Monday, September 29, 2008

I don’t feel like being a tourist right now 29/09/08 Day 74

Day 74 (slide show)

I think I’m still fighting that same cold. I stayed in last night and I’m taking it easy on the drinking. I am surprised how much people drink here. The beer is so cheap and the attitude is drink all night for tomorrow you die. It’s amazing they can work the next day. For me two or three of these Bohemian Beers and I’m ready to crash. I have been sticking to wine, that way I can know exactly how much I’ve had. I have a hard time staying out past midnight.

Finding out the temperature around here is difficult to. My watch has a thermometer on it but it’s not accurate on my wrist. If I take it off and set it aside for a few minutes I get a good reading but can’t do that all the time. I usually find out the temperature after I’ve gone out and get to the cybercafé. I’m finding it hard to dress properly, I ether ware to much or not enough. It sure will be nice to get my computer again. I don’t miss a phone at all but the computer is different. I think I called it “Bit Withdrawals” back in China and I’m sticking with that.

It’s getting expensive to keep buying a daily transit pass and I heard of a monthly pass which would save me money. I’m trying to find the place that sells them but I keep getting the run around. I have been to three Metro stations and each one tells me to go to a different one. The language is the biggest problem but the arrogance here by public employees is horrendous. There is still a lot of the communist attitude left here. It’s at the markets and stores too. It’s nothing for them to snub you for no reason. Customer service is hard to find in any language. I’m a little pissed off right now because I’m in the metro station and they just shinned me again. I try to be nice but it doesn’t work. I think I’ve lost my Mojo. I need to find out where it went.

I got another extension on my room again but I think it will be the last. I have to find an apartment fast. My bikes and gear won’t be here for a few weeks but I have to stop spending so much money. I can’t keep paying for daly lodging. Everyday I must spend several hours working on a place to stay. This is tough but I’ve done it before. I know a few tricks and tomorrow I will make a note of some of them. It’s all about getting the opportunity to put a deposit down.

I took a few pictures today but they are not that good. I’m having a hard time being a tourist right now. So much on my mind and mentally I need to prepare myself for a long winter. I’m not ready yet to second guess myself on choosing Prague as my winter stop but I’m thinking about it. Maybe tomorrow I will go to that little village where the festival was. I might just get a room there. At least it will be a nice break.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sleeping on a cement floor, “Not Me” 26-28/09/08 Days 71-73

Day 71-73 (slide show)

Well as I thought, I’m pressed for time this morning. I do have a plan that I worked out last night. If I call this one hostel at 10AM they might have a bed for me. It’s my last shot because I have checked everywhere for a cheap room. After packing everything and grabbing a quick breakfast here at the pension I was ready to make the call. They do have a few beds left in the dorm area but no single rooms. The dorm beds are not that cheap, I’m a little surprised. I’m sure they are quoting a higher price because I’m not reserving in advance. But I don’t have a choice.

I have plans to leave my large bag here and come back for it after I trek across the city to the hostel. It’s going to be pretty hard to jump in and out of the trams with two packs and the “Wheely Beast.” As I’m checking out I start talking to the nice lady at the desk whom I haven’t seen before and to my surprise she tells me they do have a room and gives me a lower price. What luck this is because last night I asked this jerk who told me “No Rooms.” I quickly booked for 4 nights and hauled my stuff back to my new room. Through this process I find out that this other jerk at the train station ripped me off for about $150.00 because I let him book this pension for me. He was supposed to be a traveler’s assistant and I’m now finding out that they don’t have any rules here like in Austria. Beware of the Travelers Assistants in Prague. I didn’t realize it until this nice gal gave me the new price. That’s why I thought this place was so expensive. I’m not too happy about that but at least I have a good place for a few more days. Anyway the price here isn’t much higher then the dorm and I have my own room.

Now I need to find a better cybercafé, and I hope a little cheaper. It’s better weather today so I’m going to search the city for the afternoon and get some pictures. I think the reason I’m not feeling so hot is because I’m not listening to enough Blues. I’m plugging in the IPod and going to get some Mojo back. Today I’m walking the town with the Blues.

