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Featured Photos Notes on Eastern Europe

Discussion in 'Europe' started by fernfern, May 7, 2016.

  1. fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    I flew into Athens, Greece 10 days ago and wanted to start a thread documenting some observations/maybe advice for people that might be aspiring to travel to this area. I wish I had something like this before I went, so here it goes, in list form cuz why not?

    1. lots of cologne and perfume in Athens. plus shirts with strange English phrases on them. best one: "FEMALE LOVES ORGASM". Greeks are friendly to foreigners (sometimes too familiar if you're a lady). there seem to be many hoards of bros roaming the streets at night.

    2. lots of squats and anarchists in Exarcheia neighborhood of Athens. most of the residential squats are for refugees of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, (all those other middle eastern countries that our US tax dollars went to destroying) it's easy to buy a €1 beer and a €1,50 falafel and chill on the street in this neighborhood. it gets a little more drunk, rowdy and sometimes sketchy at night. every block has an ACAB tag.

    3. saw a guy taking his cow for a walk through the center of town in Bansko, Bulgaria. if you're into hiking and cheap food, this is a great little city to visit. most of the meat and vegetables they eat are super fresh because they're local and they taste amazing. Pirin national park and Rila national park are on either side of Bansko.

    4. Greece and Bulgaria are incredibly easy to hitch hike in. I never waited longer than 45 minutes. be prepared for most people to not speak English outside of Athens though.

    5. customs was also incredibly easy for me. this is probably due to having an American passport and being white. I tried to make myself look as clean as possible before going through but they barely looked at me and stamped my passport immediately.

    that's it for now. I'm currently in Sofia about to meet up with a fellow anarchist I found on couch surfing. if anyone has questions or ideas for me, you know what to do.
     
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    #1 fernfern, May 7, 2016
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  2. Vulture

    Vulture Celebrated Poster

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    How did you get along without knowing the local languages? Or did you?
     
  3. Wawa

    Wawa Sir Posts a Lot

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    Sweet post. If I ever go to Europe it'll probably be that part :D


    Whats ACAB?
     
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  4. beastcoast

    beastcoast is getting to know the place

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    Been traveling in Sicily and Tuscany for a few weeks. Super active red/anarchists cells everywhere here. I'd second the ACAB on every block, plus messages to/from comrades in prison
     
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  5. landpirate

    landpirate C.U.N.T (campervan untilising nomadic traveller)
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    ACAB = All Cops Are Bastards
     
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  6. OP
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    fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    I don't know the local languages, but I've been using every opportunity to learn. When we first got to Bulgaria I got a free town map of Bankso which has some very basic phrases on it ("hello", "thank you", "how much?"). Knowing how to say 'thank you' in the local language proved to be very helpful, just so people don't think you're some american tourist dick.
    Greek: ef-har-ees-TOH
    Bulgarian: blahg-oh-DAR-ee-ah (or "merci" as in french)
    Romanian: mooltz-ooh-MESK
    The difficult thing about Greek and Bulgarian is that they have their own alphabets (Bulgarians use Cyrillic because of the former Soviet occupation), but I tried to look it up online and work it out. SOMETIMES if you can sound out a word you can figure it out. like "pharmacy", "restaurant", "coffee" are all pretty similar in every language. But really, if you're somewhere where people don't speak English, pointing and using hand gestures can do a lot.
    My traveling partner also found this useful site wikivoyage.org that has phrasebooks for every country (go to the talk section on the country's page).
     
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  7. OP
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    fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    UPDATE:
    Since I last posted we left Sofia and hitch hiked north to Ledenika and saw some caves. It was 6 lev (about $3.50) for a ticket and they wouldn't let you go in without a guided tour. I wasn't really into that but the cave itself was dark, creepy and metal as fuck. Ledenika cave was nothing in size compared to Carlsbad Caverns, but in Bulgaria they let people crawl around in the tiny spaces and climb up steep, slippery wet steps. Then at the end the tour guide announced there was going to a "laser show" and we were like "wtf?!". And a laser light show there was, complete with retro Bulgarian synth music, an anthropomorphic ant projected onto a man-made waterfall, and a fog machine. Apparently this is what preserving nature is all about in Eastern Europe: cave raves.

    We hitched back to Vratsa afterward and tried to get to the next destination, Belogradchik, that night. We didn't make it and ended up pitching a tent in a field on the side of the road. The next day we hitched there without a problem. Payed another 6 lev to get into a medieval fortress that was AMAZING. Again, there were all kind of death traps if you didn't watch your step - i like that Bulgarians don't feel the need to make everything childproof and really let you get up close and touch stuff.

    After the fortress, we tried to get to Romania that night. We ended up being stuck in Vidin for several hours, just before the border crossing. In the US I wouldn't think it was strange to take so long to get picked up, but everywhere else we had hitched in Bulgaria took us 1 hour tops to get a ride. Also 90% of the vehicles passing us were big trucks. I flagged down a taxi even though we had no lev left on us so i could ask him some questions - he ended up giving us a free ride to a truck stop. There we had a few beers, made a trucker friend who told us that the truckers WOULDN'T pick us up because of the border crossing, and you couldn't walk across. The taxi driver had told us about a train to Craiova for 15 lev, so we decided to do that. The train was at 5 am and 6pm only. We woke up at 4:30 and got there barely in time to get through border patrol and board the train.

