Den Bosch - Prague - Istanbul
18.09.2010 - 05.10.2010 15 °C
So after all the preperations it was time to say goodbye to family and friends. Saturday would be my last night out, so I sent an e-mail around, to meet in Cafe TweeKeerBellen, a small cosy bar that fills up easily. And it did fill up! Later that night we headed to cafe Zomers & Zomers, another bar I spent quite some time in the past years. I had a wonderful evening and I really appreciate that so many people showed up!
Wednesday night was my last time working at Hotel/Pub Terminus. I enjoyed working there for the past 2,5 years and I had to quit it because of the journey. The past weeks my journey was a popular topic at the bar. Some made such a journey, others would like to do it and some wished me the best but would not like to do it themselves. This last night the owners, my colleague and the regular customers gave me a warm goodbye. Thursday was the day of departure. Harold, Joram, Klaas and I were going to drive Thursday night to Prague. I arranged that we would depart from the harbor (Viking) where I grew up and spent most of my life. Before departure we had a few drinks with my family, some Viking members and some other friends who wanted to be sure that I was leaving. And I did not disappoint them, a bit before midnight I said goodbye and we hit the road. For me, a road that would bring me to the other side of the world and (hopefully) back. These moments of saying goodbye are always difficult, and it is hard to find the right words to say what you feel. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the sweet words and other ways of support! Thank you, I really appreciate it!!
In the early morning we arrived in Prague.
We could easily find our hostel, as we stayed there before. Harold and Klaas had never been to Prague before, so sightseeing was today's goal. But not before we made a reservation at the Brazilian restaurant, which is a compulsory component of every weekend trip to Prague. I really love Prague, so I always enjoy to stroll around. Also, the nightlife of Prague is really cool. My personal favorite is Lucerna music bar and that is where we went the first night. Luckily, the others liked this place as well. I really had a great weekend with the guys, and I guess (hope) they also had a good time.
Sunday they had to drive back home, I stayed. Thanks guys!! For bringing me to Prague and for the awesome weekend!
So there I was, alone! Will I be able to manage? Will I be lonely? Or will I still have people around me all the time? It was perhaps the right moment to raise those questions, but it was not the moment that I would get the answer. The answers will come in the next eight months.
I was going to stay in Prague for another whole week, so I just stayed in the same hostel: Clowns & bard, a nice hostel with a bar where you can meet people. As I will be living in hostels for the next eight months, perhaps it is a good idea to describe this week in the hostel.. (for those who have never stayed ın a hostel).
We stayed in a six-bed dorm and when Harold, Joram and Klaas left, there was just me and an American guy in the room. The American guy seemed a bit silent and not very interested in a conversation. That Sunday evening two Australian girls arrived, and stayed in our room. They were nice and we spent the evening drinking and chatting in the hostel bar. The next day, they went sightseeing. I wanted to visit some remote places that I remembered from the time I was living in Prague. Not tourist places, so I went alone. That night was the first time I actually felt alone. I went to a restaurant alone for the first time... (ok, it was a Chinese restaurant where you have meal for 2,50 euro and you are outside again within half an hour, but still..). When I went back to the hostel, there was nobody at the bar. I decided to go to bed and read a book.
The next morning everyone in my room checked out. Quite a luxury to have the whole room for myself, but not if you want to meet people. That evening the bar was quite empty again, but I decided to have a beer anyway and have a chat with the bartender: Ron. I actually talked with him before. Saturday night when we came back from the club, Harold and Klaas went to bed, whereas Joram and I decided to have another beer at the hostel bar. Ron was also working that night.
Ron and I both didn't really remember what we talked about the other night (it was fairly late), but Ron appeared to be a really nice guy. He is from Guatemala and worked in the hostel since two weeks. He said he was going to a battle of bands the next evening and asked me if I wanted to join. Of course I want!
