Archive for April, 2008

San Sebastián, Spain

Karie on Apr 21st 2008 11:04 am

Adam & Nicki spent most of their trip doing slow-paced tourism with us in Barcelona, with the exception of a brief getaway to San Sebastián. I figured out that an over night bus would be cost-effective and give us more time in the city than flying. Adam & Nicki, being the troopers that they are – and having taken their fair share of janky buses and trains around the world – were game.

Luckily several passengers got off at some of the earlier stops on the route, giving us the opportunity to spread out in separate rows for part of the night. Scott, Nicki & I all got a little sleep – about as good as you can expect on an over night bus where you have to consciously hold your body onto the seat to prevent yourself from rolling off when our Formula One bus driver would stop, go or turn. Adam got about 20 minutes max. His row was across from mine, and every time I would wake up (about every 10 minutes I think), all I saw was him sitting straight up with a slight look of panic on his face as he stared directly forward.

I was absolutely right – taking a bus gave us significantly more time in the city! In fact, thanks to our bus driver, we arrived way ahead of schedule, and a couple hours before the sun.

We were all a bit delirious when we rolled out of the bus around 6:30a.m. Especially me & Nicki – we were flat out comedians. Of course there was no public transportation at the time, so we hoofed it to our hotel in the dark. I think the only person more tired and inconvenienced than us was the guy who owns the hostel. He was clearly irritated to see us at such an early hour, but at least he let us store our luggage and told us to come back at 12:30. It was now about 7:00am on a Sunday.

We headed straight for the beach (our reason for coming here), and it was absolutely gorgeous. We weren’t the only ones that had that idea either… There were plenty of surfers out, as well as a handful of drunk people who never went home the night before. At least we had entertainment… and at the risk of sounding cheesy, we had each other. Seriously, there are not many people in the world that I would put through a near-sleepless over night bus adventure followed by a ½-day of exhausting nothingness, and expect them to not hate me at least a little bit. Scott and I regularly put ourselves in uncomfortable situations, but this is when you realize just how cool your friends are.

I honestly don’t know how we passed the next 5 ½ hours. I think we were sleep walking for part of it. Once 12:30 rolled around we headed back to the hotel for a little nap, then we were ready to go again.

The weather was partly cloudy, but a comfortable temperature and pretty good surf conditions, which was torture for Adam, because there are no surf shops open on Sunday to rent a board. So, we spent most of the day doing what people do in San Sebastian – sitting on the beach and going for walks along the beautiful coastline.

We planned to get up early the next morning so Adam could catch some waves, but when our alarm went off all I could hear was pouring rain. We snoozed another hour in hopes that it would pass, but no such luck. Now the surf shops were open, but nobody in their right mind was getting in the ocean, so a double-bummer. The good news is that the city was a lot livelier than it was on Sunday, so we took the opportunity to explore more of the town, the shops, and take some really long breaks in restaurants, bookstores and cafes.

Despite the fact that one of our primary reasons for coming here (surfing) didn’t happen, we still had a great time. San Sebastian is a beautiful town, and I loved the atmosphere. It has the perfect beach community blend of being laid back, yet active. There were lots of locals out running or cycling along the beach, and others taking a leisurely walk with the family. That’s part of what I love about San Diego, so I really enjoyed seeing a different twist on a similar lifestyle in Spain.

We headed back to Barcelona the next day, where the weather kept getting better & better, so we were able to fit in a couple of sunny beach days after all, including a day trip to Sitges. I think their vacation was as rejuvenating for us as it was for them. We have made lots of great friends in Barcelona, but this is the first time all year we have seen a familiar face from home. There’s something comforting about people who know where you came from, and will still be there when you get back.

As much as part of me is not looking forward to leaving Spain when our year is up, having them here reminded us that we love home too. We have no clue what we’re going to do when we go back, where we will live, what we will drive, etc., but friends & family take the edge off that fear and replace it with anticipation. Thanks for coming peeps! Miss you already.

