Thank you and good-bye!

First of all we want to say thank you to all the amazing persons that have crossed the same tracks as us. Especially we want to thank all the people who have been so openhearted and let us stay in their homes!

Then we want to give all future interrailers quite a few tips:

-    Bring flip-flops. The bathroom floors in youth hostels may often be wet and dirty.
-    Remember to charge your cell phone before every journey. If you get problems, a dead cell phone won?t do you any good.
-    Bring more food than you really need on every train trip. You never know if you will be delayed, and the food they serve on the trains is overprized.
-    Bring a blanket on all long train trips. You can get cold both on night and day trains.
-    Earplugs and ?sleeping glasses? are your best friends if you want to sleep on a train or at a noisy youth hostel.
-    Choose youth hostels instead of hotels. It?s cheaper and you will definitely meet new people.
-    Bring cutlery, a pocketknife, a plate etc. This might come in handy if you cook for yourself.
-    Always bring toilet paper or Kleenex. There is not always paper on the train toilets.
-    Antibac is an interrailer´s best friend.
-    Try to avoid high-speed trains. They might bring you faster to your goal, but they?re expensive to reserve (TGV: 18?)
-    Reserve as many train tickets as possible. If not you may experience that trains are full and you have to change your plans, which often requires more money.
-    Travel in comfy clothes.
-    Keep a diary. Details and experiences are easily forgotten.
-    Painkillers are great for hangovers.
-    Take with you at least one plastic bag for dirty laundry or waste.
-    Bring a padlock. If you sleep in a dormitory in a youth hostel, they mostly have lockers.
-    A notebook and a pen are helpful if you need to write down an address, a name etc.
-    Shop in supermarkets and cook your own food instead of going to restaurants every day. It?s cheaper, and may bring new friendships.
-    On hot days and trains without air condition, a fan is a must.
-    Watch over your bags (especially in larger cities). The pickpockets know what they?re doing.
-    Don?t plan too long distances on your trip. It?s much more fun to spend more time in each country, not just seeing only one city and then move on to the next country.  
-    90% of the people you meet are friendly ? watch out for the remaining 10%!
-    Have fun!

This has been an amazing trip, and we?ve experienced so much more than we?ve been able to express here. Interrail must be experienced at least one time during your life. Surprisingly enough, you won?t be as tired of taking trains as you might believe ? at least we aren?t. We hope you had fun reading our blog and we look forward to new adventures in the future!

Good-bye!
Ellen & Ida



Our trip in 10 pictures

Here are 10 pictures from the 10 different places we´ve been on our trip:


FIFA Fan Fest in Paris, France. What an atmosphere!


San Sebastian, Spain.


The San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. The hugest party ever. Must be experienced!


Spain won the world cup. Barcelona, Spain.


Our "beloved" bread. Nice, France.


Tranquillity in San Nicolò, Italy.


Four pairs of beautiful legs in Budapest, Hungary.


Somebody´s tried to colour the grey city Bucharest, Romania.


Ellen and her new brother Metodi in Sofia, Bulgaria.


Ellen, Ida and Ness looking good by the Black Sea, Turkey.


The last days of our interrail

Our trip is coming to an end. We´ve spent three days in Istanbul now, and tomorrow we´re heading home to Norway. The feelings are somewhat shared: on one hand it´s sad that our big journey is over. But on the other hand it´s going to be great to sleep in our own beds, wear some other clothes than the ones we´ve worn these past four weeks, and eat some real Norwegian breakfast.


View from the Galata Bridge: The Bosphorus Bridge and the Asian side of Istanbul.

So, Istanbul... It´s such a huge city, we haven´t had time to see one hundreth of all it has to offer. And it has so many different atmospheres: you´ve got the old city where everything is religious, traditional and touristic, you have the Taksim area with a metropolitan nightlife comparable to the one in for example New York, and then you have all the suburbs and other city centers. There are supposedly seven city centers all in all.

We spent a whole day at the beach (maybe that´s why we haven´t had time to see all of Istanbul?), just chilling out together with our couchsurfer. It was really far away, you have to pay to enter, and you´re not allowed to bring your own food, but it was absolutely worth it. We were in desperate need of some tan before we go back to Norway.




Our couchsurfer, Ness.

