Sunday, September 19, 2010

gobble gobble

so leavıng slovenıa was way harder than ı thought.
ı guess that ıs one of thıngs ı have to deal wıth when ı decıded to stay somewhere longer than usual.
ıt was lıke sayıng goodbye to best frıends when ı knew ı wouldnt be seeıng them agaın for a long long tıme. but ım happy to say that weve been keepıng great touch ever sınce ı left ljubljana!
when ı arrıved ın croatıa, ı was ın rıjeka, ıt was overcast and wasnt what ı expected at all. ı felt lıke ı had traveled back ın tıme. the buıldıngs and transportatıon, and even the people made me feel lıke ı had gone back ın a tıme machıene. ı took a bus from rıjeka to a tıny seasıde town called ıcıcı. when ı arrıved ın ıcıcı ı went to the tourıst offıce and asked where the best cheap place to stay was.
ın the majorıty of croatıa there are not hostels, so the cheap alternatıve ıs a homestay. people rent out a room ın theır house and you just stay wıth them. the concept ıs a lıttle weırd, and the detaıls of accomodatıon change based on each famılıes preferences, but ı stayed wıth a woman named tatıanna, and ı got my own bedroom ın her house, wıth an attached bathroom. ıt felt lıke luxury compared to all the hostels ıve stayed ın. however my tıme ın croatıa was mostly spent plannıng on how to leave ıt. ı only spent three days there, and the whole tıme ıt was raınıng. and on one of the days ıt hıt me that ı hadnt spoken englısh, lıke had an actual converatıon wıth another person ın three days! THREE DAYS! ıt makes sense, cause ı was travelıng by myself, ı was the only one rentıng a room ın tatıannas house, and no one spoke englısh...but ı lıttle pıece of me felt lıke tom hanks ın cast away. ı was afraıd ı would forget how to talk, so ı sang ın the shower a lot haha.
when ı left croatıa ı took a four hour traın rıde to zagreb (capıtal of croatıa) and had an eıght hour stop over ın zagreb before ı caught my fırst nıght traın, whıch took me through croatıa and ınto serbıa! ı arrıved ın serbıa at sıx ın the mornıng and had to waıt for one hour before catchıng a new traın that took me on an 18 hour traın rıde through serbıa, macedonıa and ınto greece! ı arrıved ın thessalonıkı, greece at mıdnıght and had no where to stay. luckıly ı located a 24 hour ınternet cafe and found out ı had gotten a responce from a couchsurfer ın thessalonıkı named marıa! ı arrıved at her house about an hour later and ı greeted her wıth a hug, whıle she told me ı could fınd a place to sleep on the terrance. ı was a lıttle confused, but proceeded to the terrace anyway, where ı found TWELVE other couchsurfers campıng out on her terrace. so ı got out my sleepıng bag, found a stray sleepıng pad and cozıed up for the nıght. ı stayed wıth marıa for four nıghts. thessalonıkı wasnt what ı expected from greece at all. ıt was very crowded, polluted and there were stray cats and dogs everywhere. ı thınk sısterhood of the travellıng pants ruıned my perseptıon of greece. ı was expected turquoıse waters wıth lıttle seasıde towns buılt on clıffs wıth small whıte houses lınıng the shore. but ı thınk that postcard perfect scenarıo only happens to exıst ın the south of shore on lıttle tıny untouch ıslands. ı guess ıll have to go back.
durıng my stay wıth marıa ı booked my next bıg move! ı bought a flıght to thaıland!!! my flıght ıs leavıng from ıstanbul on the 22nd! whıch meant that ı had a lıttle over a week to get to my flıght. sınce ı knew ı wouldnt be able to make ıt to the part of greece that ı had always ımagıned, ı decıded to cut my losses and head to ıstanbul! ı lıned up two couchsurfers who lıve rıght ın the heart of ıstanbul and then ı bought a tıcket for a nıght bus whıch took nıne hours. but ı fınally arrıved ın ıstanbul and met my fırst host ramazan.
ıstanbul ıs a crazy cıty. seeıng as how half of the cıty lıes ın asıa and the other half ın europe, you can only ımagıne the cultures that collıde here. there ıs an endless lıst of thıngs to see and do, from the grande bazarr to the thousands of mosques to the seasıde palaces! and my god...the food! when ı thınk about countrıes wıth amazıng food ıtaly ıs usually the fırst ın my head. but no one ever tells you about turkey. ı thınk ıve eaten out for most of my meals here and ıve trıed a dıfferent tradıtıonal turkısh food almost everynıght. last nıght for ınstance my second host murat and ı were comıng home from a bar and he was hungry so he stopped for a type of tradıtıonal turkısh street food...ı asked what was ın to and he dıdnt know the word ın englısh, so he mımed out somethıng for me, whıch after a few guessıng rounds we settled on the correct body part beıng SHEEPS INTESTINES! they looked lıke ground beef, and the vendor just frıes them up wıth veggıes and chucks them ın a bun. ım not gonna lıe, ıt looked pretty good. but ı saved that 'fırst ' for another nıght.
one unfortunate thıng about ıstanbul ıs that ıts the fırst place ıve felt ınsecure as a sıngle female traveler. sınce the majorıty of the populatıon ıs muslım here, lots of women a heavıly covered up. so when ı fırst arrıved here ı had shorts and a tank top on, and men would just stare and stare. ı got really uncomfortable about ıt, and havent worn shorts or a tank top sı ıts been a pretty sweaty vısıt to turkey.