On the 27th this new friend Roman is suppose to call. He has invited me to a festival somewhere north of the city I think. The holiday St. Wenceslas Day (Czech Statehood Day) is today and there are celebrations everywhere but the best one is up north he says. I couldn’t get to many details because of the language difficulties. His English isn’t so bad but he goes on and on saying the same thing several times. I don’t know any Czech so he’s doing a lot better then me. I will just go with it and see what happens. Another adventure, I will dress warm and hope for the best.

I meet Roman at the Russian Tank which seems to be the standard meeting place here then we immediately went to the nearest book store for two copies of Czech to English translation books. I thought his was a great idea. He is specking to me about a place north of the city but I can’t figure out what he is telling me, so I just follow to see what’s up. It turns out to be a Home Improvement Show at these fairgrounds. Very interesting and we got in free which was nice. I’m thinking that this is the plan for the day then I realize this is just a short side trip. He tries to explain about a fair and concert in a small village north of here. I go with it even though I’m not sure what is going on. We work our way to a bus station and then catch a bus for a 45 minute ride to the beautiful village named Brandy’s nad Labem Stara Boleslav. It seems it is two villages next to each other with a small river flowing between them. It's a very pretty place with good feel to it. The river is part of a lake with several fishermen around the banks. I’m thinking I could hang here for the winter. This looks like a good place to lay low for a while.

There were a lot of people and because of the festival so we navigated our way through the area for quite sometime. It was a big festival with two outdoor stages for live music and lots of booths that sold everything you can imagine. There was a Czech guy selling Sioux and Cherokee jewelry. It’s now getting to be 10PM and I’m thinking we should start thinking about heading back. We have seen two great Czech New Age Rock bands and I was getting tired. Roman gets up from the bleachers we were sitting on and motions to go. I had noticed he was falling asleep sitting there so I said “Lets Go.” We were at the stage that was furthest away and I’m thinking we might have a long walk to the bus, so I asked him “What is the time for the last bus?” Much to my surprise he said don’t worry we will catch the bus around 3AM. “Something’s Wrong” (Junior Watson, Bluesman) I don’t like that idea much, it’s cold and I’m tired. What was he think about I’m having trouble figuring this out. He then wants to head back to the concert. Turns out he just wanted to walk a little so he could stay awake. I started evaluating the situation a little more closely. “What time does the last Metro leave” I asked. I knew the answer to that question but I was trying to give him something to think about. “Midnight” he says “Do you want to go back now?” “I don’t want to sleep in the Metro station” I said. I was cold and I don’t want to sleep in a chair or on a bench. He wouldn’t be thinking of the cement floor at the station I hope.

Anyway this is how you can get “Lost in the translation” “I want to make that last Metro” I said as I grabbed his arm. I see now he gets it. To cut this long story off we ran to the bus stop, caught the only one that would work by seconds and then made the Metro station at 12:04 to walk straight on the last Metro for the city. I made it to the Pension at 1:45AM. As we talked on the Metro he tells me it is nothing to sleep at the station or find an all night bar and just drink until morning. “Not me” I told him, I wasn’t going to sleep on a bar stool. I was glad to make it back that night.

On the 28th I did nothing of any importance due to the fact that I didn’t fill so good. Not a hangover but I thought I had recovered from my cold but I could fell it creeping up on me again. I pretty much spent my time on the computer, a boring day. Recovery days are such a waste, tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reunited with my beloved “Wheely Beast” 23-25/09/08 Days 68-70

Day 68 -70 (slide show)

There is going to be a little change now since I’m finally in Prague. I’m going to combine some days now that I’m going to stay here through the next 9 months. Of course that is if things stay as planed and I expect them to.

After reviewing my camera this morning during breakfast I’m still in somewhat of a state of shock. I don’t have a scale to weigh myself with but now looking in the mirror I think I’m in need of some rest and food. With a little luck I can kick this cold and that will help the situation. Today I am going to the airport to pick up the “Wheely Beast” which is the bag I shipped from Athens on day 49. I hope it doesn’t cause me any unforeseen problems. I have received an email that it is here in Prague but the Airport is a big place especially when you consider that it is at the Air Freight warehouse. Who knows where that the place is at?

As I planned out my adventure I was surprised to find that the Metro only makes it part way to the airport. Then I will need to transfer to a bus and the bus stop is not right at the Metro station. I will have to find it I guess. I set off at about 9AM and by 11AM I had at least talked to a person on the phone from the airport on the location. As in Athens it isn’t close so I’m walking.

