Kuba's Journeys http://kubasjourneys.com stop dreaming, start traveling Fri, 06 Apr 2018 00:53:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Hiking to the Throne of Zeus – How to Climb Mount Olympus, Greece http://kubasjourneys.com/hiking-to-the-throne-of-zeus-how-to-climb-mount-olympus-greece/ http://kubasjourneys.com/hiking-to-the-throne-of-zeus-how-to-climb-mount-olympus-greece/#respond Sat, 04 Feb 2017 19:58:35 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1703 Mount Olympus in Greece is known from the Greek mythology where it represents the residence of twelve Greek gods. The peak Stefani is even considered to be the throne of Zeus. Mount Olympus is much more than that, the landscape [...]

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How to climb Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus in Greece is known from the Greek mythology where it represents the residence of twelve Greek gods. The peak Stefani is even considered to be the throne of Zeus. Mount Olympus is much more than that, the landscape and surroundings put this elevation easily on the list of the most iconic peaks in the world. Let’s give you an idea how to climb this Greek mountain.

Arriving in Litochoro – Base camp – Preparation

Before ascending the mountain you will arrive in Litochoro, a small city on the bottom of Mt. Olympus. You can arrive easily by bus from Thessaloniki, your car or any ride going that way (if you are into hitchhiking). We arrived at the evening before the day we started our hike up the mountain, which turned out to be a good choice. That way we could prepare ourselves with supplies (there is a small shop to get some food) and start rested early in the next morning.

Litochoro

We stayed at an Airbnb host in the middle of the town for about 25EUR for two guests, you can also check out the Summit to Zero hostel which is around 8km from the base town, accessible with public transportation.

I highly suggest that you are well rested and bring food and water with you, good hiking shoes should also be considered. Hiking sticks are not a must, but it feels good to have some support when climbing up the mountain, any suitable piece of wood you can find on your way is also sufficient. Please bring some warm clothes with you, even in mid-summer it gets quite cold above 2000m.

Equipped with a map, some food, water and warm clothes we started our hike next morning around 8am. It is good to know that there is no public transportation that can bring you to the beginning of the trail, you can take a taxi for 25EUR or hitchhike. The track starts 9 or 12km from Litochoro, direction Gortsia and Prionia.

Hitchiking to Gortsia

Hitchinking to Mount Olympus like a pro 🙂

To get to the beginning of the trail we hitchhiked, most of the people start climbing up Mount Olympus around 9am therefore there was not much traffic going the way towards the mountain. If you plan to do so as well, get yourself a sign and (coming from the roundabout) at the Litochoro police station turn left, cross the bridge and walk around 300m and turn left again, that’s the way that leads to Prionia and Gortsia.

Map Mount Olympus Greece

Having some kind of Navigation tools comes always handy

What trail to take?

Trail 2 starting from Gortsia is much less popular, therefore you will not meet many tourists, the nature is also more vivid, landscape changes and there is a good part leading you only through the woods.

  • Trail 2 from Gortsia

    Trail 2 starting from Gortsia

  • Gortsia Base

    Gortsia Base

Trail 1 is the main route up to Olympus, in Prionia you can refill your water bottles and start the hike. This trail is quite used during the peak season and full of hikers. (quite crowded)

Main Trail from Prionia

Trail from Prionia

We decided to take the trail 2 up the mountain and trail 1 on the way back. Luckily the people who took us to Gortsia were local firemen with years of experience on the mountain. Since our goal for the day was to reach Refuge camp B (Apostolides) we build a group and hiked up together.

The trail leads you through the woods to the first Refuge D (Petrostrouga), this is a small Refuge good to have some food and tea, rest a little and continue the hike.

  • Way up from Refuge D

    Way up from Refuge D

  • Way up from Refuge D

    One of the many friendly dogs that live on Mount Olympus

The landscape is changing and we are out of the woods, the soil is changing into rocks and we are on our way to the Plateau of Muses.

Plateau de Muses

Plateau de Muses

Upon arrival at Plateau of Muses you can see two Refuge camps, C – Christos Kakkalos a small cozy Refuge and B – Apostolides, the highest Refuge on the mountain with a common room to socialize and ice cold showers if you are brave enough.

  • In the back Refuge Apostolides

    In the back Refuge Apostolides

  • Apostolides Olympus

    … here it is

  • Apostolides Olympus Refuge

    Meet up with fellow hikers in the Refuge camps

As in this Refuge dogs are not allowed to enter, so please consider this. Some guests pitched a tent and slept with the dog outside. I recommend to book the accommodation in advance to make sure they have a bed for you.

The location of Refuge Apostolides is a good spot to start ascending Mount Olympus, which consist of several peaks. Right next to the Apostolides Refuge you can see the breathtaking Stefani, followed by Mytikas, Skala and Skolio.

Stefani Olympus

Having view like this during breakfast is incredible.

Ascending Mount Olympus

First be aware of the weather conditions and don’t underestimate the difficulty of the hike. In case of rain in the night, to climb up to the highest peak Mytikas might be very dangerous and not recommended, according to the local fireman. Depending on the route you choose, at some parts wearing a helmet is a good choice, you can borrow these in the Refuge camps.

  • Stefani trail

    Here we go, on our way towards Stefani

  • Stefani trail Mt Olympus

    Breathtaking views everywhere

  • Trail to Skala

    Trail is leading right at the bottom of Stefani

In case you start from Refuge Apostolides, you can take a shortcut up to Mytikas that goes literally steep up to the summit, it is shorter but as an inexperienced hiker I would not do it alone. You can also take a loop hike as seen on the map and reaching the peak of Skala first and then up to Mytikas. Please don’t underestimate your capabilities and experience, there are few spots where you need to use your hands to climb up the mountain so be aware of that.

  • Trail to Skala

    Way to heaven ..

  • Skala Peak Mt Olympus

    Greetings from Skala Mount Olympus

How much time do I need to climb Mount Olympus?

As for inexperienced hikers the trail 2 to the Refuge camp Apostolides took us 7:30h with 1h break. From here you need another 3h to Mytikas. The trail 1 is supposed to be faster, approximately 4-5h to the Refuge camp Apostolides or around 7-8h to Mytikas.

Experienced hikers can make it to the summit in around 5h. Litochoro to Prionia takes 4-5h hiking time.

We spent two days on the mountain, with the arrival combined we needed 3 days. To make it up and down in one day is quite a challenge and it would be a pity not to spend more time in that breathtaking environment.

Costs

In all of the Refuge camps you can buy warm meals for about 7 – 8 EUR (bowl of spaghetti bolognese) 1 EUR for a chocolate bar and 2 EUR for beverages. Accommodation is about 12 EUR for a bed in a shared room in one of the Refuge or you can pitch a tent for free.

Refuge Agapitos

Refuge Agapitos on the Trail 1 to Olympus offers accommodation and warm meals

Special Gear requirements

No  special climbing gear is needed, solid hiking shoes are recommended (running shoes are not that great), take enough water, food (sandwich or snacks), warm clothes (it’s around 0-10 degrees on the top), a map is a must. Also take some small first aid kit, you will never know what you can use it for, I cut myself on the razor sharp stones and got bitten by some insects that resulted in a swollen ankle.

