Kuba's Journeys https://kubasjourneys.com stop dreaming, start traveling Mon, 18 Mar 2019 16:13:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 How to Rent a Flat in Prague Without Using an Agent https://kubasjourneys.com/rent-a-flat-in-prague/ https://kubasjourneys.com/rent-a-flat-in-prague/#comments Sun, 17 Mar 2019 17:00:59 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1643 Are you looking to rent a flat in Prague? If so, this post could be a good resource in order to find suitable flats or shared housing in Prague. Read more!

Příspěvek How to Rent a Flat in Prague Without Using an Agent pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
Are you looking to rent a flat in Prague? If so, this post could be a good resource in order to find suitable flats or shared housing in Prague.

Rather than giving you a general overview of resources and links I will share my personal experiences when looking to find a flat to rent in Prague.

Here is the process that will help you rent a flat in Prague in the most efficient way:

  1. Start the research as soon as possible
  2. Set your budget and location
  3. Check local Facebook Groups
  4. Send your full application and arrange an appointment
It is recommended to start researching available flats to rent in Prague as soon as you decide on the location and your budget for your accommodation in Prague.

The demand for flats to rent in Prague is much higher than the current market has to offer. Particularly in the city center, the prices of rents increased significantly in the last few years. The sooner you start your research, the better the chances to find an affordable flat to rent in Prague. 

Where to rent a flat in Prague?

When you are looking to rent a flat in Prague, the location is often an important factor to consider.

Luckily the public transportation system in Prague is one of the best 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). Unless you will need to commute to the other side of Prague, getting around should not be too much hassle.

This should make the choice of the ideal location a little easier as you don’t necessarily need to live close to your work.

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 the cheapest flats to rent in Prague.

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. The rent for flats in this area (yellow) is also at least 20% lower than in the city center.

If you live close to the metro lines, you can reach the city center quite convenient from any location.

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 the cheapest flats to rent in Prague.

How much can you afford to pay for rent in Prague?

Rent for flats in Prague is not cheap. Even for western standards the price of the rent, particularly in the city center, is considered to be high.

This is caused due to the high demand for flats to rent. There are also not as many flats to rent for long term as most of the apartments generate way more income when renting for tourists via Airbnb.

Setting up your budget is therefore important as it will give you an idea, where you can look for flats to rent and what can you expect to get for the price.

Locals often offer their flats to foreigners as they are usually willing to pay more. If you don’t speak Czech, the chance that you will pay more for renting a flat in Prague is significantly higher.

It’s not easy to give the exact numbers as they usually increase every year. In the last three years, the prices for renting a flat in Prague went up almost 100%.

Below find the prices for rent I found during my research in March 2019

  • Prices for rooms range between 5.000,- CZK (180 EUR) and 10.000,- CZK (370,- EUR)
  • Prices for 1KK – which is a small studio or one bedroom with kitchen range between 9000,- CZK (350 EUR) and 25.000,- CZK (975,- EUR)
  • Prices for 2KK – which is one room with kitchen combined and one separate bedroom cost between 14.000,- CZK (545,- EUR) and 30.000 CZK (1.170,- EUR)

The price for renting a flat in Prague 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.

The mentioned prices already include charges for water and electricity. Be aware however that the landlord will ask for a deposit (up to two monthly rates).

The demand for flats in Prague is increasing in September as many students move back to Prague. Finding a long term accommodation should be easier in January or at the beginning of July.

Rent a flat in Prague and avoid real estate agents

If you decide to go for a flat offered by a real estate agent, you will need to pay a commission which is usually one rent plus taxes.

Read further to find out how to rent a flat in Prague without paying commission.

Browse through Facebook Groups about flats in Prague

Here is a list of popular groups where you can contact the landlord and arrange an appointment to view the flat.

Be aware that in some groups you will need to communicate in Czech. Making some Czech friends should be of high priority if you don’t speak Czech yet.

Browse through offers on bezrealitky.cz

Bezrealitky.cz is the best portal when it comes to finding a flat to rent in Prague without any real estate agency fees. This is, however, no secret and it is not rare that there are more than fifty applicants for one offer. You need to be very quick and arrange the viewing of the flat as soon as possible. The site is only available in Czech.

