La vie en France

So, if you haven’t already heard, I moved to France!! For the rest of the academic year I’ll be working as a language assistant in two high schools. Me teaching children, who would have thought? I’m living in Pau which sits in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it’s also wine central so it can only be described as a 100% win-win.

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The funiculaire with the mountains in the distance!

 

I’ve already managed to find my own flat in a residence which is specifically for young workers, so meeting people has been very easy. Although, I’m kind of tired of people asking if Scotsmen really go commando under their kilt… I also had some luck at the bank and managed to open an account. I’d heard a lot of horror stories about how difficult it was to open one but it couldn’t have been more straightforward. I even managed to bag some free home insurance so I felt obliged to go back the next day with some shortbread to say thanks. I’m 110% their new favourite customer. I have to go back again next week to give the manager my French phone number, I think it might be for admin purposes but I’ll assume that it’s because she fancies me…

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View of the mountains at sunset from my flat window….

 

You’ll all be happy to know that I’ve made some new pals but don’t worry I’m not replacing you! I’ve been out almost every night since I got here, mostly with other assistants and some Erasmus students. But, we managed to make some new French pals who are keen to go for a drink (or two) this weekend. I’ve also had to take the art of pre-drinking to a new level. A pint here costs at least 5€ whereas 10 beers from le supermarché will set you back a mere 2,80€. I’ve found a new local (sorry Ark) called Le Galway and even though it’s and “Irish” bar, the staff are all French which means I can practise the lingo.

I went for a coffee at a cafe last week to find out the guy who served me plays for the local rugby team (Section Paloise) and was on the winning NZ squad for the 2015 world cup. He also has 80,000 followers on insta (#famous). His wife runs the place but I think he just stepped in to lend a helping hand. Pau is a small town but it is definitely full of characters! There’s also been a few funny nights out but I’ll spare you all the details for another time.

I don’t start work until Monday but I’m going into one of my schools tomorrow to meet the other teachers and find out my timetable – praying for a 3 day weekend. I’m only an hour from Biarritz, so hopefully can try some surfing there and then when winter comes head to the mountains for le ski. 

I think that’s all to update for now so I’ll leave you with some pictures:

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Winners of Tour de France (Pau stage) painted on the road

 

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Pink Umbrellas in the main square for breast cancer awareness month

 

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Cool little side street

 

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Panoramic view from the Boulevard des Pyrenees

The best spots in Budapest for a drink

I spent almost three months in Budapest this summer, so I think it’s safe to say I found some cool spots over the few months I was there. I tended to avoid the more touristy places because not only were the prices cheaper but also the atmosphere much better.

 

1. Telep

Telep was hands down my favourite spot to grab a beer with friends and guests of the hostel where I worked whilst I was in Budapest. It doubled as an art gallery and a cafe so sometimes I’d grab a coffee (or beer) there during the day. The atmosphere feels very homely and the staff are super friendly. Each night there is a different DJ playing a set in the corner of the tiny bar. Often people spilled out into the street, which was why I liked this place so much. The open-air feel was really nice and due to the set-up of the windows it was possible to still here the music. It was only 500HUF for a standard beer which is around € 1.60 and much less than you would pay a stones throw away on Goszdu Udvar. It’s closed on Sundays but at least they are thinking of your hangover and giving you a day off 😉

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Telep: good crowd, cheap drinks and great atmosphere. 

 

 

2. Dürer Kert

If you’re willing head away from the Jewish Quarter and Old Town then you’ll spend a great night at Durer. This venue is home to some cool decor as well as a chilled out courtyard, trolley-bus-turned-seating area (yes) and various concert halls inside. You won’t find many tourists or even non-locals here which is great if you are looking to get away from the crowds and see a more authentic side of the city. There is always a great line-up of music and festivals going on and more often than not, entry will be free. Again, this is somewhere that you can also chill at during the day. Trolley-bus number 74 leaves from various stops in the centre of town and drops you off right outside which is ideal! A beer will set you back a mere 450HUF (€1.50).

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Perfect venue for drinking, eating and listening to live music.

 

3. Kőleves Kert

Whether you’re looking for a quick drink or looking for somewhere to spend at least a few hours then Kőleves is your place. With a relaxing garden out back and a restaurant inside, this place is ideal. You can find hammocks dotted around the garden which are for chilling with a book and a beer during the day. In the evening, the place is brought to life with cool lighting and large crowds creating a great atmosphere. This place is close to the touristy spots so you might find a few like-minded travelers but for sure still has a local feel to it. Again, like most places in Budapest, you are not going to break the bank here.

