Day Sixteen. No sleep for the Traveling

The three of us are splitting up for a few days, while Jan and Nastassia jet off to Nice for a little more sun, and Deanna takes the train to Tuscany to soak up some Italian culture in Florence and to visit some family in the surrounding areas. Jan and Nastassia packed all of their things last night, and got ready to catch the last train out to Rome Fiumicino. The transportation in Rome is a little funny and there roughly a 6 hour gap between the hours of 12-6 am, where barely any buses, trams, or metros run. Our flight left at 6:20 am this morning, and as nothing else would get us there in time, we had to catch the last train out to the airport at around 10 pm in the evening. Deanna had a train to catch at around 7 in the morning, but it was from a station closer to our flat, and she was able to get a few hours of shut-eye before getting up bright and early to make her train. The two of us spent a long night in the airport, and we can testify that the set up isn’t the most comfortable in the world, but there were at least 100 or so other people in the same terminal as us waiting for their late night/early morning flights. We had a little blogging to catch up on anyways, and the socks Jan’s sister had sent him were put to good use.

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We got to our flat at around 9 am, but after a night of absolutely no sleep, navigating through airport terminals, bus stations and a new city, we were absolutely wiped. We crashed until about 1 in the afternoon, at which time hunger finally woke us. We enjoyed some sunshine while we walked to the local grocery store, and started nearly salivating on the spot when we walked past a rotisserie chicken on our way there. Deciding that it was too good to pass up, we feasted on bird and bread, which tasted delicious after such a crazy night.

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We wanted to get at least a little beach time in, and decided that the best mode of transportation for the time we’ll be in Nice would be their bike rental system Vélo Bleu. 1 euro per day, as long as you keep the rides under a half hour. It took us nearly an hour to figure out the system though, seeing as it wouldn’t recognize Jan’s phone number for it. But we found a different machine with a different system and were able to get a code, finally, and then the question of transportation became incredibly simple.

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Enjoying the stone beaches and the Côte d’Azur along with a couple of beers, we were finally able to relax and feel that we were in a new place, and ready for beach time.

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Getting home was simple too, thanks to the bikes. This city seems really friendly and happy, and our first impression was great. After a busy, crowded city like Rome, Nice feels like a breath of fresh air.

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But having had a little bit of time in the sun and the sea, it’s time to do some laundry and to make up for the lost sleep of last night before a full beach day tomorrow.

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beaux rêves!

Day Nine. Dubrovnik, all gears ahead.

The day got off to a rocky start, to be honest. Our bus was leaving the Split bus station at 6:15 in the morning – luckily we had arranged for our airbnb host to drive us there, which should have only been a 15 minute car ride. Nastassia awoke at 5:30 to the sound of the buzzer, and shortly thereafter Deanna and Jan woke up to the sound of Nastassia shouting ‘WE OVERSLEPT!!’. We packed last night, so luckily getting all our stuff together took no more than 5 minutes; getting dressed, brushing our teeth, and packing everything into the car took only another 10 minutes after that. We arrived to the bus station at 5:55, and made our bus with time to spare. However, we definitely learnt our lesson and will set more alarms for the rest of all our transfers.

Dubrovnik 101Our expected arrival in Dubrovnik was 10:30 am, and since we were only running on 4 or 5 hours of sleep we all took the chance to catch a catnap. We woke up in Bosnia-Herzegovina around 9 – roughly about 40 km from Dubrovnik. As nothing planned ever goes as smoothly as you’d like it to, we hit a traffic jam on a two lane highway. We went from a quick ride to a slow crawl and then to not moving at all. And officially, all three of us can say we’ve been in, and peed in, Bosnia and Herzegovina. We pulled into Dubrovnik a full two hours late, but luckily we had no transfers or anything of the sort to make.

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We made it to our airbnb apartment, and after appreciating the gorgeous view from our balcony, we made a stop at the local grocery store to grab some food to cook up for lunch. Lunch itself was pretty simple, but we decided to try a boxed croatian iced coffee drink and some lemon chocolate. Both were quite alright and let us end our lunch on a sweet tooth before packing up all our swim gear for the afternoon.

