We’ve been traveling through Slovenia and Croatia on our way to Turkey. We’ll be stopping in Montenegro and Macedonia as well. We’re learning a lot about the history of the former Yugoslavia. It is rare for us to visit a place with significant history which is also recent enough to have taken place within our lifetimes. I can’t help but wonder how people my own age and younger see the world now.
The guy renting us a room is very welcoming and friendly. He did say, in passing, that Croatia is fucked, though. Like several countries in Europe there is high unemployment and several of his friends and family have moved or are trying to move to Canada.
We are currently in Split. It reminds me of a Mediterranean Cape Breton on account of the rain yesterday and the rocky beaches. We tracked down two Sphinx’s which were brought here from Egypt by the Romans. Unfortunately, one was in a box and the other was missing its head.
More adventures await.
A few photos from Spain and Portugal.
First I’d like to apologize for publishing the worst travel blog of all time. Lauren doesn’t think it’s the worst blog ever. But it’s not the best.
We are in Lisbon, Portugal after a couple of days on the beaches of Lagos. We over heard, and felt apathetic for, many travelers who let their entire trip slip by there. We can understand why. It was hot but not humid, not too hot with a cool breeze. It was sunny and the sun didn’t set till 9. The water was cold but fresh.
Sorry if some of the photos are sideways…
Budapest was a very fun city. There were some great cafes, bars and clubs. I was staying at a very social and small hostel where I got to meet a tone of people. This was actually the first place I met a tone of Canadians and a lot of them were from the GTA so it was nice to chat about home and use “Canadian Slang” without people laughing saying I was so Canadian. In Budapest, there are some amazing bath houses where you can nurse a mean hangover and relax your sore legs after a night of dancing. I had a lovely day in one with a German girl I met at the hostel and we chatted, ate and bathed all day. It was perfect.
There is also a very interesting museam called the Terror Museam which talks about the torture and corruption that was happening throughout history starting with WWII and throughout the Communist Era. In this museam, they had a a whole floor where they reconstructed the cells where people were left to suffer after intense questioning and torture. It was a very emotional experience to see the conditions and hear the stories of people who survived this punishment. I feel I am really getting a much deeper understanding on how life was during that time and hearing stories from Hungarians who are a bit older then I am, who went to school during this time and how it effected them is so interesting. One girl was telling me how she remembers getting her first pair of jeans and drinking her first coke and how thoses memories are very important.
Before Budapest, I was in Romania looking for Dracula! No really, but I did see some beautiful castles and heard some very interesting ledgens and superstitions on many different topics.
I had a really great experience in Romania as I met a tone of students who were very passionate about politics and talking about the changes their country needs to make. Many of these students talked about how many Romanians are leaving and going to work in Western Europe because there are limited oppertunties in Romania. They also talked about a lot of people having a lack of ambition because they know they will inherit their parents home and car so as long as they can eat and drink, they are not striving to improve their current living situation. The one fellow I was chatting with was very passionate on this topic. He says he is getting a good education (which was being paid for by the government) andhe wants to stay in Romania to improve the situation there and not leave for the West because by doing that he will not be able to support his country and help change the current economic situation they are in. I was also told that not only are very skilled workers emigrating to the West but the criminals and gypies were as well. This was very upsetting to these young students because Romania was getting a bad wrap because of these people. I was so interested to see how open and passionate these students were about there country and how much they want change and success for their country.
I really enjoyed the East and am looking forward to heading back there before Turkey to learn and explore a lot more the history and culture.
Solo Adventure- Part 1
I (Lauren) have been a horrible blogger. I am sorry. There is so much to report that I am going to work backwards. I just arrived in rainy but beautiful Dresden, Germany. So far I haven’t seen much but I am going out to dinner with a few friends I met on my Central America trip who are going to show me the town. I am really excited to be shown around by locals. I find it is a very different experience and one I prefer when you get an insiders view of a city.
