Only Part 1, despite meaning to do 2 parts today. You'll just have to wait i'm afraid for the exciting (ahem) continuation of my random trail of semi uncoherent babble.
I really should hate Romania by now. All logic says that i should. And yet i don't. I still love the place. And i'm not even particularly angry. People get bitten by rabid dogs and people get pickpocketed. These things happen. Why take it out on Romania? But i digress. And i havent even started writing yet. This may take some time. Long winded waffle for no apparent reason expect i have 3 hours free internet so i'm going to use it. You have been warned. And no, i've no idea how a blog is supposed to work or what to write.
I know i promised that this would be a kind of regular update, but as most of you are well aware i'm not always hugely reliable, and my time keeping can be hit and miss, especially if it involves mornings. But after increasingly less than subtle hints by the Daams brothers, i figured i probably should do something, and it may as well be on their site. This one, in case you hadn't realised.
To the beginning. Not a great place to start, but it will do.
Whilst most of this trip is very much a make it up as i go along jaunt, the first couple of weeks i knew were on the hectic side as i had lots of people to catch up with and chores to do before i really was free.
Utterly astonishing for so many reasons, but i left without a hitch. The train was on time, and so was I. Hassleholm was passed without incident (for those not in the know, its kind of a southern sweden version of crewe - and i know that also does help most of you - which basically means its a boring sh1thole with a railway junction, and somewhere i tend to get stuck at at strange hours. Even back to the Landy days, my single biggest travelling aim was always just to get past Hassleholm. And any number of people were betting i wouldnt get any further for weeks), and even Hoor - famous winter sleeping tunnel and all - was negotiated without a hitch. I was on a winner, and as if by magic, Denmark arrived.
Got to Odense as planned and met by an extremely happy Anna-lise. Had a wonderful celebratory evening (shes just finished her theses and is now officially a doctor of coral or seaweed or whatever the heck it is. I really should know these things) with the whole family. The thing about it being the whole family was that excepting one grandmother, it really was. All 48 of them. And me. Who everybody knew about, in waaay too much detail. Meaning i was prized exhibit, and being shown off to numerous random Danish people, all bar her parents i'd never met before.
Interest was high, as apparently i was the first bf that she had actually introduced to any of the rest of the extended family. I don't think i offended anybody too badly, but i almost certainly did. It was slightly on the overwhelming side having so many people coming up and being introduced, but mostly asking me the same things (no, we are NOT planning kids soon, regardless of how nice an appartment they were going to buy for us). I slept in a hedge as it was easiest.
Left the next day as planned, although i have had days i was feeling better. After an overnighter notable only for the fact i got a free upgrade from seat to bed despite me actually wanting the seat, caught up with Aldo in Vaduz as the end of a long running bet which we dont need to go into, and then after a nice breezy start (4.17am - yay) the following day, went to Wien. Stopped off for a few hours in Hopfgarten in the Tirol where i had a couple of beers with Colin, who'd i'd not seen in probably 18 months, and met his really cool new Aussie (Ozzie?) missus, Helen.
Trawlled into Wien aound 10, and over to Luca and Jelena's. An hour later, Jelena discovers she's pregnant. Wow. And huge congrats. The idea of Luca as a dad was just funny to begin with, but they should make great parents. We sSpent a couple of days doing nothing much in Wien, except some wandering around and a bit of touristy stuff including a trip on the Risenrad (the Ferris wheel in Prater), which oddly none of us had ever been on before, but was cool.
Went off to Cesky Krumlov for a night to be a stupid beer drinking tourist, and catch up with a few people. It pissed it down. This is to become a reccuring theme, and i'm not even anywhere near Tromso, Bergen or Wales. Met the first in a long line of people with connections (more later) to me or places i've been based, as the first backpackers i talked to were 2 guys, one from Hassleholm, the other Hoor...
Returned to Wien and things started to go wrong. Details aren't important, but all was not quite as happy in paradise as i'd always believed. Suffice to say that you really dont want to be trying to keep 2 hysterical people who are intent on beating the cr*p out of each other whilst screaming/crying/yelling enthusiastically in serbo-croat and brandishing knives/saucepans and lots of other stuff for several hours.
Took my leave the next morning and got to ponder the vagairies of life. There is hope, but they both need to be really careful they don't blow it completely. Went to Bled where i met Paul, a half czech guy from Newbury (groan) and tried to kind of get out of work mode by doing nothing - yes, i know thats is still work mode, but technically, there is a difference. Wandered up to the nearby Drustvo Gorge (worth the trip) after cunningly managing to get lost on a straight road. Came back a different route and were impressed by the sight which beheld us as we round a corner near the hill top. A good couple of hundred OAPS, all horribly drunk (it was barely noon) were dancing to local folk music, whilst surrounded by lots of acid smilie faced yellow balloons. They all seemed happy, although the combination of lots of drunk old people with scores of cars to get home off the top of a very steep and windy track was not one i particularly wanted to ponder long.
