My rental contract for my apartment in Portugal ends in February and I’m really anxious to leave. One year in the same place is too long for me, especially when the place is a small village.
I already became aware of this after about three months and it became even more obvious when I travelled to Thessaloniki to attend the Polyglot Conference at the end of October.
Even though the winter months are not my favourite time of the year to travel to Central and East Europe, I was thrilled to hop on the plane to Germany on November 25. I had booked a Ryan Air flight from Lisbon to Frankfurt/Hahn.
Why you should avoid Frankfurt/Hahn
Well, there’s nothing wrong with taking a Ryan Air flight but try to avoid the airport Frankfurt/Hahn, at least during the low season. It has nothing to do with the international airport Frankfurt/Main and is situated in the middle of nowhere. I hadn’t checked bus connections before I bought the flight and that was a mistake.
I landed at 5 pm and had to wait until 6.30 pm for a bus to Mainz. There I needed to catch a train to Heidelberg and eventually arrived at around 9:30 pm. I mean, the airport is about 150 km away from Heidelberg, so that’s not really a huge distance.
As my children both live in shared apartments with little space and I didn’t want to bother one of my former workmates, I rented an AirBnB in Heidelberg. I faced some minor problems with the internet when the family’s son was watching videos while I was teaching a lesson but they were so kind to tell him to stay away from the internet next time I had to teach. Unfortunately, the internet in Germany is often not that good.
Meeting my kids
All in all, my weekend in Heidelberg went a bit different than planned. My son was in the hospital because of a pneumothorax so instead of having lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant, I twice went to Karlsruhe to visit him. It was nevertheless great to see both kids again. And my son has left the hospital in the meantime.
By train and bus to Prague
If possible, I try to avoid flights. I find trains and buses much more comfortable and within Central and East Europe, it’s no problem at all. By the way, did you know that Deutsche Bahn (German Railway) manages the database for all European connections on its website? That means that you don’t need to search for several national sites if you want to check a connection. They don’t give you prices for connections outside Germany, though.
In order to get to Prague, I first went by train to Nuremberg and then took a bus to Prague. The whole journey takes about 7 hours (4 hours from Nuremberg to Prague) and the wi-fi in the bus worked really well. Still no wi-fi in German trains, of course.
2 Days in Prague
As mentioned in my previous article, I had some issues with the internet in my AirBnB but managed to teach all lessons as scheduled. The apartment I stayed in would actually be perfect for three digital nomads as it has three spacious rooms and a kitchen and dining room as shared rooms.
Despite the fact that I hadn’t spoken Czech for ages, I managed to get along pretty well and hardly ever had to switch to English. I had expected Prague to be less touristic at this time of the year but I was wrong. It certainly wasn’t as crowded as in summer but there were still lots of tourists exploring the city centre.
From Prague to Budapest
Just like in Germany, it’s not advisable to buy a train ticket on the day of your journey. You get the best price when you buy online on the České drahy website but buying it two or three days in advance at the station is also all right. I paid about € 35.00 for the 7 hours journey from Prague to Budapest. There’s a direct train which stops in Brno and Bratislava (and some other cities).
Meeting old and new friends in Budapest
I first visited Budapest in 2013 and fell in love with the city immediately. It was my first destination when I left Germany to start living as a digital nomad in October 2014. Although I’m not exactly a social person, I’ve always found it easy to get to know people here, Hungarians as well as foreigners.
As a result, I had a pretty full schedule – taking into account that I normally meet people just once or twice a month. It was a pleasure to visit Dilyana from GermanSkills for the first time and also Catalina, a girl from the Philippines who has recently moved to Budapest. Someone I always meet when I’m in Hungary is Krisztina who I recommend if you want to learn Hungarian, German or English. Last not least, it was a pleasure to meet Eszter who helped me so much when doing the Add1Challenge with Hungarian.
Working in Budapest
Unlike in Prague, I had absolutely no issues with the internet at my AirBnB. My host was also very nice and talked to me in Hungarian all the time. I had thought about going to a co-working space but it’s not really necessary when you just want to work for a couple of hours. It’s quite common here to work at cafés. Sometimes you see more people with laptops and books than people who are just drinking a coffee.
I recommend these two locations:
California Coffee Company, Teréz krt 28 (between Oktogon and Nyugati pályaudvar)
I knew this café from previous visits and it was very close to my AirBnB. It’s frequented by lots of foreigners and the staff speaks great English. However, if you ask them not to switch to English when you order something in broken Hungarian, they do so and even try to speak slowly.
Cat Café, Damjanich utca 38
There are two Cat Cafés and the Zoo Café in Budapest and this one is the best. You pay kind of an entrance fee which entitles you to a piece of cake and as many drinks as you like (don’t rip them off). If you like to be surrounded by cats while you’re working, this is the place for you.
It really makes a difference if a café is mainly used by freelancers or students or by tourists or locals who want to drink a coffee. Normally, I don’t work well at cafés because it’s too noisy and crowded. However, if everyone around me is working or studying, too, I’m more productive than at home.
Back to Portugal
I’m currently sitting at the airport in Budapest and in spite of the low temperatures (around 0°C in Budapest and Prague compared to almost 20°C in Lisbon), I would prefer to stay in Budapest. However, I know that I just have about two months left and then I can resume my digital nomad lifestyle.
A different environment makes me more creative and I wrote down a bunch of ideas for next year. This does not only involve teaching German or helping others to get started as an online teacher. As much as I like those two aspects of my current work, I ‘ve always wanted to work with multiple languages and that means making other languages part of my business, too.