Tag Archives: budget travel

At 17:40 I Regret Joining Rideshares

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been in a bizarre rideshare situation from my ride from Paris to Madrid, but this one tops it tenfold. It’s true that one of the greatest aspects of traveling consists of meeting new people, but it’s also true that since traveling puts you in contact with so many different types of people, you are bound to meet a few strange ones.

I spent a few days in Zurich catching up on sleep and rest. Non-stop movement through Switzerland, bad weather, and a nice apartment to stay in made it easy to stay inside and catch up on my journal for a few days with a few ventures out to dinner with my host and her friends… and I even mustered the energy to walk along the lakeside.

My Great Adventure 2013 2084

cavities in gemany

ich mag kein karies

If only they played the gummy bear song

If only they played the gummy bear song

A cute little cafe by the Lakeside.

A cute little cafe by the Lakeside.

I also made a strong attempt to figure out a financial conundrum. Switzerland is insanely expensive – I’ve plopped down $9 USD for a bottle of water at a not-so-fancy restaurant. Trains to Budapest, my next destination, were extremely expensive and flying was simply not an option.

I arranged a rideshare with a Hungarian driver, a Swiss-Jamaican lady, and a German young adult. I stealthily scoped the car quickly for weaponry and drugs, and got in the car feeling alert yet expecting a smooth ride.

That’s the thing about expectations – they are oftentimes very, very wrong.

17:00 I get inside the vehicle and sit in the back seat – behind the German boy and stare out the window. The driver and the German begin talking about cars.

17:30 We pick up Veronica, the Swiss-Jamaican woman.

17:32 The driver mentions that he used to buy cars in Poland and sell them to Russians and Italians.

17:40 The driver recaps a story where one time there was a “misunderstanding” in the car purchasing scheme and he had to escape prison to go find his papers proving the vehicle was his. Eventually, he was caught again and “everything was situated.”

17:40 I regret joining rideshares.

18:00 We are pulled over by the German police. The driver suspects it’s because he looks Romanian.

19:00 We drop off the German and Veronica moves to the front seat.

19:20 The driver asks us if we think “slavery was a little bit of a good idea?”

19:21 I argue with him as politely as possible. Usually extremely stupid questions send me off my rocker, but I did not want to anger a stranger who happened to be driving me.

20:00 The driver goes on a rampage about how the Hungarians will “soak the Hungarian soil with Romanian blood.” The conversation gets increasingly uncomfortable by the minute… he even expresses sympathy for the Nazis.

20:19 “I tried to kill a lobster with my bare hands and I didn’t like how it’s legs tickled my arms when it squirmed, so I don’t think I could kill a human.”

20:32 The seat I am sitting on is literally becoming unraveled at the seams because I’ve been picking at it anxiously for the past two hours.

21:00 We go to a gas station. My phone hasn’t worked because we’ve been out of Switzerland. Veronica begs me to switch seats with her because she hates the crazy driver.

21:30 I take comfort in the fact that this man has a wife and some children (according to his phone background)… so at least they would notice if he came back with a kidnapped American and Swiss-Jamaican… hopefully.

22:00 I close my eyes and just listen to the music. He screams at me that “it’s RUDE to sleep!”

22:30 He drones on and on about his life… details irrelevant.

23:00 He drones on and on about his life… details irrelevant.

24:00 He drones on and on about his life… details irrelevant.

01:00 He drones on and on about his life… details irrelevant.

02:00 We stop for a quick food and bathroom break at a run down gas station manned by a bored attendant. The peanuts I get offer me a sort of gluttonous comfort.

03:00 He drones on and on about his life… details irrelevant. Whenever I close my eyes, he screams that falling asleep is extremely rude.

04:04 He abruptly pulls over in a rest stop and takes a nap.

04:05 Veronica and I wonder (audibly) if this man is crazy… and if he plans on ever waking up. We are apparently less than an hour from Budapest. I entertain the idea of walking.

04:30 The driver awakens as if he never napped… He drones on and on about his life… details irrelevant.

05:00 We can see signs that promise Budapest is quickly approaching.

05:10 We get gas… nothing seems out of the ordinary. I look forward to getting out.
06:00 The driver realizes that he accidentally STOLE the gas. We turn around and head back to the gas station fifty minutes away just as we were pulling into the front gates of Budapest – he rejects my pleas to drop me off first before going back to the gas station.

06:50 We pay the gas station – who had already notified the police. Luckily he’s let off the hook.

7:45 We arrive in Budapest

8:00 I am dropped off at my hostel with Veronica, who refuses to be alone in the car with him. I don’t blame her, and we share my hostel reservation that I had booked the previous night.

I feel like jumping for joy, but take a nap instead.

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I Ran Into A Mediterranean Romeo & Juliet in Geneva, Switzerland

After Switzerland handed me a plate of harsh weather, I changed my clothes and dubiously embarked back out into the city. Part of me wished that I invested in a helmet before continuing onward, but I figured that my karma was good enough to a point where hail the size of marbles and golf balls wouldn’t pelt me a second time… at least, not a second time in one day.

And to be honest, I wanted to get out of my couchsurfer’s house because he ended up being somewhat of a Canadian chauvinist with what I interpreted as some form of Napoleon complex. The first few minutes in his home (he had other female roommates) he began telling me about his not-luck in Switzerland. Apparently, “the Swiss chicks are just as intimidated by a real man as the Canadians b*&#$es are when they see one!” Something tells me if you have bad luck with the two out of two national populations you’ve dated, then you’re doing something wrong with females in general.

