Saturday, December 27, 2008


Thank god i was too disorganised in Budapest to sort my train ticket as the trains went on strike. I headed to the bus station it was chaotic! There was a REALLY angry lady working behind one of the counters. I think she just really hated people. Everyone that came to her window was totally screamed at. I sat there relaxing in the chaos while i waited for my number to be called! I went up to the angry ladys counter and tried not to frustrate her anymore, i had bought tickets with the company before so i knew i needed my passpost etc etc but ha ha hilarious she was still going absolutely mental!! when she was typing my name into the computer she typed a letter wrong and let out a scream like she had just sat on something painful and started bashing the keyboard and screaming obsceneties! I just burst out laughing i couldnt contain myself! Got on the bus with a big smile on my face!

Behind me on the bus were 2 huge obese american women, one couldnt breath properly and the other one was saying 'you want your tablets huh?, well you were mean to me today so im not giving them to you!'....crazy americans

Couchsurfer Evelyn picked me up from the bus station and we went back to her flat. This girl has travelled a lot and is India mad!! Her flat has posters of indian gods around the place, sari's hung on the walls and plants everywhere...really nice! She really put me at ease about going to India, im so excited now i think the only thing im worried about is melting in the irish i know!!

I got her a present of a flower thing that is totally dried up and brown and the instructions say pour boiling water on it to bring it back to life! Within 5 minutes the thing had sprung open! Very exciting stuff! Aparently you can put a ring or something like that in it, let it close again then to propose to someone give them the flower to open!

The next day i went for a wander around Vienna. Evelyn had showed me a nice spot on the map where from a bridge one side is the view of the city and the other side is totally green so this was my plan to find this place! My god i couldnt find it, i walked for hours, and ended up seeing a lot of the city in the meantime! After i could walk no more i went back to Evelyns as she had some friends coming around for dinner.

We had a delicious dinner some kind of cheesy Austrian speciality and home made wine from Evelyns friend Matej who is from the mountains in Slovakia and has a vineyard there. Mmm so delicious! Matej was a very friendly, happy, hilarious guy and had come to live with Evelyn for a few months before heading off to India himself.

Since he was going to be living there for a while he asked Evelyn could he move around the sittingroom (his new bedroom) and she said Yes please do!! SO the next day when Evelyn was in work myself and Matej went a bit mad moving things around, we discovered amazing things that Evelyn had collected from her travels and put them out, we hung colourful sari's on the walls, moved her plants around and got rid of the 2nd tv and the 2nd microwave by making them nice little tables! THEN we found her drinks press. Everyone always brings her some alcohol when they visit and she just couldnt get through it all so before we got started we popped open one of about 10 bottles of sparkling wine! We found a lot of inspiration for moving around the things after a few bottles more, with the cheesy christmas and 80's music blaring on the radio we were just dancing around the house. I really enjoyed this, i was super proud of the result! I think Evelyn was happy with it too...i hope so anyway!

So after the big reveal i think Evelyn needed a drink! We headed off to couchsurfer Michaels house for 'dinner'. It was FREEZING outside the snow hit your face like needles. We started off with a bloody mary, not so nice to begin with..just because its a bit strange for me but delicious by the end. Michel had two other friends around, it was a lot of fun tucking into the delicius vegetarian meal he had made and the delicious wine! He had a cool apartment with a really old table in the middle for loads of people to sit around and a piano! Yay i get so musical and fluent with languages after a few drinks it was perfect time to practice!

As usual more fun in the metro station on the way home....running up the going down esculators etc....travelling is bringing out the messer in me again!

Off to Brno the next morning then to prague to meet my Dave so excited!! Must take more pictures of the sites and less of parties!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


It was very hard to find the train to Budapest! Apart from being very tired and with my heavy backpack the lady in the ticket office just kind of screamed at me and the inspector or train driver guy in uniform at the platform said 'Si'! to every train i pointed to and asked 'Budapest'?...mmm confused!!! I hopped onto one train it was full of drunken men and stunk of urine really bad, some drunken guys said 'Da!!!'..means yes when i asked Budapest?? I just had a feeling this train wasnt right what to do!??!! Its not the end of the world anyway if i am on the wrong train it will be a little adventure. I got off this train to see could i find someone who speaks some english and at that moment it pulled away!oh dear!!!