    One thing to note about Bulgaria is that it's mostly a cash economy. I don't have a credit card (duh, terrible credit) but i have a debit card. Most places in BG won't take it. This means I have to take out cash and my bank charges me $5 and a 3% fee every time i use an ATM. Which is A LOT of money relative to my daily budget.. lesson learned, next time i will get an account with a less shitty bank.

    For those that were thinking of trying to spange or dumpster dive here.. First, the stereotype of Americans is that we're all rich. Relative to the average Eastern European, we are pretty damn privileged. if you think you're gonna ask for money in cities where you're surrounded by refugees begging who actually have no other options, i'd say that's ridiculous, especially when everything is so cheap here compared to the US. Second, the economy here is suffering in such a way that those resources have already been tapped. The dumpsters are picked over, and most people have little or nothing to give.

    In my experience, traveling here has taken a lot more planning and saving $ than i'm used to. it's taken a lot more self discipline than i'm used to having. in the US i'd work for a couple months, travel and live off that money til it ran out, then find another job. now i have a very limited amount of money that i have to live on until july.

    anyway, money sucks. thanks for reading.

    comments, disagreements, and advice are welcomed,
    joey
     
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  8. Matt Derrick

    Matt Derrick StP Founder, Admin, and travel addict
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    awesome! i really hope you're taking lots of pics, i want to see that castle! keep us updated, i think this is some seriously useful info :)
     
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  9. OP
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    fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    View attachment 30421
    Definitely taking pictures! here are some:
    13087898_10102991572736109_5232414177009659222_n. 11218070_10102999118728879_8460617814696123741_n. 13164212_10102999118733869_6034150218997834248_n. 13173745_10103002406001159_3805285532566978044_n. 13151938_10103002403156859_6420454446770600821_n. 13178692_10103002402987199_3742438969579266169_n. 13118856_10103002535975689_1040984100377484397_n. 13177189_10103002402697779_8721424171781615309_n. 13077081_10103002408101949_6710866224038042373_n. 13151920_10103002399254679_5579188771668490834_n. 13147570_10103010769335969_8735664279182522823_o.
     
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  10. Jive

    Jive Appreciated Participator

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    Gorgous pics. But you didn't got Buduldzha Monument while you were in Sofia?!
     
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  11. OP
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    fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    No! I didn't, but it's not in Sofia, it's about 3 hours east. We were going up the west side of the country, but i definitely plan on going back to see more! Such a beautiful place, I feel like I could spend my life there.
     
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  12. japanarchist

    japanarchist Appreciated Participator

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  13. Matt Derrick

    Matt Derrick StP Founder, Admin, and travel addict
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    what's the story behind the snow camping?
     
  14. OP
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    fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    though we have warm gear, we weren't expecting snow up there! we ended up staying at this "hut" which was actually a heated dorm style place with electricity and hot cheap food. a glass of wine for 1 lev (50 cents). a bowl of soup for 2 lev. there we met a couple Germans and a couple Israeli guys that we hiked with. the Israelis ended up giving us a ride to Sofia after!
     
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  15. OP
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    fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    image. image. image.
    updates from Transylvania!
    hey guys,
    Bucharest was kind of a shithole and we couch surfed for a couple nights just to rest up for our journey northward. we took a train to Brașov and ended up staying for a week with some new friends. they took us cave exploring (we saw bats!) we played music with a bunch of people round a fire. good city to bike around, and definitely check out the gypsy markets. I got an armful of clothes for the equivalent of $3.
    after Brasov we hitched to poienari, which is the site of the original dracula's castle (AKA Vlad Dracula, Vlad the impaler). we snuck up the 1400+ steps to the castle ruins after hours and the gates were open, so we got to explore the ruins alone while the sun set over the Carpathians. they had a gibbet and impaled dummies with wigs and clothes that blew in the wind. I actually had nightmares that night.
    we slept in a tiny cheap cabin at the foot of the mountain and ate breakfast down the road. like Bulgaria, food is all super cheap here.
     

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  16. Matt Derrick

    Matt Derrick StP Founder, Admin, and travel addict
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    Uggh so metal. So jealous.
     
