Monday, September 29, 2008

Vrgada Boat Tour

We have just docked from a fan-bloody-tastic cruise around the Dalmatia Coast. I was a little bit worried it would be a contiki-esque porn fest but it turned out to be full of girls, 5 of whom Bec and I got on famously with! Well, we didn’t really have a choice, there were 25 girls and 6 guys (2 of them single) so it was time to accept the girl bonding sessions which actually worked out not as painful as I first thought. These girls are exactly like us. They like to eat, they’re not the type to go out until all hours of the morning unless its worth it, they like antipasto picnics on top of mountains (one of our adventures in Hvar) and we even formed an all girl boy band called Buoyz. Just one of those jokes that forms out of nowhere and seems to keep going, but I think we do a pretty good job of being the Nick Carters and Robbie Williams of the world!

My personal favourite island was Hvar, but not for the reasons I thought. I was told to go there because it’s the party island and there is heaps to do there but we docked quite late and so had an impulse picnic up near the castle overlooking our boat (amongst some lovely super yachts, mind you, which some of the girls on our boat managed to sweet talk their way onto!). Most of the clubs closed early or were not open at all due to the fact that in Croatia “summer has finished” and therefore also any social life that may have some with it, but most of us were too buggered from doing nothing all day on the boat to care!

We were almost evacuated from Mljet due to a huge bushfire so close to the town that we were a little bit scared… but most people kept on drinking in the bars anyway and we managed to survive so it was all good!!!

We tried the cuisine at every stop (yes, gelato is part of Croatian cuisine….) and managed to get some lovely seafood dishes with bizarre looking squid and other delicacies.

We were treated to some beautiful sunsets at most ports and the general atmosphere was so relaxed and chilled out that I’m really struggling to get back into the usual hectic pace of traveling!

We’re off to Barcelona this week and going to a football game in Camp Nou (apparently a big game against Atletico Madrid) so I shall update you more in terms of photos then.

Sorry guys, that’s all I have time for today, the internet in Croatia is ridiculously expensive and I feel ripped off and abused as I type!!

Ciao amigos, hasta luego!

Bec kicked our Nemo ball into the water but there was a round of applause from the surrounding boats when it came floating back to us...
Our picnic in Hvar, nice spread!
Turret bar on Korcula, we are sitting in front of a huge hole that drops down to the ocean!

The boating life is hard...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We are blessed.

(Prepare for the longest running sentences you will encounter).

Trieste was supposed to be a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the many cities we have faced on our awesome, but not altogether smooth running holiday. A quiet little coastal town, so close to Slovenia, it was selected by Clare and Rebecca (advanced travelers and frequent Euro train and bus patrons, and therefore complete experts on the subject (!)), as the perfect place to position ourselves for a one day visit to a set of caves so thoroughly researched and longed for by Rebecca, otherwise known as Skojan Caves.

After being directed to a set of caves in Slovenia, which unbeknownst to us were in fact a DIFFERENT set of caves to the ones we were intending to visit (one would probably deduce with the help of basic high school geography, that an area known for its amazing underground rivers and rock structures would MOST LIKELY boast more than one set of caves…our bad), a detour was in order to redirect to the RIGHT caves, a fairly expensive venture in terms of both time and money (deep breaths).

We eventually arrived at the caves at 4pm (having left Trieste at 10am…need I say more about the apparent reliability of the “when in Rome” sentiment – never believe the locals, even if they don’t know how to get somewhere they WILL make it up…).

Despite this costly mishap, we had a lovely afternoon in the humid 12 degree depths, the walking path that descends more than 170m underground and winding through stalagmites and stalegtites was lined (romantically enough..) with small lantern lights – a truly breathtaking scene. Bec managed to hit the nail that is her fear of heights right on the head by traversing a bridge high enough to make even the non vertigo sufferer’s knees like jelly (ahem, me…). I felt much like I imagine Shmeagle (to be said in a slimy bubble-in-the-throat tone) would, surrounded by a constant, yet not creepy dripping sound, followed by the rush of an underground river and still-live stalagmites/tites that resembled various amimalia figures. A river enters outside these caves and flows underground until it re-emerges somewhere in Italy. They were in fact the most amazing caves I’ve ever seen and you’ll have to take my word for it due to the stingyness of the Slovenians whom prevented any photo taking…