Use Google Translate in Chrome Browser to translate the content of the site.

The demand is so high, that people often call the landlord in advance and make a reservation without even seeing the flat in person.

When sending your message to the landlord try to make it as good as you possibly can. Tell them what you like about the flat, your plans in Prague, for how long you aim to rent and what’s your job. This increases the chances that the landlord will reply and allow you to view the flat.

Rent a flat in Prague: my experience

I also used the site bezrealitky.cz and responded to a listing that had no pictures. I liked the description and it was well situated. The landlord had not had the time to upload the pictures, therefore the number of applicants was quite low. I send them a message in Czech and arranged a meeting the next day.

Rent a flat in Prague through a real estate agency

If you are under time pressure and you don’t have the patience to find an apartment in Prague on your own, you can use some of the popular real estate agencies.

On websites such as Sreality, Realitymix or Bytyvpraze you can find listings from real estate agencies. You can use filters to sort the results and find a listing that meets your criteria.

Challenges you might face when looking for a flat in Prague

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

  1. Language: It is great to have someone on-site to help you with the translation so you speed up the process. Also, ask for a translation of the contract that you should sign with the landlord.
  2. Closed-mindedness: Some landlords do not rent to foreigners
  3. No pets: If you plan to rent a flat in Prague with a dog or a cat, you will decrease your chances significantly
  4. Time pressure: Finding a suitable apartment to rent in Prague takes time. Start your research as soon as you decide to move to Prague.

In the best case, you ask your friends in Prague if they can help you and ask around if someone offers a flat to rent.

Rent a flat in Prague for short-term

If you don’t know anyone that could host you in Prague, you should book an Airbnb or a Hotel for a few days and reach out to landlords while being present in Prague. You can arrange appointments much faster which will increase your chances of finding the right flat to rent.

If you have not used Airbnb yet, you can sign up via this link to get 30,- EUR discount on your first booking.

If you prefer to stay in a hotel while hunting for flats in Prague, here are few options to consider:

Hostels from 5,- EUR / night: Chili Hostel / Travel&Joy backpackers / Little Quarter Hostel

Mid-Range from 32,- EUR / night: MeetMe23 / Bed&Books Art Hotel / Deminka Palace

Luxury from 60,- EUR / night: Small Luxury Palace Residence / Hotel Residence Spalena / Alveo Suites

I would not recommend to sign any contract or send reservation fees before you visit the flat yourself. The photos of flats in Prague are often different as published online and there are many scammers in Prague that use non-informed travelers and to rip them off.

The impossible task of finding a flat to rent in Prague should now become much easier. If you have any relevant comments that could help future readers feel free to attach them below. Good luck with your research and enjoy life in Prague.

If you found this post helpful, feel free to spread the word and help others find this resource.

 

 

Příspěvek How to Rent a Flat in Prague Without Using an Agent pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/rent-a-flat-in-prague/feed/ 8
How to Extend Your Visa at The Immigration Office in Koh Samui https://kubasjourneys.com/immigration-office-in-koh-samui/ https://kubasjourneys.com/immigration-office-in-koh-samui/#comments Sat, 16 Mar 2019 08:59:30 +0000 https://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1849 Are you looking for information about how to extend your Thai visa at the immigration office in Koh Samui? Read this guide to get all the info you need!

Příspěvek How to Extend Your Visa at The Immigration Office in Koh Samui pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
Whether you are a backpacker, digital nomad or just a long term traveler thinking about extending your Thai visa, you will need to do a visa run or visit one of the immigration offices in your area.

If you are based in Koh Tao or Koh Phangan you will need to make a trip to Koh Samui and extend your visa at the local immigration office, unless you cannot extend your visa and need to do a visa run to Malaysia.

Keep reading if you are looking into information about how to extend your visa at the immigration office in Koh Samui.

Be aware that the immigration office in Samui has been relocated to the north of the island.

This is the new location: 333 Maenam Road, Soi 1 Moo 1, Tambon Maenam, Amphoe Koh Samui, Suratthani 84330

thai-immigration-office-route

How to get to the immigration office in Koh Samui

As from March 2019 it is not possible to extend your Thai Visa via a travel agent. If you are visiting Koh (Island) Tao, Phangan or Samui and want to extend your stay in Thailand you will need to do so in person at the immigration office in Koh Samui.

