Published: May 8th 2007May 8th 2007 Trip through Eastern Europe
the bonfire and interesting characters near our hostel
Again, I have been traveling for a while and that is why I have not updated in a while. Since the last blog I have had my friend Ethan come and stay for a week, where we basically just stayed in Milan, other than a day trip back to Cinque Terre to go to the beach. After Ethan’s return to the U.S. I took a trip to Eastern Europe and went to Ljubljana, Slovenia then to Zagreb, Croatia and finally to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
My trip was during the week last week, I left on Monday (because Monday and Tuesday are holidays in Italy) and took a morning train to Venice where I spent six hours waiting to leave on my train to Ljubljana. I found out that when travelling in Eastern Europe it is more difficult to get trains for where you want to go, and when you want to go, than it is in Western Europe. On the train to Ljubljana I met a girl who had lived there, which was a great thing because she told me a place that I should stay and where to find it. I had gone on
they have a lot of dragons in Ljubljana
this trip basically knowing nothing about nay of the places I was travelling to, and I had found no places to sleep, so the help I received on the train was invaluable. I then walked to the hostel (which for the third time in my life was a converted prison) with a few guys I had also met on the train and who were going to the same hostel. Once checked in at the hostel, I met two of my roommates who were both Americans. I then went out to dinner with one of them who’s name was Hugh. At dinner we talked about how Europe and especially Eastern Europe (from what I had seen) were so interesting to be in as Americans and how different these places were than the U.S. in a welcomed way. Hugh and I then went back tot the Hostel and went to the jam party/ bonfire of broken furniture that was happening in the courtyard of our hostel. The area surrounding our hostel was a commune for all types of people with alternative lifestyles (graffiti artists, communists, hippies and other types of people deemed undesirable by the rest of the Slovenian people) and this
main shopping street
is why this nightly jam session is held in this area. After listening to the band and warming up by the fire we went inside of the hostel where I met an Irishman named Michael who asked me if I wanted to share a Guinness with him (he had brought two with him).
That night I slept in a twelve person attic room where my bed was wedged under a ceiling beam and the slope of the roof. That night I thought I would freeze to death since all my bed received was a steady draft of cold air from outside, and also because on this trip I had not packed anything other than shorts, jeans and t-shirts. The entirety of the trip I wished I would have brought a sweatshirt due to the cold weather that no longer exists in Milan as well as the multiple rain showers in each city I visited.
The next morning I walked around the city of Ljubljana with Michael the Irishman and he showed me the many types of plants that the city had to offer (he is a gardener by trade). Then in the afternoon I went off by myself
and looked around the town including going up to the medieval castle that overlooks the town. For lunch I ate a traditional plate of meet from Slovenia which included wild boar, stallion (again I found horse) and beef along with a cheese roll, polenta and another type of roll that I can’t remember. I also had a great homebrewed beer which was very delicious.
That afternoon I left my jail hostel and the two older gentlemen I had met in Ljubljana and took the train to Zagreb, Croatia. When I arrived it was highly raining and still cold but I immediately loved Zagreb. I then found my hostel which I had booked from Ljubljana and went tout exploring the city which was devoid of life since it was May day and was also a holiday in every other European country like it was in Italy. The next day I went to the museum of modern art in Zagreb also with the national museum. The national museum was underwhelming and only had collections of pottery, statues and painting from multiple periods of time and from everywhere in Europe and Asia up to the Renaissance. For the rest of the day
there were many buildings designed by Slovenian architect Joe Plečnik this was one of the more interesting ones
I walked around the city and looked at the churches that Zagreb boasts as famous as well as going to the town tower where you can get a good panoramic view of the city and its’ surroundings.
That night I was originally going to take a train back to Milan through the night and return in the morning on Thursday, however, after talking to my mom on the phone she convinced me that since I had come so far and since the week was nearing an end that I should try and go somewhere else and take the entire week off. I then spent the rest of the afternoon frantically trying to figure out where I could get a train to that was somewhat close to Zagreb. I finally decided upon going to Sarajevo in Bosnia because it was one of the two places I wanted to see that were close and because Budapest was a much longer train ride and when I go there I want to spend a few days there. I took an overnight train to Bosnia (9 Â½ hours) and arrived in Sarajevo at 6:30 in the morning. I was very interested in going to
this church was really interesting on the inside but sorry no photos of except for on the outside
Sarajevo because of the recent war there and I wanted to see what the city was like in the rebuilding years. I was however amazed to see that even though the war has been over since 1995 there are still many buildings in the capital city that have visible bullet holes and mortar blast scars on the walls. When I got to the train station I went to the city information office ( since I had done no research on where to stay before arriving there) where I was told of a place to stay and where I met another guy who was travelling alone and had no idea where to go. It turned out that he was Australian and that they told us both to go to the same hostel. We got to the hostel and then went to walk around the city. Matt the Aussie then went back to the hostel to sleep and I went on to look at the river that runs through the town. On my walks I mainly took pictures of all of the evidence of either rebuilding after the war or of things that had remained the same (including the aforementioned bullet holes
in buildings as well as certain buildings that had been bombed during the war that still stood as shells of what they used to be).
I found Sarajevo beautiful as a city and on top of that I found it amazingly interesting for the history that surrounded it both good and bad. I walked to the other side of the river where many of the Muslim citizens lived during the war and still live somewhat segregated from the rest of the population. Next I walked up one the of the hills in town to one of the many cemeteries that were built during the war. I was amazed to see that a majority of the people buried in this cemetery had died in 1996 (a year after the war ended). From what I heard, this was due to a shipment of spoiled UN canned food supplies that was left over from the Vietnam war and that had been sent to the remaining citizens after the war was over. The truth of this I cannot attest to, however there were thousands of people who had died in that year in the cemetery I visited. After the cemetery I walked next to
old roman wall
the former National and University Library of Bosnia which had been fire bombed during the war and which still is boarded up and has not been resurrected. I suppose the building has been left as it was to show the tragedy of the bombing and the tragedy of losing so many important books.
It was cold and rainy while I was in Bosnia, but the people still seemed very nice and very brave and strong. I walked through one of the city parks in the morning that day to find a group of 40 elderly men playing chess on a huge sidewalk chessboard, all having a great time with each other. When I returned 6 hours later that day the same men were all still there with their umbrellas, sitting in the rain still enjoying their friends and from what it seemed just enjoying the opportunity to be able to do things like this now that their city was no longer in a terrifically terrible war.
I then took a train back to Milan through the day on Friday and then over-night and I arrived in Milan Saturday morning.
On Saturday I made sushi for a group of 20 of
my Irish friend playing with plants
our friends at Mark’s house, which was a great experience, although I was dead tired from the two over-night trains and the week of travelling.
I plan on doing no more travelling from now until the last weekend in May when I leave Milan for the final time this trip and travel through the United Kingdom and Ireland for two and a half weeks. Then I will fly back to the U.S. from Ireland to spend some time in the Northeast before coming back to Phoenix. I will have to write about the UK and all of my travels on that trip when I am safely back in Phoenix so that is all until then (assuming something interesting doesn’t happen between now and then.
There are more photos below