Continuing with my diary entries from my InterRailing travels now. Here’s Budapest to Rome.
July 8th – leaving Belgrade at 11am we headed for a 7 hour journey to Hungary’s capital of Budapest. Here’s a fact for you, did you know Buda is on one side of the city and Pest on the other! It was a beautiful city and much more westernised than Belgrade and Zagreb. There’s a huge river passing through both sides and loads of distinctive buildings I got photos of which were probably very important however I just thought they looked cool. We spent our one and only day (a monday) doing as much as possible, starting off with the Holocaust Memorial museum, we got there only to find out that all museums are closed on a Monday, typical, that ruled out a few things from the “to do” list. We went on to the famous Gellet Roman baths which includes a cold outdoor and in door pool as well as a outdoor thermal one too, it’s not at all cheap by the way, around 15 pounds and an extra 2 pounds to hire a towel and 50p for the obligatory hat for your hair – a great money scam basically but it was very nice and refreshing in the heat.
The evening was spent in a tourist bar Szimpkert which had loads of weird things in and multiple floors with small rooms. We sat with some Belgium girls who had asked us for directions to a Burger King earlier in the day, strange turn of events! They were interesting to talk to however the language barrier proved very difficult to crack and conversation soon dried up after about an hour or so and so we headed home to sleep.
July 10th – 7am and we were off to Slovenia! With a 10 hour journey ahead of us which included a 40 minute stop in Austria’s capital Vienna and then catching a train to a town called Villach, the journey provided some stunning views of mountains and little towns and as an extra bonus the train WASN’T unbearably hot! It was all going really well until we changed at the Villach stop, we checked the time and platform for the next train to Slovenia and it was all correct according to the plan we had written out, 20 minutes in however the train stopped and everyone got off, the ticket collector said this was the last stop – so confusing, we still don’t know where it went wrong, either way we got a train back to Villach and waited for the next Slovenia train. 12 hours later and 2 hours behind schedule, we arrived. The “hostel” again was a hotel but with a hostel twist, there were corridors of rooms and huge bunks. It was very modern and a place people our age seemed to come to which was a good sign!
July 11th – the real reason we came to Slovenia was to explore the delights of Lake Bled. Situated in the Triglav National Park, Bled is a stunning sight! I first came across it by chance on the internet and then saved the Wikipedia page into my favourites and promised myself that one day I would go – the day came! The lake took 2 hours to walk around, there’s a church located right In the middle and a castle at the top overlooking the whole area (costing 8 euro’s to walk around, naturally we passed). We also knew about a tobogganing ride which looked so good on YouTube, it cost 8 euro’s but with that you get a chair lift ride up which offers some cool views. The ride itself was over in a blink of an eye but was still fun (video of me riding it coming in the video diaries I’ve put together).
July 12th – by 12pm we were on a bus back to Lake Bled, we soon realised that we should have probably booked a hotel nearer there than the boring capital, the bus takes 1 hour 20 minutes and at 7.80 euro’s it isn’t cheap. We hired out some bikes for the day and decided to cycle around the another part of the park, namely Vintgar Gorge, which cost 4 euro’s to get into and also was a complete up hill nightmare to cycle to. The cycle down however took less than half the time and I felt like a formula 1 driver – I was probably going about 10 miles per hour though. The day was finished off with a ridiculously overpriced beef burger at 13 euro’s. Slovenia proved to be a lot more expensive than expected. And that was the night over… Or so we thought. We were set to meet our friend Mala on Saturday 14th as she was flying to Bologna to meet us for our Italy leg, she text me saying “see you tomorrow” tomorrow being Friday, this is where things got confusing! We cut our last Slovenia day off the itinerary and decided to get the first train to Bologna the next morning to meet Mala by the afternoon, we also had to add an extra hostel in Bologna. On the plus side, this meant we would see a lot more of the city than originally planned.
July 13th – 5am, the alarm went off, we were off to Italy. Our 7:28am train awaited us with an 8 hour 21 minute journey, stops included Villach, Venice and Udine before we got to Bologna at 15:49. After 4 trains, a guy who tagged along with us and said the word “bants” a lot we finally got to Bologna. Italy was on the rainy side and it had been a few days since we’d experienced the heat which we had been used to back in Hungary. Tomorrow we would explore the city.
July 14th – we quickly decided that we needed/ wanted to get out of Bologna ASAP, the people were grumpy and we didn’t get a good vibe from the place at all. We got the 12pm train out of there straight to Rome. With no seats on the train it was a sit down on the floor situation which wasn’t too bad, a game of Spongebob top trumps sorted that. After checking into our vile hotel, seriously dated and tacky we headed out to the city centre. The colosseum was wicked and it was amazing to see in the “flesh” or stone as it were. We finished the night off by heading out for pizza and pasta in the eve complete with a dancing waiter and a pianist.
July 15th – up and ready by 11am we headed out to see the west side of Rome with the Trevi fountain and Pantheon all on the list. It was another boiling day and there was a mental amount of walking which took place. The thing I soon found out about Rome was that the men who work in cafe’s are generally horribly grumpy and rude to tourists, there are also far too many people and the food and drink is horrifically over priced. I paid 4 euro’s for a bottle of Sprite – horrific! The sandwiches on offer in most cafe’s consist of one slice of thin meat and one bit of cheese at a price of 4 euro’s and 50 cent’s – again, horrific. The Trevi fountain was ok, far too many people around it, the Pantheon was pretty cool, just to think that it was hand made before the time of cranes and modern technology is amazing. We started off the day in the ruins of a forum which was impressive, I just kept thinking “people used to walk down these streets” – a cool experience.
July 16th – with just 3 days till our InterRailing experience came to an end and with one more day to go in Rome we headed to the famous Vatican city. Located on the other side of Rome (over the river) this city is home to the Pope and with Italy being a very big Catholic country, Vatican is kind of a big deal. The city took an hour to walk to and then an extra 6 to walk around altogether. We climbed all the way up to the tower of the Basilica Cathedral which provided stunning views but at a cost of 5 euro’s (and lots of stairs, I mean lots). The museum was cool but as I became more tired the Roman statues all began to merge into one – ignorant comment I know but the amount of walking we had done in the past 16 days had started to catch up on me. My impression on Rome wasn’t what u had hoped for. It is essentially a tourist trap with over priced food and drink that are impossible to avoid. I was looking forward to getting back on the train and moving onto a new city.
The final part is coming on Tuesday…
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