Author Topic: Trip with Train Through Southern Europe (will be continued whenever...)  (Read 9109 times)

Offline SuperFlyer

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Trip with Train Through Southern Europe (will be continued whenever...)

What was supposed to be a trip with 4 bochrim ended up with 2.

One guy got engaged, and the other one was told by his mum that he would get executed if he dared going.
The guy that went with me (a 5* negotiator, and nerves of steel) told me once we were on our way, that he told his parents that he would be staying only in Italy, and since he was the one calling home, and they didn't have called ID all was under control. (I was not on Child Focus or so; I had told my parents, and they were okay with it).

I bought a rail card that was good for a month for southern Europe, and the way to get there (excl Switzerland). My fellow traveler left from a different country so we were supposed to meet in Venice.

I could barely go up the stairs of the train as I had way over my own weight in luggage. A huge backpack in the back with all sorts of thing attached to the outside, a very big backpack in the front, and shoulder bags (actually big sports bags with shoulder straps) on either side. (at the time i was doing martial art, and was still fit)
My luggage contained mostly food (you know the radioactive ones that stay fresh forever), the let's-go-guides, etc.

In Brussels I switched to a night train with beds. I knew it all started wrong when I was put in a wagon with 5 other ladies. (they were all triple my age, including a nun, a moslem, and some other UFO's [Unidentified Female Objects]. Usually they are careful not to mix genders, but I was out of luck there.

As they started to bore me with their granny advice, I took control of the conversation and told them that the police would definitely come and check me out when we cross borders, as I had a passport picture that showed my yarmulke ( what was I thinking  ??? ). (It is rare that they wake up passengers to check them; the way it works is, that before going to sleep, the steward of the wagon, takes everyone's passport and tickets and returns them in the morning).

The beds were setup 3 floors (bunks) on each side, with the entrance in between. I was on the top floor.

Around 2 am, I heard someone fumbling with the lock, and finally opening the door to come in. as the light in the hallway was off, it was pitch black in the room. I didn't give it much of a thought, and jumped on the intruder. After a short struggle, finally someone turned on the light, and I was on top of an Italian cop holding him by his neck... (I started seeing visions of solitary confinement with rats running around...)

I stood up straight away, and I asked the other cops that started coming in, why he didn't turn on the light as they normally should do, and that i thought it was a thief. They said something in broken french/English, but apparently I asked a the right question, and they calmed down.

It was apparently the genius steward that had told them to pay me a visit. The train was supposed to have a stop in Lyon (France), go down all the way south, and then east into Italy to the following stop. Those chachomim changed the routing to cut through Switzerland, i.e. south east (without stops there). My ticket didn't allow me to travel through Switzerland, and after some clarifications I went back to sleep.

Offline Dan

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Awesome start!
I think you're just very lucky to have a part 2 from a 4x4 cell!
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Offline SuperFlyer

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I woke up in the morning because of the powerful sun rays shining into the wagon, and checking my watch, I knew we would be reaching Venice in no time.
As I strolled out of the station, I felt as if I entered a different world.

It was warm (as opposed to where I left), sunny, and as I walked down the stairs of the station I saw a canal crossing the street, and pinkish buildings all around.

I looked around the little souvenir shops, and at a mobile flower merchant, that was promoting his goods in a Cantor masterpiece, when I realized I was standing next to my travel partner that was sleeping on his suitcase, which was on the floor. (his train had arrived an hour earlier).

My backpackers instinct led me naturally to the tourist information booth where I asked for a free map of Venice + the public transportation (bus and taxi boats).

I headed from there straight to chabad, which is about 6-7 minutes walk from there.

They were quite friendly, but unfortunately for us, spoiled with a lot of non-religious tourist, so that I didn't have to count too much on them.

They did however give us some addresses to look for cheap (we where looking for dirt cheap) lodgings, and finally settled in an apartment who had a view which was obstructed about 1 feet from our window by a brick wall.

As we knew that this trip would last more then 3 weeks, we left a little early for the summer ben hazmanim, and our first day was erev tisha beav. We knew that in the shavua shechal bo, you need to stay put, but we figured that going by train isn't called endangering ourselves.

Tisha beav was a very interesting experience, as they have beautiful shuls there (they are used with 6 month alternate), and their own minhag Venezia.

Tisha beav was Thursday, so we stayed there over shabbes.

Chabads restaurant Gamgam caters for free the shabbos meals. As the weather was nice and about 150 people joined the meal, we ate on tables on the street alongside the canal. (there is a natural eiruv
there).

The atmosphere and food were great.

After Shabbes we took a train via the city of Trieste into Slovenia, direction Ljubljana (it's capital). You really feel like entering an east European country, although, as they are modernizing, they made sure to adapt their price to the western European countries (grrrrr).

The town itself had some interesting architecture, such as a bridge that halfway becomes 3 bridges, and so on.

It was getting late, so we headed to the youth hostel. They wanted some exorbitant amount for the night, so we decided to skip the night (it was probably the other way round...)

We kept on walking for hours till my mate got too tired, and just wanted to rest. We found a little bar, asked what the cheapest to drink (usually water), and we put our head down on our hands that were on the table. (in the bored yeshiva bochur at a shiur kloli manner). the guy from the bar, understood what we were doing, so he especially set the music to full volume. As they didn't really find out to much about hard metal, but were putting on some klezmer style music, it was no problem.

