Day 1: London

My first day in Europe began with an early breakfast on the plane and an early 5am landing at Heathrow. I got off the plane and with no wait got my baggage and decided to head to the house I was spending the night, a local experience in Croydon. I purchased an oyster card and took the bus from the station headed to my homestay, all the while emersing myself in the city by keeping my eyes glued to the window. The first thing that struck me were the number of buses on the road and the way the traffic operates despite the cars packed on the road and single lanes for traffic on almost all streets.
After heading further away from the airport the scenes of small houses in rows began to crop up more and more, contributing to that look of London that I was beginning to really enjoy. The sun had risen before 6 and so it was quite hot by the time I got off the bus (I was wearing thermals) but I hauled my suitcase to the tram to take that down a few stops, to stay with some lovely friends of my parents.
By taking the tram back to the train station (and the bus stop) I was able to take the overground into the city. I then walked from Victoria London to Westminster and got slightly lost but enjoyed the warm weather and exploring. I met a friend from Melbourne, Nayana, at Westminster Abbey and together we took the train to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The day was quite hot, so after walking through some amazing exhibitions in the V&A (Michelangelo’s David for example) we went and sat on the lawn near the fountain and watched children play in them. I feel asleep for 30 mins but the day’s slow pace was nice for my first day travelling.
We then headed to the science museum which was majorly focused on aerospace and astrophysics though there was a small section on psychology and genetics. Since both Nayana and I studied science we found the exhibition quite nice despite being incredibly jet-lagged.
Well, after the museum hopping, both of which were free (most museums in London are free, and really have amazing exhibitions!) we took the underground to Green Park and visited a good friend, Liz. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to see us (I used the term friend quite liberally) but we did see her lovely house and the lush green gardens surrounding.
I took the underground, overground and the tram back to the house which was easy by now and becoming comfortable in a new place. I got home and had a bite to eat before falling asleep on the couch.
The couple I stayed with, Vipul and Anusha, were so nice. They took me in, made me feel comfortable and we’re really quite lovely and generous. Anusha, is a Bharatanatyam dancer which is incredibly exciting for me and Vipul is a photographer who went to university with my parents.
Day 2: London/Istanbul

I took the bus the next morning back to Heathrow to head off to Istanbul to see Ben. The flight was fairy uneventful but when I got out of the airport Ben was there to pick me up, which was lovely, and he showed me the way back to the hostel via train and tram. As I only landed in the evening I didn’t see much of the city but we did go have dinner down the road from our hostel. The hostel’s first impression wasn’t great but by the next morning, breakfast and tea had changed my mind and I quite liked the place.
Day 3: Istanbul

My third day travelling was a very busy day! I woke up at 6 which was far too early since I slept at midnight. I went for a walk in the morning down the main street near the hostel, just to investigate the area. After passing numerous cats and  We went downstairs for breakfast and then got our stuff ready and headed out. We walked to Galata tower and looked over Istanbul. The tower was used to spot fires, and as a watch tower and is the second oldest tower in the world, overall, very cool.

We then headed to the Sultanahmet Mosque, or Blue Mosque in English. The Blue Mosque was built in 7 years between 1609-1616. The Blue Mosque is one of the only mosques with 6 towers and faces the Hagia Sofia, our next stop. However, heading inside the Blue Mosque we were asked to put on robes and cover our knees and shoulders (and me my head). Inside, we looked at the high ceilings, covered in painted patterns, and with chandeliers hanging off low to the ground.
Next we went to Hagia Sofia, an old (300AD) church that was Islamised in 1453 when the Turks invaded Constantinople. The halls are adorned with gold mosaics of Jesus on the walls, most of which have survived. We walked through the corridors, ramps that lead up to a mezzanine, occupied during prayers by the Emperor. This looked out onto the centre of the church/mosque.

We began to feel peckish so headed to get some lunch before going to look at the Obelisk of Theodosius, taken from Egypt and re-erected in 4th century AD, and the Serpent column, a bronze structure relocated from Delphi.

While reading the signs at the Obelisk a man approached me wanting to sell carpets and asked if Ben and I were on our honeymoon (!!!).

