Tips, Tricks & Hacks: Sock Roll (I Want To Try!)

Have any of you tried this before? If you have, let me know and share your experience!

I’m all about space saving as well as being prepared and over the years I would say my ability to pack lightly yet be prepared for different situations has improved greatly. I have been on short-haul trips with just hand-luggage (10kg limit, although I have never gone above 5kg) and long-haul trips (22kg limit). The short-haul trips have lasted from as little as 6 days to 42 days, whilst my long trips have been around 90/95 days. Different lengths, different needs.

My Travel Map – Update


I have finally taken my travel map off the wall and updated the European section, the map last updated in January 2015. As a scratch-a-map,  you have to scratch off the countries you have visited but this means that sometimes, you accidentally scratch out tiny countries you haven’t been to, through no fault of your own.

The countries I scratched off this time, are:

  1. Germany (2015 & 2016)
  2. Austria (2015)
  3. Hungary (2015/16)
  4. The Netherlands (2016)
  5. Belguim (2016)


Countries I need to visit to make my travel map completely accurate (aka Scratched off by accident):

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Monacco
  3. Andorra


Budapest, Hungary: Baroque Hostel (Review)

On trips with friends I am usually in charge of organising the accommodation, however this time whilst I searched and had an opinion, this hostel was not my first choice but I accepted that and went with it. Everyone can cope with different things and I came prepared… with earplugs!

The Dorm Room

4 bed female dorm

A bed is a bed, a place to lay your head and get some sleep. However, as I am getting more travelled and of course, older, my tastes and comforts are changing, feeling that I am on the cusp of changing some of my travel habits etc, but I think I could continue for a few years. We’ll see.

Sorry for the diversion, but if the photos give you an impression of small and cramped… you would be correct. Little floor space, with lockers for storage for personal items but not for the typical luggage that travellers often bring, therefore unable to stuff under beds. Luggage stored down sides of beds or taking up the valuable floor space.The floor space is valuable, so if one person is up and using the lockers / using the space to check luggage / get changed, you’re confined to the bed. The small space does force you out of your room and into the common areas which is a good thing if you want to experience the social side of the hostel.

Linens are provided, clean and kept me warm even if the duvet was a bit short – I am short in height, so usually this isn’t an issue.

The room was well heated considering it was late December / early January which suited me but could be too warm for others. The dorm has a window which you can open if it gets to stuffy although this means the additional noise of the outside near a busy road, not to loud to disturb but it is there.


And Beyond….

The kitchen directly leads onto the living room then the reception with the kitchen leading to the bathroom with showers and a toilet, so everything flows really well. There are also two other toilets for males and females off the kitchen so expect a lot of footfall.

Starting with the kitchen, the kitchen has one central island in the middle furnised with a sink on one side, an oven top opposite and a place to prep your food. Underneath are lots of cupboards and drawers with various utensils you can use whilst cooking as well as eating. The only downside is that is small and limits the amount of people whom can use it at a time – Usually one group at a time as we found. Depending on the size, you could be waiting a while.

There is a fridge that guests can use, just make sure you label your items with your name and leaving date and a pen is provided for this. Of course being a kitchen, there are chairs and tables to eat, mainly for two peope but there is also a larger table to accommodate larger groups.

Moving onto the bathroom, none of the shower stalls have handles but they used to as there is a small hole from the remains that have not been filled in with a lock just above it – Someone could easily peek in, have a look even with the additional curtain and that made me a little uncomfortable. I ended up placing my towel over the door so it hung down to cover it as I showered. The knobs to regulate the temperature were very tempramental.. 1cm in either direction seemed to make a huge difference in temperature. I’m not a fan on showers (I’m a bath person) but I got washed, but with the above… it wasn’t exactly pleasant.

From what I discovered, there are only three toilets (1 male / 1 female / 1 unisex) for the entire hostel (not including ensuites) and their placement means the kitchen and bathroom are busy areas to access them.



Staff? The staff were friendly at all times of the day and super helpful, usully busy as you expect: Manning reception, laundry, cleaning and a whole host of things that go on behind the scenes that I can’t begin to fathom. Despite the pressures that inevitably come with the job, at all times the hostel felt calm, relaxed and welcomed from wherever you came from in the world.

Cleanliness? Overall, I would say very good throughout the commonn areas whilst the dorms less so – Our bin wasn’t emptied throughout the time of our stay. That’s 6 nights and we weren’t the only ones staying in the room, people coming and going as people in hostels often.. returning home or adventures elsewhere. Linens were changed when guests left, that was evident. With the room very small for the amount of occupants at maximum with little place to store belongings, could the room ever be properly cleaned whilst it had even had a single guest staying in it?

What About The Cost? 