Next day we took the train back to Venice. We thought to sleep on it, but it was jampacked, so we went to the restaurant wagon, and once again, ordered the cheapest drink. This time it was an espresso in a cup of about 1.5 inch height. We could catch up some sleep.

While visiting we didn't want every time to shlep our luggage along, so we made little hubs from where we explored the area.

I visited also Vicensa (people into jewelry will know it), and move south east. Then we visited Bologna, Gerona, and stopped in hour new hub Foligno. The place itself wasnt wow, but had a very nice hostel in a completely restaurated castle.

We visited from there Florence, which is very very nice, but can be done in one day

We went to see the tower of Pisa, nothing much to do there besides it.

Then we focused for about 2 days on Rome, where there is lots to see, as well as the Vatican, which is a country on its own.

We visited also the Vesuvius ( alive volcano), and Pompei, the city that got submerged by this volcano, as well as Naples.

We then moved over to the east coast, where you have Rimini, Ancona, San Marino (Also a separate country), Bari, and Brindisi.

Our train pass also covered for a free boat trip from Brindisi to Patras (Greece). (we stayed in Italy around 2 weeks)

To be continued

PS: Don't worry about chilul hashem, I didn't look like one.

Offline Dan

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See, now that's the kind of trip you have to do as a bochur!

And good to see you learned something from shiur kloli  :D
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Offline Charles The Govenor

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Wow,that's amazing please continue its great.
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Offline SuperFlyer

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See, now that's the kind of trip you have to do as a bochur!

And good to see you learned something from shiur kloli  :D

Good point, as a bochur you dont need a biz or 1st class !

Plus, believe me those experiences you remember better then some lounge...

Offline SuperFlyer

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In one of those post shabbes (read: tshulent) disorders, I'm re-reading my previous messages in this trip report, and I see loads of mistakes, please mods, correct them.
(Most mistakes are done typing on the blackberry)

Offline Yaalili

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I really love your report, can you continue it, really interesting!

Offline edgeman

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wow thats a pretty crazy story with you and the cop

Offline SuperFlyer

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After a a very long train ride we arrived in Brindisi.

The only attractions in Brindisi, are the train out of there, and the ship leaving its harbor.

We were a bit nervous, not knowing how our trainpass is going to be translated into a boat pass, as the pass itself just read: "includes ship from Brindisi to Patras (Greece)."
Not more, and not less, and no one had more info about it. In the end it was no big deal, and we got some dirty piece of paper that served as our ticket.

Once aboard what resembled more a tanker then a passenger ship, I paid for myself a room (which did cost only some $10-$15), but compared to our way of life of the past 2 weeks, it was considered a fortune. My travel mate thought I was nuts, and as soon as it became late, he went to lie down (like all the other passengers [at least 200-300]) on the deck.

It didnt last half an hour, and he was banging on my door to let him in. He was all pale...

When he got back to normal, he told me that most people traveled in couples (m & f).

Whatever people do in private places only, they were doing in public...

He thought it was a bad idea being between all those people, but his thoughts were confirmed, when a huge male approached him, and trying to flirt with him...

The most important thing of course was that he got away sleeping in my room without paying for it.

We arrived the following day around noon in Patras, Greece.

We boarded a train that was in such a bad shape that I'm sure you needed to take an additional insurance for high risks, if you wanted to be covered.

On the way to Athens we passed the Canal of the Corinth, which splits Greece into the regular greeks, and the peloponesh (the guys living in the south part, and considered rednecks by the greeks from the north, and vice versa).

In Athens I expected to see, some naked guys busy with the olympic games, or other scenes of people that escaped the haggada shel pessach (the one with pictures).

In fact Athens is a city with multiple million residents. There is a heavy traffic on the main streets, and the road conduct is definitely competing with the isrealis. On a roundabout with 3 lanes, a guy was holding with one hand his cell, and with the other one his helmet (he only had 2 hands by the way), and the street names are just a killer, as besides the fact that it is the one and only things in english alphabet, street names can change all of a sudden (without a crossing), and a mile further, it will be called again like in the first part of the street...

We found a hotel (we knew it was a hotel, as the there was a wooden board in front of it, explaining what this shack was), and it was very close to the akropolis (the main attraction).

Above the reception there was a sign: 'Not for Israelis'. I told him we are Jewish, and what this sign is supposed to mean. He said jews are no problem, israelis are the problem, and apparently they have permanently damaged a room. Unfortunately it made sense to me (as the israelis from just 10 years ago, are a different breed already then the israelis from today) , and we stayed there for 2 nights. we visited the akropolis, the gate of hordus, managed actually to buy water in a supermarket (there was not a single latin letter, nor did anyone speak anything else then greek.)
To make it more complicated, "yes", is pronounced nooo (shaking their heads right to left), and "no" is oki (lowering their head and raising it again)...
We also went to visit the jewish museum (greece has their own jewish nussach), and left athens for Thesaloniki (1 day) and carried on with the train to Turkey.

To be continued whenever....

Online Deal Guy

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It's sounding great so far. When is the book coming out?
Maybe you want to do a series in the Hamodia magazine, or maybe not? :D

Offline SuperFlyer

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Mishpacha has used quite a lot of pics that I've taken.

Offline Charles The Govenor

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Nice.
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Online Deal Guy

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Continue please.  You are leaving me in suspense!

Offline SuperFlyer

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Continue please.  You are leaving me in suspense!

thats the idea, Dan asked me to do so, to make sure people will come back to the  site. (just kiddin' btw)