We then headed to the Grand Bazaar (Büyük Çarsi) one of the world’s largest covered bazaars and is considered to be one of the world’s first shopping centres, with over 4000 shops. I purchased some small Nazar Bonjuk pendants and admired a bracelet that I later purchased. When we first entered the grand bazaar we had hats on, a pretty uncommon trait in Turkey so we must have stood out as tourists because a young boy ran into me and knocked me a little bit, we suspect he was trying to steal my camera (luckily he didn’t).

We then walked back to the hostel and later went to out to dinner on a street about 10 minutes from our hostel, a big shopping street/mall. We had Gozlemes and a Manti, small meat ravioli in yoghurt. We then walked to the Galata bridge and had tea on the walkway underneath it before heading back to the hostel for bed. The bridge has two walkways underneath it through which people are able to walk, which hangs lower than the upper walkway and road. The implications of this is that all boats must fit under and between the walkways if they wish to pass!

It was a big day and we had walked everywhere (in total over 30km) so bed was well deserved.
Day 4: Istanbul

Day four was the chill day following a big sightseeing day previously. I still got up early and went for a little walk, to get some simit and water. Once Ben woke up and we had breakfast, we walked down the main road near our hostel to explore a new side, and had been discussion the idea of taking a ferry when we stumbled across a ferry tour. We decided we wanted a more relaxed day and so bought two tickets for the longest tour (but silly us, we didn’t bring bathers!). The tickets we bought were for a cruise that would take us up the Bosphorus almost to the Black sea to a place called Yoros Castle. The journey to the castle took about an hour and I had a little nap because I was tired and it was quite warm. Ben and I took some pictures on the ferry as it passed by a lot of nice palaces (a large German embassy spanning 17 hectares and some great suspension bridges). When we arrived at Anadolukavagi it was almost 30 degrees and lunch time so we decided to get some food from a local restaurant. After lunch we walked up the mountain in the sun to get to the Castle, and boy was it worth it. We could see down the strait into where it empties into the Black Sea. The Bosphorus was a marvellous aquamarine colour, all in all a pretty spectacular view. Since it was pretty hot we decided to walk down the mountain and to get a drink. Once we’d gotten to the bottom we found a little store selling food so we got some water and some ice creams and walked to the dock to see if we could cool down near the water.
There wasn’t a visible way of hopping into the water but when we looked across the dock we saw a group of locals swimming in the water so we tried to find a way to get there. After walking through some back streets, we were able to take off our bags and leave them under an arched doorway that was covered in vines with orange flowers. The water was cool and clear, creating a relaxed environment that complimented the children screaming and playing in the water around us.

About 15 minutes before our boat was to leave we left the water and walked back to the dock to board. Once on the boat, the warm weather and the gentle rocking created the environment for another nap which I embraced. Once off the boat, Ben and I headed back to the hostel and bought some cheese at a store. We looked to buy some alcohol which was incredibly expensive (Ben had just been in Germany where a can of beer was 29 euro cents). We later found out from Özlem that the reason alcohol is so expensive is due to the increased Islamic influence on Istanbul and the governments anti-alcohol sentiments.

That night we headed out to Karakoy, an area on the East of the Golden Horn river, along the water, to find something to eat. We found a sweet little restaurant in which we were able to go upstairs and watch the boats and people go past and the sun set. Once we’d finished dinner we saw the moon was large and red, hanging low to the water so we took some pictures and walked back to the hostel. We we’re both pretty tired from the day and being out in the sun so we had a nice early night.

 

 

