and one year later…………..the African adventure begins!

Well, what can I say?  My African adventure got delayed by a year because I was busy doing other things.  Firstly, I went out to the beautiful beautiful Maldives to work for Kuoni as a Destinations Rep.  I did my time on Velsarru and Kuredu with brief visits to Komandoo, Meeru and Reethi Beach.  All in all, I managed to hold out for 3 months before the excitement of white sandy beaches, stunning sun sets, fascinating bright fish, sailing boats, turtles, dolphins, sharks, swimming, sunbathing, swimming, sunbathing, swimming (you get the picture) amazing food, well at least at Velsarru, whilst tuna and pineapple were all the go at Kuredu, lots of Uno playing and an amazing amount of time sat around doing absolutely nothing as a rep, caved in and I realised I was bored shitless.   I will always remember my time in the Maldives fondly especially all the lovely people I met and worked with but why Kuoni feels the need to place an experienced rep on an island with about 10 guests a week is beyond me.  Also, telephone repping sucks balls!!! Just ask McGirl or Zoe!! haha..  

So life in the Madlives came to a very abrupt end at the beginning of Feb 2012 when I agreed to head back to Tucan Travel and be a Tour Leader on the Moscow to Istanbul route.  I resigned on Wednesday and flew out of there on Thursday.  No messing about with Kuoni.Image

Back I headed to the UK but was wholly unprepared for the coldness and miserable rain that greeted me in Gatwick Airport especially as I only had a pair of flip flops and a t shirt.  A scene from Cold Runnings is playing in my mind. I stayed in a lovely little B and B in Horley, Springwood on Massets Road if you find yourself in need, and after a quick sprint (well come jog) in the cold, dark, wet miserable evening to the local pub to get some pub grub I decided enough was enough and I needed to make my way to warmer climes quick smart.  I wasn’t starting in Moscow until 1st March and didn’t need to hand my passport over to the Russians for a couple of weeks, so there you have it.  A couple of weeks to head somewhere better than Surrey.  After a couple of glasses of wine I decided on Cuba.  Cuba it was and I was determined that first thing on Friday morning I would book a trip to Cuba.  Come first thing Friday morning it became apparent that trying to book on a Cuba tour last minute is nearly impossible.  So I tried all sorts of tours and was turned away from them all.  Of course, I did enquire as to whether I could have my discount with Tucan Travel but was kindly advised. NO as I didn’t have a current contract.  Ok, I will take my cash else where.  That should have been an indication as to how my season would go with Tucan Travel but hey ho. It then suddenly occurred to me……….even though I was booked on the full Absolute Safari with Absolute Africa in November after I finish for the season, maybe I could sneak in a couple of weeks now.  YAY!!!  I gave a quick ring to Absolute and enquired as to whether I could join the Kenya and Tanzania component for a couple of weeks starting on the Monday.  The answer….was YES and I could even have a discount for my 2nd booking.  Yeehaa!!  Now all I needed was a flight, sleeping bag, anti malaria tablets and some travel insurance.  Oh and maybe to pay for the actual tour.  No problem, I wrapped up as warmly as I possibly could….a scarf and headed to Crawley.  First stop, the walk in clinic to pick up my anti malarias.  No probs.  2nd stop……………very reluctantly, Thomas Cook to purchase flights, insurances and get some US dollars.  Third stop…Millets the camping store.  All sorted and just in time to get back to Horley get my stuff, head to Gatwick and then jump on the national express speedy service round to Heathrow and to board my lovely Emirates plane.  Yipppeeedooodahh…  Of course, it didn’t all run quite so smoothly.  The snow closed in and the plane that I boarded and got very excited about .. got grounded on the tarmac for 7 hours.  Not too bad for me because I hadn’t seen any tv or movies for months and months so I was quite happy all snuggled up in my 3 seats!! yep thats right 3 seats to myself.  Luckily my connecting time at Abu Dhabi was 7 hours so all this meant to me was instead of time sat watching movies on the old laptop in AD…I was now gonna make a dash through and board the other plane.  Emirates were truly awesome in sorting this out at Abu Dhabi Airport.

