My Vacation (2006) : Back in town!

HungaryTook some time, but here’s the “I’m back from holiday – too bad it’s already finished”-post. This wasn’t a “normal” vacation as ‘taking a plane towards the sun’, but a camp with the (boy)scouts. It’s always been a tradition that the group of members that’s spending its last year as being a member (so next year they’ll all be leaders) go to a foureign country on camp. This year I was leader of the JIN (that’s the name for that group) and we decided to go to Hungary, by car.

Monday, June 10 : Preparing for liftoff.

The day kicked off early. We – Cédric, Stijn and I – went to the car rental company to pick up the cars we rented. A dazzling Peugeot 807 and a Mercedes Vito stood there for our nozes. The 807 was impressive : nearly new, airco, automatic sidedoors (which could be opened and closed by using the remote), lots of horsepower, one whoop-ass stereo, etc. The Vito wasn’t a regular Vito (regular Vito’s are the Panelvan (cargo carrier, capacity of 3) and the Traveliner (people carrier, capacity of 9)) but a Dualiner which carries both people (6) as cargo. The Vito wasn’t bright and shiny, it was the old model and had the basic comfort of a servo and a cd-player (no airco, no automatic windows, no nothing).After checking out we drove off to the store to buy some groceries (Stijn and I bought a jar (200 grams) of tobacco to keep us busy during the camp), then to Cédric’s place to saw our table in 2 pieces so it’d fit in the Vito and went to pick up Dries, our cook during the camp. After a quick bite in our 2nd favorite fast food restaurant (Quick, number 1 goes to McDo!) we started loading the vans and such. Quickly touched up the Vito’s cigarette lighter thing, so that it could reach into the cargo part of the Vito, so that we could hook up our fridge (which can be cooled by 12V (Car battery), 230V (Net) and Gas (yups, you can actually burn stuff to make it cold!)).

At around 4 PM our jinners (members of the JIN) started to arrive and when everyone was there (us 4 + 8 jinners) we were ready to leave. Thing started to get real : after months of working hard to earn some money to pay it all, after many evenings of hitting the internet to find information about Hungary, after requesting several brochures, etc. we were good to go.

We divided the group to fit in all the cars and Cédric & Dries drove the 807. Stijn and I the Vito. I wasn’t bothered with the fact that we had to take the visually not so atractive Vito (when compared to the 807), as a matter of fact I was glad to drive the Vito since I had lots of experience with driving vans since my brother used to have a Ford Transit (which he crashed a few months ago). The comfort of the 807 (airco and such) just didn’t do it for: I prefer the small-nosed Vito (the 807 had a nose of about one metre!) and all the manual stuff.

The route we took was about 1250km and something like this: Deinze (BE) – Brussels (BE) – Leuven (BE) – Aachen (DE) – Köln (DE) – Frankfurt Am Main (DE) – Würzburg (DE) – Nürnberg (DE) – Regensburg (DE) – Passau (DE) – Linz – (AT) – Vienna (AT) – Mosonmagyarover (HU). And yes, we did drive in shifts in case you were wondering.

Belgium - Hungary

Tuesday, June 11 : Hungarian Style!

At around 7 AM we were at the border crossing with Hungary and we all were surprised by the ease of which we could enter the country. Hungary is part of the EU – thus no visa nor extensive searches are needed – yet still I had prepared myself to unload the whole van in order to search for something the customsdudes were looking for (and which they obviously would not find), but that wasn’t necessary as it appears now.After that I was surprised by the state of the motorways in Hungary: boy are they nice and clean! This is really something Belgium can learn from! We all thought that the roads would be in a bad state, but it really wasn’t. Soon I corrected my view on Hungary: it isn’t a country with some stuff they built a few years ago; it’s a modern country keeping up with the rest of them.

Anywho, we drover further to Mosonmagyarovar and held a pitstop in order to eat some breakfast. Yet another huge surprise were the parkingmetres. They are actually the same ones as here in Deinze, that’s odd! So we ate and decided to drive some more since we were at it. We finally stopped in Komaron, because the day after we would set off for Viségrad.

In Komaron Stijn and I searched for a camping (which we found really fast) whilst the others went shopping for food. By now the temperature was really hot … 32° Celcius … we were melting. Luckely for us the camping had a small swimming pool and after building up our minicampsite (and eating a bit), some of us plunged into the pool (I then was sleeping under our improvised sunroof).

