Day Thirty-Two

Coming to Dublin was probably the greatest last minute decision I could have made.

We landed at 10pm, and the sun was still setting, leaving everything an eerie twilight grey. All the signs in the airport were in English. Not just the directional ones, but the adverts too. It felt like heaven.

I caught a bus to my hostel, and checked in. There were two entrances into the dorms from the lobby, and I’m sure the receptionist told me to take the right one, but by the end of the unpleasantries I went straight through.

The hostel is a maze.

I’m sure they do it so you have to sleep in the hall at one point and save them running water costs. I have no idea what happened but I knew I had to be on the second floor, she was adamant about that, but I was to be in room 29 and each floor seemed to only be going up in 6-10s. I was following the “Rooms 20-29” plaques through mazes of halls and stairs and more stairs. Eventually, I started going downstairs again until I came across a tiny little cubby like area at the bottom of a staircase, with no plaques and a door that read “fire door”. Now, it doesn’t say “FIRE EXIT” but I still stood there confused, trying to figure out if I had followed the plaques wrong. I head back up the stairs, double check the sign that sent me down here, and head down again.

I push through the door, with no where else to go, and discover room 29 on the other side. Random, random layout in this building. I push through, collapse on my bed, and fall asleep.

I’m up the next morning to head to Murray’s Bar for the live screening of All Blacks v Samoa. I ask for tea and they don’t ask which fruity-green cocktail I want, just bring out a steaming mug of good, black tea. Dublin, I love you. A decent eggs bene and some rugby to start the morning, and I’m off.

I make my way to the Jameson’s factory on Bow street, and buy a ticket for their tour. 

While I wait for the 12 o’clock start, I ponder their gift store. I’ve bought next to nothing while I’ve been here, and spent far less (I think) than anticipated. I wonder about getting dad a scarf, because he’s metro like that – and it’s his birthday, but mum advises while he likes Jameson’s, it isn’t his favourite. The tour is called up, and we head in.

We learn about the history of the brand, the process in making the liquor, and eventually a comparative taste test. The taste test results in the whole group having 3 shots before 1pm in the afternoon, and a complimentary drink is still on offer with the purchase of our ticket.

I sit at the bar and order their mixed version, instead of straight, and watch it get made as nearly a 50/50 while my body screams woah tiger we still have to walk back to the hostel. I take a nervous sip and it tastes amazing, not a single shiver of hard liquor reaction runs down my spine. An Australian joins me, I hear his accent and he hears mine and we’re fast friends, chatting over our drinks so we don’t appear alone at a bar. He splits off to meet up with his girlfriend arriving that day, and I decide to buy the scarf for myself. I’m incredibly happy.

I walk around, in a general opposite way I got here from the hostel kind of circle so I can look at new things, and stumble across a church.

The church turns out to be the only church from the Medieval era still in use today, in Dublin. It’s free entry, so I wander around, and the receptionist tells me a little bit of history but advises the cards around the building will be more interesting than her prattling on, and to watch out for the lucky stone around the corner.

It’s such a small, old place, so I touch the stone. Shop owners used to believe that the success of their business greatly hindered on them touching the stone once a day. Previously, I haven’t touched any of the “lucky” emblems around. The statues on the bridge in Prague being swarmed with people every minute, I just hate to think what’s been left on them, and if they’re ever cleaned. Maybe I’ll blame currently being sick on touching the thing, not very lucky, huh!

I wander around a little more, and round a corner to Dublinia, history of the vikings museum. You can see its very kid friendly from the get go, looking very interactive, but what the hell. Viking history is different to all the other history I’ve been looking at lately and interactive is fun.

The first floor is a concise Viking history, including a table with the Viking Runes laid out next to the English alphabet so you can spell out your name. Mostly using phonetics as not every letter has a direct translation. The floor ends talking about Valhalla and Ragnarok, and what it means for the Vikings. You exit into this pitch black room which occasionally lights up with lightning-esque flashes to reveal this terrifying wall.

We head up and learn about the settlements and Kings after the Viking rulers. It’s here that history starts to get a little too recent for me and I mostly just enjoy the interactive experience. The top floor was items on loan from the National museum and another interactive experience on archeology. It was great fun. I definitely felt 12.

The exit to the museum was through a bridge which has beautiful stained glass windows, and led into another church. I ventured outside to look at it from there.

