Countries, currencies, castle, deer.


In what was perhaps the most emotionally charged day of our trip, we travelled through 5 countries, fumbled through a purse filled with 3 different currencies, visited what may well be the final castle of our trip, and hit a deer on a foggy pot-holed road.

We woke up in Croatia, had a goodbye coffee with Sanja and Sebastijan in “our” town square coffee shop Marica, and hit the road.

Through Slovenia. Into Hungary. Had to buy a vignette at the border. We’ve needed driving vignettes in Slovenia, Austria and now Hungary. These are stickers to allow you onto toll roads. Croatia and Italy still have old-school toll booths. So, a vignette in Hungarian Forint which I spread over the counter at the servo for the backward cap servo girl to pick through and pull out the correct amount. Hungarian Forint will be the most difficult currency to calculate this trip with 1000HUF equalling $4.79. After a castle stop in Hungary, we accidentally drove into Austria (our Austrian vignette has run out, so we u-turned straight outta there), back up through Hungary, hit a deer, and into Slovakia.

While I think we’re all a bit church and castle-weary at this point, the girls were desperate to visit Fertod’s Esterhazy Castle (aka “The Hungarian Versailles”) because it featured on the front cover of Melanie Martinez’s album and film K-12. Unfortunately we had to go on a tour all in Hungarian to get inside, but seeing how excited they were to check out different rooms, and working out which parts of the film they were in was well worth it.

One of the current Hungarian princes still lives in the castle, and we only got to tour through a few of the grand rooms, but we haven’t seen anything quite as “wedding cake” as the interior here. LOTS of pink plaster and paint work; floral and angel motifs; ornate gold touches. All Barbie princess meets Barbara Cartland meets Laura Ashley.

So the girls left on a high.

It was getting dark, and foggy. Hungarian roads are not too flash, filled with holes, Gosford-council guttering (ie none), and visibility was low.

From the woods on one side of the road, with nobody else thankfully on the road, a deer sprang out, and straight in front of our car. With trees lining the narrow road and nowhere to swerve, Cam slammed on the brakes. But it was too late. We all sat there in shock. Milana was crying. Cam was shaking. I got out of the car to check on the damage. The poor deer was dead, our license plate had fallen off, the front grill and bonnet were smashed.

We all felt awful. R.I.P. deer.

The rest of the drive to Bratislava was quiet and slow with us, and thousands of trucks wading through the 0 degree fog.

We reported the accident to the car hire company and their two big questions were “did you call the Police?” and “did you call the local hunters?”. Remind me to put Hungarian hunters on speed dial for next time.

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