A Travellerspoint blog

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Towards Stockholm Arlanda Airport


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I started packing my baggage in time but as usual ended up being short of time. Stressed half to death I rushed towards the bus stop to catch my bus. With fully packed baggage and backpack I was pretty warmed up when I arrived at the bust stop. A few minutes later another bus passed by… I didn’t know that bus line was running during weekends. So, after checking the bus line schedule in my cell phone I realized that it did. If I had known that I would have taken that bus instead since that bus stop is closer to my home. Well, you learn something every day – right?

When the bus arrived in the next town, I disembarked at the travel center and waited for my fellow traveler (and co-worker) to show up. This journey would become my sixth horseback riding trip and the first for my co-worker, so she was a little nervous. The train arrived at the platform and we got onboard with all our baggage. The train departed as scheduled and we began travelling towards Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The train ride went trouble-free and we arrived at Arlanda at 5.53pm.

We had booked rooms at a hotel for a sleepover since the flight to Budapest departed early the next morning. The hotel had a transfer that picked us up at the airport and drove us to Best Western Arlanda Hotellby. Nowadays several hotels share the transfer bus, which is great for the environment. Thumbs up! After check-in we realized we got rooms next to each other. Perfect! We left the baggage in our rooms and went to the hotel restaurant and had dinner. Then we had to go to bed early since our transfer back to Arlanda was leaving 5.30am tomorrow morning.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Hungary Tagged traveling Comments (0)

El Broncho Ranch


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Got up at 4.30am so we had time for breakfast and check-out before our transfer at 5.30am. There were actually many people going with that early bus transfer. Many bags were brought onboard the bus, but some of the seats had been removed to make extra space for luggage. My fellow traveler and I checked ourselves in and dropped our bags at the self-service bag drop.

Then we passed security check and had to wait at the gate before boarding the flight. I had booked a window seat (as usual) behind the wing. I feel safer sitting there being able to see when the pilot extends and retract the wings flaps and slats during take-off and landing. Since we flew with Norwegian the passengers boarded the aircraft in the front and in the back. Meaning the passengers at row 15 to 30 had to board from the ground using stairs. And I bet it was like -5 °C outside, so it was kind of freezing. When the crew announced “boarding completed” I realized I had two empty seats next to me. It’s always nice to have empty seats next to you and not having a crying baby or a heavy sleeping passenger next to you. Due to the cold temperature outside they had to spray glycol on the wings before the airplane could tax out. All glycol that ran down at the ground were collected by a small truck-looking vehicle. Good environmental thinking!

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Almost 2 hours later we arrived at Budapest-Ferenc Liszt Int’l Airport and had to leave the airplane by stairs down to the ground and buses picked us up and drove us to the terminal. Our baggage arrived pretty early on the baggage belt and we headed for the waiting area where our driver waited for us. The driver was supposed to hold a sign with El Broncho on it… but instead the sign said the name of the travel agency and our first names. It was just as good, but it would have been nice to know though. The driver was a young boy who introduced himself and told us he didn’t speak many words of English. We followed him out to the parking lot. The heat hit us on the way to the car. In Stockholm there had been minus Centigrade and now here in Hungary I’m pretty sure it was at least +20 °C so my jacket came off fast. And now the car ride towards the ranch had begun. The sun shined outside and it looked like a nice summer day. We travelled for a long time on the highway before we turned off and onto a smaller road that was really straight. If you have been in the US you know how straight the roads can be over there… this road in Hungary was the same. Last 15 minutes were terrible though, due to a really bumpy road and just really bad in general. I almost thought I had to phone a chiropractor to get my back straightens out – that’s how bad it was.

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Finally, we arrived at El Broncho Ranch and Robert and Ida welcomed us. Robert, staff at the ranch, carried our luggage up to our room. My fellow traveler and I had booked a double room with separate beds. Ida, a Swedish girl and co-owner of the ranch, took us to our room. Our room was upstairs in one of the guest houses with windows looking out over the ranch with all the horses.

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The room was comfortably big (compared to all the other horseback riding trips I’ve done) with two separate beds, flat screen TV, refrigerator, and private bathroom. Certain coziness came with the room since they had kept the old beams and kept one stone covered wall. The room was tastefully decorated and furniture in an appropriate theme. We unpacked some of our stuff and changed clothes (it was +25 °C outside after all) and met Ida out in the yard. Ida, a super nice and positive young woman, explained to us how everything worked at the ranch and about the horseback riding. And that we had managed to get in time for lunch that was served at 12.30pm. A delicious kebab with rice and corn salad was served. You should not drink tap water here in Hungary… well, you can but it’s so many minerals that it tastes weird. So, on the ranch all guests had free and unlimited access to fresh water on bottles.

