From Venice, we then moved on to Bled taking quite a long train journey through the Alps up to Austria and then back down again into Slovenia, despite Italy and Slovenia being neighbouring countries. From the main Bled train station, you then have to take a bus to the lake and thankfully our hostel wasn't far from the bus station as we were knackered.
We were cautiously optimistic about the weather. The forecast had said solid rain for the whole time we were there and apart from the first day, when we walked around the lake in the rain in some very fetching plastic ponchos, we were actually very lucky, with just a few showers in the day and then normally clearing just in time to see some spectacular sunsets. There was a great cafe down by the lake that faced the castle and where you can also eat the traditional Bled cream cake, which is to die for! So you can sit out on that terrace with a pot of tea and a cream just as the sky clears and the sun goes down.
The highlight for us was easily the day trip we did around the Triglav National Park. Myself, the boyfriend and six more Irish girls were bundled into a mini van and driven to some of the most beautiful spots in the park. Honestly, it was just stunning. Fresh green trees, sweeping mountains and amazing, crystal clear water that was so clean you can drink it. We also did white water rafting which I was a little apprehensive about but it was good fun. Apart from when we all fell into the freezing cold water. Seriously freezing.
From Bled, you can also get to Vintgar Gorge which is an easy walk through the cliffs on a snaking wooden pathway. It finishes with a huge waterfall at the end although you have walk down an extremely muddy path (at the time) to get a good shot of it from the other side of the river.
It's not hard to see why Bled is so popular with so many age groups and it's a great place for people who are really into their outdoor sports, be it hiking, cycling, any sort of water sport or fishing. There's plenty to do but just take good trainers!The restaurants were also really good at a reasonable price but with huge portions! We were recommended to check out a pizzeria that did a famous burger with a cheese bun and it was honestly bigger than my head! It was enormous!
Our last and final stop was Budapest in Hungary. However, by this point, after all the long train journeys and getting caught in the Bled rain, I was full of a cold for the first two days. Buuut, at least, I was ill in the place where we had the most time and we didn't have to steam around Budapest in a rush and could take it at our own pace.
I really liked Budapest- it had a very modern and cosmopolitan feel in the centre which is amazing considering how recently Hungary came out of Soviet rule. I'd highly recommend the free walking tours that they do every day just off Jozef nador tér. There's a general walk, a communism orientated one and one that focuses on the old Jewish quarter. We went on the Communism walk which was hugely informative and it was great to have a historical explanation of the Communist left overs that are dotted around the city. The best way to see Budapest is really to have a good walk around the place and I'd recommend talking a walk up to Castle Hill for a good view out over the two sides of the city on the river and you can always get the metro back if you're too tired!
One of the biggest attractions in Budapest are the thermal baths. There are several dotted around the city but we went to biggest and oldest, Szechenyi Baths in the north east of Budapest. We arranged to have an half hour massage session which was a dream after 3 weeks lugging a rucksack around and then pottered around all the different temperature pools inside and then outside, making the most of the late afternoon sunshine. It was a bit like a hot bath, just shared between all the tourists and locals there. The best thing is that the exchange rate between pound and Hungarian forint only made it about £20 and once you're in, you can stay there for as long as you like. I definitely had a bad case of pruney fingers by the time we left.
The baths are also right next to Budapest Zoo if you have a big of time to spare and while it wasn't the best kept zoo in the world, and some of enclosures were a bit small in my pinion, it was nice to get up close and personal with a sloth, one of which had a baby!You can just see my excitement here.
The famous ruin bars are the best place to go for a night out, particularly Szimpla which I loved almost purely for its eclectic decorations. Budapest is also a great place to eat. We had a Thai place, a burger place, a Mexican place and a traditional Hungarian restaurant on our road alone, all of which we sampled and all of which we approved. Again, the exchange rate made it ridiculous cheap to eat and oh, did we take advantage of that!
And that was our Interrail trip! The three and a half weeks absolutely flew by and I was very reluctant to come back to reality. It's just made me want to travel even more and I'm keen to explore around the Austrian alps and a lot of Eastern Europe including Czech Republic, more of Slovenia, Croatia, maybe even Bosnia and Herzegovina. I'll have to put it on the back burner for now as I'm only a few days away from moving back to Southampton to finish my fourth and final year of my degree. Hopefully after that, the adventures can start again!
I hope you liked reading about my travels
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