Thursday, July 24, 2008

I finally have a free minute - hope you have two

OK – life is coming back down but not in a bad way.

Caitlin left today – had to wake up at like 7 to get her to the airport – I think she had a good trip but was ready to get back home. We did a lot of stuff in the two weeks that she was here.

But where I left off in my last blog - - - It was dark and rainy and we were in the deepest part of the Viennese wilderness --- not exactly.
We had just gotten to my good friend Vera’s flat in Vienna. A nice little place that was perfect for the sum three of us to fit in. We saw so much in Vienna – it’s such a huge city with so many massive buildings. It’s the same population as Prague – BUT ITS MUCH BIGGER. Or feels it anyway.
Highlight of Vienna had to be the hoerigger (no idea how to spell that) but it’s a place that I was talking about at the end of the last post I had. But it was up in the hills just outside of Vienna and right by Beethoven’s old house (I’m pretty sure it was Beethoven). Such a cool place, great food, and great company. Possibly the highlight of the trip for me.
Then that overnight train to Krakow. The nicest sleeper car I have ever been on. I even got a prepackaged breakfast croissant and a bag with a towel and soap in it – plus free bottled water. I couldn’t have dreamed of so much on a train over here.
But Krakow is great. I’ve been there before and I was excited to go back. I went to Auschwitz again though – so Caitlin could see it. Could have done without that but I didn’t take the tour this time (but I suggest everyone take the 3 hour tour the first time they go) and so I got to spend some more time wandering there by myself. Bit of a different experience.
I almost met some very interesting guys at the hostel that night – one of them is even coming to see me in Prague this weekend. It was cool to see some of the city with such a mix of people from so many places. Makes me just want to keep traveling and go to every country I hear of though – it’s an issue.
The next day we went to Zilina in Slovakia – another place that I was going to for the second time this summer (by the way – anyone traveling over in that area needs to take at least some day trains – the countryside between the borders of Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia… Incredible). We got there and luckily – since nothing was confirmed – met my friend who is a rotary student there from Pennsylvania. It was like one of her last days and all her friends were on vacation – I felt so bad knowing that she had to go home soon but I could certainly relate (sigh).
But yeah, the point of going to Zilina was just to end the trip with something beautiful and quiet in the mountains – and something a bit more traditional and interesting that Bratislava. It worked out well.
Then an awful train ride home to Prague. Its only 6 hours, so we didn’t think we would get beds on this train to save money. Here’s how it went –
We got reservations instead of beds thinking that would save us from any trouble finidng a seat. Our cabin already had 4 sleeping people in it though, and that didn’t leave much room – so we braved the halls and tried to find a new place to settle.
First we get a cabin by ourselves and think - ooh lucky, we’ll la down and go to sleep. Normally that’s no issue and everyone leaves you alone then. First comes drunk guy number one – he starts giving me a hard time about how we didn’t reserve the whole cabin so we cant do that, then sits down and talks for 20 minutes while we sit and try to ignore him. Then number two – but he’s only there for a second. Then two leaves and comes back a while later with and older even drunker guy – that was it – we left.
After standing in the hall and the end of a car for some time we find a nice spot by someone our age. Then he leaves and an older woman comes – possibly drunk as well. She sets her bag on her lap and every time she dozes off it slips through and smacks on the floor, startling her awake – and every time, it happened she thought we were in Prague – it happened at least every five minutes from the time she got on the train – we were 5 hours from Prague. Then a 4th guy comes, quite sober, and that’s not so bad – four people total is livable. Then “SMACK” the bad hits and the old woman gets so excited about our supposed arrival to Prague, she even goes to wait at the door at the end of the car. That just freed up her seat to be taken by two large campers who just slam open the door and don’t even ask if the seats are free, but say “these are free right?” and then sit down with there larger-than-average backpacks – some above us and some having to rest between me and the man now facing me. 3 hours to Prague. Back comes the old woman.

This was beyond cartoonish. We got home and slept a long time.

My friend Chrisina was staying with us too for her last couple days in Prague before she flew back. We had a good time seeing things for the few days we were here and say a lot of the city. There were a few more things we would have liked to do but I guess you always have to leave enough of a snack that it’s worth coming back. That goes for me and Caitlin. Funny thing is the more you do the more you hear about – maybe that’s why I meet so many travelers or so many generations – once you start, you never quite finish.

Kind of like reading this blog – you always think the next paragraph will be the last, and then I have more to say. Thanks for reading.

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