After 3hr of waiting and 300Czk for the duty fee I had the “Beast” in my procession. I couldn’t wait to get back to the room and unpack it. I have forgotten what was in it for the most part. It’s like having a birthday party. WOW! There is another jacket and better shoes. I need those, now I don’t have to wear my boots all the time. O’ there is some socks too, I sure need these. Lot’s of things I need and to think I was going to leave them in Kathmandu or Athens. I’m glad I didn’t do that. Thanks Constantinos for the idea to Air Freight the bag here. It was worth it.

I’m going to head over to Miro’s again tonight. He says there is a great Dixieland Jazz Band starting at 8PM. It should be fun.

On the 24th I didn’t do much and it was a rainy cold day. I spent most of the day at the cybercafé or riding the city trains checking things out. Everyone here calls them Trams though, I will have to get used to that.

I did meet a guy tonight named Roman; he is Czech and a nice guy that couldn’t stop apologizing for his English. I told him my Czech was worse and I’m the one who should apologize because I’m in his country. He wants me to call him in a couple of days and I think I will.

No pictures today.

On the 25th I went out in search of new lodging. I need to move tomorrow and I have nothing lined up yet. I looked at cheaper pensions or hostels and even some apartments with no luck. All this I did from the cybercafé which is very close to where I’m staying but it is expensive. I’ve got to reevaluate my spending and get a handle on my budget. I have spent more then I wanted since leaving Athens. This and the fact that I have nowhere to sleep tomorrow are stressing me out a little. I need to get settled down soon. There has been a delay in getting the crate with my bikes due to Hurricane Ike that caused a lot of havoc in Houston. My bikes were on the train about a day away from Houston according to Moses, the shipping dude, so at least they weren’t sweep to sea like some things were. Got lucky there, but now it will be end Oct. before they arrive. That’s a month away and now I really wish I had made it to Croatia. But anyway I have no place to go tomorrow and it’s too late to find something so I will decide in the morning. It will work out.

Miro tells me there is a different band tonight so I will go check it out. I wish there wasn’t so much cigarette smoke in his place. That’s the only drawback and he doesn’t smoke. I made it an early evening, the band was good but I have too much on my mind. Three beers and a bite of food was enough.

Monday, September 22, 2008

His name is "Miro" 22/09/08 Day 67

Day 67 (slide show)

I have some antibiotics with me that I’m not quite sure will work but I took a chance and eat one yesterday afternoon and I feel a little better today. I think I can make it to the train station alright. If I can get on the train I can sleep and relax for the six hour ride too Prague. I keep wondering what will happen in the city I based my whole trip around. Will I be lucky or have nothing but problems? It’s so cold and all I have is a hooded jacket and ski hat. I’m so glad I went back to the airport in Athens and rescued these two pieces of clothing. I don’t know what I would have done without them. A few days ago I emailed the shipping company to ship my bag to Prague and the timing couldn’t be better. I should be able to pick it up tomorrow if all goes well. I’m writing this while I’m on the train and it’s nice to relax. I had a good time in Vienna even though I was sick and I’m glad I stopped there. I don’t think I will return though it’s too expensive.

I arrived in Prague around 3PM today and secured my lodging in a district named Zizkof. It’s another Pension that is expensive but not as bad as Vienna. I did get ripped off at the train station by a so called travel information desk. They are not as helpful as Vienna. I cleaned up and thought I would check out the area before it was too late. As I walked around it seemed dark and grey compared to Vienna. Like colder but not in the temperature since, just the feeling. I found a little bar where the bartender was a fan of Jazz and Johnny Cash. It seemed like a good combination. He was very nice to me in between serving others. He is from Slovenia and I don’t speak Slavic and his English was limited but we had a good time. His name was Richard; at least that’s what he said. Then all of a sudden here comes 6 guys’ from Hungry. They were very laud and it turned into a very funny experience between Richard and I trying to speak to these Hungarian guy’s. Richard didn’t speak any Hungarian and they didn’t speak any English but before long we were all buying each other a beer. Even Richard had one, it was great.

I had asked the clerk at the pension where to have dinner and he recommended a place across the street so after about an hour with the Hungarians and Richard I was ready for something to eat.

