LifeinourVan’s Roadtrip Heads East Through Slovakia into Hungary
So this year had seen us visit 30 European Countries in just over 40,000 miles across Europe. But today has seen us add 2 more countries to the growing list. As we left Vienna and headed east through Slovakia and into Hungary…. Each part of our European travels detailed in a total of 491 travel articles, blogs and reviews to try to help other families who love to travel across Europe too
Having loved visiting Prague in the Czech Republic, we’d all been looking forward to seeing just how Slovakia compared to it’s neighbouring Czech Republic. In 1993, the splitting up of Czechoslovakia (into the Czech Republic & Slovakia) had been fraught with difficulties. Surviving Nazi Rule, Four Decades of Communism it eventually succumbed to the split after only 3 years of democratic rule. Much to the displeasure of many of its 15 million citizens at the time! The independence of the two states was perhaps more keenly welcomed in Bratislava (Slovakia’s new capital) rather than the Federal Capital of Prague.
So after 23 years of independence, we were interested to show the girls more of Eastern Europe and perhaps find out just how well Slovakia has fared since 1993. Especially as the post BREXIT commentators might just be considering how this might compare to a Scotland : England ‘Velvet Divorce’.
It’s interesting that Slovakia has gone from strength to strength since the independence and has gained big improvements in all manner of economic development indicators. But there is still a startling difference as you head to more rural areas. In fact, it’s a theme we perhaps felt in Poland & the Czech Republic. The glitzy cosmopolitan cities of Easter Europe actually appear to differ little in terms of the outward wealth you might see in cities from more western countries like Bordeaux, Valencia or Naples. (As we drove into Prague, it was past Porsche dealerships rather than Lada/Skoda which might have been our expectations beforehand)
But we were often met by contrasting views…. old tower blocks left behind from a period of isolation from the west were often sited comparatively close to utterly amazing hillside fortresses like the one above… It provoked numerous discussions in the van about how it could differ from the cities, what was it like to live here and how the east of Europe differs from the west of Europe.
Heading south some 90mins or so, we eventually ended up in the worst traffic jam of the entire trip so far (and bearing in mind we saw Naples… that’s saying something!)… Having said that, the centre of any capital city at 5.15pm is probably a place and time to avoid… especially in a motorhome!!! After over 70mins of traffic jams, we finally pulled into the campsite in Budapest for the night to be met with numerous floral displays…. in sharp contrast to the day’s journey in Slovakia.
Tomorrow sees us finish our tour of the Eastern European cities and what better place to finish than in Budapest (perhaps the hidden jewel in Europe’s crown)