Getting out of Budapest and into Croatia was quite the adventure. The plan was to take the 6 hour train from Budapest to Zagreb, and then take the overnight train from Zagreb to Split. After the long and cold winter I have had, all I wanted to do was wake up and see the sea! I had been dreaming of this trip since the cold winter days in Italy.
We get on the train and a nice young man in our compartment (meet Aaron, he becomes important in this story, and many others) helps us put our bags up on the rack above the seat. Aaron grew up near Oxford, and he has been traveling for a month, the end to what most of the world calls a ‘gap year’. For all you Americans reading this blog, let me explain, because this concept is completely foreign. Students in other parts of the world actually take a break from school for a year to travel, work, etc, instead of jumping right into their studies and then straight into their jobs. What a novel concept!
Anyway, Katie and I spent 6 lovely hours getting to know Aaron. Really, a 6 hour train is basically a lifetime. It was hot outside with no AC on the train, and there was a dining car, so we drank lots of beer and told ridiculous stories in order to pass the time. In hindsight, it was really enjoyable. The good news is I didn’t get detained at the Croatian border, but out of 5 people, I was the only one asked to open my luggage. Did they put an invisible stamp in my passport that tells other immigration officers to mess with me? I had to sit on my luggage in the middle of the train in order get it closed… what a pain.
Upon arrival in Zagreb, we went to go purchase our overnight train tickets, and we were really surprised when the ticket lady told us there was only an overnight bus, when on the internet it was very clearly a train. An overnight bus sounded like a terrible idea, so we decided on staying the night in Zagreb. Later in the week I met two guys that took the overnight train from Zagreb to Split. Yup… the train ticket ladies lied… damn them.
I didn’t see much of Zagreb, but I did see a bunch of cats. Cats everywhere. And I met probably the creepiest person in a hostel. Imagine Chris Martin from Coldplay with a really creepy smile. Upon us arriving, he stands up on one of the ladders and says “If I stand right here, I can look into all of the beds.” Then later, he was peering at us through a hole in the bunks, and said, “I can see you!” Creeeeepy. At dinner, we were all joking around that he was pretending to be one of the cats in the main square in order to watch us, and strangely enough, as soon as we were done with dinner he “just happened to run into us”. SURE. He joined us for a drink (no invitation needed, I guess), and continued to be strange. Here is a conversation that we had, while the whole group was discussing the merits of Mamma Mia!
Me: I love Mamma Mia!
Creep: Of course you do, you’re a girl.
(Now, being someone who hates gender stereotypes, I was immediately annoyed, which I’m sure showed in my tone.)
Me: Oh really, so all girls like Mamma Mia! ?
Creep: Oh, so you’re that-kind-of-girl.
(What kind of girl?? I should have junked punched him at this point but instead I decided to let him keep going.)
Creep: I have this concept that if you do something unexpected when you’re starting a conversation…
(I interrupted him to say something snarky about his theory, to which he replies…)
Creep: It’s a concept…anyway, as I was saying, if you do something unexpected like say something mean or grab someones arm, they tend to react in one of two extremes…
Aaron: Right… I think you just describe what happens when someone gets pissed…
[Updated 6/2/13:] At one point in the conversation he aslo said in response to Katie having just graduated nursing school, “If I were a nurse, I would slowly poison people, and no one would know for like, 20 years”
Really it’s a miracle he didn’t chop us all to bits in the middle of then night.
The next morning we hopped on our bus to Split, and being the geniuses that we are, we bought of bunch of beer and snacks. The radio was playing on the bus, and after each song a guy would come on and say ‘Radio Zagreb’, but the Zagreb part was a whisper. It was hilarious, so we started a drinking game that evolved throughout the 5 days that we spent together. Here are the beginning rules:
-Anytime someone says ‘Zagreb’, you have to drink. Even if it’s a total stranger and you overhear it. “Where did you guys come from?” “Zagreb.” Drink.
-Whenever Katie saw water, she was supposed to drink. We’ve been on the coast for awhile now, so luckily for Katie we didn’t hold her to this one all of the time, or she’d probably be dead.
More rules have been added, but we’ll get to those in my next post. Public transportation is not always fun, but you can make it fun!