Friday, 27 December 2013

Day Four, Nuremberg and Munich- Always pre-book your Hostels.

Our fourth day of travelling was when our organisation ended. We had booked the hostels for Krakow and Prague in advance but we were heading to Nuremberg with absolutely nowhere for us to stay when we arrived. We thought we would give ourselves room to be flexible and it would be easy to find hostels when we got to the cities. I don’t think we could have been more wrong.

Unsurprisingly we got lost again on the way to the train station, we walked at least twice as far as we needed to and my bag definitely got heavier as we walked. When we finally arrived we booked onto a coach which would take us to Nuremberg and headed to the coach section to wait to leave. We had about an hour to wait so I headed to the toilet as I was worried that the coach wasn't going to have one on it. I spent about twenty minutes getting lost in the train station, when I found the toilets of course you had to pay to use them so I spent some Euros on a big bottle of water, got the change in chezch money, which I no longer had a reason to use and then finally made it to the toilet.

When I got back to the boys I told them I had had an absolute nightmare, Dan asked if it was because I bought fizzy water. They really need to make it more clear which water is which. Fizzy water 2 us 0. Karl then took our left over money from Prague to buy some “treats” coming back with some proper water, an assortment of chezch pastries and a bread roll with some bacon stuck to it with cheese. The best way to spend our money.

The Infamous Water

What an appetising snack 

The bus finally arrived and of course it had a toilet, so I spent money on the toilet and fizzy water for no reason, I thought after the pizza woman stole from me my money issues would end not get worse. But get worse they did. The bus journey was actually really relaxing, there was plenty of room and unlike the trains there were no delays so that’s always a plus!

Dan ate the weird roll. Apparently it was surprisingly nice. 

Here is where I’d like to write about all the crazy things we got up to in Nuremburg but unfortunately our un-organisation left us stranded. We walked around the whole city, went into a couple of hostels to check for room and then asked a helpful woman in tourist information if she knew if there were any other hostels we could try (she was not helpful with her response, turned out that there was no room in any hostel or inn.)

The only place we really saw in Nuremberg

We did however find the "Noris Bikes" which would have been fun.

We made the decision to head straight to Munich; there would definitely be free hostels there? It also wasn’t too late, so if we set off straight away we could find a hostel in decent time. The train to Munich was an interesting one, the man opposite Dan declared “I aint got no time for squeezing ma legs.” When he saw his bag and we had to attempt to move it so the man would have enough room, luckily he didn’t say anything else during the train journey so I think he got over it. 

As soon as we arrived in Munich we saw a banner a we left the station for an A and O hostel which according to the sign was fifteen minutes from the train station, we left and headed to where we hoped the hostel was. After walking for about twenty minutes we decided we were going in the wrong direction and turned around towards the town centre to see if we could find anything there. The first thing we found was a “Pension” similar to a B&B, we went in to find out it was run by an elderly woman who spoke very little English. She showed us round hectically and spoke to us in very broken English telling us about all of the things that were broken. It was a really homely place but for some reason we decided to find a cheaper hostel somewhere else. We spent hours walking around with absolutely no luck. Eventually we tried a travel agent who was helpful and rang around a few people, she printed off a map and we attempted to follow that to find somewhere.

Taking a break by the little fountain.

The first but not only fountain to cause as great amusement. More of that to come in Genoa.

After a little more walking I noticed a notification on my Ipod which only happens when I have internet, I looked at it and saw that we had been saved by Eduroam, we were walking past Munich University and connected to their internet. We quickly used it to find directions to the original hostel we tried to get to. After about four hours of none stop walking and a day of barely eating we finally made it to the hostel. Which was about five minutes past where we originally decided to turn around from.

Never again will I complain about eduroam!

Just when we thought things couldn't get much worse, we walked into the hostel and were greeted by a large queue of people waiting to check in. I asked the Australians behind us if they had prebooked for the hostel or if they were like us and they replied saying they had and calling us “unorganised bastards.” They also let us know that they couldn't be bothered with “bus s**t” and had been flying everywhere. Lucky for some.

Eventually we made it to the checkout and managed to get beds for the night, but we were going to have to find somewhere else to stay the next day. With our day of aimlessly wandering around finally over we went to bed, prepared to get up and book the hostels for the rest of our trip and hoping that we would find somewhere to stay the next night without repeating the days events.

