With Genoa As My Witness

Got back home today, and even though I've had a smashing time, being back home is kind of nice. I suppose a girl needs to sleep sometimes. Went over the jillions of pictures taken during this trip, and picked out the ones I liked best. So, without further ado, I give you the best from one of the witnesses.


Men of T and D examining crackers of chocolate


Dave during morning coffee


Me and Dave on our hike through the five villages


Beautiful five villages scenery


More beauty


Hollow eyed lovers at Via del Amore


Dr. T during lunch hour


Italian sea side


Wardriving Nik busy bringing down open wifi, the second time around


Gorgeous Saltzbourg


Saltzbourgian walkpath


What Nik looks like after a day of starvation


Nik keeping on the ol' straight and narrow


The best wine I think I've ever tasted


Wine distorted Nisse in Pula


The wonderful Alps


A somewhat failed jump shot in Saltzbourg


Nik and Nisse in Zürich (not the one in Austria)

So what can I tell you guys? It was a fantastic trip. Thank you to each and everyone who helped make it so special.

This is Mia, signing out.

Rolling Home Across the Sea

Last night we had yet another amazing dinner. But this one was different, this was what we in Sweden call "extremt värdigt". I'm not even going to try to describe last night. Just a perfect ending to this great trip. Trip is also something Mia has been doing, a lot. She's tripped in six different countries the last few weeks. Kudos!

I'm in the line for check in at the airport in Budapest. It's time to go home, but not in a sad way. We really squeezed every last drop out of this trip and I believe we all feel that we are utterly pleased with what has been and at the same time quite eager to go home again. Fucking lagom!

There are three free/open wifis at the airport, which is just brilliant. Hungary really knows how to treat people to basic needs such as the Internets. Two thumbs up. Damn, my iPhone has really been a sweet companion on this trip, thought I'd mention that. When we get hone tonight, we'll post some re-cap or best of pictures here. Until then, we will enjoy our flight and perhaps make a toast on the plane, a toast to us for being so compatible and awesome. That's that.

--Nik

Now I'm bored...

Right,

It's 4.48 in the afternoon and it's way too hot to be outside.

An image to capture the three things we do in hotels when we're bored:
Surf
Talk
Drink some wine.

At least after a shower. Before that cooling refreshness, I was sticky and moist and I probably even smelled. But in our nice air-conditioned room with a clean body and clean clothes ... I don't want to leave. That won't stop me from being bored though.

So let's talk about getting into Budapest.

It's yesterday. It's 15:03 and we're supposed to arrive in the capital (according to the schedule at least)

15.03
The train is slowing down in front of a small concrete cottage with one station inspector and one old lady. The only things
visible. We're 20 minutes late. The American backpacker asks "Is this the capital?"

No.

It's not.

15.23
We're slowly moving into what (according to the schedule and the delay) is the main station. It's hot as heck outside.

15.30
We have left the train, and we're getting the sensation that this is the first place we've visited we're it's vital that you hold on
to your bags. It's hot and crowded. We need to get some money of the current currency.

15.35
That would be "Forint". We head for an exchange booth where we realise that we can change our remaining Euros and Kunas to about 60.000 Forint (we're rich!)

15.36
It's illegal to exchange money on the street. Which doesn't stop the "better rate here" guys to try to hustle us within two meters from the legal exchange booths.

Now let's head for a taxi.

15.45
The first taxi we encounter says it'll cost us 5.500 Forint to get to our hotel (we're apparently not that rich...). We explain that our hotel says it should not cost more than 3.300. The taxi guys talk for a while and explains to us that the traffic is terrible today, and that they cannot possibly get us to our hotel for less than 5.500.

No dice.

15.55
We call our hotel.

16.05
Our hotel-arranged taxi arrives. Will take us there for 3000 Forint.

16.15
Fuck me!
Oh darn!
This is a big city.
We're driving for ever.
The "terrible traffic" is nowhere to be seen though.

16.20
We're going across a beautiful bridge with statues in front of it. I bet we're going to walk across it later and take pictures.

Yes, I was right.

16.25
And now where going up.
Up Castle Hill (as "Europe on a Shoestring" translates it).

16.30
After a few toll booths we arrive at Burg Hotel.
What a nice hotel.

16.32
We've gotten the family room!
It has AC!

16.33
We have our own shower!
We have a view!
We have a minibar!

16.35
We have WiFi!

16.35:02
Surfing the Internets.

// Nisse

How To Cool Liquor



Cool cat cooling style


101 mistakes you're likely make on your backpacking trip through Europe.

