Cultural Experiences: Leasing a home in Hungary

Finding a Home in Budapest
When I moved to Budapest finding a home was at the top of my list of things to do. I saw many houses, and there were a few that came out on top as my favorites. One in particular for it’s spacious living room with wrap around windows. Another for it’s newness and in home sauna.

In the end my home selection was complicated by a few factors. My first choice house included an Italian landlord who wasn’t willing to negotiate on price;  (The home with the wrap around windows). The new (in construction) house with a sauna meant having workmen in my house finishing construction for at least three weeks. It was too much to take on with my dog who was adjusting to a new home and country. I opted out of that one, though it was a real favorite and less than five minutes from my job.

I have selected photos that I feel give a taste of what Budapest offers. There are amazing homes here. Houses that offer great features; including dishwashers, washer dryers, saunas, big yards, open floor plans, fireplaces, and pet friendly places…the list goes on. All pretty exceptional for a country in Eastern Europe.


.house hunting budapest

A historic cobbled street that offered a great view.

modern spaces, house hunting

This home offered modern space.

spacious kitchen, house hunting

This house offered a spacious kitchen, but a very small yard.

spacious entrance

This apartment offered a spacious and attractive entrance.

open floor plan, house hunting

This one offered a great open space, but a strange layout that I felt wouldn’t suit life with a dog.

private courtyard patio, budapest

This private courtyard patio was exceptional. I fell in love with it. Sadly the rest of the house, not so much.

new construction home in Budapest

I fell in love with this under construction house.

It had several bedrooms, a sauna, a nice yard, great windows and a good location. It was in my final two.

open floor plan home, budapest

This house was my initial first choice.

It offered a good location, a decent size yard, great open spaces, a beautiful open living area, air conditioning, a beautiful bathroom but only a mediocre kitchen. The landlord wouldn’t reduce the price, even though it had been on the market for a while.

This is actually a city that offers potential home renters some excellent choices. Yes, okay there were a few duds thrown in and one that was freaky and a little scary. But overall house hunting in Budapest turned out to be a good experience and I met wonderful people in the process; including my landlords who I have stayed in touch with.

My Hungarian Kitchen

My Hungarian Kitchen

Another view of my kitchen in the village.

Another view of my kitchen in the village. I loved this kitchen. It included a fireplace and open plan living room kitchen.

My Hungarian wood stove heated much of the downstairs easily.

My Hungarian wood stove heated much of the downstairs easily.

Upstairs Den with sky lights and an outdoor patio.

Upstairs Den with sky lights and an outdoor patio.

Backyard view of my rental house in Nagykovacsi.

Backyard view of my rental house in Nagykovacsi.

The backyard view from the upstairs after a big snow storm.

The backyard view from the upstairs after a big snow storm.



Driving in Switzerland; A Road Trip with Dogs

swiss alps summer

Driving through the lower Alps in summer.

Driving in Switzerland, especially through the Alps is one of the most beautiful trips on earth. My eleven day road trip through five countries was my first European road trip with dogs; though my third road trip with pets in the car. For in depth advice and insight on a road trip with dogs check out my post Car Travel With Pets

Swiss Road Trip
Tanner and I on our road trip through Europe.

This particular trip encompassed Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. Switzerland offers drivers excellent roads, well marked tunnels and mountain passes as well as wide driving lanes in most areas. Particulars to consider when driving in Switzerland include: being prepared for the many tunnels through the Alps, purchasing a road Vignette (cost 34 Euro) and generally the cost of everything in Switzerland. You’ll find Swiss Motorways a helpful website for information about Swiss roadways and vingettes.

switzerland driving
Roads in Switzerland are well marked.

Be prepared for high costs in Switzerland. A single lunch for two at a lake front restaurant in the Lake Maggiore region cost 54 Swiss Franc’s; which is $57 US dollars. (To clarify this was not an extravagant lunch, it included two normal entrees a beer and a soda.) Switzerland is expensive; your best option if you’re on a budget is to do a day trip from another country. Consider one of the bordering countries of Austria, Italy, France, Germany or Liechtenstein. This will help keep costs lower. Remember also while traveling in Switzerland and EU countries you must have an EU Pet Passport. With appropriate documentation and vaccinations this can be obtained from your vet. Switzerland is well worth the time and expense, it remains one of my favorite countries to visit in Europe. To read further about our European road trip look at Traveling Europe with a Dog.

Lake Maggiore Switzerland
Lake Maggiore, Switzerland

Traveling With My Dog; Daily Life in Italy

Italian Life
Italy draws me into it’s warmth and puts a smile on my face despite the fact that I spend my hours on the autostrada cursing in words I rarely use elsewhere. For me Italy is filled with pleasure, simplicity and insanity. It’s a country I love, and vow to never drive in again.

A Different Italian Experience; Traveling With My Dog
This trip was different than all my other Italy experiences; this time I took my dog Tanner. In case you’re thinking a little purse dog, think again… This is the Hummer of dogs; Tanner weighs 120 lbs, (54 Kilo). Taking Tanner places requires a bit of planning but it is well worth the effort for traveling with my dog.

Life in an Italian Village
For this trip with Tanner I rented an apartment, which gave me a much deeper Italian experience. For a week we lived in an Italian village on Lake Como. It was a fantastic experience (minus the hell of driving.) With Tanner in mind I chose a village that was not touristy. We stayed in a village a few minutes drive from the more touristy areas.

tanner italy walk b
Tanner on our daily walk; there were lots of hills, cobbled streets and some speeding cars to watch for.