Getting to Koh Samui

If you are not at Koh Samui already, you will need to take a ferry to get there. You will be probably departing from either Koh Tao or Koh Phangan.

lomprayah-getting-to-koh-samui

There are several ferry companies transporting travelers between those three islands.

You will want to get one that gets you to the Nathon Pier in Koh Samui, which is the closest to the immigration office.

We used the ferry company Lomprayah.

  • In Koh Tao you can find them right next to the ferry terminal (next to 7/11)
  • In Koh Phangan they are around 500 meters from the pier (Tambon Ko Pha-ngan, Amphoe Ko Pha-ngan, Chang Wat Surat Thani 84280)

Ferry schedule

The ferry departs from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui (Nathon Pier) three times a day: 7:20 12:00 14:30

From Koh Tao it leaves around one hour earlier.

The ferry back to Koh Phangan leaves Koh Samui (Nathon Pier) at 11:15, 13:30 and 17:30.

The ferry ticket from Koh Phangan cost 300 thai baht per person for one way. From Koh Tao you will need to pay 700 thai baht.

ferry-schedule-koh-samui-min

To enlarge the current ferry schedule between Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui click on the image.

As soon as you arrive in Koh Samui you have two options on how to get to the immigration office.

  1. Take a local taxi for 150 Thai baht (one way)
  2. Rent a scooter for 200 Thai baht for the whole day (just at the beginning of the pier)

We went with the second option and rented a scooter for one and a half days (300 bath) at a rental place called Sccoter Rental.

Be aware that you need to leave a deposit in the form of your ID as well as 3.000 bath in cash if you choose to rent a scooter. When driving a scooter in Koh Samui make sure you wear a helmet. The police on this island are more strict than in Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. Wearing a helmet will save you a fine of 500 bath.

To get to the immigration office in Samui you will need to drive north for about 20 minutes. It’s roughly the same distance as from the Koh Samui Airport.

Requirements for the immigration office in Koh Samui

  • Passport Copy of your passport
  • copy of your current visa stamp (20 bath)
  • Passport Photo (can be done at the Immigration Office for 100 bath)
  • Visa Extension Form (is provided at the Immigration Office)
  • 1.900 TBH in Cash

Upon arrival, you can take passport pictures of you (in case you don’t have any), make a copy of your passport and fill out the visa extension form.

As a next step, you will submit your documents in the immigration and get wait until your extension gets approved. We waited for about one hour to get our passport back. While waiting for your Thai visa extension, you can get some breakfast and drinks in the small restaurant in front of the immigration office.

How much money you will need for your visa extension in Koh Samui

  • Boat trip (Koh Phangan to Koh Samui 300 bath or Koh Tao – Koh Samui 700 bath)
  • Transport from Nathon Pier to Immigration office in Koh Samui 150 bath one way (or rent a scooter for 200 bath / day)
  • A passport photo and passport copy 120 bath
  • Thai Visa Extension Fee 1.900 bath
  • Total cost between 2.520 and 2.820 bath (in case you need to get passport photos)

The trip to Koh Samui to extend your Thai visa will take you at least half a day. If you have not been in Koh Samui before, I suggest you stay over for at least one night and explore the island, unless you are in a rush. Apart from the busy coast road, driving in Koh Samui’s jungle is an adventure you will never forget.

Book your stay in Koh Samui today

If you have not used Airbnb yet, feel free to use my code to save 46 EUR on your next Airbnb stay. Airbnb accommodation starts at 10 EUR per night. If you preffer to stay in Hostels or Resorts, feel free to explore the following options:

Hostels from 8 EUR per night: Lub d Koh Samui Chaweng Beach / Baan Hinland Home and Hostel / P & T Hostel 

Mid-Range from 27 EUR per night: Samui Zenity / Escape Beach Resort / Fisherman Village Private Garden

Luxury from 99 EUR per night: Mantra Samui Resort / Bandara Resort & Spa / Bo Phut Resort and Spa

We stayed at Samui Zenity, which is a small but cosy hotel with pool and food options close to the immigration office in Koh Samui.

