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Bill's European Adventure, 2001. Part 8: Zagreb to Budapest

Back when 'going emailing' was a thing and cold coffee wasn't

Sep 6

Got up late again, and ended up having expensive cheap breakfast in a swanky hotel right on Ban Jelačić Square out of laziness.

Had Boban's booked for 8pm, and went emailing to fill the weary hours between lunch and dinner, as rich people termed it.

What was so funny about the meal was that we ate more in a more renowned restaurant than the day before but cost us less - £8.50 each for four starters, five main courses, three desserts, four beers, two bottles of wine and eight coffees! My main course was the nicest pasta of all time - penne with smoked ham and cream and breandy sauce! French people at the next table were laughing at us because we ordered cold coffee by mistake.

We went upstairs to the cocktail lounge and had the strongest Irish coffees of all time, and then had a round in a jazz bar the book (Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring) told us was good but it was a bit dead, and they closed up, so we went to the Hard Rock Cafe nearby for one more and then relaxed in bed with really sleeping because of the coffee adn had to check out the next morning at 9am - doh!

Sep 7

On the tracks again! Had breakfast in what we called Dublin 7 because it was so far from Ban Jelačić Square, the centre of Zagreb. Got coffee and a tiny ham and cheese toasted sandwich for £2.60 and then lazed in a park until it was time to go to the station for our 13:20 to Budapest. Paul & Mary left us at the station as they were getting a night train to Venice. We were in a cabin (six-seater) by ourselves for most of it, and it was a smoking carriage - cool!

As we got off the train some guy gave us a leaflet for the Cozy Guest House but he seemed dodgy so we went to the Museum Hostel which was full so the owner there got us three beds in a hostel over the phone and then told us it was called the Cozy Guest House! It turned out to be ok after we stopped in a Chinese 'buffe' for a Chinese with a small can of beer £1.70! Went to a pub (for once not a cafe bar bistro or anything) for a few quiet pints and then left because Julie was sick or tired or something. Ollie had to sleep on the floor while me and Julie shared a double bed - the first time she had slept with a man since she left Dublin!

Sep 8

funicular.jpg

Arose about 12, determined to do a half-day's sightseeing. Wandered around the city in the rain, crossing a gigantic bridge over the Danube to Buda, the historical, cultural rea of the city. We took a cable car up the side of a mountain (technical term: funicular railway) to Buda Castle, which we didn't go into because of the queue but browsed the market stalls, where I bought a huge, real leather wallet for £11. Took a trip to the war museum, where our student card got us in for 24p and when we asked the old man in charge what was the best to see as we only had 20 minutes he gave us a free guided tour. Went down into the labyrinth where we had great fun runnign around in the dark with paraffin lamps, with cup of strawberry tea included in the admission price!

Went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, where I had duck for the first time (gorgeous!), and fried ice cream (a golf ball-sized lump of ice cream in batter). Crossed the street to Cafe Mediterranean which had crap waiter service and so-so beer. It closed at 12 so we went back to the hostel but the NI guy took us back out to the Old Man's Pub, a sweaty cramped night club with sporadically good music. The barwoman served me Pall Mall cigarettes in error but I took them anyway as she opened the packet first. Got back around 5am.

Posted by BillLehane 06:06 Archived in Hungary Tagged trains budapest travel hungary youth croatia zagreb interrail blogs Comments (0)

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.

zagreb.jpg

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 6: Ljubljana

Cheap drinks, a great night out and some dated remarks about smoking

Aug 31

Up out of our wet beds at 6.45 to pack up the miserable, cramped contraption allegedly called a 'tent', and get a bus to Mestre station and the 08.25 train to Ljubljana. To our delight, it's empty, and our biggest problems are 1) it's freezing, and my only jumper got soaked the night before and 2) we're starving, and we have no food and no Italian money.

So we froze and starved and didn't sleep, and after two ticket checks and three passport checks by armed men in variously-coloured uniforms, we arrived in the capital of Slovenia at 13.40. It was pissing rain! Stomping aroudn the city in t-shirt and sandals with full packs, we discover that all the hostels closed in the last few days as the tourist season is over - aargh!

After nearly paying £22 each for a three-star hotel, we end up in one-star Hotel Park for £13 each. Some confusion over which corridor-showers were which followed, and then our faithful trio all fell asleep at 6pm! I wake up at 7.20, have a smoke on the balcony, a shower, and a cup of coffee (nice, 86p) and here I am at 8.30 in the room and the other two are still asleep and it's still raining!

So then we had coffee in the hotel bar (which shut at 11pm ?) and went to the local 'Trubar', where 500ml Union beer was £1.16! That was shutting too, so we went to Bar Sodcek, a rocker bar! Headbangers were pouring entire short glasses into their beers (yes, the glass with the shot inside). We drank Zlatorog (£1.40), the label of which had a goat on it!

Sep 1

Awoken by the cleaning lady just in time to make free breakfast buffet (cornflakes, iffy coffee, marmalade and bread), then went out with Julie for a walkabout while Ollie wrote his journal. Saw what looked like a Russian national football team - I wonder is it the real one? Bought Slovenian Dunnes Stores cola (Mercator) 500ml, 20p! Browsed market later in the afternoon, then had a late lunch which was tasty and very cheap. Struck by how Irish Ljubljana seems - it's like Cork or something! Everybody's very laid back, and today was so like a Saturday afternoon in Ireland. Stopped for a vanilla ice cream cone beside the river (48p), and strolled back to the hotel to plan our cheap night out.

A bizarre night was to follow. We originally decided to try and find The Brewery Pub, which the book told us had a good atmosphere, but when we couldn't find it a local told us it was miles away so we stopped at a super-trendy ultra-modern bar/restaurant called Cafe Romeo that only served tortillas, burrittos and savoury pancakes (and drink of course). Only when the lack of ashtrays became apparent and Julie asked the barman did it become clear that I was in my own personal hell, a no-smoking bar!

Rushed my pint and sat on a three-foot wall outside while Ollie and Julie had savoury pancakes and burritos. Then we promptly left for bar Kurlinca on the riverbank, where Ollie ordered two shots because they were only £1 each and the barman came back with two 50ml glasses (a double is 66) and two tumblers of water! We got out of our canopied seats to watch the fireworks that marked the end of some summer festival, and eventually left after one when it was too cold. On our way home we stopped at another bar, and left just before three with locals drinking quite contentedly, inside and outside, with no obvious inclination to leave!

But I left a bit out - in between looking for that other pub and going to Kurlinca we stumbled upon a free rock concert featuring the funniest, most 1985 band seen since, well, 1985. The more the locals sang along to this sub-Status Quo gibberish, the more we laughed!

Sep 2

A typical lazy Sunday in some ways, except that I got up at 9.45 to get breakfast, had a shower, and then seeing that the other two were still asleep, lay back down on my bed and slept until 13.45! Groggy and lazy, the most significant things we did were to have lunch in the hotel, and find the only supermarket open in this Sunday ghost town and buy snacks n' beer to consume before it, as Ollie put it, "was a respectable time to start drinking"!

Uninspired by the few restaurants that were open, we went back to Cafe Romeo, and sat outside this time. I experimented with a chicken burrito, which was tasty - a bit like eating a curry out of a piece of pitta bread! We even stole an ashtray - the irony!

We ended up at another riverside pub, where we had a few leisurely pints as our tolars were beginning to run dry. Back early enought, around midnight, and had a great night's sleep under two furry blankets - the cold weather has taken readjusting to!

Posted by BillLehane 10:00 Archived in Slovenia Tagged trains travel youth europe slovenia ljubljana european blog interrail writing Comments (0)

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