Day 5: Istanbul

The fifth day travelling was the last full day in Istanbul. We didn’t have any big plans except that we we’re meeting one of Mum and Dad’s friends, Özlem, a local! I’d managed to sleep in a bit so when I woke up, a bit later, I had breakfast with Ben. The breakfast had been similar every day, a slice of feta, olives, simit and some other bread, usually with orange slices and some jam. Özlem later told us that the traditional Turkish breakfast often consisted of white cheese and bread. After breakfast, we headed down Galata bridge towards the grand bazaar, before passing through there we walked through the spice bazaar where we picked up some baklava and I bought a scarf, a beautiful multicolour (blue and orange) pashmina.
We then walked through some uncovered streets with shops, until we reached the Grand Bazaar. There was an arch indicating when we had reached, and armed guards blocking the way forcing you through an airport metal detecting arch. This recent increased level of security in tourist spots, according to Özlem has been the product of unrest in the Middle East, attacks on Turkey and again the increased Islamic influence on Turkish governance. Overall, quite a sad transition, especially those who knew the old more cosmopolitan Turkey, so see the descent into militaristic, Islamic culture.
In the Grand Bazaar I got a little bracelet and a pashmina for Maike, since I forgot the presents I got her in London! We then headed back to the hostel to have a little rest before meeting Özlem at her work. On our walk to the university where Özlem works, the uphill roads made for big competition and we got pulled over by police and asked for passports. A nice man did direct us to the right building and Özlem recognised me immediately when she saw me! Özlem greeted us both and took us into the beautiful and big Architecture building, took us upstairs and got us tea and a nice rice pudding dessert. We then went and sat in the square in the middle of the university, that has small byzantine structures, pretty amazing old relics in a new world. She then took us for a traditional Turkish meal at a small joint 5 minutes from the university. The meal was not from a menu, but a routine that dictated the order in which food was brought out.
First, a drink, Raki (pronounced Rah-Ker) that is an aniseed drink that is mixed with water upon serving. The saying now used in mockery of the Islamic government’s crackdown on alcohol is “Are we in a mosque?”.
The food is small plates (6-7) of food ranging from fried eggplant to yoghurt dip, called meyhane. It is brought out with bread that has been cooked so the top and bottom half separate to form a ball, similar to how roti’s are made. This filled me up pretty quickly, but it was only an appetizer!
Next they brought a kabap with flat bread, which was delicious. After the meal fresh fruit was brought to the table, watermelon, cherries, pear, peach. I dug into the cherries, I can’t remember the last time I had had some!

The meal was lovely but the company was great, we talked to Özlem about politics, travel, Istanbul and life. She was very warm and generous and it was so lovely to meet a friend of my parents from so long ago.

We said goodbye to Özlem at the train station and walked through Taksim square, which was a good place to avoid according to Özlem, and the next day, I found out why. But after walking down Tarlabasi Blv to our hostel we got some water and headed back out for a nice walk. Most nights we only went to bed at 11pm and spent the later part of the night walking around and just chilling in the neighbourhood. It was pretty great, no complaints, except our roommate in the hostel always went to bed so early and turned the lights off!

 

 

Day 6: Istanbul/Athens

The day started off slow but we wanted to walk around a bit before coming back to the hostel until we realised we didn’t have accommodation for the night. So we walked back to the hostel and booked a hotel in Athens for the night. After that we bought some bread and went back to the hostel, did the last bit of packing and then left for the bus stop at Taksim.
The walk was long and uphill but we walked through Tarlabasi Blv to Taksim. Özlem had previously warned us that we should stay clear of Taksim. Ben went to find the HavaBus (bus to airport) stop, and left me with the luggage which was quite intimidating. The atmosphere suggested I might get mugged so Ben and I went to look for the stop together and got directions from a number of people. When we got there we waited in a long line that trailed down the road and got the last two seats on the second bus headed to Sabiha Gocken aiport!
The trip was supposed to take 2 hours but we were surprised when we got there in less than an hour, plenty of time to check in, get a burger and Ben to have a nap while a wrote what we had done. The flight was fairly uneventful and we arrived in Athens at 8 and took a bus into the city. We picked up keys for our accommodation and took a taxi to the apartment.
It would be an understatement to say we were disappointed, but more importantly it was incredibly hot and we didn’t have a fan or an aircon! I ended up feeling quite sick and tried to get an early night, but I think Ben was struggling to sleep in the heat.