From that moment I have been meeting people all the time. I met other people via Ron, but also the hostel got more crowded as the weekend was approaching again. İn the evenings I talked with people I met before and included the newly arrived people. And the next morning at breakfast you sıt together,trying to remember what you've been talking about..
I won't make a list of names, but I met a bunch of really nice people! Que hora es? Es la hora de decir, Salud!
Family visit and passport reunion
That weekend my aunt (Karin) and cousin (Jeroen) were in Prague. I was going to meet them Friday afternoon, as they had my passport. Yes, I went on an eight month trip without my passport.. But no, I dıd not forget it. The problem was that I was still waiting for one visa, so I had to decide: 1) Leave with passport, but missing one vısa in middle Asia. or 2) Leave without passport and get it sent to me in Prague. I chose the latter option. So on Tuesday my parents received my passport and were going to mail it to me. But as Karin and Jeroen were coming to Prague, they took my passport with them. Thanks!! On top of that, they invited me to the Brazilian restaurant. And, well, I just can't say no to that! I have the feeling they start to know me a bit there, because this time I had three pieces of filet mignon (not to mention all the other meat).
That Saturday we did some more sightseeing, some eating and some drinking.
In the evening I met up with some friends in the hostel. I was meeting Jeroen again at midnight, so I said goodbye to some friends and some others joined us to the center. We were ready for a good last night out in Prague. After Lucerna closed, we went to another bar, which closed one hour later. Then we found another place, a bit rough, but open. S o we spent another hour there and got kicked out around 7 in the morning. We decided to have one last drink in the hostel bar.. At eight o'clock Karin called Jeroen, wondering where he was. I guess it was time to go to bed!
I brought Jeroen to the metro station and closed my eyes at 8.30 in the morning.
Long ride down
The next day (Sunday, 3 October) I was leaving Prague. Destination Istanbul, which would take me about 40 hours by train. The first leg of the journey was Prague - Budapest. For this part I had two options: 1) train at 10.30h and plenty of time to change trains in Budapest. or 2) train at 15.30h and only have half an hour to change train (if there would be no delay). By the time İwoke up, there was only one option left..
Luckıly, the train was only 15 mins delayed, so 15 mins left to find the train to Belgrade. While searching the train, a guy asked me if I wanted to change money (it was almost midnight, so regular change offices were closed). Well, actually I still had 1000 Czech Koruna (about 38 euro) and I was not sure to be able to change it in Turkey, let alone after that. So I told him I wanted to change 1000 Czech Koruna ınto euro. He offered 30 euro, I said no, he offered 35 euro, I said yes. The whole transactıon (including negotiations) took about twelve seconds..
I found my train and had to wait at least 5 minutes (pfff) before it departed. It ıs off-season, so there was only one other person in my couchette. Nıce & quiet! But stıll not much sleep.
In the moning I arrived in Belgrade, changed 5 euro in local currency and bought a big bag stuffed with food and drinks. One hour later I entered the train to Istanbul and payed a guy 10 euro to upgrade my seat ticket to a couchette. Exactly 24 hours later the train should arrive in Istanbul.
The train slowly started to move, soon leaving Belgrade behind us. Well, soon... not that soon actually, the train was sooo sloooow..
So, enough time to have some nice conversations! With a nice Serbian guy, a nice (but strange) Czech guy and a Dutch couple. The Dutch couple was actually doing an overland (and sea) trıp as well. They are even going to Australıa. They were doubting whether to cross Pakistan or not. I told them about my plans to go to the other 'Stan' countries, and apparently enthusiastic enough to make them decide to go that way as well. Though they got much more time, hence travel much slower, so I probably won't meet them there.
In the middle of the night we had to leave the train to buy a Turkish visa. After that I slept quite well and got woken up by the Turkish sun shining through the window.. I looked outside, the Bosporus!
Only three hours delayed, 43 hours after I left Prague, I arrived in Istanbul!
"It is only when one leaves, one realizes what he is leaving behind"