Under the sunroof in Komarom

By the evening we prepped something to eat (Macaroni!), showered and started chit-chatting. When it started to go dark (yet it was still very hot) the mosquitos came out … after an hour of smacking them all to death (and many more coming from all sides) Stijn and I quickly set up our tent (we intended to sleep in open air) and we all fled into our tents. It kinda was a good thing to do, since we all were exhausted from the trip the day before.

Jar.Status : still seems full.

Wednesday, June 12 : Skiing in Viségrad

Woken up by the heat in the tent we showered, ate, loaded the van (and this time in a good way), paid for the camping (it turned out very cheap, only 9900 HUF (40 euro) – we think they miscalculated) and set off to Viségrad (I was driving that day, Stijn drove the day before). The route taken can be seen over at gmappedometer (Google Maps Mashup).

In Viségrad we stayed at a camping somewhere on the same mountain where Salamon’s Tower is. The girls went shopping with Cédric and Dries, and the boys built the campsite, but this time a bit faster than the day before (yet still, we weren’t 100% at it yet). Since we had 10% off in a near restaurant we ate there (I ate some garlic-spiced-up porc with deepfried onionrings) and went towards Salamon’s Tower to visit the thing. Turns out we were just too late into visiting it and we went back to the camping. Part of the group went back by car; Stijn, Dries, Jeroen, Geoffrey, Jasper and I went back hiking up the hill, through the woods.

Salomons Tower (Viségrad)

During our walk we encoutered some odd cableslide things which would go from pole to pole and even a skilift. Turns out that during winter, one can ski in Viségrad.

Skiing in Viségrad

After playing some frisbee the evening fell and we got thirsty (pints of Stella baby!) and spent a nice evening with the mosquitos (they were everywhere!) although we had lit several anti-mosquito-things.

Jar.Status : still seems full … damn those Marlboro’s in Hungary are cheap!

Thursday, June 13 : Everywhere around Budapest we be

The same scenario in the morning: breakfast, shower, load up the van and drive. The plan was to find a camping outside Budapest (to avoid all the commotion in the centre of the city) so – with the map in my hands – I directed Stijn where to drive to. The trip turned out very long and a very spectacular. The part where we crossed the Duna, we had to go over by boat (after driving a bit off-road first). The boat actually was a big raft, with a boat tied next to it. We drove the cars up on the raft, and the boat next to it started roaring and pulling the raft. The boat banged and smashed against the raft whilst turning, but the captain stayed very relaxed during it all. We got off, drove to the very east side of Budapest (to Csomad to be precise) to find no camping at all. Crud, so we turned back to Budapest via Godollo to finally find ourselves in one of the corners of the detailed Budapest map (there actually was a piece where we were driving blindly, without map). Crossing the Duna again, we found a camping West of Budapest (a little town named Urom), but the old lady directed us to a camping a bit North of the city centre which we eventually found after driving around a bit.

Crossing the Duna

When I looked at the map at the end of the day we made on hell of a tour. Again you can see it over at GmapPedometer: part 1 (Viségrad up to crossing the duna) and part 2 (till within budapest and the search for a camping as you can see). And if I had known where we would actually stay, we could have done the trip in under 1 hour (we now drove over 5 hours, including pitstop). Hey, it’s part of it all 🙂

Around Budapest

So we arrived at Romai Furdo Camping in the late afternoon and made plans on staying 2 nights. Again some chilling at night (and driving to get some bear: we asked the – extremely hot! – girl at the reception for a store nearby. She replied with “Otjean” … sounded like Ocean, so we set off. After having seen 3 billboards of Auchan (wow, they have that there!), I finally got it … she tried to say Auchan, but it didn’t sound anything like it) and the checking of the jar.

View from within my tent

Jar.Status : starting to shrink (but not that much) – Jeroen joining in!

Friday, June 14 : Budapest City Centre

Aaah, a relaxing day in the city centre of Budapest. We took the train/metro (HUV they call it?) to the city centre. Buying 12 tickets (185 forint each) from a dispenser is quite timeconsuming and not so easy when it only accepts coins!

Getting tickets, one by one

We got in Budapest around noon (yes, the weather was still superb by then) and started wondering around (sightseeing in a lame way :D). We first visited the old part with the castle (Buda) ate there (very expensive, but hey … it’s not that often that we find ourselves in Budapest) and then went on to Pest, the high-tech part of Budapest (Buda is the West shore, Pest the South one) where we cooled off in a lovely park.