Do you have any recommendation for other travelers who aim to extend their Thai visa at the immigration office in Koh Samui? Share your tips in the comments below.

Příspěvek How to Extend Your Visa at The Immigration Office in Koh Samui pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/immigration-office-in-koh-samui/feed/ 2
Climbing Mount Olympus in Greece – Everything You Need to Know https://kubasjourneys.com/climbing-mount-olympus-greece/ https://kubasjourneys.com/climbing-mount-olympus-greece/#respond Wed, 13 Mar 2019 19:58:35 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1703 Climbing Mount Olympus in Greece is an amazing experience. Read more about hiking Olympus, Trails, Accommodation, Transport, Food in my Travel Guide.

Příspěvek Climbing Mount Olympus in Greece – Everything You Need to Know pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
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 however much more than that. The landscape and surroundings put this elevation easily on the list of the most iconic peaks in the world. Are you adventurous enough to conquer the Greek mountain of gods?

Read this guide to ensure you have the best experience while climbing Mount Olympus.

Getting to Mount Olympus

There are several options when it comes to getting to Litochoro, which is the base camp for all hikers who aim to ascent Mount Olympus. You will be departing most likely either from Athens or Thessaloniki.

by car
If you have the budget to rent a car, this will be the most flexible and time efficient way to explore the mainland of Greece.

The trip from Athens to Litochoro takes 6 hours (if you will try to avoid the toll roads it will take you 8 hours). If you start your journey from Athens, I would suggest you make stops on the way and split the trip into few days.

Meteora monastery complex should be on your list, when visiting Greece. From Thessaloniki you can reach Litochoro in around 1 hour.

by train
Depending on the connection you choose, the train ride can take from 6 hours up to 8 hours. One option is to take a train from Athens Liosion Station to Katerini, where you change for another train to Litochoro.

You can also take the train to Larissa and then a connecting train to Litochoro. The prices vary from 30 EUR to 60 EUR. Be aware however that the train station in Litochoro is around 6 km away from the city. You will need to take a cab or ask locals to give you a ride to your accommodation.

by bus
Cheapest option to get to Litochoro from Athens is by bus, which is around 40 EUR and takes more or less 8 hours with transfer in Katerini.

From Thessaloniki it costs only 10 EUR and takes around 2 hours.

If you are really on a budget, you can try hitchhiking. From my own experience, hitchhiking from Litochoro to Athens worked very well and it took around 8 hours.

There are a lot of truck drivers taking the route from Thessaloniki to Athens. The advantage of taking a bus from Thessaloniki is that it drops you right in the city, so you don’t need to take a taxi.

If your budget allows you to rent a car, this will be the most convenient solution to move around Greece. Additionally you are much more flexible, which gives you options to make stops around the route whenever you want.

Arriving in Litochoro – Base camp (Mt. Olympus)

Litochoro is a small city on the bottom of Mt. Olympus in Greece. It is recommended to arrive one day in advance to prepare for the hike, get supplies such as water, food and good sleep to be able to start early the next morning.

Where to stay around Mount Olympus

When it comes to accommodation there is not that many options, particularly if you book last minute while being on a budget. We stayed at an Airbnb in the middle of the town for about 25 EUR for two guests.

Hostel from 14 EUR / night: Summit Zero

Mid-range from 40 EUR / night: Olympus View / Hotel Mirto / Villa Pantheon

Luxury from 59 EUR / night: Mythic Valley / Litochoro Apartments / Bayiri Petit Pension

If you can plan your trip in advance, I suggest to book your accommodation as soon as possible as the options are limited.

What you need for climbing Mount Olympus

Here’s your Mount Olympus checklist:

  • Food (make sure you take enough snacks such as nuts and protein bars to keep your energy up)
  • Water Bottle (the only option to get food and water is in the refuge camps, there are no refill stations)
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Hiking Sticks (recommended)
  • Warm Clothes
  • First Aid Kit (there are many sharp rocks on Mt. Olympus, you can easily cut yourself)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Map (sold at any local shop with souvenirs)
  • Helmet (recommended – rent it at one of the refuge camps)
  • Toiletries
  • Sun protection

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 Mount Olympus. Any suitable piece of wood you can find on your way is also sufficient.

