Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 8: Krk Beach Day and the Train Ride from Hell

This was one of the days I was most looking forward to on the trip. There was no sightseeing to do, no people to visit, and no need to rush anywhere. We had allotted a majority of the day to sunbathing at the beach and headed out from the hostel around mid-morning.

View of Krk from our beach spot.

We were looking for an alternative to the rocky beach we saw the previous day, so we decided to venture a little farther to find the "sandy" beach we heard about (and in the opposite direction of the nudistic beach we also heard of). Apparently sandy means slightly smaller rocks that aren't quite as jagged. It wasn't so bad but a little uncomfy to lay on and still a little painful to walk on. Regardless, Kurt, Magda, Carlos and I spread out our towels to claim our spots.

You can't really tell from the picture, but this is Kurt performing his O-H-I-O waaaay out in the water. I dared him to swim all the way to the rope surrounding the swimming area. He did it and did not drown. I'm glad I didn't have to jump in and save him because the water was just as cold as the day before.

After a few hours of laying out, reading, enjoying a few beers, napping, and generally just relaxing on the beach, we decided we'd had enough sun and should get ready to leave town.

So I'll take this opportunity to confess. I did a bad thing and have learned my lesson. I would also like others to learn from my silly mistakes. Living in NYC doesn't exactly lend itself to lounging by a pool or beach on the weekends, so even though it is hot and sweaty in the city, I remain as pale as in winter. This was my one chance to get some color. I slathered sunscreen on my face and arms because they are prone to burn but left my stomach and legs unprotected. It's not like we were going to be out there all day. How bad could it be? Apparently pretty bad. I have never had such awful sunburn. Ever. My skin was very upset with me and hurt for days. Kurt was burned as well, so we spent the next few miserable days slathering on burn soothing lotion and taking ice cold showers. My stomach was burned so badly, it eventually turned into little blisters and then peeled. My burned areas didn't completely stop peeling until I had been back in the city for two weeks. The real kicker: after all that, I'm still pretty pale. Let this be a tale of caution. Always wear sunscreen at the beach!

After some over-exposure at the beach, we loaded up all our stuff in our tiny red car and Magda and Carlos drove us to Rijeka, Croatia. From there, Kurt and I were going to catch an overnight train to Milan. Magda and Carlos were then continuing down the Croatian coast for their vacation.

We bought our tickets at the train station and learned to get from Rijeka to Milan, we would have to travel back to Ljubljana, switch trains, go to Venice, and switch trains again. It was annoying to have to do so much backtracking, but it was the best solution to fit everyone else's schedules. We had some time to kill before our departure, so we all did some walking around Rijeka and had a very delicious dinner of pasta with frutti di mare. It's on our list of things to recreate back in Brooklyn.

So our train left Rijeka around 8pm and was scheduled to get into Ljubljana around midnight. It was pretty uneventful. Our next train to Venice didn't depart until 2am, so we had some time to kill once we arrived. From his previous trips to Ljubljana, Kurt knew of a bar in conjunction with a really interesting hostel, so we went there to have a beer and use the internet while we waited.

We headed back to the train station when it was time to catch our train. Turns out, it is delayed. Needless to say, it is 2am and we are exhausted. The only thing we really wanted to do was get on that train and sleep. We wait for a while and slowly realize there are a lot of people (mainly other kids our age with backpacks) waiting on the platform as well. We knew Ljubljana wasn't the train's origin. It was originally coming from Budapest. We didn't realize the ramifications of this fact until our train finally pulls up. It is quite aged, we'll say, and is practically full. How in the world are all these people (including us!) going to fit on this train!?

Everyone crowds into the cars and rushes to find their seats. Somehow, I end up with the tickets and begin scanning for our seats. Occupied. Hmmm. There is an old man in one, so I show him our tickets. Of course he doesn't speak English. I try to motion that he is in our seats and show him the numbers on our tickets. He eventually pulls out his tickets and motions to two little girls sleeping in the seats across from him. He has three tickets but none of them are next to each other. Ugh. I can't possibly make this man wake his two sleeping children and separate them to separate ends of the car. During our "discussion" we're blocking the aisle and other people are also trying to find seats within the mayhem. Kurt and I decide to give up the fight and wait in the hallway until all the excitement dies down. We hope there will eventually be some empty seats available. Wishful thinking. The train is overbooked and nothing ever frees up. Its past three in the morning and we just want to sit, so we retreat to the cafe car. Maybe if we buy something to eat, they will let us sit for an hour or so.

The cafe was such a pleasant oasis from the fray of the other cars. Kurt orders soup and I get some hot chocolate. Eventually Kurt dozed off at the table. I was so terrified the waiter would yell at us and we would be kicked out that I couldn't rest. Finally the exhaustion took over and I fell asleep for a little while too even though it was incredibly uncomfortable. The waiter was actually a saint. I think he knew what a disaster the train was that he cut us a break since we weren't causing any trouble. He let us stay there all the way until Mestre, the train station outside of Venice, where we arrived around seven in the morning.

We once again had to switch trains and wait for the final leg to Milan. We went to the same hotel bar we visited last time in Mestre and got some breakfast and coffee. I was thrilled to have seats on the next train and practically slept the entire train ride. We were going to need all the energy we could once we met up with Kurt's friends in Milan!

1 comment:

  1. Good post!

    The bar/hostel was converted from an old prison, and was very nicely done, great place to kill time between trains.

    The Budapest train was so incredible...the other painful part about it all was that you have a ton of people with large backpacks all trying to move in two (or somehow more) directions down the aisles, banging off of each other and those already seated. Wow...I still can't believe that one...


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