It was about 7PM when I walked into the place. As I opened the door I caught a great smell of the food and could hear the music playing. There were a few folks in there but the place could only hold 25 to 30. I sat and slapped a coaster down on the table, that’s what you do when you want a beer around here. So this guy comes over and asked me what I wanted “Beer and Goulash” I said. I liked this guy right off. His English was pretty good and we started talking about the art work on the walls. “That’s mine” he said. As I looked around a little closer I could see that there were several paintings that he did. One I particularly liked which was of a “Mexican Hombre”. “Have you ever been to Mexico” I asked. He shrugged as he walked away to wait on another table. Another patron leaned over to me and in broken English said” He always paints people with a cigarette.” I didn’t notice this but I really liked the work. Then a great tune from Deep Purple started playing on the music system. I told him I liked this tune and he said “You like Child in Time” I nodded as he walked away again. As I was eating this Czech Goulash he would stop at my table to chat while he waited on the other customers. I was finishing up and he came over and said “I want to sketch you, OK.” I said “Alright” but he was already gone. He came back in a few

Minutes with a handful of charcoal and a large drawing pad. In 2 minutes he sketched the illustration you see then went on to wait on tables. When I saw this rendition of myself I got scared. I didn’t realize I had lost so much weight. I need to weight myself I thought. I grabbed a picture of the sketch before leaving and told him I would be back. This was the place where I meet one of the most talented artist I think I’ve ever meet in person. He play’s Mozart on the piano, is an excellent painter, can sketch a person in seconds and plays guitar. All while waiting tables. I leaned over to the guy next to me and asked, "What’s his name" he said,

His name is Miro. (Me’ro)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Museum treking in Vienna 21/09/08 Day 66

Day 66 (slide show)
Well it’s very cold today. Colder then yesterday and I didn’t do very well walking around this city. I am coming down with a cold, actually no I have a cold I’m sure of it now. I hope I don’t catch one of those cold’s that lasts a week long, they always knock the shit out of me. My watch says about 7C and a light rain with wind. Even though I felt terrible I have to go out and see a few of these great museums. I’ll be a tourist today and take it easy. I set out for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Albertina museum. I took a tram instead of walking in order to stay warmer. As I got there I realized I was at the same location where I had got my room reservation. It was funny I didn’t notice it before. The Mozart café and the building where the Tourist office is at are in the same area as the Albertina.
It is so cold when the wind blows. I wish I had a coat.
A line was developing as I arrived so I decided to walk around a little to see some of the buildings and then I ran across this actor standing on a pedestal dressed up as Mozart. When you put some money in his tray he would whistle a Mozart tune for you. Even though it was so cold he could pucker up those lips and whistles every time. I was amazed at the way he would stay out on pedestal in the cold.
It was a bad idea to not get in line for the Van Gogh exhibition right away. I didn’t realize it was Sunday. Now the line is real long so I’m going to go to the Wien museum, I hear it is a good one.
This is a museum of the history of Vienna and it is great. It’s a large place and has three floors. The first floor is about early history, before 800AD. Then the second floor is 800AD to 1400AD. Then the third takes you to the present. There is a lot of interesting history of invading Turks and other battles. It seems the city was always under some kind of siege.
I was feeling worse so I decided to head back to the Pension and as I walked by the actor playing Mozart he was still there bringing in the coin. It’s been almost five hours now, I’m impressed.
I got to the Albertina and the line was about the same but I decided to try it. I had to stand in the rain for about ½ hour but I made it in. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed but I am so glad I stopped. They have 140 of 151 of Van Gogh’s paintings and illustrations all in the same place. It was a little crowded but well worth the effort. Afterward I headed back to my room as fast as I could and took a hot shower, drank some orange juice and fell a sleep. I hope for a better day tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Globe Museum, Vienna 20/09/08 Day 65

Day 65 (slide show)
I’m finally staying at a place that has a good breakfast buffet. I got lucky here because I’ve got a cold. I need to take it easy and not push myself to much. I have plans to see just two museums today, there are so many but it is so cold outside that I can’t stay long; My plan is to see the Globe Museum and the Van Gogh exhibit. With any luck I will be back here in the room before 3 pm. I started out I realized how cold it is and had to go back for my leather gloves. It’s also a little windy and with a drizzle. Not good. The Globe Museum was easy to find so I went there first. It’s a very interesting place with quite a collection of old and new globes’ of the Terrestrial and celestial views. There are also globes made of Mars and Venus, and the globes’ of the moon were very impressive. This place claims to have the most and oldest globes in the world. These globes are from the 1600’s to the present. There is one of Venus made by a guy from the 1920’s and depicts what his views were of the planet then. Another one is inflatable and blows to the globe shape using a foot pump; this was designed in the early 1800’s. This is a great place I just wish I felt better. I went over to the Van Gogh exhibit but the line was to long and it was in the cold rain. I headed back to the pension after stopping for some juice and bananas. I will fill better tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Innsbruck to Vienna 19/09/08 Day 64

