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Bill's European Adventure, 2001. Part 7: Our Zagreb Sojourn

Paul & Mary join us in living it up like rich people

Sep 3

Today started well - woke up feeeling great, and the dodgy shower, cornflakes and cofffee failed to dim my spirits. Paid the hotel concierge - whom we had seen working the previous morning, drink beside the reception all day, and then get back behind the desk that night. He even told us he was too drunk to work.

Got the 10:50 train to Dobova, a border town on the Slovenian side, and promptly relaised that the drunken motherfucker had forgotten to give me back my passport, held as a deposit, and I hadn't noticed. Waved goodbye ot Ollie & Julie as they boarded the 12:55 to Zagreb (our destination), as I strolled onto the same train I had just got out of, which was now the 13:00 to Ljubljana. It's now 13:20, and when I recover my passport I'll be boarding the 16:10 direct (at least) to Zagreb, arriving 5 hours and 18 minutes after Ollie & Julie at 18:55. Bollox.

On my way to Ljubjlana, I was propositioned by a Slovenian homosexual student, who would not shut up. He talked, leaning towards me with a big grin, and offered me free accommodation in Ljubljana! Scary. Arrived with Ollie & Julie having sorted accommodation, had cheap dinner in Trattoria Leonardos and then was hugely annouyed when Oille & Julie wanted to leave after one pint in the pub.

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Sep 4

Woke up at 6:45 to see that Paul & Mary in the room - cool! We lounged for a while, and then wandered Zagreb for the morning, trying to kill time before going to the pub! We bought fruit at the fruit market and then had lunch outside in Trattoria Leonardos (again). Big slap-up lunch for about six quid. Lolled around and then had dinner in the restaurant beside Leonardos.

Went to a bar nearby, and when they tried to close at 12, Ollie went up and argued with the two barmen, and made a deal where we paid for our and their drinks in their dad's pub, where we were, and they would get free drinks from (for?) us in an Irish bar they wanted to go to. It was très bizarre, but great fun, giving Paul & Ollie pints with shots in them. It worked out really cheap, a fiver for six bottles of beer, and they gave us a lift to the bar in one of the guy's Lancia but the bar was closed so they dropped us to the petrol station near our hostel but it still took 1 hour and 20 minutes to walk home in the rain!

Sep 5

We didn't have to get up early so we didn't! After much lolling and debating over whether the 'minging' shower was even worth using, we ventured to the supermarket and got bread and bananas and crisps for brunch.

Because we got up so late, our first move was to geat ready to go out for dinner. After much traipsing around the city in the rain, we ended up in the restaurant Trattoria Leonardos again! The waiter recognised us and got us five Karlovačkos at his own suggestion.

After taking our time at the restaurant again we rolled into Caffe Bar Thalia, where we drank beers and drambuies and jagermeisters until twenty to 3:00, even though the last people before us left at 1:30 and it was supposed to shut at 1:00, all because it was worth the barman's while staying open for us five drinkers! He even only served me the last round because I pretended not to understand his Croatian ('keput' was fairly lucid!) and he couldn't be arsed explaining.

Before and after this point in our Zagreb sojourn, I noticed days and nights roll into each other, as all we did was play rich people, by just drinking coffee, eating lunch and dinner and drinking. It was a great laugh as a novelty, but I can't see myself living like that no matter how wealthy I got without going mental!

Posted by BillLehane 05:27 Archived in Croatia Tagged trains food beer travel drinking croatia zagreb slovenia ljubljana interrail blogs Comments (0)

Bill's European Adventure, 2001. Part 5: Verona and Venice

Showers, rain and liquid meals

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While this pic looks like we were arguing, we were actually trying to get the gondola in the shot!

Aug 27

Bought cheap fruit and bread on our way out of the hostel, which came in handy on the four-hour train to Bologna, for which we had to sit in the gangway, between carriages, and even then the inspector charged us a supplement, though he pretended we got on at Arrezzo, which made it a bit less severe. After seven minutes in Bologna we got on the short hop to Verona (1.5 hours), for which we did get a seat, and bussed and walked to the hostel up the hill where we were told there was beds free at the other hostel at the bottom of the hill - d'oh! It was brand new though, and the dorms were nice (and three-quarters empty!), the only problem was the showers, which consisted of a single pole with four shower heads pointing out - I'm no shrinking violet or whatever the phrase is but let's just say for two nights and two days myself and Ollie showered at different times!

We settled outside at a picnic table, where a Cork girl who just finished a degree in Italian and Latin guessed Julie was Irish without speaking because she was making a crisp sandwich! I had four more Splugen (u umlaut) 66CL bottles, and then myself and Ollie tucked into a IR6 700ml bottle of vodka, having grown our drinking group into us three, Irish girl, two New Zealanders, two Australians and two Germans. Though the curfew was 11.30pm, weren't kicked inside until 12.30am, where we drank until 2am even though the night guard turned the lights out at 1am! At least the bed was comfortable, though too hot as ever.