1. Over-packing schnapps
2. Under-packing everything else
3. Starting your first food order after arrival with the word "Halloj!"
4. Addressing Austrian people in Italian
5. Downloading songs from iTunes on an open wifi network, thus breaking it
6. Repeating #5 the next day
7. Expecting Italians to understand basic English words like "beer"
8. Befriending people who shoot birds from their bedroom window
9. Losing the only set of keys to the apartment shared by five people
10. Breaking the washing machine
11. Ordering veal with tuna sauce
12. Walking around asking for the red light district
13. Getting bitten by insects
14. Trying beer for breakfast
15. Growing a summer mustache
16. Ordering grappa
17. Getting bitten by sleeping girls
18. Paying €7 admittance fee for the beach
19. Breaking your suitcase the first day
20. Posting pictures to Facebook for €4/Mb
21. Riding a train for 6 hours without any food
22. Using vending machines
23. Learning to whistle during a 6 hour train ride in company of others
24. Repeat #5 in another country
25. Pouring beer on someones head
26. Not bringing a purse
27. Not bringing a wallet
28. Walking
29. Accepting a "free good-luck gift" from shady Kenyan guy in the harbour
30. Buying a bottle of wine in Zürich
31. Going to Zürich
32. Banging pots together to make a lot of noise
33. Sending 20+ damn expensive text messages each day
34. Thinking Turkey borders Italy
35. Falling asleep in an alley
36. Chasing rats while drunk
37. Singing the Swedish national anthem in a crowded restaurant to celebrate an Australian guy
38. Trying to have a wee on a moving train -- standing up
39. Planning ahead
40. Getting a hotel room with blood-stained walls
41. Ordering home made grappa
42. Thinking you could write 101 of these

-- Nik

Oh, ADD


I am so bored. Bored, bored, bored. I've not yet mastered the wolf wistle and everytime I start practicing Nik motions to leave the comartment. I'm hot and Hungary smells of rat piss. I've read almost half my book, and even though it's a good one I'm ow bored senseless with it.


Me, climbing the walls backwards, crushing a mars bar with my head

There's nothing to do, nothing to see. Hungary is almost completely flat, and all I can see are fields, Nik and Nisse. I can hear annoying american girls ('Oh, my god, I am so freaking out!') in the compartment next to ours, and they're bothering me to the point where I wish to hurt them. I am probably the least likable person on this train right now. I accidentally crushed a mars bar with my head while trying to touch the top most bagage rack with my toes.

Why is this whistle thing so freaking hard to get right?

//Mia

Well this ain't boring

While my dear colleague and my dear new-found friend is sleeping their way through a bit of this journey to Budapest, I've put away my Lee Child novel ('One Shot', a good suspense story, but the main character is a bit to much he-man to be interesting in the long run) to blog a bit about train rides (yes, again, but I think you've gotten enough 'From Zagreb with Love'-posts to last you a while).

This is just before Mia's starting to (literally) climb the walls.

Going by train through Sweden, you can't help getting a bit bored. The same forests the same lakes I've seen Ljusdal about twenty times more than I like there's always small children who wants to be there even less than I and the smell make me nauseous...

*relax ... breathe ...*

So I was a bit surprised to realize that I Really Love train rides through these countries. The views are absolutely spectacular. The ride through the alps was magnificent, and yesterdays ride, high up in the mountains beside the bay of Rijeka was so awesome we didn't even take any pictures. Nothing could have captured it.

Even the nightly ride from Salzburg was good (despite the full train and the lack of food), although I was reading Dracula at the time, about riding through through the Carpathians, so my imagination might have been a bit skewed (read my previous post to see what I mean).

I guess it's about seeing something new, experiencing something out of the everyday life, enjoying the company of friends, learning to whistle (yes, Mia is awake and trying to learn to wolf-whistle ... she's getting there, but at the moment it's just noise ;-) ), and just having a great, exhilarating, intoxicating journey of a lifetime.

Or as Mia just shouted: "Did you hear that? I did it! That was a squeak!"

// Nisse

How Zagreb Won My Heart

Somewhere in between that that is love and that that is friendship, there is a big space where the two overlap. This is the place where I'll always keep Zagreb. We arrived, hungry as wolves and tired as narcoleptic night workers trying to kick a coffein addiction, to find one of the most impressive cities I've ever seen. The main street was divided in two by huge parks, green and full of flowers, and the buildings where just the right size to be impressive without being vulgar. The people were friendly, and the streets were clean. The cathedral overlooked the city, and every 15 minutes there was a burst of bells sounding from every corner of the city, announcing the time.


Skål, för i helvete!