To climb Mount Olympus is one of the best activities you can do on the mainland of Greece, absolutely breathtaking landscape and a great way to connect with the nature. It’s doable for everyone who loves outdoors and is comfortable hiking for a longer time.

Enjoy the hike and be safe!

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Prague Christmas Market http://kubasjourneys.com/prague-christmas-markets/ http://kubasjourneys.com/prague-christmas-markets/#respond Sun, 04 Dec 2016 13:26:00 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1658 Christmas time is here and one of the most beloved tradition in Central Europe is to visit the annual Christmas Markets. Travelers from other countries often decide to plan a weekend in Prague in order to experience the city and [...]

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Exploring Christmas Markets in Prague

Christmas time is here and one of the most beloved tradition in Central Europe is to visit the annual Christmas Markets. Travelers from other countries often decide to plan a weekend in Prague in order to experience the city and use the chance to visit Prague Christmas Markets.

Of course you can browse through the downtown and get a punch or hot wine at any of the markets that you pass by. But how about to have a small tour that allows you to experience a better organized visit of the Christmas Markets in Prague? That’s what you are about to find in this post.

Prior arriving in Prague I suggest to book some kind of accommodation, Prague is going to become a city with wide network of Airbnb hosts, there is a broad variety of properties you can choose from. After arriving in Prague, got your accommodation figured out and ready to take off to explore the Christmas Markets get some change, since you cannot purchase anything via debit or credit card. There are few exchange offices that will not rip you off like these.

1) If you’re at the bottom of Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske Namesti), just like 200m from there is a tourist office run by the city of Prague with very good exchange rate. Adress: Na Můstku 2

MAP

(btw. google street view from 2009 is showing the one that used to be there – where they ripped tourist.. it’s gone now)

2) If you’re at the Old Town Square (Staromestske Namesti), there’s a pretty damn honest exchange place just a few metres away. Adress: Kaprova 14

MAP

Retrieved from here

In case you want to exchange elsewhere be cautious and read the current exchange rate as well as the commissions, there are often traps such as 0% and 40% worse rate as normal, or good rate with 28% commissions. You can find more on exchanging money in Prague in my recent post.

After you get yourself some cash you can finally start exploring the markets. There are three “main” markets in the Prague downtown. One right at the castle, behind the St. Vitus cathedral, another one at the Wenceslas Square and the most dominant one at the Old Town Square.

Prague Christmas Markets at Prague’s Castle

  • Fairy tale Christmas Market at Prague castle

    Fairy tale Christmas Market at Prague Castle

  • Christmas Market Prague Castle

    Christmas Market Prague Castle

When I went to the city last weekend I started at the castle, metro stop Malostranska (A – green line) from there you can walk up to the castle or take the tram N22 to Prazsky Hrad, the Christmas Markets are right behind the Saint Vitus Cathedral. Here you can get a super sweet punch or some potatoes or sauerkraut dumplings that I would not recommend (price is listed for 100g, a portion of two potatoes will cost you 10 EUR, quite a rip off). Nevertheless the atmosphere is worth the visit, it’s not as polluted and the surrounding buildings of the castle make you feel like in a fairy tale.

  • view from the Prague castle

    view from the Prague Castle

  • view from the Prague Castle

    view from the Prague Castle

Old Town Square Christmas Market

From the castle you can walk down towards the city center, enjoying the fabulous view, walk across the river and you will find yourself right at the Old Town Square dominated by a huge christmas tree (there is also a light/music show). Prague Christmas Market on the Old Town Square is the most visited market in the city center, there are tons of shops to buy food and some souvenirs.

Old Town Square in December

Old Town Square in December

You can get trdelnik which is sweet dough with cinnamon (not really a czech invention) and try langos (fried dough with garlic and cheese). You can also enjoy some hot drinks.

  • Enjoying Langos

    Enjoying Langos

  • Trdelnik

    Trdelnik, also available with Nutella 🙂

The best experience you can get here is to get up to the city hall tower and get a fabulous view over the Christmas Markets as well as over the city center.

INSIDER TIP: there are two ways how to get up, you can wait in the (usually) quite long line right at the tower, or you walk 20 metres on the left from the clock (orloj) to the “Tourist info office” from there you can also get up to the tower and skip the queue. You can get a discount for the tickets up, if you have a valid student card on-site.

Christmas Markets from above

Christmas Markets from above

Wenceslav Square Christmas Market

Another Prague Christmas Market is situated 10 min walking from the city hall at the Wenceslav Square, a good place to finish the tour and start enjoying nightlife (check out the NEBE club).

Christmas Markets at Wenceslav Square

Christmas Markets at Wenceslav Square

Let me know how you enjoyed the tour and what would you recommend to try or see to fellow readers.

You can also read about how to enjoy Christmas Markets in Vienna in my previous post. I wish you a beloved christmas time, spend with family and friends. Prague Christmas Market open every year to the end of November and close on the 6th of January.

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How to find an apartment in Prague http://kubasjourneys.com/find-apartment-prague/ http://kubasjourneys.com/find-apartment-prague/#comments Sat, 15 Oct 2016 19:43:59 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1643 Are you about to move to Prague or are you planning to do so in the near future? Are you a young professional or student who needs to find affordable accommodation in Prague? If so, this post could be a good [...]

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fbheaderAre you about to move to Prague or are you planning to do so in the near future? Are you a young professional or student who needs to find affordable accommodation in Prague? If so, this post could be a good resource in order to find a suitable apartment or shared housing in Prague.

Rather than giving you general overview of resources and links I will share my personal challenges when looking for a flat in Prague. Recently I moved to Prague to kick start my career for a global American company. As the company did not provide any housing I had to look for some myself. When looking for a long term accommodation in Prague you need to consider few things first. When do you plan to move to Prague, what is the location you wish to live, what is your budget and what are your needs considering size and equipment of the apartment?

Time

Prague is a very popular city in the heart of Europe, not only for tourists but also international students and expats. You need to keep in mind that many students arrive to Prague in the beginning of September and stay to the end of June when they leave for holidays, internships, etc. therefore be ready when you move to Prague in September or October you will have a quite hard time to find a affordable place to live (depends of course on the definition of affordable). The demand at this time is enormous while the offer is limited. A better time to look for long term accommodation would be therefore from January to the end of June/July. If you have the possibility to crush at friends place in Prague while looking for a flat it will increase your chances and speeds up the process since you can actually go to check out the flats yourself. I would not recommend to sign any contract or send reservation fees before you visit the object yourself. The photos are often different as published online and there are many scammers in Prague that use non-informed expats and try to rip them off.  I have had difficulties in that manner when I studied in Belgium, so trust me, check out the flat yourself first.

Budget

Depending on your income, scholarship you need to set up the budget you plan to spend on your living in Prague. Locals often offer their flats/rooms to foreigners since they know that they can charge more. Airbnb offers in Prague are also often quite expensive when considering to stay at Airbnb hosts for a longer period. As mentioned earlier, the demand is high while offer is low, from the economic point of view it’s obvious that the prices are getting higher. So how much do you have to plan to spend on living in Prague? It’s not easy to give the exact numbers, I can only tell the prices that I have seen the most during my research for a flat in Prague (September 2016).