Before Dresden, I was in Prague but I wish I had more time to experience a different side to the Czech Republic as I found Prague to be very touristy. I will just have to go back to explore more… It was very beautiful and they make a mean dinner. I definitely was indulging as I spent my 25th birthday there. It was a good place to celebrate as there are tones of pubs with a very wide selection of local beers to try so I was able to just kick back on a patio and enjoy the countries finest. Most dinners seemed to be a huge piece of meat and some bread or dumplings. It was amazing and I have photos to prove it! For activities, I mostly just wondered the streets and read in beautiful parks. The weather was so beautiful and sunny I didn’t want to miss a second of it.
I was in Vienna before Prague which was also beautiful but again very popular with the tour groups. Its funny but I feel that a lot of these amazing cities that are so pretty and clean come off a bit too prefect and artifical. If I had more time to explore I am sure I would have discovered a gritter side to town but again, I will just have to go back. In Vienna, I experieced the grand opera where I got standing room tickets for Don Carlos which cost 4 euro and was 5 hours! It was an experience. It was so exciting to see a city that loves and fully embraces classical music scene. Out of the central European cities I have visited thus far, it seems the community fully support the arts and the government really helps by providing a tone of funding. Its so great because citizens can enjoy and experience these wonderful pieces of art with out breaking the bank. Another thing I have really been exploring is the history of these cities and I have been going to as many free city walks as possible. So far they have been really helpful in pointing me in the right direction of where to find more information and they give a good overview of how the city has changed throughout history.
I have been learning a lot about the communist era and how it has effected these countries and that brings me to one of my favorite cities, Budapest… (will be discussed in my next post)
It has been too long since I last posted. I’m in Terra Alta, Spain. I met my uncle, who has returned to Toronto, here a few days ago. I arrived here from Turin, Italy where I stayed two nights after Rome. Rome was fun and full of sights but felt, to me, like a glossy finished product. I failed to see the depth or any culture that wasn’t thousands of years old. I can’t picture Rome without a tourist infrastructure. However, it is a marvel. The architecture is so impressive that it is almost sureal to look at. Perhaps, however, the surrealism was actually caused by the hangover I was nursing. My friend, Brad, from college had just finished doing tests in Switzerland for a watchmaking school and was able to fly to Rome for the weekend. And, as the saying goes, “When in Rome..” But the sights are marvelous eitherway. The amount of labor, attention to detail, design, and hard work that went into the fountains, monuments, statues, and buildings is inspiring and humbling.
From Rome I took a train to Turin. This is where I began to understand how to enjoy Italy. Turin is the home of Fiat (the brand of car my uncle rented and we would later cruise the Spanish countryside in), Ferra Rochet and other premium chocolate brands, cafe culture, and the slow food movement. Some of the cafes in Turin are over 100 years old. I sat at one and had a negroni, because that’s what every other person there was having. When the waitress delivered it to my table on the patio in the cobblestone courtyard she told me to help myself to the buffet inside. Offering snacks with cocktails is standard in Turin. Sitting in the courtyard, sipping a negroni, and watching locals drink from an old water fountain, I believe, is how to best enjoy a city that is home to the slow food movement.
I met my uncle at the Reus train station. We found a bar to get some food before the hour long journey back to Cobera d’Ebre. The bartender told us it was too late for food but offered us sandwiches - as if that isn’t food. Like Italian food it was simple and delicious. When traveling I like to take up a beleif in omens, or at least, I put a lot of weight on first impressions. The draft beer, leg of ham on the bar from which the cook cut some meat for our sandwiches, and the soft doughy bread drizzled in local olive oil were all good signs of things to come. The food here is amazing. It’s local food for local people but the local people have a taste for wine, pork, and olives. The cured meat and wine is of a quality I can hardly afford back home.
The countryside is draped in vineyards and olive groves, and the scent of rosemary lingers as it grows in the wild. I found a shop from which I rented a bike. My plan is to live here for a couple of weeks, explore the countryside and other towns, and eat pork and olives.
Wish me luck.
Amazing, huge sandwiches in Sofia