October 7, 1998: We are in Budapest, Hungary and first we had to find our Canadian buddy, Perry, who we had met the night before. We found him and then the three of us went to this Statue Museum. They had all these statues from the Cold War/Communist Era. It was pretty interesting. After this we went to the downtown area and we looking for this restaurant that Thomas had heard of at the hostel. It is called Fatel and it was pretty damn good. Thomas and I had this huge platter of goose legs, chips (French fries), rice, and salad for 2,000 ($10 American). We hung out with Perry some more and then we got on a train to Venice, Italy. And here is where the big confusion of the next morning started. We had two choices for our train route to Venice. We could go through Slovenia, or we could go through Austria and it would take longer and be more expensive. So we went through Slovenia. We had a sleeping compartment, and at some point in the middle of the night, the Slovenian customs agent came in and started to break it down on us. He wanted to look through my bag, and made me open all my little gift wrapped packets of trinkets that I had bought.
October 8: I woke up at 3:10am and looked out of the train window. We were at a station and when I looked out I saw a sing for McDonalds that looked like it was in Italian and above it I saw the train sign that said “Venizia 3:20.” I thought that meant that we were at Venice and that the train would be leaving in 10 minutes. So we hurried and got off the train. So we had thought that we were in Venice extra early, as we were supposed to arrive at 9am. So we waited around for the tourist office to open at 5am. While we were waiting we started talking to this Canadian guy. And after talking to him for about an hour we finally realized that we had gotten off the train in Ljublijana, Slovenia! So that day we hung out with Steve the Canadian. We ended up getting a room at an old ladies house for about $35 American for the three of us.
This is the house we stayed in while we were in Ljublijana, Slovenia.
We ate breakfast at McDonalds. And we went and saw a Castle on a hill that over looks the city. A little later on in the day we took the train south of town the see the Postonja Caves. They are these huge caves that we took a tour through and learned all about them.
This is inside of the castle that is perched on a hill in the center of Ljublijana.
This is a postcard of the Postojna caves that are south of Ljublijana. In the picture is an orchestra that played inside of the caves a few years ago.
In the evening we walked downtown to find this Chinese food place that we had heard about. When we finally found it, it was packed but they told us there was another restaurant a few blocks away. So we went to try to find it. We knew we were close by so I stopped to ask a man for directions.
Me: “Excuse me, do you speak English?”
Man: “Of Course!”
Me: “We are looking for a Chinese restaurant around here, but we cant seem to find it.”
Man: “Follow me, I will show you where it is.”
So we followed him and we went though a kind of courtyard of houses and the man knocked on a door, and it was the door to the kitchen of the restaurant! When someone answered the man said “I have three hungry men here!”
And then we were led in and proceeded to eat dinner.
October 9: We left for Venice in the morning. We got in at three in the afternoon. We walked all over Venice with our packs trying to find a place to stay. But all of the Hostels were booked solid and the cheapest Hotel we could find was about 120,000 Lira ($80 American.) So we walked around and saw the Maria Formosa Square and the S. Marco Polo Square.
A picture of Marco Polo Square from the bell tower.
I went up in the bell tower and got an awesome view of the city. We ate dinner, and afterwards had a $6 beer at a cafe. We decided to take the night train to Rome for 45,000 Lira each ($30.)
October 10: We went to the Vatican, and walked through all the areas. We had to wait in line for an hour or so to get in. Although we could not figure out where St Peters Church was, we had walked almost to it, but turned around looking for the entrance to the Vatican. We stayed at Hostel Rita again, this time for 25,000 Lira ($17 American) each for beds in a large room of 6 or so.
October 11: We attempted to leave back home, but since we were on standby tickets we didn’t get on the flight. We had McDonalds for breakfast, and it cost us 15,000 Lira ($10 American) each way for the train out to the airport. We went and hung out at the Spanish Steps and played lots of magnetic chess and card games.
October 12: We headed out to the airport again, but didn’t get on this flight either. We took our bags back to the Hostel Rita and then I went back to the Vatican to try to find St. Peters Church. Thomas didn’t want to go so he stayed at the McDonalds at the Termini and played solitaire. I went through the Vatican again, and afterwards figured out that St. Peters had a separate entrance. So I headed over there and saw it. It had scaffolding all over the front of the church as it was being cleaned in preparation for the year 2000 celebrations. We went and ate dinner at this great place we found that was run by some Indians. We ate with some dude from California who was staying in our room at the hostel with us. Back at the Hostel Thomas and I had to share a double bed.
October 13: We headed out to the airport again, only to be denied again. So we went to the church crypt in the middle of the city. It was crazy, there were several little rooms that had decorations made out of human bones. It all consisted of bones from over 2,500 dead monks (Below.) After we saw this we went on a quest to find a cheap beer. After many stops at cafes and such we ended up at good ole McDonalds for a $1 beer. This night we headed to Milan for 49,000 Lira each ($33 American.) We could also fly out of Milan and since we hadn’t had any luck out of Rome we figured we would give it a shot.
October 14: The train ride was brutal. There were no assigned seats and all these people kept cramming into our compartment. The train was full after about halfway to Milan, and people were sitting in the isles. Some old guy was sitting next to me and kept hacking and coughing the whole night. I only got like one hour of sleep. We took a bus to the airport straight from the train station. After we got to the airport and waited around for the flight we found out that we got denied again. We decided to just camp out at the airport until the next flight the next morning. The airport restaurant had closed by the time we found it so we just ate some potato chips and ice cream and beer.
This is Thomas at the Milan, Italy Airport.
October 15: The Resolution – After a restful night on the Milano, Italy airport bench (Above) and a healthy breakfast of Coca-Cola and Krapfen (a kind of pastry) we were told that we had no chance in hell of getting on the airplane standby today, tomorrow, and or on the weekend. So we broke down and bought airline tickets for 909,000 Italian Lira, about $550 American each. That was just to New York and then we used the rest of our standby tickets to get us back to Portland via St Louis. When we got into New York I discovered that my backpack had not made the flight with us. Luckily it showed up at my house a few days later.