 

Day 7: Athens

The first full day in Athens was incredibly hot, around 38 degrees which wasn’t ideal. We started the morning by moving our things to the youth hostel we’d booked for the next three nights and giving the keys back for the apartment. Since we’d had a late night the last night and missed breakfast we hadn’t eaten for hours and we’re ravished. On the street where we returned the keys we found a restraint and got souvlakis, which were great.
We then decided to walk to the Acropolis, and got there around 12:45 but couldn’t go in because the site was shut between 1-5. Since it was so hot we went to the Acropolis museum, which had ceramics and stone work from 400 BC. Some of the vases depicted stories of marriage, in which the woman was supposed to give her childhood toy to the temple of Athena to show her maturation into an adult.
We decided to walk to see some other sites, so we walked to Hadrian’s arch and the Temple of Athenian Zeus. Both the sites were visible but the temple was gated and about 50m from the gate. The structures were both beautiful but what stated to struck me was that a lot of tourist spots were inadequately set up for tourists. There were few water fountains (except one at the Acropolis – hallelujah).
On our walk home we passed by the Zappion Exhibition & Congress Hall, a large building with marble floors that were so cool I fell asleep on them before being awoken by a disapproving guard. We went and had dinner at a little souvlaki shop we had found (a favourite – we had dins there the next two nights too) and picked up some food from Lidl for the next day.

The day didn’t progress much except we went back to the hostel and realised we could get ferry tickets for cheap to Aegina, so we planned to go there the next morning. We also met two lovely Australian girls in the hostel, one of whom played guitar and sang in the evening which was nice.

 

Day 8: Athens – Aegina

The morning started a bit later than we expected but we got ready and took the train to the ferry port: Piraeus. From there we bought 8 euro tickets to Aegina, a one-hour ferry from Athens. We found our ferry and went and sat on the seats at the back. The temperature today was a much more bearable 37 degrees Celsius. So with that, we decided to look for somewhere to sit inside. We found a haven with cushioned seats and air-conditioning and sat down and I fell asleep. When we got to Aegina, we walked down the dock, a small place filled with sail boats. All the people standing outside the restaurants try to convince you to come into their shops but we kept walking to try find some sand. We came to a small place with sand and clear water that looked sweet but there was very little shade and it was still quite hot so we got some seats next to the water and got some beer. Ben has been raving about how cheap the beer is in Germany and I can’t wait to get there. We stayed by the water for a couple of hours and both had a little nap. A particularly daring fish followed Ben around in the water, and the dip we bought from Lidl didn’t taste nice warm. A little hungry and a lot hot, we headed back to get a ticket back to Athens. I fell asleep on the ferry back..
When we got back we had showers and headed out for dinner. We went to the same souvlaki place we enjoyed the night before and had an early night because we were both so tired.

 

Day 9: Athens

The next morning, we woke and had some dry chocolate breakfast cereal since we’d forgotten to buy milk. We also had some juice and got some snacks together and headed out to the Acropolis. When we got there the line was around 300 meters long. We decided since it was so hot, that we would come back in the evening since it’s open till 8pm. However, there was a hill nearby that we could climb up and see a lot of Athens from. We did that and could not only see a lot of the city but could see the Acropolis and other surrounding hills. We decided to climb a different hill and got to see the Monument of Filopappou. We then followed the road down and went to see the Ancient Agora.

By this time, I had a bit of dehydration and so we went and had lunch and drank a lot of water to try to get some energy. After that we headed back to the hostel to have a nap before going out in the evening.

The main site in Athens is the Acropolis so when we had chilled a bit at the hostel, we took the train back there and went and got tickets (with no queue!)

The Acropolis was pretty fantastic. The scale of the stone buildings on the hill, it is extraordinary to think that without manufacturing machines they were able to build such large structures. The Pantheon has 8 pillars x 17 pillars which stand in the middle of the hill, towering over the Temple of Athena Nike and the Odean of Herodes Atticus.
The Parthenon was badly damaged in the 1600s, when it was hit by a cannonball and exploded due to its large gunpowder store.
After an hour or so of walking around we headed to Sytagma square and walked down the main road and looked at the church at the end of the road.

We then headed back to the hostel and had some dinner and played some cards. When we went back to the room the other people in the room invited us to drinks so we went down the road and had some tequila shots and chatted. After that we headed back to the hostel for some zzz.

