Our Tasty Road Trip: Day Two – from Czech Republic to Romania
I knew before finally getting to sleep last night at nearly 3a.m, day two of our crazy #TastyRT13 through 23 countries was going to be a long one. True to form, I overslept and managed to put us about an hour behind the intended schedule, but taking time for a leisurely hotel breakfast was not to be missed — delectable pastries, more cheese than I could sample, and not one, but TWO varieties of pate!
We departed Brno, Czech Republic, intending to hit Vienna, Austria. A detour off the highway landed us smack in the middle of a cute wine region and festival going on. With vines everywhere and signs for wine shops and wineries, we had to do our due diligence and explore this unexpected find.
After buying far too many bottles of wine and some locally produced sausages, it was time to high tail it to Slovakia where we planned to have lunch at a microbrewery in Bratislava.
Given that Slovakian food, and cuisine in general from this part of Europe tends to be heavy, we should’ve ordered accordingly. Two filling appetizers and two heavy carbohydrate entrees later, I was ready for a wheelbarrow to bring me back to the car. However, as anyone who saw my Instragram picture already knows, it without a doubt the best bacon I’ve ever tasted. I will save the salivating details for the blog post on the visit there, but I looked at the menu to see if they had it as a side dish, because I seriously would’ve ordered it to snack on in the car!
Leaving Bratislava, we managed to get turned around trying to get to the castle and no thanks to our GPS, ended up driving down the wrong way in a pedestrian only zone no less. There are a lot of pedestrian only areas in this part of Europe, which I absolutely love, except when I want to get to a castle!
By the time we hit the Hungarian border, it was getting pretty late and neither of us were the slightest bit hungry obviously. We opted to forego the detour through Budapest itself and stick with what was becoming a general theme of exploring some lesser known villages and towns. We saw a sign for Gyor and it looked interesting so it was time to roll the dice again.
This time it backfired a bit and we found the one village that was pretty much akin to a ghost town. Great scenery and stunning architecture, but nothing open on the food front, except doner kebab stands.
We finally settled on a local pastry to split and concentrated our efforts on finding truly local wine from this part of Hungary versus taking the easy route and buying a bottle from the renowned Tokaj region. We even upped our game and found a few local liquors and other alcoholic beverages to try.
In our quest to seek out local wines, I managed to raid nearly every market and rest stop area we could find, which resulted in some interesting finds, including Disney non-alcoholic party drink bottles, politically incorrect coffee, and learning some Hungarian Forint (local currency) from 2006 is no longer valid apparently.
I’m a bit worried what the car is going to look like by the time we reach Croatia for the culinary cruise – we probably have 12 bottles or more of wine and I don’t know how many local beers and liquors. Oye!
We may have been a bit overzealous in our quest to reach Romania to spend the night. We didn’t reach the Romanian border until after 11pm, which proved to be an interesting stop. It’s still an active and manned border crossing, and there seemed to be some issue I guess with us having US passports and a lease vehicle from the Netherlands.
Once we were finally allowed to pass, I realized they stamped our passports.
I am literally at the end of my pages in my new passport that is not even 2 years old yet. When I did my emergency renewal before Egypt, they wouldn’t let me do the additional pages, saying just to get them when I finally need them,
There is no way I would fill it up that fast.
HA! He seriously underestimated how much I travel.
Between the ½ page stamp from Ireland last week and this, I have enough room for my 30-day stamp in Belize when I get home and that’s it. We are guessing that additional border crossings in this area might be like Romania, and I may need to seek out an embassy stat.
The one upside to the passport stamp for Romania is it marks a milestone for me. Upon entering Romania, I officially hit my 50th country visited. I had hoped to get to 50 by the end of this year and upon completion of this crazy road trip, I will be at 59. Most of the countries I’ve been to, some countless times, so this trip was not a sneaky way of padding countries.
Tomorrow, well later today, I will celebrate since I haven’t officially explored Romania yet. Driving on a dark country road to get to the hotel doesn’t quite qualify in my book. I’ve seen nothing but a small village and despite all the wildlife signs we kept passing, the only creature we saw was the fox that ran straight out in front of the car, nearly sending us off in the bushes.
That was, until we arrived in the city of Timisoara, Romania. In trying to find our hotel, a pack of dogs started crossing the street and all of a sudden turned back, literally blocking the vehicles in front of us. The dogs circled mainly one vehicle, barking, growling, and snarling. And of course, there’s me who instantly rolls down the window while fumbling with one of the Go Pros. And like all my other “have to be there moments” it won’t turn on, a continued problem with the Hero 3. There were at least 10 dogs circling and once they finally let the vehicle pass, they continued chase down the street, growling and snarling. Nothing like a little excitement at nearly 2am!
Here’s a quick visual recap of today’s adventures – six countries and at least 644 km driven.
I’m sleeping in tomorrow and hoping we make our next projected target, as it’s still a minimum of eight hours drive time. The tentative plan is Romania in the morning, Serbia for lunch, and Bulgaria for dinner and overnight.
Until we eat again…ciao!