The same evening, our couchsurfer showed us some real Turkish nightlife in the Taksim area. It was really crowded, and the cars could hardly move because of all the traffic - even though it was in the middle of the night. Some of the clubs and bars there are pretty expensive (Norwegian prices, actually), but if you try you can find cheaper places.


Ready for some partying!

In general, it´s great just to walk around Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar, with more than 4000 shops, can be recommended. But if you´re tired of tourists and clinging sellers, this is not the place for you.


On Saturdays and Sundays the parks and the woods are full of people going on picnics.

What we learned in Istanbul:
- The public transportation is really great. The trams and the buses go all the time.
- There is a traffic problem, especially during the rush hour and at night during the weekends. There are pretty much cars everywhere!
- Don´t eat at restaurants near the tourist attractions or in the main roads. The restaurants in the side streets are so much cheaper.

So, that´s it. The next/last post will probably come from the airport or from Norway.
Ellen & Ida

Stumbling in to Turkey

The number 1 tip to all interrailers:
Always check every single part - especially the date - on the reservations you make!

On our way to Istanbul we experienced some problems. When we were at the train station in Sofia, we discovered that our reservation had the wrong date. It can easily be understood that we totally freaked out - we were so ready to leave Sofia! Fortunately our Bulgarian friends hadn´t left the station, so we explained the situation to them. They talked to the ticket inspector, bribed him a bit, and suddenly there were free beds on the train for us. In addition we had to pay 15 euros extra, but we didn´t really care, as long as we got on that train.


View from the train.

What we learned:
- Bribing actually works.
- There are most likeliy free beds on the train, even though the conductor says there aren´t.
- On the border to Turkey everybody has to get out of the train for passport controls. NB! You need to buy your visas another place than were you get your stamps. Always check how much you need to pay for your visa. It depends on where you are from.
- On the train from Sofia to Istanbul the seat wagons are left in Dimitrovgrad. However, new sleeping wagons are added, and for around 10 euros you can get a bed to sleep in.




Despite all the problems, we eventually got to Istanbul - three hours delayed. We walked around the city all day together with two Canadian guys, feeling groggy like hell, wearing the same clothes we had slept in. We saw some of the tourist sights, like the Hagia Sofia, the Blue mosque and the Grand Bazaar - all must-sees. Around five o´clock we headed towards our couchsurfer, Ness, who lives about an hour outside the city center. Of course we got lost, but by the help of random Turkish people and a couple of phone calls, it ended ok, and we got our long-desired shower.


Ellen looking good together with Parker.


More from Istanbul later.
See you!

Ellen & Ida

"Welcome to Bulgaria - your car is already here!"

We came to Sofia in a state of confusion. It was early in the morning, it was raining and we were both freezing for the first time on our trip. We had heard from more than one person that Sofia was even worse than Bucharest, and we were therefore not the most optimistic people on the tramstastion that morning.





So, what to say about Sofia? Sofia is a typical capital, lots of cars, people and straydogs. We´ve now spent almost 4 days here, and there really isn´t much to see. We´ve spent most of the days just walking around, sitting down at a café from time to time. We actually found a fantastic place, Memento, where we went more than once to have a good cup of coffee or tea. Recommended if your ever go to Sofia!


Memento.


One of the days we took the train to a town near Sofia, Plovdiv. This is a city that is more suited for tourists because of its beautiful old town with an ancient theater among other things to see. On the train back from Sofia we met a grumpy (!) woman checking the tickets. She started yelling to us in Bulgarian, which we of course did not understand, just to make us write our names one place on our tickets where you´re not supposed to write until your journey is finito. So, beware of ticketcontrollers having a bad day!


Plovdivs old city.



In Sofia we had our first Couchsurfing host, and we were really excited about this. Our host Martin has been extremely hospitable, and he has taken us along with his friends every night and done everything in his power to make our stay comfortable. Thank you so much!




What we learned:

- Sofia could really use more signs showing where things are, for example in the trainstation!
- The alphabet, cyrilic, makes eveything difficult to understand!
- Most people do not speak English here, especially not the ones working on the trains or at the informationdesks. So find a young person who speaks English to drag around with you to translate!
- It´s really cheap here!
- In order to find the good places to go otut, you should ask someone living in Sofia.
- If you´re in need of a hostel in Sofia, Hostel Mostel is a place we´ve heard many good things about.





