A Travellerspoint blog

Another Busy Train

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Judging by the train from Budapest, we assumed most people would be travelling back the same way. We were wrong. Sad to leave the festival we went to Belgrade to book the night train to Ljubjana. The train to Belgrade was horiffic in itself, even though it was only an hour and a half journey people got off the train with t-shirts and faces dripping with sweat. We waited at Belgrade to reserve our seats on the night train and then waddled to the left luggage where we found a group of people we met on the train from Krakow to Budapest. We went for food and spent the rest of the day at the train station. We caught up with the group we saw earlier and realised we were all in the same carriage going to Ljubjana. We also all realised that there was no way we would get to sit on our reserved seats - the platform was full of people getting the same train, most without reservations. When the train arrived it was only two carriages, people bundled onto the train and climbed in through the windows. The added more carriages which didn't really help, it was so hectic but we eventually got onto the train and the very kind people we met earlier let us share their carriage with them. We slept 9 people in the 6 berth compartment, very uncomfortable and very little sleep. It was hideous.
14 hours later we arrived in Ljubjana and it was beautiful. We couldn't have gone somewhere more different to Serbia. Serbia was poor, political and rascist and most of this was expressed through grafitti. Slovenia was quiet, modern, clean, wealthy, beautiful and scenic. Our hostel was amazing. We met so many people in such a short space of time, considering we slept most of the time we were there; it was the most sociable place we have stayed. On Wednesday we went to Lake Bled with Jack (we met him at the hostel) and on the coach there we met AGAIN the group from the train. Amazingly we spent 2 train journeys and 1 coach journey and yet we never found out their names. Shocking. Anyway, so Lake Bled was again beautiful. The emerald green water and tree-covered mountains with hidden churches. We had lots of fun rowing across to the island in the middle of the lake with Jack and some Irish girls we had met on the coach. We moored the boat at the island onto a big gondola and went to explore the island. Running out of time we quickly went back to the boats, everyone jumped in, Lucy started to untie the boat when a rather angry looking Slovenian man began to shake his fist and ask 'what is this?' Staring at each other silently, Lucy quickly got into the boat and we rowed away to escape with the man shouting things behind us. We didn't really want to leave Slovenia but we had to go and get the afternoon train to Salzburg.

Posted by lucysarah 08:57 Archived in Slovenia Tagged boating Comments (0)

Its Been a While

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Well since our last entry we have been to/through Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and now we are in Austria. After staying an extra day in Budapest, we went to catch our train to Novi Sad, Serbia for the EXIT festival. Little did we know, every English person also travelling to the festival was taking the same train. Apparently it was cheaper to fly to Budapest then get the train than to fly straight to Serbia. The entire station at Budapest was full of backpacks and people, much to the amusement and bafflement of the locals. Rumours started to circulate as to which platform the train would arrive on. There were only two trains a day so everyone was desperate to catch the same train. With an hour to go until the train arrived, there was a stir of movement as people silently put on their backpacks looking ready to make a move. Eventually a train arrived unannounced and there was a serge towards the platform although noone actually knew for certain that it was the correct train. Luckily we got on, it was the right train, lots of people were left at the station and we had very uncomfortable seats on the floor for 10 hours. We originally thought this was the busiest train we would ever be on. Little did we know. Our carriage was full of fun and merriment helped by cheap beer in Hungary. Many games of uno and connect 4 were played whilst a very druken nerdy looking boy uncannily similar to Harry Potter stumbled up and down the train climbing on the arm rests and nearly killing Lucy by falling on her head. Everyone was in high spirits looking forward to the festival.

Posted by lucysarah 08:28 Archived in Serbia Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (0)

Budapest

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OH DEAR.
On the train we realised the hostel we had booked was far out of the city. Hastilly, we booked another hostel from the station. What a mistake. The 'hostel' was actually university accomodation, the man at the desk forcefully suggested we look at the room before we paid. He was right, it was shit. However, it was late in the day, and we couldnt risk not having anywhere to sleep.
We went to cheer ourselves up at a posh looking restaurant. We thought it was going to be amaaazing when everyone in the restaurant practically tutted when we walked in, smelling of smoke from the dirty train and in our sweaty travelling clothes. The goulash soup was amazing, but the main courses were clearlya microwaved and tasteless.
After a pretty sleepless night in the dirty hostel (in our sleeping bags, we didn't trust the sheets) we checked out and began our search for somewhere better. We found the amazing garibaldi guesthouse right next to Parliament in a beautiful area. We have a kitchen, bathroom, balcony, bedroom and hall aaaaaaalllll to ourselves. Words cannot describe the decor, will upload photos later.