Be aware that climbing Mt. Olympus should not be underestimated. If you plan to reach one of the three peaks, you will highly likely need to use your hands and climb the mountain.

Make sure you are in a good physical condition.

Let the climb to Mt. Olympus begin

Don’t forget to bring some warm clothes with you, even in mid-summer it gets quite cold above 2000 meters.

Equipped with a map, some food, water and warm clothes we started the hike the following morning at 8 AM. You should know that there is no public transportation that can bring you to the beginning of the trail, you can take a taxi for 25 EUR or hitchhike (my preffered method).

Depending on which track you choose, you need to get yourself to Gortsia or Prionia which are 9 km and 12 km away from Litochoro.

To get to the beginning of the trail we hitchhike. Most of the people start climbing up to Mount Olympus around 9 AM. Starting at 8 AM gives you a better chance to catch a ride and start your hike to Mt. Olympus as soon as possible.

If you plan to hitchhike as well, write a sign and get yourself to the road to Gortsia. Coming from the roundabout at the Litochoro police station you need turn left, cross the bridge and walk around 300 meters and turn left again. You should be on the right way that leads to Prionia and Gortsia.

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 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)

Mount Olympus Trail Map

We decided to take the trail 2 up the mountain and trail 1 on the way back.

Luckily the people who gave us a ride 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, where you can have some food and tea, rest a little and continue the hike.

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.

camp B (Apostolides)

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.

If you plan to hike with your dog, consider that dogs are not allowed to enter. 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. For the refuge Apostolides just call (+30) 23510 82840 and let them know when you arrive. Find out the contact information of other refuge camps here

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.

View at Stefani Peak from camp B

Ascending Mt. Olympus

  • First be aware of the weather conditions and don’t underestimate the difficulty of the hike.
  • Always ask in the refuge camp about the conditions and their advice on ascending Mt. Olympus at the day of your visit.
  • If there is rain in the night, climbing up to the highest peak Mytikas might be very dangerous and not recommended, according to the local fireman.
  • Depending on the route you choose, wearing a helmet in some parts is a good choice. You can borrow these in the refuge camps.

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.

The other option is to take a loop hike as seen on the map and reaching the peak of Skala first and then hike further up to Mytikas. Make sure you 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.

Climbing Mount Olympus

Descending Mt. Olympus

Depending on your route and capabilities, you can descent the same day as you reach the peak or stay one more night at one of the refuge camps and descent the third day (recommended).

The descent of Mt. Olympus will take you the same time as the ascent and for many hikers it can be even more exhausting.

Having hiking sticks with you will certainly easy the pain in your knees.

How much time do I need to climb Mount Olympus?

As for inexperienced hikers the trail 2 to the refuge camp Apostolides took us 7:30 hours with 1 hour break. From here you need another 3 hours to Mytikas.

The trail 1 is supposed to be faster, approximately 4 to 5 hours to the refuge camp Apostolides or around 7 to 8 hours to Mytikas.

Experienced hikers can make it to the summit in around 5 hours.

Take into account that the hike between Litochoro to Prionia (beginning of the trail) takes around 4 to 5 hours if you don’t have any transportation. We spent two days on the mountain, with the arrival combined we needed 3 days.

To make it up to the peak of Skala and down in one day is quite a challenge and it would be a pity not to spend more time in that breathtaking environment.

I would however recommend at least two nights at Mt. Olympus to allow time to connect with the nature.

Cost of climbing Mt. Olympus

  • 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
  • Additionally you may have extra cost connected with the arrival and accommodation in Litochoro

All you need to know for a fun hike on Mount Olympus

How to get to Mt. Olympus?
The most convenient option to get to Mt. Olympus is by car. The trip from Athens to Mt. Olympus takes at least 6 hours. If you plan to rent a car in Thessaloniki, you will need to drive for about one hour.
How long does it take to climb Mt. Olympus?
The duration of the hike depends on your physical fitness, hiking experience, weather conditions, the chosen trail and the peak you aim to conquer. Super fit hikers can reach the peak in four to five hours. Casual hikers will need between seven and nine hours to reach the top. It is advised to split the hike into two or three days.
Can you climb Mt. Olympus in a day?
Only experienced hikers are able to hike Mt. Olympus in one day. It will take you at least 8 to 10 hours. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the hike as well as the weather conditions at the mountain, which can have a big impact on the duration you will need to for the hike.
What is the elevation of Mt. Olympus?