So now we´re pretty much ready for Istanbul. Turkey here we come! :)

Ida and Ellen.

Our last hours in the dump

Hi!
On our last day in Bucharest, we were almost bored to death. There was so little to do that we went to an exhibiton about Dracula. It was nice enough, but we´d hoped that it would take more time.

Of course it started raining, and Ellen was a little sick, so we didn´t really want to walk around outside. Therefore the rest of our time in Bucharest was spent in the hostel living room together with other bored people.





At times everybody just cracked up, laughing at ourselves; seven people sitting in one room, complaining about how much Bucharest sucks and how bored we were.

Even though the city of Bucharest must be something like the worst place on earth, we somehow managed to have a good time. As long as you find some nice people to hang out with, it doesn´t really matter where you are. And although it was wonderful to get out of that place, it was kind of sad to say goodbye to all the nice people (okay, boys) we´d met. Ironical, isn´t it?

Now we´re in Sofia, Bulgaria. We were told that this city was even worse than Bucharest. However, it turned out to be so much better!

To be continued....

Bucharest - the city everyone leaves!

We really don´t know what to write about this city. So we decided to do this post in an alternative way.

- Grey: everything here is colourless and dull.
- Non-smiling people: the Romanians are friendly, but they could really use a smiling class.
- Cheap: a coffee and a large baguette cost the same as a really cheap cup of coffee in Norway.


Look at this depressive place!

- Good food: at least the places we went to.
- Nigthlife: the people hide during the day and come out at night.
- Nice parks: something this grey city really needs.


We actually rented hydrobikes and had a good time on the lake.

- Weird hostels: on the posters describing our hostel Funky Chicken, it says that they have a swimming pool and roof terrace. When we asked about it, they said that they only wrote it for fun. We don´t see the fun in lying to your guests.
- The traffic: we thought the Italians were driving like idiots. That was until we saw the Romanian way of driving.
- The heat: it´s just so warm.
- Few tourists: not very surprising since there are no tourist attractions here.
- Benches: they´ve so many benches - whole city could probably sit down at the same time.


Really popular benches in the Gradina Cismigiu park


We can also mention that our stay was saved by two amazing couchsurfers (check out www.couchsurfing.org) who helped us kill some time and showed us the nicer parts of town, and also two Austrian guys from our hostel who we hung out with.


Ellen and our Austrian friends

So, there´s only one thing to say: Don´t go to Bucharest. The other parts of Romania are said to be so much nicer!
We´re looking forward to leave this afternoon. Next stop: Sofia, Bulgaria.

Ellen & Ida

Romanian logic

We are now sitting quite depressed on our beds at the Funky Chicken Hostel in Bucharest, Romania. Why? Let´s tell you:


Ready to rumble.

It all started out well. Or quite well. Our train from Budapest was half an hour delayed before it even left the station, but we had two seats each, loads of food, there was water in the tap in the bathroom, and we were optimistic. After around 10 hours on the train, our asses hurt and we started getting restless. When we saw the frustrated looks on the Romanian passengers´ faces, we asked what was wrong, and found out that we were 2 hours delayed. We were supposed to arrive in Bucharest at 00.35, but now it would be more like 02.35.


Still an optimistic traveller.

From here everything went downhill. We had noone to talk to because there were only old people or families with small children who didn´t speak English on the train, we had no more books to read, and the movies we´d bought were all in Hungarian. The landscape outside the window was just repeating itself, and the train restaurant didn´t serve half of the food it was supposed to according to the menu.


Longing for something interesting to happen.

When we were about two hours away from our goal, the train stopped. And it had no intention to move. After finding some people who actually spoke English, we found out that we had to stay in the station of Sinaia for three hours because of construction work on the tracks. It is important to underline that they never used the train loudsoeakers to announce stations or problems, not even in Romanian. In addition there were no signs on the stations, so we had no possibility of knowing where we were and how delayed the train was.


The exotic trainfood.

We found ourselves an empty compartment (luckily there were not too many people on the train), dragged out some extra clothes and laid down to get some sleep. It was just by coincidence that we woke up on the right station, and you can´t imagine how stressed out we were when we had just woken up and had to act so quickly.