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There were more Swedish girls at the ranch today; two who visited the ranch over the day for a 2-hour ride and another two who had booked a long weekend. But all four of them were actually leaving later during the day. So, my friend and I got all alone as guests at the ranch. So, we looked around on our own, got familiar with the ranch and the horses and took some photos. The ranch has its own small-scale breeding. Earlier this year they had three foals, one in April, one in July and the youngest only two days ago. And another mare was heavily pregnant and expecting to foal at any day now. So, everyone at the ranch was excited and checked up on the mare several times per day. The ranch had two stallions that were used for breeding. One beautiful Paint Horse stallion (black and white piebald) that most certainly knew how good-looking he was, stood in one pasture. In another pasture further away, a Hungarian half-bred stallion stood proudly with his shining chestnut color and looked magnificent.

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Dinner was served at 6.30pm and we had a delicious steak casserole and some kind of quinoa and salad. Robert was still at the ranch and suggested that my friend and I should try out the relax center that was new-opened just a week ago. And so, we did. We sat down in the Jacuzzi and sat there for over half an hour. We got back at our room by 9pm and turned on the TV, zapping through all the TV channels. Mostly Hungarian or German channels (dubbed). A few music channels and English news channels. So, it was kind of odd to watch both “Friends” and “Sponge Bob Square Pants” dubbed into German.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Hungary Tagged horseback_riding el_broncho_ranch Comments (0)

Sanyi – the Horse Whisperer


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During the night two guys from Sweden had arrived. They had the room across the hall from us. They had arrived in their room at 1am with their bags (the walls were pretty thin). Then it got quiet for a couple of hours only to hear them come back at 3am after they had visited the ranch bar. Now they finally got into bed. Breakfast was served every day at 8am. My fellow traveler and I went down to breakfast at 8am this morning. The guys came to eat breakfast at 8.30am. None of them looked a day over 25 years. We greeted each other and we soon found out that these guys never ever had ridden a horse before. So that’s pretty bold booking a ranch vacation in Hungary then I must say! Erik, from Skåne, was a professional poker player in Cash games and Christoffer was a joiner and bartender from Västerås (if I remember correctly).

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Ida came in an explained what the day plan was. Erik and Christoffer whom never ridden before were going to have Robert as their instructor inside a small covered paddock while my friend and I would be riding a few minutes in the big paddock and then go out for a 2-hour trail. We would have Sanyi with us who only spoke Hungarian, why Roland (another co-owner of the ranch) came with us as translator. My horse for the week was Spotty, an Appaloosa, with the real name El Sundance Kid. Spotty’s Hungarian name was Pötyi, which I assume means spotty.

All guests must show off their riding skills before the first ride so the staff knows you can handle your horse. Sanyi was a thin, short-grown man, somewhat special. He never spoke much (not even in Hungarian) but his body language said it all. He handled the horses so well, that they called him "the horse whisperer". Sanyi rides all horses on the ranch and corrects them if they have picked up any misbehavior. He also breaks the young horses in when they are ready. Ida told us that it took only 40 minutes for Sanyi to tack an un-ridden horse and mount the horse without problems. Unfortunately, we never got to see it live so to speak… but Sanyi neither told anyone when he was going to. He read the horse and when the horse was ready Sanyi broke the horse in.

El Broncho Ranch is located in the middle of Kiskunság National Park with 148 acres of summer and winter pastures. For riding they had 2 paddocks outside and one arena inside. The national park mainly belongs to Bács-Kiskun County where the river Donau once flowed. So, it’s actually the old riverbed that has contributed to the sandy bottom and all the sandbanks in the park. Kiskunság National Park was created in 1975 and is protected by UNESCO.

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The sun was shining, about +25 °C and it felt like the sandy trails never would end. Hungary has a very flat landscape so when you got up on a small peak you could over-look many miles. The pine tree forests were wildly mixed with broad-leaf trees but you could still see the pine trees were planted there. Roland told us the trees were strictly lined revealing they were planted only to keep the sand from blowing away. After 2 hours of many long canters we got back at the ranch. Lunch was served at 12.30pm and it was chicken wrapped in bacon, potatoes and salad.

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The afternoon horseback riding started at 2.30pm. Groomers tacked our horses and led them out for us to mount them. My friend and I chose a 2-hour trail again with Sanyi and Roland (as translator). During this ride I noticed Spotty had trouble breathing from time to time so I asked Roland about it. Obviously Spotty had dust/sand allergies. Roland ensured me that the vet had done a thoroughly exam of Spotty. Only after a long canter you could hear him breath heavier than usual. Dinner was served at 6.30pm with roasted potatoes, cutlets and salad. Very nice!

