My Top Ten Favorites in Hungary

I’ve lived in Hungary one year and two months; in that time I have come to love many things about Hungary. Here are my top ten favorite things about Hungary.

 

architecture

1. The people in Hungary are very friendly, helpful and kind to me.

2. Running a close second are the beautiful sights of Budapest; especially the historic and ornate bridges, Buda Castle and Parliament. They are beautiful visual reminders that I live in Hungary.

3. The Hungarian festivals that allow me to see more of the local Hungarian culture.

4. I love that Budapest is filled with beautiful architecture.

5. Hungary offers excellent cold fruit soups and delicious fresh picked plums.

6. I love that Hungarians welcome my dog Tanner within Budapest and when we travel.

7. Hungary has excellent, well marked highways.

8. Budapest has beautiful homes for rent with many amenities; think steam showers, in home saunas, dishwashers, American style kitchens.

9. Hungary and Europe offer amazing travel opportunities.

10. Budapest offers an excellent expat community.

These are my top ten favorite things about life in Hungary. Check back for more insights into life in Hungarian culture and life in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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Tanner relaxing at a rest stop in Austria.

Pet Friendly Austria

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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.

From Lassie to Cujo; a Love of Dogs in Budapest

 From Lassie to Cujo

I read as  many articles as I could find about living  in Budapest, yet none of them described the phenomenon I encountered my first day in Budapest.

Dog

 I discovered that dogs launch themselves at their fence as you walk by.  It’s anxiety inducing to experience their snarling, barking, frenzy. These same dogs (when  their owner is near) will be as gentle and sweet as Lassie. It’s astonishing. I’ve never experienced anything like it

Dog

A Hungarian Kuvasz.

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogwarts/3635859420/

A Love of Dogs

 In my neighborhood there are many dogs. Dogs are well loved in Budapest, it’s one of the many things I love about living in Budapest.  I read an article recently from Easy Jet magazine called Doggie Style,  it stated that Budapest has 400,000 dogs and that almost one quarter of Budapest citizens own a dog.  When you see and encounter dogs in Budapest on the street or on public transportation they are well mannered and gentle.  

My Neighborhood

When I walk through my neighborhood and speak to my neighbhors I try to get to know their dogs.  Across the street from my house there is a gorgeous Kuvasz. A Kuvasz is a large Hungarian breed dog, and is pictured above. It is one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever encountered. It’s similar in size and stature to my own dog, but pure white. When I met the owner he told me to only pet his dog when he’s at home. Otherwise he is not friendly, and he may bite. That was a little daunting.

 The Beautiful Kuvasz

Over the months since I’ve been living in Budapest I have pet this Kuvasz many times. He is a sweet, beautiful dog. But, one would never know that if they were a stranger walking by. He goes into a barking frenzy like every other dog on the block when strangers walk by. We’re now become buddies of sorts. He no longer barks at me when I leave the house and he actually seems to look forward to seeing me. He wags his tail sometimes and always craves having his head and back
stroked. 

Hungarian Dog

My neighbor’s dog, who is gentle and friendly IF you know him. If you don’t, he is fierce.

Well Mannered and Gentle

The dogs we encounter on the street or at festivals are friendly to Tanner and I. It seems to be only dogs within their own yards which turn into Cujo as we walk by,  setting off a snarling, barking pack mentality in the neighborhood. I love dogs, so it’s bothersome when Tanner tries to go up to the fence and make friends and is twarted in his attempts at doggie friendship by barking, growling, snarky dogs.

 It confuses Tanner and it’s been a learning curve.  Frankly it annoys me to have to remember not to walk too close to fences so that I’m not facing another heart pounding moment when yet another dog lunges at me and slams against his fence. It’s Cujo to Lassie every day living in Budapest; a city that loves their dogs.