4. A38

A38 is one of the most unique places I’ve been to. It’s essentially a bar, restaurant and music venue all-in-one but not only that, it’s an old Soviet barge which rests on the banks of the Danube. I was lucky enough to see some great shows here. They always have a great programme going every month both during the day and at night so there is definitely something for everyone. Many people will spend some time on the banks just beside the venue before shows drinking their own beers which is a cool way to start the evening (not sure how fun this would be in winter though). You can get a beer here for a little as 590HUF (€1.90). Many of the shows are free and even if you’re not there for the music, the bar and restaurant are good too.

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A38: A unique experience

 

 

5. ELLÁTÓház

Now I did say that I tended to avoid the touristy spots – which is true for the most part – but we all have our guilty pleasures and ELLÁTÓház was definitely mine. Situated in the courtyard of a party hostel this is a great place to grab drinks until the early hours of the morning. Whether you’re looking for a party, open-mic or just somewhere to enjoy a few beers with friends, this is your place. Different events each night means that there’s never a boring night to be had here. It’s located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter and is easily accessible from most parts of the city. You’ll pay a little bit more for your drinks here but it’s to be expected given it’s location.

Budapest to Belgrade Night Train

I had a weekend off from work and thought I would head to Belgrade as I had heard some great things and was intrigued by this city that has belonged to numerous countries in the past century.

The easiest option from Budapest was to take a train and to save some money on accommodation I decided to take the night train.

After looking at some blog posts and forums about the night train, I was slightly nervous about the whole idea. The posts ranged from “infamous night train experience” to “avoid avoid avoid” and theft seemed to be a recurring theme. However, it was 26EUR for a return ticket and I thought it’d see for myself what all the fuss was about…

My experience was not like any of those that I had read. Those stories were either highly exaggerated or untrue. The train was super comfortable, albeit a tad slow but there was everything I needed – including power points to charge my phone! For the first 30 minutes or so, I was on edge looking for the “thiefs” I had heard about, however it was clear everyone was purely on the train for the same reason as I was. I sat next to a really friendly Hungarian and across from me were some old Serbian ladies who spent some time drinking Palinka (Hungarian national drink) and giggling about the stories they must have been sharing. Crossing at the border was very simple – show your passport and travel documents and you’ll be on your way. After drifting in and out of sleep for most of the night, I woke at around 5am to the most incredible sunrise, it really was special. An hour later I found myself in the Serbian capital ready to start the weekend.

I would urge you not to believe every bad story you read on the internet and actually live the experience for yourself before making your mind up. As I said, the night train was a great experience and one I would do again.

The price for a single ticket is 15EUR or you can buy and open return for 26EUR.

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View over the Sava River, Belgrade.

Winter in Alicante

Alicante in the Costa Blanca, Spain is a vibrant little town with heaps to do. I found a return flight with Ryanair for a total of 17 pounds just before christmas and couldn’t help myself. I stayed at X Hostel and it was amazing. Check out this video montage I made of my time there!!

Amsterdam. Booze, bikes and being baked.

I went to Amsterdam for the second time with a few mates after I decided to book a ticket when I was drunk – always a good idea. Amsterdam has a lot to offer and this post aims to highlight that stuff as well as talking a bit about smoking doobies and licking boobies.

The first thing you’ll have to worry about is accommodation which is usually your biggest expense – or if you’re a lucky bastard like me, you’re mates will let you stay with them for free. Yass. If you’re alone, I’d definitely recommend booking a hostel because not only are they cheap but they’re full of like-minded travelers who will want to be your pal. Everybody wins. I’d recommend staying at either St Christopher’s at the Winston or The Flying Pig. They both boast an amazing atmosphere with a cool crowd so you’ll be sure to have a good time! However, if there’s more than two of you then maybe stay in an apartment and save yourself a few pennies that can go towards alcohol and other pleasurable “activities”. Check out airbnb who have endless apartments at a price to suit your budget.

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The Flying Pig Downtown hostel has a cool bar and it’s own smoking room. 

People always ask what is there to do in Amsterdam? Aside from the really obvious “get pissed, get high and shag a prozzy”, there’s heaps to do!

During the day I’d recommend doing what’s considered the “boring” stuff such as visiting the museums and getting your picture took with the infamous Iamsterdam sign. The Heineken Experience was one of my favourite places in Amsterdam, not only did I get three beers at the end but I found out a lot about what makes a good beer and why apparently Heineken is the best. Now, you’ve probably all heard about Anne Frank Museum and how you must go but to be honest, I gave it a miss both times I’ve been in Amsterdam. The first time I tried to go the queue was too long and the second, I was too hungover. However, I’ve heard it’s worth a visit so head to their website to find out more if you’re interested.

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The Heineken Experience, definitely worth the money!!