I was on my own on the platform for about 20 minutes. Another train came, it had Budapest written on the side yay what good luck! And just a slight urine smell on this one....more of a sweaty smell not too bad.

So as the routine goes now im too tired when i arrive in the new city to couchsurf as i think it would be rude just to arrive on someones doorstep and go asleep so i found a nice hostel. The only problem i have with staying in hostels these days is that they are full of teenage american and australians, fair play to them travelling so far from home but its very hard for me anyway to connect with them and have a conversation more than polite chit chat. Its starting to really irritate me when people say 'i DID serbia, then i DID hungary, then i DID germany'...anyway i must not waste energy getting annoyed at that...grrrr!

The next day was the 1st day so far ive felt really alone. Maybe just from being surrounded by loads of young wans that i just felt left out of the whole hostel thing. I went to explore but was soooo not in the mood. I decided to ring my dave and moan down the phone to him for a while that im sick of looking at old buildings and parks etc etc. Wow as soon as i hung up i felt great again and remembered where i was and why i love travelling so much! With that i decided to climb up the big hill to this statue called the Citadella...cant you tell i read up on the history of budapest! It is a bit of a pity alright that i didnt know more about this thing before i saw it. I felt very good after that exercise.

(fun on thebench..yes maybe loosing it a bit today!sure why not!)

I checked into Homemade hostel...for anyone going to Budapest i really really liked this place its one of the nicest hostels ive ever stayed in and wow wow no teenage americans or australians!!! I had a really cosy bed tucked in under the stairs, there was a lovely communal area and nice kitchen.

The hostel...very nice

Tonight i was going to couchsurfer John O´Donnels housewarming party, he is from the states and is one of the few americans ive met with irish heriatge that know: 1) where Ireland is on the map, 2) Europe is not in Ireland, 3) We have electricty and 4) he knew WHERE in Ireland his dad was from! I was just having a glass of wine with a nice guy from Cyprus who was just about to board a 33 hour train to Istanbul when 2 fun looking American guys came into the kitchen with a bottle of vodka and some orange juice. They were Mat and a young Tom Hanks lookalike. They were very good fun.

John O Donnell and another man...

I have to say we were a little merry by the time we got to the party, we had a lot of fun on the way. We were let into the apartment block by a couple who were leaving then we just listened to find out where the party was! His little apartment was full! It was great fun there, his cooker fan fell off the wall but apart from that and a few broken glasses i think his flat was left ok! I met a cool girl called Victoria and we invented a new cocktail which we named Sinorita Barata (cheap lady!)...sounds good though in Spanish!
This cocktail was a big hit. I also kept telling everyone that the 2nd american guy that looked like Tom Hanks was actually Toms younger brother and not to mention it to him as he's very shy about it this caused a lot of excitment at the party... a celebrity!!We headed to a club then, i think it was turbofolk music there that a few people had mentioned to me before as the music was TERRIBLE!! Ít was time to head back to the hostel, great fun on the way home climbing the lampposts etc!!

(climbing the lamppost)

Oh dear....we were all still mighty drunk the next morning...that hungarian vodka..or maybe it was the Sinorita Barata! There was only one thing i i could do today and that was chill out in one of the Turkish baths. I went to the one that had outdoor pools. On the way to the baths there is a lake with thermal water, steam rising from it, ducks and fish swimming and guys fishing!

The baths were so cool! One pool was 30 degrees the other was 38! There were jacuzzies, whirlpools and icy cold 24 degrees water if you want to swim a few lanes, men playing chess in the pool that says maximum 20 mins recommended for this one and young guys hanging out on the steps to watch the laydees saunter in and out. There was certainly no time for modesty in the womens changing and shower place my god! Anyway i felt great after it, almost revived to my pre-hungover self! I still got the metro back to the hostel wasnt that revived!

no need to cook the fish??

I made a lovely dinner and got chatting to Richard from England a very friendly and chatty guy who had travelled the world with his job but never got to venture much outside the hotels and offices. We headed of together to a couchsurfing pancake party nearby. I met up with my Sinorita Barata cocktail friend there and we had a much calmer chat and tasty pancakes with some strange new fillings for me!

I had a great sleep that night, my god the beds in this hostel are the cosiest ive ever found! The next day im going to Vienna fingers crossed there will be some snow!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Belgrade & Novi Sad

The guys working on the train were DETERMINED not to let me sleep! Literly every half an hour someone was checking my ticket, my passport or just moving me up and down to different carraiges!