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Crime Busters

Karie on Apr 18th 2008 10:07 am

So our good friends Adam & Nicki from CA came to visit us here in the pickpocket capital of the world. They both studied in Germany for a while and have done their fair share of traveling, so they already knew the basics. For example…

  • Men, keep your wallet in your front pocket.
  • Women, if you must carry a purse, make sure it has a zipper (and preferably a flap over the zipper), and a long strap so you can wrap it around your neck/shoulder.
  • Don’t carry your passports on you unless you’re actually traveling
    Note: most places in Spain will accept a photo copy of your passport or your U.S. drivers license as ID, so hide the passports somewhere safe and leave them in your hotel. (I don’t know if this is true in other countries, but it flies in Spain)
  • Be extra alert when on crowded public transit
  • When seated, make sure your purse/backpack is in your lap or somewhere that you can see and feel it (don’t just put it under your chair).
  • Get one of those cheap carabiner things to hook the two zippers on your backpack together. It’s not a lock, but it’s hard enough to open that it will annoy you when you need to get into your own bag.

Scott is actually working on a resource for safety tips, so more to come on that later. To sum it up for now, there are plenty of targets out there, so do whatever you can to make yourself a difficult one, to encourage the thieves to move on to someone else. We are certainly not experts, but we see people making themselves easy targets all the time, and if we can see it, the thieves can see it.

Even the most seasoned of travelers (or locals) can fall prey in a moment of distraction, but for the most part, I can see how making a living as a pickpocket really isn’t that difficult. I don’t know how many times we’ve seen pickpockets scouting for their next victim, or seen some desperate victim running/yelling/crying when it was already too late. At least once a week we find ourselves telling someone, “hey, you might want to zip up that bag…”, or “watch out behind you, that guy has been eying your purse…”

That’s right, we’re concerned citizens. But now, ladies and gentleman, with the arrival of Magnum P.I. Adam and Nicki, we have gone beyond the simple proactive suggestions and moved into the action packed realm of crime stopping. We tested two new methods within just a few days time, both of which we found to be effective. I expect the local police department to call us in soon to provide crime fighting consultations.

Ways to stop a pickpocket in action #1: Kick him in the shin

Adam & Nicki had just arrived, and it was our first day to explore the city with them. We hopped on the Metro, which wasn’t too crowded, but enough so to where some people were standing. Adam notices a suspicious character looking down at the shopping back that Nicki was carrying, so it caught his attention. A minute later, he sees the suspicious character draping his coat over his forearm, mostly covering his hand. He then uses his concealed hand to unzip the backpack of a girl standing nearby, who is chatting away with her friend and not paying an ounce of attention. Adam actually sees him unzip her purse, and that’s when he sprung into action, kicking him.

The suspicious character spins around, and Magnum, I mean Adam, gives him the ultimate sign of intimidation: index finger pointed up to the temple of his own head, then turning and pointing directly at the suspicious character. “I saw you.”

The would-be thief is dumbfounded, pretending to have no clue what Adam is talking about. The little punk even smirked in a “yeah, but you can’t prove it” sort of way.

Meanwhile, Nicki gets the victim’s attention and points to her bag, which is open, but thankfully nothing was missing. We got off at the next stop, while our suspicious character stayed behind trying to defend himself to the victim, who was still not convinced that he hadn’t taken anything.

Ways to stop a pickpocket in action #2: Give them the spread-fingered whap on top of the head, as if you’re dribbling a basketball

A few days later we were on the infamous Bus 24 to Park Güell. This is the same bus from our Christmas Eve adventure, in which my dad had a completely different approach for stopping a pickpocket (which probably only works if you’re at least a foot taller than your opponent).

This time is was Scott’s turn to test a new method. Bus 24 is the only form of public transportation that goes directly to Park Güell, so it’s always filled with tourists. On our last bus 24 adventure, the driver told me that there are probably 30 incidents a day on that line. Thanks to Scott, on this day there were only 29.

Upon spotting another stupid tourist with some gigantic bag gaping wide open, Scott & Adam were on alert. Scott actually tried to get her attention through the crowd to advise her to hang onto her purse, to which she replied, “Huh?” Ugh. Inevitably, here comes our picker. He wasn’t within kicking range, so Scott reached up over the crowed and thumped him on top of the head (one of those heavy open-hand thumps where all 5 fingers hit at slightly different times).

The thief turns around, completely shocked by what has just happened. In fact, he is so offended by someone interrupting him while he’s at work, that he actually wanted to fight Scott. Throwing his hands up in the air, with the International gesture for “C’mon, Bring It On Biznacho”… while safely moving closer to the door. He got off at the next stop, continuing with his gestures on the sidewalk. The stupid girl with the big open bag never even knew what happened.

Good job team.