Anyway, this post is going on a bit more than intended so I am gonna be brief.  I had 2 and a bit amazing weeks in Kenya and Tanzania with George our Tour Leader, Mugu our driver and Goodluck our lovely cook. My truck buddy was a guy from Malta called Carmel and I adored him and his clumsy size 10s and its every extending long lens along with the Swedes, the lovely Anton Roos, Dick and Dan.  My tent buddy was the amazing Charlotte Snell who I would share a tent with anytime! she rocked.  Also on board were a couple of Turks … god bless them and there scarfs and fleeces, the lovely Kiwi coppers Andre and Jenna as well as Becca, Liz and Tanya and a few others that I don’t remember.  We went to the Masai Mara, Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Serengeti, Ngorogoro Crater and a few other places along the way.  We saw everything….Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Hippos, Crocs, Flamingos, Baboons, Zebra, Waterbuck, Impala, Vervets and lots more.  It was truly amazing and if you get the chance you should go.

Anyway, I then returned and handed my very precious ticket out of the UK passport to the Russians for my business visa and was forced to hang around in the UK for a week or so.  First stop was to see Dad and Rose in Devon and then onwards to the Tucan office for training.  I then spent a whole summer tour leading from the mighty Moscow to the truly amazing Istanbul.  I did one self training tour and 7 proper tours with paying clients.  Most were awesome people mainly from Oz or Canada and some were truly not awesome people.  I still have nightmares of a very large beer belly of a man on a night train with tiny tiny white y fronts.  Inappropriate behaviour! Of course, I had completely forgotten about the downsides of working for Tucan Travel…..the sharing of rooms with clients, the frigging night trains and getting no sleep, not being paid on time and all those guests that haven’t got a clue about what they have booked and somehow blame you and the endless questions! seriously, if you are going on a tour pls don’t forget to back you frigging brain in the suitcase!…  Of course, some of the people I met on route will be friends for ever (sadly, maybe only through facebook and email but still).  Not being paid is truly the worst thing about working for Tucan and I would have to say that the new style of management (not my manager who was awesome!) didn’t sit well with me.  But lets be fair, no management every truly sits well with me.

Tucan Travel

So, the summer has ended and I am currently sat in the Canaries busy doing absolutely nothing on a day to day basis and loving it.  But, sadly my friends, this can’t last for ever and I need to move on from here and start the very next chapter!!

 

And the very next chapter is……………………….Tour Leading for Absolute Africa.  Oh yeah, they agreed to give me a job and I start next week.  So, yep, I will still be doing the whole Absolute Safari but it is now a training trip so that I can then start taking my own lovely little groups up and down Africa. 

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A final update and moving on!!

So the clouds are closing in, the rain is a-pouring, the days are getting shorter and my backpack is getting skankier by the day……………oh yeah the summer is drawing to an end and so are my days of tour leading in the Balkans.  I have had an awesome summer and the Balkans have treated me top notch.  I have met some interesting characters along the way and have got some of the best hotel owners, taxi drivers, restaurant n bar staff, minibus drivers, guides, ferry dudes and coach drivers in the whole of the Balkans!!  I have had some amazing people rock through on my tours – young, old, singles, couples, aussies including a few Tasmanian Devils, kiwis, the good old Canadians, americanos, Malaysian, brits, the odd irish and one token welsh boy J from the valleys.  I am happy to say that some of these people will be friends for a very long time even if it is through facebook and email although I feel a little visit to Oz and Canada is in order and maybe down the welsh valley!!!!! Haha.  Of course not all my pax have been like this and I have had some absolute dicks who I would rather never come across again! I am assuming that these dickheads will not be reading my blog but if they do somehow come across it………………………I am sure you know who you are  and I take this opportunity to say……get to fuck and shave that beard man!! haha

 

I have so many highlights from this summer it is hard to recall them all in one sitting but some of the ones that stick out include:

Pat Rochon – the best dancer in the whole of the Balkans watched on by me and Ben. Video evidence on You Tube

Michael Ireland – standing in the doorway of a train house in the station of Novi Sad

Uno Championships – various times but being the Budapest champion was frigging awesome.  Take that Doolan!!  I don’t’ cheat you bloody liars……just need to win!

Elicia and Paola – the bag and the contents!

Captain Ben – the day of the boat crash still brings a tear to my eye

Green and Blue Caves – Mr Johnny Pink playing UNO

Hvar boats – Ben, Cheryl, Dave, Geordie Dave, Kirk, Stuie, Jugga and me!! Awesome day!

Chan – screaming down the no 9 bus in Split

Eda – sharing a room with my somersaulting, smack you in the head in the middle of the night and try and hold your hand room buddy. 

Dru Locos – getting locked in a Kruje toilet and shouting at random little old Albanian ladies only to be ignored!! awesome

Tressa – sharing a room with Kim Wilde….awesome days! Can’t wait to hook up with this bird.