Just as the train was coming into Belgrade there was a huge slum area....I got a bit of a shock I never actually saw with my own eyes a slum like that, houses made from bits of corrigated iron and wood with tyres holding down the roof, the people just going to the toilet beside the train and clothes hanging on the trees...i suppose this is the tip of the iceberg compared to what i will come across in India.

I sat on the steps at the front of the station just to take in the place. It was chaos! Crazy traffic, you can smell the petrol fumes, people everywhere and dilapidated reminded me a little of my 1st impressions of arriving in Tangiers and this made me very excited!

The hostel was a really lovely one just 2 minutes from the station. I met a friendly Australian guy, Brett there who had been travelling for sometime and had made a deal with the hostel to help out in return for staying until after Christmas, im sure if i wasnt staying with Dave for Christmas i might possibly have done the same thing! I felt really at home at this place, no crazy E.T. guy in my room, no preaching about the bible and no bedbugs i hope!

It was dark already and i was feeling tired so myself, Brett and the 2 guys working in the hostel had a few Christmas Edition Tuborgs, some homemade Rakia the local Plum paintstripper....i mean liquear and a good chat! They explained all about Turbofolk this mad music that everyone seems to hate its a mix of the folk music and bad techno and they are usually singing about how drunk they are or how hungover!

Myself and Brett went off to explore the next morning. He was my tour guide for Belgrade as much as i love just wandering and getting lost on my own you cant beat a bit of good company!

I really loved Belgrade, unlike Zagreb i couldnt stop taking photos, every building and street was filled with surprises, from shiny office buildings, beautiful old places, green parks and burnt out buildings, it was a treat for my eyes! It was also kind of hectic in a funny way, yet you could have total peace overlooking the rivers. There were gypsies sitting on every corner of every street with a few bits to sell; a mobile phone(stolen im sure!), leather gloves, tin of beans and toothpaste! Wow i could have walked all day. We stopped for a coffee when the legs started giving in then headed back to the hostel for food.

Beside Isadoras house

The castle in Belgrade

Getting my portion of fruit and veg in!

I was couchsurfing tonight so i met up with Isadora at the main square as its called aparently...sorry sorry i just cant spell that word either!! Anyway, she lives with her cousin not far from the centre. Very nice guys with a great dry sense of humour, we had some food, i looked in the mirror for the first time in a while...oh dear!! Then we headed out for drinks.

It was a pub designed like the inside of a boat that we went to. I thourally enjoyed the montenegran beer and her friends company. I stayed up probably until it was bright with Isadora and her cousin drunkenly trying to play the guitar, i have to say Vuksa was very patient with me squinting with one eye at the notes while i was saying `ohhh i can get it this time!`. I may have just `clevered off` if i was the one waiting for the drunken one to play the song!

Crazy Serbians

We cooked food for Isadora and her friends the next day, we went to a market to buy the food, i felt really hungover as i was chopped the vegetables, i think i need some vitamins mmmm, anyway after that back to horse square to meet a friend who i was staying with the next few days. By day i found irish pubs...

The 3 irish as they come!

And by night i discoversed Yelen Beer with Jelena. I cant describe exactly why i really liked Belgrade and im a bit behind with writing the blog so i have forgotten many details but yes Serbia i like it! One thing that ive noticed here though is that although the young people ive met are fantastic people, studying or working they feel very hard done by that they cant travel without a visa and they have very little money. I am lucky to be Irish when it comes to that.

Ok so on to Novi Sad where i was going to be staying with Couchsurfer Nuno who is portugese and is there volunteering to teach the concepts of recycling and that to schools. His speciality is making wallets from milk cartons, bowls from records and lights from big empty cartons.

I had a wander around while i waited for him to finish work. It was great to see lots of people on bikes, it was much calmer and chilled out to Belgrade. I had a wander down by the river Danube then met Nuno in the main square.

He lives on the top floor of a hotel close to the station and he has almost 36o degree view of the city supercool! Also before i go anyfurther i have to explian that Nuno was crazy about telling jokes from not bad ones to really terrible ones! He is the only person ive met who could floor my father with terrible jokes. A few weeks ago he had an Irish couchsurfer and i think this guy really had an impact on Nuno...who now wants to go to Ireland for Ted Fest!...a hilarious festival on the Aran islands dedicated to the comedy Father Ted, where everyone dresses as priests and nuns and drinks like crazy for the weekend! He found a particular joke about going to a fish dance hilarious after about half an hour explaining the double meaning, anyway to cut a long story short this joke combined with ample amounts of alcohol was the joke of my 3 days there, i will never forget it!

