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Slovenia

the best end possible

I got to Zagreb at about 6am, broke and freakishly hungry. Wandered around the station trying to find something to buy with less than 1 kuna LOL. Eventually I gave up and bought 2 disgusting choco banana things for breakfast. Had 20 cents left over. But the bananas were so bad that I only ate one, and even that I had to force down so I could get some sugar into me at least. Blegh. It hadn't been a good night, so I sat on the station bench, hugged my bag, and tried to sleep. I had about an hour or two before my bus out to Ljubljana.

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Ljubljana

The day dawned bright and fair. Okay, I mean it was hot as usual. I walked from the bus station all the way to my hostel, which I had trouble finding because it was inside some apartment thing. But my bunk was nice enough. I went out to catch the tour, S hadn't wanted to since they'd already walked around. Sadly it's been a while so I don't remember a whole lot about the history of Slovenia.

Ljubljana is a gorgeous city though, having an amazing mix of the old and new. Everything felt rather upbeat and cool, maybe because it's a uni town. Compared to Split, which is filled with the old and middle aged, and so has a charm of its own. But yeah, Ljub has both cobbled and bitumen roads, and has old buildings next to modern glass-and-steel kinds. Dragons, long, sleek, arched, and spiny, daydream in the sun. Eclectic statues and modern artwork adorn the many bridges.

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One thing I really liked was this museum thing that we ended at. Unfortunately I can't remember the name, but it's a art nouveau building with 'colonial' columns and arches. (I'm sure about the art nouveau, but please don't quote me on the columns) The tour guide said that they usually have free movie screenings, and wanted to show us the inside of the building, but it was closed for renovation. He was honestly really disappointed that it was closed. Since I liked the exterior so much, I can only imagine how much I missed by not getting to see the interior!

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Walked back to the city center to have lunch. Was going to try a local place, but was distracted by the international food fair at the square! Wanted to eat everything. EVERYTHING. But I had the double limitation of money and stomach. Unfortunately. I bought a cheese dumpling (there were other flavours too) and a plate of creole food. There was lots of amazing food around though, like this stew, and a meaty orange goulash. There was Chinese food too, haha, but I ain't got time fo dat. (money, actually).

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Met S and A briefly to have a chat, but then decided not to spend the day together haha since we had a completely different itinerary for the day. So we just agreed on a time and place to meet the next day. They'd decided to go get the car that evening from the airport, and spend the night in the car to save on money. Then they'd pick me up the next morning near the bus station. With that, we split up.

Walked up to the castle. Nice walk, not even too tiring. Most of the castle is free to explore, with only a few paying sections like the art gallery. Again, it's lovely old architecture that's been updated in modern times. Wouldn't I love to live there! I spent quite a while in the museum, which was interesting, but I was soooo tired that I had a bit of a headache and I couldn't concentrate. So I left :/

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Bought a durum Doener at a nearby shop and ate in the hostel haha. I also got a strawberry yoghurt! yayyy. And that night I met two Singaporeans! They were in my bunk, a guy and a girl. Pretty cool, it was nice to hear singlish again hahahahaha. Slept early that day, was so tired.

Bovec: Rafting

The next morning I woke up pretty early to get picked up by S and A, but I think I got my bearings wrong or something because I was in the wrong place. And by the time we left we were like 15 min late. And then it took longer to reach there than expected! So we were late, and the rafting people were a bit fed up haha. But oh well we made it.

And enjoyed the ride on the way. It's so beautiful! Slovenia is so mountainous too. I was so mistaken, geography fail, cos I thought it was some corner of the alps, but of course it's the Balkans!

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Despite being very late and having a few calls and texts from the rafting people, and also them having to bounce us to the equipment shed and then to the raft point, we managed to get there before the rest of the group got annoyed enough to leave us.

The rafting itself was alright, it was boring in fact! And my first time rafting too. But but but but but, some big buts here, because the view was absolutely tremendously beautiful.

Even half a year later I'm breath taken with the memory of it. That bright blue sky with warm bright sunshine, that icy fresh sharp blue green of the water, the white complementary sand and gravel. Breathtaken with the way at certain points the water would get almost pastel with chalkiness. The way the water numbs your limbs after a minute in it, and the way you feel absolutely alive once you're back in the raft with your life blood coursing through your veins. The warm pull of your muscles on the paddles, and droplets and laughter and sun on your friends' faces.