Dance off in Hvar – Kirk and Jugga!!  Some proper dad moves and the fireman hose! Oh yeah.

Geordie Dave – robbing the sweeties for his kids

Geordie Dave – helping the blind lady across the street….waaaaayaaee pet

Elisha – the loudest laugh in the land and incapable of keeping the noise to down!! haha

Erin – ‘Michael is a moron!’ and our famous names competition!!  Miss you.xx

Kirk – the end of tour rap!!!

The bloody Canadians – Anni, Brad, Carolyn, Dick and John P singing their end of tour song along to ‘they’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts’!!

Slovenian Night – the video of Stuart Forster dancing with the young ladies….classic

Ozzy John – all of his stories

Cheryl – the one boob flash and the best wine drinking buddy!

Graham Claxton – an all round nice guy who is a pleasure to spend time with

Eating Sarajevo cakes with – Sarah Johnstone, Tressa, Ana, Roland and Lynne

Marsha, Cameron, Kat – climbing over the gates of the Palace of Justice in Sofia just to get to the Lions

Chris Satji – lying on the bench in Nis like a homeless guy

The ridiculous Slovenia hike to Vintgar Gorge – Chris Hall, Lauren, Nicky, Wendy, Alicia!! Beautiful tho..

Belvedere Restauarnt……..staying to the very early hours with Pat Rochon drinking with the boys…Blagoje, Dimitris, Micki and the gang.

Bob and Pat Rochon…..where is the @ sign.

? restaurant – ben currie, Diana, pat and me just chilling out! One of my nicest dinners in the Balkans

Chan and Dara – oh how I wish this was a true love story!!

Nis to sofia train – stood, chatting with Ben Currie!! ‘Hey Ben, did you not hear the question or are you thinking of an answer?’ ‘Thinking’ (whilst stroking his beard), ‘Jesus, can you hurry up then its like waiting for christmas’.     I am so gonna rock into Tumbalwumbla one day to surprise you!!

Welsh Boy – Oh is it?  One of my ultimate favourite pax of 2011. (one of many to be fair!!)

 

See……..highlights galore and I haven’t even had chance to think about it really.  Some top top times out and about in the Balkans.

 

I have absolutely loved the countries and definitely a region I will be coming back to.  I could definitely live in any of these places (well not Budapest cause I hate it and not Bulgaria cause its shite) but any of the others.    Albania surprised me the most and the Albanians are almost definitely among some of the nicest people I have ever met.    Macedonia was my favourite for so many reasons but the countryside, the higgldy piggldy buildings , lake Ohrid, Saso, and the people all stand out as contributing.  Slovenia was also a big surprise to me and Ljubljana definitely rocks my world.

The job……………………some things are so much easier than I could have imagined!! The organisation and getting the group round the Balkans on public transport is mega easy as it’s the same every month, accounts as long as you keep on top of It and dealing with the hotels and suppliers is pretty sorted (well not including hotel ambassador or plitvice obviously!.  Some things are much more difficult that I thought…………sharing a room is a pain in the arse cause you never get any space, the constant questions because people don’t listen is testing, and the people who just don’t like you for no real reason.  It is hard to see the same people day in day out when they make it clear they don’t like you and question every last little thing that you do.  Luckily these people are in the minority and in some groups you don’t get anybody like this. 

 

Anyway…….after 8 months, 8 tours and about 170 pax, I am ready for a little break and a chance to recharge my batteries, so am off to Africa…yeeeeeehhaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!  Oh yeah, I am doing a 63 day overland tour with Absolute Africa from Nairobi to Johannesburg via Tanzania and Zanzibar, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, S Africa starting on November 10th 2011.  I leave the Balkans tour on the 30th Oct go via Vienna and Bratislava and then London for a few jabs and land into Nairobi via Saudi Arabian Airways on the 5th November!!!  So this my friends, is the end of one blog (which I recognise I haven’t updated in some time, all summer, ha) and the start of a brand spanking new one with my african adventures!.  It’s gonna be awesome.  So for now, farewell to the Balkans and come join me in Africa.

Awesome Serbian Train Ride!

