17 July 2009

Seeing Slovenia

Another day, another train ride, another new country; it’s all in a day’s work for Charlton and me. After our Viennese coffee, we caught the train from Vienna to Graz along the Semmering Pass, the only train on the UNESCO World Heritage Sight List. Charlton had told me it was a famous line, but I was under the impression it was for its beauty. I thought some of the views were beautiful but they were nowhere near as stunning as those from the Golden Pass in Switzerland we saw two years ago. Later, I found out the reason it was a heritage sight is because of the engineering needed to construct the rail. Not that I know much about trains, but there were a lot of large bridges they had to build to get us around…so good for you OBB.

We got to Graz around lunch time. I had heard it was a university town and was looking forward to an Austrian version of Heidelberg. Not the case. The city had kind of the generic European feel with nothing that really grabbed you. I’m not saying it wasn’t nice, but it was just okay. Not knock you off your feet beauty. We grabbed some lunch at stand in front of the Rathaus then walked around town, grabbing some Mozart truffles, then sitting down to read in a park.

Then it was back to the station for the final leg of our day’s journey to Slovenia. We had inputted all the accommodation information into the Reader so we were well prepared for when we got in. Our B&B was closer to another station but there wouldn’t be a train from Maribor’s main station to that one for at least an hour if not more. We decided to walk it. Not the best idea. It’s now the middle of the dog days of summer here in Europe. It’s in the 90s and we had to hike 35+ minutes to the B&B. We walked and walked and were getting farther and farther from town. The GPS lead us to the B&B and that’s when it got interesting. The house was set behind another so we got confused on where exactly we were staying. The one that we booked looked like it was forgotten by time. Broken chairs and random junk was all over the lawn. Looked a little sketchy. Charlton knocked on the door and there was no answer. We both were sweating up a storm and just wanted to set our packs down. I gave a loud whistle and heard one back. Hooray we are saved! We found the source and it was a man in the upstairs window. I called out to him that we had a reservation and he just responded, “they are cleaning.” Um, ok. We waited, waited and waited some more. No one came down to let us in, or said anything else to us. And it didn’t even look like they we were cleaning! Who knows the shape of the room based on what we saw out front! Defeated we turned back to center of town in hopes of finding an affordable hotel. We weren’t too optimistic, everything had been really expensive online. I had already determined we were going to have to sleep on a bench outside the train station.

The GPS led us to the center of town and we walked into the hotel right off the square. Luckily, they had a double vacancy and at 52 euros a night it was right in our budget. We lugged the backpacks up stairs to throw them in our “dorm” room, they don’t call it the Uni Hotel for nothing!

We had picked up the city map from the train station and determined we could see all the town highlights by the end of the night. So we set out to see all 10 attractions, including the water tower and the world’s OLDEST grape vine. We also grabbed 2 McCountrys at McDonald’s and had McSundaes for dessert since it seems like everyone here in Maribor has an ice cream in their hand.

I had never really heard about Slovenia until my brother visited a year ago. Even then I wasn’t that familiar with the area. Maribor is really quiet tucked into beautiful countryside. There is quite a bit of Cold War cement when you venture out a little further, but it doesn’t overpower the rest. It’s kind of refreshing from all the BIG BIG cities we have visited recently. Glad we decided to take a peek.

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Through the Day

7:30am
Wake up and head down from our apartment in Vienna to find some breakfast.
7:45am
Find a delicious breakfast of Vienna Melange and some pastries.
8:15am
Return to apartment to get cleaned up and watch some BBC News.
9:15am
Check out of apartment and get 50 Euro deposit back despite my ring around the tub I left from getting the daily grime off of me.
10:00am
Catch train from Vienna to Graz while passing through the Semmering…Pass. Take in the beauty of the only railroad line on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
11:20am
Still on the train taking time to write the day’s blog post while sitting in ÖBB Business First Class. Contemplate how many people travel first class but still sleep in hostels and decide it’s probably just Kristen and I. Continue looking out the window taking in all the forests, chalets, cows and ski hills we’re passing. At the same time I’m listening to Nick Drake’s Northern Sky which provides a good soundtrack to my journey.
1:00pm
Arrive in Graz. Look for Arnold Schwarzenegger to no avail.
4:00pm
Arrive in Maribor, Slovenia, look for our hotel.
5:00pm
Still looking.
6:00pm
Still looking.
6:10pm
Found the hotel, no one is there. Stand in front like idiots for 20 minutes before giving up and walking the two miles back to city center.
7:00pm
Find a new hotel. Hotel is apparently and old dorm room. We pretend that we’re back at San Diego State.
8:00pm
Eat McDonald’s, not because we’re homesick but rather it is the only place that serves food that is open in Maribor.
9:00pm
Finish seeing the last of all ten or Maribor’s sights to see.
10:00pm
Day ends.

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