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Hungary Tagged horseback_riding el_broncho_ranch Comments (0)

Lesson with Ida


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Breakfast at 8am. Erik and Christoffer joined us and looked a bit worn out. We asked them if they had any muscle aches and they sure did! I totally understood them since they had never ridden before ;) My fellow traveler and I were having Ida as our instructor today. So, we took the opportunity to take 1-hour lesson and then a 1-hour trail. Also, today it was +25 °C and the sun was shining. Luckily, I brought a thin sweater otherwise I would have got sunburned like hell. The cowboy hat protected my face from the sun perfectly. Ida taught well during the lesson and we got to ride slalom with only our weight (not even neck reining). We had to let go of the reins and only using our weight and leg-aids. So, after that hour we were exhausted!

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Sanyi joined us and Ida when we rode the trail. This time Ida acted translator. Ida had actually learned a lot of Hungarian words during her years living and working on the ranch. The sandy roads and trails invited us to many long canters and the trails lingered through the pine tree and leaf tree woods. Lunch was served at 12.30pm. The lunch toady was sausage, potatoes and eggs. Then we had a power nap before the afternoon riding.

We chose to do the same again, 1-hour lesson with Ida and then 1-hour trail. This lesson Ida had prepared an obedience program involving different western elements. First we had to ride into a small square (poles lying on the ground) and carefully turn the horse 360° without stepping outside or touching any poles. Then slalom in jog and later a canter strike off and canter on the short side. Transition to walking and side pass between two poles on the ground and then making a turn on the quarters around a cone and then we were finished.
Many challenges! I like that. First round went OK. First, round was a test ride so we could try every moment out. The most difficult for me was the canter strike off since Spotty got cranky and didn’t want to. You could tell the horses had done this before and already knew what the rider wanted to do. If you gave the right aids the horses did exactly what they were supposed to. So, the second round Spotty and I owned it. Close to perfect canter strike off and an awesome side pass and terrific turn on the quarters. So, I was very pleased with the lesson.

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Sanyi joined us out on the trail. During the trail we got to see both pheasant and deer that got scared when we came cantering between the sandbanks. After the ride my friend and I felt it was time for some Jacuzzi. You got pretty tired after two western lessons in one day. Dinner served at 6.30pm and this time it was spaghetti Bolognese. Yummy!

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El Broncho Ranch


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Breakfast at 8am. Today we were going to ride with Sanyi and Dominique since both Ida and Roland had gone to Germany marketing the ranch. The ranch owners had decided only to accept international guests since the Hungarians misbehaved and didn’t pay for their staying.

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We started with 1-hour lesson with Dominique. Sanyi sat on the wooden fence, didn’t say much but spoke in Hungarian with Dominique every now and then. Again a +25 °C and sunny day, so that thin sweater and cowboy hat were necessary. Later we went for a trail ride all four of us (my friend, Sanyi, Domonique and I). Now when we had been on the ranch for a couple of days, we (well at least I did) began recognize the trails even though it was only sand everywhere. Lunch was served at 12.30pm, today a chicken pot and rice and salad.

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In the afternoon we chose the 2-hour trail because of the wind and it would be difficult to hear Dominique out in the paddock. But the warm wind made it yet comfortable. When we got back at the ranch another Swedish woman Louise had arrived for a long weekend. She originally came from Gothenburg, now living in Stockholm. Erik and Christoffer had booked massage for the evening. My friend did also book the massage. Dinner served as usual at 6.30pm. Grilled chicken, garlic bread and goat cheese. After dinner we got together out in the patio. Erik and Christoffer with their creative fantasies came up with a lot of funny stories before bed time.

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Bear and Tiger hunt


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Breakfast at 8pm. Erik had left late last night to participate in a poker tournament in Great Britain. My fellow traveler had terrible back pain so she couldn’t ride today. A little sad, but if you’re in that much pain you shouldn’t ride. So, I had a 1-hour lesson with Dominique all alone, since Christoffer and Louise had Robert as their instructor. Wow. This time I got to work my ass off! Since I was alone in the paddock Dominique could focus on me all the time and saw every little thing I did (or didn’t) do. It was sunny today as well and +25 °C. And I’ve never worked this hard during this week so far and I was soaked in sweat!

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After the lesson Dominique and I joined Christoffer, Louise and Robert for a 1-hour trail. Lunch at 12.30pm with served meatballs, mashed potatoes and salad. After lunch we found a couple of lassos hanging at the patio. We all tried roping a wooden trestle. Now Robert happened to be a lasso champion (and had won a lot of trophies) and he tried desperately to teach us how to do it. It’s not easy I can tell you. This was my second time in life I tried roping. First time was in Arizona, US. Robert showed us some skills and talent with his rope (he had his own special rope).