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Bovec: Trekking

After rafting, we took a few obligatory photos in our full wetsuits. On the short trip back to the shop, the trekking guides told us about this short trek up to a waterfall that we could try. You could either go a slightly easier way that didn't go to the top, but in which the waterfall looks nice, or a slightly harder way which led you to the pool near the top, but from which you couldn't see the rest of the waterfall at all. It was on the way, so they pointed it out as we passed by. It was a toss up between that and Bled for us. For me it was okay because I could still go to Bled the next day, but it was unlikely that they would be staying any longer in Slovenia.

Eventually we just decided to do it. We drove over, parked, and found the little marked trail. And then we started on what was supposed to be a half-hour walk. LIES. Or they were just a million time fitter than we were. The trail was really twisty and not very well marked; we lost it a few times and rejoined it but only by scrambling up some scary unstable turf. The terrain was mostly dirt trails winding up the steep hill, and the rest of the time it was on bare rock, literally on the hillside. S, who is really afraid of heights, had a really tough time. We were all also super tired, like exhausted because it was really steep. We wanted to give up so many times, but luckily the terrain kind of hid the top from our view, so it always felt like just a bit more.

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S wouldn't cross a really scary part that hung over a sheer drop. So we left her at a little grassy open area to catch her breath. We went on, passing some people along the way who swore it was only another 15min. We hung on to that so hard, cos we'd already been hiking for an hour. When we finally got there, we were a bit disappointed. It was a pool indeed, but the bottom didn't look safe to step into. There were also spiderwebs all around which was gross. And when we tried to go in, it was absolutely freezing. At least 10 or 15 degrees C colder than the river water. He climbed in but got out 20s later because he froze up. Not very safe. I stuck my legs in long enough for a photo, and by then I could feel the pain of the cold.

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We climbed back down, which was scarier, naturally, and he went to comfort her because she was still feeling shaky. Got back on level ground, clambered around the river bed of the beautifully blue water. Photos, had some bananas and refilled our bottles from the river.

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We thought we had enough time to return the car to the airport at 5pm, so we stopped along the way at a random restaurant. As it turns out, it was tripadvisor-certified haha. We ordered, but before the drinks could come, we realised we didn't have enough time so we ran out and drove like mad to the airport. Got there on time, starving, and had a lame sandwich from the airport place.

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Took the bus back to Ljubljana, had an Indian dinner (because they're vegetarian) which was really good. Then I said goodbye to this good friend and roommate of mine, and took my leave. Will I ever see her again?

Bled

I woke up the next day very sad. My last full day in Europe! But at least I would end it doing something cooler than most people would do. I caught a bus to Bled, and on the way made friends with a Slovenian girl. That was really cool. I was almost hoping to spend the day with her, but she was going to spend the day with her friends so okay la, I'll have my last day alone )':

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I took a walk around the beautiful lake, rationing my time since I had the whole day. And anything worth doing here besides the lake was too far away.

Went up to the castle, explored as much of it as I could without actually going inside and paying. So I went around it on small trails. Took some nice photos.

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Then I stripped off my tank top, and stuffed it into the huge army ziplock I'd brought from SG specifically for this purpose. I checked that everything was waterproofed, and then I slung my stringbag across both shoulders, and began my swim to the island. The first 10min were excruciating. I was exhausted because I was trying to keep the bag 'secure' on my back. Later I realised I could just hook one shoulder-string in one arm and then swim that way, with the bag bobbing in the water behind me.

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Got up on the deck, gasping. Lay on that hot wood for a while to dry off. Put on a long-sleeved shirt, and wanted to go up the bell tower. Heard you could ring the bell for luck. But found out I had to pay and was like ahhhh whatever. Bought more hazelnut ice cream and enjoyed that summer sunshine. I felt like I was in paradise. A slightly lonely paradise, but a paradise nonetheless.

I swam back, this time much more comfortably. But as I got off the deck, I cut myself on some wood splinter. I had no choice so I swam back with it bleeding and flapping open. Which is probably why it got a little infected lol. Oh well, I bear the scar of a good time. A reminder of my time on exchange haha.

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Looked for somewhere to have lunch. Decided on this expensive looking restaurant. Got myself some amazing fish with a great live band playing in the background. Chilled. Got wifi. Told the guy who told me about swimming on the lake that I'd just done it, and asked about the famous cake.

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Walked over to get cake and lemonade. Went to the dock and lay on the wood for a few hours, thinking, feeling sad, watching the sunset.

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Caught my bus back to Ljubljana, and would you know it, the same Slovenian girl is on the same bus! What a coincidence! Talked more until she got off at her hometown of Kranj. It was a good conversation, but I can't remember a thing because it's been more than half a year. Dropped off back at Ljub. Tried to eat at a nice place I saw while walking around a few days before, but it was closed. So I had another lame dinner of a pizza or something. Good pizza though.