                         Weird Sign of The Day

For more information on A and O hostels click here

Information on saviours Eduroam here

Follow me on Twitter here

Credit for the better photos goes to @dan_magid

@KarlTaylor7 was there too.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Day 3 Prague, The One With The Beautiful Sights and The Thieving Pizza Lady

After a good long nights sleep we got up and ready to explore Prague. Of course we had seen some of it the day before but that was marred by the massive bags on our backs causing some sort of complaint from Karl every other step. Luckily we had a room to ourselves in the hostel which we could lock so we could leave all of our belongings safely in there. This was a good job really because the contents of my bag had scattered all over the room and I had no intention of packing them that day.

Unfortunately we were let down by the weather today, heading out in shorts and a vest top was a mistake made apparent a soon as we left the hostel. All of the locals were covered in layers while the tourists were walking around looking pretty ridiculous. It was like walking around the Atlantic in a summer dress and flip-flops. Of course Karl said that Dan and I were exaggerating but he’s ginger, it was honestly warmer in the ice bar. 

We spent the first hour of the day wandering around in the icy weather trying to find somewhere for lunch. Being indecisive as usual we ended up in small local shop and bought some baguettes there. What a mistake. We settled for the “Czech Crocodile Sandwich” brand, and although at first it appeared to be chicken I don’t think the contents of the sandwich could have been further from it. I wouldn't we surprised if it turned out to be seal, they would have survived in the cold climate and I feel like seal would have that texture. 

Never Trust a Crocodile
After eating we went to look around Prague. We started at some really pretty gardens full of fountains, peacocks and Mario and Luigi style plumbers trying to get themselves out of a fountain on a dangerously rocky boat. I wish they had fallen in.

Mario and Luigi are Real

Such a Pretty Garden!


Casual Peacock

Despite the grey sky the gardens really were beautiful
Later in the day we headed to Prague Castle which is definitely worth a visit. It’s massive and the guards are brilliant. Unlike the guards at Buckingham Palace the Prague Castle guards are extremely happy and clearly think they have the best job in the world. Maybe their Royal family are great to work for; I might have to Czech it out.

Czech Him Out

Playing with the Guards

They wouldn't let us in!

Joining the Troups
We spent some time relaxing by a lake full of children feeding the swans. I won’t lie. I was hoping that a swan might go a little rabid and create a nice viral video for me, but unfortunately (or fortunately for the children who could have lost a finger) no swans attacked. The sun actually came out for about five minutes while we were here, Dan and I made the most of it. Karl sat under a tree.

This swan is not biting the child.

My new friend

How not to catch a Swan
There was a massive Market going on while we were there with loads of food and street acts, the food was all local and smelled 10 times nicer than my seal sandwich earlier but money was still being carefully looked after and nice food couldn't be a necessity. It was nice to look around though and the man creating giant bubbles with some sort of home made contraption was great entertainment. 

This woman loved the band, we dubbed her Czechy J

Before we headed back to the hostel for a bit we walked across the Charles Bridge which is definitely one of the top things to do in Prague. The view is beautiful and there are artists doing caricatures and street or bridge acts which were actually very talented. I wouldn't be surprised if they appear on Britain's Got Talent in the near future. The view is amazing too, and the bridge itself is breathtaking at night.

Charles Bridge at Night

My personal favourite picture from Prague
That night we went to the other side of the city to get something to eat. For some unknown reason we decided on a dingy takeaway which kept all the pasta in tubs ready to heat up in the microwave. I decided on a pizza, paid and sat down. It was when I counted my change I noticed my fatal error. The Czech currency, like the Polish, comes in ridiculously large notes. So 100czk and 200czk notes are the common currency. I discovered that I had accidentally handed over two 200czk notes instead of the one. I told the previously friendly woman about my mistake and she suddenly spoke a lot less English than she previously had. In fact I'm pretty sure she spoke better English than me before she realised she could get a nice tip from a dumb tourist. They counted the till at the end of the night and although it was clear on the staff’s faces they knew exactly where my money was it was also very apparent that it was not coming back to me. I won’t be czeching back there any time soon, (last Czech joke I promise.)

After the unfortunate money incident we walked through the part of town which I never really wanted to see. If we had been there any later I don’t think we would have left alive. An unsuccessful attempt to find cads in the shops in said seedy streets and we headed back to the hostel. We had an early Czech out the next day.