Prices for rooms range between 5.000,- CZK (180 EUR) and 10.000,- CZK (370 EUR), it all depends on the distance to the city center and the level of equipment (bed, closet,etc.). The closer to the center and better equipped the more expensive obviously.

Prices for 1KK: which is one room combined with kitchen range between 7500,- CZK (280 EUR) and 11.000,- CZK (410 EUR) – average therefore around 9.000,- CZK (333 EUR)

Prices for 2KK:  which is one room with kitchen combined and one separate room (might be bedroom) cost depending on the location and equipment between 10.000,- CZK (370 EUR) – 15.000 CZK (555 EUR).

Make sure that the above mentioned prices are the prices for the rent, additional charges for services and power, water usage depend on your consumption or contract you signed with the landlord. For one person, additional charges might range between 1.500,- CZK (55EUR) and 3.000,- CZK (110 EUR). Landlords usually also ask for a deposit (one monthly rent). Please note that these prices are not fixed, however you can use them as a reference when planning your expenses for living in Prague.

If you decide to go for a flat offered by a reality agent, they usually charge the amount of one rent + taxes. It is also possible to find accommodation in Prague without the aid of an agent but more endurance is required. I will give you some tips on how to do so in the end of the article.

Location

When looking for a suitable accommodation, the location is often an important factor. You need to be close to the university or to your work. Great news for you, the public transportation in Prague has one of the best if not the best public transport infrastructure in Europe. There are buses, trams and metro that you can use to find your way in Prague all day and all night. A three month ticket for public transportation in Prague cost around 55 EUR (students pay half the price). This should make the choice of the ideal location a little easier. I personally prefer to live in the broader city center, there are not that many tourists anymore and it is still only 10 min to the center. Thanks to the good connection to the heart of Prague, it is also not the cheapest location but in the end, it all depends on your needs.  If you live close to the metro lines, you can reach the city center quite convenient from any location.

Prague map

The red circle symbolizes Prague downtown, yellow circle stands for the broader city center, while in the green circle you should be able to find cheaper flats.

Tips and Tricks

Here are few of the resources I used when looking for a suitable accommodation in Prague.  I found bezrealitky website the best portal to find flats/apartments to rent from locals without any reality agents fees. You can send a message to the landlord, introduce yourself, tell him/her why you are a good candidate and where you work. The more info you can provide the better the chances, since the demand for accommodation in Prague is high, you need to differentiate somehow from the “competition”. Extra tip: if you like the description of the apartment but there are no photos yet, apply for it anyway, this worked for me well (since most of the people don’t react when there is no photo).

Sreality, Realitymix and Bytyvpraze are all portals where mostly reality agents advertise their offers, you can browse through them and filter your requirements but most of the results you will find, will require you to pay the reality agent fees.

Another way to find accommodation in Prague would be to use Social Media groups, I am familiar of 11 Facebook groups that have several thousand members who search or offer apartments. Some of them are also English user friendly, some aren’t.

 Levné byty – Praha – spolubydlení

Pronájem bydlení Praha. Nejlepší byty, pokoje, spolubydlení, podnájem.

PRONÁJEM/PODNÁJEM pokojů a bytů v Praze BEZ REALITKY

Bydlení PRAHA, spolubydlení, pronájmy, podnájmy

SPOLUBYDLENÍ PRAHA ,BYDLENÍ,PRONÁJEM,PRODEJ, FLATSHARE

Bydlení/spolubydlení v Praze

PRAGUE FLAT RENTALS

FLATSHARE IN PRAGUE and FLAT RENTALS with NO COMMISSION

Prague Flat Finder

FLATSHARE in PRAGUE

Flats for rent in Prague

Obstacles for expats/ international students

There are few challenges you need to deal with as a foreigner looking for a flat in Prague.

  1. Main obstacle I believe is the language, it would be great if you have someone on-site to help you with the translation so you speed up the process. Also ask for a translation (at least into English) of the contract that you should sign
  2. Some landlords do not rent to foreigners
  3. Keywords as “pets” or “student” should be avoided if possible (due to the high demand, landlords can choose who to rent the flat, as a student or with pets you lower your chances), I know it’s sad 🙁
  4. Try to start your research as soon as possible and don’t postpone it
  5. Ask your friends, colleagues or anybody in Prague if he/she knows about someone who wants to rent an apartment

That’s it, the impossible task should now become easier to fulfil. If you have any relevant comments that could help future readers, feel free to attach them below. Good luck with your research and enjoy the live in Prague. If you found this post helpful, feel free to spread the word and help others find this resource.

credits for the featured image to Roman

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Hitchhiking to the Balkans PART 2 http://kubasjourneys.com/hitchhiking-to-the-balkans-part-2/ http://kubasjourneys.com/hitchhiking-to-the-balkans-part-2/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:59:45 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1607 This summer we decided to get out of our comfort zones and travel the Balkan countries on low budget, hitchhiking, camping and exploring the beauty of few less popular countries in Europe. Feel free also to check out the first [...]

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Balkan trip Part 2This summer we decided to get out of our comfort zones and travel the Balkan countries on low budget, hitchhiking, camping and exploring the beauty of few less popular countries in Europe. Feel free also to check out the first part of our trip here.

Our entire trip to the Balkan and back, blue lines symbolize the rides we got for "free" / hitchhiked while the red lines stand for the bus rides, the purple line was a car sharing ride

Our entire trip to the Balkan and back, blue lines symbolize the rides we got for “free” / hitchhiked while the red lines stand for the bus rides, the purple line was a car sharing ride

Part 2 of our hitchhiking experience in the Balkans was way different. There were less tourists, more authentic experiences and we felt more as travelers than tourists. We crossed the border between Croatia and Bosnia by foot. It was the first time for us to not sit in a car while passing the border control. The officer did not make any troubles, we got our stamps and looked for a ride to Kravice waterfalls. We got lucky and the first car picked us up (a new Audi btw 😉 ). We ended up 2km from the entrance to the falls, hiked for 1 more km, and caught another ride from a local working at the camp close to the falls. Luckily we did not have to pay the entrance fee (which was around 2 euros). The waterfalls in Kravice were my personal highlight of the whole trip. There were far less people than in Krka or Plitivice (Croatia) and you could actually swim, dive, and cliff jump right under the waterfalls. This was an awesome experience and absolutely worth the visit when exploring Bosnia.

  • Cliff jumping in Kravice Waterfalls

    Cliff jumping in Kravice Waterfalls

  • Welcome to the most awesome waterfalls on the Balkan

    Welcome to the most awesome waterfalls on the Balkan

  • Enjoying the Kravice Waterfalls

    Enjoying the Kravice Waterfalls

After our swim we had to look for a ride to our final destination for the day, Mostar. When we climbed up to the parking spot I went to ask a guy with a van if he happens to go our direction. It turned out that he is going our way as well as that he is the owner of the hostel Savat in Mostar, which came handy since we had not looked for an accommodation yet (btw it was 8eur/night). On the way to Mostar we drove up to the hill over the city (don’t go up there off the path, there are still landmines) from where you can have a great view over Mostar. Here we listened to the bloody history of the city and to the current issues.  The hostel crew organizes walking tours and trips to surrounding cities (which are much more expensive than if you do it yourself) but might be an option for you.

