Catch You Later, Croatia
Trip Start Jun 08, 2010
79Trip End Aug 26, 2010
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I did get to do a little more touring this morning. Because my hotel was close to the train station, which in turn was close to the Botanical Garden, I actually managed to see a little more of Zagreb before leaving. Specifically, I saw the Botanical Garden. It was a few blocks worth of trees and plants. Really, summer isn't the best time to see a garden, a lot of the flowers were looking pretty wilted, but it did have a nice variety of plants, detailed information about them in Croatian as well as English, and a small herd of turtles
Before boarding the train, I made sure to dig out my left-over euros. The basket of currencies was a little annoying. In my bag I had Swiss francs (for when I got back to Zurich), euros, US dollars, and kuna. By the end of the week, I'd need forints for Hungary. At least Slovakia was on the euro so I wouldn't have a different currency for every country. When I got to Ptuj, I went to the store and had to remind myself that "20" now meant euros, and was more like $25, than the $3 it was when the prices were in kuna. Everything seemed really cheap, though, with 4's and 5's instead of 20's and 30's.
The train ride was hot. The first train I was on didn't have A/C, and it wasn't cranked-up high enough to deal with the afternoon sun on the second. While sweating on the first train, I thought about how the A/C was broken on the train I took when I first came to Slovenia back in June, as well. It occurred to me I was going north on the same line I had traveled south to Ljubljana on a month ago. I checked the train numbers when I got to my hotel room, and I may have indeed been on the same train. I guess they never fixed the A/C.
Crossing the border by train wasn't too bad
He was a younger guy, maybe 20, with a brand new passport. The problem seemed to be that he couldn't provide them with any contact information for where he was going to be staying. I think he was staying with a person he'd only met on Facebook. They must have spent at least five minutes talking, as all of the other Slovenian officials gathered round our compartment. I definitely heard him say something towards the end like "I'm not a criminal."
He seemed to have gotten defensively pretty early on, maybe because he was young and not used to traveling by himself. I also don't think Croatians and Slovenians like each other a lot at the moment. Croatians may be a little resentful that Slovenia got into the EU right away and then spent a few years holding up the Croatian application because of a border dispute
Eventually, they stamped his passport and on we went. In addition to the Croatian, there was also a woman in my compartment. Both sets of border agents gave her back her passport almost immediately. I asked her where she was from to have no problem and it turned out she was German, but had been living in Alabama for most of her life. Since her German passport was EU, they barely even looked at it. She said she had flow into some EU countries from the US where they hadn't even bothered to look at her picture. We talked for a while about travel, the Gulf oil spill and the World Cup before we reached my stop. Germans were apparently sad that they only got 3rd.
After I arrived Ptuj, I felt very relaxed. On the way to my hotel, I passed an ice cream stand near the train station and had a cone. It was hot enough that I had to race to finish before it all melted, but I sat in the shade and there was a light breeze, so it felt cooler than the train. That was a good start, but I think the main reason for my mood was Ptuj was devoid of massive tour groups as well as general big city bustle. There were definitely a few tourists around, and some locals were out on the streets, but the much slower pace of the town was a bit of a relief after almost three weeks of crowded coast.