Yeah, I know what you may be thinking and no, we didn’t plan on going to neither Zagreb nor Ljubljana. This is going to be quite a brief blog post but it’s more to keep my family up to date on what I’m doing.
The original plan was to leave Budapest on the evening of the 6th and get an overnight train to Pula. We would then have all day in Budapest and then on the way to Pula we would have to change at Vienna, Villach, Ljubljana and then arrive in Pula. As you may have read/seen/heard in the news lately, there are thousands of migrants, mostly from Syria, that are fleeing their country in hope of finding a better life in Austria and Germany. Sadly, I’m not quite sure what happened but the two days before we arrived there was a lockdown and none of the migrants were allowed on a train to Austria (and then on to Germany) so crowds were building outside Budapest’s main station, Keleti. When we arrived we got off two stations earlier and got a direct tram to our hostel and other than a few police hanging around the station, there was absolutely no sign that all of this was happening.
The day we arrived in Budapest, they were starting to let people on trains so we just had our fingers crossed that they would be able to clear the backlog before we wanted to get a train to Vienna! Sadly that didn’t go to plan and on our last full day, while I was in bed ill, my friends went to the station to discuss our possibilities. They said that walking in and out of the station was one of the saddest things they’ve ever seen and they had to hold back the tears. I was watching videos etc in bed and I found it hard to believe that all of this was happening in a European Capital city! The woman at the desk said that we can get a train to the Austrain border but she can’t guarantee what will happen after that. Together with my friends she looked at the other possibilities of getting to Pula.
We had a good think about trains, planes and even automobiles. After a lot of stress we decided our best route is to go to Zagreb for one night (6 hour direct train) and then Ljubljana for one night (2.5 hour direct train) and finally a 4.5 hour train with two changes to Pula.
When we arrived at the station on the 6th, although it was obviously sad that people are in this situation, the situation looked like it had improved massively. There were stalls of volunteers handing out donated clothes, shoes and other necessities which was nice and I even noticed that someone had graffitied “thank u people of Hungary” on a wall which made me smile. I really hope all these people do find a better, safer life after all the troubles they’re going through!
It’s been a bit of a weird vibe because the last time we had our passports checked was when we flew from London to Paris and now, crossing each border, we’re having our passports thoroughly checked by each countries police at the border. We’ve also seen them looking underneath the train to see if anyone is hiding. Despite all this, we’ve felt really safe which is good!
Our journey to Zagreb was a bit of a mare though. We went out for a nice breakfast in the morning (although I still felt very ill) and we picked up a small lunch on the way to the station. A few hours into our 6 hour journey, the train conductor comes along and says that we all have to get off the train at the next station and then get a 6 minute bus to the next station to then carry on on a train. We then got off onto train tracks (and I hurt my knee a bit when I jumped off the step) and onto one of three busses. It was pretty full so we all sat separately but I had a good chat with a guy from Australia about our travels around Europe. The journey was definitely not 6 minutes long and I tried my best not to breathe on my new friend and give him my illness but eventually we got to the station and got on the train. Whilst walking down the corridor on the train, I bumped into my friend Sarah again! So me and my two friends sat with her and her friend which was nicer than sitting with complete strangers! Our train was very delayed and, unlike the first train, the second train didn’t have a restaurant or cafe on it so we were all starving! We only had to walk 300m to our hostel where, after some food we crashed for the night with a Finnish girl in our room too.
The train from Zagreb to Ljubljana was pretty smooth and we all managed to have a good rest as I was still ill and the other two had slept badly. We’d picked up lots of food beforehand and ate it on the train.
Our hostel in Ljubljana was very homely and clean which was comforting considering how tired we all were! We walked 15 minutes into the city centre and it’s beautiful! It all seems very new/clean but keeps the same, old style throughout the city. We went for dinner in a Mediterranean restaurant and I finally had the spaghetti bolognese that I’ve been craving since getting ill!
We all slept awfully again. There was a guy sharing our room who apparently walked in and out twice (but I didn’t notice) and there were trains every few minutes powering past the hostel. We still forced ourselves up fairly early, had some breakfast at the hostel and then went back into the city centre to do some more exploring. All we really did was climb a really steep hill up to the castle which, again, is old but looks very new/clean. The castle used to be used as a prison in WW1 for Italian POWs and that’s basically all I can tell you about it!
We then had the worst journey yet to Pula. We knew we had two train changes but just after we crossed the border we were put on a bus then a train then a bus then a train…. Then we couldn’t find. A taxi and a woman said they’re horribly expensive and told us to get a bit that we couldn’t find but eventually we got here and it’s lovely.
This probably seems like quite an uninformative, moany blog but it really has been a rotten few days having to make all these changes when we were meant to be relaxing on a beach and having to do it all ill too is horrible!!
I’m sure my next blog post will be a lot cheerier as its my birthday!!!!!!