transylvania for Dracula’s Castle. Our morning didn’t start so well as our bus broke down in the middle of our roadtrip. We had to bring down all our luggages and transferred them to a smaller coach. Since it was smaller than the previous, I had to snuggle my carry-on luggage on my lap through out the trip. As we went along, we stumbled upon what seemed like a film shooting. Little did we know that it was for Nicholas Cage’s movie Ghost Rider 2. Finally, we arrived at the city. Dragging our luggages in the unpaved road, we found ourselves mesmerized with the people and culture. There were gypsies around who were known for to have children under their skirts and from hearsay, these children were ready to snatch things from tourists. As we arrived at Hunyad’s Castle to visit Count Dracula, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable and excited. The place looked eerie and horrifying as you could still see bloodstains on the wall. Even if Dracula was just a fictional character, everyone couldn’t help but feel scared. We went on a sidetrip to Alba Iulia, oldest church in Transylvania, to end our day.
The next day, we went to Sibiu and experienced traditional way of Romanian living. Houses were decorated with eyes to drive away bad spirits and harmful beings. Sibiu was known to be one of the most important fortified towns in Transylvania.
Our last few days were spent in Sighisoara and Brasov where medieval times met modern times. Witnessing the outstanding atmosphere at Brasov somehow made up with the old-fashioned setting at Sighisoara. The cities showed beauty in two different aspects. One displayed a vibrant façade and the other showed passive environment. Nonetheless, this eye-opening reality has exposed us to diverse wonders of the world.
This amazing trip ended with a bang. After a cultivating journey through historical towns and quirky cities, I was so glad to have explored the outskirts of Europe and to have learned more of what’s out there in the world. Where do you think World Juanderer will go next?