That night I packed with a heavy heart. The dream was going to end. Real life was about to start again. I was going to have to face things I'd been trying to avoid for a while. No more travelling like mad. Sigh.

The Journey Home

That morning I took the bus to the airport, and then the flight to Frankfurt. I got to Frankfurt at about 1, and took direct bus to Darmstadt HBF. I'd arranged to meet E about an hour after that, so while waiting, I went to buy a jar of Ovomaltine for a good friend of mine. He complained that it was really expensive in SG, so I told him I'd buy him a cheap one from Germany haha.

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"We love dreamers"

At the appointed time, I went down to the bus stop to meet E. And there she was! I went with her to her place to collect my crazy heavy luggage. She was such a dear, she helped me to pull it along because I had my heavy backpack as well. And then we had an early dinner at an Italian place she recommended. It was good talking with her again, suddenly now I miss her! I wonder how she's doing.

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I got on the bus back to Frankfurt Airport feeling even sadder. Noooo why am I leavinggggg. At the airport I frantically repacked my luggage so that I could put the Ovomaltine in it. Haha this weird scene is something that so many exchangers have done! And my luggage is so packed that I stereotypically had to sit on it. I paid 100 eur for the extra weight too. Oh well. That done, I felt much easier. No need to lug that fear-inducing weight around.

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At the gate I just moped around. On the plane of course I had a new goal, which is to watch as many movies as possible haha. I think I managed almost 4.

I landed in SG on 5 Aug 4pm. I won't be forgetting that in a long time. While my family waited for me at the arrival gates, I went alcohol shopping at duty free haha. And then I was in their arms again, and it didn't feel so bad to be back.

Posted by seaskimmer 08:12 Archived in Slovenia Tagged waterfalls mountains friend church trek river island beautiful family castle hike rafting frankfurt slovenia bled nicepeople bovec Comments (0)

The journey begins

sunny 28 °C

On a bus now from Frankfurt to Prague, with an hour's stopover a Mannheim.

I love that the scenery out the window has changed since March. Not just with regard to the place and climate and particular fauna, but also with regard to the seasons. In March the trees were bare and cobwebby with birds' nests, and the fields were brown and solemn green. In April the trees had fresh young leaves of a peculiarly light green, and the flowers had begun to bloom in profusion. Come may, the flowers had started to fall, but the trees matured. It's finally the end of July, and I see rolled bales of hay dotting flat yellow fields, and crops grown up in their straight rows. All of the trees are a dark thriving green.

I love that the weather has changed too! And this is more a personal preference because I think everyone knows my sensitivity to the cold :D in March I would be freezing in my 3 layers plus winter jacket. Then, I learned to walk quickly outside, both for warming up purposes but also to get back into a warm place sooner. At the end of April, the knob on my heater was turned for the last time. In may the end of 3 layers (the winter jacket was discarded in April). June signalled the gloriousness of single layers and shorts, but also reminded me of the existence of sweat. July has actually been much better, with less days above 30 degrees. Wearing shorts again is the best thing about summer!

On Sunday night I sort of finished packing at 2 am haha. Then, exhausted, I went to sleep, and continued packing in the morning. That entailed throwing a lot of things away, and just stuffing things into both bags. Checked out, will have to pay for the walls which I didn't clean (I forgot), and handed over the keys. But I got tricked, cos I thought I'd get to go in one last time, but she locked the toilet door from my side too so I couldn't even say goodbye! S helped me to bring my stuff down 3 storeys, bringing down my yellow suitcase was the WORST. And after just about managing to get it all the way to E's place in darmstadt, I regret ever thinking I could make it back home by mrt haha. Taxi here I come. Very worried that I've overshot my 23kg, E said she'd try to borrow a weighing scale from her neighbours. Had ice cream with E, then back to Frankfurt to sleep.

Also, I finished Joan yesterday. I lament the end of Joan, more literally than figuratively though. Mark Twain was a little too obsessive about how awesome Joan was, and ended up with a draggy trial section. He did win me over to his perspective that Joan was amazing. Apparently he wrote a fairly accurate account of her life. I think I'll read some non-fiction about her when I get back. Rather interesting.

But now I'm struggling over whether to start on the Neverending Story on my phone (which beguiles me with its fantasy pedigree, and also I really like children's books) or the more non-fictional Seabiscuit (which was there first). Okay, never mind, I've decided on the former since a charger is on hand. K bye

Posted by seaskimmer 04:48 Archived in Germany Tagged bus books weather frankfurt hamburg luggage darmstadt Comments (0)

Raging heat

sunny 33 °C

Today I spent the morning at primarkt. Woohoo! Finally got to go shopping. And I'm not sure, but since it's in Germany it might be cheaper than in London? At any rate, I overshot my budget so no more shopping for a while for me. And I'm gonna have to scrimp for the next few days already. No moneyyyy.