We will continue to keep you apprised of any other methods that we prove to be effective. Scott & Adam actually considered spending an entire day riding public transportation just to see how many they could catch.

Disclaimer: In all seriousness, I am not suggesting that you take it upon yourself to stop pickpockets. Some of them do carry knives, and they usually travel in groups, so sometimes it’s better to watch your stuff go than to try to fight – especially if you’re by yourself or in a less populated area.

Now, for all my family and friends who are wondering why I moved to the hood, don’t worry, I didn’t. Barcelona actually has very little violent crime; it just happens to have a lot of petty theft. Yes, I think the local authorities could/should do a better job at implementing some systems to crack down on this. (I know you hear me New York City!) Until that happens, just take caution and make yourself a really difficult target. I suppose if someone really wanted my purse he’d get it no matter what, but I’ll do what I can to reduce that chance.

The good news is, I’ve never felt unsafe or in fear of a serious attack in Barcelona (with the exception of New Years Eve on Las Ramblas with a frightening number of drunks scaling walls & monuments). So, given a choice, and assuming “no crime” is not an option, I’d take the petty theft over the violent crime. Plus, when you do get the opportunity to thwart one of their attempts, it’s even more rewarding than finding a geocache.

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Prague, Czech Republic

Karie on Apr 10th 2008 07:21 pm

Prague is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. It was largely preserved during the war, although it was bombed toward the end of WWII. However, any damage caused throughout the decades has been replaced or restored, in some cases with even greater magnificence.

When you walk around Prague, look up. Some of the cities most beautiful and unique treasures are on top of buildings, or sometimes even hanging over the edges. For a while it was quite popular for young, undiscovered artists to take it upon themselves to decorate the city with sculptures (sometimes in random places). They often received no fame or recognition, nor did they expect it; it was simply their contribution to their beloved city.

Even the houses are decorated. Each building has (or had) some type of unique sign by which it could be identified. Before street names & numbers existed, you could send a letter to “the house with the three flying ducks”, and the messenger would know where to deliver it.

It’s hard to imagine that such a beautiful place was under such oppression not so long ago. We took a free walking tour (yes, we’re becoming quite fond of the free walking tours, especially when we don’t have a lot of time in a particular city), and our tour guide was a girl around 30 years old named Victoria. She was a Prague native, born into communism, but her parents gave her and her brother “Western” names in hopes that they could grow up and immigrate, in order to make better lives for themselves. Thankfully now, it is not necessary for them to leave their country to find opportunities.

The city is bustling with activity, and while it was nice to be in a country that’s not on the Euro, the city is not as cheap as we were expecting. Just a few years ago it was known to be one of the best and least expensive tourist destinations, but I suppose a rise in tourism is always followed by a rise in prices. It wasn’t extreme – in fact, we might not have noticed if we had not come directly from Cesky Krumlov. It is still possible to find some great spots to eat with the locals at reasonable prices… you just have to look a lot harder.

We spent a good amount of time crossing the Charles Bridge, admiring the street performers, vendors, and the fantastic views in every direction. We also made our way up to Prague Castle, one of the largest castles in the world, and one of the oldest medieval castles in Europe. The grounds include several buildings, churches, gardens, etc. You could easily spend a whole day there. I think we spent maybe 2 hours, max.

It was our last day, and we had been traveling for 4 of the last 5 weeks. While I know this is not a lot by backpacker standards, we were tired, so we probably didn’t really give it the attention it deserved. I think the last straw for us was when we purchased a relatively expensive ticket that gave us entrance to multiple buildings on the castle premises, only to find out that the main attraction – the palace – was closed.

Why wasn’t there some sign at the ticket booth stating that it was closed? How about the ticket salesperson saying, “You know the palace is closed today, right?” Had we known it was “closed due to technical difficulties”, we would’ve skipped the package deal and bought a la carte style tickets to any other attractions that we wanted to see, which would’ve been significantly cheaper, and less irritating. #@!*%^$!

We decided we needed an attitude adjustment, so at the last minute we squeezed in funicular ride up Petrin Hill to seek out the mirror maze. I don’t even know where we heard about it, and it’s certainly not one of those attractions that tops all the “must see” lists, but it was just what we needed to boost our spirits. We goofed around for a while, and when we came back out Prague was lovely once again.

