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Posts tagged ‘trains’

November 10, 2012 – The Full Story (Part 3)

You read yesterday in parts 1 &2 about how after much running, scrambling, searching and decision making, we finally made it to our train that would take us back to Vienna. Or so we thought.

Part 3: Bad Luck

I don’t believe in bad luck. Not in the slightest. I do believe in bad coincidences, things that happen that you look back on later and go, “Funny how that worked out”. This bad coincidence started with – and I am not making this up – a black cat.

We were standing by this forsaken train station, recovering our breath after having just run uphill to catch a train that would come in 2 minutes and take us home, when Holly saw a black cat cross the train tracks. I point this out, again, not because I think it means anything, but only because what was about to happen made us think later of that black cat and go, “Really? A black cat? How cliche can you get?”

So the cat crossed the tracks, Holly made cat noises at it, and we waited for our train to come. Holly ate some Pringles, and I took some photos, satisfied that we were home free.

Lazily, a train worker came out of the station and smiled at us. We smiled back. She said something in Croatian. I said, “Train”, and pulled out our tickets to confirm to her that we were good to go. She smiled and shook her head, and repeated, “Train”. “Right,” I said, “Train. We have tickets. Wir haben Karten,” I repeated in German, just in case that would work. “Nein,” she said. “Ja,” I said. “Ne,” she said. “Da,” I said. “No,” she said. “No train.”

“Oh,” I said.

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November 10, 2012 – The Full Story (Parts 1 &2)

By now you’ve probably heard about our misadventures in getting deported from Europe. If you haven’t, here’s the basic story:

Due to a misinterpretation of immigration laws (and to them being changed in the past several years), Holly and I had the misfortune of not being allowed back into the European Union after a weekend in Croatia, which we had taken because we thought we needed to, to get new stamps on our passports and essentially “reset” our visas. Unfortunately, our interpretation of the law was not correct, and after being stopped at the border crossing back into the EU, we were pulled off the train, put in a police car and driven back to Croatia to be left in the middle of the highway with nowhere to go and no way of getting there.

But believe it or not, getting pulled off a train and put in a police car and dropped off at a border was not everything that happened to us that day. That was just the bureaucratic icing on the cake. We haven’t even really told everyone about our full November 10th – just the climax that resulted in our 3 month, unintentional trip back to the US. But a story with all climax and no lead-up isn’t a good story. So here’s the lead-up.

Part 1: Hidden Gem

All travel is an adventure, and we like to travel purposefully with adventure in mind. But that philosophy is a gamble, and sometimes it turns out like November 9th, 2012 – a day spent in beautiful luxury, in a rarely-explored part of the world, in a hidden gem that we can call our own. That day, the gamble paid off.

But sometimes the gamble results in a day like November 10th.


Rovinj, Croatia, our hidden gem

We spent November 9th in our hidden gem, Rovinj, Croatia, a city so beautiful that it should be popular but so remote that it isn’t. Situated on the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia, the Italo-Croat village is another Venice, without the crowds but with all the atmosphere. The 18 hours we spent here were fantastical, romantic and bold, and we went to sleep November 9th with satisfaction and the exhilaration of new discoveries in our lungs.

November 10th, we woke up still in our own dreamland but in a rush. We had to leave town quickly to catch a bus, then a train, to take us to the neighboring country of Slovenia and then back home, to Austria. We walked through the Rovinj streets in the still, fresh morning, hating to say goodbye so soon to our discovery. But we were ready for more adventure.

Just not this kind.

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Thoughts On America While Road Tripping

Over Christmas, Holly and I spent three weeks traversing the American South, from Oklahoma to Tennessee and Georgia, down to Florida, then through Alabama and Mississippi to Louisiana before heading home. The main purpose was to visit family for the holidays, but we purposely took extra time to relax and meander lazily through some areas one or both of us had never seen before.

During these three weeks and over 60 hours of driving, having just come back from 6 months in Europe, I couldn’t help but ponder my home country, and I tried to do this with as much of an outsider’s perspective as possible. Here are the results.

GA trees

Georgia trees

1. One of the best things about the US is its nature

I was reading a forum one time where a British guy was asking other British people what he should see on his upcoming trip to America. One comment after another, the main thought was simply, “nature”. At first, that kind of surprised me. That’s your number one thing you want to see in the US? But after some thinking, it made sense. Europeans (generally) don’t have the wide open spaces we have. Nor do they have as much natural diversity. There’s beautiful nature in the UK, but it’s all very homogenous and compact, due to the high population density and size of the island itself. The same goes for the Continent. Europe has beautiful nature, for sure, from the Swiss alps to the Norwegian fjords to the Tuscan countryside. But it’s not as open. It’s not as diverse. And there’s really not that much of it, comparatively. Europeans have to live somewhere, right?



This is one of the major advantages of the US. Sure, we have a large population. But our country is that much larger. Our wide open spaces are more wide, and more open, and have so much more space. As I drove, I kept noticing the miles and miles of complete emptiness, from the Florida forests to the Georgia farmland to the Louisiana bayou. We have not even begun to scratch the surface of filling up America with Americans. Not that I’m not advocating we do. This is one of our great accomplishments, that we so far have been able to settle a continent from coast to coast yet (for the most part) have kept nature natural. We have kept civilization away from the wilds, and let wilderness flourish. With one of the lower population densities in the world (177th, behind countries like Madagascar, Afghanistan and Kenya), we can afford to do this, and it’s one of my favorite things about my country.

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