Here is the final part of my travelling blogs, finishing off with Genova and Geneva.
July 17th – this day started off with a 9am train to Genoa, we stopped off on the way up in the city of Pisa for some classic tourist photos of us and the tower before getting back on the train to continue the journey.
Pisa was actually really nice, I’d had a few people warn me that there isn’t much to it but it was a pretty city and the tower (surprisingly) impressed me. Genoa was also a beautiful city, a lot nicer than Rome! We had an awful Chinese for dinner (really bad) and then wondered around before eating our final Italian Gelato (their version of ice cream).
July 18th – the last day of InterRailing! We left Genova for a 7 hour journey up through the alps to Geneva in Switzerland. We stopped for half an hour in Milan, jumped on another train and soon got kicked off for not having a reservation. The good side of this was that we got to see a beautiful town called Stresa which had an amazing lake.
We arrived into Geneva at 4pm. Our flight home was at 21:20 so we had a few hours to kill, our main reason for flying back home from Geneva was to see the huge lake which is shared by Geneva with Lausanne and so that’s where we headed. It was a bitter sweet emotion in Geneva, this is where the trip ended, 18 days of walking, laughs, travelling and amazing experiences I will never forget but also home was just an hour and a half away and I was going to be seeing my family and sleeping in my own bed!
InterRailing is an experience I would encourage anyone to take on, it’s a great challenge of sanity, friendship and personal strength and one which I absolutely loved.
My highlights were the beautiful city of Budapest, I loved that place and the people were very nice too. I also loved the Croatian city of Dubrovnik which was made even better with a night out with three of my favourite people. The Croatian town of Split was equally brilliant with it’s picturesque buildings and harbour.
I’ve got the video diaries coming soon and also a lot more photos as well.
Thanks for reading!
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…
So after a 17 day travelling adventure I’m back on home soil in the UK. Along the way I kept some diary entries to post up on here and to give you a good insight into the sights and sounds which stuck in my mind during my travels, photos included. Here’s the first part Dubrovnik to Belgrade.
July 2nd – today was the day, my best friend Jared of 19 years and I were at Gatwick airport for our flight to Dubrovnik in Croatia. 2 hours and 30 minutes later we landed into 30 degree heat. After a 30 minute bus journey to the main bus station we began a half hour walk to our hostel, after 45 minutes however it became clear that this hostel, which I had mapped out etc wasn’t so easy to find. After asking numerous local residents where ‘Guesthouse Lapad’ was, one reply being an old granny repeatedly saying the words “eamer” (no clue) I had to text my dad to direct us from a hotel nearby, anyway we finally made it. There’s a theme which will occur throughout these entries, the “hostels” which we had booked were nothing like the hostels you would imagine with moody owners, 20 bunks in a room and manky bathrooms, instead Guesthouse Lapad (which was actually named Villa Rosa) was a very nice room attached to a womans house, we had booked an en suite and sure enough we had loads of room for our bags and a big bed too – all was well on that front! I should add that Dubrovnik isn’t even on the InterRailing map, we only decided to start there because our good friends Kelly and Amanda were staying there and we figured this was a good excuse to have a meet up in the sun – I’ll come back to that part in a second.
July 3rd – After a good sleep we woke the next day with the plan to see the old town which was a 30 minute walk. The old town is surrounded by a huge fort and all of the buildings inside have the famous ‘red roofs’ which Dubrovnik is famous for. It was beautiful and also SO hot. After having lunch and walking down roads soaking it all up we decided to walk around the walls of the fort which circle the whole town, this was a huge challenge In the heat taking over an hour but it was worth it for the amazing views.
July 4th – Day 3 was all about seeing Kelly and Amanda. Jared and I picked Guesthouse Lapad/ Villa Rosa because it was a 5 minute walk from the two girls who were staying in Villa Kate. After walking to their road at 11am we text them letting them know we had arrived, it soon became clear however that there are loads and loads of Villa Kates and that we were in fact a good 45 minutes bus ride from them – joys! So after 2 busses, loads of extra walking, cracked beer bottles spilling onto the road and sweat dripping into my eyes we made it to their plush villa, there was no question of what to do next – it was straight into the pool! After pigging out in Pasta for dinner we headed out to the old town for a night out, a brilliant one at that involving me dancing my arse off and loving life. Dubrovnik was very good to us but we had a 7:45 wake up the next morning so after getting home at 4 we crammed in some sleep before a new adventure began the next day.
July 5th – 7:45am and we were woken by another guest in the villa, thank God otherwise we would have over slept. We had an 11am bus to catch all the way back where Guesthouse Lapad was so we got on a bus and raced back with 2 minutes spare and even more sweat. We were off to another Croatian city called Split, arriving at 4pm we walked around the city, climbed the famous Bell House, had an amazing Croatian burger and onion rings and it was off for a 7 sleeper train to Zagreb. The train journey was fairly painful, this was where the train side of the travelling began and it was clear that the heat was going to deafeat us, I felt like a candle melting away at 2am trying to sleep whilst spread out across 3 dusty seats. I managed to get a few hours in but not without a persistent ticket collector coming into the carriage a few times every hour with me getting up only for him to say “oh sorry don’t worry.”
July 6th – 6am and we were in Croatia’s capital Zagreb. To be fair we weren’t in the mood for city sight seeing, we were tired, hungry, thirsty and agitated. We had a famous cemetery which we decided to visit, spent literally 5 minutes there and left, looking at graves that early in the morning isn’t much fun. Zagreb wasn’t up to much at all. Luckily we had an 11am train to catch to the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Arriving into Serbia at 5pm we soon realised that this was a poor country, there was so much graffiti we could have been at a modern art exhibition, we passed slums and it wasn’t a very welcoming or promising site but an experience all the same. Again with this “hostel” it was actually an apartment, a very nice one too minus the bed which was like sleeping on bricks. This hostel also took ages to find, a sort of tradition. We only had 2 nights there so we went out into the town, had some great sushi and went to the world famous floating clubs, we were tired so left early but there was a good vibe with eastern european dance music being the most dominant genre to be heard.
July 7th – we explored another fort, saw some old war guns and tanks and then went to Belgrade zoo which was fun. I had a one on one with a lion, pretty cool! Again in the evening we went for a nice dinner, Mexican fajitas this time and then back to the floating clubs. It was a Saturday night and so everything, unbeknown to us, had to be booked or as they call it “reserved” in advanced. I’m not just talking guest list I’m talking everything, if you want to stand at the bar you have to reserve, if you want a table the same, we felt in the way basically and after a fairly painful hour or so in one club called “Sound” we headed home at 2am. Turns out the Belgrade night life isn’t all it’s cut out to be!
Part 2 coming over the weekend…