 

 

Day 10: Athens/ Naples

Ben woke me up at 8:45 because we needed to get leave at 10. Turns out they were pretty relaxed about us hanging out in the room for 15-20 minutes after 10 since we had given the key back and stripped the sheets. We had to leave by latest 11 so we got a taxi to the train station and took the airport line. Greece has a lot of reduced ticket prices for students which was good. When we got to the airport we checked our luggage and headed to the gate to have a little chill out before boarding.

It was quite nice to get away from the unbearable heat of Athens. The flight was fairly average but it was so bright! My sunglasses have proven to not be dark enough and I got sunburnt through them so they didn’t provide very much protection.

Ben slept through the screaming baby on the flight while we listened to the Rubens and I wrote the last couple of days of this little mini diary.

When we got to Napoli we took a bus from the airport into the main train station, Naples Centrale and bought a ticket on the Circumvesuviana line to Torre Annunziata and started walking to where we thought our hotel was. When we couldn’t find it, we asked one of the men standing outside the building where we had to go. Since they didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Italian we had to use google translate and after 30 minutes and me feeling quite sick we took the train back to Naples. Our hotel was a 5-minute walk from the Central Train station but the Google Trips had directed us 20km away! After we found our hostel both of us we’re exhausted so we laid down and showered before heading out to dinner.
We wanted to get some pizza and headed down some streets to the south west of the city. We had some nice dinner and a local beer (Nastro Azzuro) and were pretty surprised to be charged for the table and for service.

After dinner, we went for a bit of a walk before going back to the hotel for an early night.

 

Day 11: Naples

I had turned the air-conditioning off over the night and so ben woke up at 5:30 because it was too hot and was looking out at the sun rising from our amazing balcony that looked over Naples and onto Vesuvius. I went out to have a look at the sunrise over Vesuvius too.

Our first day in Napoli, we decided since we didn’t have much time in Naples we would check out a lot of the churches and other local things, such as walking through streets, which I love to do and see the city from a more insider way. First we just walked to the south west, walking between a lot of small paved streets that were shaded due to the sheer walls of the houses on either side. All the houses are brightly coloured and have many balconies from which clothes are hung, a repetitive scene across the city.

Since I have never been to any European churches, we headed to the district with a lot of churches and chapels decorated by renaissance painters. I was stunned by the intricate and ornate decorations, high ceilings covered in paintings and the beautiful mosaics, on the floor and the walls, often with gold, which we also saw in the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. One of the churches also had stone carvings of people that were inlaid on the ground which had a barrier around them since people had walked over them so often they we’re almost featureless. In the little tourist shops on the streets we were walking down, we saw a lot of small red chili shaped charms, red and often with a little crown. I have been collecting charms from this trip and so I bought a small one made of coral, vowing to research the mythology behind it.
– Interlude, the Cornicelli: not actually a chili, the Cornicelli is supposed to represent a ram’s horn and is a charm used to ward of the evil eye. A stem of coral is often used for the same purpose.
I also saw a lot of a character that had a black mask, a puppet from a traditional Italian play that is the son of two men and inherits characteristics from both and is an interplay between two separate identities.
We kept walking, to Nouvo Castle, which closed at 2pm on Sundays, so we didn’t go in. and then to the Royal Palace, where we got an audio guide, which helped a great deal. The Palace took us a long time to get through since there we’re so many rooms and the Palace was enormous. The entrance of the palace opens into a large white marble staircase which has two figures on either side, four in total; Justice, Clemency, Prudence and Strength carved in white marble. Each room in the palace had fabric walls, and almost every room had tapestries woven with silk and silver, or large paintings and portraits in the room. The rooms we’re still intact and all the furniture was still well kept, and the velvet wasn’t completely ruined.
Almost all the rooms had antique clocks, one of the anti-chambers even had 4 clocks. Down one of the corridors, the rooms had alternating shades of red-gold-red for their walls. After the palace we went to get gelato and the woman gave us 4 cones which may have been overkill for the amount of ice cream she gave us. Since the palace is near the water we ate our gelato and looked out over the water to Sorrento and Vesuvius. Then we decided to go to Castle Ovo but couldn’t find the entrance, we did however see a lot of people jumping off the rocks and swimming around in there and it was pretty hot and we were a bit jealous. It was nice to see that Italians are pretty good about body consciousness and most people were okay with being in bikinis. Kudos.
Since we’d been walking around a bit and were a bit tired we decided to go back before going to get dinner. It had been a bit of a big walking day, around 18km and we we’re a bit knackered so we went back to the hotel to plan our day to Sorrento and Pompeii.