Spent most of the day on a boat tor on the danube to margret island in the sunshine. Hysterical recorded tour guides, Buda and Pest. We realised Budapest was not as scummy as we first thought. Our first hostel was in a bad area.

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We went to Szentendre yesterday, a little old town with lots of narrow twisting streets and cafes.

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Posted by lucysarah 07:02 Archived in Hungary Tagged ecotourism Comments (6)

Krakow

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On Wednesday Sarah was ill, Lucy had a lazy day.

We visited Auschwitz on Thursday, there really isn't much we can say.

We didn't do anything for the rest of the day.

On Friday we wondered through the old streets of Krakow, buying squashy dragons along the way. We went to the Salt Mines in the afternoon. They were special, very special.
Apparantly the statues were built by the miners a looooong time ago, around the 17th centuary. We were very suspicious - they could only use candals for light, some of the 'statues' were plastic, some of the statues were gnomes, there were convinient places for the electric lights to illuminate them, and apparently they carved them after a full day working in the mine, instead of going hooome.
We both still bought authentic wolly 'mining' hats.
After a shot of Polish vodka (Lucy was asked for her ID) we headed for the surface in the terrifying 'lift', paprika crisps keeping us company.
The journey back was loooooooooong, Sarah rewarded herself with breaded fish and ketchup (served in an ice cream wafer pot) for supper, Lucy's wasn't much better. yum.
Then we emigrated to a cafe a few doors down and had profiterols and cocktails while we watched people with fire poi.
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Posted by lucysarah 06:48 Archived in Poland Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

Bitte Wartezeit

sunny 27 °C
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Beginning our journey at 8am we stood waiting on the Charlottenburg SBahn platform. Beginning to wonder about the lack of trains and signs reading 'Bitte Wartezeit' we heard an announcement. Luckily someone translated it for us and it turned out there were no trains running and we would have to catch the UBahn. We were beginning to panic, we knew our tickets were not valid on the Ubahn and we had to get our train from Hauptbahnhof at 9.38am. We had an awkward conversation with German train guards about the best way to get to the station. We illegally boarded the UBahn and travelled 14 stops. We were told to catch bus M14 from Hermansplatz station, however we could not find the right stop. At this point our rucksacks were feeling VERY heavy and our backs were feeling the burn. It was hot and muggy and we both felt faint but we soldiered on searching all the surrounding streets and eventually found the right bus. A couple of M14 buses drove past, terminating at our bus stop and again we panicked. Finally the bus arrived at 9.15am, we had 27 bus stops to go before we reached Hauptbahnhof. We started to plan another day in Berlin clinging onto the dream of the Reichstag.
Buses and backbacks don't mix. We were united with another backpacker though this struggle against the common man. A VERY friendly German with goggley eyes asked if we had heard about the rail strike. Not wanting to seem like the average British tourist we nodded and asked if international trains would also be affected. In his very pleasant manner he laughed and said "Yes...Delay has become an institution'. Our quote of the day. After a long pause he exclaimed "Hauptbahnhof is a loooooong way from here".
Getting off the bus at 10am we wandered into the station certain we had missed the train. Glancing at the departures board Lucy saw a 9.38 train delayed by 40 minutes. Screaming and jumping (yes jumping with backpacks) we realised it was OUR train to Krakow. We ran soooooooooo fast. It was a sprint to platform 12. We stormed onto the platform only to be met by lots of gloomy unhappy faces. Clearly not everyone was happy by the delay. After the initial celebrations were over we realised that the train didn't actually leave for another 10 minutes. Throwing my bag down I sprinted back to get some breakfast and lunch.
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The very uneventful 10hour journey went past fairly quickly. We were kept amused on the Polish boarder by the armed passport control struggling with a womans suspicious passport. They eventually stopped the train and escorted her and her young daughter off. We watched them walk past smiling. Very suspicious.
As we entered Poland the scenery changed slightly. The stations were old and empty, the houses were covered in graffiti with smashed windows, people wandered about aimlessly on platforms some sitting on the plastic chairs watching the trains go by, dreaming of life in the big shiny city.
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The sun began to shine as we drew nearer to Krakow travelling through the Polish countryside.
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Krakow appeared to be much nicer, lots of lovely ornate buildings and gypsies asking us if we needed accommodation. How kind. We walked past all these lovely buildings towards our hostel.
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The buildings became slightly more ramshackled. We were very tired from carrying our bags by this point. We eventually found our hostel, we wandered into the backyard to the 'reception'. It is cold, damp, grey, dingey, grubby, falling apart and generally not much like the pictures. Room is not much better.
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Posted by lucysarah 11:10 Archived in Poland Tagged animal Comments (1)

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