So here I am travelling in style through the lovely country of Serbia…..in a rickety old fucking shite train, which stinks of the toilet with no seats, no where to place luggage and absolutely no seats to perch ones arse.  Well that aint strictly true!!!! There are a few odd seats round and about the carriage but do you think the old people will give up the seats when they have their bags on them???? Will they buggery!!!  3 hours to the border and it’s 37 degrees!!! BAD FRIGGING TIMES!!!!!!!  The floor is so skanky there is no possibility you would risk the potential diseases but as the corridor, that we are being forced to pay our hard earned euros to stand in, resembles something close to Piccadilly Circus, it surely wouldn’t be worth the effort to get up and down.  GOD DAMN!! On top of this the uglies have already started placing their smuggling parcels in the roof, in the cupboards, under the seats and anywhere else that is blatantly obvious and will be once again, blatantly obviously, ignored by both sets of custom officials.  Although they will make a bloody good show to make you think they have searched high and low and of course this will take over 2 hours of my precious time.   I have 100% promised myself that I will not let a single sip of wine pass my lips due to living my life to the excess recently but for the love of god, right now I am dreaming of a bucket of the stuff!!! Roll on Happy Restaurant…..I need some happiness to hit my life right about now!!!!  The only positive side of this lovely lovely train journey is………………I am stood next to a 82 year old Serbian man (yeah they snide bastards are making him stand as well) who speaks no English but is happy for me to go through the whole language section of the lonely planet and speak to him about absolutely nothing relevant to anybody about anything, well apart from the section on the train.  What time will we leave?? Yeah yeah…I know that we have already left but it’s the only question in the book!!  Haha…….  I am hot sweaty, pissed off and some big fat man in a bright red top is staring at me with his cross eyes or one cross eye or whatever………….. my patience was lost in the hotel let alone on this long long long journey.  Anyway…nothing is going to change with this situation, so I am gonna watch an episode of the wire and hope that no more idiotic idiots try to make me move so they can get to the window or smoke or speak to their friends or spit or well anything.  Sit in your seat, shut up, stay still and don’t look my direction and we will all get on.

 

I S’love’nia!!

 


 


So in I head to Slovenia…my last country on the Balkans Encompassed Tucan Travel tour!!!  A quick 2 ½ hour train journey from Zagreb into Ljubljana and I was looking forward to reading my book.  Well……….when I get to the train there are no empty compartments, so I wandered up and down and eventually decided to sit in one with an old man (about 65ish) who was wearing a flat cap and reading the paper…surely he will be harmless and not expect to chat about nothing for 2 hours! Oh how wrong could one person be?  The chap, forgotten his name now, was German and on his way to Vienna and despite speaking no English and me no german insisted on speaking at me for the whole bloody journey….awesome!!  He showed me the paper, wrote stuff down for me and just insisted on being my friend…………….I aint bein funny but I don’t speak the lingo my friend.  Leave me to read my book!! Agghh.


A short walk from the station via the ticket office to the hotel took me through the very centre of Ljubljana and near to the 3 bridges.  It looks pretty cool.  I check in and get a fairly decent room with a trendy bathroom and free wifi.  So Ljubljana……………………….. usually we have a walking tour but as I am alone, I am just gonna search out the sights for myself.  So off I head with a copy of the Lonely Planet and a map that I get from the nice chappy on reception.  As we use the tourist info for our walking tour, I popped in to introduce myself to the woman who organises it and immediately wish I hadn’t friggin bothered.  She was a miserable witch and I could have happily smacked her in the back of the head – probably menopausal!!  It is raining but I don’t let that deter me from checking out the sights.  Firstly I head to the funicular and get myself a full ticket to see everything.  Up I head in the funicular to the castle overlooking town and am greeted by a load of English twits wearing absurd outfits with jingling bells attached to their legs, arms and clothing….WTF???  I head into an art gallery and check out the just plain weird paintings but have to give it up when the jingling starts to do my head in.  Head back and go to the café and get a hot chocolate that is like liquid choc and brave the rain to sit outside.  The rain gives for a few minutes and in come dancing a whole load of bloody morris dancers!! Jesus Christ!! No wonder the whole world think that British are bloody stupid.  They are prancing around in a circle, jingling their bells on the ways, hitting sticks in the air and just looking a bit old school stupid.  Hay ho!! You come all the way out to Slovenia and end up watching a group of grown men playing at dancing.  Next stop….the tower.  UP and up and I climb only to be greeted at the very top with 2 couples snogging the face of each other….uuugggghhh!!  I am all for love but jesus put your tongues away and look at the view.    The slurping did my head in so I only took a quick photo and headed down to the virtual museum.  Well I put on the audio guide tuned into English, popped on the 3d glasses and settled down to watch the 30 minute masterpiece and promptly fell asleep.  I was the only person there and at the end the woman kindly came and woke me up.  I can’t comment on the quality of the film as I failed to see any of it.  Hahahahaha!!  Lets face it…it as probably shit.  Next stop, the history museum with a lovely English audio guide that continually went mental!!  I think it wanted me to stand still at every station for the allocated time but jesus how can it take 10 minutes to say its pretty old????  Pretty interesting museum to be honest and the audio guide did manage to teach me a few things!!