 

Day 12: Naples – Sorrento – Pompeii

Second day in Napoli! Except in the morning we got on a train to Pompeii and walked around the old city for a while. The audio guide was 12 euros on top of the 15 euro ticket so we decided to skip the guide, which was a mistake since the tour would have been useful. Very few places in the ruins were labelled and even fewer were in English or even had a description. But we did capture some of the things the tours were saying when we passed them. For example, the location of the red light district, the lead pipes located in the city while also seeing the inside of some of the buildings with their short, stone beds.
We walked up a hill near what looked like the edge of the town and looked across the city which once housed 20,000 people, almost half of whom left when they saw the volcano.
After exploring, we went back to the train to get to Sorrento. The original plan had been to stay in Amalfi, not Naples but we had decided to stay in Naples and do a day trip to Amalfi. Once we got to Sorrento it was 1 and we wanted to get in the water, not in a bus so we got some lunch, chilled out and then tried to find a public beach. Since Sorrento is basically cliff faces, we struggled to find a beach, we did find some private beds but it was hard to access the water so we decided to head to the bit of beach about 50m wide that was not privatised. The water was actually quite cold but it was good to cool down and also it was beautiful and crystal clear, so no complaints.
After a couple of hours of sitting by the beach, we walked up the stairs and ramp carved from the cliff face, providing a beautiful view of the water, people and boats. After walking through the backstreets of Sorrento we decided to head back, not before seeing 10s of shops selling the same product; usually the same bottle of Limoncello, aprons and other lemon products. We took the train back and it was still quite hot but passing through the beautiful Italian countryside made it worth it.
There was a couple sitting in front of us, well just a boy with his girlfriend on his lap. This was of importance because Italians are said to be sexual in public and the couple were kissing a lot, the girl even licked the boy’s whole face at one point. This continued until the man sitting next to them couldn’t deal with them leaning on him so he told them off. All in all, quite amusing.
We headed back to the hotel and had a beer with dinner while we watched some shows.

 

Day 13: Naples/ Rome

Both Ben and I had been dying for some Pasta and haven’t been able to find anywhere to eat it. Though Christopher, Ben’s brother sent us a picture of him eating pesto in Rome so the time in Rome might be the place to feed the pesto craving.
Today was the day we went to Rome! Excited to use our Eurail passes we headed to the station to validate our passes and then managed to just make a slow train heading to Rome.

 

Day 14: Rome

Day 15: Rome

Day 16: Rome

Day 17: Rome/Florence

Day 18: Florence

Day 19: Florence

Day 20: Florence

Day 21: Florence/Venice

Day 22: Venice

 

Day 23: Venice

On our second day in Venice we decided to head back to Murano to have a look at the glass blowing in action. The quickest way to get to Murano was to walk past St Mark’s square, past the hospital and get to the bus stop that would go straight to Murano. When we got to the islands, there was a man directing us “over the bridge on the right” to see free glass blowing. When we got into the working room we were able to see two men make two glass cups. Though it was pretty cool to watch, Ben and I were both expecting them to make the cool knick-knacks we kept seeing in the stores on Murano and in Venice. The show finished pretty quickly, so we checked out the store connected to the workshop before heading to the main canal that we’d walked down the day before. The day was hot, and I start to fade in the heat, so before heading home we got some yummy gelato (mango) and took the boat back.

 

Day 24: Venice/ Vienna

We woke up at 8 and since I’ve been pretty tired every day we decided to chill out a bit so we made our lunch and dinner for the overnight train while we ate dinner. It was the day to see the Biennale in Venice so when we’d got our food we walked down to the waterbus stop to take the bus to Giardini, the spot where the first part of the Biennale is housed. We spent 2-3 hours in the exhibition, which was a collection of many artists with many themes. Ben liked the video of the man talking about flight and the evolution of human flight, while I had preference for the bound books, particularly the Japanese ones and the garden. The garden is a place where the artist chooses people to give a gift, that they are asked to open the next time they encounter beauty and the gift is the story of somebody else’s experience with beauty.