Budapest Pano

When we went back to the train (lots of walking we did) it started to storm a little, but it didn’t last that long.The evening was a usual (chilling) and the ladies decided to spice it up by waxing Dries his chest … *ouch*

Dries getting waxed

Jar.Status : shrinking some more.

Saturday, June 15 : Bathing

Since we wondered around the day before, we wanted to do stuff. We planned on visiting some caves we read about, but after talking to an american dude that has a shack on the Buda-castle hill it appeared that those caves were outside the city centre. So we did the lame kind of cave : the budapest labyrinth. It’s just hilarious (do it yourself, you’ll see) and the cold atmosphere deep underground was very welcome in the blistering heat. Above that we also let the american dude take a grouppicture of us, and printed out 12 cards of the buda bridge, with us placed on top of it.In the afternoon we went to a Gellert (the most famous one, can’t think of it’s name right now) where we met other (Belgian) scouts: the guides from Mol. The gellert is just so awesome. You have the old part (hot baths, sauna, etc.) and the new part (outdoors) that has “artificial waves” as they like to call it.

When we went back to the camping, we noticed a street festival on the shore (kinda hard to miss since we walked through it) and stayed there for a while (and ate there too). Dries and I left earlier to go shopping and at night we went to some pubs near the camping, on the shore of the Duna. It really was a party atmosphere … heck, when we asked the DJ to play “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC he immediately did it … Rock on dudes!
Too bad I was the designated driver of that evening, cos’ those whisky-cola’s sure looked good … arr!

[ Still need to steal pics from Cédric his cam ]

Jar.Status : shrinking some more.

Sunday, June 16 : Abadszalok, the Blankenberge of Budapest 😀

That day we drove to Abadszalok, a city as the Tisza lake. When we got there, it was over-touristic. Stijn and I drove a bit further, cos’ there was an other camping on the other side of the lake (we had to go all the way around) but that camping was anything but touristic (the lady couldn’t even speak german nor english – oooh, that reminds me: we didn’t have to bring up any hungarian word, all was done in english, german, germlish; sth. I did not expect!). So we decided to stay on the touristic camping, since it had a beach where we could do the banana thing and jetski.In the evening we went numb again, it had been a long day and 175 km in the car searching can be quite hard …

[ Still need to steal pics from Cédric his cam ]

Jar.Status : getting halfway.

Monday, June 17 : Water water water

The most spectacular day. We first rode the banana (watersled) and all did some jetskiing (all pics on Cédric his camera). Damn fun! (gosh, this is written in 1 sentence but resembles like half a day!).

Stijn, Cédric and I decided to do a tube … very cool, but very hard on the arms!At night we ate on the beach there, and spent some money on the no-brainer arcade games. We wanted to party that evening, but turns out nearly everything was closed (except for 1 decent pub) since most people leave on Sunday …

[ Still need to steal pics from Cédric his cam ]

Jar.Status : halfway

Tuesday, June 18 : Halfway between the gutter and the stars

We had to end up at the Balaton Lake at the end of the camp, so we set off and finally stopped in Dunafoldvar (where some important meetings about Hungary and the EU were held). After a trip of about 200km, we ended up on a minicamping (really mini) near the Duna.

and after supper we talked about Jaspers adjective he would be getting. In our scoutsgroup it’s a tradition that you receive a totem (animal name) when you’re aged 14 and that an extra characteristic is added when you’re 17. So we sent Jasper away with Dries to drink something somewhere and summed up all the words that popped up into our head. Not much else happened that day (except for me doing my laundry) since we still were recovering from the fun we had the day before.

Dries getting a shave, and my laundry in the background

Wednesday, June 19 : Lake Balaton

After an easy route we ended up on the northeast corner of lake balaton, somewhere near balatonfüred. We, the leaders of the group, dropped of our members on a beach and started searching for a camping and getting some other information. After some hassling with some old Dutch dude complaining about how much noise we would make, we finally found a nice camping that was between the main road and the lake (the camping had it’s own beach (grass though)). Then we picked up our jinners again and sent them to the store since we challenged them to cook for us (heck, they kinda cooked the whole camp – Dries didn’t have to do that much :D) whilst we were satisfying our thirsty feeling in some pub. Since the weather was so frickin’ hot I bought some inflatable boat in a crazy moment (and after counting how much cash I still had left – Hungary is cheap on many products (not all!) when compared to Belgium). Anywho, after the shopping we went back to the camping, set up our minicampsite (which would last for 3 days now) and the jinners started prepping the food whilst we, the leaders, went to check the temperature of the lake (we didn’t have the opportunity untill then to jump in the water). When we got back we saw a lovely meal of pasta in a pesto sauce and chicken with many vegetables. It was spectacular and everyone was stuffed after that.

