After a bus ride and a scary train, you’re finally in Zagreb at 7 o-clock in the evening in the pitch dark – this was in no way how you would have like to arrive in an Eastern European country. At the border of Slovenia a policeman threatens to fine you both 400 Euros each for not having stamps from the other countries you’ve visited. After you blatantly point out that this can’t be the case as no one else has asked for your passports, he simply walks off. Later on, Greg tells you that this guy was just a crook cop trying to score 800 Euros off naïve travellers. Despite your massive prejudice for Eastern Europe (wars, genocide, poor economics etc.) you’re surprise to find that everyone you come across is warm and friendly (apart from THAT guy). You manage to get lost on the way to the hostel only once, and when you eventually find the old building you’re greeted with a darling, black puppy! This easily puts Zagreb as the best welcome you’ve had on your trip.
Monthly Archives: January 2012
Your personal ideas of Rome have all unfortunately been stemmed from watching too many cheesy, Hollywood movies: you picture streets lined with cafes inhabiting smoking Italians, couples kissing in front of pretty monuments, and a whole heap of history you’re yet to look into. These expectations are instantly fulfilled as you walk the streets to meet up with the gorgeous Alessia – a bubbly Italian girl you met in Norway who has graciously allowed you to stay in her flat. After almost getting scammed out of change at the manky subway station, you find Alessia’s flat is on the doorstep to the Vatican – convenient! You meet Alessia on the street and walk to her gorgeous apartment: each part of the flat is covered in books, sculptures and paintings instantly making you feel at home – or rather the home you’d like to have when you eventually move out.
Anyone who’s ever spent time in Florence has had nothing but great stories of this beautiful town, so you’re excited to stay a couple of nights to explore. You arrive in the late morning, find your hostel, and are greeted by the lovely Jonathon – the owner of Dany House. He greets you with kisses and watered-down Tuscan wine – a fantastic way to start the next leg of your trip. After showing you places to go on the map, you put your gear in your rooms before setting off in search for a decent tattoo shop. Mik has a specific design she’s wanted to get for a while, and Florence has a good rep for tattoo artists. You find an address online, and with your trusty map you start hunting. Along the way towards the river, you’re blown away by the old architecture, the balconies and the smells emitting from the bakeries and cafes. Everything just looks so…Italian! (Funny that).
Bologna is a small town that you’re stopping by the on way to Roma. You picked the town by its recommendation from the Lonely Planet website: it’s one of the oldest cities in the world, and the culinary capital of Italy. Unfortunately, seeing as it’s such a small town, you were unable to find a cheap hostel close to the centre of town, so you instead booked a 2 star hotel 15 minutes out of town. This decision turns out to be exactly what you needed after the debacle in Milano: you have a private double room with your own bathroom, free breakfast and towels, and even a small gym downstairs! Of course you have no intention of going to the gym, but the idea is nice! After having a shower and throwing your clothes about the room (because you can), you take a bus into town in search for food. Bologna being one of the world’s oldest cities has buildings and cathedrals dating back to the medieval age. The cobblestoned streets grow more and more narrow, each holding a niche boutique or a dingy looking café. After purchasing some presents for friends back home, you walk in search for a specific restaurant recommended to you by the receptionist at the hotel.
Note to the reader: I am unable to tell the entire story of our trip to Milano without first informing you of the previous 24 hours before we arrived. The story takes place in Barcelona…
Sevilla is one of those small towns you’d had never heard of if your lovely cousin hadn’t so heartily recommended it. You arrive on the Spanish Christmas day – a day where all the shops are closed, and the streets are littered with candy and roaming Spaniards. As soon as you arrive you feel instantly relaxed being away from a capital city and those pesky tourists. You check in, buy some smokes (4 Euros!!!) and go for a walk around the winding streets. Hungry from a day of trains, you stop at a restaurant and sit down to traditional Spanish tapas: potatoes with aioli, a salad of peppers, cooked spinach and chickpeas, and a flamenco roll for Mik – ham wrapped in chicken. After drinking your red wine with lemonade, you dive into the delicious food at hand, pausing only to savour the tastes in your mouth. Despite this feast, you can’t help but buy homemade gelato from the tiny shop next door. You have a traditional Sevillian gelato made out of sweet bread and olive oil, and a scoop of fig cheesecake ice-cream. Salivating yet?
You’re travelling to Spain; a land of culture, food, music and wonderful architecture. On the train from the peak of Spain to Barcelona, you are stuck for one hour and a half with an Australian family from Queensland. You begin by chatting with the husband and wife, before their hellish 3 year old son pipes up. What starts out to be adorable banter between you three, soon turns into an hour and a half of loud, piercing chats with a spoilt child. Whenever his parents ask him to kindly keep his voice down, the little brute resembling Damien from The Omen, would lash out his fists at his parents, and tell them to be quiet. The experience further reinforces your objection to motherhood.
Paris is notably one of the most romantic, iconic cities in the world; so you feel rather disappointed when you’re instead greeted with a dreary, shit-hole of a city. You’ve begun this next part of your European adventure with one of your best-friends from high-school – Mik. You and Mik have always had a fondness for pulling the piss out of each other, and generally not taking things all too seriously. Many times in class you were told off for cackling too loudly at yet another fart joke, penis joke, or anything that could imply any sexual innuendo, in other words: you two were a pair of dickheads.
Here you are about to fulfil your childhood dream of coming to Salzburg; the town where you’re all-time favourite film was shot: The Sound Of Music. Unfortunately you will not be able to join an upper-class family of singers, nor fall in love with the handsome-brutish man of the household, but you’re still able to bask in the awesome beauty of the town. You arrive early in the morning and are instantly greeted with the soft falling of snow, which although is very romantic, becomes stressful when your Doc’s slip on the icy ground. After a couple of near falls, you finally reach your hostel and gladly spend the afternoon chilling out – something you’ve become quite accustomed to as of late. At lunch time you walk into the main street and order a vegan meal at an overly-friendly restaurant, before texting an old friend to catch up for drinks. Continue reading
Grunau is a tiny town secluded in the middle of nowhere in Austria. The town was recommended to you by your couch surfing host Anna back in Munich, where she guaranteed that this was the best place to come to soak up some nature and recharge your batteries. Feeling shattered after weeks of travel, this town sounds like a holiday away from your holiday. The train journey is only a mere 3 hours from Salzburg, which gives you time to have a smoke, a glass of wine, and relax on the train. Opting for your iPod as accompaniment, you listen to Florence and the Machine’s new album as you stare out of the window to the white wonderment of a European winter. You had only seen snow a couple of times before now: once you can barely remember as you were 3 years old, and the second time was on a mountain in New Zealand, in which case the snow had been there for a long time and was therefore hard and icy.