We spent a couple of hours in the exhibition and got some coffee when we finished. We then decided to go to the next part of the exhibition but it was hot and we were tired so we got some gelato and decided to head to San Marco Square and have a drink.
We ended up going to the Rialto bridge to have a drink and buying our bus tickets to the train station. I then ended up getting a larger leather bag and Ben got a green t-shirt.

After we got back to the apartment, we got our stuff ready and went to the train station. The train was actually on time which was a shock for Italy, and we had a booth with two English guys who were travelling together. Then I decided to sleep and Ben edited the vlog he had filmed throughout the day.

 

Day 25: Vienna

The day began early with a lot of periodic waking up on the train. Ben had slept roughly 4 hours but I went to bed a lot earlier so got in some hours before the other guys in our booth wanted to sleep. When I woke up at 6:30 the train was passing through some nice Austrian countryside. The train was from Monaco to Vienna but we only got it from Venice and when it looked like it was about to head through Slovenia it took a sharp turn, went west and passed through Salzburg before heading to Vienna. It was only 8am so Ben and I headed downstairs, off the platform and onto the benches where we enjoyed some WiFi and got some breakfast and lunch for later. We then took our stuff and walked down the road to the park opposite the Austrian Gallery Belvedere. We listened to some podcasts, ate some biscuits and asked important questions; how come we never see dead ducks in ponds? After we’d sat in the park for a couple of hours and Ben had a nap, we headed to our Airbnb apartment to check in. We had picked up some brochures at the station so when we we’re ready to go out in the evening we decided to head to Rathaus (or city hall) where there was an Austrian film festival and lots of different, international food. Ben and I both got burgers before going to watch the movie; a kid’s opera with our sangria. But we didn’t manage to stay awake during the whole thing because the train ride the night before wasn’t amazing. The problem with the summer here has been that the average lowest temperature is still in the 20s, which makes it hard to sleep and the Airbnb in Vienna didn’t have a fan let alone an air conditioner. Nonetheless I slept well!

Day 26: Vienna

Day 27: Vienna

Day 28: Vienna

Day 29: Vienna/Budapest

Day 30: Budapest

We spent our first day in Budapest by going to the Buda castle, on the other side of the river. We walked through the museum after walking up the hill and I was so worn down by the heat that I got lunch and went back to the Airbnb for a while. After we’d cooled down a bit and had cold showers we headed out to the parliament house and the two underground museums that accompanied the building. Unfortunately, we needed guided tours to get into the building which were all booked out and the

 

Day 31: Budapest (Ben’s Birthday!)

 

Day 32: Budapest/ Prague

The morning started out with a very drunk Benjamin and a very sober Soraya heading home from the club. Ben was feeling sick from the number of drinks he had drunk and so at the fourth club we hung around for a bit before heading back to bed. Ben was feeling a bit sick so we stayed up for a bit but then as soon as he lay down he was out like a light which made it easy for me to watch a bit of Gossip girl before sleeping. I woke up around 8 to make sure we were all packed and had everything for the train, including a bottle of water I’d made sure was frozen, to avoid the fiasco of the previous train (not windows or air conditioning). I had made some eggs for breakfast but Ben hadn’t been feeling good or hungry so he hadn’t eaten much so when I went to go get some food for lunch (falafel kebabs – yum) and some pastries for Ben’s breakfast.

So we got to the train station an hour before the train, enough time to have a little sit, get a sandwich and hop on the train. The train was quite nice, it had an air conditioner and we got two seats each which was nice so Ben could lie down.

  • I didn’t know how to include this; and it probably doesn’t help that I am listening to a podcast on benevolent sexism but as Ben and I were putting HIS suitcase into the overhead rack a guy who walked passed and helped us said “Oh it’s so heavy, it must be a girl’s suitcase.”
    I wasn’t really sure how to deal with this but it’s so irritating to constantly have to deal with sexist men, something I encounter less in my life in Melbourne as I have made an effort to eliminate anyone like that.