The greek Mount Olympus is elevated 2.917 meters above the Aegean Sea. The base town Litochoro is elevated at 293 meters above the sea level.

Is climbing Mt Olympus dangerous?

The ascend up Mount Olympus is not easy and is considered as a class 3 climbing route (Scrambling or un-roped climbing). Particularly close to the peaks you must use your hands most of the time to follow the path. Be aware of steep and partially extreme terrain.

Some of the peaks such as Mytikas and Stefani have optional technical climbing routes.

Is it possible climbing Mt. Olympus in winter?

The refugee camps at Mt. Olympus are closed in winter. Some of them are open for the weekends only. If you plan to hike Mount Olympus in winter, you can stay at one of the emergency shelters at the refugee camps, which are open all year long. If you insist on hiking Mount Olympus in winter, you should book a guided tour, led by experienced climbers.

You don’t need any special climbing gear to climb Mt. Olympus. 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.

Anyone who loves outdoors and is comfortable hiking for a longer time can reach the peak and enjoy the views from Zeus his throne.

Did you climb Mt. Olympus in Greece? Let me know your experiences in the comments below.

Příspěvek Climbing Mount Olympus in Greece – Everything You Need to Know pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/climbing-mount-olympus-greece/feed/ 0
Hitchhiking to the Balkans PART 2 https://kubasjourneys.com/hitchhiking-to-the-balkans-part-2/ https://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 [...]

Příspěvek Hitchhiking to the Balkans PART 2 pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
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.

Příspěvek Hitchhiking to the Balkans PART 2 pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/hitchhiking-to-the-balkans-part-2/feed/ 0
Hitchhiking to the Balkans PART 1 https://kubasjourneys.com/hitchhiking-to-the-balkans-part-1/ https://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 [...]

Příspěvek Hitchhiking to the Balkans PART 1 pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>

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)

  •  
  • 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 🙂

Příspěvek Hitchhiking to the Balkans PART 1 pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/hitchhiking-to-the-balkans-part-1/feed/ 0
6 Tips On How To Adapt To A Foreign Culture https://kubasjourneys.com/6-tips-on-how-to-adapt-to-a-foreign-culture/ https://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 [...]

Příspěvek 6 Tips On How To Adapt To A Foreign Culture pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
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.

Image Source

Příspěvek 6 Tips On How To Adapt To A Foreign Culture pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/6-tips-on-how-to-adapt-to-a-foreign-culture/feed/ 2
Christmas Traditions In Slovakia & Czech Republic https://kubasjourneys.com/christmas-traditions-in-slovakia/ https://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 [...]

Příspěvek Christmas Traditions In Slovakia & Czech Republic pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
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 🙂

 

Příspěvek Christmas Traditions In Slovakia & Czech Republic pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/christmas-traditions-in-slovakia/feed/ 0
Explore Christmas markets in Vienna https://kubasjourneys.com/explore-christmas-markets-in-vienna/ https://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 [...]

Příspěvek Explore Christmas markets in Vienna pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
DSCN2626

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.

  • DSCN2691
  • DSCN2698

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.

  • DSCN2681
  • DSCN2676

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.

  • DSCN2413 
  • DSCN2442
  • DSCN2426
  • DSCN2433 (2)

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.

  • DSCN2557 
  • DSCN2555

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.

  • DSCN2601
  • DSCN2610 
  • DSCN2573

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.

  • DSCN2671 
  • DSCN2663 
  • DSCN2655 
  • DSCN2653 

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)

  • DSCN2596 

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.

  • DSCN2440 
  • DSCN2444 
  • DSCN2445 

If you like this post feel free to share it with your friends. For the latest news follow me on my FB page Kuba’s Journeys.

 

 

 

Příspěvek Explore Christmas markets in Vienna pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/explore-christmas-markets-in-vienna/feed/ 0
10 Tips On How To Be A Good Exchange Student https://kubasjourneys.com/10-tips-on-how-to-be-a-good-exchange-student/ https://kubasjourneys.com/10-tips-on-how-to-be-a-good-exchange-student/#respond Wed, 09 Dec 2015 17:08:55 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1076 As a former exchange student in Georgia – USA, Erasmus student in Liège – Belgium, intern in Moscow – Russia and expat in Austria I believe to have gained much experience living abroad as a student.  I have seen many [...]