We found some chocolate to sustain Nik, who was getting noticably grumpy from lack of nutrients, and then headed off to unload our bags at the hostel Nisse had booked earlier on the train. The room was darling, small but quite adequate, and was located in the old parts of the city. We rapidly found a cozy restaurant with limber waitors, and sat down to enjoy the most fab tuna steak I've ever had. Afterwards, I washed it down with a chocolate mousse that made me want to start a religion in its name, and finally had some decent coffee. A few drinks later, and it was time for bed.


Nisse in the Croatian night

This morning we got up at 7, had breakfast and are now sat on the train to Budapest. I would have loved another day in Zagreb, and am certain that I'll someday return.

Zagreb, you sassy hussy, you have won my heart for ever.

//Mia

Beach in Pula

Lovely, no?


Grains of sand, a bit larger than usual

//Mia

Croatia, Baby #2

I remember writing my last post on the delayed train from Ljubljana to Pula, being very cranky at the time. Let me tell you, that crankyness went away like a dog that suddenly moves to a farm upstate! Damn, Croatia. That's some seriously good shit!

When we arrived at the hotel in sunny Pula where we had made reservations for two nights there was an immediate fuckup: "we don't have your reservation."

Damn.

So after confirming with my bank that hotels.com had charged me for the room, I felt screwed. The hotel receptionist looked through all his papers and systems but couldn't find anything. He sent us around the corner to go see the booking agency which handles the bookings for the hotel. We went in there and had a dead-end conversation about our reservation, it all seemed in vain. Until one girl asked my name, and after hearing it the whole office broke into laughter. They had received my reservation from a system they couldn't handle, so they hadn't known what to do with it. They had apparently been trying to work out what to do with the fax with my reservation, given up and put it in some "uhm... ?"-box. Anywho, I've rarely seen such commitment and servicemindedness from hotel/agency staff as I did in Pula. And we got our room.

View from our hotel room in Pula, Croatia.

We stayed at the hotel Riviera anno 1908 which used to be a premium hotel for jet-set people. It has now degraded an awful lot, but the building was still impressive and held a certain spooky charm that really made you feel its former glory. Quite extraordinary.

Beach in Pula.

Pula was an amazing place, everyone spoke good English and the water was the cleanest I've ever seen in the Mediterranean sea. Just beautiful. I'll definitely go back to the Croatian coastline.

Pula by night.

After two nights in Pula, we were off to Zagreb as a pit stop on the way to our final destination: Budapešt.

The Lennart Danielsson train from Pula. WTF?

Three idiots on a train, no food and barely any water. Yes. That's the second time we get on a train for a half-day long trip without anything to eat. I'm amazed we didn't kill each other. Instead we held a straight face and finally arrived in Zagreb. Oh...

Mia and Nisse in Zagreb.

... what a town! It is nothing like I had imagined. Modern, full of life (full av hälsa!) and just so cute -- this town is well worth a visit. We checked in to a private accomodation in the old town of Zagreb where we got a nice two bedroom apartment for less than €20 a pop. Win.

Went out and had a gorgeous dinner, I of course had the tuna steak. (Thank you, Ted! ;) )

After dinner we had a stroll through a park full of bats and of couples making out. It was awful, such decline of youth in Croatia... Tsk tsk. Went to sleep praying for their sins to be forgiven.

Woke up and went for breakfast, found a market where we bought the cheapest fruit I ever saw. Win again. Now we are on the train to Budapešt, sitting next to a gang of American collage girls that drive us mad with their American crap. It's like listening to a cheerleader movie. Fucks sake. But I'm not complaining, heck we're on our way to Hungary! We're flying home on Wednesday which gives us plenty of time to explore Budapešt. Good stuff. And after coming home from Budapešt I'm off to Örebro to see Astro. Great stuff. This is the best vacation evaaaah ftw!!!1$$$

Mia shopping for some fruit.

Posted on the Internets, written on the iPhones.

-- Nik

Captains Log


While trying to sum up the madness that was this night and morning, I realised that I had a very well complete captains log of the events safe in my phone texting history. Therefore, I give to you dear readers, messages in the night:

01.14
At the train station waiting for our train to Ljubljana. I woke after two hours of sleep feeling giggly and unable to stop singing Sound of Music songs. Nik compared having confidence in confidence alone to to only programming through means of meta programming, and ended up calling Fraulein Maria a ditsy cunt. Will do some more sleeping on the train, or I'm afraid I'll spontaneously burst into flames halfway to Pula.


Nik and Nisse at the Saltzbourg station

01.41
We just managed to get seats in the train in a compartment where we were instantly hated for no apparent reason. Two very loud girls are roaming the hallway outside, and due to what must be danish combined with drugs they're totally incomprehensible. A big part of me wants to break their jaws to stop them from yapping.