I headed out straight for food and went to a place called Skool or something similar and had deer in a redcurrant sauce with some sort of make believe food, polenta…hahah!!  A good few glasses of vino and man was I impressed.  This was some of the best food I have had since being in Lake Ohrid!!!! Delicious and to be honest I leave here with a full belly and rather pissed….happy Slovenian days.


 


The following day was a trip to Lake Bled on the old local bus.  I head out early doors and grab tickets to Bled and its fairly straightforward 1 hour or so trip down to the lake.  As it was raining, I decided on a nice cup of earl gray and a slice of choco cake whilst I thought of an action plan for the arvo.  Action plan is simple………………walk round the lake!! Hahaha!!  I set off round the lake and can honestly say it is beautiful, chilled out and relaxed.  It took  a couple of hours to walk round the whole thing and I really did enjoy it a lot.  There is a little island in the middle that houses a small church which tourists can pay to go inside and ring the bell for luck.  There is also a little castle perched up on top of the hill overlooking the lake.  Very very pretty.  By the time I managed to get all the way round the lake I was absolutely desperate for a pee and thought a nice cup of tea was called for…….so dived into the first tea shop I came across.  I headed straight for the toilet because I obviously can’t sit down, order tea, wait for it, leave all my stuff and pop to the bog, not the done thing in these dangerous bad times.  I gave the waiter a little nod on my way in, did my business and headed back out.  When I came back out the little table of men that I had passed were staring at me and I assumed one of them must have been the very waiter I had given a little nod to, so as you do, I asked him for a nice cup of black tea with milk and he looked at me like I was mental.  OK OK….i wasn’t falling for this as it was a tea shop after all, so I ask again!!  It was only then that it occurred to me that the man I was happily requesting tea from was actually just a man and not a waiter!! I obviously realised at the same time as the table because they all rolled around with laughter like it was hilarious!!! HAHA…. I decided to join in and laughed and went over and said he could still make me tea if he would like to.  Haha—- like I don’t look like a dick.  So I head over and grab a seat and the real waiter who I had nodded at and surprisingly looked exactly the same as he did previously!! took my order for tea.  Out came my tea is a lovely little tea pot with real tea accompanied by milk and a little biscuit!! Yum yum yum…thank you!!  Over the next 10 mins or so the little gaggle of men were joined by other men who were all laughing and pointing at me.  Did they ring them up and bring them down to laugh at me?? I ain’t being funny!!!!!!  So anyway, I can live with a bit of laughing and I am happily reading the lonely planet guide keeping myself to myself, sipping on my tea, nibbling at my biscuit….all peaceful or calm just with a little laughter.  And then…..right there in the middle of the calm and peace and chilled out tea room, I felt something on my face which I assumed to be a strand of my own hair.  I casually without thinking too much brushed the hair away and then a MASSIVE hairy spider was there lurking on my hand staring at me with its beady eyes.  Obviously I handled this situation in the same calm, peaceful manner that I am enjoying in the tea shop by jumping out of my seat, throwing my hands in the air like I just don’t care, screaming like a banshee, knocking over the table and one chair and letting my nice lovely tea pot with very lovely real tea along with the pretty cup and saucer fall to the ground smashing all over the floor.  Genius!!!!  The waiter didn’t immediately rush over as he was looking on in complete amazement and so were the big gaggle of men.  By the time he came over and after me trying to explain what had caused this sudden calamity the big hairy spider had done one and was nowhere to be seen.  The waiter didn’t say anything but you could clearly see he along with the gaggle assumed that I was mental.  AWESOME!!!  The guy cleaned everything up, got me new tea, cup and saucer and placed it all down but to be honest my nerves were on edge!!!!!  The beady eyed massive tarantula was still out there and I could just imagine this situation being on replay.  I think it is time for me to leave Bled and head back for a pizza and beer! 


