Sunday, 27 February 2011


I'm now in Ljubljana, Slovenia. From Sofia, I went to Belgrade, which was an interesting train ride. Few police men came in at the border and started searching the compartment like they were trying to take apart the train. We had to step out of the compartment while they were working. Taking off the light cover, poking a stick in between of the walls, unscrewing stuff. And they didn't even touch our luggage. Since I was taking night trains and night buses for awhile, changing cities in a daytime felt different. Less tiring. Belgrade was interesting city as well. Bombed buildings still remaining with collapsed walls. I think it was snowing the whole time I was in Belgrade. Stayed in Belgrade for a few nights and moved to Zagreb. Only stayed for one night and took the early bus to Dubrovnik so didn't have enough time to do sightseeing. Almost twelve hours on the bus, exhausting.
Walked around the old town and took the night bus back to Zagreb. Spring was much more advanced in Dubrovnik compared to Belgrade. It was great just sitting on a bench absorbing the sun and breathing in the warm wind. I arrived at Zagreb early this morning and took a train to Ljubljana. I'm moving swiftly because… because I have to go home. I have some stuff to sort out to resume my studies. I was not sure when to go back but I was expecting a bit later. Although, I was thinking this could be a good thing because if I had a plan, I would be thinking about going home and remembering about the great journey all the time like two weeks before the departure. I only had less than a week before deciding when to go back and my brain is already in a mess. Remembering where I've been, thinking about Japan… Times on the bus or train, I can't stop thinking about my year. Slowly I'm waking up from my dream, or, I'm drifting into another one. Who above, sunny Dubrovnik. below, poser in Sofia.

Friday, 18 February 2011


I came to Sofia yesterday taking a bus from Istanbul. It was like ten hours ride but we stopped at the border for one to two hours. It was funny watching people buying packets of cigarette and taking off the foil and chucking away the box into the bin. Sometimes there were three gathering and doing the unwrapping. It was like as if they were having a competition. I didn't know why they were doing this at that moment but soon I knew why. They wanted to pack their cigarettes as compact as possible so that they can hide it when the Bulgarian customs came to check on them. One lady said something to me in Bulgarian which of coarse I didn't understand. I think she wanted me to carry her cigarettes in my jacket. No, I said. Some hid it in their bags, in their pocket, bus conductor using the compartment where they keep the teas and cups and stuff. So it was like Turkish border, duty free, Bulgarian border. Amazing what those custom people can do to a luggage, I was peaking out the window. They picked a luggage and found a parcel in it. It was well packed but one of them used a cutter knife and opened it up. There was a fine jacket inside, maybe a present for somebody. Stuff it back into the box, they moved onto the next luggage. I know they have to do it since it's their job, but I could see some kind of joy or even malice when he was cutting open the parcel. After the jobs was done, they carefully replaced the luggage back to where it belonged like handling their own luggage (you know this is not true). The custom guy looked so happy. Almost whistling and juggling his key in his hand. Job done. Luckily, my backpack wasn't the target.
I'm going to do sightseeing tomorrow. Bulgaria, land of Yogurt.

picture: aya sofia, istanbul

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Pamukkale, Efes

Arrived at Pamukkale around six am. Rest for awhile and started our walk to Pamukkale around noon. It is winter so the famous pools are dried up. Or maybe it was because of the construction which was annoying with noise and cables. Had to walk bare foot on the hills of calcium carbonate. Sometimes the water was ice cold but the actual temperature was warm with the sun beaming right at us. It was amazing site but I was expecting to see the pools like in the photos so a bit disappointed I must say. We left Pamukkale for Efes around four, only four hours ride.
Stayed one night at a hotel and Efes tour the next day. Efes, the Turkish beer is names after the place so I heard. City of Efes was again, amazing. Old library, old toilet, old theater. Had cold lunch at a local restaurant. They serve cold dish in most of the place we went in Turkey, not my favorite style. Got back to hotel, got our luggage and last bus ride to Istanbul. Another ten hours.
I've never joined a tour before but it was good. I don't have to plan anything. No responsibility, just follow the schedule, which is easy sometimes. For Cappadocia, I think taking a tour was a good decision.
pictures: above, Pamukkale. below, Efes.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