From here, dinner time at BoBo’s Burgers, and bed.

The next morning was Lions v Maori All Blacks, which I again got up for. We lost, never really having much possesion or promising runs, but 2 South-Africans about Dad-age sat down and saw me watching the game so we chatted like old friends.

I wandered around again, settling down for lunch in an adorable Tram Cafe. I message Rimal about being homesick, just wanting to skip the end and come home, about wanting more than 2 days off before I go back to work haha. Rimal calls me, immediately, bless, and chats to me for maybe an hour and eventually settles me down about the notion of going home, and I setup a countdown timer to help me along.

I head into the Leprachaun Museum, advertised as a history lesson on Irish Folklore. It was pretty much terrible, a good way to kill an hour for me who was just looking for something to do, but I wouldn’t recommend it, to anyone.

My time slot changed while I was waiting as I was the only one who booked in, so the receptionist graciously moved me to 20 minutes later which was fine by me, and she wrote me a voucher for a free gift from the gift shop at the end of the tour for being so obliging. The gift turned out to be a rainbow lead coloured pencil. I laughed and went on my way.

From the museum, I made the long way home. Roommates recommend Sweet Miss Sue’s for dinner (or SMS) for some good fish and chips (and tartar sauce and mushy peas, my first time) yum! and the manager turned out to be from NZ having lived in Ireland for 14 years. It was awesome, but I started getting the sniffles, and my ear hadn’t unblocked from the airplane ride into Dublin, so I headed home and went to sleep.

Today, my sniffly nose has turned into a full on snot-demon, and my sinuses are clogging my ears and throat too. I went out purely in search of flu medicine, tissues, and vitamin water, had a TERRIBLE hot chocolate and cinnamon-bread-labelled-as-banana-bread and an okay lemon muffin from Insomnia (coffee chain).  2 of my 3 roommates didn’t come home from a concert last night, and at 5pm in the afternoon still haven’t been home all day. I wonder if they’re dead.

I managed to liase with a friend of Elanor’s who is hooking me up with a place to stay in Amsterdam (that place is SO expensive) and explained my homesick dilemma to her, and how I’d love to just go straight there from Dublin rather than through Belgium as previously planned, and she’s a-ok with that.

So I booked my flight to Amsterdam and settled down with some chips, updated my blog, and am now settling down to read some more. I love my kindle.

Regards,

Alex

Day Twenty-Nine

Monday in Munich!

Today is a day of disappointment. A true let-down. Heart break.

Pete didn’t call.

We’d made plans earlier that he would call at 2 or 3am NZT, which would be 4 or 5pm Munich time. I messaged him at 3pm to let him know I was ready, if he happened to get out of a game early, and chilled out in the common room to wait and read.

My alarm goes off at 4pm and the message is still sitting as unread. Unusual length of time for a Dota game, but not unheard of. Though, usually he would have responded to me at least once even if still in game. I send a reluctant “babe?” and go back to reading.

I’ve still not heard from him the next time I check, and still the message is unread.

I start spamming skype, messenger, and even try call his phone. No answer.

My brain switches to panic mode. He wouldn’t have gotten into bed knowing he had plans to call me, because he knows he’d just go to sleep there. So the only two places he could be are the computer chair and the couch. He doesn’t fall asleep in his computer chair, so chances are he went to the couch to watch some Shark Tank, and has fallen asleep.

Crestfallen, I check the power and internet/phone outages at home, just to confirm nothing is wrong there (there isn’t) and wait a little longer for him to wake up. He doesn’t usually sleep for too long on the couch, it is super comfortable but you eventually stir enough to realise where you are. He doesn’t get in contact. Reluctantly, I accept the fact that he must be dead, then. I order some pizza for dinner, have a beer, and get in bed. 8am NZT he wakes up to inform me he fell asleep, and then promptly falls asleep again while typing out something else. Joy.

Tuesday morning I quickly chat with my Mum and Dad, and Perry, and have another call with Pete, finally, before heading out to the most exciting thing about being in Munich. The BMW museum.

I knew I was getting closer even before I saw the building stick up over the top, because all the streets were lined with BMWs. 

Inside was beautiful. The layout is a little maze-like and there’s not a 100% clear direction to go, with lots of little offshoots which lead to other places. I back tracked a lot to try and catch everything, but I know I missed at least two rooms.