I got up real early and headed for the train station. It was cold and a little overcast which forced me to almost have to run even with all my gear to stay warm. I meet a very nice ticket clerk and she helped me to secure a train ticket to Vienna with a three day layover then north to Prague. I think the price was pretty good, 87.00 Euros, and that’s on the fast train. The only problem at the station was a minor glitch that ended up costing me some money later in Vienna. This nice lady told me to go over to another area and check with this travel agent sitting about 20 meters from where we were at. This guy would get me a reservation for a pension in Vienna and the price would be cheaper if we connected it to the train ticket. Well I went to see him and I was the first person at his counter. He was feeling very good, hang over I guess, and he didn’t want to speak English. Needless to saw I didn’t get the reservation. Enough said about that guy.

I got a nice cabin with an assigned seat and some friendly folks for the 3 hour ride. The station was under construction and there were a lot of folks milling about, it was difficult to find the travel assistant. It turned out that I had to go to the city center office due to the construction. With a map and my compass I found the office after about an hour. Vienna was very cold walking around much colder then Innsbruck was. All I could think of was getting to a café for a cup of coffee.

As it turns out the Austrian Travel Office will book a place for you at no charge which is just what I needed because I didn’t want to run all over looking for a room. I took a few shots while walking to my pension which was expensive but I just wanted a room. No problem paying more here. I wasn’t feeling very good and I wanted a hot shower fast. My room was small but just right for what I needed. There was a small market close by so I just stayed in the room for the day and sleep. Tomorrow I will figure out where I am.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Innsbruck, Austria 18/9/08 Day 63

Day 63  (slide show)

Last night sometime I decided to set a course for Vienna, Austria. It seems to have the best train route to Prague and hopefully I can find some good lodging there. Last night I ran into a nice guy while I was at dinner who gave me some insight on the area and the trains. He is a ski instructor here in Innsbruck. He told me that there were some great museums in Vienna and the train would take me on to Prague from there. He also invited me to come and ski with him this coming season if I want. I thought that might be fun and maybe I will contact him sometime.

If I go to Vienna for a couple of days then on to Prague that will put me there right after my “Wheely Beast” bag arrives and then I can have some warm clothes. It’s getting cold especially at night and I’m going farther north.

Today I walked around the city for a while to check things out. This is a nice place but my hart was not into taking a lot of pictures. I think I’m coming down with a cold. During the day it is warm enough to not have a jacket on but at night it cools right down. I only have a hooded jacket with me and no warm pants.

Enough for now, I will be heading for the train station tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Alps, Innsbruck, Austria 17/09/08 Day 62

Day 62  (slide show)  

After a mediocre breakfast of boiled eggs and bread I was still hungry. This Pension wasn’t that bad but I was pretty hungry. At least the juice was good. Again I needed to find a laundry and of course this place doesn’t offer this service. So I’m off to tour the area in search of the laundry mate. After about an hour I did fid the only one in the area I was told. It was actually pretty nice. I finished all my chores by 11am. I was feeling better so I tried to see some local sites. It’s very difficult to figure out where I was going on these streets because my eyes are getting worse. The maps and so small I can’t read the names and here in Innsbruck the names of the streets are crazy long. They need to use numbers or something. I found this real nice river that went right thought a park close by the Pension. But after a few hours I was getting tired again so I headed back towards my room. As I was walking through some small streets and I found an outfit store. I went right in and there it was a fuel can with the right size threaded nozzle on the top. It was expensive but I had been looking for a long time for one of these. The prices on the rest of the equipment were very high too. I mean triple or more for what you would pay in REI. But I have my fuel can and that is a good feeling. I also found a good cheep local restaurant for a nice dinner and then turned in early. I can explore the city tomorrow.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Arriving in Innsbruck, Austria 16/09/08 Day 61

Day 61  (slide show)

Well last night as I was getting ready to go to sleep I had decided on Innsbruck, Austria. Thinking about it this morning again I’m not sure why other then it is north. I don’t have a ticket so I packed my few items and headed for the train station. It’s 8am and let’s sees what happens. Maybe things will change for the better. As I got to the station I was able to find a nice Italian ticket agent to help me with a ticket. She was very patient with me.