Day 2 Prague Click Here                                                  Day 4 Nuremberg and Munich, Click Here

Follow me on Twitter here 

Credit as ususal for most of the photos goes to @dan_magid

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Day Two Prague, The One With the Ice Bar, the Unnecessary Reservations and a Sausage in a Box

Our first morning in Krakow began as the first night ended, with loud Germans. Throw in what appeared to be a dying bird and you don’t exactly get a pleasant wake up call. But we were up and ready to head off to Prague, one of the good things about our Krakow hostel was that they left out breakfast, typically the Germans had eaten the majority of it, but there was enough food for a good meal.

When we arrived at the train station we realised a flaw in our plan, we had to reserve to get onto the trains we needed. Now we did know that we would need to make reservations on the long distance trains but we didn’t think that we would have to reserve seats to get onto the smaller trains. So we joined the long queue of confused looking Brits waving around their Interrail passes and made reservations for our first two journeys. We then went to buy some snacks for the train however left this a little late and ended up running through a shopping centre with our massive backpacks on, luckily we made it with seconds to spare (this may be an exaggeration.)

Updating the twittering world!

I'm pretty sure that the first train was the Hogwarts Express and we managed to secure a cabin for ourselves, something that rarely happened on later journeys. This was one of the nicest train journeys we had, barely any stops and the time flew by, although when we did stop i'm certain it was because of Dementors. The genuine Hogwarts Express experience.

On the way to Hogwarts
Our next train ride of the day was an entertaining one, I hadn’t laughed so much for a long time. It started off innocently when the man that runs the food trolley came into our cabin and asked if we had seen his crocs. Sure enough the missing crocs were underneath my chair, a little later I went to buy some food as I hadn’t bought anything at the last station. When I got to the restaurant carriage the man working there told me that they didn’t have any sandwiches available but he could make me a “frankfurter with bread” which I assumed was going to be a hotdog. But when you assume you make an ass out of you and me, and I tend to do that a lot. What I was handed was two hotdogs in a box with five pieces of bread. Not even an equal amount of bread to make a sandwich with. After this entertained Karl and Dan for a while and I had constructed several mini sandwiches the trolley man came with complimentary snacks, juice/water and a biscuit. However not the nice biscuits, they were for first class only. This was also our first encounter with unwanted sparkling water, something that would haunt the rest of the trip.

My unexpected meal

Free Juice (Although I asked for Orange)
The downside to the journey between Krakow and Prague was the fact that our reservations were not checked on the first two trains leading to a very irritated Dan. Because of this we decided to get on our third train without making a reservation but as we got on we saw the signs on the doors stating that we would need  a reservation, thankfully they did look at them on this train and it wasn't a complete waste of money. If you are Interrailing read the small print carefully, i'm sure most people know and we were just optimistic but if its not a regional train make sure you reserve! 

The hostel in Prague started off our long chain of having 0% luck in finding the hostel. It wasn’t that the instructions were bad, we did actually manage to find the street it was on at one point but we didn’t realise we were on the right street and walked right past the hostel. About 30 minutes later, after several stops to relieve our backs and a trip into a bar where 3 overly helpful men raced to show me where to go on Google maps, we found it. The hostel we stayed in was Hostel Arnosta, it was a big place with helpful staff, there were plenty of showers and although there were only two toilets there was never a queue to use them. The only minor issue was that the wifi didn’t work in the rooms and only seemed to work if you sat on the stairs near the reception so there was a constant group of people sitting around there and making use of the wifi.

A similar room to the one we stayed in.
That night we decided to try out Pragues famous night club Karlovy Lazne. It’s the biggest music club in Central Europe and with five floors really had something for everyone, at 180czk its about £6 to get in and it was worth every penny since there really was something for everyone there. When we went in we went to an ice bar, you pay 140czk (About £5) to get in and it gets you  a cocktail (which comes in an ice glass.) The walls, bar, tables and sculptures were all made of ice and it was kept at -7 degrees so was pretty freezing but we were given big coats and gloves so it was unlikely that we would get hypothermia. I would happily have spent more time in there but i'm not sure how my body would have coped with the cold.

An Ice cold drink.

Looking cool.
Ice Queen

We spent a long time in the club going to all the different floors and finding out what the music was like on each. There was Radio Hits (which was basically a selection of odd foreign songs,) dance, oldies (cheese,) R&B and chillout. It was a really good night and definitely worth going to if you are ever in Prague. After we had tried out all of the floors we headed home and although Karl steered us off in the wrong direction when he didn’t think I had taken us the right way we all got home safe and sound after having an amazing night. 

Practicing my Rocky
For more information on Hostel Arnosta Click Here

For more information on Karlovy Lazne Click Here

For more information on the Ice Bar Click Here

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Credit for most of the photos goes to @dan_magid who had a much better camera than me and is pretty good at this photo business.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Krakow Calling!