I did not, however, miss Elvis Presley’s 1957 restored 507. She is SO gorgeous, I have to have her. My new favourite ultimate car, even though it goes against everything I believe in (2 door, convertible). 

The museum was amazing, I stopped at the M1 cafe for lunch and had brilliant homemade iced tea, and bought a couple things in the gift shop.

The afternoon ended up being laundry day (sigh) which meant a lot of waiting around because even though I was staying in a 6 storey at-least-ten-rooms-a-floor hostel /hotel, there was ONE washing machine, and ONE dryer.

I conned a roommate into ordering “the best burgers in the world”, according to a receptionist, with me, but minimum delivery order requires two people, and we chilled out eating and waiting for my washing.

The next morning, she’s at a loss for what to do, and I tell her I’m heading to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen (Hohenschwangau, I think I spelt that right). I explain all the details, the 2.5 hour train journey, the bus from there to the bottom of the castle, the ride up to the castle (or else you’re stuck walking 40 minutes uphill in the blistering heat) and then the further walking around to be done, not to mention coming home again too. She’s in.

We head out at 9am so we can buy a Bayern ticket. It’s essentially a daily pass for ALL public transport lines inside Bavaria. It’s a god send. Instead of paying €40+ for our ticket only to Fussen, we bought a Bayern 2 person ticket for €16 each, which got us to the main station from our hostel, on the train to Fussen, on the bus to the castle from Fussen, and all of it back home again. We went out in the evening too, and it covered those lines also.

The day ended up with remarkable timing. We didn’t plan anything out in advance, and we didn’t buy tickets to go INTO the castle because they only do specific tours to lead people through, and both of us had decided we’d seen enough castles. However, there was always a bus or train when we arrived at whichever station or stop we wanted to depart from, even including the Fussen return only running once an hour.

From the train, we start to see mountains after 2 hours of flat land, and know we are close.

We decide to be fancy buggers and catch a horse drawn carriage up to the castle, like real princesses. But really, we watched a couple buses go past and they were jam packed with people standing in the aisles like cattle, so for the extra few Euros it was worth it.

Our first look of the castle is where the carriage drops you off. Due to the steepness of the cliffs, there’s not enough turning room for the horses any higher up so, there’s still a short walk.

We walk to the front of the castle, but there’s no good shot due to it being under construction. We enjoy the view of the cliffs, and venture round the back to head to Marienbruche, the bridge where nearly all photos of Neuschwanstein are taken.

The bridge is over a deep gorge, with a river (?) flowing through it. The water is an amazing blue, and I wish I could have gotten more photos of it, but without a wrist strap I was terrifed of watching my phone plummet to its death.

Here’s the money shot. Yes, I took this myself on my phone, whether it looks like 1,000,000 other photos of it or not, I do not care. This one is mine.

We take a couple of selfies in front of it, too, eventually leaving when we see how long the line is to get on the bridge behind us (again, timing! plenty of space when we arrived!) We meander back down the path, stopping to really take in the landscape, and the other “Lego” castle in the area, as so eloquently put by my roommate.

On the train ride home, Mona and I start sorting out times to meet up, even though my feet are killing me from all this walking. Hopefully the 2.5hour train ride sitting down will mend that.

I take the roommate to Marienplatz, after using a pay to enter public toilet in the terminal. Ugh. She leaves me to go exploring on her own in the evening, and I get hit on.

It’s strange, but it’s similar to Mr. Creep. I’m waiting outside a shop so I’m easy for Mona to find, and a guy walks up to me, really close to my face, and starts talking in German. “Sorry?” He says something in gibberish again, and I clarify “sorry, English only” hoping that will put him off. It doesn’t.

“Like you.” Sigh. “You LIKE me?” “Yeah.” He nods his head enthusiastically. “Well, you CAN’T like me, you don’t know me.”

He throws his hands up and yells “what the hell!?” in my face. I pull my phone out and frantically start messaging Mona and Pete so I can spam him to make it look like I’m otherwise busy. Mr. Creeptastic skulks away, eventually walking back past with a friend talking to each other in German while both looking like they want to spit on me. Well, hey, you didn’t think I was disgusting when you were trying to hit on me, did you? Note, I was wearing jeans, sneakers, and a jumper. Wtf people.