Continued as planned to Ljubljana, where things almost started to unravel. Slobo and Melanie were somehow stuck in Chicago for whatever reason, and been told they had to wait 2 days for a new flight. Which meant my free accom wasnt accessible. In my naivety, i'd assumed that finding a hostel or cheap bed in May in Ljub wouldnt be a majot hassle. 450 euros, or 70 euros in Kranj, 30km away said otherwise. After a short sms convo, Miha quite happily offered me his spare room, and it was gratefully accepted. With Miha still working for a couple of hours, the amazing Katja then welcomed me to their home - a stunning, large central appartment - despite never even having heard of me 20minutes peviously. The world is full of fantastic people. Later, the 3 of us hooked up with Bara (now finally offerd the Finnish placement she's been aiming for ages) and Igor on the 3rd official TT Ljubljana pissup, and i'm happy to report that i had no subsequent problems, unlike the first pissup where i was hopsitalised the next day in Fortezza and out of it for a week.
As Slobo and Melanie finally were offered London instead of Munich and so on their way, spent a couple of very pleasnat days doing trips around Slovenia with and without Miha&Katja, including up to Planica (the first time i'd seen it without snow and 20000 people - its the ski flying hill and season finale) and Skofa Loka which i'd never been, but was very pleasant. Did the first in what rapidly has become the other trend to date, and climbed the hill. I've suddenly started climbing every hill anywhere near a town, for no apparent reason. It was scorching hot, i didnt end up exactly where i was aiming (close enough) and perused some of the most amazing signposts seen - photos follow - up a mountain, all of which seemed to be taking the p1ss out of the people walking up, but which later dawned on me were actually part of a kind of fitness circuit half way up the mountain. Also, caught up with Ruzica for a few beers on Eurovision night (i just couldnt watch) and an assortment of her colleagues over for a conference, including people from Delft and town planners from Birmingham. The world is too damned small.
Slobo - Mel update. They made it to London. Their bags didn't.
Took an early bus down to Rijeka in Croatia (2 buses and 3 trains a day, but 2 of the trains leave at exactly the same time as the buses, meaning it was useless) on which i was the only passenger for the full 3 hours, and after meeting Anna-Lise after her Edinboro trip, we went onwards to Pula via some typically psycotic bus driving. Broke my rucksack zip. Bugger. I like Pula, and the area, but i'm still not as impressed with it as the hype is made out to be. The Colloseum is in amazingly good shape, and stunning, and the central core is undoubtedly pretty, but... We had a stunningly amazing plate of squid, and finally started to properly relax and get into holiday mode.
Slobo and Mel's bags had been found, and the cunning plan was formed of them flying into Venice where their bags would be forwarded onto the same day, and then coming down the coast instead of them going via Ljubljana. It worked a treat except that there is a slight different between Venice, Italy, and Venice, Louisiana.
Went from there up the coast to Rovinj, which i just love. I couldnt tell you why, but it just feels right to me, and the old town is wonderful and mostly unspoilt, although relatively small. Ignoring the fact that it (like all of the Istrian peninsula, even so early in the season was packed with Germans - menus in many places aren\t even in Croat or Italian, just German).
Lucked out on accomodation and we got an appt for the price of a room as the owner prefered it to be used, meaning i could put my vast culinary skills to use, and Slobo and Mel finally arrived, with luggage and a hefty chunk of compensation, a week later than planned, and also heard that the result of Jelena's first scan was that she is carrying twins!
One of these days i will actually get to know a normal married couple, who have one baby at a time, with no complications, the parents are known, she's not a virgin, he's not sleeping with her sister or any other of the fecked up things that seem to keep happening. I'm convinced i will, but it hasnt happened yet.
Unfortunately we got the news that A-L's grandmother, the one i hadnt met, passed away, which kind of killed off the feel and effort that it had taken to get all 4 of us in the same place at the same time. A few hours later after arranging her short notice tickets to the Faroe isles - an interesting challenge in itself - we walked around town, figuring that it might help more than her sitting in the room in mourning. And as we walked around town i did something that i do far too often, and knew it would cause trouble.
I opened my big mouth. I kind of knew it would get me into trouble before i said it, but the warning from my brain didnt stop my mouth going for it. There was a stall type thing for Avon in the main square, with the slogan "Avon - the company for women", and i just came straight out with 'i thought that was Hoover'. Bad move. I'm not sure exactly what made it so bad, and am still trying to work it out now (did her grandmother make vacuum cleaners, maybe, or was an avon lady. I dunno?), but lets just say AL was not impressed and all hell broke loose.
We manged to get back to the room, but she refused all of anything, and shut the world out. She locked herself in and that was that. I couldnt talk to her at all, and the following morning she just left without saying anything. As far as i know she's still in the Faroes, but even a couple of weeks after, we've not talked (phone off or not answered), and all i've managed to get out of her is the occassional sms and a short, terse sounding (and Danish) email. It's a huge shame as something which could have been very serious looks over, and i've no idea why, but that's life i suppose.
C'est La Vie.
Your bored, aren't you? Don't blame me. I'm not forcing you to read.
I honestly will continue later, to get to the whole romania hating dog attacking pickpocketing type thing i promised earlier, via broken arms, UKHO, Strange Bosnians, VW Golfs, Ceaucescu's head chef and animal Karma, but i've run out of time, so it will have to wait.
Have fun all.
And yes, we all know that i can't type.