My onward journey to Budapest involves a walk to the station and then a 9 hour train ride to Budapest……….fabulous!! Just what I need another long journey.  I get up to the station early and grab myself a compartment, close the curtains, shut the door, spread my stuff out and then pretend to be asleep.  I could really do with writing up all my notes and a little bit of snoozing!!  Oh yeah!!  I don’t want to share, I am not good at sharing and I don’t frigging want to.  All the signs are good, nobody has even bothered to look in my compartment and we are just a couple of minutes until departing!! Yeah!!  OH no……………….a massive group has just rocked up just as we are about to leave and they are pouring onto the train.  Bollocks!!!  2 young lads come in and they speak in English, ah yes, they were English. Students from Sheffield on some sort of charity hitchhike from Sheffield to Krakow via Ljubljana.  I pretended not to speak English but they saw me smirk when they made some joke and they correctly guessed I was a brit.  Well this was the start of a very amusing 9 hour train journey to Budapest.  I can’t remember their names now but they had me chuckling out loud on numerous occasions and in hysterics on others. 


 

Zapping thru Zagreb….

The movie hotel in Zagreb and I have been allocated the Nicole Kidman room.  Pretty nice room only ruined by the countless photos of Nicole Kidman and the dodgy bed.  Mattress is comfortable but there is some sort of lip to the base which means you can’t sit on the bed in comfort.  Also there is a bookcase behind your head which means you can’t sit up in bed either.  No bad considering I am here for 2 nights….awesome!!  There is a massive pub downstairs with the never ending movie theme..wonder how many have visited the Movie Pub in Zagreb….(ZERO!).

Back onto the tram to head into the centre of Zagreb.  Tram 14 or 17 will take me all the way but once again I can’t locate the validation box to validate the ticket.  I can defo see how tourists get done on the old fines..buy a ticket, board the tram, walk up and down like a nutter trying to locate the little yellow box, once you located spend ages looking at it trying to figure out how to stick the ticket in, only to give up 10 mins later as its impossible.  Nobody ever offers to help either.  This is a common occurrence on my journeys round Zagreb…ticket but not validated….my nerves are on edge!!  I head to the main square and into the tourist information to collect a map with a self walking tour clearly marked along with a little guide that details every sight worth exploring.  Genius!!  I wasn’t planning on doing the tours this evening as its already 17.00pm and I am pretty tired from Plitvice but I set off and before I know it I have completed the upper walking tour in an hour or so.  I’ve seen the cathedral of the assumption mary, statue of virgin mary with angels, st steves chapel, dorac markets, flower market, the bloody bridge (official term not mine), bar street which I wondered up and down without stopping because it looked too cool for school, statue of George and the dragon, some flowers, a long cobbled street,  stone bridge, oldest pharmacy in Zagreb, a whole load of parliamentary buildings along with a squad of Croatian coppers looking bored to shit, museum of broken relationships, naïve art gallery, lokstruk tower, shortest funicular (66m) in the world, a whole load of shops including LUSH and accessorize (a little taste of England).  I then decide to give up at this point as I am knackered and it is raining and as usual I am dressed inappropriately (not out of choice but because I am looking forward to summer backpack wise).  I did purchase a pair of black flipflops from accessorize for a mere 20 euros..robbing bastards….to replace my hideous Dubrovnik blue tourist flips or thongs (if speaking to my moron of a friend…Michael Ireland).  I am sure that this new addition to my backpack wardrobe will see me through the rainy period..hahaha!!