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When the three of us went searching for a beach, we knew that there was one somewhere close to our flat. We never imagined, however, exactly how close it was. A short 6 or 7 minute walk took us directly to one of the most popular beaches in Dubrovnik. Copacabana Beach, Dubrovnik, dubbed after the Brazilian original, was a great surprise. With a huge water playground, as well as a DJ every day from 5-10 pm, we were sold on it instantly. Nastassia and Jan were drawn to the water playground like moths to a flame, and were gone almost instantly. The water was clear and warm, absolutely perfect conditions and blue sunny skies on top of the package. Deanna didn’t feel up to the playground, but managed to get some great snapshots of the location while suntanning on the beach.

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Even Glubschi, our travel mascot, got in some rays. With a gorgeous view and a warm sea, who could resist taking advantage of the lovely beach time. We had planned to be at a beach for only a couple hours, but ended up staying for closer to 3 or 4.

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When we were all finally sitting on the shore all together, we cracked open a few beers we’d brought with us, and opened up a quick snack. Chips are always fun to try in new countries because of all the different flavors that can be found offered that aren’t available back home. We enjoyed the rays and some good conversation among good company before wrapping up to go home.

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We had planned earlier to go into the city in the evening to grab a fancier bite there, but by the time we got back to our apartment from swimming, all of us were just way too tired to even think of getting ready and packed up enough to go into the city. We made a second visit the the grocery store close by and cooked some bruschetta, pasta, and chicken as a welcome to Dubrovnik meal. Today was a long day, when you include the abrupt wakeup, the prolonged bus ride, and the swimming in the sea that we did. And therefore we bid you good night and sleep tight.

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Day Three. Rub a dub dub

 Deanna and Nastassia somehow got lost going to the supermarket, and the day was already starting to be a hot one, while Jan took care of the map for the day. We somehow left the apartment a full hour later than we planned, but all was good in good company.

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Deciding to go over a bridge that we hadn’t crossed yet, Nastassia kept an eye out for cops while Jan and Deanna tested their spidey-skills and climbed on up. We took a little hike up to the Liberty Statue, which is the only statue left in the city dating from the communist occupation. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the city covered the statue in a white sheet for 3 days, and the exact same statue was then unveiled as a new one. Pretty views, fresh air, good breeze, the climb was a fairly easy one –  apart from sweating like mad because of the extreme heat.

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We took a quick 20 minute breather at the top of the climb to enjoy the views, take some pictures and get in some quick sketching before returning from the open skies and fresh air back down to the city to enjoy a quick cool lunch at our flat.

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Coming down the other side of a hill there’s a small cascading water fall that’s a pleasant surprise, and provides a refreshing mist in the hot July heat. Definitely worth locating and checking out if you ever find yourself wandering through Budapest.

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After our lunch, we decided to check out the Széchenyi Thermal Baths that everyone praises. To be honest, we thought a 40 degree pool might be too hot on such a sunny day, and yet the baths are amazingly refreshing and really help to cool you down. We had a lot of fun with Jan’s waterproof camera, and spent quite a bit of time in the water. Lather up the sunscreen, kiddies!

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The baths close around 7, and by the time we made it back to our apartment, it was getting a little later. Deciding to call it an early night because of light sunburns and a full day in the sun, we cooked ourselves some rice and cutlets. Rest, relaxation and a little bit of lotion to cure the sunburns is on the agenda for tonight. Jó étvágyat!

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Day One. Hungry in Hungary

BUDAPEST! All made it safe and sound. More or less. With varying degrees of difficulty.
Deanna flew in from Canad-EH yesterday morning, Jan had a nice and breezy flight from Beerland(Germany) today, and Nastassia had a lovely time learning the Polish train system for over 24 hours. Who said that 191 km shouldn’t take 6 hours! So Deanna and Jan got a little bonding time in and some lunch while Nastassia watched the landscape sail by…or, you know, the Polish railroad workers.

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But all on location at around 5 and ready to take both Buda and Pest by storm! 30 degrees and sunny, sweating from every pore, after dropping things off at our flat we went in search for food. And as is typical in these situations, walked around aimlessly for half an hour before eating basically at the starting point. GYROS. Yum.

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Budapest is crazy pretty, and the first impression is definitely a winner. But for tonight, a movie, time adjustment and a beer is in order.

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VISZLÁT!