My Eastern Europe Trip

Love has taken me 5,054 and more miles across the world, from Anchorage Alaska to Novi Sad Serbia, to Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic. It all started the summer of 2017, I came back to Anchorage for summer break from Haskell and returned to my job at a tourist shop in downtown Anchorage. When I returned to work we had a few new workers, one just happened to be Bojan, who was in Alaska on a work and travel visa from Serbia. As the summer progressed we became good friends and went on hikes and adventures throughout Alaska on our days off. By the end of the summer we made it official and we have been together since. He has came to Alaska for two summers and has seen many of the wonders Alaska has to offer.

Photo by Diamond Williams

I thought it was only fair that I come to Europe for a second time and have him as my tour guide/adventure buddy on a little tour of Eastern Europe. My first stop on this adventure was to the second largest city in Serbia, Novi Sad. This is where Bojan lives, in the old city part called Petrovaradin, where the 17th century Petrovaradin Fortress lays with its iconic clock tower and network of complex tunnels. We stayed in Novi Sad for a week as we visited with family and friends holidays and new year’s that I met on my first visit. Then our backpacks were full and our food sack was filled we headed out to the train sta- tion for our first leg of our adventure.

Budapest was the stop! Seven hours by train will really exhaust you, every time I stood up I could feel the blood rush back to my butt and legs. Remember the feeling of being like a new born deer with every bump the train hit my legs would almost give out, guess I just haven’t gotten my train legs yet. While in Budapest we got to explore the wonderful world of art that surrounds the city, we went to a Sunday Market place; there were several artists, farmers, and musicians providing live music. It was amazing to see all the different art forms everywhere, sculptures coming out of no where, the allowance of graffiti, and how everything is just open and free for self expression . We also got to go to the Budapest Eye, which is a 65m Farris wheel, making it the largest Farris wheel in Europe. It is set up in the popular Budapest park, Erzsébet Square in the center of the city, the Eye provided amazing views for miles of many gorgeous buildings and bridges making it a great place to end our last day in Hungary.

The next day we packed our backpacks, checked out of our Airbnb, and headed on to find the bus station for our next stop, Vienna. Definitely recom- mend bus travel for those mid length trips, our 3 hour ride from Budapest to Vienna was great. We were provided with storage for
our luggage, cold and hot drinks, entertainment that included games, music, movies, free WiFi, reclining seats, and a nice small clean bathroom and more. It was definitely a step up from the stiff smelly chairs and over flowing toilet we endured in the train to Budapest. Even the streets of Vienna were stunningly clean and filled with beautiful architectural styles that range from old gothic, new age, and modern buildings standing side by side. We visited St. Stephens Cathedral, a 12th-century cathedral this is also one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. Many important people are laid to rest inside and underneath the cathedral in the catacombs. Inside the cathedral was stunning, stain glass covering every window, candles lit throughout the place, engraved benches line the walls, simple black chairs rowed in the middle with walls and pillars filled with art and region. The outside as beautiful at the inside with pillars and concrete structures lining the outside walls. As we walked the streets of downtown many wonderful smells and sounds filled the air from sweet cinnamon to smoked sausage sizzling on the grill. The smell of the famous mulled wine as you see lines of people waiting for their cup like a bunch of kids wait- ing for their hot chocolate so they can warm up. As we said goodbye to Vienna and hopped on another dreaded train for our 4 hour trip to Prague, all I could think of is that I hope I don’t have to pee on this ride because I remembered how bad the first one was.

Photo by Diamond Williams

As we arrived in Prague earlier in the day we got to take advantage of the extra day of adventure. We were able to go to the Narodni Muzeum, the National Museum in Czech Republic, which sits within the Wenceslas Square one of the main squares in the center of the business and culture community of New Town, Prague. We got to experience the Prague Orloj go off, which is the big medieval astronomical clock located in Prague, as well as being the third oldest astro- nomical clock and the oldest still operating clock which was installed in 1410. The clock was breathtak- ing with all of the amazing colors and small moving and still working parts. It was lovely to hear its chimes as it went off and to see all the little moving and dancing elements. Most of the buildings in this area mirror the beauty and age that this clock presents, each building being unique with either having gold embellishments, painted portraits, creative architecture, and old store fronts. As our travels continue downtown I started to notice an excess amount of cannabis leaves in display windows amongst the shops, we went in to check it out and come to find out the cannabis is legal here in Prague, but only to smoke. You can’t have a excess amount on you can you can’t buy, sell, or grow it within Prague. But what is available in store is a compound found in the cannabis plant which is CBD. This stuff is everywhere here, and come in many different products, from beer and liquor, chocolates and candies, baked good, teas, mints, and even dry herb. Many of these shop carry different products, it was very different then the states were most places have age limit and their products under lock and key. As we walked out of the shops we happened to stumble upon a 3 level toy store, this store was amazing. It had a jumbo snake slide starting from the top level, superhero life size dolls, VR area, interactive play areas, a giant stuffed unicorn that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, and a huge extremely detailed LEGO Roman arena with star wars figures everywhere. I was just a big kid again playing with all the toys and riding in the toy cars, was a great way to end our adventure and mini Eastern Europe tour.

Photo by Diamond Williams

As my travels came to an end, I truly enjoyed my time in all the places but probably enjoyed Prague the most, just wish we had more time there. Reflecting on my travels, I think the worst part would have been the travel time part and just mostly how your are traveling. The train was not my favorite but if you do have long trips I recommend getting up and stretching your legs and regaining circulation in the but- tocks. Maybe even spending that little extra on those tickets for the better seats/ beds for those longer trips, it could be a butt saver. The most costly thing in the trip would be the Airbnb cost and tickets of travel, but we saved a lot going through the Airbnb app. The Airbnb places located downtown were a lot cheaper and more private then the hotels in the area. The tickets for travel were more of the stressful part, as we had to wait a week for before travel for our tickets to be available for purchase and to hope the we found tickets that all agreed with each others times and our travel plans. I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the bus and trolly systems, free WiFi, and taxi apps thought out the cities. Other then those little difficult stressors, the trip was an amazing success with eye openers, stunning works of arts, and new relationships that will last a lifetime.

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