I head back to the hotel and decide on the Mexican across the road on the advice of Justin.  Awesome……………….I was starving so I ordered the onion rings to start with but there was so many they couldn’t even stack nicely on one plate and had to come in a big round bowl.  Then I ate the nachos that are comp so by the time my chicken/ beef fajitas came I was pretty stuffed!!  Oh well….I aint leaving without eating them so I tuck in.  2 hours later and I am still sat here!!  I moved from beer to tequila sunrises….would be rude not to and now that I have jogged out the upper walking tour I don’t have so much to do tomoz.  The food is absolutely delicious but came at a price…oh well at little treat for nearing the end of my self training tour  ( I say  this nearly everyday over something I have purchased or eaten or drank!!).  Off to bed and a little episode of how I met your mother.  Next morning I am up pretty early and down for a decent breakfast…..bacon and eggs!! Hooray!! But no black tea…boooooooo!!!!  Oh well!!  I head back to the bus station to try and track down a camping shop to buy some walking sandals.  After a little of wandering around in circles I managed to find the shop above some sort of dodgy sex shop and luckily they didn’t have any of the shoes I wanted.  Not a waste of an hour or so!!  I decided to walk from here to the train station to buy my tickets to Ljubljana  (yes spelt correctly).  Mistake……….it was bloody miles away and I took a wrong turning.  I was cursing by the time I made it to the stupid train station.  Anyway I got my tickets and started with the lower town walking tour……….piece of piss.  Started in the botanical gardens…gardens with lots of flowers and trees and greenhouses and benches – great! Although it was free.  Then I followed the green horseshoe (lots of green spaces in the shape of a horse shoe through the whole of the lower town) up to town.  Not very exciting if I am honest.  Now I am back at the main square and I am going to take in the upper town sights again so that I can go in the Zagreb City Museum but only after I have trawled the whole of the vasilaj street looking for a different camping shop.  I was beginning to get a pit peeved with the whole walking sandal scenario but didn’t want to give up.  Eventually I found the shop and once again…no bloody shoes!!  Bastards!!  Don’t advertise them on your website if you don’t stock em.  AaAAAGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I am not walking back as it took about 1 hour so I jump on a tram back into the square.  From the square I head back up to Gardec area of town and go to the city museum.  From the outside it just looks like a normal building and its hard to determine as to whether it is really a museum.  Well, I’ve walked all the way back up so I aint being fobbed off with this, so I just head on in through a door.  I am not convinced but decide just to march on through.   Yep this is the museum and they are quick to take my cash off me.  Off I go and there is nobody else in the whole museum…sounds familiar.  I actually really enjoyed this museum and it was all about the history of the city and the wars between Gardec and Kapitol.  I go t a photo of a penny farthing and some fountain pens.  Cool.

After the museum I decided it was lunch time so headed back across to the Dolac Markets area and went to the restaurant that overlooks that area.  I had fish and a selection of vegetables that they had got off the market……………………..DELICIOUS!!!!!!   After lunch I wanted to change some currency and I really haven’t seen too many exchange places so I head to the bank.  You have to press a green button, wait and then the door will slide open, you step into a capsule like thing, the door closes and then eventually the other door slides open!!!  Jesus….if you are not prepared for this you think you have been trapped and you can’t get out.  I was on the verge of hammering on the glass like a monkey to get their attention.  They wouldn’t change my money as I forgot I had stuffed my passport in the SDBox but at least I now know about the doors.  Could come in handy knowledge like that…………..especially when robbing a new bank!!  Another thing worth noting on Zagreb is the pedestrian crossings.  You have to press a button and it starts clucking at you quite slowly and eventually when the lights turn to red for cars and green for people, the machine goes into a clucking frenzy.   So cluuuuck, cluuuuck, cluuuuck, cluuuuck, cluuuuuck to cluck cluck cluk cluk cluk cluk cluk cluk cluk.  You need to leg it just to get away from the damn clucking noises!!hahahahahaha.

I spent the arvo pottering around the shops looking at stuff I was never gonna buy before heading back to the hotel for a spot of internet usage and a few drinks in the bar before an early night in preparation for Slovenia.

Goodbye Zagreb and my 9 days in Croatia………….I am looking forward my return next month.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Now the hotel that I am to be checked into at Plitvice lakes is so so but boy are the staff rude and abrupt!! Jeez.  I only asked how to find my room, whether they had the magic wifi, where to have breakfast and how to get to the entrance of the lakes………wow is this asking too much.  Perhaps if the miserable bastard had bothered to give me any of the basics that one would require at a national park hotel then I would not need to have asked.  Customer service at its best!!

I dump my stuff in my room and head back out to find the entrance to the park.  The entrance is defo not the way that the reception geezer told me…snidey bastard!!  I am walking up, down, round and about and beginning to get a bit pissed off.  I have started ranting to myself about how impossible it is to find the entrance when I stumble across it in the distance…genius!!  I go to the ticket desk only to be informed , rudely, that I was at the wrong desk.  I go to the correct desk pay my 155 KN, over 20 euros, and kindly ask for a map.  As if!  This is not the best start to my Plitvice Lakes scenario but I am trying to remain positive.  Luckily Plitvice could not fail to disappoint.  It is stunningly beautiful. Despite the fact that it’s pretty difficult to get the basic info, the walks around the park are pretty well thought out and there are lots of wooden bridges and footpaths, boats linking the upper and lower lakes and also a truck that runs around the park to pick you up and drop you off.  The water glistens different shades of blue and turquoise and the waterfalls are amazing.  I spent the next 4 hours hiking everyway possible until a. the park closed and b. I was exhausted.  Off back up to the hotel and I am starving.  The options for food are fairly limited and I have no option but to head into the hotel next door and have an evening meal there.  It is a mega restaurant with lots of chairs and tables but absolutely nobody there but me.  I had some sort of chicken concoction and to be fair it was blooming nice.  A beer or two to wash it down and that was me back off to bed.  Next morning I had the option of heading back into the lakes but I was exhausted so I had breakfast with approximately 1 million school kids (little shits) and headed back up to my room to write up some notes.  At about 10am the reception guy kept ringing over and over and asking what time I was checking out.  Jesus Christ………if you want me to leave just bloody well say.  I didn’t leave because left luggage is in the other hotel and I can’t be arsed to traipse my stuff across and because I didn’t want to.  Building relations all the way!!