04.17
Still on the train to Ljubljana, have not been able to sleep at all. Am now exhibiting all the tell tale signs of a mad person, randomly bursting out in either laughter or tears, and due to the evilness that is vending machines and my inability to rock them I'm not only hungry but down three euros with nothing to show for
them.

06.19
Arrived in a rainy but beautiful Ljubljana, waiting for our next train which arrives with promises of a restaurant cart (LOVELY!). Managed to get some shut eye, and am feeling slightly less emotionally psycho. Oh! Here comes our train now. Fab!


Picture taken at freaking 09.16

07.15
Turns out that wasn't our train at all. We still haven't left, and the new train seems to not have a restaurant cart at all. I'm cranky, but Nik bought us some chocolate, which certainly helped. We will miss our final train, though, so we still need to
fix that. Will try to sleep some of this hunger off.

08.48
We're stuck on the same train, still in freaking Ljubljana and along with what must be the most annoyingly loud 18-year old party animals who I all dream of destroying.

09.18
Nik is giving me the sad puppy dog look, convening hunger and despair. Moustache looks rather happy, though.


Beautiful scenery, thoroughly enjoyed

11.31
We're being transported as cattle, cramped up in tiny hallways without food or water. Luckily, we're getting close, only a little under 2 hours left.

11.50
Huzzah! The new cart is fab and I've got some chips. Only 1.30 left now.

14.03
Finally! Now all we need to do is check in to our hotel. Should be easy.

14.17
Shit! They've not gotten our reservation. Fuck a duck!

14.45
Major pfew.


The first thing I had to drink or eat that day. Was drunk as a donkey on radishes after that beer.

//Mia

Rant

I'm sitting on a train that reeks of pee. It is standing still. We're in Ljubljana and the locals tell us in their best English thst something called "The Storm" has "flipped it". So we are standing still. Have yet to confirm what "it" is and how severe it is when it gets flipped.

We passed the Telekom Slovenije main office on our way in to Ljubljana and Nisse seemed rather grumpy about it. I myself felt that it was nice to be able to connect all that jazz that is TS to something in the real world.

We've missed our connection in Hrjepe-Kozina and we need to figure out how to get to Pula, our destination. Guess things will work out just fine. I'm looking forward to buying a proper beach towel and to having a swim. These Slovenian kids are having a loud party on the train despite the fact that it is 7 a.m. They play horrible music and move around and shout and laugh. Bastards. Go away!

Saw quite a lot of the Slovenian country side on our way to Ljubljana, and it was spectacular! Could really consider going to Slovenia "for real" some time. Now I should listen to Tubular Bells to keep my calm. This train ain't a-rockin'.

Sent from my iPhone

-- Nik

Note Eventually we arrived in Croatia and all is well and this place is brilliant!

Night train to Ljubljana

03:05

If you make a list of all the romantic train lines in the world (topped by the Orient Express one guesses), the "Overnight train
to Zagreb" probably won't be in the top-ten (although Mia managed to sing a song about it... granted that was before we
boarded). But I think we've captured another central part of InterRailing here; the actual budget travel.

The boarding of a train in the middle of the night, leaving for a remote location. Sneaking past the grumpy conductor, making your way through the coaches finally finding three available seats and almost room for your luggage. Sitting among friends and strangers, some managing to sleep through the whole journey, some managing a few minutes of shut-eye between stations.

There is a romantic side of it as well, the train moving swiftly but jerking on the old and worn, jagged railroad. The passengers looking out at the night, the dark forests, the distant villages, all watched over by the pale full moon. Lights from scattered houses, blissfully unaware of the train hurrying through the night; it's business is elsewhere.

oh pale and silvery watcher
can we borrow you tonight
can you guide us on our path

// Nisse

Last Night In Saltzbourg


Back in our room after the most amazing dinner of gulash and knudl, followed by a gigantic portion of the local dessert consisting of baked egg whites and raspberries (which was about a jillion and one times better than it sounds). This country is scratching me in all the right ways, and in all the right places.


Austrian nit-picking

We're now looking forward to about two hours of sleep before we need to catch the first of the trains taking us to Croatia, or, as Nik put it:

'I hate to be the one making all the decisions, but I really think we should go for a swim in the Mediterranian tomorrow morning.'


Nik and Nisse outside the house where Motzart was born

This trip is awesome.

//Mia

Croatia, Baby.

So we've made reservations for Hotel Riviera in Pula, Croatia. We will arrive there tomorrow morning, going via Ljubliana, Slovenia. We're all a bit impressed of the fact that we just decided to go to Croatia. That wasn't really the plan. Plans are evil. Croatian riviera is good. Sun. Beach. No alpine rain. Good. Excellent. Excellent...

-- Nik