We were hugely fortunate to be in Athens at the same time as my colleague Antonis. Not only is he a good friend, he put a roof above us, wheels under us and took over a lot of the talking and ordering. It was a treat after my initial excitement about Japanese, slight familiarity with French and eagerness to speak German passed and my difficulty with Polish and complete inability with Magyar became mentally exhausting. Our stay in Athens was definitely the cushiest part of our trip across Europe. The food in Greece was bewilderingly good and it’s something I’m still dreaming about now.


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We stopped in Vienna for only one night but we were able to see the city, visit the art museum, eat some great food and absolutely freeze! It was definitely the coldest place on our trip but there was so much great architecture to admire it would have been a shame to stay inside.


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The Great Synagogue (Budapest, Hungary)

Though we didn’t enter the Dohány Street Synagogue, I’m really glad we were able to witness the largest synagogue in Europe and learn about its history, architecture and memorials. The building was constructed between 1854 and 1859 and is a still a sight to behold today.


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Szimpla Kertmozi (Budapest, Hungary)

Though I don’t usually take much away from Lonely Planet other than a cursory briefing on customs, and the idea of a bar they might consider one of the world’s best actually frightens rather than intrigues me, Szimpla was still of interest to us. It helped that our first walking tour guide, who had a distinct resemblance to Andy Samburg, seemed to genuinely like the place. Our second walking tour ended up there. It’s quite similar to some Wellington bars, but taken a step further in all directions. It feels like it could have been modelled on the future-set night clubs of movies decades old. To visit a Budapest ruin pub by day might break down this mystery and atmosphere. We had to leave quite early for food and head home for warmth, but I’d hope to visit again one day, by night.


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Budapest felt like a fairy-tale wonderland. We’re off to another brilliant Winter destination right now, my first visit to Queenstown. I’m looking forward to relaxing winter scenery, farm animals and wine.








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