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Chasing a Dream - Part I "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" - Robert Frost

Bohemian Trek

SLOVENIA | Thursday, 2 June 2016 | Views [333]

Croatia - 28 May

The second Busabout tour got off to a rough start when myself and one of the other girls missed the tour departure in Split. We had arrived into Split Friday night and slept that night on the boat. I had thought we had Saturday night in Split, so took my time in the morning checking off the boat, and went for breakfast with some of my new friends. We were discussing our plans for the day and if we wanted to take an excursion to one of the surrounding National Parks, when I thought I would check my trip notes to see what time I needed to check into the hostel. To my dismay, it departed at 8am, which was an hour past. Surprisingly I wasn’t panicked, not much I could do at that point anyway, so I called the hostel to try and get some information on when the tour departed. The Busabout guide had left her phone number behind, thankfully, and I was able to get in touch with her to find out where I could re-join the tour. Meanwhile my friend contacted Tulsi, the other girl who was also continuing on with Busabout on the same tour and found out that she too had missed the departure. She arrived at the cafe in a total panic and was fairly unhelpful while I figured out what we needed to do. It actually ended up being quite simple; we just needed to join at Zadar, which thankfully was still in Croatia. We were able to catch a local bus from Split to Zadar, literally just as it was pulling out of the station, and arrived into Zadar around 1pm. We were several hours ahead of the tour, as they had made a stop at Krka National Park and were not due to arrive in until 5pm or so. We got checked into the hostel, which was actually super cool (the beds were cube like pods instead of standard bunk beds), and I had a much needed nap. I opted to skip the group dinner and instead had a snack while watching the sunset from the harbor. Later, Tulsi and I had a cocktail at a really chill garden bar tucked into a back corner of the old town, before heading back to the hostel for a relatively early night.

Slovenia - 29 May

Sunday we departed Zadar at 8am, and this time I was on the bus. This group was 24 women and 1 guy, but more of a mix of nationalities, and I wasn’t the oldest anymore (yay!). The border into Slovenia was somewhat backed-up and it took about 1.5hrs to cross. We arrived into Ljubljana around 3pm, got checked into the hostel, then went for an orientation walk. The town center is fairly small and is situated around a canal. There was a really nice open air market selling mostly foodstuff, including some delicious cheeses which I greedily sampled until encountering a particularly stinky one that nearly made my nose hairs curl when it hit the back of my throat. I picked up some snacks for dinner, and spent the next few hours exploring the small side streets and boutique shops. The rain was off and on, which made it slightly less pleasant, but overall a really charming little town, though a single day was sufficient to explore it.

Monday was leisurely morning, departing for Lake Bled at 10am. The drive was only 1hr and we arrived with a full day and the following to explore. Again the rain followed us, but the area around the lake was beautiful and tranquil. The hostel we stayed in (Jazz Hostel) was owned by an entertaining character by the name of Jani; nearly every sentence was emphasized by a head toss and a wink. The rooms were spacious and clean, and it was only a short walk down the hill to the main part of town. The first afternoon I explored the town a bit before heading back to the Hostel for an evening BBQ. The following morning everyone else on the tour went for a rafting day trip to the Emerald River; knowing it would be cold and raining, I opted out. Instead, I spent a lovely day exploring the area; I hiked up to the castle, then back down to the lake via a wooded trail. There was a nice walking path around the lake and I took my time stopping for pictures and a coffee when the rain got too heavy. Then I treated myself to an afternoon at the Ziva Spa.. There was a large pool complex overlooking the lake, filled with heated mineral water and a separate adult only Sauna area. I had been to several Saunas while traveling through Eastern Europe and knew that swimsuites were not allowed, only a sheet to wrap around you. However, I was quite surprised to find everyone walking around naked, men and women alike. Once over the initial shock (no one else seemed to care the least), I got down to relaxing and enjoying the various saunas, whirlpools and steam rooms. It was great to soak in the heat, especially given the rainy weather, and let the tensions of travel be soothed away. I arrived back at the hostel around 6:30pm, the others around 8pm, and I was not the least bit jealous of their day in freezing water, though they did have a great time.

Austria - 1 June

We left Lake Bled late Wednesday morning for a 3hr bus ride into Salzburg, Austria. It was still raining (of course), but thankfully eased up after about an hour. I hid out in the H&M shop during the worst of it, buying more clothes I didn’t need or have space in my luggage for. Again most of the others on tour booked day trips to either the Salt Mines or the Sound of Music Tour, but as we only had the one day, I choose instead to explore the town at my own pace. Compact and charming, I enjoyed wandering the alleys and shops and picked up some more chocolates. I snapped some photos of Mozart's house, which is now a museum (I didn’t actually go in), then I hiked up the hill to the castle and got some great, albeit wet, views of the old town. I wandered through the famous Mirabell Gardens, before joining up with the others at 6pm. We checked into the hotel, then the others left to visit a local farm for schnapps tasting and BBQ ribs. Since I don’t eat meat and am not a fan of schnapps, I choose to stay back at the hotel with a few of the other girls. The partygoers got back around 12am and were in a pathetically sorry state; some having vomited on the bus, some in the hotel lobby, some in their rooms, and my roommate in our sink (it got clogged of course). Neither the bus driver nor the hotel were very pleased with the results, as to be expected, and I was glad I didn’t attend.

Czech Republic - 2 June

It was a five hour bus ride from Salzburg to Prague, with the majority nursing hangovers. We arrived into Prague around 3pm and had a few hours free to wander before the bus came to pick us back up and take us to the hostel, which was a good ways outside the city center. The hostel (Plus Prague) was massive and was surprisingly well equipped with a swimming pool, gym, and sauna, and had clean spacious rooms. The location was however unfortunate, with really nothing of interest nearby. It was the final night on tour and I was glad to be going on my own way. The tour had been well run, but the pace of changing cities everyday was a bit tolling. When I had come through last month on my way down from the Baltics, I had liked but not loved it. I loved Eastern Europe as a whole, but I’m ready for a change of scene and I’m looking forward to Ireland.

Tags: austria, croatia, czech republic, lake bled, prague, salzburg, slovenia, split

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