Aug 28

What a day - booted out of the hostel at 9am, and it was closed until 5pm then - so we went for a stroll around Verona, and decided to look for a tent shop, as three into a two-man tent doesn't go (!), and we planned to camp in Venice. The idiot bitch in the Tourist office gave us the wrong directions to the camping store twice in one sitting - we got a bus to the south of the city where a woman told us there was no via Antonio da Legado, so we got a bus to the train station, where they told us that street was on a different route. We ended up outside the city altogether to the west, where a kind hotel porter told us that we were on the right street, but that the camp store was on Via Legado, an entirely different road way, way to the southeast!

Got back to the hostel, had a quick cattle wash (shower), and headed out to dinner before the opera Nabucco at the Arena, which I finally persuaded the other two to go to - tickets only 28,000 (a tenner), and we had a great view of an open-air, Babylonian, fully-orchestrated performance of Verdi's Nabucco that we didn't understand a word of, but it was brilliant! Divided into acts of 50-sih minutes, which made it handy for getting more beer. The highlight was the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Va Pensiero), which was encored even though it was only three quarters through the show!)

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Photo Credit: Camping-fusina.com

Aug 29

After some bother getting to the train station, we now have to wait until 1.10pm (it's 10am) for a slow train that doesn't incur a supplement (personally, I'd just get the Intercity train and pay the £4, but democracy rules on this trip!)

We arrive in Venice anyway, and after a trip to the tourist office we get a bus to Camping Fusina, out right by the sea in Mestre, the industrial mainland area of Venice (I discover that Venice is 117 small islands, connected by 400 bridges - the map resembles one of those puzzles where you draw a line through the maze to the other side!)

We set up the tent, have supermarcato grub, and take a ferry to Venice. 30 mins later, having seen the Basilica di San Marco by accident [Aside: we're now collecting apostles, now having been at the tombs of St Peter and St Mark], we're hopelessly lost! Without anything other than our noses we miraculously return to our little dock bang on time for the next boat, and get back to our tent, which is pitched 15 feet from the water's edge (several gigantic freight ships passed right by us) with 2 bottles of chianti and a double bottle of rose. Got mildly drunk, yet still manage to talk so much shit so loudly, arguing for two hours after Ollie said 'exhaustive' instead of 'exhausting', so much so that a German girl gets out of her tent and asks us to be quiet! Me and Julie sleep in relative comfort in the tent (amazingly, it's too cold) while Ollie sleeps in the open air, whch turned out to be a bad decision.

Aug 30

Awoken at 9am by the freezing cold inside the tent, I get up in search of breakfast. I get ripped off in the campsite breakfast bar (8000 lira, £3.20, for a bowl of cornflakes and coffee) and return to the tent. And then it rained - aargh! Three people and every possession we had inside the tent waiting for it to stop raining for an hour.

Amazed at the bad weather we lounge around the campsite, eventually deciding to return to Venice proper on the ferry to find out details of how to get a train to Slovenia. In true professional style, we get off the boat at 4pm, make our way through the labyrinth city to the Stazionne FS, get the info and make it back the way we came for the 6.10pm boat back (there's only one per hour).

Stuck to a minimal residue of lira, our only nightcap is a bottle of wine between three, my part of which is drank through the sawn-off bottom of a plastic water bottle! We go to bed early, partly in anticipation of getting up early and partly through lack of drink, and the tight squeeze in the tent, even with the rucksacks outside, becomes a nightmare when it starts to rain and doesn't stop all night. Unable to move to one side as Julie is there, and the drenched wall of the tent to my left, I lie perfectly still waiting for the morning.

As it turns out, I wake with a headache from using my towel as a pillow, and clamber out of a soaked sleeping bag to a miserable Venetian dawn, though we can't help gawking at the amazing sunrise.

Posted by BillLehane 09:19 Archived in Italy Tagged churches trains food venice religion verona italy wine holidays europe rail blog interrail Comments (0)

A Postcard from Milan

Two days of food and fun in the fashion capital

sunny 12 °C

A short trip with long-standing truths, you could say. Italian ice cream and tomatoes are the best in the world. Seeing a new place in the company of someone who knows the city, and beer in the sunshine are two things that are always good. Milan has a lot of clocks, and apertivo rocks.

Until next time, dear readers, enjoy these few pics and try out Milan whenever you get the chance. :-)

3018.jpgGreat spot for aforementioned beers in the sun. 009.jpgMilan's main Cathedral, il Duomo di Milano 3008.jpg Sun sets on the Duomo, as seen from a nearby rooftop cafe 7005.jpg One of the fashion capital's top shopping arcades, with all the famous labels inside (plus McDs, that is) 015.jpgMegan enjoying the sunny sit out 016.jpgTag Christof, our favorite New Mexican chalupa and local attache in Milan 7014.jpg

Posted by BillLehane 02:52 Archived in Italy Tagged food travel drink italy ice cream photos weekend wine photography milan break easyjet Comments (0)

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