  • The view over Mostar - don't go up the hill off the path (there are still active landmines)

    The view over Mostar – don’t go up the hill off the path (there are still active landmines)

  • The city of a huge diversity and bloody history

    The city of a huge diversity and bloody history

The city of Mostar has much to look at, you will see many destroyed buildings, you can even enter some and explore them by yourself. There is a significant difference within the cultures, the mix of population caused to split up the city in two halves. On the one side you will find Christian basilicas, on the other side Islamic mosques. A unique sight of the city is the old bridge which was built by the Ottomans almost 500 years ago, later destroyed during the war and rebuild after the riots. If you get lucky and will be patient you can see locals collecting money (at least 30eur) and jump from the bridge, quite a show. Even Red Bull organized the Cliff Diving competition in Mostar in 2015.

  • Mostar from the old bridge

    Mostar from the old bridge

  • Sending greetings from Mostar with its iconic old bridge

    Sending greetings from Mostar with its iconic old bridge

  • You will find many destroyed buildings from the Yugoslavian War

    You will find many destroyed buildings from the Yugoslavian War

  • Glassbank - an old bank destroyed in the Yugoslavian War

    Glassbank – an old bank destroyed in the Yugoslavian War

  • Street Art in Mostar reminding on the Yugoslavian War

    Street Art in Mostar reminding on the Yugoslavian War

  • Mostar Gymnasium- with two different school systems taught in the morning and in the afternoon

    Mostar Gymnasium- with two different school systems taught in the morning and in the afternoon

  • The "cross" hill - still covered by landmines

    The “cross” hill – still covered by landmines

  • Sniper's nest in Mostar

    Sniper’s nest in Mostar

  • Glassbank from the top

    Glassbank from the top

When visiting Mostar you have to visit the Kravice waterfalls but also the dervish house in Blagaj is worth the visit. You can take a cheap local bus from the main bus station to get there. Please don’t do the mistake and drink the water from the spring without filtering it, if you don’t want to have stomachache or even worst.

  • Blagaj

    Blagaj

Our next planned stop was Sarajevo, where we were supposed to connect with our friend Sasa. Originally we wanted to go rafting to the Durmitor NP which we had to skip due to the time resources we had available. On the behalf of the locals’ advices we decided to raft at the Neretva River in Konjic (halfway to Sarajevo). The nature here is beautiful and worth to experience. There are several options to raft in Konjic, for most of the trips you will find online you have to pay 35-45eur. There is one local  that does it for 25eur (lunch/breakfast included – not really a good deal), you can only go for rafting which is 15eur and eat somewhere else. The trip takes for about 4h and it is rather for families than people looking for adrenaline.

  • rafting at the Neretva river in Konjic

    rafting at the Neretva river in Konjic

  • rafting at the Neretva river in Konjic

    rafting at the Neretva river in Konjic

If you travel in Bosnia you will notice many dogs living in the street, this poppy followed us for about 1km all the way to the bus station where we had to say goodbye. According to the locals the dogs living on the street are not dangerous, so we were not afraid and had also never any troubles with them.

Street dogs are very common in Bosnia and other Balkan countries

After we have arrived in Sarajevo, we hanged out with our friend Sasa (a professional wine drinker ;)) and explored the city. Similar as Mostar there is also a lot of diversity in the air. The city itself is losing young educated people who seek for a better life elsewhere. We took a free walking tour to get a better overview of the city as well as visited some main points of interests. As you may know the trigger for the First World War was in Sarajevo when Franz Ferdinand (Austro-Hungarian Prince) and his wife Maria were killed. You can find memorials of the people fallen during the war all over the city, which represents the rather sad history of the country.

  • The Eastern culture of the city

    The Eastern culture of the city

  • Blood drops as memorial for people who died during the bomb explosions in Sarajevo

    Blood drops as memorial for people who died during the bomb explosions in Sarajevo

  • Sarajevo is truly a meeting point of cultures

    Sarajevo is truly a meeting point of cultures

  • The spot where the first World War was triggered

    The spot where the first World War was triggered

During our stay in the city we decided to make a trip to Visoko which is about half an hour ride from the city by bus. Here we explored the underground of the tunnels leading to the Bosnian pyramids. This mystique place was supposed to be build 25000 years ago. The atmosphere in the tunnels is supposed to enhance the mood of the visitors. There were several megaliths found in the tunnels (some even with signs on it, we can’t encrypt), the closer to the pyramid, the bigger they become. It is basically a ceramic box with water crystals inside, the megaliths are placed above the intersection of underground water flows. Maybe you know that it’s not good to sleep under floating water due to its negative energy, these crystals are supposed to convert this energy into positive. The energy can be measured in Bovis in case you want to research more in this area. According to the guide there were three civilizations that lived in the area, first found the underground water intersections and put the ceramic boxes with water crystals on top of it. Thousands years later a second civilization found the megaliths under the ground (it was covered due to the tectonic movements) and built the pyramids as well as dig the tunnels in the area. The third civilization years later buried the tunnels so no one can explore it anymore (reason unknown). Now we are the fourth civilization which is digging it out again.

  • Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun

    Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun

  • The biggest publicly accessible megalite in the tunnels - you can feel the infrared vibrations

    The biggest publicly accessible megalite in the tunnels – you can feel the infrared vibrations

  • Tunnels under the Bosnian Pyramides

    Tunnels under the Bosnian Pyramides

  • Megalit with human unknown singns

    Megalit with unknown signs

Due to the bad infrastructure of the roads in Bosnia (no highways) we decided to take the bus to Belgrade, Serbia and not waste two rainy days on the road hitchhiking. We were lucky to meet our new friend Stevan who let us stay in his flat and showed us the city. In Belgrade we walked across the city to visit the Fortress from where you have a nice view on the intersection of the two rivers Sava and Danube. We also explored the New Belgrade and the district of Zemun. I think that we would not know what to see if we would not be guided by Stevan. His stories and talks about the country and its uncertain future left us with mixed feelings. When I approached him with the question where he wants to live, he answered “somewhere where I will be treated like a human”.

  • Belgrade Fortress

    Belgrade Fortress

  • Belgrade Fortress

    Belgrade Fortress

  • Saint Mark Church surrounded by a lovely park

    Saint Mark Church surrounded by a lovely park

  • First Basketball court in Serbia

    First Basketball court in Serbia

  • Belgrade - Sava and Danube

    Belgrade – Sava and Danube

  • Zemun

    Zemun

  • Stevan has been an incredible host in Belgrade

    Stevan has been an incredible host in Belgrade

To hitchhike out of Belgrade towards Budapest turned out to be harder than we thought, we waited at the highway for at least an hour till we got a ride (there are not really good spots to hh). The driver who picked us up was a wealthy Swiss who is living and working in Serbia since he can afford more for his money. After we got out at a gas station before Novi Sad we met Marcell and his family who were heading towards Hungary. This was one of my favorite rides from the trip, Marcell lives in Szeged, close to the Hungarian border (btw. It’s the place where Hungary build the fence against migrants coming to Germany) so he had a very accurate information about the situation with the refugees, which was way over exaggerated by the media as it was in reality. On the border we hitched another car all the way to Budapest.