I stayed in Istanbul for two nights and joined a tour for Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Ephesus. I was going around with two Chileans but one left for Lebanon so me and Jaime joined the tour. The bus to Cappadocia departed from Istanbul around eight thirty pm. Ten hours bus ride to the main town in Cappadocia, Goreme. I wouldn't say the bus ride was fine.
First day, we checked in at a hotel and soon left for the tour to go around Cappadocia. The Green tour as they called it. Walking was the main part of the tour. We walked through a valley and had a panoramic view of Cappadocia. I wasn't that tired during the day but when got back to the hotel, I couldn't stay up no longer.
Day two, Red tour. Red tour was more about the culture. Pottery and museums. Since I have no knowledge about Christianity, I enjoyed the green tour more. We were going to do a balloon tour in the morning but we decided not to since it was cloudy and the tour guide didn't show up. He came into the room just after we went to bed. He said "we are here so if you don't come now, you are going to lose your money, your choice". Non sense. They were late for forty five minutes without telling us and now they act like it was our fort. We called the tourist office in Istanbul and changed our balloon day to the next day.
Day three. Got up at half five for the balloon tour. The bus came almost on time. They took us to a field where the balloons were getting ready. I think there were twenty people on each balloon. The ride was absolutely stunning! Lift off as the sun rise. Pretty cold up in the air but it was all worth it, money, the trouble the day before. Super. Another amazing thing was the landing. The basket of the balloon landed on a truck with all of us on. That was one fine steering. After the ride, had a nap and went for a walk. Walk around Goreme, maybe for like five hours. So quiet and spiritual place. Had a nap under the sun and I felt like I was unconscious more than being asleep. I was like "where am I", when I woke up. Strange. Decided to walk back to the hotel. Jaime said he had the same strange feeling. Now, the going back part was the most memorable part in my whole tour. We were taking a short cut going through old cave houses. Then, when I was looking for a next path, I saw five sheep sleeping a few meters ahead of me. So, I was about to say to Jaime, "ha, sheep". But the thing is, they weren't sheep. When I said "ha", all of these sheep like creatures woke up and started barking. They were massive dogs trained to attack wolves. One of them got up on four legs and started running toward me barking. I was about to run away but I didn't because I knew it is the last thing I should do. I was actually shouting "sugar!! (well, kind of)" to Jaime. He was panicking too but not like me. He was about to run away too but he stopped. My back was to the dog, was too afraid to look back. I remember asking Jaime "is he going to bite me?". I was ready to give my right arm and hit as hard as I could with my left. I hard that's how to fight a dog, keep your dominant hand for fight and give the opposite. I wasn't, but I was in a way ready to be attacked by five giant dogs. Man, that was scary. I love dogs but I'm not going to lie, my legs were trembling after the encounter. The dogs just run toward us a bit and stopped after all. We were laughing all rest of the walk. I'll never forget that. Got back to the hotel, waited till eight and caught the bus to Pamukkale, another ten hours.picture: above, balloon tour. below, camel on the right, goat like creature sitting in the middle, and there is a hand on the left. palm showing this way and it's like catching something.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


Train arrived at Istanbul around eight am. We had kebab for breakfast. I thought Turkey is the place to eat kebab but we all thought that it's the worst kebab so far. We know that we are't going to that place anymore. Got to a hostel, put our luggage down and we started sightseeing the city of Istanbul. Bit cold in the shade but it was a fine day. We went to blue mosque, Aya Sophia and Topkapi palace. All amazing and massive. So many tourist too. We walked all afternoon and we were quite tired with the uncomfortable sleep. Might visit the same places tomorrow just to see the exterior and more other famous places. So much to see in above, sun and cat. below, thessaloniki to istanbul

