52 hours on a bus and speaking ‘Croatianish’

Hello!

The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy busy  – you’re about to read why! Apologies in advance for the blog/pictures/videos spamming!

So the Netherlands schools/universities don’t take long Easter holidays like back home, but instead they take 2 weeks at the end of April/start of May with a special public holiday on the 27th April called ‘King’s Day’ where they celebrate their king (yep, I suppose that was self-explanatory). Everybody dresses up in orange as this is the colour of the Dutch royal family (Prince William of Orange and all that!) and red, white and blue (the colours of their flag).  So of course, we wanted the full Dutch experience, and decided to go to the Kingsland Festival in Amsterdam, where there were four main stages with different DJs playing every hour. Before that, we had a walk around Amsterdam where the Dutch version of car boot sales were going on. Everyone had pulled out all of the stuff they didn’t want any more and were selling it on the side of the street (a tradition on King’s Day apparently). We made it to Amsterdam RAI, and I can’t even put into words how good a day we had! The atmosphere was unreal and it was class to see everyone just abandon everything for one day and just unite in their Dutch traditions with no-one kicking up a fuss about the roads being disrupted or anything like that!

We stayed in Amsterdam that night because the next day we were heading to CROATIA/SLOVENIA!!! It made no sense to go home to Nijmegen so we just chilled out in Amsterdam and stocked up on food supplies for the weekend. We got the bus from Amsterdam at 3.30ish, choosing the best seats to get settled in for the 17 hour bus journey ahead.

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It was a great chance to have a good oul chat with all of the girlies, and Rachel got to question us about where we were going and whether or not they spoke ‘croatianish’. Our trip was booked with a company called PM2AM Student Trips, they specialise in bus trips from Netherlands/Germany/Belgium and the whole weekend (transport, accommodation etc.) cost less than 150 euro which is less than the cost of one flight there! That is all well and good if you’re like Erin and could sleep on a bed of nails, unfortunately myself and Rachel aren’t as fortunate, so we saw every hour on the clock, sitting on the stairs in front of the windscreen watching all the Dutch/German/Slovenian Larry tangs zoom through the night while chatting to the bus driver! At about 6am we came through the Austrian mountains which were so beautiful to see as the sun was just rising, it was about the only time we were glad to be on the bus wrapped up in blankets. We arrived in Lake Bled, Slovenia at about 7.30am – there’s something I never thought I would say! We quickly made our way to any sign of civilisation, ending up in a 4 star hotel, where we got changed and freshened up from the (lack of) sleep from the night before! We felt like absolute tramps!! However, it was definitely worth seeing Lake Bled so early in the morning – absolutely beautiful!

We got back on the bus to head to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia!! Our lovely geographical expert Rachel thought we were heading to Zagreb and then Croatia – I don’t know where she thought it was, probably Poland! The journey to Croatia was fine, except when we got to the border control which took two and a half hours! Anyway, long story short, we made it to Zagreb and checked into our hostel – (Chill Out Hostel – would definitely recommend for a weekend in Croatia!)

The rest of the girls went on a guided tour with PM2AM but Rachel and myself were absolutely zonked from the night before so we had a quick nap then went to give ourselves a self-tour of Croatia!

The afternoon wouldn’t have been complete without some ice cream, then we headed back to the hostel to go out for dinner with the girls. Who knew that finding a table for 11 people would be so difficult? In the end, we found somewhere to eat, however the burgers came with a black bap which was the most bizarre thing, although thankfully they were properly cooked compared to Brussels!

The next day, PM2AM brought us to Plitvice National Park for the day. It was absolutely beautiful but MASSIVE!! Of course, with us being us, there had to be a SCENE! With the combination of a big group and the crowds at the park, we decided to split off into smaller groups. So near the time we had to get back to the bus, we were at the other end of the park waiting for the onsite bus to bring us back as we were told it was a half hour walk (and we had 20 minutes lol). Erin had already made her way back to the bus so it was Rachel, Thomy, Valantia and I waiting on the bus. However, so was half the park and there wasn’t enough room on the bus. We were determined to get on so we pushed our way through, however the bus door closed just as Thomy managed to get on, nearly slicing Valantia in two in the process! So, we waited for the next one, and waited until we finally got on a bus, and then got asked to get off again!! So we began walking, and discovered that Thomy’s bus and another were blocking the driveway because they had tried to pass each other and had got stuck… They wouldn’t do well in a silo!

So we awkwardly walked/ran to the entrance, hoping to make it before 6, however when we arrived at the bus, we realised the same thing had happened to loads of people, including the rest of our group. After a phone call to a stressed Annie who told me the tour guide had said they may have to get a taxi back (130km), they also managed to run back to the bus just in time.

We finally made it back, and went out for dinner to a pizzeria (always a safe bet in a foreign country), however the waiter completely messed up our order and I ended up with a cheeseless pizza.. How is that even possible!! The waiter was so rude also, and kept saying “remember that bill doesn’t include tip.” Safe to say, he didn’t receive one!

The next day, we set off early for Ljubliana, the capital of Slovenia. There was an organised tour which seemed to go on forever!! The lady talked so long at each stop that Rachel and I managed to dodge into an ice cream shop for some relief! It was so hot that day, it was fab to finally see some good weather, we got some laugh out of Erin, who had a strap top on, which under her backpack made her look like she was wearing nothing!!

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We toured about Ljubliana all day, finally getting our lunch after the age-long tour at about 4pm – Slovenia is so cheap for food! We then headed up to Slovenia Castle, which had a beautiful viewpoint of the city

By the time we got some souvenirs, stocked up on food for the remaining bus journey and saw some more of Slovenia, we were absolutely wrecked, and it had started raining so we headed for our dinner. Rachel decided she would treat herself to her long-desired steak – Ellis (who works in a steakhouse back in Birmingham) gave us a lesson in cooking steak, and tried to convince Rachel to go for medium-rare, but to no avail!

We headed back to the bus to make the 17 hour journey home. I sat beside Ellis on the bus home and we settled in for another sleepless night. In hindsight, we really could have made better use of this by revising for our exam the next week, but in the words of Valantia – “I care but I will not study”. At around 6.30am the bus drivers made everybody get off the bus, I had just gotten to sleep and Erin was in her pyjamas, so there were very unhappy faces all round, the German service station was an absolute rip off for coffee too. The journey home was a long one, and we finally arrived in Arnhem at about 5pm, feeling the worst I have ever felt, which wasn’t helped by Sarah and Erin’s tuna salad which had been left up beside the heating and stank! Erin and Rachel ended up with swollen ankles from sitting in one position for too long which has caused Rachel to declare that pregnancy is not an option for her, she’s adopting! Another two buses (couldn’t have seen them far enough) and a train ride later, and we were back in Vossenveld and collapsed into bed!

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It was great fun going with all of the girlies, and they really did make the sleepless nights worth it with their banter – so shout out to you guys – you’re the best!!

Finally, a video:

Naomi x

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