Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Not So Typical Day

I have some more free time these days so I thought I would share the experiences of my past 2 days to give you a more intimate idea of my travels. Of course I picked the most trying times of my travels to blog about, simply for your entertainment!

OCT 27
I spent the day at a truffle convention in Alba. On the way there I helped two nice ladies on the train, lost and looking for the same event. We got to know eachother and in the end they invited me in the future to work on their farm in South Africa! They really were quite exceptional people and have got me seriously considering their proposal.

Later on at the truffle convention I met up with someone whom I had made friends with over a few glasses of wine the night before at Salone del Gusto, the Slow Food annual event in Torino. It was a wonderful day stuffed with truffle history, and samples of wine and olive oils, but no free samples of truffles, since they cost around 4 euros per gram! I was not planning on going back to Torino so I had everything I possessed with me. That is, a large backpack, a smaller but equally heavy backpack on my chest, which contains my laptop and camera gear, and a bag with some food, among other Salone del Gusto paraphernalia. I had to lock up my large backpack at a bar adjacent to the station. Fortunately I have many locks with me, so I secured my bag to a radiator and locked the zippers together.

After the event I had to go to Budapest and decided to get there fast and cheap. There was poor train access from Alba, also Wifi is rare to find anywhere in Italy. Fortunately I had looked up my itinerary the day before, all there was to do was ask where the bus stop in Alba was. I ended up taking a bus to Asti, then from there took four different trains: to Tortona, to Milano, to Mestre (just outside Venice) and finally to Trieste. At Milano, I nearly missed my transfer to Mestre because my arriving train was late. I had to "sprint," although it was more like an awkward trudging, all heavily laden with backpacks and gear, to catch my next departing train.

OCT 28
I landed in Trieste at 2:30 am. Coupled with the daylight savings I had an extra hour to kill in the dead of night in a small town at the extreme east end of Italy. The train station was occupied by many homeless people in sleeping bags or under blankets. One was awake and approached me gently. A bit scared, I gave him my change, which was less than one euro anyway. Once outside the station I found a hostel I previously mapped out. But when I got there it was closed so I ended up wandering the empty city in search of a place to loiter safely. Meanwhile, the wind started to severely howl and rain started to sprinkle the concrete and asphalt. I was wearing my warmest clothes: just one thin Marmot jacket over a t-shirt and jeans with holes in the knees. I ended up finding a karaoke bar to chill out until 4 am. I went back to the station where I managed to slip in a few hours sleep on the cold marble floor. In hindsight, showing up to a hostel in a small town past midnight had been a horrible idea.

After waking up and inquiring to the now open ticket office for trains to Budapest, I learned that trains did not run out of Italy towards Budapest, except for a circuitous route back through Vienna, which only ran as an overnight train. How ridiculous! Fortunately I found buses leaving soon out of this godforsaken town. However, the best route, which was through Slovenia, had already left, so I took another route through Rijeka, Croatia. I've gotten pretty used to these inconveniently circuitous travel itineraries by now. Of course, it was a really beautiful ride which made up for its inconvenience, a reminder of my time traversing this beautiful countryside not more than a month ago.
The countryside of Croatia
The train from Rijeka to Zagreb was nice too. Unfortunately, it got to Zagreb late, and I missed my transfer to Budapest by a few minutes. On the plus side I had visited this city before so was already familiar with it.

Fast forward to the present, and I am sitting in a hostel I stayed at during my previous visit to Zagreb. Earlier on I had eaten a large and cheap pizza, also a revisit, and tonight I won't have to sleep on cold marble, so now I am a happy duck.

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