Mona shows up, and takes me on her walking tour through things-to-look-at-she-doesn’t-know-the-name-of (it was great, I recommend it haha) and takes photos of me as requested.

We go to a Biergarten for dinner and, surprise, beer!

I refrain from stealing a watermelon themed bike. I love watermelon theme.

And then we get takeaway cocktails (because it’s legal to drink on the streets! Huzzah!)

We split up at the train station, both heading home, so I can rest before my flight to Dublin the next day.

By the end of it, Munich ended up being awesome.

Regards,

Alex

Day Twenty-Five

My bug from the last post ended up being pretty gnarly. It was definitely not a 24 hour thing, lasting closer to 72. I managed to have a brief period to purchase the art prints, I ended up getting all 5, and a short trip to the post office. The lady behind the counter looked at me blankly when I advised I’d like to send the post card and poster tube to New Zealand. Almost as if she’d never heard of the place.

Eventually, she gestured to the post card, affixed some stamps on it, and said to dump it in the orange box outside, but she kept waving away the poster tube. I decided to hold onto it until Munich so I could speak real English with someone to explain. The “orange box” outside ended up being around 10 different orange boxes, of which all had different Czech writing on them, obviously labelling different places/services. I held onto that, too, for hostel reception to post for me.

On day twenty four, I had to check out of Hostel Ahoy and had a 10am bus to Munich from Prague. That wasn’t sitting well with my stomach, though, so I booked a hotel room for another night in Prague to curl up and die in my own space, and cancelled my bus (full refund!)

I waited at the hostel after checkout at 11am, as the hotel didn’t allow check in until 3pm and I thought I’d need to stay close to a bathroom. Turns out, I didn’t use it once, and so hiked off in search of my hotel at 2.30.

I arrive, only to be informed by the receptionist that my booking is for tomorrow night, and they’re fully booked. Bugger. Sleep deprived, ill-me booked the wrong day. Not even sure how that happened. I use their lobby to sit down and take a look at everything. Having still been okay without a bathroom, I decide to risk it and just get on a bus later in the day. 

I arrive in Munich at 10.30pm, the sun is still giving enough light that it’s not pitch black in the night, and I check in.

I promptly use the bathroom (oh dear) and then fall asleep after a bucket of water.

I decide to take Sunday easy, and spend the day in the common room. It feels like a hotel lobby and not really a place to meet other travellers, but I strike up a conversation with a guy due to his kiwi plush toy in his backpack, thinking he’d be from NZ – an American. He shows me to the beer hall near Marienplatz for dinner where I have the most delicious chicken of my life (because I hadn’t eaten real food in 3 days or because it was really that good, we will never know), and apple juice. The hall is huge, mostly communal, and full of a loud band playing traditional music. Every 5th song is a short tune to raise your mug to. Prost!

Here’s Marienplatz.

I have little photos for this post, because I didn’t get out much these two days. I’d say I’m sorry but really you should be sorry for me that I was so ill. Hah.

Regards,

Alex

Day Twenty-Three

Today, I am ill. Very, very, horribly ill. I’m assuming it’s a 24 hour bug of some sort, considering I didn’t sleep at all last night mostly out of fear of vomiting in my sleep, and then managed a few 2 or 3 hour naps this morning.

I had a shower immediately after vomiting this morning, as the time between vomits were getting longer and longer, and a refresh was definitely something I needed.

I then gave it half an hour, and braved a trip to the grocery store for some bread, salted chips, and lemonade. Starving as I was, a good sign.

I made it there and back without incident, but immediately stepped into the bathroom for a quick catch up on the evacuations. It’s now been 40minutes since I laid down, watched some netflix, and consumed a portion of chips and some slices of bread. My stomach is rumbling but I’m sure it’s the digestion.

Tomorrow I catch a bus to Munich, so I’m really hoping this passes tonight, considering how travel sick I can get.

On my first night in Prague, I went out for dinner to a vegetarian restaurant with a roommate purely because the reviews were amazing. “Clear Head” turned out to be excellent, we got a 2 person platter so we could try a bunch of things. I then ordered a hot chocolate for dessert and whaddaya know, they served me quite literally a espresso mug of melted chocolate. It was delicious, though.