Novi Sad is the best place in Serbia to get your coffin just to let you know! There were 3 or 4 coffin shops between his house and the centre....strange!

We had some beer then headed to Nunos favourite pub a little hidden place, through an alley, round a corner then up some dark stairs! His girlfriend joined us then we went to the `irish bar`! Not very irish but good fun, very smokey. Over there the 4 leaf shamrock is lucky...but in Ireland its the 3 leafed one...i think we could start some sort of business here! After another bar we headed home. ...god save the pumpkins...

Wow very hungover the next day...Nuno didnt go to work..i didnt do much either just went for a walk, climbed up to the fort where Exit festival is held every year, then back to the comfort of Nuno`s house to watch crap but comforting american sitcoms! He told me that last year at the festival he had a stall about recycling, giving away wallets made from milk cartons if someone could answer the recycling related questions, they were pretty hard questions actually like how many litres of water does it take to make a pair of jeans? I think its something like 4000 or 40,000...i cant remember ANYWAY nobody was getting the answer right so they changed it to whoever buys them a beer can get a wallet and that was a great success!

The fort where 'Exit festival is held

The older part of Novi Sad

Left over from last years festival....

Nuno had arranged friends to meet in his favourite bar that night as it was another one of his friends birthdays. It was a quieter night than the one before at least i thought it was until i fell down the stairs on the way out then twisted my ankle a bit in a hole in the ground!

Wow had a great sleep and was in brilliant form the next day. I think it was a mixture of the beer, Nunos company and generally i really liked Novi Sad i left the house feeling on fire! I found a crazy chinese shop. I thought my life was complete before i went in there but i now realised there were so many things i need to buy!! Who can live without a pocket size keyboard or a special thing you put on your hand to hold an orange so you can peel it?? In the end i bought a few silly things...i was really in the mood for buying stupid useless things..i got Nuno a fish shaped floor mat for the bathroom to remind him of the terrible fishdancing joke.

The last day we went for some drinks again...more terrible jokes, Nuno wrote Fish Dance in serbian and Cheers in Portugese on my arm in permanent marker...essential phrases not to forget until the next shower anyway, i returned the favour by writing Slainte! Not so much sleep again this night, i got up early to catch my train, i think its becoming a routine not getting much sleep before catching trains. Im sorry to leave Serbia but anyway on to Budapest now i think a good weekend lies ahead!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ljubljana & Zagreb

Wow i was in heaven when i got to the train i had a whole compartment to myself. These are big over here not like in Ireland, the train is divided up into compartments with 6 seats which fold down to make a bed!I got into my sleeping bag and folded down the 2 seats beside the window and boy was i cosy!! Again i couldnt sleep though because the view was AMAZING!! The train stopped at Klagenfert station for about 20 mins and i was half thinking maybe i should check if i need to change trains as this place was at the border of Slovenia and Austria but i was just SOOOO COSY! When the train started moving again it was going backwards the direction we came! I thought oh dear back to Salzberg...but thats not such a bad thing. Anyway what seemed like the same amazing scenery were eventually some signs for stations and buildings with strange accents and squiggles over the letters so thank god we were in Slovenia!

I checked into Zepplen hostel as i couldnt stay awake and didnt want to be just going to bed as soon as i met the couchsurfer i was staying with. The hostel was plain but nice. I dumped my bag and went for a walk, it was snowing very heavily how exciting!! I couldnt stay awake, i think i was in bed for about 8pm!

The next much snow ive never actually been in a place where the snow is about 10 inches high! I had a bit of a problem though...very unsuitable shoes so my mission for the day was to find cheap boots.

Arent they lovely!!!

I didnt buy these ones but i may have if they were the cheapest and given them a shave! So like a little child jumping in the snow i headed to the university dorms where i would be staying with couchsurfer Ursa. Ursa has travelled to Ghana on her own and is a big fan of hitchhiking. Ghana sounded really tough going but a great experience...maybe after i return from India ill take a trip there! She made delicious fried cauliflower and we had some homemade nut flovoured liquer i think her grandmother made before heading off to the club where Ursa worked at the ticket office.

