EU-Trip 2023 | Week 11 (23.04 – 27.04)

EU-Trip 2023 | Week 11 (23.04 – 27.04)
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

It's already week 11 of my trip, following the post about week 10. Have no clue/context, then the original post, It's finally time for an adventure, is for you.

23.04 – An afternoon in Ljubljana

I got up right before my alarm, showered and checked out. Since I didn't trust the buses at all, decided to walk the three kilometers by foot, especially since it's not that fare and there was no time pressure. The best decision today, as it turned out, there was a street marathon. So, the buses were not driving at all.

Central station in Rijeka

Early at the train station, the train was fortunately also very early, as it spent 25 minutes at the central station in Rijeka for some reason. Taking the train itself was really convenient, had a cabin with six seats all for myself. Furthermore, no delays or anything. Arriving in Slovenia, the landscape reminded me of the mountains and villages in Austria.

View from the train in Slovenia

Finding the Airbnb was a struggle itself, as it turned out the street was not known to Google Maps. The street naming system in Slovenia is really weird. Or at least the area where I will stay for the next two nights. So, the address should be like Rožna Dolina, cesta XV <num>. As it turned out, they used the roman alphabet for splitting the area into squares, but there was no XV according to maps. Searched the entire street to find it, checking maps later it is maintained there as XI, which makes sense, why it didn't show up. So first things first reported the false street name to Google Maps. Arriving there, two black Boston Terrier were already awaiting me, first curiously, then barking at me. I didn't bother at first and let them sniff my hand. First seemed like that would be it, so got to the entrance, which was open, and the key was right next to the door. Both dogs were bravely following me, holding eye contact. In my room, they both jumped on the bed immediately, tolling around. That left a lot of hair, so switched the linens, after they left the room again. Since that, they seemed to be a bit aggressive, leaving me with a bit of insecurity. Thankfully, my host came at that moment, greeted and me and seemingly both of them were calmed down. Again, the Airbnb was advertised as a dryer, but had none. The host told me he thought it would be a hair dryer. Since I already could feel the pollen in the air (and needed to take my pills for it) hanging them outside would definitely not be an option. At the end, he was fine that I just hung the stuff inside, which takes for ages, probably. Still not too bad, since some time is still left.

The public transport here works with a well-known and beloved system of mine, a physical prepaid card, bought one for only two euros at a vending machine, topped it up for the next days and was ready to go.

Some small talk, washing my clothes, hanging them on the drying rack inside my room. Packed my day bag, and went towards downtown by bus. My first stop was Slovenska Hiša - Figovec, where I grabbed some Slovenian food. The traditional dumplings as a man dish, prekmurska gibancia as desert. Obviously, also had to try some local beer, opted for Union toce.

Dumplings, cake for dessert

After a good meal and an empowering espresso, strolled through the small downtown, also to the Triple Bridge. Really disappointing, I don't know what exactly I expected, but it looked impressive in the pictures. Being there, it is really just 3 bridges at the same place.

In front of the 3 bridges, a bit off to be able to take a proper picture

Strolling around from there found really nothing special, neither bad nor good, it was just average. Furthermore, the city itself was nothing special, not messed up but also not super polished. Almost like you combined the most average things from Slovakia, Austria, and Germany in one single piece.

Since I had not much on my bucket list and not much motivation left after this, went back to my accommodation by bus.

24.04 – A day in Ljubljana

I tried to sleep a bit longer today, but the barking of the dogs at every movement outside made it simply impossible to sleep any longer. So was awake at 6:30 in the morning. The bed was a total nightmare, so my back hurt like hell. After recovering a bit and waking up, collected my dried clothes. Since it was not warm enough inside the room, used the heater next to the clothes. That worked out pretty well at the end, even better than I thought.

Strolling around a bit in the residential area because I was curious. Really looked generous to me, nothing really where I would say okay that's unique to Slovenia. Went to the next bus station, recharging my card at a vending machine on the way.

Took the bus to Metelkova Art Center, which really looked promising in the photos. Arriving there, my first thought was: that's it? But as I walked around the corner, that was precisely what I was expecting. Street art, some installations and great stickers all around. Spent a few hours there, exploring every single corner of the area, enjoying every second of it.