A Great Decision.
Living for a week in an Italian village allowed Tanner and I to experience every day life in Italy. When I woke and looked out my window I could see elderly ladies going about their daily chores. I woke to church bells and heard the sound of the train which runs along Lake Como. I watched giggly children playing and watched cats find inventive spots to nap out of the way of speeding cars. Later I watched elderly ladies going to evening mass in the village church.

A Curiosity
I delighted in the surprise on Italian faces of all ages; they were intrigued by Tanner’s size and gentle demeanor. When we couldn’t communicate well we used sign language. Everyone wanted to know how old he was and what his name was; they also wanted to pet him. He made many new Italian friends in one week.

cars driving in italian village My window ledge and the cars on the narrow Italian village street.

vineyard b
A family vineyard on our daily walk in the village.

Savoring Italy
Traveling with my dog and experiencing every day life in an Italian village was a great experience. We were close enough to get in the car and have lunch in a touristy village right on the water where both Tanner and I could enjoy people and activity. Yet we were far enough away that we could experience simple daily life. It was the best of both worlds, minus the crazy driving.

tanner cafe italy b

Enjoying a break at an outdoor cafe on Lake Como. For more on my driving trip to Italy read Traveling Europe With a Dog.

Traveling Europe With a Dog; It’s a Dog’s World

Tanner Austria
Tanner in Wolfsberg, Austria on our drive home.

Eleven Days of Traveling Europe with a Dog
After traveling around Europe with a dog for eleven days, through five European countries I can say with authority; Europe is a dog’s world. Dogs are treated well in Europe and are welcomed nearly everywhere. I started my trip with Tanner in Budapest, Hungary. We drove through Austria, Slovenia then into Italy and Switzerland. Driving with a dog in Europe was a great experience; though one I recommend you prepare for.

Traveling Around Europe With a Dog; Trip Stats

Days Traveling: 11

Miles Driven: 1,490 (2,399 Kilometers)

Tunnels Traveled

Italy: 15

Austria: 19

Slovenia: 2

Vignette’s Purchased 3
(These are stickers that allow you to travel on highways within Austria, Slovenia and other European countries. They cost between 8 and 30 Euro to purchase.

They can be purchased at gas stations and automobile clubs. The fine for not having a sticker (which is read by a camera as you pass through toll booths) is 300 to 3,000 Euro according to the Austria info website

Number of Times I was asked for Tanner’s EU Pet Passport: Zero (Though I had everything in hand if needed.)

Average Potty Stop: 30 minutes for a walk and time to chill in the grass.

Longest Driving Day:  Over 7 hours due to traffic, an accident and constructions stalls in Austria.

Best Driving Conditions: Austria. The autobaun offers wide lanes and well marked roads and signs. Their tunnels are also well lit and labeled with the distance of the tunnel. (An important fact when you really don’t enjoy driving through tunnels.)

Most Difficult Driving Conditions: Italy, with it’s narrow autostrada lanes, high speed rude drivers and narrow village roads. Italy is high stress driving at every turn.

austria restaurant tanner b

Tanner on our lunch break in Hungary.

This was my third long distance driving trip with Tanner; I found traveling around Europe with a dog relatively simple, though at times challenging. It does require thinking ahead and being organized.

I recommend starting out with a short trip first; that way you learn what works best for you and your dog.  You can read about my three day solo driving trip with pets in the US.

Tips For Traveling Europe with a Dog

Have all official pet paperwork in order; and keep it with you during your travel. In Europe a blue EU Pet Passport is required. This is simply a book provided by your veterinarian which documents all vaccinations and as well as a description of your dog and your personal information. It also includes your dogs EU required microchip number and where the chip is located on your dog.

Know what your dog can handle. (Plan your drive around what your dog can accept in a day; but expect snags.)

Have treats to use as a bribe when necessary.

Carry bottles of cold water you can refill in a soft pack cooler. You will find moments when cold water might not be available or in the event of a break down on the road. (More in a later post on using a cooler pack in Europe.)

Travel with extra dog food.

Bring a rug your dog likes, many European hotels have wooden or tile floors and dogs slip easily on those surfaces.

Bring a comfort item that your dog loves, for those times he/she is alone in a hotel or unfamiliar apartment.

EU Pet Passport b

My Driving Day Dog Schedule

Though it was pretty simple, I was traveling around Europe with a dog that needs potty breaks with grass; who gets tired like a kid and who can and does get stubborn when asked to get in and out of the car multiple times a day in the heat. I kept Tanner to a two potty breaks a drive, schedule. That means we walked before the drive started for the day. Then we stopped at two areas during the drive where he could rest and potty while I also rested and got something to eat or drink. When we arrived at our destination we walked and had another potty break.

This schedule worked well, far better than the three break schedule I started with; by the third stop he wasn’t happy getting in and out of the back seat and got stubborn. I’ve traveled on the road for multiple days with Tanner solo. It can be done; it requires two sets of car keys to keep the a/c running in the summer heat, but it is always easier with a friend. This trip I drove with a friend. That really works best as you can trade off taking a bathroom break or getting food, while the other watches the dog.

tanner in Austria reststop b

Tanner relaxing at a rest stop in Austria.

Pet Friendly Austria

austria hotel tanner b

Tanner lying on his travel rug in my Austrian hotel room.

Austrians love animals and it shows in their willingness to have dogs of all sizes in their hotels and restaurants. Tanner was welcomed without reservation in Austria and loved the attention he received. Check back for more posts on our driving trip to Italy. I will share my experiences including the hair raising moments of driving in Italy. For more on driving in Europe and my Italy experiences read; Traveling With My Dog; Daily Life in Italy.

austria hotel lobby b

Tanner in our hotel lobby; where he was welcomed without mention of his size.