Me and my boat

Boat Transportation

Our camp

Jinners cooking

Anouk had the great idea to fall back from her chair and just let her stomach do the work whilst she was looking at the sky in order to spot a shooting star. We all plunged next to her and before we knew it, it was after midnight. We decided to visit a pub near the camping, but that turned out to be a huge disappointment: it was retarted (we did pool though :P)! We talked about going in the water again that night and when we got back from the pub we dove in (skinny dipping of course). Then we went back to our minicampsite and watched the stars untill the sun was up (at least some of us were still up).

Shooting Stars

Jar.Status : going smooth!

Thursday, June 20 : Hungarian Drinking Team & Franciska Grill & Cartel

Pano Balaton

The day started really smooth : on the beach. We just laid there the whole afternoon, getting a nice tan. Stijn, Cédric, Geoffrey, Jaro and I decided to Kayak (beach kayak my ass, we immediately went away from the beach :D). After chilling some more, a girl came up to us asking if we would join the bear drinking contest. Cédric, Dries, Jaro and I decided to give it a go.About 20 contestants were there (including ourselves) and the started. One dude could just open his throat and let the pint poor in in about 5″40. Very impressive. First of us was Dries, he drank quite fast, but didn’t place his glass on the table immediately. He ended up somewhere around the 10th place I guess. Then came Cédric. Drinker as he is, he poored it in in about 6″10 making him 2nd. Then it was my turn, but I know I can’t drink fast. The timer started, and I started too. I heard the lady say “that’s very elegant, but I think you have to drink faster”, at which I lowered my glass and gave her the “calm down” sign with my hand. Then I just took my glass with me and enjoyed my extremely fresh beer (which was very rare, since we cooled our beer in tubs of water), making me last.

After that it was Jaro his turn. Now you have to know that Jaro is really small, about 1m65. When he was called upon stage, everybody – including to bigbellied drinkers that couldn’t drink – started laughing. I quickly shouted that he actually was 18 and the all laughed some more. Then he prepped himself and started drinking. He put down his glass and everyone who was laughing before was oh so silent. Turns out the small kid can knock one behind his teeth in about 6″50, making him fifth. The fun part about it all is that Jaro had to drink a powerdrink each day giving him extrta nutrition. On the first day during the camp he could drink one in 4 seconds, and he practiced all camp to go to 3 seconds (the last day he knocked on behind in 3″03, he nearly was there!).

Since we had challenged our jinners the day before, it was our turn to cook that day. We had a clever plan: just look for a restaurant, fix up a shot of us in the kitchen to fake that we cooked it all. We ended up in this very cosy restaurant called Franciska Grill. The chef was phenomal when we did our prospects: “Aah, you’re from Belgium” and boom, he was gone. A bit later he came back with a Belgian flag, frickin’ hilarious!

Franciska Grill

Franciska Grill - Us Cooking

After eating there, we went back to the retarted pub since it was the only place to go to. There we handed out the cards we made before (the american dude) and wrote our name on the back of it. Then we passed each card to everyone else, and they could write something about that person on the back of the card. Finally we sent the cards to that person through snail-mail, so that he could only read it after he/she was back in Belgium. Pretty darn cool. After watching some shooting stars some more I finally hit the sack.

Discovery of that day was one of Stijn his CD’s … Chroma by Cartel, a very good punk/rock album.The final track named “A”, is a masterpiece! It actually is a mixture of 2 other songs that are featured on the album, but in a hwole new composition. Just listen to it, it’s AWESOME!

Jar.Status : down down down…

Friday, June 21 : TotemTime

The day went slow, we slept half of it! Then we prepped the task Jasper had to complete in order to receive his totem and finally sent him away on the camping to complete them all, whilst we were finalizing the characteristic he would get that evening. Some tasks are plain hilarious: "Rub in people with sunscreen for money and buy an icecream with that money. But after buying it, don’t eat it, but immediately place it on top of your head". Above that we also wrote his tasks on his back, so he had to ask people what they are. Too bad there were so many dutch people there, cos’ they all speak dutch/belgian (it’s practically the same language).