Me at the art center

Also took some great photos with my camera (at least that's what I think they will be). To give you some impressions, see the collage below.

From there went on by foot since everything is really close and walkable. The next stop was the Central Market. Which was boring. Almost empty, which might be caused by the heavy rain today. Didn't bother long and went on.

Strolling around a bit, already could see the castle from below, so decided to walk the way up there. Everyone else seemed to take the funicular up there, but I am almost certainly it was quicker walking up than waiting for getting up.

Up from there, the view was not wonderful, plenty of trees in the way, so went on to the other side, there it was a bit better. But again, nothing special or really enjoyable.

The “view”

Downhill there were a lot less people wanting to take the funicular, so used my chance, got a ticket and from there you really had a nice view. Even though it was very time-limited as the nature of the funicular is to move.

View of the city from the Funicular

Searching Maps for some restaurant with local food, found only one that looked good to me. Arriving there, waiting for twenty minutes, no one was there from the staff. So went to the next store and got some fried chicken and French fries. Super boring, but I was hungry and didn't really bother to experiment.

The rain was getting heavier, lowering my mood. So took the buses back to the accommodation, to dry my clothes and rest my feet. The forecast also didn't look too promising, with a lot more of rain for the next hours to come down.

25.04 – Back to Austria

Woke up, got ready and took the bus to the central station. The train was already there, so I hoped it won't be delayed, also since it was just 3 stops. My hope got destroyed already before the train even started. With a delay of 5 minutes we started, at the end we were 30 minutes late for a 90-minute journey. Since I only had 16 minutes to change trains, that didn't work out. So waiting two hours at the train station in Maribor, taking a regional train to Spielberg, no not the famous director. Again delayed, but fortunately the ÖBB train waited for us. With that, driving to Graz. Already the bit of walking today killed my left food completely and even painkillers didn't work out well. So got to my apartment, which was not far from the Uniklinik. Therefore, went there, after explaining why I wasn't going to a regular doctor, and a lot of waiting and examinations, they found: nothing. The doctor said it might be because of the amount I walked without bigger breaks. Sigh, almost two hours wasted. She advised me to use Voltaren or something else to cool it and take it a bit slower for the rest of the trip.

So got something for the foot, which kind of helped. But today was really exhausted so let it be and just rested in the apartment, enjoying the beautiful view from the window.

View from the apartment

So, nothing delightful or memorable happened that day, instead you read the maybe most boring hospital story ever.

26.04 – A day in Graz

As I got to bed really early yesterday, woke up pretty early, already starting my day at 7 in the morning. Enjoying the view from the apartment for waking up was really delightful. I got to the bus station not far from the accommodation in the old town, strolling around a bit. There was nothing super outstanding, but really loved the feeling also generally in the city.

The kind Austrian people is what I also loved here. Had some conversations just with strangers on the road about small daily things. Furthermore, really cool speaking in bavarian dialect and being able to understand each other fluently.

Graz in a nutshell

Slowly getting towards the Uhrturm, as I was not keen to find out how much the salve would fix for my foot, took the elevator. It is really directly in the mountain itself, also with a slide around it. I was playing with the thought of trying that as well but since there were no windows or see-through parts I thought that just be cool for children. Up there were not much people, maybe also because it was still in the morning. The view was definitely stunning and nice. Really love this combination of the buildings, surrounded by the mountains and forests.

A few hours passed, after I decided to grab some “breakfast”, which meant coffee and something sweet from the beloved SPAR. Chilling in my apartment, also putting some salve on my foot, which really made it walkable again.

I got hungry, so after picking a few restaurants to try, just in case one was closed or whatever, ended up at the 3 goldenen Kugeln. Opted for a Schnitzel Mix, Weihenstephaner. Really made me smirk a bit when the waiter asked me if I wanted “a beer for adults or children”, referring to small or large. For Bavarians, there is obviously only one size: the large. Quite funny because he was not sure about my accent and asked from where in Austria I was. That led to a bit of conversation, with many compliments for the culture of each other.