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Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Karie on Apr 7th 2008 09:59 pm

Cesky Krumlov takes the cake for the “Most Likely to Make You Want to Stay Longer and Do Nothing” award. When you plan your trip, figure out how long you want to stay, then add a day or two. It has the relaxing feeling of a beach resort, except that there are no beaches and it’s not overpriced.

It’s a charming medieval village set in what feels like the middle of nowhere (about a 3 hour bus ride from Prague). There’s a river that winds through the town, on which you can raft or kayak in the summer months, but don’t bother trying to orient yourself based on the river as you will get lost following its many twists and turns. However, as our hostel host told us when we first arrived “getting lost is just part of the experience here.”

It doesn’t take much aimless wandering before you stumble across the castle, which includes one of my favorite attractions of the city. Back in the days when the castle was still in use, the mote surrounding it was stocked with bears for protection, rather than water. The bears are still there just for nostalgia, although they are well-fed, slow-moving, and don’t look like they’d really give a rip if you fell into their mote. That happens to be my favorite kind of bear.

The town itself is pretty small, but it’s surrounded by rolling hills and snow-capped mountains, with enough hiking trails to explore for weeks on end. We even went horseback riding one afternoon. Getting to the horse stables was about a 30-minute hike, literally uphill both ways. Scott’s a pro with the horses, but this was my first time.

Much to my relief, I was able to get on my horse (Monte) without incident. Then our instructor started explaining how I was to get the horse to go, stop, turn, etc. I had a brief moment of panic when it occurred to me, “oh my gosh, I have to drive this horse.” For some reason I expected him to be like the horses at the fair that only walk in a circle so they always know exactly where to go without my help. Luckily, I was pretty much right. In fact, there wasn’t much I could do to affect Monte’s decisions, which was probably in both our best interests. We all sauntered through some beautiful meadows and forests for a while, then returned safely to the stable. It was a great experience, despite the fact that I am allergic to dust, hay, and I think, horses.

Another real treat for us was getting to eat 3 real meals per day. This is rare when we travel, but Cesky Krumlov is one of the jewels of Europe that is still reasonably priced. Perhaps another reason people come for 2 days and stay for 2 weeks. Hostel Krumlov (which I highly recommend) made great recommendations for restaurants and activities, and we also met some really cool people there, so we stayed busy (and full) the entire time… even if some times we were just busy doing nothing. It really is the kind of place where you can wander around the same streets over and over, or just sit down and relax, and never grow tired of its charm. I don’t think my words are even doing it justice. You just have to go experience it for yourself.

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Kraków, Poland and Auschwitz

Karie on Apr 4th 2008 10:58 pm

After our near miss of the flight from Vienna, we arrived in Poland and promptly took the least efficient route to our hotel. We finally identified the correct bus, which was packed to the gills, and figured it would eventually take us to city center. We’ve been to enough airports now to know that the road leading into town always looks the same… a highway, on which you can expect to pass an Ikea, Carrefour, and some random office buildings. Not Poland. It was just a 2-lane road through the countryside that reminded me of driving from Lodi to Acampo. If you don’t know where that is, I guess that is the point.

Our primary reason for coming to Kraków was to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is about an hour outside the city. There’s really not much around Auschwitz, so most people stay in Kraków then make a day trip to the largest of the former concentration camps.

I went back and forth on how much I wanted to write about Auschwitz, or if I wanted to (or should) write at all. I hesitate to impose my experience on someone else, at the risk of it affecting your own personal experience, should you ever choose to visit it yourself. There are also those people who have never visited Auschwitz and have no intentions of doing so. I was kinda one of those people. Scott almost took this leg of the trip on his own, but I later decided that it was something I… wanted isn’t the right word… needed to do? Felt like I should do? Might regret not doing? I dunno. Anyhow, I went.

Aside from some logistics (which I hope might help fellow travelers), I decided to keep the specifics to a minimum, and just share my personal experience in more general terms. However, we did post some photos (don’t worry, nothing graphic), and there are plenty of other informative websites if you are interested in learning more details about the concentration camps.

Logistics first.
We had done tons of research on different ways for making this trip. One option was to take a bus from Kraków to Auschwitz, and upon arrival we could either hire a licensed guide, or purchase some reference materials and do a self-guided tour. We have heard great reviews on both methods – just depending how independent you want to be. The “museum” is actually free to enter, and you can hire one of their guides for 39 PLN (roughly $17) per person. Even with the bus ride of 10 PLN ($4.50), either one of these options would have been both high quality and cost effective.