It seems like every time I get to a station it’s in the early morning. I always need to find some coffee and something to eat but there isn’t anyone to watch my pack. This is when it would be nice to have a travel companion. The morning business travelers are flooding into the station and the line for a coffee and cake is quite long. As I looked around I noticed a lady with a pack on that looked like she was having the same problem so I asked here if she would watch my pack I would buy the coffee. Her name was Sandra Stroetges from somewhere in Germany I think; she didn’t want any coffee but would go for a cake of some kind. She was an experienced traveler though and didn’t bother to worry about the crowd; we just walked in and got in line, packs and all. Just as we were starting to cause a commotion another side to the place opened up and we got right to the counter. It was quite funny. She was traveling south down into Italy for a few weeks and was a very nice person. We were two travelers going in separate directions. I was hoping she would stay in touch but I never heard from her again.

The train went well; I had the cabin to myself for some of the time. It was a “Fast Train” they called it. I saw some beautiful country in northern Italy and then went through this long tunnel into Austria. There are a lot of farms and beautiful green countryside. Sorry but it’s hard to get pictures from the train but I keep thinking that I might be riding my bike through this area next spring.

Bologna was cold last night and I could fell myself catching a cold but I fill alright today. It is getting colder on this train though. I arrived in Innsbruck and the travel desk at the station was very helpful in finding me a Pension. I went for a little higher priced place because I needed some rest and I don’t want to fight for a bed. I don’t have any heavy cold weather clothing and I need to keep warm. I decided to stay here for three days and then move on to Prague. I couldn’t find a good place to eat tonight so I skipped dinner, I will eat a good breakfast tomorrow and its free here at this place.  I hope it’s good and there’s a lot. I keep thinking about Croatia, damn I made a mistake on that. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bologna, Italy - a fateful decision 15/09/08 Day 60

Day 60  (slide show)

What a long night this has been. Most of the mom’s were sleeping on the floor with the babies which made it hard to step around them. I couldn’t blame them though the crew made it hard on everyone by not letting anyone fall asleep in the lounge or dinning areas. I got up around three to catch some air and it was like a zombie movie as dozens of folks just walked around in circles to stay awake. The upgraded “Airline Seats” area where I was had way more people then seats. It was crowded, and uncomfortable.

I found a map of Italy on a wall near the galley area and it looks like my friend in Kalambaka sent me to the wrong city. Ancone is to far north to reach Dubravnik and might be hard to reach Split which is way north in Central Croatia. I can’t find anyone to here on the boat to ask and what good would it do anyway.

Things got worse when I got off the boat too, I didn’t know where to go. The dock area is not very conducive to finding lodging. I saw the three guys who were hiding on the deck and they looked like they knew where to go so I just followed them. I walked about 3 Kilometers around buildings and down streets staying just behind them. They ended up in the train station, which looked good but I needed to get to a ferry office to get to Split. I walked around in a daze for about an hour. I saw an internet café so I went in and spent some money to figure things out but with no luck. That’s when I decided to ask these three guy’s if the new where I could find the ferry office. No one I could find spoke English but these guys did. What a break this was.

As it turned out they where going to Germany and had been in Greece for two weeks. They were students on break and were heading home. After talking with them I made a fateful decision. I bought a ticket for Bologna instead of finding a ferry for Croatia. I’m in deep trouble now. I have gotten off the plan. What lies ahead for me when I am lost? I am going to have to come up with a plan B. I thought about just staying in Ancona but I was very tired and I couldn’t find anything. I figured the odds were better if I stick with these guys. I messed up bad that afternoon but I’m glad I found those new friends.

So I’m in Bologna now and the lodging is expensive, I had to walk a long way to find a place. Now where do I go? I’m winging it at this time and I don’t like that. There is a city in Northern Croatia called Trieste that I can still make by train or I can go to Innsbruck. I wasn’t going to flip a coin; I’m not that crazy yet. I decided on Innsbruck because I can do Croatia later after I get to Prague. Another thing is it is getting cold and all my cold weather gear is in Prague waiting for me. I also fill I need to keep moving north, I don’t know why. So Innsbruck it is, I will get a ticket tomorrow. I know one thing is I have to get out of this dump.  