Since Budapest is not Balkan anymore I will sum up the things we did and you can also do in this Central European metropole in the next post.

One last highlight that ended up our hitchhiking trip was that we hitchhiked a bus full of tourists from Vietnam which were singing all the way to Austria. How? I guess it was a mix between luck, approaching to ask and a somehow decent look.

Catching a ride with tourists from Vietnam was one of the biggest culture shocks on the trip

Catching a ride with tourists from Vietnam was one of the biggest culture shocks on the trip

To finally sum things up. We hitchhiked a net distance of about 2000km on our trip, drove by bus around 500km, drove by bike around 20km, took a ferry to the Krka NP and walked a lot all the time. We spent for about 35eur/day/person included accommodation, food (I eat a lot), transport and all the other expenses such as entrances to the parks etc. . Slovenia and Croatia were the most expensive countries on our trip which increased the average spending a day significantly. It was great to have a valid student ID which gave us a lot of discounts, particularly the entrances. I believe that it is possible to spent even less but I guess it really depends on your travel style, I certainly feel much better to have a shower once a day and a bed to sleep once in a few days.

I am curious to hear about your experiences when hitchhiking the Balkans. If you have any relevant comments feel free to post them below. Happy travels.

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Hitchhiking to the Balkans PART 1 http://kubasjourneys.com/hitchhiking-to-the-balkans-part-1/ http://kubasjourneys.com/hitchhiking-to-the-balkans-part-1/#respond Wed, 03 Aug 2016 09:09:06 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1514 19 days, 2500km, 6 countries, beautiful landscapes, diverse cities, various cultures, kind people, cevapcici and lifelong lasting memories. This is how I would sum up our hitchhiking trip to the Balkans. In the beginning of July my host brother from [...]

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19 days, 2500km, 6 countries, beautiful landscapes, diverse cities, various cultures, kind people, cevapcici and lifelong lasting memories. This is how I would sum up our hitchhiking trip to the Balkans.

In the beginning of July my host brother from the US joined me to explore the former Yugoslavian countries. The main motives to choose this route were the curiosity about Balkan culture, beautiful national parks in Croatia, beaches and many diverse cities particularly in Bosnia and Serbia. We used all kinds of transportation such as buses, boats, bikes but mainly we used cars. We hitchhiked around 2000km with 36 different drivers and 1 bus with tourists from Vietnam (one of my favorite rides 😉 ). We also used different forms of accommodation, we slept on campsites, Airbnb, private rooms and we also couchsurfed.

one of many campsites we stayed in

one of many campsites we stayed in

We ate mostly street food, cooked own meals and sometimes we went to a budget bistro to try some local cuisine. The truth is, it wasn’t the most comfortable style of traveling, but our aim was to make the trip as authentic as possible, connect with locals and experience the countries from a different angle while maintaining on low budget. I believe that we have achieved this goal.

We started our journey, equipped with two card boards, at a gas station south of Vienna on an early Saturday morning. We haven’t hitchhiked before so it was a little awkward to stick up the thumb and expect someone to stop, this feeling went away quite quickly since we got our first ride after 20 min, that took us all the way to a gas station 30 min before Klagenfurt (a city in the south of Austria). This is where we experienced the first cons of hitchhiking. This spot turned out to be the worst spot on our whole trip, we approached almost every driver and asked them politely if he/she happens to go our direction (we only had to make it to Klagenfurt, about 20km ride). No chance, most of cars were either full or went to another direction.  One biker even pulled over and invited us for a drink (cold water), which felt great. After 4 long hours of waiting, we finally managed to get a ride to Klagenfurt, from where the journey to Bled (our first stop) was more than pleasant.

Slovenia

First stop in Slovenia was at the lake Bled, visited by many tourists in summer, but absolutely beautiful place to explore since it’s the part of the Triglav National Park (one of my favorite places in Slovenia). 

  • Bled lake

    Bled lake

  • Bled lake

    Bled lake

It rained upon arrival and we struggled to find a place to crush, the camp was 3km across the lake, wild camping is illegal in Slovenia and all hostels were fully booked due to the season start. In the end we managed to find a local who rented out private rooms (in case you need the contact, let me know).

Our first dinner in Slovenia

Our first dinner in Slovenia

We stayed in Bled for two days and explored the area around it as well as Vintgar Gorje, which is a breathtaking canyon 20 min bus ride from the city. 

  • Vintgar Gorje

    Vintgar Gorje

  • Vintgar Gorje

    Vintgar Gorje

  • Vintgar Gorje

    Vintgar Gorje

Next planned stop in Slovenia happened to be the Skocjan caves, we planned to hh from Bled to Ljubljana –> Skocjan caves –> Koper –> Rovinj in one day. We got a quick ride from a Spanish tour guide working in Bled to Ljubljana where we got stuck again on a very bad stop (gas station again). We waited desperately to get a ride towards the coast, but we had no luck. After some time a young lady approached us and told us about a Slovenian car sharing website www.prevoz.org. I managed to get a ride directly to Skocjan caves within an hour for 5€ each, which turned out to be a great deal since the caves were around 8km from the highway and we really didn’t want to walk with 14kg backpacks in 35° C that far.

Visiting the Skocjan caves in Slovenia was absolutely worth the experience, I have visited many caves before but nothing could beat this. Skocjan caves are known for the largest underground canyon in Europe. We took the small tour which took for about an hour and a half and we didn’t regret it. In case you visit Slovenia, there is also one further cave called « Postojna cave ». According to the locals, there are more tourists and you have to pay higher entrance fees to visit the Postojna cave. 

  • Skocjan caves - Bridge over the underground canyon (credits to SC website)

    Skocjan caves – Bridge over the underground canyon (credits to SC website)

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  • Skocjan cave - 2nd largest underground canyon in the world (credits to SC website)

    Skocjan cave – 2nd largest underground canyon in the world (credits to SC website)

After our expedition into the underground we took a free bus to the closest small village Divaca, which was about 2km from the highway. There were approximately two buses a day that leave towards our direction but we decided to hh and it paid off, after 1h waiting we got two rides all the way to the exit road towards Croatia in Koper. Sometime later and another two rides brought close to the exit of the highway towards Rovinj. The driver let us out on the highway to avoid further toll fees. Hitchhiking on highways in Croatia is not allowed so I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. The fastest way was to cross a fence and climb up a steep hill to get to the side road towards Rovinj, so we did it and it was everything but pleasant.

I do not advise anyone doing it but we didn't want to be caught

I do not advise anyone doing it but we didn’t want to be caught

Sweaty, scratched, tired we made it to the road and looked for a spot to catch a ride. The temperature was high, the air humid and we had only 16km more to go.

Only 16 more km to go

Only 16 more km to go

After some time a young lady picked us up and gave us a ride for about 6km. Our last ride that day was an older man from Austria who traveled all around Africa with his camper. Back in the days he hh himself so he knew how it is standing next to the road while waiting for a ride. He was one of my favorite drivers. He took us to a camp he knew close to the city and we finally arrived in Rovinj. As a reward we had our first beer (well if you consider Radler a beer 🙂 ).