Sunset.

When we actually got off the train at about 05.30 in the morning, the station was buzzling with life. There were no maps of the city, the lady at the information desk didn´t speak English, and we only had an address which noone really knew where was. After getting pretty lost, we took a cab, and arrived at the hostel really exhausted. We went straight to bed - of course we had trouble sleeping because one of our roommates snored unimagenably loud.


Trying to make the best out of it.

When we woke up again, pretty much everyone at the hostel was leaving. We´ve read in a travel guide that the first thing tourists want to do when they come to Bucharest, is to leave again. And that´s exactly what two of our roommates said too: they were supposed to stay for a couple of nights, but left after one, seing how boring and grey the city was.


Zzzz.

So now we´re trying our best to kill time. We don´t know yet how we´ll survive this place. So if you don´t hear more from us, we´ve probably died from boredom.

See you. Hopefully.
Ellen & Ida

PS: Romanian logic - doesn´t exist!

Buda and Pest!

There is one thing to say about Budapest, it is one quiet city! The metro is quiet, the streets are quiet, people in general are quiet, but one place that´s almost never quiet is our awesome hostel: Casa de la musica.


Casa de la musica.

We arrived in Budapest in a state of confusion cause there were few signs telling us where things, like the metro, actually where. When we finally found our hostel, we just dropped dead on our beds and slept for a few hours. When we got up, we took the metro to the other side of the Danube, the Buda side. We ended up at this extremely fancy restaurant on the top of the city behind the Mathias church, where we felt quite misplaced and Ellen´s one glass of wine were more expensive than what she ate. We were both so tired, that we went straight home afterwards.


Ida at the fansy restaurant, Arany Hordó.

Our second day was more entertaining. We got up, and met up with a friend of Ida, George, and saw Heroes Sqare and walked around in the city park. After some confusion over the public transportation, we got to an island on the Danube called Margitsziget and walked from the northern end to the southern. Although we had walked the entire day, we took a tram to the bottom of where the Citadella is, and walked all the way up. This was one hot day, so when we finally reached the top we were unimaginably tired and warm. When we got back to our hostel, we freshened up and went out to meet two guys that we got to know on the nighttrain, Tom and Chris from England. We had a really nice evening.....


George and Ida at the Citadella.


Tom, Chris and Ida at some dodgy bar.


Day number 3 we saw the parliament and the beautiful(!) church called Szent Istvan Bazilika, and walked around some more. Before finishing the day at an indian restaurant once again with Tom and Chris.


Inside tha Bazilika.


The Langos thingys.


Our train leaves at 9 0´clock tomorrow morning, and arrives in Bucharest 00.34, so we have one loooong journey ahead!

What we learned:.
- Budapest is a really nice city!
- Langos, hungarian fastfood bread thingy, is really good!
- It´s cheap here
- You feel like millionare because the money is worth so little.




Yeah, that´s pretty much it!

So long, farewell!
Ida and Ellen

Night trains are not meant for sleeping

Hello hello!
We´ve now had our first night train experience. The day before yesterday we took a train from Italy, and yesterday we arrived in Budapest, Hungary. The train was delayed already when we got on it, which was only an hour and a half after the starting point. But what more can you expect in Italy?



For more than twelve hours we sat in a six-person compartiment together with six other guys, so we didn´t exactly have much space each. In addition, grumpy border guards came in around six times in the middle of the night for passport checks. Not very fun. On more really fun thing: the tap in the bathroom didn´t work.


Ellen looking good in Croatia

What we learned:
- Bring lots of food. The cafes on the trains are really expensive, and you´ll never know if the train will be delayed.
- If you´re a smoker, you can go to the toilet or the back of the train.
- Bring a blanket. It might be hot when you get on the train, but in the morning it´s getting freezy.

Now we´re going out to meet some of our train buddies.
More updates from Budapest will come soon!

See you!
Les mer i arkivet » August 2010 » July 2010 » June 2010
Trains, tracks and travel

Trains, tracks and travel

18, Stavanger

We´re two girls from Stavanger, Norway, both 18 years old, Ida and Ellen. This summer we´re going on this awesome interrail, and would like to share our travel with anyone who bothers to read. Both the good, the bad and the ugly. Enjoy!

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