Příspěvek 10 Tips On How To Be A Good Exchange Student pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
thumb

As a former exchange student in Georgia – USA, Erasmus student in Liège – Belgium, intern in Moscow – Russia and expat in Austria I believe to have gained much experience living abroad as a student.  I have seen many individuals who failed while adapting on the new environment, such opportunities are often combined with many financial resources and it would be a pity not to get the best of it. Here are my tips on how to be a good exchange student in a foreign country.

1. Respect the culture

This is the key element that decides whenever your stay will be a success or failure. People who come from different countries or continents have different values and beliefs. You should learn to respect them, you don’t need to accept it, but in order to be a good representative of your country, show some respect towards the foreign culture.

Religion in America is taken seriously and is a part of their culture

Religion in America is taken seriously and is a part of their culture

2. Forget the prejudices  

Prejudgment is built through media and people who have never visited the country before and believe to know everything. Some say that Russia is dangerous, I spent four months in the biggest cities in Russia and never felt in danger. It’s all relative, everyone has a different experience and media publish only staff to evoke fear in people. The best way to experience a country is to visit it by itself and don’t read about it in some newspapers or tv.

3. Learn the local language

You need to connect with the local population, that’s the only way how you really get to know the country and the culture. If you don’t talk the language you will have some hard time to communicate because you can’t expect that everyone talks your lingo. I advise you to have practice in advance to know at least the basics. Language is also crucial for your studies abroad, so be sure to know your skills before applying.

4. Sharing is loving

If you will be hosted by a host family, they often don’t get paid to host you. You might ask yourself why would they want to host an exchange student without getting paid? The main reason is culture sharing. Many of the Americans have their roots in Europe or have some kind of connection to your country. They choose you because they are interested in you and your values, share it with them. That way you can give something back. As you might know Americans are not famous for their healthy cuisine, I often prepared meals from my home country or cooked it together with my family. This was great since we could spent some time together and as you know, food connects people.

[Modula id=’4′]

5. Connect with locals

As shortly mentioned above, connecting with locals is another crucial point of your exchange stay. There are various methods on how to connect with local students. I started playing football for my high school team. Many Americans were interested into soccer (European football) and arranged an afterschool soccer game. You can join some clubs if you are not that much into sport. There are also religious youth groups which you can join if you want or simply talk to the people in your class.

Soccer game in mid-December

Soccer game in mid-December

6. Connect with another exchange students

The easiest way to find friends at the beginning is to talk to another exchange students. They are in the same situation as you and it’s much easier to start a discussion. Many of them will became your friends and you will be still in touch after your exchange experience. What you should not do is to talk to them in your mother tongue, that way you distance yourself from the others. If you want to talk your language simply stay in your home country.

Exchange students from Brasil, Germany, Argentina and Spain

7. Don’t underestimate the preparation

Preparation is a big thing. As a high-school exchange student you need to look for an organization that looks for a host family as well as the opportunity for you to study at a local high school. As an Erasmus student you need to fill out tons of papers and apply to the host University. I went to the United States with the organization English First (Vienna) which is quite popular in Europe. I have to say that I was very disappointed by their « support » during my stay. The service value for money was absolutely not adequate, nowadays price even increased for 30%, therefore I advise you to look for a decent organization. If you also know that your language skills aren’t that great do a preparation course to improve your knowledge.

Research trustful organizations

Research trustful organizations

8. Don’t be homesick and don’t spend too much time on the internet

There is absolutely no reason to be homesick, the time goes by very fast and you will meet all the people at home sooner than you think. Enjoy the moments abroad, make friends and experiences. The feeling when you regret something you didn’t try because you rather spent your time on the internet is horrible.

9. Say Yes

You will be invited to Christmas parties, Halloween parties, football games, field trips, dinners, birthday parties and rodeos. These events are great opportunities to meet new people, get to know new traditions, travel the country and get familiar with the local culture.