I caught the tram to the Red Cross Museum. I loved the alone experience of going through it at my own pace, letting information seep into me while I looked over pictures and pamphlets passed out by the Red Cross during major world disasters.

Canopy outside of the Red Cross Museum

Canopy outside of the Red Cross Museum

Red Cross Museum

The mood was ruined only slightly by the fact that a rowdy group of 5th graders were taking their time through the museum as well. I was constantly speeding up in front of them so as to not be inundated by the voices of 10 year olds bickering in French, trying to avoid knocking over any displays in their bouts of cat fighting.

Colombian Safety Poster

Colombian Safety Poster

Chains symbolizing the struggle people have had to escape their dire situations.

Chains symbolizing the struggle people have had to escape their dire situations.

The most impactful sections were first, a display of artwork by people made during times of distress – either as prisoners of war or held in concentration camps. It’s amazing how the need to create perseveres even when the most basic human needs are stripped away. There truly were cases where people created something meaningful out of small scraps of nothing.

Secondly, the photograph’s of hundreds of children’s faces who were documented as unclaimed during the time of the Rwandan genocide. I examined their expressions, attempting to read into their little minds. What were they feeling? Did they trust who was photographing them?

After the Red Cross Museum, I walked a short distance to the United Nations Headquarters and scheduled myself for a tour. As a political science major, I geek out at large governmental buildings, so this was a joy for me despite my own very complex views of the UN itself – in short, I have a love-hate relationship with the UN itself. Still, I felt connected to the rooms that housed the signings of acts against atrocities that are so relevant to the world we live in today.

The UN entrance

The UN entrance

Chantae in front of the UN

An outside perspective from inside of the UN.

An outside perspective from inside of the UN.

One of the many large conference rooms housed in he UN

One of the many large conference rooms housed in he UN

Long ago, Moritz asked me what most people thought of when they thought of Germans. I responded with, “They love things made of metal.” Imagine my joy when I walked through a gallery of artwork given to the headquarters from every nation. From China, a large tapestry hung up on the wall filled with vivid colors. From the US, plaques of text art displaying the civil rights. From Germany, three circles made of metal nails… painted in various shades of grey. They say stereotyping is wrong, but how else can you explain this?

To: the UN, Love: Germany

To: the UN, Love: Germany

I went back to my host’s home and examined his garden that was inevitably destroyed by hail bombardment. “Hibiscus is the most sensual flower…” his voice rang in my head. I remained locked out until one of his roommates let me in.

My host's "sensual hibiscus"

My host’s “sensual hibiscus”

In the evening, my host brought me with him to an outside music festival. I joined some Swiss girls on the dance floor and had an amazingly good time dancing around to the salsa music.

Outdoor music festival

Outdoor music festival

Beautiful set up.

Beautiful set up.

A couple lingered around me for the entirety of the night – a Greek girl and Macedonian boy. For those who don’t know (I didn’t) Greeks and Macedonians are mortal enemies… the boyfriend spout out their Romeo and Julietesque love story to me.

Romeo: After the three date, I tell her that I love her. She say that she does not know me well. I was supposed to move back to Macedonia. So I do. Then after a week in Macedonia, I call her and tell her I love her again. She does not take this well.

Juliet: It’s true. I thought he was crazy.

Romeo: So I showed her I loved her by getting a tattoo of her as an angel on my back. To me, she is my angel. So she says ‘OK we do another date.’ So I move back to Geneva the next day.

He pulled up his shirt revealing a very thin and masculine looking drawing of the girl with angel wings.

I quickly glanced at my couchsurfing host, who also heard the love story, he was stifling a grimace… much like myself. I don’t know if the tattoo was more creepily romantic, or offensive.

He also told me that he taught her how to box. My eyes drifted to her wrist that was wrapped in a cast…

“Yeah, she broke her hand punching me.”

“Hmm…” I awkwardly respond, “love is a battlefield.”

They lovebirds fought the entire night after that, concluding with her drunkenly riding her bike home and him stumbling after her by foot.

My final day was spent with me topping off the rest of the touristy destinations I hadn’t seen yet.

Such as the chocolate isle of the grocery store…

Eenie meenie miney moe...

Eenie meenie miney moe…

The jet stream on the lake…

I did indeed run under this.

I did indeed run under this.

And finally, the flower clock!

geneva flower clock

I also witnessed this poor fellow try to pet a swan, which was painful for us both.

Swan whisperer

Swan whisperer

Granada Style!

For the record, the title of this post was inspired by this video – Granada’s parody of Gangnam Style. I suggest watching it if you have a lot of time on your hands and have a high tolerance for irritable youtube videos.

Lauren and I arrived in Granada and checked into Hostel Oasis since we had a good experience at the one in Seville. It was nestled in between the Arabic shops near the city’s main road. 

Overall, the hostel was not nearly as good as the one in Seville but still a decent place to sleep for the night. We shared the room with three German boys and a Canadian girl who had an excessive amount of eggs and kept trying to boil them in a thermos. Every once in a while, sometimes mid sentence, she’d open the canister and sniff to see if the eggs were boiled.

She cracked one open on the bed. I saw orange spill out of the corner of my eye.

“I guess it’s a bit soft still”

She slurped up the remnants.

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