Costs of Living: Life in Ethiopia is unbelievably cheap from the European perspective, especially if you buy your food at the local markets and eat and drink what the locals do. Generally, the products you can buy are of a very high quality and really tasty. Our favourites were avocados, papaya, bananas, mangos, tomatoes and carrots! The food you get is wonderful, we simply love all combinations with Injera, but Suwa and honey wine and so many other things are simply delicious! The prices for hotel rooms and going out for dinner are also very low. We did not check the fuel prices, though, but the internet states that the price ranges somewhere around 0,80 US$.
Red Tape: Getting a visa for Ethiopia can sometimes be a bit difficult, we heard. Even though you can get a tourist visa at entrance (at least Germans do get it), an invitation letter by some Ethiopian citizen or Ethiopian institution might be needed. Getting to Ethiopia overland is not easy, as the general rule is that you only get visa in your home countries. Still, we have heard that embassies in Kenia and Egypt sometimes issue visa for overland travellers. For importing your vehicle, even temporarily, sometimes Ethiopian border officials state that it is mandatory to have an official letter from your embassy stating that you will not leave the car in Ethiopia (for more information, please click here).
General Impression: Ethiopia has been the most welcoming country by far and Ethiopians are impressively friendly and open and really are happy about every person traveling to their country. We never encountered even a single dangerous or even annoying situation. Road conditions vary from the typical "African-Chinese-road surface" to really worse dirt roads. Fuel sometimes can be hard to get, especially if you are far away from the capital.
Costs of Living: Hungary - compared to central Europe - is not as cheap as Romania, but still quite cheap. There is a difference between the Western part (and especially the lake Balaton) and the Eastern part. Whereas the East seems to be rather poor and thus cheaper, the West is more expensive. Campsites are about 10 to 15€ (i.e. 1.31 US$ to 1.97 US$), Diesel costs about 1,40 € per litre (1.84 US$ per litre, i.e. 6.97 US$ per gallon). Local produce are quite cheap, but it's hard to find them sometimes, as big supermarket chains such as Tescos and Aldi simply rule the market and Hungarian supermarkets are hard to find!
Red Tape: For European citizens, it seems, you don't have to do anything special (except, probably, for carrying a green car-insurance card!). A vignette, you only need for highways/motorways, and as we didn't use these, we didn't buy one! Make sure that your driving lights are switched-on (just like in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Romania). Police and border officials were really friendly and welcoming!
General Impression: Hungary really is a nice country to be. We enjoyed the North-Easterly part, because there is not as much tourism as in the Western part of the country and people, thus, are not "spoiled" and really interested in travellers. They will certainly make sure that your stay in the country is a nice one and that you'll come back some day!
Costs of Living: Romania - compared to central Europe - is really cheap. So cheap, actually, that it is sometimes hard to get rid of the money. Campsites are about 10 € (i.e. 13.15 US$) and local produce such as cheese, fruit, vegetables and meat are also really cheap. Diesel is relatively expensive and costs about 1,40 € per litre (1,83 US$ per litre; i.e. 6.93 US$ per gallon)
Red Tape: For European citizens, entering Romania is no problem at all. Still, the Hungarian - Romanian border was the first one where we had to stop and show our passports et cetera. Just to be on the safe side, we carried international driving licenses and a green insurance card that states that we've got car-insurance cover for Romania. We heard that it is obligatory to carry two warning triangles and safety-vests for driver and all passengers, but nobody checked it. What we forgot to do was to buy a vignette you need for ALL roads outside cities. You can buy it at gas stations and it is really cheap: a week costs about 3 to 4€ and fines will be a lot higher, I am sure! It can be bought even just before leaving the country (that's what we did). Apart from that, Romania, as a lot of other Eastern European countries have made driving with lights switched-on obligatory. Police and border officials were very friendly and polite!
General Impression: Romania was the most friendly and welcoming country we experienced before we travelled to Ethiopia. People are extremely helpful in any kind of situation and they love children, so be prepared that your children will be literally stuffed with crisps and sweets! Men are sometimes shy when it comes to women and don't talk with them or even look into their faces if they don't know them personally. Men are often invited to shots of home-distilled friut-schnapps (with over 50° proof!), which generally seems to be of good quality. A bit it seems that Romania is a country "on the move", probably just like Eastern Germany right after the fall of the Berlin Wall: almost everything is possible and everybody is very interested in foreigners and Western life. We hope that this is not destroyed by crooks who are just interested in their own profits. Also, we hope that the people make sure that their traditions, hospitality and community-sense are not lost in the process.