Page 2 of ClayB Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Hof October 3rd 2011

So, do you remember that bit at the start of my journey in Budapest, when I alluded to a major train fail? Well, this is it. Obviously my Oktoberfest addled brain wasn't quite up to the challenge of catching an international train! The following takes place between 5pm Monday and 5am Tuesday. I arrived at Munich Central Station early. Having heard lots of travel fail stories from Oktoberfest, I was determined not to end up in one. Plus I'd already paid for a bed in Prague (Czech Republic) that night, and was seriously looking forward to using it! I followed the massive LED signs and easily found my train to Prague, or Praha, however none of the notices on the train doors seemed to mention Praha. I showed a train attendant my ticket, and he pointed ... read more
At Ivana's flat
Sign Park!
Having a pint at a random pub in Hof

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Munich October 1st 2011

We now resume our regularly scheduled program. A short train trip later and the four of us were in Munich on a Friday night, suitably hyped about the 3 days of partying ahead of us. Waiting for us at the train station was Leah, fresh off the plane from Auckland, and also the only friend from NZ who actually stuck with the Oktoberfest pact! (Good on ya Leah!) We traded Kristin in (who was visiting other friends of hers) and left with Leah for our hostel. There were only a few hours left in the day, but we weren't going to waste them! We quickly made our way to the festival and walked through those magical gates for a reckie. It was a few years since I'd last seen them, and I was expectant as hell. ... read more
Entering the festival grounds at 7am
We made it inside!
Inside the Augustiner Tent

Europe » Austria » Salzburg » Salzburg September 29th 2011

You know, we didn't hear one iota of yodeling on the whole trip - my Vienna open shower singing not withstanding. To me the idea of yodeling evokes imagery of mountains, beautiful scenery, the sort of peaceful isolation that goes along with it, as well as men in suspenders and women in frocks. And maybe a mountain goat or two. The further West we drove across Austria, the closer to this imagery real life became. The Hills Are Alive may have passed through my lips more than once as we passed breathtaking scenes of rolling green hills, the peaks of the Alps towering above, with quaint little villages dotted throughout. The tune has more relevance than mere green hills too, as The Sound of Music was actually filmed in Austria! We got to see a few ... read more
The hills are alive...
The Danube in Salzburg
wtf are we??

Europe » Austria » Vienna » Vienna September 28th 2011

This would be my third venture into the beautiful country of Austria, but my first visit to its capital, Vienna (or Wien in local terms, and coincidentally where the Wiener Schnitzel comes from!). With only 4 days left on the Oktoberfest countdown clock, we arrived early in the evening and made our way to Hotel Franzenshof. We were staying in a 4 bed room, which seemed nice enough until we noticed its complete lack of bathroom door! Fortunately the toilet was in a separate room, otherwise there would have been some serious stage fright going on. It did have the amusing effect of turning any remotely shiny object into the equivalent of a giant mirror that had to be aimed away while the girls were showering. Personally I just took it as an opportunity to sing ... read more
The Crew, on Graben Street
Hofburg Palace
An over-exposed Vienna waterway

Europe » Slovakia » Bratislava Region » Bratislava » Old Town September 27th 2011

As per usual we arrived at the train station in the dark, and made our way to what would be the most luxurious accommodation of the trip at the Apollo Hotel. Of course I wouldn't expect anything less from Kristin, our next travel companion from London, who was waiting patiently for us in our room. We enjoyed a happy reunion over a fresh cup of complimentary coffee, while scoffing the complimentary chocolate from atop our pillows and stuffing all the complimentary soaps & shampoos into my toiletry bag. There actually doesn't seem to be a hell of a lot to see in the capital of Slovakia, so we took a leisurely stroll through the typically charming old town, buying ice cream and perusing the markets along the way. While Budapest seemed to have a perpetual social ... read more
One of many statues skulking around the place
We meet the Danube River again
Walking to the Old Town