Amsterdam is packed with shit to get up to at night. From the famous Red Light District to the Leidseplein, there’s always something going on. The first few nights, we hung around the Red Light District. There’s heaps of bars and coffee shops and many a place to get your fix. Head to  For cheap pre-rolled joints head to Stone’s Cafe on Warmoesstraat – there’s many to choose from but beware this shit is strong, well at least for an amateur like myself. By the end of my first joint I thought I was genuinely on the Hogwart’s Express with Ginger Ron and Harry. Nonetheless, a good experience.

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Are we cool yet?? #amsterdamn

For a good night head to Leidseplein which is crawling with bars and clubs. We went into the first place we saw, not the best of places but “Club Nasty” still gives me and my friends a good chuckle to this day.

If it’s a quieter night you’re after then try Cafe Brecht, a German bar/cafe that offers good Deutschland beer for as little as 3euros. I was on a different flights from my friends so spent the most part of my first day here running up a tab. We returned later in the weekend and had some food too which was pretty good. The tortilla wraps are recommended by my mate but not sure if they were actually good or it was just her appetite after a space cake.

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Cafe Brecht. Good food and beer. 8/10.

Amsterdam is bustling with things to do and I’m certain you’ll find something that you will enjoy. I was there for a holiday so spent around 280euros over 4 days but it probably could be done even cheaper.Have fun and be safe.

Follow me on instagram – @euroboyontour

Budapest for backpackers.

So, last week whilst I should have been studying for my exams my inner-backpacker surfaced and I went to Budapest for 6 days instead. Smart idea, I know.

Budapest is an amazing city with tonnes to offer.

Where to stay

Deciding where to stay is always a difficult choice, especially with Budapest since there are so many places (hostels in particular) with 9/10+ ratings. However, I would look no further than Carpe Noctem Original (OG for short) – in other words the best fucking hostel on the planet. I’ve stayed at many hostels but I’d say there’s only one other than I’ve been to that comes remotely close to this place. It feels like you’re staying at a mate’s place for a few days not at a hostel. The staff are so cool and become more like friends. It’s also extremely easy to meet, well actually impossible to not meet people. There’s a different activity every day and night and even “family dinner” in the evening. Do no more research and book this fucking hostel!!! (It’s cheap too)

Things to do

Budapest is full of stuff to get up to so you’ll never be bored. If you’re not too hungover during the day, head over to the Buda side of town and see the Castle, Palace and Fisherman’s Bastion. These are all sick sites and will get you all da insta likes you could wish for.

If you’re staying at a hostel and especially a party hostel like OG, expect to start drinking alcohol at around 7pm or earlier. Each night activities can range from ruin bar crawls to boat parties and Spa parties (SPARTY!!!). I’d recommend doing all of these activities if time permits as they are awesome as fuck. The boat party was 7500 HUF which included a bottle of champagne and SPARTY was 12000HUF which was just a cover fee. During the day though, the thermal baths are only 4700HUF.

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At a PARTY on a BOAT with a whole bottle of CHAMPAGNE and the coolest people. What’s not to love??

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Chill out at Szechenyi Thermal Baths during the day then go all out at the SPARTY in the evening (right through til 3am).

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Take a stroll up to Fisherman’s Bastion to cure your hangover.

Drink and Food

I never ate out at night mostly because my hostel offered “family dinner” (a meal cooked by staff) for 700HUF (cheap as fuckkkk).

One day for lunch me and a few friends I made at the hostel went to the no.1 restaurant in Budapest on tripadvisor. It was AMAZING. The place was called Comme Chez Soi and sold everything from steak to pizza. The service was absolutley amazing and we even got some free wine, sorbet and Italian liquor. For 4 people we paid around 22000HUF which for the no.1 restaurant in the city is a steal!

For drunk food, hit up one of the many many kebab stands around town and grab a kebab for as little as 500HUF!!

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Comme Chez Soi. No.1 rated on tripadvisor. Must check this place out.

Alcohol in Budapest is not expensive at all. We pre-drank most nights at the hostel, mainly drinking $1 bottles of wine from the supermarket. But even at the bars and clubs you can get a vodka for as little as 500HUF and a good beer for 600HUF which is decent. Be sure to check out Fény Shots – carbonated vodka shots which are scientifically the quickest way to get drunk. They taste pretty good too which is a bonus. There are many ruin bars across the city with Szimpla Kert being the most famous. However, I preferred other smaller places like Anker’t and Kuplung.

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Anker’t Ruin Bar. Be sure to try a “Zubrowka and Apple” from this place – 10/10.

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“What’s your real job Jonny?” Me after one too many beers.

Other things to do in the city could include GETTING A TATTOO…. Yes that’s right I got my first fucking tattoo in Budapest. I actually got 2. Zero regrets. I went to Knuckle Up Budapest and they were great. The owner is a former backpacker himself and is totally clued up on what he is doing.

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Map of Europe and Africa. The smallest of my tattoos. 