So I've finally written this blog post, I have no excuse for why I didn't do it sooner, I have the attention span of a drunk goldfish. Anyway hope you enjoy day one, planning to do one of these a week, I give myself a week!

Now anyone that knows me will know that I am definitely not, in any shape or form, a morning person. It’s rare that I am up before 10 o’clock, and when I am I cant say that I am a social person to be around. But with an early flight I had to be up, if not social. I won’t go into detail about the airport, it was just standard early morning airport, we had a Panini (which I feel is a necessity in any airport) and after being informed that you can in fact get hay fever in Poland we were on the plane. It was a pretty standard flight although slightly worrying when the seatbelt signs came on midtrip, but we landed safely and that’s all that matters.

We got our bags quite quickly after arriving and headed straight to the city centre, here we encountered our first slight problem. Polish people hate notes. Even though their currency mainly consists of notes, the man on the train was extremely grumpy and didn’t want to take our paper money, we were clearly behaving unacceptably. But after playing the dumb tourist he did take the offending notes, unfortunately this was not the only money mishap encountered during our journey, but that's a story for another day. 

Taking in the sites!

When we arrived in Krakow we found the hostel quite easily, although we thought it took us a while, the 15 minutes it took to find it were nothing in comparison to the 3 hours it would take us in Munich, if only we had known that 15 minutes would by far be the fastest journey to a hostel! In Krakow we stayed in the Blue Hostel, at about £12 for a night it was a decent price for what we got, a decent sized room (we were given a room for four although there were three of us), there was free wifi, breakfast, the showers were good and the staff were friendly so I would definitely recommend the hostel to anyone planning on staying in Krakow. 
A couple of tweets from the day

After getting ourselves sorted we went to explore the town and get some food, there are so many restaurants and cafes to choose from in the main square it was nearly impossible, with all of us being quite indecisive, but they were all around the same price and selling similar food. When we settled down to eat we had our first experience of a street performer, although I’m not sure he can be called a street performer. The strange man playing the violin extremely badly was just making his way down all the restaurants playing exactly the same song, it would have been tolerable if we only had to listen to it once but because the buildings were so close to each other we had to listen to the terrible tune a good four or five times before he was out of earshot. 

Happy to finally get some food!

We then headed down to the Old Town and Jewish quarter where we found Schindler’s Factory, it was really interesting and one of the biggest museums I’ve ever been in, I would definitely recommend a trip there if you are in the area. It was really worth the entry price and full of exhibitions and interactive displays.

Dan in Schindler's Factory, looking at messages from people helped by non-jews

A little later in the evening we headed back to the main square and saw a variety of entertaining street acts including musicians, street dancers and a ballerina with a unicorn head, I’m not sure what the last one was meant to be. It was just scary.

The extremely organised Pub Crawl in the background wasn't part of the act

Terrifying Unicorn

We had quite an early night in Krakow since we were all tired from the early morning and we had managed to pack quite a lot into one day. At least it would have been an early night if it hadn’t been for the overly loud Germans next door. I wish that had been the end of the irritating roommates. It was only the beginning. 

                          Weird Sign of the Day

For more information on the Blue Hostel Click Here

For more information on Schindler's Factory Click Here

Follow me on Twitter here

Credit for most of the photos goes to @dan_magid who had a much better camera than me, and is pretty good at taking photos!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Genoa what? It's time for an update!

Im not actually sure when I wrote the first short update, we have been travelling for about a week now but I genuinely feel like its been about a month! Time flies when you're having fun and we have definitely had a lot of fun so far! 

Like the last little update I'm only going to be talking about a few little things and will do a proper full fledged ramble when I get home. I am currently sat in Genoa in our shared dorm surrounded by snoring strangers, we haven't been formally introduced but they sound like they are having a great sleep. 

Genoa has been lovely but very hot, I know it's also hot at home but it's been scorching. As usual I have been sunburnt but the worst area of burn by far is my knees, how on earth I have burned my knees so much when the rest of my legs are fine is beyond me. Clearly I kneed to be more careful.

But here are a few more photo highlights of the journey so far...

-This artist clearly had the wrong idea 

-Boris' friend Noris has decided to join the bike trend.

-The food is still weird, I don't know what a potato dumpling is but finding croutons inside it was a huge surprise. 

-The point of the third hostel film was clearly to see if anyone could survive the worlds hottest room. We did. Just.

-Some fountains should just not be jumped across.

-Signs are still weird.