Thursday, August 26, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
It was nearing lunch time so we headed to a vegetarian restaurant I had eaten at before to get some healthy but tasty food. As our train was not until 10:30pm we had a lot of time to kill so continued our exploration of Sofia.
A new beer was spotted so we took a seat and wrapped our lips around that. I think that makes the new beer total up to 7 so far so we’re doing pretty well.
We grabbed some supplies for our train journey and used up the last of our Bulgarian currency. It was then a short tram ride to the station, so we got our tickets and parked ourselves down on an available seat. One stop away and some ticket officers jumped on the tram to check tickets, which was fine as we had time stamped ours so they were valid. Unfortunately for us the driver had not informed us that we had to buy an extra ticket for our bags – not that they took up any more room space. So anyway we were about a stop away from the train station but had the ticket inspectors hassling us demanding we pay a 10lev fine each (equivalent to about £4) but I had spent the last bit of shrapnel I had on some snacks to take on the train.
I tried to explain I had no mor3e cash hoping they would just let us off for not knowing, but I ended up being frog marched to an ATM machine to get the cash. If I hadn’t had any bags it would have been so easy to outrun them but unfortunately I didn’t and also had a train to catch.
We got to the station in plenty of time anyway and found ourselves a bench to sit on in the delightful train station where you had flies landing on you every few seconds and no air-con so it was uncomfortable as hell. The train was then delayed and we were sat there wishing away the time – sometimes I would much rather be sitting on my sofa at home than in a situation like this when travelling.
The train eventually got in and we embarked on our ride to Thessaloniki. It was an overnighter so we got ourselves a sleeper train so we could at least get a bit of shut eye, which was a bonus but the toilets were less than desirable and there were mosquitos in their the size of my fist. The train got in about 5:30 and we used the directions I had written down from our hostel’s website to navigate us on the bus, which ended up being straight forward and we found our accommodation easy peasy.
The downside to this was that no-one would answer the door, which meant having to sit on a bench outside overlooking homeless people sprawled out on benches while playing a few games of gin rummy. Well so much for the advertised 24 hour check-in, after countless door bell rings Woody gave the phone number on the door a ring and was told that reception didn't open until 8am - go figure?? We then dropped off our bags and went for a wander around the town and visited some of the ruins and other monuments, at this point feeling absolutely disgusting and in desperate need for a shower.
Eventually we got to freshen up and after deciding there wasn't actually that much to do in Thessaloniki (not even a beach in sight) took a trip to the train station to sort out a ticket to Belgrade. Turning up at 2pm we were delivered the amazing news that the international ticket counter didn't open until 4pm so we ended up spending the afternoon chilling, or rather boiling in the cafe in the station. At 4ish we went over to find a huge long queue which was going down slowly but the most annoying thing was some guy we dubbed "the flanker" as he was trying to weed his way in half way down the queue - these foreign types, you never get an English national doing that we're pretty fair when it comes to queueing.
This is when it gets even worse as a woman asks where were going and send us off into another queue. When we get to the front (after 40mins) the woman at the counter tells us we're in the wrong queue and we need to join the other one, what a sham. So in the end a nice 4 hours spent in Thessaloniki train station, superb. We have managed to book our Belgrade tickets though and are off tomorrow on another over nighter.