Part Two: Canaliens On A Train
Hold it right there- If you haven't yet read Part One: All Bled Out, get your cursor over this here link and click him!
So, after a lovely day in Bled, and then a quick stop at a Ljubljana McDonalds (strictly to add another notch to my personal masterpiece; my own Burgers of the World Collage est. release date 2030*), we boarded our extremely timely train. You know where that punctuality is from, kids? Well it's just Slovenia's Austro-German influence shining through, of course! Or maybe I'm just really used to things not being on time.
*A project I've been working on since 2012 trying McDonalds around the world #somethingtosayjamieoliver??
Two funny things from the train station to share:
This Slovenian Pie film:
This suitcase conveyor belt escalator from the future.. or the past, I can't tell:
Another fantastic point to note was upon arrival I realised I'd left our CDN to UK outlet adapter at our AirBnB (enjoy Andreja!) so all we had now was a UK to EURO outlet adapter... Proud to say we found our way around that little speed bump- there's an app for that, it's called science and I'm now pretty well a certified scientist. (All it took was a hair elastic- God, what can't those things do)... I'll share a photo if I can find one o_O I know you're all dying to see.
Anyway, back to why you decided to visit our site:
Layover in Zagreb:
Our first stop was for a few hours in Zagreb. I'd spent the day there on a layover a few years prior and absolutely fell in love- I think mostly because it was nothing like I'd expected.
Bright lights, big outdoor screens, designer shops aesthetically placed among lush Roman-esque gardens and grand, beautifully coloured old buildings. A stark contrast, yet the perfect compliment to one another.
Although both times I've been I've walked everywhere, Zagreb is a tram city. Trams, trams everywhere, and it's only 6.5 Kuna ($1.25CAD) for a ticket that stays valid for 90 mins. So, for a short rail-train layover, it's kind of perfect to zoom up to the happening strip and then zoom back down within a 90 minute window, or two. Albeit, my first time in Zagreb we weren't sure if the trams were free so we hopped on with no other option but to miss our rail-train to Split and no one noticed or cared. Supa lax, supa awesome.
If it wasn't already evident, for my first visit I went as a backpacking student. Dinner consisted of indulging in a Croatian McDonalds burger (also for the Burgers of the World Campaign: Coming to a billboard near you) and some groceries. All courses were enjoyed in the beautiful park: 3 parks down from the train station in front of a casual little symphony performing in one of the gazebos (there's parks on parks as soon as you leave the train station [see above]). Returning this trip, with a bit more financial flexibility and a refined palate, I opted to eat at a restaurant, like a lady.
About a 15 minute walk past the parks/gardens that separate the 'downtown' area and the train station, you hit the hopping city strip of pedestrian roads, music, glowing lights- you'll know once you've hit it. During our most recent time in Zagreb, on this last trip, it was the Euro Cup! ...An awesome time to travel Europe, by the way. I don't even think Croatia was playing this night but everyone was outside, cheering and imbibing.
All of the patios and town squares were pretty full, but we found this cute little place called Gost & On a (pronounced Gost i Ona) where we set up shop. After ordering our Ožujsko's* we realised that the restaurant had no food menu! The server pointed out a little sandwich shop next door we could go to, to which we timidly replied 'do you think it would be possilbe if we got sandwiches from there and just quickly eat them here while we drink?', to which he smiled and said "No stress here, only sexy in Croatia". Probably one of the best welcomes I've ever received. Croatia, the Canaliens have arrived- and you and your sexiness now hold a special part of our hearts.
*Yummy and awesomely priced local beer.
The Night Train:
Following our libations, we walked back down to the station to catch our night train. We'd booked a 6 person sleeper (just another sacrifice we made to make space for maximum vino in the budget). We arrived and the train attendant spoke little English (my fault for only knowing "Dobar Dan!" [Hello], "Hvala!" [Thank You] and "Piva!" [Beer]**). But we communicated as best we could. 😁
**3 very key words for getting by btw, if you're going to learn 3 those will do.. Oh and of course "Oprostite!" (Sorry) #canadianproblems
We were pleased to see that we only had two other people to room with- and they were a sweet elderly couple! ...Until we approached them. Turns out they were actually like ferret-cute, no- like leopard seal-cute or like CANADA GEESE!!! Much more relevant. They blockaded the ladder so we couldn't climb up the bunks... and these rooms are really JUST bunks.. let's get some visuals here....
So, yeah, not my best work above but that ladder in the bottom left corner touched both bunks lining either side of the room and that skinny little isle was the only standing space. As you can see our roomies don't look that elderly... Well, that's because the sweet ferret-seal-geese couple barricaded that skinny little aisle and after pretending we didn't exist for the first 5 minutes, started snapping at us in a language I couldn't even recognize- not even the train attendant could recognize! She was a bit scared herself and said "Go!" and pointed to the bunk room next door. It was chill, just two hungover Irish kids from: "Republic of Ireland, NOT Northern and don't get it twisted" ...to paraphrase). If you're still confused click here.
Oh and sorry for the lack of clothing but it was so darn HOT! And when we opened the window for air it was too noisy and our things would blow around! Scott the Irish kid under me was v against the open window so, it was a light sleep but I personally think well worth it! Koy may think otherwise... Actually he may have been thinking otherwise right there in the photo above.
We arrived in Split at 7 am... From experience, I knew that if we wanted to catch that 7:40am ferry to our next stop, Dubrovnik, we'd have to run to the Jadrolinija ferry line up as tickets usually cannot be purchased online. I went to the ferry line, Koy ran to the car rental place (we still hadn't decided where to start our car renting, for the right price we would have picked up in Split). Lo and behold Enterprise was closed and the couple in front of me in the ferry line got the LAST ferry tickets!
The ferry would have been $35CAD and 4.5 hours. The bus was $20CAD, it *advertised* being 4 hours, although it was about 4.75 BUT I think it was better in the end; cheaper for one, and it was scenic, and technically supposedly normally faster.
Things to note about the Split-Dubrovnik bus:
Another perk that people enjoy about this bus ride is that it goes through Bosnia's little slit of beach front and so yes, there's customs, and the bus stops there and you can take a cute pic (Exhibit A above) and say you were in Bosnia.... Which would be cool, if you were too lame to actually venture through that beautiful country.. which we did just a few days later.... Stay tuned!
Although we spent more on meals than in my student backpacker heyday, it still wasn't much. After our roadies in Bled, we spent no more than $15CAD for our drinks and sandwiches in Zagreb, and $2CAD on coffee in Split (where the barista shorted us like, 200 Kuna change! Koy called her out doe 😎👌🏽 Just be aware). The night train was $366CAD for us both. It sounds steep, but that train was transport AND accommodation; 2 birds, 1 stone, we rule. The two hungover Irish kids had a student Eurail pass and had taken the train from Lake Bled all the way to Split.
Two things in reference to the Irish students:
This is the link for a Eurail pass for Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Don't get excited about the low price for 4 countries. The railroads don't connect efficiently in Montenegro and Serbia... Croatia and Slovenia are considered one country because of limited train stops and the same goes for Serbia and Montenegro. But we couldn't book our Slovenia and Croatia trains under the one country pass because there, they are considered separate.. Which is why we booked our tickets separately, not through Eurail.
...That being said, Koy did have to deal directly with the Ljubljana train station, from Canada, to book before we even knew how to pronounce Ljubljana- Gold Star for you, babe!
The Love Affair Collection stems from a personal Tale of Two Cities. Mainly because it involves a character named Sydney, a couple cities and tbh it rly was "the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness".
I made this collection for other Canaliens who may have left part of themselves in another city, too. I feel ya! Be proud of your nomad-icity.