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  17. OP
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    fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    Romania and Hungary 5.21.16-5.31.16
    Gonna try to make this one brief, but with lots of pictures!
    After Poenari Castle we hitch hiked to Cozia Nat'l Park:
    13340451_10154155392153895_2051595224_o.
    A lot of the vehicles that stop to pick you up are these "maxi-taxis" that charge a couple lei to get you from one village to another. We got rides westward through the Carpathians with a mix of these and normal hitch hiking. Most people spoke very little English.
    We got to a monastery town of Cozia and started a hike that starter at Turnu Monastery. We started too late and it got dark, and we ran out of water for a while, but it was gorgeous. 13329866_10103053008463419_418093287_n.
    Even saw a rainbow ^_^ Once it got dark, it was kinda creepy, cuz there were a ton of these little religious huts scattered around the mountains.
    13329701_10103053006287779_1515994454_n. 13329691_10103053006297759_1636461892_n.
    The best park of the hike was that I saw a wild boar - which scared the shit out of me. I only got a picture of its tracks:
    13254900_10103036164174509_1546488474600562717_o.
    We got finished hiking 7 hours later, at 1 am, and grabbed a beer and cheap food at a 24 hour restaurant. We pitched a tent somewhere on the side of dirt road and the next day we headed to Sibiu. When we got dropped off by our last ride in Sibiu, I realized my debit card had fallen out of my pocket (argh!), a problem I am still trying to fix right now with my stupid bank. (fuck bank of america, btw)
    Thankfully Zak had me covered and for the first time we stayed in a hostel ($15/person). I've really discovered on this leg of the trip that hostel life is not for me. The crowd tends to be freelance tech-bro types from USA or Western Europe who go bar hopping and have a generally obnoxious air about them. Imagine a couple steps away from Trustafarians... Sibiu was kinda nice regardless. Touristy, but not too expensive, and lots of cool old buildings. There's an old pharmacy they turned into a museum downtown that I wanted to check out, but it was closed that day.
    13235143_10103037956318039_1138593889373329978_o.
    We hit it off pretty well with the guy who worked at the hostel, and the next night he let us stay at his house for free. Next we headed for Budapest, which was the most difficult hitch hiking I've experienced in Eastern Europe so far. We made it to Deva, but from there everyone who stopped wanted us to pay them for a ride. I guess during the communist days, and to some extent now as well, most people didn't have cars, so hitch hiking was/is how a lot of people got around. Usually people expect 5 lei for 100k, but I think people were trying to rip us off 'cuz we're foreign. We decided it wasn't worth the hassle and took the train to Budapest overnight, so we could sleep on the train.
    (zak at the train station)
    13318812_10103053006292769_667306310_n.
    We arrived at Budapest at 5:30am, took a nap in the park, walked around like zombies for half the day, and then met up with our couchsurfing hosts. They were pretty cool people who had mutual radical friends with me in the NYC anarchist scene.
    Since then I've really just been taking it easy and trying to recover a bit from a month of straight travel. I got a few nights at the cheapest hostel in town until I found some new friends to crash with.
    13268443_10103044791220839_1939120032192634360_o.
    13329522_10103052321265569_5139616953855491961_o.
    Parlaiment Building. 13320576_10103052321255589_7580808117232225763_o.
    The tram system is pretty cool and as long as you always carry one unvalidated ticket with you, you can pretty much ride for free.
    13308660_10103052317258599_5348742712984171106_o.
    the touristy, but beautiful central market building 13340137_10103052317263589_561941248456249670_o. so many beautiful bridges... 13268399_10103052317253609_8395503266098381875_o. Gellert Bath House.
    The one thing I dropped money on while here is going to the bath house. They have baths here still in use that were built during the Ottoman Empire. All kinds of ancient stone carved statues and crazy stained glass and tile work.
    13340196_10103052315048029_5092635947915244038_o. 13308690_10103052315043039_679130551593484744_o.
    Alright well that's it. In a couple day's I'm going to Prague. I hear it's even more of a party city than Budapest so I probably won't stay long, but we're supposed to do some pretty metal stuff while we're there.. Updates soon.
    and if you wanna follow me on instagram, it's jowie_wildboar
     

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  18. OutsideYourWorld

    OutsideYourWorld Celebrated Poster

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    Ahh we were relatively close to eachother for a while there. Where you head north and west, I head south ish and east ;D
     
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    fernfern

    fernfern Hungry for Knowledge

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    hello again! I realized I haven't made an update in over a week and I'm bored here in Kraków, drinking a beer and thought "why not make a somewhat drunk post on StP?"
    since we last spoke:
    1. I went to Prague! it was full of American and Australian twats and everything was more expensive than the rest of Eastern Europe. we didn't stay long. the coolest part of the city was the Kafka museum, which is kind of like a trippy art installation + artifacts.
    image.
    2. next I hitched to Dresden and stayed with the German friend I met hiking in Bulgaria. he could only host for a night so we found some cool anarchists on couchsurfing and crashed at their 19 bedroom house with gardens. the first day I was there my hosts invited me to a pro abortion rally in annaberg bcholz. we danced and shouted and threw condoms at the pro lifers. I didn't take pics but here are some from the press.
    image.
    image.
    3. i headed to the polish border, crashed in a city park, crossed the border by foot at görlitz, then took a train to wrocław and then Kraków, where I now sit, sippin some unfiltered Czech beer and looking for people to hang with. Zak went to a workaway gig in western Poland and he's apprenticing with a mad scientist, so I'm on my own. so... who wants to hang out?
    more pics:
    image.
    image.
    image.
     
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  20. Skein

    Skein is getting to know the place

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    Hi there,

    I'm heading to Timisoara in Romania next week for a traditional music festival. Just wondering if you have any contacts or the like for couchsurfing or free camping? Your trip looks amazing, by the way!
     
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