This view was definetely worth it

This view was definetely worth it

Croatia

Rovinj is a small, cozy, romantic city in Istria dominated by the church of top of the old center. There is also a fresh market close to the harbour where you can buy some fresh local products. When you look for some swimming or snorkeling equipment, there is a cheap local store on the way to the church, hidden in the small streets behind the market (half of the price compared to the shops in the pedestrian zone). Right behind the church there are few rocks from where you can jump and swim in the sea. There are not that many people here and the water is great.

  • View over Rovinj center

    View over Rovinj center

  • View over Rovinj center

    View over Rovinj center

  • Fresh Market
  • Good spot to swim, right under the church

    Good spot to swim, right under the church

Rovinj is supposed to have good ice cream, we didn’t think it will melt down that quickly so we could not enjoy it for more than two minutes 🙁

Next time in cups please

Next time in cups please

The following day in the morning, we walked all the way to the other side of the city to catch a ride towards Pula. We planned to visit the colosseum and continue our journey to Premantura and the National Park Kamenjak. After the exhausting walk we managed to find a good spot and we arrived in Pula in no time. The visit of the colosseum does not take that long, in case you have a student card, you will get a discount 🙂

Visiting Colosseum in Pula

Visiting Colosseum in Pula

To get a ride to Premantura turned out to be more difficult as we expected, it took us quite a while to find a spot and catch a ride. When leaving the car, we forgot one of our daypacks in the trunk (there was so much staff that we have not thought about it), one minute after the driver departed, we noticed. We knew that he wanted to meet a friend in the bar in a city 6km away, so we decided to go look for it. It was exhausting, walking that distance without a backpack in 30+°C is not fun, with 14kg on our backs, it was even less fun. We somehow managed to get there but were not successful. I caught a ride back to Premantura where we pitched our tent. This event was quite a setback, fortunately we had all of the important documents with us but still quite pricy travel gear was gone. We tried to call to the police station and surrounding camps but were not successful in finding it. Nevertheless we needed to get the positive mood back to be able to continue our trip. Next day in the morning we biked to the National Park Kamenjak to jump from the cliffs and explore the surrounding caves. This was one of the highlight from our trip and I absolutely recommend it to everyone who plans to visit Croatia.

  • Cliff jumping in Kamenjak

    Cliff jumping in Kamenjak

  • Cliff jumping in Kamenjak

    Cliff jumping in Kamenjak

  • Cliff jumping in Kamenjak

    Cliff jumping in Kamenjak

  • Cliff jumping in Kamenjak

    Cliff jumping in Kamenjak

  • Exploring underwater world

    Exploring underwater world

  • The coast is just breathtaking

    The coast is just breathtaking

We knew that the following day is going to be hard, and indeed it was one of the hardest days during our travels in the Balkans. We only had to make 270km but much of that on roads that are not easy to hitchhike. The goal for the day was to make it to Plitivice Lakes. I assumed the route on Google Maps is going to be the best one (fastest/shortest). Unfortunately I was wrong, we got out at the highway exit and we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere (Vrbovsko to be exact). The place is so popular that cars are driving by in intervals of 15min. Perfect spot for hitchhiking. We must have been lucky, we waited for about 30min and a guy (second car that passed by) took us to the next biggest village (Ogulin), from there we jumped from one village to another village.

Lunchtime somewhere in Croatia

Lunchtime somewhere in Croatia

I had to remake our sign after each ride to be able to reach our destination somehow. We had to be very patient. In a small village called Josipdol we experienced the most “possibly uncomfortable/dangerous” situation. We just got out from our ride, I was going to ask policemen on the other side of the road for a good hh spot or possible transport towards our direction. In the meanwhile I left Kaleb to watch the bags. Before I could even cross the road, two men approached Kaleb while he was sitting on the ground and waiting for me. When I looked at him it seemed like they are going to rob him or even worse, so I run back to approach them. Thanks to my Slavic background I could somehow explain who we are and what’s our plan. They both were landmine workers who are cleaning the woods from active landmines in the area. After few moments they left and we could continue our trip.

  • on our way to Plitivice lakes

    on our way to Plitivice lakes

  • on our way to Plitivice lakes - last spot

    on our way to Plitivice lakes – last spot

Several hours later and 7 rides in total we made it to Saborsko, a small village 20km from our final stop. The traffic changed a little, the intervals of each car passing by increased to 30min. We literally hit the jackpot. We were already thinking where to crush for the night. The area is known for still active landmines from the Yugoslavian war therefore pitching a tent wasn’t probably the best idea. After some time, close to the dusk, an Estonian couple drove by, but they did not stop first, they returned for us later. It turned out that they are going to the camp we planned to stay. It was a big success for us to reach Plitivice by sunset and be able to take a shower and have some food. The lesson of the day: don’t only trust Google Maps when hitchhiking.

Plitvice lakes were great, there isn’t much to say, you need to experience it yourself. I would only suggest not go during the peak season because there are tons of tourist which transform the entire place into one big photoset. Sometimes it was very hard to pass them on the narrow sidewalks due to the popularity of selfie sticks. I don’t want to imagine what’s like now during the Pokemon madness.

  • NP Plitvice lakes

    NP Plitvice lakes

  • NP Plitvice lakes

    NP Plitvice lakes

  • NP Plitvice lakes

    NP Plitvice lakes

  • NP Plitvice lakes

    NP Plitvice lakes

  • This is what I meant by overcrowded

    This is what I meant by overcrowded

We finished the tour around 2pm and tried to get a ride till 4pm, without any success. We didn’t want to lose another night here so we decided to take the last bus to Sibenik, which turned out to be a good choice since we were again passing villages where cars usually don’t drive.

Next morning we took a local bus to the Krka waterfalls, which I knew are more interactive since you can actually swim there. We tried to get there as early as possible to enjoy the water since around lunch it was already too overcrowded and I certainly would not like to swim there anymore.

  • Krka NP

    Krka NP

  • Krka NP

    Krka NP

Later that day we arrived in Split where we spent one night, checked out the beautiful but overcrowded city center and explored the area a little bit. In case you want to try some local and affordable food in Split, google “Buffet fife”, it’s a place close to the harbour. We went there, following the recommendation of our Airbnb host and it was quite a good deal.

  • Split

    Split

  • Split from above

    Split from above

  • Split new old town

    Split new old town

  • Split old town

    Split old town

Next and the final stop in Croatia led to Omis, a coastal city, south of Split, surrounded by huge rocks and a very nice flair. There is a ruin right above the city center, from where you will get an amazing view, especially during the sunset.

  • Omis

    Omis

  • Omis streets in the old town

    Omis streets in the old town

  • View over Omis from the ruin above the city

    View over Omis from the ruin above the city

The following morning we woke up early to catch a ride along the coast of Makarska Riviera down to the border of Bosnia which we crossed by foot.

At this time we are half way through the trip. Croatia was great to us, it’s a beautiful country with many places to explore. Nevertheless there is something I did not like, the mass tourism has also reached Croatia, which led into the increase of prices but decrease of enjoyment. I would love to visit Croatia again, but probably not in the high summer season anymore.