[Modula id=’5′]

10. Be thankful, helpful, friendly and open minded

Treat others as you want to be threated. To say thank you is the least you should do. Help other students or the host family with some home duties and be friendly to others.

In the end I want to thank the Schuler family from Columbus, Georgia that showed me the American way of life 🙂

Field trip to Atlanta

To get the latest guides, tips and low cost travel recommendations follow me on my FB page Kuba’s Journeys.

Příspěvek 10 Tips On How To Be A Good Exchange Student pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/10-tips-on-how-to-be-a-good-exchange-student/feed/ 0
Traditional Home Pig-Slaughter And Production Of National Delicacies https://kubasjourneys.com/traditional-home-pig-slaughter-and-production-of-national-delicacies/ https://kubasjourneys.com/traditional-home-pig-slaughter-and-production-of-national-delicacies/#respond Tue, 08 Dec 2015 11:21:19 +0000 http://kubasjourneys.com/?p=1043 As many of you may know, Schnitzel don’t grow on trees. Today I will introduce you to the home pig-slaughter and the preparation of homemade delicacies which remained culinary tradition maybe only in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland. Process of [...]

Příspěvek Traditional Home Pig-Slaughter And Production Of National Delicacies pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
thumintro

As many of you may know, Schnitzel don’t grow on trees. Today I will introduce you to the home pig-slaughter and the preparation of homemade delicacies which remained culinary tradition maybe only in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland.

Process of home pig-slaughter

The main actor today is the pig which weights 170kg, pigs killed in slaughterhouses have only 110-120kg. More than 95% of the pig will be used and only little will be thrown away.

First, the pig gets dazed and the throat cut, after it bleeds out it gets a hot water bath to get rid of the bristles. The rest of the small hairs is removed with the help of fire. When this process is done, the pig will be hanged vertically and cut in half. Now the guts will be removed and used for further consumption.

Production of homemade traditional delicacies

As mentioned earlier, most of the pig is being used to create traditional pork delicacies. Home pig-slaughter kicks off with a shot of homemade liqueur, this should bring luck and success for the upcoming work.

Meat Break Down

First, the meat is breaked down into pieces. Lungs, spleen, liver, tongue and intestines are washed and used for the sausages. Fat will be rendered, chops fried, feet will be used for the brawn and the knee will be smoked.

After the slaughter the pig is cut into pieces ...

After the slaughter the pig is cut into pieces …

and breaked down into several parts

and breaked down into several parts

Pork Broth (Ovar)

Head, feet, guts, tongue and some of the meat will be cooked in the pig broth. This broth will be used as the basis for further products.

Feet, head, meat and tongue is cooked all day and used for further production

Feet, head, meat and tongue is cooked all day and used for further production

Cracklings and Lard (Oskvarky a Mast)

Fat will be cut into small pieces and put to render. The result is lard and cracklings.

[foogallery id=”1062″]

Pork Goulash 

Spleen, heart, sweetbread and shoulder can be used for goulash.

Preparation for the goulash

Preparation for the goulash

Sausages (Jitrnice/Jaternice)

Liver, garlic and rice or bread, shoulder, broth and herbs will be mixed and filled into intestines, cooked and later fried.

DSCN2140

Brawn (Tlacenka)

Meat (shoulder) from the broth will be cut and mixed together with the boiled skin, salted and peppered. The result will be put into small plastic bags and boiled in the broth.

Brawn is filled into plastic bags and cooked in the broth.

Brawn is filled into plastic bags and cooked in the broth.

Pork cerebellum (Mozocek/Mozecek)

Pork cerebellum, onions, eggs, herbs, bread will be mixed, cooked and served with bread.

DSCN2112

You should know that every home pig-slaughter is a little different as well as the recipes for the homemade delicacies. It’s a part of the Slavic culture which have provided food, in the past, to our ancestors for several months.

Do you have any country specific traditions which aren’t seen anywhere else? Feel free to share it in the comments below. To get the latest updates about travel tips on a budget and cultural differences follow me on my FB page Kuba’s Journeys.

Příspěvek Traditional Home Pig-Slaughter And Production Of National Delicacies pochází z Kuba's Journeys

]]>
https://kubasjourneys.com/traditional-home-pig-slaughter-and-production-of-national-delicacies/feed/ 0