To get out of this place I needed to get back on the bus I got off yesterday.  Easier said than done!!  I headed to where I had got off the day before but could see a bus hut further up the road on a blind corner.  I opt for the bus hut but have to stand out in the blaring sun to make sure I can flag down the bus.  Problem being that all the buses look the same so I have to flag every single one and surprise surprise, the bus I need is 1 hour late…genius. !!  By the time the bus rocks up I am burnt, hot, dehydrated and close to death (exaggeration I know).  The bus dudes greet me like some long lost buddy which momentarily cheer s me up and then I remember I have another mega bus journey on my hands. 

On arrival into Zagreb I need to get on a trolley bus to the Movie Hotel but I am unsure as to whether it is going to the left or right.  Shite!!  I haven’t even bothered to check out a map or the address of the hotel.  I just jump on the one going toward the right and hope for the best.  The station stop I have doesn’t seem to exist so I am desperately watching out the window looking for the Movie Hotel.  I don’t see and we’ve been going for bloody ages so I get off the bus 3 times to double check but still can’t work out where I am going.  5 mins more only before I find internet connection to check this bad boy situation out.  Just as I am abt to give up…..the Movie Hotel zoomed passed on the right side…awesome!!  Off I get and off to the hotel…Welcome to Zagreb!!!

Plitvice Lakes…..just the beginning

So, once again, I am up early to head down the bus station and board the bus to Plitvice Lakes (pronounced Plitvishhii according to Manuel).  Chuck the bag on underneath and quite clearly explain to the bus dude that I needed to jog off the bus at Plitvice Lakes at the hotel entrance.  About 5 hours on the bleeding bus and I was pretty bored if I am honest.  I think I am over the public transport.  Anyway I read my book and keep myself to myself.  Next to me are sat 2 yanks and you’ve guessed it…..they chatted shite the entire way and I was forced to drown out their yankey twang with my ipod blasting.  They had the cheek to ask me to turn it down.  I pretended not to hear their request and turned the sound up a bit. Just before arrival into the lakes park we went to a very big restaurant where I grabbed lunch and reminded the bus dude that I wanted off at the hotel entrance.  30minutes later and we zoomed straight passed the hotel entrance……bloody bus dude bastard!!  No fear……………………I just yelled full blast down the bus in front of everybody and he came to an abrupt stop.  I so can’t be arsed to walk miles with my bag anymore.  Turns out that quite a few people wanted this stop including the yanks.  They were asking me loads of questions…but to be fair I don’t know the answers and not in the mood just to blatantly lie.  Hahaha.  I grabbed my bag and set off for the bridge over the main road.  Once over I could see the hotel but not the reception, so I just headed on down to a door hoping it would lead thru the hotel and out to reception.  Nope, it was the kitchen and the big old girl wasn’t letting me in for shit.  To be fair, I don’t think that there was a way through but that didn’t stop me going into a mard arse scenario.  She told me to walk back up the hill and round.   Bollocks!!!!  I waited for her to go back in and pretended to set off up the hill but once free of her beady eyes I dumped the back pack and my 2nd bag and decided on a nice new tactic.  There are a whole lot of rooms on the ground floor with their own balconies, so I adopted a technique that I have used many a time as  a rep.  I climbed over and tried the door to the room – 1st one locked, 2nd one locked, 3rd one locked, 4th one locked, 5th one……hey presto……….open!!  OK….I go in and try the room to the door and it’s open as the maids on are room patrol.  Quickly I run back, climb back over, grab the bags, throw them over, climb back again, bad up and pop out in the corridor.  Jobs a goodun!!  Now for reception.  Thankfully reception is busy and the guy doesn’t see that I have come from the breakfast room.