Sep 29, 2016

3 New Countries: Slovakia, Romania and Serbia

My total number of countries visited is rising. Last week I added three new countries to the list: Slovakia, Romania and Serbia. Flying with Norwegian Air Shuttle to Budapest, Hungary, and renting an apartment there was a great choice. Cheap apartment, but very central and short distance to reach all good things in the city. Spas, shooting clubs, and sights all around. Budapest is worth a visit!
It was my third visit to Budapest, but first as a total tourist. That was a great change of scenery.
Did some morning walks in the city, and two very long days in the city. Memorable days in the sun!

Speed Tourism.
Speed tourism is the new word in my vocabulary. Or, at least the exercise. Inspired by the Nordic travel champions Gunnar Garfors ( ) and Henrik Jeppesen (, whom have visited a unprecedented number of nations, mr. Garfors even did it while maintaining a full-time job, we decided to visit three countries on our list, in a rented car. Garfors is even a multi record holder in Guinness Book of Records. So, Friday through Sunday, we hit the 130 km/t highways in Budapest to cross borders and make new memories.

Keleti, central Budapest.
First stop was Vienna, to visit a pastor friend of mine. Been there before, but a couple of hours in Vienna is never wrong. A pleasant meal at a Mongolian-style restaurant, a short hour drive going east, and we arrived quickly in Bratislava, Slovakia. My friend, and chauffeur, Sigurd, has a thing for castles, and after beholding the Schloss Liechtenstein in Vienna, he had gotten the taste of blood.
Bratislava castle.

So, to Bratislava we drove, as fast as it was safe to drive our rented Ford C-Max. Arriving in Bratislava, we took to the white, marvellous looking fortress on top of the city. Pictures, toilet visits and a brisk walk later, we activate the GPS and try to leave the city. No such luck. The GPS takes us BACK to the castle, and even down a one-way road past the castle. Dead end. Switching to iPhone GPS, and getting out of Dodge for the second time, we find signs leading us back to Budapest. Arriving in the middle of the night in a city of 2-3 million people is interesting. Never sleeping, but a lot less people.

Romanian border,
The next morning we set the GPS on Szeged, in the south of Hungary, to act as a hub for our travels to Romania and Serbia. Arad, Romania was the first stop on our speed tourism. Since Count Vlads castle in Transylvania - Muhahahah - was too far away for our taste, Sigurd sort of lost the taste for blood.....

Arad, Romania.

We had singled out a fortress to visit in Arad through our extensive googling at night, but to no avail. A uniformed military man stopped us, and told us in no uncertain terms that this place was "off limits". He took our passports, and was on the phone for a long time. So long, actually, that my friend wondered if we ever get close to a military installation in Romania, ever, again. Only time will tell. So, we turned around and set our sights on Serbia.

Non-memorable restaurant, Subotica, Serbia.
Driving across the border from Hungary to Serbia today is no such small matter. Hungary is disputing the EU-directive about receiving a lot of refugees, and therefore the border police is very attentive. Being two Norwegians, though, makes the crossing painless, and once we actually met the border guards, we were in Serbia faster than you can say Sremska Mitrovica, which is a city in Serbia. 
We never saw this city, though, but we stopped in Subotica at a local restaurant. 
I wish I could write that it was a great dining experience, but it was not. The steak had to be taken back to the chef, and they placed a smoker couple in the non-smoker part of the restaurant where we were seated. Apart from that, painless. No tip, to put it nicely.

The trip back to Budapest went pleasantly uninterrupted, and we arrived safely at midnight. Speed tourism is our thing, especially in a family car like the Ford C-Max in central Europe. 

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