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Night train

We were so tired that we were sent off to the dream world as soon as we hit the hay. Next morning, we left the luggage at the reception and went out to explore the city of Thessaloniki. Visited a couple of world heritage sites. Felt like the city was busier than Athens, more people, more car, wider roads. So many people having a evening drink by the port as the sun set. We collected our luggage and went to the train station to catch the night train to Istanbul. I'm so glad that I met these Chileans at Kalambaka. They have a plan and that's what I needed to visit as many places in limited time.
Train departed at eight. Few minutes later than the schedule. I went to sleep not too long after the departure. Got up with the voice "passport" from the corridor. It was around two am and we were crossing the border to Turkey. The police took my passport and got off the train. I wasn't sure why but soon he came back with it. I was browsing through my passport but there was no stump. Despite my confused feeling, the train started the journey again. But soon, I'm not sure how long it was after the passport check, the train stopped again. Police knocking on my door just like before and asked me for my passport. He checked it, kept it with him just like before and said "okay, you can get your visa". Not sure what's going on but I got off the train and went into a room which it said Visa, still half asleep. Signed my name on a paper and payed fifteen euro. Then the man at the desk said "okay", and I got back to my bed. I had no idea what was going on. When I asked one of the police officer, he just said "I don't speak English". I knew nothing bad will happen but I wanted to know where my passport is going and when I'm getting it back. Police officer came back after a bit and gave me the passport back. Next time, I had a visa stamp on my passport. Now it was all done. I got back to sleep. I was surprised I slept quite a bit in that shaky, noisy train. Not a comfortable bed but at least I sunset sea. zoomed in. Thessaloniki

Friday, 4 February 2011


I left Athens on the third. About six hours train ride to a town called Kalambaka, which is the town close to Meteora. I met a group of people who were staying at the same hostel in Athens at Kalambaka. Next day, we started our hike around nine. Meteora is an area where monasteries are built on top of rock towers. Our day started with sunshine but there was still snow left from the previous night. I wasn't expecting snow in Greece. Though some parts of the hike was a bit tricky with the snow and ice, we managed to do our good six hours round trip visiting the monasteries. The view was absolutely amazing and the tower rocks made the scenery so unique. The monastery on top of the rocks weren't as old as we expected. At least it didn't look old.
We got back to the town and caught the train at half five. There were six of us in the group but half went back to Athens and the rest, including me, headed toward Thessaloniki, four hours on the above, tower rocks sprinkled with snow. below, closer shot of the monastery which is in the middle of the picture above.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

ruins, dogs, strikes, Athens

I left Spain last Sunday, stayed one week longer than I planned. I flew to Athens from Barcelona.
In the village I was staying, the Almond trees were starting to bloom. I left just before the full blossom.
Athens is busier than I expected. Many cars and tourists. And what it surprised me the most was that there are so many dogs. Not skinny old stray dogs, but big fat ones. They sometimes walk close to people to beg but most of the time they are sleeping on the street. Very quiet and calm they are, but I felt a bit of uneasiness when five of them suddenly appeared at the hostel entrance. No harm, they came just to sleep there. Also many police in the city center maybe because of the strike. I heard the metros and buses aren't working. It's not hitting me that hard but it is a big issue for the people who wants to go to the airport. Can't walk to the airport so the only option for them is to take the taxi. So, I may not seeing the best time of Athens but I did go to the Acropolis, where it was also inhabited by dogs. It always amazes me when I see a big dog lying in the middle of a path. I like dogs but I thought Athens isn't a place for those who hate dogs or scared of them. It was strange and funny for me. I'll leave Athens tomorrow and go to a town called Kalambaka. I'm visiting Meteora from there. Buses and trains leaving Athens are running okay(so I heard).
Entered the month of February. Chop chop, get moving.
picture: Parthenon