It was a brand new day on our Eastern European Trek, and that meant a brand new country – two new countries in fact – for our very-well acquainted Busabout group.
Leaving the hearty Polish food, vodka spirits and rolling green hills of Zakopane behind, we ventured onto our new destination, Hungary’s capital city Budapest. Now, if you know your European geography quite well, you’ll know Slovakia sits bang in-between Poland and Hungary. So, what do you do to break up the coach journey from one country to another? You enjoy a tank ride in Slovakia, that’s how.
Being honest, I read the tank ride part of the itinerary long before I booked this trip, and I’m not afraid to say it played an important factor for me actually making the booking – something I do not regret one little bit! I mean, when else do you get the opportunity to hop in a tank for a quick ride? Hardly ever in my experience. Needless to say, the atmosphere on the bus that morning was ‘hyper’. We were all ready for some exciting tank action.
Pulling up at the side of a desolate road, we we’re told to get off the bus and wait to one side. Then from deep within the bushes a rumbling noise began. Getting louder and louder, we stared waiting for this tank to appear. Suddenly and surprisingly quite quickly, it came thundering through the bushes with a little smiley guy wearing an old army helmet at the wheel. It was vintage, extremely loud and looked like bloody good fun!
Of course, me and my friend we’re keen to make it into the first group on the tank. Our keenness grabbed us front row seats – hurray! I say seats, you have to stand and hold on tight to the bar in front of you. About 20 of us were packed onto the tank with the strongest members holding on at the back – apparently this is where you were most likely to fall out! I mean, how great is doing risky stuff like this abroad? Back in the UK, you’d have health and safety all over it, but not in Slovakia, not on this tank. We were simple told to hold on tight and enjoy, no messing about what so ever.
The tank ride began. Through the bushes we went, where a large muddy assault course was revealed. Hill after hill of steep muddy inclines followed by equally as steep drops into pools of murky brown water greeted us. Our smiley driver relished in terrifying us with slow crawls up the hills followed by abrupt accelerating at the most scariest points. It was a true white-knuckle ride, with the added danger of trying to stay on your feet – amazing!
Our tank driver was so hilarious. He didn’t seem to speak much English, but he constantly had a little grin his face and clearly loved the excitement we all showed for his tank. Throughout the ride he kept turning around (we could only see his little head and army helmet popping out from the drivers seat), and grinning at us as we all screamed with fear and excitement. He loved his tank. I loved his tank. We all loved his rusty tank.
Covered in dust and the occasional lump of mud, the tank ride finished with one last scarily speedy exit from the assault course. We were all instantly over-whelmed with fits of laughter and hysteria. Sharing our own experiences – someone swallowed a fly – and taking tank selfies before we had to get off.
Afterwards, we were allowed to try on the army helmet and stand with the Slovakian flag on top of the tank – we even grabbed a pic with a smiley tank driver too! I’ve never been a fan of war and weapons, but this was definitely a fun way to use tanks – the world should take note.
I guess you could say all the excitement exhausted us Busabout travellers, because most of us fell asleep for the rest of the journey to Hungary. The tank was just too much.
By late afternoon, we’d arrived in the cosmopolitan city of Budapest. The sun was shining and the buzz of the city made a welcome change. What did Budapest have in store for us? Find out in my next Eastern European post coming soon ☺
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done while travelling? Can you top my Slovakian tank experience? Let me know in the comments box below!