Ljubljana is full of dangers.....

It was gay night at the club. I seem to be having a lot of gay-related encounters on my travels so far!! While she sold the entrance tickets i went into overdrive giving out the free condoms with a nice smily gay sailorman picture on the pack! It was so funny when i handed them out to the really butch lesbians their face just strewn with utter disgust the thought of being with a man!!! Also quite funny were the young straight guys on the pull not realising it was gay night, Myself and Ursa would look at each other saying `not gay`, count to about 10 then the guys came back up to us looking for their money back! They got free gay sailorman condoms regardless. And i think i came home with about 20 packs in my bag!

Back at Ursa`s place her friends had been drinking the whole time we were gone and were running around in the snow with no shoes....oh to be a young wan again! My stomach was empty i didnt feel like drinking i loosing my irishness!?

The next day it was raining and the snow was melting, god damn and my boots stills so shiny and new!! I checked into another hostel a really nice one beside the river and right beside Red N Hot Horse Burger... Ljubljanas speciality! If i had been in the mood for a burger i might have sampled some horse but anyway no regrets!

This is Dragon Bridge

The view from the top of the castle

Lights shining into the river

I spent the next 2 days just relaxing ,climbing up to the castle, roaming the streets. It was so lovely there, a real Christmas feel and the people there were so friendly. I was also sharing my hostel room with a friendly Chinese guy called Packy who had a strong cockney london accent despite never being in London and his english teacher was Japanese! The strap from my bag broke and i was wandering around a market that was selling cheap bags, the guy that was selling the bags fixed mine for free how nice! He put a big smile on my face that day i hope he sells a lot of bags!

On now to Zagreb...

Torrential rain was starting. I checked into a hostel a little bit out from the centre, nice place but really strange guy in my room! He looked like E.T. and actually sounded quite like him too. He just walked or more stumbled around like he was in a lot of pain and making funny noises!

I didnt do much that day the rain was heavy and everyone seemed to be grumpy and rushing around. I called up to couchsurfer Sara`s house for a beer. I new i was going to like this girl the moment she opened the door! Her house was a little haven from the horrible weather and depressed feeling people outside. Her friend called over and we had a few beers it was really good! Headed back to my hostel, back to that strange guy...he set his alarm for 6.30am, started grumbling and whining when the alarm when off, pressed snooze, few minutes later it went off again, same thing, grumbling, whining press snooze, this kept going on and on i had no choice but to get up. Its times like this i really appreciate couchsurfing! I sure made plenty of noise when i was packing my bag...opening and fiddling with anything in a wrapper...dropping my shampoo bottle a few times...revenge!

Here is the only photo i took in Zagreb!

You climb under the railing and walk across the track to get to the other side!
Sometimes there is a train coming. My backpack caught in the railing when i was going under, it was torrential rain, i was on my hands and knees crawling trying to pull myself free i must have looked a right state i had crazy tired eyes and dragged-through-a-bush-backwards hair...oh i was also laughing manically just at the whole situation....i needed coffee! I got to Saras house, she was at work, i just got cosy and didnt move from her house!

Sara was wonderful company, it was a pity i had already booked my train ticked for Belgrade as i was missing out on a protest and a great party that weekend, and i REALLY liked the comfort of Saras house! Sara: i hope sometime you get that fish what a wonderful life he will have! She introduced me to my now favourite movie Buffalo 66.

The next day was pretty much the same torrential rain, i did venture out for an hour or two but i didnt make an effort, the rain put me in a really lazy mood. So lazy in fact i wasnt in the mood for meeting up with a couchsurfer for some food but im glad i did. Nenad was a lovely friendly guy and as he picked me up right outside Saras house i couldnt really refuse! We met his friends for coffee then on to a nice place for the most delicous food i have eaten this whole trip. YUM! He was a very interesting fellow with endless funny stories and a great of humour, they tried to fill me with hot wine after i mentioned that i had to take a few layers of clothes off i was so hot the last time i drank it! It really lifted my spirits after the depressing weather and it was a lovely end to my stay in Zagreb. I said my goodbyes so Sara in the morning and caught the train to Belgrade.

Oh i lied i took 2 photos, just as i was leaving...heres the view from the station! Yes my favourite part of Zabgreb...the amazing bakery at the station!