The coolest task we gave him was "Meet us at 5.30 PM near the exit of the camping". He showed, we were there and took him to a cocktailbar where he had to prepare all the cocktails we ordered. Damn that coctail tasted good!

[ Still need to steal pics from Cédric his cam ]

In the evening we went to a classic hungarian restaurant. Stijn and I ordered a porc meal, for 2. Cédric and Jeroen did the same. When Cédric and Jeroen their plate arrived as first, it was quite disappointing: the piece of meat was all skin and fat, not that much meat into it (see the the pic below: the red circle is the meat, all on the left of it is fat). The best part of it all is that when Stijn and my plate arrived, the piece of meat was perfect: just take the bone, and curl of the meat with your fork, perfectly cooked!

Classic Restaurant

All fat

After the meal (which again was cheap, we paid like 140 euro for 12 main courses and 12 starters and 2 to 3 drinks each!), we went to some off-road field where we finally gave jasper his totem.

Since we had planned on leaving the day after, we quickly cleaned up some of our stuff on the camping, to make the cleanup go fast the day after. Above that we had to leave around noon the day after, or we had to pay an extra day at the camping. After the quick cleanup we again went to the coctailbar and immediately ordered doubles since it was happy hour 🙂

And again we watched the sky. Relaxing indeed.

Jar.Status : hmmz, is that the bottom of the jar I see there?

Saturday, June 22 : Eye of the storm!

So we cleaned up, loaded the van for the last time and by noon we were out. To fill our afternoon, we suprised our jinners with an outdoor pool. 4000 forint each (16 euro that is), and we could stay there untill 7 PM. The outdoors pool had it all: slides in all kinds of ways (“Eye of the storm” is the one where you go down and end up in some sort of mixer to finally plunge into the water) and pools in all kinds of was. Damn that was fun.Above that the system used inside the poolcomplex was quite impressive too (yes, the inner nerd is coming up again). You receive a wristband with a chip in it when you enter the pool. When you want to open your locker, just place your wristband on a detector and it will open your locker (and indicate the number of your locker onscreen). When you don’t open your locker in an undefined number of seconds, it will lock automatically. If you do open it and get your stuff out, just close the door of it and after 2 seconds you’ll hear the lock go into place. Damn, we don’t even have that in Belgium!

Pano Swimthing

At 7PM we went out, to a restaurant (our last evening in Hungary) and after a meal that got me really stuffed, we set off to Belgium at 11.37 PM.

[ Still need to steal pics from Cédric his cam ]

Stijn drove first, I slept in the back of the Vito

Sunday, June 23 : BBQ!

Woke up somewhere in the morning and asked Stijn if we already passed Vienna. “Euh, Van Damme … we already are near Germany” he replied. Holy frick, did I sleep that long? Aah no, I remember now why we decided to drive overnight: no traffic!The driving some more through Germany into Belgium and at 3PM we were in Deinze. Before we left, we said tot he parents that we would be back at around 10PM, so we still had 7 hours and went to Cédrics place since his parents weren’t at home. During those 7 hours we cleaned out the cars, gave them a quick wash, ate a lovely BBQ, and did a Quiz Anouk, Lisa, Stijn and I had prepared in the Vito whilst driving back to Belgium. At around 9.30 we went to our scoutsarea where the parents were awaiting the arrival of their children.

[ Still need to steal pics from Cédric his cam ]

Very soon I hit the sack, since the trip was very hard on us all.

Monday, June 24 : The aftermath

That day we brought back the cars we rented (I actually overslept, but Stijn, Dries & Cédric handled it quite well) and had a little breakfast in a bakery/tea-room here in Deinze (by the time they were there, I heard my alarmclock and joined them just in time to order) and talked a bit about the camp and how it went.

Now that I look at it: damn, that went fast! It looked like it would be a long camp, but it really wasn’t. Above that Hungary really is a modern and nice country. I had prepared myself for poverty throughout the whole country, but that just is not so. If you ever happen to have the chance to visit Hungary, you must really do! You won’t regret it!

Published by Bramus!

Bramus is a frontend web developer from Belgium, working as a Chrome Developer Relations Engineer at Google. From the moment he discovered view-source at the age of 14 (way back in 1997), he fell in love with the web and has been tinkering with it ever since (more …)

Unless noted otherwise, the contents of this post are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License and code samples are licensed under the MIT License

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