Dropped off my shopping at the hostel and then went off to darmstadt for the afternoon! Ended up paying for a tageskarte (day ticket) which was expensive but turned out to be really useful, because it was hot and I got to take the trams and buses around. Lifesaver. Otherwise I really would have walked most of it and then ended up with heatstroke. I'm not whining here, it's that bad. But because when you travel you pretty much spend most of the day walking in the sun. So yeah.

First I took a bus up north to see the waldspiral, it's a residential area with an interesting architecture? Kind of like a successful Parc Guel but not quite so... Gaudi hahaha. Then I attempted to get a bus that would bring me South east, but I got a bit lost in a school compound so I asked someone to help. And somehow his sense of direction was a bit off and he ended leading me in the opposite direction, so I was pretty much back at the waldspiral lol. And he was very apologetic about it, rather annoyed at himself too, but okay la I had a nice conversation.

Then at the bus stop I got some help from 2 old people and one young black dude on how to get to Mathildenhohe. They were so nice about it!

Finally got there, had no idea what I should be looking for, but went into a museumish place with 'Mathildenhohe' on it, decided not to pay for entry fee, and used the toilet (it was so much cooler there than anywhere else, what relief), then asked the receptionist about where to walk. She showed me and then I roughly set out to see the houses.

Mathildenhohe, from what I gathered, is an art nouveau area that managed to survive ww2 bombing. I just managed to see some cool architecture, that was nice?

Then bus back to the Markt Platz to meet E. I went into a grocery store and bought carrot juice. Then sat on a bench inside the store for close to 45min because I was early haha. And also for the blessed air con!!!

I waited for the longest time. Her seminar supposedly ended at 6, we were to meet at 7, but she didn't reply til 8. I thought she'd stood me up lol. But apparently archi lecturers are crazy and are pretty terrible sometimes, and it only ended at 9. She rushed over and we met at 930, it was really cool seeing her again!

Went for a beer at a local Biergarten. Was very cool cos so far I've only been to one Biergarten and that was in München but like, before dinner time haha. We had Apfelwein because I asked for a local bier, and it was like only slightly gassy cider. Which is why I managed to drink 400ml no problem. But I really think I'm a lightweight by the way. So good conversation, also when her friend T arrived. That was a lot of fun!

Left to get my 1130 train back to Frankfurt. Then mad rush to pack. I didn't even shower that night which was really gross because I was so madly sticky. But I didn't care because it was so very late already and it wasn't my own bed anyway. But it really took me a while to fall asleep.

Posted by seaskimmer 15:48 Archived in Germany Tagged shopping germany frankfurt darmstadt Comments (0)

Heat rises

sunny 35 °C

Got to Frankfurt freezing actually, because for once the bus air con was actually turned on, and I was there the whole night in shorts hahahah. Nothing new there. But I was still tired, didn't sleep much on the bus, stumbled out bleary eyed.

Got to the hostel, bummed around a while in the lounge and finally decided not to sleep in the middle of the breakfast crowd, so I went for a walk around town, seeing all the major stuff. Paid for the Goethe museum/his old house. Had pizza lunch in the garden/cemetery of St Peters church. Read a book I'd borrowed from the hostel (A Christmas Pudding by Christie, upset that it was short stories, I always get short changed by her) at the river til about 5? When I finished it. Very chill day. Except not chill. Very hot. But anyway.

Then went back to the hostel. Checked in, and was very very happy to find out that they offer free dinner!! Like when does that ever happen?? Then again I paid 2 eur for a locker in my room.

For the rest of the evening I showered and washed my tanks (only brought two. Mistake.) and read (started on lady Chatterley's lover) and had dinner (oily and vegetarian but tasty penne) and basically tried to stay alive. The heat is killer okay. You have no idea! Same as SG la except without fan, without air con, without respite. I even showered twice because I got so sticky just waiting in the lounge for dinner. Dyingggg. Can't wait for Wednesday, it's supposed to get colder then. (how am I gonna survive July? With lots of shorts and tanks and showers I'm guessing)

(HALLELUJAH ITS RAINING NOW and strangely for Europe, I see lightning? Oh shoot I think it's gonna get more humid now)

Oh and it's day 100 by the way! 56 more to go, what a milestone.

Posted by seaskimmer 14:55 Archived in Germany Tagged germany hot frankfurt Comments (0)

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