 

There you have it. Backpacker’s guide to Budafknpest. Overall I spent around 100,000HUF which for 6 days I didn’t think was too bad. It could of course be done much cheaper but I treated myself many a time and that also includes the cost of both tattoos.

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Shoestring Paris

So, it turns out keeping up with a blog is harder than I thought – especially with all the Uni work I’ve being doing (or should have been doing). Anyway, I’m finally getting round to writing about my few days in Paris as part of my Eurotrip last Summer!

The first thing I always get asked about Paris is how did I ever afford 4 nights in one of Europe’s most expensive cities – especially for backpackers. Well, the truth is that Paris can be expensive, however there are bargains to be sought!

Accommodation

As with most places, accommodation will yet again be your biggest expense but that doesn’t mean spending hundreds of Euros on a room with a view of the Tour Eiffel. Paris is crawling with hostels and with airbnb now at our fingertips, finding affordable accommodation is easier than ever. Now, I won’t lie and say that hostels in Paris are cheap as chips because they’re not but if you’re travelling solo and want to meet like minded traveler’s then staying at a hostel may be your best bet! I traveled solo and stayed at St Christopher’s Inn Canal. For 4 nights I paid around 98€ which doesn’t seem that cheap but remember that Paris is one of the most famous cities in the world and I arrived in peak summer season! The hostel itself was good, nothing spectacular. But the staff were friendly and it was easy enough to meet other backpackers!

Another great option could be to couchsurf which is totally free and you get local knowledge of the place you are visiting!

Also, if there are a group of you airbnb could be your cheapest option – however if you’re looking for a great atmosphere and new friends it might be worth it to pay the extra money to stay in a hostel.

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Chill by the Canal with a beer or 2 at St Christopher’s Inn. 

Food and Drink

It’s no secret that the French capital is home to some of the world’s finest eateries, however I was on a very tight budget seeing as Paris was at the tail end of my trip and so fine dining was not an option!!

The hostel I stayed at offered food starting at around 5/6 euros – there was unfortunately no kitchen in my hostel but many other Parisian hostels do offer a kitchen to keep spending to a minimum. Using airbnb is also a great way to save money on eating out.

It is very possible to eat out and still have money left over for a beer to wash it down. A great place I found was Creperie Genia  – a stone’s throw from the famous Notre Dame. Here you can you get a crepe, a panini and a drink all for 4€!! Paris is filled with cheap Pizzerias and there are street food stands in many places – it won’t be hard to find some form of cheap food.

Bars and Clubs

My absolute favourite place in Paris was Rue de Lappe located in the heart of the trendy Bastille area. This place is the perfect spot for bar hopping and for those wanting a few quiet drinks – the street is packed with loads of great places. Many of the places do “happy hour” specials from around 6.pm until around 10.pm (some places even 11.pm) and you’ll be sure to grab a good few deals during these hours! However, even outside of happy hours the prices are kind to your wallet.

My favourite bar on this street was called Bar des Ferrailleurs mainly due to the rustic feel of the place and the real mix of locals, students and travelers like myself. The staff here are so friendly and very happy to help.

Another cool place on Rue de Lappe is Yellow Mad Monkey. This bar is decorated like a jungle and there’s a really buzzing atmosphere. A pint here cost around 5 euros which is pretty reasonable for Paris.

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The Yellow Mad Monkey – the place is as mad as its name suggests…

If you’re looking for more than a few chilled drinks then head to concrete, a nightclub situated on a barge! This place was pretty casual and was a lot fun. For full details on prices on specific nights and deals then check out their website.

Things to do

Paris has heaps of attractions that will keep you busy for a good while. The obvious places such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and L’Arc de Triomphe are easily accessible by metro. There’s loads and loads of information out there on these places so I’d rather not go into too much detail!

A great way to get a local’s perspective of the city is to take a free (tip-based) walking tour with Discover Walks. All tour guides are from Paris themselves and therefore know the city inside out. There are a number of walks ranging from Montmarte to Notre Dame. These tours are often much better than the over-priced bus tours.

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Notre Dame Free Walking Tour – a great way to see the city 

Another very cool place in Paris that’s likely to get you a ton of “insta likes” is Rue Crémieux – the most colourful street in Paris. This place is not very well known and is a hidden gem not far from Gare de Lyon sation.

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Take a stroll down Paris’ most colourful street 

One last activity is to visit Parc de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement. The park is great for everything from quiet walks to picnics to outdoor cinemas. There are heaps of events here throughout the year and you can check them out on the park’s website.

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An outdoor cinema in Parc de la Villette I went to with some friends I made at my hostel. This is seasonal but there are plenty of other events throughout the year.

There you have it  – Paris on a shoestring!! If you liked this post then please like this post and give my blog a follow for more travel tips and stories!!

Follow me on Instagram @euroboyontour