Aaaaaanyway, after our nice little sojourn, we walk to the station closest to the caves as apparently the free shuttle service finishes before the last tour (go figure). This was no mean feat by the way, we miraculously managed to choose the right path despite some very ambiguous directions and distinct lack of signage (and with some help from a young man from Colorado called Charlie). We catch a train to Sezana, according to the cave people, this is the way to get to Trieste. To our complete and unpleasant surprise, we are told that the next train to Trieste departs at 4am! After trying to decipher the conversation of a few train conductors (most likely trying to get the younger man of the group to give us a lift to Trieste in the hope of being paid in kind…) we refused to give up and walked to the Autostazione and managed (with some more help from a lovely Dutch bus driver) to decipher another sign (in Italian – go Clare and her universal language skills!) that there is in fact a trial bus that began less than a month ago, leaving in half an hour to Trieste! There is a God despite my previous beliefs! After confirmation from a cute Italian man donning cereal in bulk, our elation is well and truly set in.

IN ADDITION (oh yes my avid blog readers, there IS MORE), not only were we really getting home on wing and a prayer, the bus trip set us back a whole 1 euro, 6 euro cheaper than the fare there…and so the vision of us sleeping on a train platform in the tiny town of Sezana, surrounded by seedy Slovenian train conductors until 4am, is vanquished! Hooray!!

So despite the constant obstacles that seemed to present themselves way more often than any obstacle should, we were unbelievable relieved to have stumbled on this accidental method of travel home with a king sized bed, pepsi machines and a roof over our heads waiting for us in Trieste.

We are truly blessed. I’m becoming a Catholic again. (Figure of speech only…don’t get excited Grandma…)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

From Munich with Love

I’m currently on a train to Rothenburg ob de Tauber which is rather exciting, not because its such a cute little town, but because it has an awesome Christmas shop and Bec and I are so into shiny things and all things festive! Munich is pretty cool but we haven’t had time to explore it very well yet because we missed 2 free tours, one because of my bum steer in the opposite direction to where we were supposed to meet (I know, it wasn’t Bec this time!) and secondly, because we didn’t give ourselves enough time to get to the main square! We did, however, manage to get to the truly kitsch but slightly amusing Glockenshpeil, a clock in the main square with rotating figures and nice bells! The hostel is really cool and I’m glad to have a decent WIFI connection for a change because we’ve exhausted our collection of Shameless seasons and need to download series 3 before we get withdrawl symptoms!

When I first stayed in hostels, it really didn’t bother me how much noise people made, how much mess they made or the things they did but I think its slowly starting to get to me. Last night I opened a window to let some fresh air in and some girl came and closed it after I’d gotten into bed. Now, I can understand that people would want to close curtains, but why would anyone want to be in a room with no oxygen coming in? It never used to bother me that people don’t like windows open but now I’m longing for my own room where I can have the window wide open! I come from a household where doors and windows are always open (sometimes in winter too) and there is never a feeling of mustiness or claustrophobia. I know some people obviously don’t live like this, but its driving me crazy that I can’t dictate my own living conditions. I’m fine having other people in my room, but I like to have a shower when I want, open all the windows and not have to trek 2 floors everytime I want a cup of tea.

Its not driving me crazy to the point where I want to come home, but I will be so grateful for my own bed, a strong shower and my own living space when I get home. Mum, you say that you think I’ll want to move out when I get home to have my own living space, but if anything being at home is ten times better than living with other people who don’t share your lifestyle. I think living at home for a few months will be blissful!! (As long as I get my car and computer back!!!)

Here are a few photos to show you what we’ve been up to in the last week or so.

Flowers are fun

And oh so sweet smelling!

Beautiful Praha from the top of a hill

No European city would be complete without icecream!

Getting on the Caiparinas in some South American bar!

Bec playing marbles in a random competition we found. She was the only Australia representative.