Unfortunately, I can not remember the password to this blog! So I have to rely on writing all my blog entries by sending them through my flickr account. And just as I've started to upload pics from my Euro trip, I have hit the 200 photo free membership limit (I never did load enough from Vietnam and Cambodia last January). So as I get my act together to become a flickr pro, I must start my Venice travels with another photo that doesn't match what I'm writing about. Also, if I hit the publish button without doing a spell check, as I did last night, I have no way to correct it later! Argh! Oh yes, and this little fella is a funky dog who posed for the camera next door to Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna!
Venice, in a nutshell, is a really gorgeous city. But it is also a museum of a city. The whole place seemed to designed for tourists. I didn't see one person there who didn't work in hospitality. But I guess that's what keeps people there, and gives them a solid income. But yep, it sure is an impressive place. Maybe it's because I was wandering the streets and canals with a group of city planners, but there were so many basic town planning principles that were used in its design that it makes a city like Venice work, and work really well. If only my home city could learn a few things about how to make a city work well for people. Of course there were a few things I didn't like about Venice, but there was more that I did like!
I was there with a group of about 37 planning industry folk and we were on a mission to travel from Venice to Prague via mostly Eastern European cities. I went to many places, some of which I've been before, but a few places I hadn't been to before either. For my own memory when I read this in a year's time, I went to these places in this order:
Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Palmanova (and a few other towns in the Venice area -um, i'm trying to remember the name of that town that had the world's oldest Byzantine mosaic on it's church floors from 300AD), Trieste, Bled, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Pecs, Budapest, Gyor, Bratislava, Vienna, Cesky Krumlov and Prague. After the tour finished I traveled for another three weeks on my own.
I've never really traveled in a large group before, I generally prefer independent travel, but it was a really great trip and I got perspectives of places that I wouldn't have gained had I just been only partying and backpacking my way around. Not that I didn't go hard. I think I had about 4 or 5 all nighters, lasting until well after sunrise, mostly as a result of drinking more than 4 red bull wodkas in the one night, not to mention drinking probably every night. I seem to recall whipping out the wonderful Wodka Zoladkowa Gorzka the very night I returned home. Oh yes, Polish vodka played a big part of the last part of my trip too. But all in all, it was a good trip for having fun and I also gained a lot professionally from the experiences.
After the planner tour finished I stayed one more night in Prague, and then went up to Berlin to meet my old friend Katrin from my 2001 travels. We were lucky enough to time it so that my arrival in Berlin coincided with the completion of her last exam for her uni degree. I arrived in town an hour after she left the exam hall for the last time. That led to fun times in my favourite of all cities :) After five days there, I caught the train to Poznan, just three hours east of Berlin in the west of Poland. There I caught up with a friend that I haven't seen for even longer, Julie and her husband Pascale (pics of them on flickr). The last time we had seen each other was when she stayed at my pad in Sydney for the 99-2000 new year! After a week or so of fantastic times and travelling around the area of Wielkopolska, I caught the 4 or 5 hour train up to Gdansk, where I was reunited with Emma, whom I had not seen since she visited me in Perth wayyyyy back in 2002. It was great to see her again, we had a fantastic time, and amazingly enough from the moment we met up we were hanging out as if no time had passed at all. It sure is a pity that Australia is so far away from Europe! I really love being able to get around so easily and see my friends, not something easily done for someone living in Perth. After Gdansk, it was a whirlwind of flights firstly to Warsaw, then 22 hours with the rellies in Athens (on its hottest day of the year), followed by 10 overnight hours in Dubai again, then a mega flight back to Perth.
I will write in more detail about each of these places, but I thought i'd better get the whole trip down, so I don't forget bits when I'm trying to remember in the future.
Now.. where and when to go for my next adventure..