However, getting to Poland (from Austria) the day before had been somewhat of a mess, and we were sick of dealing with logistics at the moment. We were physically exhausted, and knew that the next day would also be emotionally exhausting, so we decided to take the easy way this time. We paid extra (about $50/person) for a tour service recommended by our hostel, which picks you up and handles everything. No thinking necessary. This was a mistake.

The tour company was See Kraków – don’t bother using them. It was nice to be picked up at the door of our hostel, but that’s where the perks ended. Upon arrival at Auschwitz, we realized that we were not receiving a specially guided tour with a smaller, more intimate group. Instead, our group was combined with 2 other minibuses and our guide was one of the same from the museum that we would have received for ½ the price if we had gone on our own (and seriously, I could have done without her dramatic pauses and voice inflections. The experience is emotional enough without her rehearsed performance). We were also disappointed that our tour did not include the brief video in the museum, which we had heard a lot about (which is included in the basic museum tour). So basically, we paid double the price for an inferior tour and a bad driver.

There are tons of other we-pick-you-up tour companies out there, and I can’t speak for the rest of them, but we both felt that See Kraków was capitalizing on emotions and not focused on providing the best possible experience for their guests. Our advice would be to get there with public transportation (which I believe runs at least hourly), then decide if you want to hire a guide, self-guide, or both. If you hire a guide you can stick around and continue exploring on your own after the tour… but you don’t have that option when your minibus is leaving without you.

I am now retracting my claws and moving on…
Sorry. My intention was not to turn this blog into my soapbox, but I thought that might be valuable information for some. If sharing our experience helps to add value to someone else’s experience, then my ranting will not be in vain.

In the grand scheme of things, the disappointments really are minor. It’s not like we were taking a tour of the chocolate museum. It’s not even about the tour at all… it’s just about an experience that can’t really be put to words. In some ways the day was easier than I had anticipated (perhaps because I had built it up so much in my mind), but some moments were every bit as gut wrenching as you would imagine.

We made the trip on April 3rd – a significant day in my family. One of my grandmothers turned 86 on this day. It was also the first anniversary of my other grandmother’s death. I was feeling a huge sense of loss before we even began. However, unlike the friends & families of the 1.5 million people who died in this concentration camp, I knew exactly what happened to my grandmother when she died of cancer. I knew where she was (and where she is now). I got to visit her in the months preceding her death, and we had more great phone & email conversations in the last few years than in my entire life previous. My family was not separated; in fact, we were reunited. I flew home from San Diego the day she died, and my uncle picked me up at the airport. I saw my brother for the first time in months. I cried with my dad. I hugged all my cousins. People I don’t even know brought over food. Despite my loss, I felt love & comfort. That was my April 3, 2007.

On April 3 of this year, the sun didn’t shine. I can’t imagine the sun ever shines in Auschwitz. The gray weather, mud & wooden barracks all blend together as if you’re watching this scene on old black & white film. The only splash of color I recall seeing was in the enormous pile of shoes on display. I know, ironic that shoes would make the biggest impact on me, right? But it hit me – someone came here wearing those and likely never left. You could tell that some people came wearing only what they had, and others came wearing their very best. They brought suitcases! We saw hundreds of them, all labeled with their names & dates of birth, and certainly containing their most valuable possessions, which were confiscated immediately upon arrival. But I imagine the worst sense of loss was in the unknown… being separated from loved ones with no clue of their fate.

I’m not interested in sharing statistics, and I don’t think it’s my place to paint the picture for you. This is just part of my picture. Despite my tearful dread of this day, somehow I left with a strange sense of peace. Heavy-hearted peace, if that’s possible. A sobering gift that can only be received with a new perspective on your own life – and your own loss.

The remainder of our time in Kraków was pretty low key. We spent the rest of that evening and parts of the next day reminiscing about what we had learned, and how we felt about it. Even touring the city of Kraków, you can almost see the scars. While the younger generation seems vibrant & fashionable, the majority look tired. The city itself has equal parts of beauty and ugliness, and it actually felt quite “foreign” compared to the (mostly Western European) countries that we have visited thus far.

One of the most interesting things in Kraków was literally stumbling across the Shroud of Turin, which is believed to be the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in after his crucifixion. Scott had scene a documentary on it, but neither of us had any clue that it was inside St. Francis of Assisi Basilica right in the center of town. It’s not every day you see something like that, and I found it to be a great symbol of hope after the sorrow we felt from the day before.