I will write about our following adventures from Bosnia, Serbia and Hungary in the next post which I hope to publish after our next trip to the borders of Middle East. In case you have any valuable inputs you would like to add or any questions, feel free to post it in the comments bellow. Happy travels 🙂

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Highlights from the Geneva Motor Show 2016 http://kubasjourneys.com/highlights-of-the-86th-geneva-motor-show/ http://kubasjourneys.com/highlights-of-the-86th-geneva-motor-show/#respond Fri, 04 Mar 2016 00:28:05 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1381 It’s March and for all car fans it’s the time for the annual Car Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland. As a car- and travel enthusiast I could not miss this opportunity to check out the city of Geneva as well [...]

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It’s March and for all car fans it’s the time for the annual Car Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland. As a car- and travel enthusiast I could not miss this opportunity to check out the city of Geneva as well as few world premieres from the most popular car producers. For me it was my second Car Motor Show and the first one in Geneva. I have had high expectations and I must admit, I was not disappointed.

You can’t stop the evolution in technology and the research in the car industry is the perfect proof for it. The 86th Geneva International Car Motor Show brings you many new innovations in the car segment but also in the way how businesses attract people’s attention and involve them into the customer experience.

For me the biggest applause this year belongs to Nissan with their wirelessly charged, electric, self-driving IDS « hatchback ». You remember the movie « I Robot » and the self-driving cars? Well the future is here. How useful it is in the real life, I can’t tell yet, but I admire the effort they put in this car as well into the presentation of the vehicle.

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Another interesting car producer who stand out from the crowd was Mazda, not only they came up with a very attractive designs to their new models, but they also disposed of a dynamic young staff who was very kind to answer all the questions. They mainly focus on the improvements of their current motors, rather than use more eco-friendly power sources. If this is the right direction?

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An interesting vision showed this year Skoda with their first SUV, which is going in production (hopefully) soon.

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Very professional impression also made the Chevrolet stand with their new flagship model Corvette Stingray 2017 as well as their new Camero.

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A hot car was also the supersport from Pinifarina that runs completely on water. It would be nice to see this technology also in some more useful vehicles.

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I thought that the German’s will surprise with some badass concepts, but there was not much to see. VW presented his concept Budde which I found a little off the path.

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Koenigsegg showed his Agera RS which let the hearts of car fans beat faster.

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Bugatti presented the fastest car in the world as well as the 1500 PS engine. I found it a little sad that they did not turned the car, but only showed the back of it, quite a weird marketing strategy.

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Right next, you will find Chiron’s rival, the Pagani Huayra BC with 700 PS and a price tag above € 2 million.

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The prettiest concept showed in my opinion Citroen with its E- Tense. That design should be rewarded.

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Lamborghini also presented their new beast, the Lamborghini Centario.

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The kind staff from McLaren let me also check out the new McLaren 570GT and the 675LT, I have to admit that sitting in a € 2. Million car is not much different as sitting in your own vehicle. I wish I could drive it though.

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There was a big buzz around Tesla and their new elegant SUV.

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These were the hot topics of the 86th Geneva International Motor Show. It was the presentation of the latest technology in the car industry which gave a nice impression on how the cars in future will look like. Here some more impressions from the car show.

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6 Tips On How To Adapt To A Foreign Culture http://kubasjourneys.com/6-tips-on-how-to-adapt-to-a-foreign-culture/ http://kubasjourneys.com/6-tips-on-how-to-adapt-to-a-foreign-culture/#comments Wed, 06 Jan 2016 09:41:55 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1359 The aspect of culture adaptation is nowadays an important topic due the continuous population migration, globalization and international education. People move to other countries to gain work or study experience, improve their living standard or simply explore the country and [...]

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cultureThe aspect of culture adaptation is nowadays an important topic due the continuous population migration, globalization and international education. People move to other countries to gain work or study experience, improve their living standard or simply explore the country and expand their horizons. Sadly, many of those don’t recognize the importance of various culture values which are crucial for your successful stay abroad. To ensure the genuinity of this post I will only share tips I have learned on my work, study experiences through six countries.

1. Forget the stereotypes and prejudices

Although some stereotypes might turn to be real later on, experience it yourself rather than rely on it from the beginning. Don’t judge someone by their appearance, religious belief or prejudices coming from the media. Why? Because you also don’t want to be judged by someone who does not know you. Additionally, it’s never a good way to start a conversation with someone with preprogrammed judgement in its head.

2. Be polite and positive minded

To approach someone politely with a positive attitude, i.e. when asking a local for direction, it’s often the key to success. You can also test this tool in your home country and wait for the reaction. (Probably much better than approaching someone with an rude attitude and expectation to get help)

3. Learn the local language

If you plan to live in a different country, you should learn at least the basics of the spoken language. If you think that English will bring you everywhere, don’t rely on that. It’s often much harder to connect with locals without trying to learn/speak the local language. I have had these experiences in Spain, France and Russia. Although thanks to the cross-cultural experiences that many young people aim to achieve, you might probably meet someone that can understand you, but don’t take it for granted.

4. Approach locals

To be a part of the community, you should look for contact with locals, there are many ways to connect if you really want it. You can meet them at work, school, language courses, tandem groups, sport groups, public events you can even look for them in different facebook groups. Look for people that show similar interests as you. It might be easier to approach locals in bigger cities than in small villages at the countryside, but this also depends on the country / culture itself. I have had the experience that in more isolated areas, locals often have prejudices (maybe fear) against incomings.

5. Respect the culture

Respect is something that nearly everyone deserves. As an expat, visitor or traveler showing respect shows your humanity and understanding towards the local culture. If you plan to visit a famous cathedral in the town, be sure to follow the dress code, in some countries, women have to be partly covered. This is just one of many ways that shows your respect. In some countries you might face tough situations, poverty, dirt, different political system. Be aware of that and don’t complain about it.

6. Don’t give up and make the best of it

Moving to another country without knowing anyone is tough. Apart from the initial excitement you will need to find accommodation, work, friends. No one said it’s easy, particularly if you struggle with the local language. You might meet many people who want to live at your expense, that’s why you should be able to communicate and have some idea how things work out in the country. The initial excitement and curiosity might easily turn into a culture shock and later into the depression, that’s when you need to stay focused and positive minded. Never forget the reasons why you have moved to this country and what your goals are. If you make mistakes, learn from it and move on. International experiences always enriched me somehow and I bet the same applies to you as well.

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Christmas Traditions In Slovakia & Czech Republic http://kubasjourneys.com/christmas-traditions-in-slovakia/ http://kubasjourneys.com/christmas-traditions-in-slovakia/#respond Wed, 30 Dec 2015 19:38:34 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1346 Christmas is over and I hope you have had a great time with your family and friends. I have visited my family in Czech Republic and managed to celebrate Christmas in Austria as well as in Slovakia. Every family has [...]

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https://flic.kr/p/7dZ7nX

Christmas is over and I hope you have had a great time with your family and friends. I have visited my family in Czech Republic and managed to celebrate Christmas in Austria as well as in Slovakia. Every family has different Christmas traditions. Did you know that in Czech Republic people keep the living fish in the bathtub before they prepare it for the dinner? Let me tell you some of typical traditions you can expect during the Christmas day in Slovakia and Czech Republic.