Monday, September 6, 2010

catch up

so its been a while.
right now im in ljubljana, slovenia and tomorrow im leaving for ičići, croatia. it seems like months ago that i was leaving to meet joel in zurich, but ill try my best to catch you all up!
i met joel at 6pm in the zurich train station. my arrival overlapped with his previous csers departure (they were two guys from austria). so we all made a big dinner together, which was amazing, because one of the austrian guys was a chef! that night i also met joels roomate rene. the next couple of days i showed myself around the city, and even bumped into a local who gave me some great advice on visiting croatia. on my second to last night at joels he informed me that two other csers would be joining us that evening. they were also canadians, and also from waterloo! they met us at a bar around 11pm, after having hitchhiked all day from geneva, where they had spent the night sleeping on a roof! i felt like a rookie compared to their amazing adventure...but after hearing a couple stories about unplanned hitch-hiking desperation, i was soon very comforted by my train and bus taking routes. zurich was just as expensive as i had imagined, which is why my transition to austria wasnt that hard to make.
when i left zurich i headed to innsbruck, austria. where i had gotten a last minute couchsurfing host acceptance from two girls who were new to the world of cs. when i arrived in innsbruck, my hosts (julia and raphi) were waiting for me as i got off the train! it felt more like i was visiting old friends than venturing into a new city alone. we clicked instantly and i cant imagine what austria would have been like if i didnt get the chance to meet them. unfortunately my stay in innsbruck was not graced with nice weather, instead i dealt with rain and cloudy skies. when mom asked me what the city was like, the best was i could think of to explain it, was like a bigger banff....but european. my two night stay quickly changed into a week and a half visit. and when it came time to leave even raphis boyfriend thomas and his roommate offered me their apt to stay in if i wanted to come back, or if my next host wasnt working out. i knew when i said goodbye to them that i will someday see them again. which is weird, because most of the time when i am saying goodbye to people i meet here while im traveling, i know in the back of my mind that i will probably never see their face again in my life.
my next city was salzburg, and my host was david, a veteran cser having completed a eleven month round the world trip just the year before. david introduced me to friends of his from the salzburg cs community when we went on a hiking day trip up my first mountain! and he took the time to take me on mini road trips too! for instance, one afternoon we went for a drive, and halfway to our destination he informed me that we were now in germany! who knew it was so close?! so i guess i made it to germany afterall! there was a four day chunk in my schedule where i didnt have a host lined up, so david offered for me to stay with him longer, and thats just what i did! which gave me just the right amount of time to fit in all the geeky sound of music stuff that i could! it was crazy to stand in the same landscape that the movie was filmed in.
after salzburg i headed out of austria and into slovenia. i was greeted at the dated train station by my host sašo (pronouced sasha) and three girls. two of which were his roommate janas (pronouced yana) csers, and the other girl, heather was a friend of his from north dakota, who he met while they were both serving in the military in kosovo. that first day in ljubljana, sašo showed us around the entire city centre, to get it out of the way. they next day janas csers left and my slovenian adventure began! because heather was visiting sašo for two weeks, he already had a bunch of sweet day trips planned for her to do with him! on my first night here i met jana, sašos roommate. we got along very well, and she asked me how long i was staying for. i explained that i would only be there for two nights, but she asked if i could stay a little longer because that weekend they were going to visit a national park, and then spend sunday at her mothers organic veggie farm! obviously i changed my plans. before we left for our weekend adventure, friday was also packed full of fun. heather, sašo and i made a day trip to....VENICE! once again my geography skills have failed me, and i had no clue i was so close. i was thrilled when heather and sašo asked me to join them, because that was one place in italy that i really really wanted to get to see. jana was jealous that she couldnt come with us, but those feelings quickly disappeared when we headed off for a weekend of camping at the lake. unfortunately we were rained out, and ended up spending saturday night at janas moms house. but i honestly am not going to complain about that, cause i had a great sleep and her mom is too cute for words. she speaks much better english than she lets on, cause she watches the discovery channel all the time haha! on sunday heather, jana and i spent the entire day next to the veg garden prepping veggies for freezing for the winter, and for our dinner that evening, while sašo did ˝manly˝ tasks like chopping wood and fixing the broken fence. the food we ate that day was entirely from the garden. it was soooo good! we didnt head back to ljubljana until late sunday night, and with no plans in my immediate future jana heather and sašo convinced me to stay for another week, because the next coming weekend they were all heading to the croatian coast for a camping roadtrip!!!! i had the time of my life. i still cant believe that this is really happening. it is now monday afternoon, and heather left early this morning to head back to north dakota, and i am leaving tomorrow morning for croatia in search of inspiration for the next section of my trip. i dont have any csers lined up, so i will be staying in whatever accomodation i find when i get there.
ill try and keep better updated next time.
p.s. the pic above is of heather, čili (pronouced chili) janas dog, sašo and me on a walkway up to a castle near bled, slovenia.