On day twenty-one, my roomate took me out to Old Town Square with the astronomical clock, Prague Castle, and St. Vitus Cathedral. The clock is currently going under renovations, and honestly the castle was a bit bland compared to so many others I’ve seen lately! But St. Vitus Cathedral was more than I could have imagined.

I never realised just how large it was, on the inside it goes all the way to the top, no levels or anything in the main hall.

People are, on average, about as tall as the white structure in the middle. You can see a gate leading into it. Look how huge this hall is! It was breathtaking. 

What made the day great, though, was braving 1,000,000 stairs to the top of the Great South Tower in the cathedral. A seperate ticket, just something we decided we wanted to do, and thank Apollo we did. At the top, I had to sit, my thighs burning like I’d done 1000 squats. There are actually just over 280 steps, winding up a circular tower to this view.

As soon as I stepped out onto the balcony, the pain in my legs disappeared. Looking down at Prague I felt like a King.

We were in the windows at the top, right before the blue/green roof starts.

From there, we wandered around the castle some, and then started heading back to the hostel, stopping for lunch and some sights on the way.

Yesterday, I slept in a little, and decided on an art history tour day. I made my way to the Mucha Museum, where I was not allowed to take photos. The works were incredible, and I discovered my favourite piece, a poster for a play.

Unfortunately, in the gift shop, it would appear it is not very popular and you can only buy a poster. Not like some of the others that have magnets or cards or bookmarks. I do not trust my ability to keep a poster safe for the next 3 weeks.

I also discovered my favourite series he did, The Moon and The Stars, with my favourite of the pieces being The Moon. (The end one.)

The Moon was on plenty of memorabilia, so I bought a bookmark/magnet, hoping I can affix it to my fridge.

Today’s plan was to go back and find out how much it would cost to post the prints back home in a tube, as I found out a post shop is across the road from the museum. I’m really hoping I’m up for the journey soon.

I continued my art tour on to another museum which was also showing Mucha works, but also had Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol exhibits.

I felt very cultured walking through all the artwork.

My favourite piece, I think, was this. The Horse of Caligula. I really couldn’t say why. There were elephants with Dali’s notoriously long misshapen legs, and images based on the mythology I love in Greek and Roman culture. This one, however, just made me laugh.

I then continued on to a wax museum. When I went in, you go down to a basement level with narrow halls, and the certain feeling that something in there is meant to frighten you.

So, pansy little me went back up the stairs and waited about 10 minutes for someone else to buy tickets so I could go in after them.

There was mostly Czech historical figures, and then a few I recognised, and then a very small room that had some famous movie stars also. The likes of Jim Carrey, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, and Tom Cruise.

Pretty sure they even got his weird teeth right.

This one was pretty satisfying, I imagine he’s on display locked in a chamber on purpose.

So, it’s officially been over an hour without any negative effects from my journey with the bland food. I think it’s time to venture down to the Mucha Museum again, see how much it costs for postage, and for each print. Wish me luck.

Kind regards,

Alex

Day Nineteen

Today has been a lazy day. A lazy AF day.

I did say to myself before I left NZ that I will have to take time out sometimes. You can’t expect to go exploring every day for 6 weeks and not burn out.

Yesterday, I slept in. It was great to be in a hotel and not get rustled by other guests in my dorm. What wasn’t so great was missing hotel breakfast. I was hoping to have a chill out day, but the size of the dinner I ate the night before left a gaping hole in my stomach, so I went off in search of food.

It just so happens to be a long weekend in Vienna, so what I thought was shops being closed because it’s Sunday turned out to be closed for the whole weekend. Which means today (Monday) as well. 

I finally find somewhere that’s open, only for it to be a dessert shop. Apple strudel for breakfast it is, and it’s delicious. A mug of tea to go with it, and then some gelato in a waffle cone when I wander off.

Having some food lifted my spirits a bit, and I figured since I was already out it was a good idea to stay out. I grabbed a ticket on a hop on/hop off tour and did a loop of the circuit to see some things from the top deck.

From there, I got off at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, after seeing a girl start following me on instagram and a few of her posts were from there. (The one on the left is the museum I visited.)

The things inside were amazing, I was more or less awed by this one – and very happy that I went out. There was a range of things to look at: table centerpieces, tableware, statues, sculptures, dolls, paintings, embroidery, cameos, the list goes on.