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The "Superfast" ferry to Italy 14/09/08 Day 59

We’ll I’m on the road again. I caught the bus to Ioannona and then changed to a bus for Igoumennitsa. It was smooth transition and there were no mistakes on my part. Even the Igoumennitsa bus stopped at the dock where I am to meet the ferries. I thought I would have to walk or take a cab so this is perfect. I saw a nice little dinner close by and I had about 6 hours to kill so I went in for my last Greek Salad. Just about the time I ordered a freak storm came rolling in. There was lighting right next to me, maybe 200 meters away and wind that took the tables and everything on them away. The owner and waitress were trying to hold everything down as well as they could while taking orders. They were having a hard time until me and these five other guys started to help them. We all moved inside where I found out that these guys were on their way to a port in south Greece to pick up a sail boat and sail it to Italy. They said the boat was a large 45ft, which would have been fun to be on. They were in there 20’s and I told them that they would not forget such a trip. I didn’t write down your names guy’s so I apologize for not remembering.

After finishing my salad with a little dirt in it I worked my way to the dock. The ferry is to depart at 8pm and I’m ready. I have the upgraded seats but I find when I arrive that the seats are in a small room with mothers and small children all over the place. The seats didn’t recline and there wasn’t any place to store my bags. I think I’m in for a long night.

It’s now 11pm and I just took a tour of the boat. Its quite big and a lot of people. There are three guys that have found a place behind a dinning room door out on the deck which looks like a great place. These guys have there bags rolled out and were making soup when I found them. I think they have done this before. Now as I return to my upgraded seat I find that someone is in it and there is a lady changing a diaper in the row ahead. Damn I’m going back outside. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Monasteries of Mateora 13/09/08 Day 58

Link for climbing in Mateora provided by Constantinos

After a long sleep I went for a walk around the area at dawn. I like doing this, and I’ve done it many times. The pictures turn out better and no one is up yet to bother you while I fumble with the camera. I sure wish I had a better understanding of my camera. I must work on this. The mornings are also nice when I have things on my mind. I need to think of a plan to get north. For some reason I feel I have to keep moving. Last night, just after having my salad I went to the bus station to get some information about getting to Croatia. I walked up to this counter and asked “Can I get a bus to Croatia” The crazy girl in this little shop looked at me and just said. “NO” I thought she was marking a cross on her chest as she said it like I was a dead man to try such an adventure. “No what” I thought, but I didn’t want to push the issue then. I figured I would go to the Hotel and talk to them first.

So this morning I’m remembering that Constantinos and Nikolaos had told me they went to the Dolomites in Italy by ferry. Maybe this would work. I took a few pictures and returned to the hotel after a few hours. On the computer I found a lot of information on the Ferries and the prices weren’t too bad. If I could get a ferry to Bari, Italy then cross back to Dubrovnik, Croatia then that would work.

I found the hotel manager, a real nice guy and he really wanted to help me. I told him of my problem and he agreed with Constantinos that Albania was a bad idea and then he started to make some phone calls and one hour later he had me a reservation on a ferry from Igoumenitsa, Greece to Ancona, Italy. I told him I wanted to go to Bari but he said I shouldn’t because it is better to travel farther on the ferry and I could go to Croatia from Ancona. It sounds alright to me and I didn’t have a good map to look at so I went with it. The ferry is 22 hours long so I upgraded to some airline seats so I would be a little more comfortable. The cost was 78 Euros, the upgrade being 14, I think. What an adventure, I am set for tomorrow morning, just like that. It was now noon so I asked him how long to walk around the Mateora rim road. He pulled out a map and told me 6 hours but if I hitchhike I can make it quicker. I like that idea. I took off and had a great walk, just what I needed after Mount Olympus.

It was a little warm but not to bad and I meet a nice couple from Canada, I think Alberta but I can’t remember. They were real nice and we decided to meet for dinner. They mentioned this place where the grapes hung down over your head and the food was real good. They under sold this place. I was in a good mood and loved it. We sat under the grapes and meet a few locals who were very nice. There was lots of wine and food. I almost forgot the nice couple from Florida that sat with us too. It was a lot of fun. I keep asking myself why I was leaving. It was strange because my feet wanted to go but my mind asked why.  

