I am traveling with another teacher, Lisa, in Slovenia. We took the train Monday from Budapest to Ljubljana, stayed in a youth hostel which is a converted prison, and then up first thing to take the bus to the far northwest corner of the country for some hiking. We stayed in Kranjska Gora in a hostel (only 2 other people there!) and it started a torrential downpour! Spent the afternoon and evening in our room playing cards and drinking wine! Found out in the morning that the Italian border was just 5 km away, and the road lead to the town of Tarviso, where Giulia, our exchange student, is from! Too bad I don't have her number - but will definitely get it now!
Still raining in the morning, we gave up on any outdoor activity, packed up and headed for Bled. Someone had told us it was not worth seeing - too touristy. So glad we did not listen! Again, since it is the off season, not many people, and absolutely gorgeous with fall colors (and rain). A lot of history here - the castle dates to 1012 or so! Wonderful views from the castle and a small, but nice museum. Again, a cheap youth hostel, and I am now awake early as is typical for me. The hostel was mostly empty and we got a two bed room which included breakfast for an unbeatable price. Its still raining, so will move on today, but not sure where yet. We have to go back through Ljubjana at some point, so will see the sights there then. We will probably head to Zagreb, Croatia from Ljubjana before heading back to Hungary and home by Saturday night.
Working very hard on traveling as cheaply as possible - Lisa is a good teacher. I took out 150. Euro on arriving in Ljubljana and still have 35. left after 3 nights, transportation costs and all but one meal (I cheated last night, and used my credit card for a meal in a restaurant with salad, pizza and wine.) Breakfast is included this morning in the cost of the hostel, and we already have our food for the day: left over pizza and fruit, etc. from the store. So, although will go over the 150 eu, will still have been a good trip at a reasonable cost.
Will post more when I return home, just wanted to get some of this documented.
update 10/31: Up again early, so have time on the computer.
Upon going back into the room to pack in Bled, discovered that our wet clothes that we had hung on the radiator, were wetter than before! The radiator as well as the window, had leaked! So, lots of plastic bags of wet clothes were shoved into our packs before heading out.
We took a bus back to Ljubjana, thinking there would be indoor activities in the city out of the rain. The rain actually let up a bit and we were able to tour the castle and get great views of the city. The Ljubljana river runs throughout the old town area of the city with multiple bridges over it. We took many pictures of the "dragon bridge" and then went to St Nicholas church where the exterior doors are beautiful bronze reliefs that were created for the Pope's visit in 1996 (I think that was the year.)
There was a huge open air market with produce, flowers and some odds and ends. Hope to go back through that today to pick up some fruit for the next few days.
At the hostel after the castle visit, we met a swiss/brit guy who has been traveling for a few months. We got a recommendation for a restaurant (yes, 2 nights in a row) with traditional Slovene food and had a great dinner. I had sausage and sauerkraut with a local wine (I know, beer would go better, but I don't really like beer), Lisa had Slovene goulash - no potatoes or carrots like in Hungary, and Borris had a vegetarian dish -- they both had the local beer.
Today is raining again so will try to go to the national gallery, however, today is a holiday, so it may not be open. The train is at 2:30 to Zagred, Croatia where we will stay tonight. Just really want to break the long trip back to Kisvarda into smaller segments.....actually writing this, I may change it all together, as I won't really get much time in Zagreb. More later.
update 11/2: Back in Kisvarda.
Well, when I realized it was a holiday on the 31st and also the 1st, I started looking for trains back on Friday. No such luck. So went and walked around in Ljubljana in areas we hadn't been before and visited with other folks in the hostel. Even the outdoor market was closed - the only thing open were the flower stalls and people were mobbing those for flowers for graves.
We then headed for Zagreb on the 2pm train as originally planned. Got into Zagreb after dark and found a hostel 2 blocks from the train station. Got beds in a 6 bed dorm, but we were the only ones in the dorm! We walked to the main square and to one of the three churches listed and then walked a main pedestrian area lined with cafes, with everyone watching the pedestrians going by!
As I was using the computer in Ljubljana, I saw an article about two journalists being killed by a car bomb on the 26th of October in Zagreb, and the article pointed out that there has been ongoing tension between two organized crime groups, with a tit-for-a-tat going on..... Well, as I was walking in Zagreb that night, I just kept thinking of that and of the Balkans war and every man I saw I wondered if he was of age to have been involved in the war and how it was to re-assimilate. Needless to say, this kind of put me on edge. We saw a tv news van with reporters preparing for an interview with someone outside of a stately looking building. Upon getting home yesterday, I saw three people have been arrested for the murders and bombing and that there are still two that are being sought. Have to wonder if the TV news crew were interviewing someone about that.
When we crossed over the border by train from Serbia to Hungary, our train was searched. One guy went down the length of the train car, opening every ceiling panel and looking in. I don't know if this is standard practice, or was due to heightened security due to the two fugitives.
Anyway, back safe and sound in Kisvarda. The train ride through Hungary was a different route up to Budapest than I have traveled before, and I got to see Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Hungary. From Budapest, the train swung a bit north, and went through Miscolc and Tokaj where I had visited last summer.
Just figured out that I spent around $280 for this trip. A lot of train time and limited sites due to the rain, but not bad for a 6 day trip. So, on to planning the next trip..... oh and doing lesson plans for the next few weeks!