We enjoyed our time in Kraków, but possibly didn’t give it a fair chance in the shadow of the other events. Someone we met in Poland asked us why we were so interested in the holocaust, and we both struggled to answer the question. Why did I subject myself to re-living such a dark time in the history of the world? I don’t really know, except to quote Edmund Burke who said, “Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.” If I’ve become a better version of Karie, and learned to be a little more loving & grateful along the way, then I guess that was its purpose for me.

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Vienna, Austria & Bratislava, Slovakia

Karie on Apr 2nd 2008 08:39 pm

This was our first trip with sunshine since we went to Italy in September/October. How refreshing it was! I was so taken with Vienna, but I honestly don’t know if it was the beautiful city, the sophisticated culture, or just the fact that it was sunny. Probably all of the above.

I got a bit of the German vibe in Vienna, and not just because of the language. I think it was the tidiness and efficiency. The Viennese also have a soft spot for romance. Beautifully maintained (and restored) buildings, parks that beg you to stop what you’re doing and sit down for a while, appreciation for music and art, even their own waltz.

Austria claims to be the capital of classical music, and rightly so, as the home of some of the worlds most famous composers, including Mozart and Strauss, as well as one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world, the Vienna State Opera.

It costs 15 Euros to tour the Wiener Staatsoper, or Vienna State Opera, and considerably more for a seat at an opera or ballet. However, we had heard that if you wait in line a couple hours prior to a performance, there’s a possibility of getting “standing tickets” for only 3.50 Euros. Hmm…. 15€ to visit the building while it’s empty, or 3.50€ to see it with a live performance.

Our “tip” said to arrive about 2 hours in advance, buy your tickets, then grab a quick bite to eat before the show. We ended up stopping by about 3 hours in advance, simply because we were in the neighborhood and wanted to check out where the peasant line would be. We did find the line, and the 30 people that were already in it! Let me tell you – these people were not messing around. Most of them had brought small folding stools, books, snacks… many of them were carrying gigantic bags with all sorts of unknown supplies. This was apparently an all day event for many of them, and probably one that they do with some regularity.

We waited about an hour and a half, snagged the tickets, and thought we’d have just enough time to walk back to our hotel, clean ourselves up and find a quick dinner. We noticed all our fellow line-waiters were going directly into the auditorium, so we ran instead… quickly put on the nicest clothes we had (which weren’t that nice) and choked down the dinner of choice for opera lovers around the world – take-away pizza. We made it back just in time to claim our 1 square foot of standing room for the performance of Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss. The opera house is actually quite small, so even the standing area is in a nice location. You feel a bit like the peanut gallery standing in the back in your jeans, while the closest person to you that actually paid for a seat is wearing a ball gown, but we were still pretty happy with our arrangement.

We had a few days in Vienna, so after we tackled all the major sights (and sat in a few parks), we decided to take a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia. Did I just say that? Who takes a day trip to Slovakia?? There are several excursions we could’ve chosen, but I honestly think we might have picked this one just so we could say we took a day trip to Slovakia.

Apparently it’s actually pretty common. There is a “EURegio Bratislava Ticket” at a discounted price of 14€, which includes round trip train from Vienna, as well as public transportation within Bratislava. It was perfect for a day trip. Not too expensive, but still sufficient time to tour the small city. It has a ton of charm, and some great views if you hike up to the castle.

Our time in Vienna (and Bratislava) was so enjoyable and relaxing. That was until we got on the wrong train to go to the airport. The ride should’ve been 25 minutes. About 15 minutes into it Scott started to get suspicious. About 20 minutes into it we decided to get off, then stood on the platform and looked at each other for a few minutes. We didn’t have time to go all the way back and wait for the correct train, but we also weren’t going to find a taxi in this remote part of town. We ended up taking a different train back to a different station, where we knew we’d be more likely to find a cab. We gave it our best shot at speaking English with a German accent (combined with hand gestures of course) telling him to go really fast. Our $6 train ride turned into a stressful $50 cab ride, but we made it, and we were on our way to Poland.

Sometimes while we’re waiting in an airport or train station we like to count the number of people we see running by with desperate looks on their face as they drag their luggage behind them. This day, it was our turn to provide the entertainment.

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