Europe » Hungary » Central Hungary » Budapest » Pest September 23rd 2011

This is the big one*. A whole 17 days of uninterrupted travel through central and East Europe. Not only was it booked before I left Auckland back in April, but it's the primary reason I left in the first place! Why? One word: Oktoberfest!! I actually made a pact with a few friends in New Zealand last year that we would all be at Oktoberfest 2011, though the Rugby World Cup dissuaded all but one die-hard traveller (She joins me later in Munich). The story starts in Budapest, Hungary, with a whole week to go before we would finally gaze upon the magical gates of the beerfest. I landed late on Friday night with my age-old kiwi friend Hannah, and quickly found our spacious apartment at Boulevard Hostel. We awoke early the next morning for our ... read more
Random shoes on the side of the river
The Cathedral inside the Palace area in Pest
A view of the Parliament Buildings in Buda

Europe » United Kingdom » Wales » Cardiff September 11th 2011

Another Celtic adventure awaited me as I boarded my London Victoria bus headed for the Welsh capital of Cardiff. My first fail of the trip came swiftly, this time in the form of a tuna salad dinner from Marks & Spencers. I've bought prepackaged meals from them before, and while I can never actually see any sign of plastic cutlery before opening them, I've always found one hiding under the lid somewhere. Not this time. I quickly realised my mistake after tearing off the non-resealable plastic top, and stared blankly at it for a while, the messy layer of mayo on the top mocking my lack of utensils. The Czech girl sitting next to me sure got a kick out of watching me eat the entire thing using only the lid of my fruit smoothie bottle, ... read more
Me & Ruth on the bus to Cardiff central
Pedestrianised Streets
Castell Cardiff

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin August 13th 2011

It's now 3 months since my Eastern European adventure, and it's been anything but quiet. Despite travelling all over England, and even to Dublin itself for a music festival a few weekends prior, I consider this Ireland trip to be my first slice of real travelling since (as well as my last ever bit of travelling in my 20's!). This time I would be accompanied by the lovely Stephanie, a fellow escapee from South Africa who fled with us on a neighbouring yacht many years ago, and who is currently out from her home in California. Flying with the ever so classy RyanAir, we started our Irish adventure to the incredibly cheesey jingle that lets you know you've arrived on time. As they tend to play it even when you arrive late, I suspect it's actually ... read more
Our bug eyed vehicle!
Proof that we were at the Cliffs of Moher
Mmmm pub meal!

Europe » Ukraine » Kiev » Chernobyl April 30th 2011

Kiev had a different atmosphere to Lviv altogether. It was our final destination, and as the capital of Ukraine it was bigger, more modern, and more happening. We also arrived feeling refreshed after a good night's sleep in a first class sleeper carriage, which made a huge difference! Unfortunately we found our hostel here was without a doubt the worst of the trip. We got a 12 bed room instead of the 2 bed twin, with suspiciously lumpy thin mattresses, and there was also the slight worry that the hostel owner would come and rape us in our sleep - He was one creepy-assed dude! We quickly donned our explorer hats and joined a free walking tour, which is always my favourite way to see a city. As one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, ... read more
This is seriously a police car
The Chernobyl clean up vehicles
In front of the Chernobyl reactor

Europe » Ukraine » Lviv April 29th 2011

Unfortunately the bus from Warsaw to Lviv in Ukraine wasn't nearly as pimped out as my previous ride to Riga. A good night's sleep was already a rarity on this trip, and it remained just as elusive for me and James on this overnight journey with its numerous passport checks. It could have been worse though, as demonstrated by one poor bastard who was slowly unpacking a small lorry-load of carrots at 2am for inspection. Upon arrival at the Lviv bus terminal it was immediately apparent that we were, well, somewhere else. Somewhere different. I felt the slight electricity of culture shock, my senses awakening as alert levels switched over to Defcon 3. I would liken this sensation to being alive. While a magnificent looking building in itself, the terminal surroundings were somewhat chaotic, and we ... read more
Our breakfast menu...
I love the old cars here!
Me accosting some locals

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