Lent

I would say that fasting is nowadays also a tradition in non-religious families during Christmas. Since I was little I have learned that on Christmas day I don’t eat through the day and wait for the dinner. This has been a tradition in many families in Slovakia but also in Czech Republic.

Listening to Christmas music and decorating the Christmas tree

Turning on some Christmas carols and decorate the tree is already an annual ritual. Some families prefer to do it even before the Christmas day. The tree stays decorated until the 6th of January, the day of the Three Wise Men.

Watching Christmas tales

Especially the kids love to watch Christmas movies during the day. I think this is still a tradition although there isn’t much new movies to see.

Dinner

The preparation for the Christmas dinner takes all day. Traditional food is the cabbage soup and fried carp with salad olivier.  I can remember when I was a kid, we even had the carp at home in the bathtub for about three days until Christmas. I think this tradition slowly disappears since it’s connected with much work.

When the soup is cooked, carp fried and salad done (mostly around 5pm) it’s time to collect all family members and sit down to the table. Many religious families pray and read some parts from the bible. The dinner starts with wafer which you serve with honey. Later on you will get the soup continued by the main dish.

  • Honey Wafer

    Honey Wafer

  • Cabbage soup with mushrooms

    Cabbage soup with mushrooms

  • Salad Olivier: potatoes, mayonaise, sour cream

    Salad Olivier: potatoes, mayonaise, sour cream

  • Salad Olivier: Add carrots and peas, salt and pepper

    Salad Olivier: Add carrots and peas, salt and pepper

  • Salad Olivier

    Salad Olivier

  • Fried fresh carp is a traditional Christmas meal in Czech Republic and Slovakia

    Fried fresh carp is a traditional Christmas meal in Czech Republic and Slovakia

  • Another Christmas dish is the potatoe/onion salad

    Another Christmas dish is the potatoe/onion salad

  • Traditional Christmas Dinner

    Traditional Christmas Dinner

Opening the Christmas presents

When the dinner is over, often you will hear a bell. This is the sign that Ježíšek or Ježíško (baby Jesus) came and brought gifts. One of the family members or the kids take the initiative and pass out the Christmas gifts from under the Christmas tree.

Christmas Mass

A popular tradition is attending the Christmas midnight mass. This is again a more religious tradition.

These are some of the main Christmas traditions in Slovakia and Czech Republic. I have to mention that many families have their own rituals on how to celebrate Christmas. This is just a general overview. How did you celebrate Christmas? Do you have different traditions and how do you spend the Christmas day? Let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂

 

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Moscow – Known And Unknown Places http://kubasjourneys.com/moscow-known-and-unknown-places/ http://kubasjourneys.com/moscow-known-and-unknown-places/#respond Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:31:05 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1219 What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear Moscow? Red Square? Kremlin? The city is huge and has much more to offer than you would expect in the first place. In this post I want to share [...]

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What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear Moscow? Red Square? Kremlin? The city is huge and has much more to offer than you would expect in the first place. In this post I want to share my favorite photos from known and less known places in Moscow. For more info about tips on what to do in Moscow read my post about 17 Cool Things To Do In Moscow.  Enjoy the photos and have a great day 🙂

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Explore Christmas markets in Vienna http://kubasjourneys.com/explore-christmas-markets-in-vienna/ http://kubasjourneys.com/explore-christmas-markets-in-vienna/#respond Tue, 15 Dec 2015 12:05:18 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1172 Christmas markets in Vienna are the hotspots for punch lovers in Austria. Apart from the famous Christmas punch you can also admire many handcrafted goods and local dishes. Join me on the journey through six popular Christmas markets in Vienna and let [...]

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Christmas markets in Vienna are the hotspots for punch lovers in Austria. Apart from the famous Christmas punch you can also admire many handcrafted goods and local dishes. Join me on the journey through six popular Christmas markets in Vienna and let me introduce you to Austrian Christmas markets delicacies.

1. Christmas market at Belvedere Palace

Right next to the main train station you will find a cozy Christmas market in front of the Belvedere Palace which is one of the most significant buildings in Vienna.

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2. Christmas market at Karlsplatz

The Karlsplatz square is usually dominated by the Karlskirche church but this changes in winter when the square turns into a huge Christmas village.

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3. Christmas market at St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Right in the heart of Vienna and probably at the most visited spot in the city, you will find a small but beautiful Christmas market. I advise to go behind the Cathedral and get the “Himbeerpunsch” which is the best punch I have had in all six Christmas markets.

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4. Christmas village at Maria-Theresien Platz

Fifteen minute walk from St. Stephen`s Cathedral will bring you to the Maria- Theresien Platz which is the square in front of the two identical buildings; the Museum of Nature as well as the Museum of Art. These two buildings create an impressive atmosphere which is worth the experience.

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5. Viennese Christmas market in front of the city hall

The biggest and most visited Christmas market is the one in front of the city hall. The surrounded park, which is decorated with various Christmas lights gives additional flair to this place. If you want to enjoy this atmosphere, visit it as soon as possible because from mid-January it turns into a huge ice skating ring.

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6. Christmas market at Schönbrunn Palace

For this one you need to take the metro to get there. At the Schönbrunn metro station (green line) it takes you around 10 minutes to get to the Christmas & New Year’s market.

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Christmas market food

When I asked my friend who is local in Vienna about traditional and iconic Austrian Christmas market delicacies he wasn’t sure what to say. Austrian cuisine is simply too influenced from other countries although there are some specialties that are typical for Viennese Christmas markets. Here they are.

Krapfen

…a must do is to try the local donuts filled with vanilla or marmalade (the best topping)

  • Krapfen – a must do is to try the local donuts filled with vanilla or marmalade (the best topping)

    Krapfen – a must do is to try the local donuts filled with vanilla or marmalade (the best topping)

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Cooked potato

Cooked potato – served with ham, cheese or bacon and sour cream

Cooked potato – served with ham, cheese or bacon and sour cream

Maroni

Maroni – baked sweet chestnut which is typical street snack in winter

Maroni – baked sweet chestnut which is typical street snack in winter

Gebrannte Mandeln

Gebrannte Mandeln – sweet roasted almonds

Gebrannte Mandeln – sweet roasted almonds

Kaiserschmarren

Kaiserschmarren – sugared pancake with raisins served with various sweet toppings

Kaiserschmarren – sugared pancake with raisins served with various sweet toppings

Spiralkartoffeln

Spiralkartoffeln – fried and salted potatoes in a spiral form

Spiralkartoffeln – fried and salted potatoes in a spiral form

Punsch

Punsch – there is of course a variety of punch flavors you can try

Punsch – there is of course a variety of punch flavors you can try

This is some of the street food you can try at Christmas markets in Vienna, there is of course more to choose from but to be honest; you can eat hot-dogs everywhere.

The visit of Christmas markets in Vienna is a great idea for a day trip. You can combine it with the degustation of Austrian food and sightseeing since most of the markets are located right in front of the main attractions in Vienna. The Christmas markets are not cheap compared to i.e. Christmas markets in Bratislava but the atmosphere, when walking through the city is really impressive and worth the visit.

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