There was a Greek and Roman section, which was a little boring compared to actually being in Greece and Rome, but hey, that’s just me being spoiled.

I spent 2 hours wandering around what I believe to be 3 or so exhibits. I rounded a corner and dove straight into ancient Egpyt.

This big thing gave me the creeps. I’m not sure if I’ve discussed this with you, avid readers, but I studied Ancient History at Auckland University and walked out of my third Egyptian studies class never to be seen again. Something about it gave me prickles all over, and not let’s go investigate kind of prickles. I’m not too swayed by other-worldy beliefs, but I’m a huge believer in my Gut. Sometimes it reacts in unexpected ways, and I can’t say when it’s vehemently been against something that it’s been wrong.

I totally conquered my unwarranted fear by getting out of the museum within 10 minutes. I snapped a few photos so I didn’t look nuts but I’m feeling bad juju if I post them so let’s leave them in the bowels of my phone memory.

The tour bus took us past a Thai massage parlour that had an open sign, and I got off to book an appointment. My shoulder was giving me some grief and travelling in and out of airports, trains, and waiting areas, combined with terrible mattresses, was doing my back and neck in. I had 2 and a half hours to kill, so figured it was time for a large, late lunch to tide me over dinner as well. I got the Shwarma at Hungry Eats, or some similar name which prides itself on being a street food extroadinaire.

Oh my god it was so good. So, so good. Also, see my little kindle poking in the side? That thing is a godsend. I love it.

I killed as much time as possible in the high turnover place without starting to feel weird, and decided sitting elsewhere would be best for the last hour of my wait.

I went to a gelato place, as the shwarma was very, very filling, and saw people sitting and chatting with coffees so figured I could kill some time there.

Kill time I did, mildly fearing for my wellbeing, and messaging Romeo profusely throughout the whole ordeal.

I was sitting by myself, and the place was VERY busy, so I didn’t think twice when a guy asked to share my table. I was reading, and had ordered, so sat back and lifted my kindle.

This guy starts making small-talk, after asking if I can speak English. It starts with small chatter, talking about how he speaks a few languages but doesn’t get to use English so often so it’s cool to be able to exercise it. I smile and nod. This guy can’t be any older than 30, I assume. He tells me he moved to Vienna from Cuba and has been here a few years, and that my eyes are really beautiful.

I’m sorry what?

I wave off the compliment and start ignoring most of what he’s saying, picking up my phone and looking through my online list for anyone I can chat to. Romeo is the unlucky one who has to stay up (I believe it was about 3am NZT) to keep me calm.

The guy leans in close, and tells me he has “so many feelings for me”. I abruptly say that’s not possible, he’s just sat down and doesn’t know me. He interrupts asking if I have feelings for him, and I say no, I don’t know who you are, and have feelings for my boyfriend. He looks at me sideways and asks how long we’ve been together, 4 years. At this point, I’ve finished wolfing down my gelato so I can pay for it and run away, and I signal the waiter for the bill. As I’m paying the waiter, the guy gets up as if to leave, but leaves some things on the table and stands by the only entrance just staring out. I decide leaving isn’t a great idea, staying here where there were plenty of people was best. I snuck a photo of the guy to Romeo and tell him where I am, and sneak off to the bathroom to wait in terror.

It’s 5.00pm and my massage appointment is at 5.30, which is only a block away. I decide I’d gap it there and wait. Informing Romeo of my plan, and that I want to keep my eyes up and hands free, I won’t be messaging him while I walk. It’s an uneventful powerwalk to the parlour, I don’t see any sign of Mr. Creep and his stuff was gone from the table when I snuck out of the bathroom. Thanking Romeo, I go upstairs for a pounding massage, and rush back to my hotel.

I haven’t left since. Today has been a day in bed. Mr. Creep was probably harmless, considering he gave up, but still creepy nontheless. I haven’t 100% liked this place since I got here, so I’m glad to use it as an excuse to just spend all day in bed. Also, it’s kinda hard to do that in hostels and my next hotel isn’t until Belgium, 4 stops away.

So today, I’ve been chatting with Pete, watching Netflix, and snoozing. A true holiday type day. I feel so lazy, but lazy feels so good.

Regards,

Alex

Day Seventeen

I have just checked in to my hotel in Vienna, and within minutes of dumping my bag in my room a train rattles under my window.

