It’s a little strange for it to be my final day, I’ll admit I have very mixed feelings about this. Sofia has been successfully keeping me occupied so far which has been good. Yesterday I wrote a list of some places taking part in the Sofia design week and spent a lot of time searching out the galleries, also enjoyed drawing the Russian church for a while. In the evening I went to a couchsurfing meeting and met someone who offered to take me around today, so I’ll be catching them later to see the city with a local.
I have learnt so much being on my travels and feel very grateful for having had the opportunity to do a journey like this. It’s been so interesting, especially starting in Czech Republic which is very ‘western’ and working my way south where the countries seem to get poorer and in more disrepair and the people have less and less faith in the government. But it has been heartening to see that a lot of people have been so welcoming everywhere I’ve been, offering me opportunities to see life as they see it and not sugar coating it for tourists.
Some experiences I will never forget –
- Communist queuing (it took me a couple of times being queue jumped before I cottoned on, at first I thought people were in a group when they stood at the window together and then when one person left and the other just slid right in, I had a ‘hey!’ moment when I realised that standing a polite distance behind does not work here if you want to get served)
- Meeting specific people (one guy whose ex was threatening police action for stalking; making friends with locals who have been so kind to show me around – students in Olomoucs saved my trip there from being horrifically boring – the couch surfers I’ve befriended – the random Romanians I got talking to in Brasov; some of the people who work at hostels have gone out of their way to make your stay as great as they can make it – for example one guy in Budapest used fabric softener in my laundry, never has soft clothes meant so much as when you’re travelling – one woman running the Sibiu hostel was fantastic when I told her about my awkward experience with an over friendly train conductor; the woman whom I met in Krakow and were able to share the Auschwitz experience together)
- That being said, Auschwitz. Horrifyingly fascinating.
- The somewhat thrill seeking Crazy Guides tour of Krakow.
- Catching trains in Romania (scrambling over train tracks and complete lack of platforms)
- Having to learn 6 different languages for ‘do you speak English?’, ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘cheers!’. Please don’t test me when I come back – I’m afraid I won’t be able to remember them all…
- The fantastic festivals I’ve bumped into, counting 6 in all. The one that stood out most was the Sibiu Theatre festival.
- The hostel in Olomouc. A swimming pool, seriously? But at least everything else has been really nice in comparison. And truth be told, it could have been worse but to me it stood out.
- Having to communicate with people that don’t speak any English at all.
There is someone waiting for the computer and I’m probably over the time limit so will continue later…