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In the afternoon we agreed on a 2-hour trail Christoffer, Louise, Robert and I. We went on both bear and tiger hunt and watched out for the crocodiles and the jumping snakes ;) It turned out that Robert had a huge and lively fantasy! It was always Robert that took care of the kids at the ranch during kid camps and used to joke all about the bears and tigers, crocodiles and snakes. Even though we were all adults we had a blessed time and laughed so much! I’m never growing up – I’ll always be a child at heart! So much more fun ;)

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When we got back at the ranch and after hunting both tigers and bears, we went to the Jacuzzi. Dinner served at 6.30pm and today we had falafel and French fries. During dinner Christoffer bought us all a Pálinka each, which is a Hungarian specialty and according to me not that tasteful. Later on, one of us came up with the idea of a Pálinka-tasting (and it wasn’t my idea)! I did not participate… when I’m at a horseback riding vacation I’m not looking for the booze to drink. But everyone else chose 9 different Pálinka flavors and tasted them all.

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Mount Everest


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Breakfast at 8am as usual. Christoffer was leaving today. But he still got time for a ride at 9.30am before he had to leave for the airport. Today it was +25 °C and sunshine.

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The rest of us (Louise, my friend and I) were doing a hack out at 10am for a 4-hour trail with picnic lunch. Robert was our guide for today and we rode off on trails we hadn’t ridden before.

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After a while we came to a sand hill about 20 meters high. With his fantasy Robert called this hill the local Mount Everest. We rode up the hill and let the horses rest for a few minutes. The view from up here was magnificent. We rode down again had a lot of long amazing canters before we stopped for picnic lunch.

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Anita had drove the picnic out for us and prepared it on a blanket under an old pine tree. A fantastic goulash soup was served and later pancakes with either chocolate sauce or apricot marmalade.

Robert told us about this “game” he participated in twice a year, more like a role play. They dress up as and live like Indians out in the woods I tents during these two weeks. Different tribes declare war against each other. They wear real leather clothing, moccasins, furs, feathers and beads just as the Indians in the northern US had during 19th and 20th centuries. They also live in tapitis and even the cutleries are made out of horn. They arm themselves with knives and spears (made out of wood) to run around (well, tiptoeing) and “kill” each other with. If you get killed you become a ghost for 24 hours. You get your face painted white so everyone knows you’re dead. During that time, you can spy on the other tribes or get some sleep. Robert said that most people slept when they were ghosts since they barely slept at all when they were “alive” constantly living in fear of getting “killed” during sleep. I can definitely imagine Robert running around in the forests with leather clothes and moccasins, haha ;)

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After the long trail ride, we all decided to visit a lake nearby called Kolon for bird watching. Most of the birds had probably already migrated to Africa for the winter, but we did see some black and white birds in a tree further away in the binoculars. Back at the ranch and dinner at 6.30pm with a lovely meat pot with rice and salad was served and a delicious ice cream for dessert.

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Coin game


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Last day at the ranch. Always a little sad and melancholic to leave. You still want to enjoy the last day but at the same time start planning for your departure.

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Breakfast at 8am. Robert came in and told us it was his last day today before his week off. All kids in the Hungarian schools were off school so Robert would spend time with his son. But we had time for a 1-hour lesson with Robert before lunch. We got to try out the Coin game as he called it. This game made the horses pay more attention for the rider and the aids. You put four cones in a small square and rides in a circle around them, in both walk and jog. During this game you can never ride a complete circle around the four cones without a making a small circle around any of the cones. It was a great exercise that at least made my horse Spotty to pay more attention to me. Later we rode 1-hour trail before lunch at noon. Pancakes with some kind of meat sauce wrapped like crepes. It tasted good. Then we said goodbye to Robert who now left the ranch to be with his son and family.

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Ida and Sanyi

In the afternoon we had our last trail ride, my friend, Louise, Sanyi, Ida and I. It felt like we got to canter a little extra now since it was our last day… and it was fantastic. When back at the ranch we began packing our bags. We also bought a bottle of wine each, locally produced in Izsák, a town nearby.

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Dinner served at 6.30pm. Meat pot with ice cream as dessert. We sat in the dining room for a while talking and later paying the bill for our room. We left a message in the ranch guest book and then went to bed.

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Home sweet home!


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This night we turned the clock back 1 hour to winter time so we had 1 hour of extra sleep in the morning. The transfer to the airport left at 5.30am and we got off at Budapest-Ferenc Liszt Int’l Airport. The flight departed at 9.50am and arrived at Stockholm Arlanda Airport at noon. We got on the train towards Borlänge at 2.06pm but the train accidently hit a deer along the way and broke an air-regulator in the collision. The train got stuck at a train station for about 40 minutes trying to fix it. Bummer! When you’re so close to home… The train arrived in Borlänge about 45 minutes delayed. I obviously had missed my connecting bus and nicely had to wait for the next one.

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