As I was walking to the hotel, I wasn’t too sure how I felt about the place. I’m not sure it’s the best location in the city, but the guy at the front desk was nice and helpful, and wearing red jeans ’cause why not.

I spent my last day in Budapest walking around again, and accidentally scamming the city out of free public transportation. I caught the #16 bus to Fisherman’s Bastion from my hostel, and didn’t see an obvious ticket machine. I got on behind a line of people who also didn’t seem to be showing the driver any tickets, so I just followed suit, assuming we pay on board. There was no way to pay on board.

At the top of the hill, I hop off and watch ohers do the same, all without paying. Huh, it was a tiny bus, maybe it’s just a free looping service.

The first thing I see stepping off the bus is the church. The colours on the roof really capture me, and I’m a little bit in love. Exchanging cash for tickets, the open archway of the church beckons. From the outside, there are no advertisements or indication (sound or otherwise) that something is going inside the church.

When I step inside, a school choir is singing and the music they’re ringing out through the chapel is exactly what I imagine Angels sound like, if they’re real. It was beautiful, really wonderful.

Outside again, and I head up to the Bastion. 

Amazing views of the city from up here. You have to pay to get onto the platform with the turrets, and there are archways in the structure on the ground floor, but it definitely felt worth it.

The parliament building was a spectacle. I didn’t see it up close during the day, just from the Bastion. However, I did go out with the hostel on a boat party on Friday night and snapped this awesome photo of it lit up from the river.

On my way home from the Bastion the bus rolls past a storefront. “House of Houdini”. I jump off at the next stop and walk back to give it a geez. Turns out it’s a little museum (read: shrine) to Harry Houdini, with a small tour and magic show with entry. I poke around and kill an hour with the brief 30 minute tour, and 30 minute (mostly cards) magic show run by a student. It was a really unexpected little find. Personally I really enjoyed it, it was lighthearted and fun, and different to a lot else I’d been doing. I wouldn’t say I’d recommend someone go out of their way for it – but do stop if you also happen across it.

Admittedly, I again caught the bus for free back down to my hostel, shitting myself the entire ride because I was finally somewhere I could read the “Bus Code” which did say there could be serious repurcussions if you were found to be without a ticket and that an inspector may board at any time. I figured I was in no further risk than I had been on the ride up, so even though I itched to get off a stop early I hung on.

Today, I went from Budapest to Vienna. After the boat party last night, I stayed up with Nicole a lot later than anticipated due to being too lazy to wash my face, and we had some pretty good deep and meaningfuls. I set my alarm for 8am so I could shower, pack, and have a good breakfast somewhere before my date with the metro at 10.45 to take me to the station. I remember waking up to turn it off like “why in hells would I set this?” And rolled over and went back to sleep. Thank christ the girls in my dorm were noisy, they managed to wake me up at 9.20 – at which point my brain flicked over into functioning mode and I ran around like crazy.

I had breakfast in the form of a slice of pizza at the train station, and then got well confused.

There were signs pointing to rows of platforms, EG: 1-5 this way, but no actual numbers on the platforms themselves to say you have reached platform 9. Then, the train sitting there didn’t have any of its identification boards turned on so I couldn’t say “oh yup this is the one to Vienna!” I ended up asking a guy wearing a fluro vest who looked like he worked there and he said, “Yup, should be the one.” Omg as if I wasn’t nervous enough. So I get on and thank Apollo the on board displays are showing our destination and I settle into a seat. At this point I realise people are looking at their papers then at the overhead compartments and back again like boarding an aeroplane. I look up to see seat numbers printed. I check my ticket every which way and can’t for the life of me figure out if I have an assigned seat but every single one says reserved. I end up just moving throughout the journey as people get on and off, switching seats for free ones for that particular leg of the trip. It works out, everyone is nice about it, and we go on our way.

Well, I found an underground pub that serves ginormous, delicious burgers and not-so-delicious apple crumble/sponge thing, and had a super long warm rainfall shower in my hotel, and I’m feeling a lot better about where I am.

Tomorrow I plan on getting a massage for my shoulders and neck because they are ailing me somewhat fierce, and then jumping on a hop on/hop off bus to get an image for the classics.