For 6 nights in a 4 bed female dorm with no additonal benefits, we only paid 56 Euros each for the duration  of the stay, so price wise for what we got I would say we got very lucky. The hostel isn’t in the middle of the city but a few minutes walk away from the nearest metro (Heroes Square), it is only an additional few minutes until you reach the last stop slap bang in Budapest. No complaints on this front. Stretching the price range would have probably solved  a few niggles we had.

Anything Else?

Whatever room you book, most of the rooms come directly off a common area whether it is the kitchen, the living room or reception, which means whenever someone enters or leaves a room noises from conversation or the TV are going to float through. The doors and walls seem paper thin as most noises carry through the building which is why I was so glad that I had brought earplugs with me! My friend didn’t sleep well throughout the trip and they can usually sleep through anything…


Door on the right – Entrance to 4 bed female dorm.


Would I stay here again? Probably not.

Budapest, Hungary: New Years!

Say goodbye to the old and hello to the new!

Like any major city across the world, New Years is a big celebration and most capital cities have big, organised firework displays at midnight – However, Budapest is the exception to the rule.

Before we headed to Budapest and even during, my friend and I searched the internet for any information for firework-related events presuming they would most likely held in the Chain Bridge area, but as we discovered on New Years eve is that people sell fireworks freely on the streets to anyone whom is interested. Coming from the UK where Fireworks are highly regulated, only sold at certain times of year, certain shops etc it was a shock to see such freedom with the release of fireworks not much different…. people go to  an area, light them and up they go. Busy areas included but most people do go to a quiet area within these to release their fireworks.

Due to this freedom, Fireworks start filling the area over the course of the night from as early as 6pm to as late at 4am, maybe even later. Happening across the city, you are bound to see fireworks from the city center outwards. Expect central areas to be very busy, getting more crowded as time draws nearer to midnight, people by the river, at the Christmas market, looking for places to drink and eat.

If you want to eat, get there early – We entered a small restaurant at around 6.35pm and the place was busy but we managed to get a table, but as we eat our meal (3 course meal, 1 litre of Hungarian beer and an after dinner drink – £15!) over the course of a 3 hour period, the place was turning more and more people away.

Venturing out into Vörösmarty Square to the Christmas after our meal heading towards the Christmas Market, we claimed our free mug of hot mulled wine courtesy of our Budapest card, sat on the benches watching fireworks quite literally above our heads, taking in the calm yet also spirited atmosphere. Heading to Heroes Square near midnight, the place abuzz with people and of course, fireworks – HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Budapest, Hungary: Gypsy Orchestra

Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra is a Hungariansymphony orchestra of Romani (Gypsy) musicians. It emphasizes works by composers inspired by Hungarian folk music including Johannes Brahms, Vittorio Monti, Piotr Tchaïkovski, Johann Strauss and Johann Strauss II. The orchestra has been performing for 30 years as a classical symphony orchestra.

Extract from ‘Wikipedia’

On a bucket list but not my own – This was an unexpected treat from my travel companion before we descended on Budapest informing me that seeing the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra was on her bucket list and since she was in Budapest at the same time as one of their performances, she HAD to go. Naturally, it was on her bucket list. Unfamiliar with this type of music I said I would like to come too sans appropriate dress (Black and White tie – Tourists like ourselves were easy to spot due to this).

I wasn’t expecting anything and I was nothing like the bouncy up and down excitement that was my friend but I was blown away. Check out the video above to see and hear for yourselves – I heard this piece!

It was a magical evening which still leaves an impression on me many months later.

Budapest, Hungary: Fisherman’s Bastillion & Matthias Church

Visible from the opposite side of Chain Bridge in Pest, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church are historical attractions on Castle Hill, Buda.

Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya) is only 100 years old, and is a favorite lookout. In medieval times, the fish market was nearby and the bastion was built to commemorate the fishermen who protected this part of the city. The seven tent-like turrets symbolize the seven Hungarian tribes that arrived to the Carpathian Basin in 896.

There is a fee to enter the lookout at the top level of Fishermen’s Bastion, however you can enter the lower level lookout for free and the view is equally beautiful.

Extract from Visit Budapest


I love history and how cultures, buildings etc evolve over time that sometimes you can see a building and instantly recognise which time period it comes from. Fisherman’s Bastillion is busy but such a large space that peope moving between different areas are constantly changing. Tourists are easy to spot but the locals are there going about their daily lives. There are detailed archaeological features everywhere from large to small, so keep your eyes peeled and the camera to hand.


And The View?



St. Matthias Church

Matthias Church is one of the oldest buildings in Buda. It’s not only a church, but a museum as well. It’s frescoes are the works of famous Hungarian painters… There is an entrance fee to visit the church, which includes entry to the museum as well. If you would like to pray or simply enjoy a moment of silence, the sacred chapel is open all day, free of charge.

Extract from Visit Budapest


A short walk away is Buda Castle with the National Gallery, with plenty if places to eat, drink and shop along the way – As well as more fantastic views of Budapest.