Friday, September 12, 2008

He called me Odysseus 12/9/08 Day 57

I’m going to try again to catch the 5:57 am train to Lahrsa. This should connect to the 7:25 train to Kalambaka. It should be easy for most folks but, not so fast this is Odysseus that we are talking about. I’m easily distracted.  “Now lets see” I’m thinking, “have I thought of all the possibilities.” I made sure I was on the platform even though it seemed so far away. I was standing in the dark for about 45 min because I was so early.

Alright, I made the train now I just have to make the connection in Lahrsa. Right away I realized that I couldn’t hear any anousments as we made stops along the way. I asked the Ticketmaster as he came around to let me know when to get off. He didn’t say much but gave me that look. “Tourist” he thought, I knew it too. I felt like I was going to make it though. The windows were so dark when I looked out the train car as we pulled up to the 4th stop which I was told might be the place to get off. Well let’s say I think I was told the 4th stop. I couldn’t really tell what the Ticketmaster said. So as we pulled up and people were getting out I asked in a loud voice “is this Lahrsa” all I got was a dumb look by everyone but this one lady as she was getting out of the train car. “No Luddaka” she said, so I sat down. I thought it was strange that a dozen people or so got off at a station that was so dark. I couldn’t see any lights and Lahrsa I was told was a big station. At this point the train started going backwards. I was pissed. Where was the Ticketmaster? I sat back down and pulled out my map. This other lady in the next seat was looking at me so I asked her by pointing to the city on the map. I sat next to her and she looked at it. She didn’t speak any English but she said something in Greek and then pointed at my glasses. She couldn’t see the map. Man, I’m in trouble now. (“Somethings Wrong” Junior Watson, Bluesman) I’m deaf, she is blind and we can’t talk to each other. As she squinted through my glasses at the map she pointed back and said “Lahrsa”. My jaw dropped, I missed it again. Now it is time for plan B. Where the F#%k is the airport? About that time the Ticket jerk came walking up and sees me sneering at him. He hits his head and said something in Greek then turns away. The nice blind lady pulled me back to the seat and pointed to the map. She still had my glasses on, “I think she wants me to follow her” At the next stop we both got out and she motioned to me to follow her.

She was amazed at all the gear I had on me and how long it took to gather it all. This was a small stop where there was no building just a walkway over the tracks witch we took. As were approached the other side she pointed at the ground and said something like “stay.” I felt like her pet. So I’m pondering the situation and thinking that I’m about to get to Lahrsa and have nowhere to stay. I could be sleeping on the ground by the tracks. I knew this would happen someday and I can handle it. So an hour later I was back to Lahrsa and now it is light. I can see way I missed it, the platform was 500 meters from the actual station. Now I have to mention that last night I got sick from some funky meat on the pizza I had so I wasn’t felling to well. Bad things are piling on me here. The Train Master in Katerini called me Odysseus’s and I was felling like I could be in this black hole for twenty years.

The problem is I need a new plan. I walked down the track to the station which was busy now and right out the front door. I saw a small park area and it looked like a good place to try to figure out what I should do. As I looked over this bad map I have I felt sick so I loaded up again and tried to find a toilet. I hope I don’t have to deal with another cleaning attendant. Afterward I ran into this nice guy that spoke a little Greek, he helped me with the train schedule. It turns out that a train for Kalambaka will leave at 2 pm and I can get on it. I had to go over and deal with the ticket counter again which was a problem but I managed it. I was still feeling sick and tired so I chilled out in a café across the street for a few hours. Finally I made the train and was on my way. When I arrived in Kalambaka I had no clue where to go for a room and I was very tired. It was 5:30 now and I figured I just spent almost 2 days getting here, what a bummer. I walked up this hill toward the small town and as I was passing a nice restaurant I saw a waiter cleaning up some tables. I asked him where a nice place would be to stay and he pointed down the street. “Try the Galaxy, just one street down” he said. I couldn’t believe my ears. He spoke very good English. The Gods were still with me. I guess Zeus was just slapping me around a bit because I was late for the party on Olympus. The Hotel Galaxy was a great spot and cheep too. I checked in, got the last room too, cleaned up. Then I headed up to the restaurant for a Greek salad. I’m ready to sleep now. Good night.