Schnitzel Mix and Weihenstephaner

After the good meal, finished the Weizen, couldn't skip and also ordered some dessert. Germknödel and an espresso filled the rest of my stomach with the tasty Austrian cuisine.

Germknödel and espresso

Strolling around for a while with many breaks to not stress too much. In the evening, stopped by at a grocery store. Grabbing some Puntigamer beer and salted peanuts. Heading back to the apartment, enjoying the view and the rest of the evening.

Even though Graz is not comparable to Vienna or Salzburg, it was still delightful. I would put this on my list of “cities that are nice to live in”, but not much for tourists.

27.04 – Travelling to the Czech Republic

Woke up pretty early, way before my alarm, so took the first train of the three that the ÖBB offers per day. Arrived smoothly at the train station, a few minutes before departure, found a free seat in the family compartment, that was almost empty in Graz.

The train ride took 7 hours, so basically until afternoon. The Austrian part was really enjoyable, the smaller towns on the way with the mountains in the background. Going over the border, I immediately recognized the f*cked up buildings, villages, and cities along the way. Have been to the Czech Republic several times, but mostly from the german border side. It really didn't make a difference where you go, it is always f*cked up. Nature is nice depending on the area.

Used the train ride to sum up a few things for myself, also summarizing a bit of the trip what I encountered so far, what I want to integrate into my daily life and so on. At the beginning of the journey, I didn't expect it would change a thing for me, but the reality is the opposite. Furthermore, the point hit where I was really looking forward to getting back home.

Arriving in Prague, I was excited to see that Prague seems to be an island in the country, where everything just works a bit better.

The hostel, which is the first of its kind where I will have such accommodation, has the capsule principle. Where you have your own small space that you can close down and really just is a bed (and a power plug). Pretty excited, opened the link that got sent by the hostel, and nothing. A blank page. The developer in me hit, checked the source mobile, and there was no error handling. On my phone, can't use developer tools. So tried to call only to realize my telecommunication provider failed me. Had internet but couldn't call anyone. SMS worked for some strange reason, but didn't get an answer at all. A few phone restarts and swearing later, finally could contact him. He told me that I should just try again with a different browser. And surprisingly, it worked, with a refresh of the page. Will leave this uncommented at this point for you to judge.

My "room" for two nights

Finally, could check in, was pretty famished so shortly afterward searched for a restaurant nearby with Czech food which, for some reason, I never really tried. After a short search, stuck with Restaurace U Holiše, which had good reviews and nearby, which made it easy to walk there.

When the beer came, the inner bavarian was rebelling because it was “schlecht eigschenkt” (really poorly poured). After I overcome the inner voice, tried it and really loved it. The Pilsner Urquell, there, is not filtered and not pasteurized, maintaining a special character. Really loved it! As it turned out, that's quite normal here, left me a bit stunned for a moment, questioning life. Just kidding, found it weird for a bit, but other countries other traditions.

Pilsner Urquell

For something to eat, opted for Pilsner goulash. I barely believe that was 200g meat, as advertised on the menu, also optically looked a bit questioning. Giving it a shot anyway, it tasted delicious and fed me well.

Pilsner beef goulash

My motivation for that day left me, and the list of things to sight see was not too long, so the full next day would be more than enough to do that. So went back to the hostel, grabbing something non-alcoholic for the night to drink. Spent the rest of the few hours of the day scrolling through memes and going to bed early.

Conclusion of the eleventh travel week

Slovenia felt really generic to me, nothing that I would urge visiting the country again. The street art in Ljubljana was quite nice, though.

Graz was a bit different Austrian experience to the places I visited there in the past. Really enjoyed my time again, especially being able to speak with a bavarian accent on a bigger scale and being understood.

Prague was a lighthouse city for me in the Czech Republic to the rest of the country I know. Highlighting, it is possible to make a change and move away from the messed up feeling.

The home-sick feeling hit me a bit at the end of this week, so really looking forward to getting back to Cologne. As it was also the most boring week so far, that fits pretty well, making it easier to get mentally ready for going back home.

Looking for other posts around the trip? - Check out the tag EU-Trip 2023