/Bristol //UK ///2013

Bristol, home of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and one awesome nature reserve that will awaken the hidden climber in anybody! There is also a secret tunnel hidden in one of the outcrops of rock which is just about big enough to creep through if you crouch. Wielding the dim light of phone before you is recommended; whilst there is a wooden runner through the tunnel to help guide you, it does get a bit crowded and I hit my head pretty hard. Definitely not for the claustrophobic! The realisation that there is over a tonne of rock above you is awe-inspiring and is likely to steal the breath slightly unless you are used to caving.

Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten its name, but I am going to chase it up and report back! For now, here are pictures!

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/Budapest //Hungary ///2013

Sometimes you see things that make you cry because they are so beautiful. This sunrise was one of those things. Possibly because I haven’t been up early enough to see a sunrise for months, possibly years. Of course, it could have been sleep deprivation. Either way, nothing could could capture the beauty of this sunrise, especially not my point-and-shoot camera.

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The yellow disc of the sun crept up behind a copse of trees far off in the field, creating a stark black silhouette and chasing the deep blue out of the sky, flooding it with gently changing oranges. There wasn’t a cloud in sight and as the sun climbed higher than the trees the dusky grey cornfields turned to gold. It felt like an honour to watch and for once I knew what the word “majesty” meant.

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The sunrise was technically still in Serbia but the Serbian post got a bit long so I decided to elaborate on it! Make sure you have The Circle of Life from the Lion King on your iPod/mp3 player – trust me, you are going to want to sing along!

Anyway, our priorities changed, or rather were fulfilled, by the stunning city of Budapest. Judge if you will but we did go mostly go to Eastern Europe to party our stressed socks off The next two days passed in a blur, filled with trippy animals, labyrinthine clubs and a lot of mineral water! Exhibit A…

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One of the most recommended clubs by any visitor to Budapest is Instant. Here you will find several floors of varying degrees of house and electronic music. It’s a also a great place to go if you want to feel like you’ve tumbled down a rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland like Alice. I give you, Exhibit B…

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We also hit up a late night pool party at one of the old bath houses – a definite must! Our hostel manager didn’t seem to approve of our intention to party but I stand by my assessment that it was a great fusion of modern night culture and historical site!

Also, an interesting point about the bars we visited in Budapest; many of them had some very deep and philosophical things written on the toilet walls…

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Never fear, we did do some sight seeing too. Budapest has some stunning architecture with its central train station and mosque being two must-see highlights.

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And this was the last bit of sunshine we saw for several days. British skies always insist that I need another shower!

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/Serbia //Belgrade ///2013

Bonjour!

Welcome to my first travel post! Some of you may recall my previous post about buying new Red or Dead “seven league boots”, i.e. the ones that I intended to wear every day for several years. ¬†Unfortunately, a heel snapped off of one of them. Fortunately, I bought a new pair of awesome combat boots from New Yorker in Belgrade!

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First impressions of the city are that it was once a very regal and beautiful place. There’s some beautiful colonial-era architecture. However, most of the buildings have been stripped of their plaster and are now mostly exposed brick. Almost every one of them is grey with what I’m assuming is decades of grime. It’s not ugly, though, for that rather unhappy-sounding description. It’s actually charming in a way. We stayed in Skadarlija Sunrise Hostel, located on a sweet cobbled road in Old Belgrade. Well, sweet if you’re sober, lethal if you’re slightly inebriated! Stripy awnings and pot plants explode from both sides of the road – every building is a restaurant and several of them have a pretty girl stood outside with a menu to try catch you as you stumble down the street.

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If you’re looking for a cheap holiday then Belgrade is a good place to go. Here, you can pick up a large pizza for around 4 pounds.

We ran into our first cultural difficulty on the first night. It turns out that clubbing is very much a Friday; Saturday and Sunday affair in Belgrade, despite being a capital city. We were told by several locals that there are literally no clubs open during the week. The lack of clubbing didn’t mean that Belgrade was quiet at night: quite the opposite. All the restaurants I mentioned are open late into the night and each one has its own four/five piece band playing music all evening!

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Do not fear if you are looking for a night out; there are plenty of bars, but Belgrade mid-week is definitely the area of Eastern Europe you go to for a fairly quite drink. My friends and I, being crazy British, managed to convince one boat bar, The Lebowski, to let us take over their DJ decks. We dropped some tasty dubstep for the rest of the night, attracting in a load of Cambridge kids and some French travellers. The moral? You can make a party anywhere if you bug the bartender enough!

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The best place to find bars is in Novi Belgrade; literally “New Belgrade”. Here you’ll find fantastic looking restaurants lining the west side of the river. My personal recommendation would be Splay; a bar floating on the river. This is a very chic haunt, equipped with a liquor cabinet longer than my friend is tall (6’4″) and some sexy furniture. It is the home of The Flaming Lamborghini. Try if you dare…

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A handy tip for drinkers: stay away from the local rakija! And if you can’t, remember this: it reacts with water in the stomach to produce gas; therefore drinking water to help recover from a hangover of this type won’t help. Eat food! I learned this the hard way on my first night. Unfortunately, this pearl of wisdom wasn’t shared with me until 9am the next morning. I started being ill at 4am. It hurt.

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During the day, there are plenty of cool places to explore. We made of point of visiting the Tesla Museum where you get to see a real Tesla coil in action. For those who don’t know (because I didn’t before I went!), this is what it does…

There is also a huge fort on one of the bends of the river which is worth a visit. For those who enjoy military history, there’s a museum at the top with some of the most savage weapons I have ever seen. Also a hilarious skull with a hole for a mouth…

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I also captured some of the street art/graffiti around the city…

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And then we moved on to Budapest via one speedy overnight minibus and one stunning sunrise…

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