Regards,

Alex

Day Fifteen 

Here I am again, stuck in Purgatory. It’s 2pm, and I’m in Athens airport waiting until 3.50pm for my flight to Budapest. I have already sat down and eaten, tried calling my parents twice (they really wanted to talk but alas), browsed the museum exhibit, and made my way to my gate. Good news is the flight is only 1 hour, bad news is the airport is not close to the city centre and it would appear you have to take either a taxi or 3 different buses to get there.

The hostel I’m staying at in Budapest offered airport pickup organisation, but when I emailed them about it they denied that statement. I didn’t bring it up, but gosh darnit. Googling isn’t proving to be helpful either.

I’ve just come from a stay on Crete. I thought it would be a serene beach stay but there were thunderstorms which the locals swore weren’t right for the time of year it was. It ended up being okay though, a good excuse to be extremely lazy.

I met up with two other NZ girls who are here finishing their med degree, introduced by the hotel owner, and we headed out on Sunday to explore Rethymnon. There was a little tiny museum we chanced upon and stopped to look at some ancient pots and jewellery. We went on to the walls, and had some lunch.

Lunch, for me, was unfortunate. The girls shared a vegetarian tapas menu, and I ordered Baklava. I asked how big it was (its very, very sweet) and the waiter shrugged and said “Eh.”

It was a huge piece, I ate maybe half because I felt bad leaving any more on the plate, but when our plates were cleared he still asked me if I hated it. No, no, no, no. Just so, so sweet. 

From there we did a little bit of shopping. I got roped into buying a “silver” ring for €10. $16NZ equivalent. Which just doesn’t happen, silver that cheap. He did say it was 75% off, but I think they might advertise high to sell low. To its credit, though, I haven’t taken it off since and my finger isn’t green, so it’s at least plated – or coated.

We went out for dinner, and this time I ordered a tapas menu.

I tried a bunch of different starters, pictured here, and then had 5 mains samples. Turns out their sample size I think was the “main” element from each dish just without the whizzbang of sides like roast potatoes, so essentially 5 pieces of the main part of different main courses. A lot of food, altogether. The server was hilarious, asking why Rachel would order a Greek salad in a fancy place like this, he almost seemed offended. But it was on the menu, she said she liked it, so he shrugs and admits that it is too one of his preferred dishes.

At the end of the meal, it appears to be custom for them to deliver liquor in a small flask for shots. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it tasted like vodka mixed with tequila, still clear, and advertised by the more fluent and westernized Grecians as Greek Moonshine. Wow. I turned down all further offers of this at the next places I got food from. Didn’t matter if it was lunch or dinner, it was served either way.

We got home at 10pm and I slept like a log. Waking up the next day only to do laundry, got to the supermarket, and have some food.

On my last day in Crete, I went to the Aquarium. It was really cool, with lots of cute little windows and exhibits. Some of the fish in there were HUGE! Also, there were sharks.

Once home, I did a bunch of research and plotted backwards from my concert in Netherlands, and forwards where I knew I was going from here, and found in the middle I have about 4 days free. I’m thinking of chucking in 4 days in Dublin for something more like home and just to hang out with people again, again so I don’t burn out looking at everything all the time.

I spent the evening with Stavros and Marcella, the owners of my hotel, and we chatted until about midnight. I left with a wooden tulip and a souvenir magnet from Crete, with a handwritten note from them. It was wonderful and they were 100%. Galatia Apartments in Kokkini if you’re interested.

So, Purgatory is finally over. I risked my first taxi (and accidentally got into a freelance one, not an official one) to get to the hostel, messaging Peter-from-work the entire time so I didn’t get Taken, or if I did someone would know and call my mum.

The hostel has so far been friendly, though SUPER party oriented. They have free dinner every night which is great, but that leads into drinking games in the common area, and onto pub crawls after that. Every night apparently. I do think I remember reading this but thought eh, fuck it, they have lockers, are in a good location, and have female only dorms, I’m in.

As you can see from this post, I did not go out with them tonight, and I’ll see how much I accomplish tomorrow before thinking of going out then (probably not) – I still need to allocate time to organise my money and see if Dublin works or if i need to just extend days elsewhere. I haven’t been keeping a close eye on my spending so far – it hasn’t seemed huge.

Time for some shut eye, I wonder if more checkins tomorrow will ruin me having a room to myself.

Regards,

Alex