Athena to Venezia

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After two days in Athens getting settled back into the van and touring the Acropolis again, Mike and I began our road trip to Amsterdam. From there we will fly home in time for the holidays; Christmas, New Years and my 28th birthday! :-O

We’re only half way as of now. It has been a fast paced tour. In five days we drove from Athens to Venice, with stops in Albania, Serbia & Montenegro and Croatia.

Albania is a poor country, but one that looks to be making fast progress. Driving through the countryside we spotted only a handful of females. Islamic conservatism is supposedly on the rise there, so we figured all the ladies were probably hiding indoors. Then we came to the capital city of Tirana and found that’s where they all were. We spent two days gazing at the fashionable girls with platinum black hair and don’t-you-dare-ask-me-for-directions LA attitude.

On our way from Albania to Croatia, we spent one night at a truck stop in the desolate flatlands of Montenegro. The men and woman in red overalls working there were wide-eared to our strange accents. It was obvious not many Americans showed up in those parts. They were exceptionally friendly and one eager gentleman offered us free travel advice, which I egged on as I saw his excitement to be using English.

Croatia was breathtaking. It has some of the most beautiful coastline I have ever found. With the nation slated for EU membership in a few years, it won’t be long before the bustling and hip capital Zagreb and the romantic, walled coastal city of Dubrovnik become iconic and well known European destinations. I was surprised to find a country westerners hear so little about to be so developed for first class tourism. If you are planning a trip to Europe, seriously consider visiting Croatia.

After two days in the south, we came to Zagreb. There I had my first CouchSurfing experience. CouchSurfing is a traveler’s network I joined some time ago, but never fully leveraged. Mike and I were just looking for a free shower, but the Slovenian Zagreb resident Barbara was so friendly and hospitable, that we ended up surfing her couches, which happened to be white leather, post-modern style couches set far apart from each other in the wide open, hardwood floored living room of her chic downtown apartment.

Before the actual couch surfing, we had joined Barbara and her friend Helen for dinner at a tucked away Italian restaurant. Over fancy pasta dishes we talked about our travels, our philosophies, our favorite literature, how French people don’t shower and why Americans are fat. After dinner, we drank organic apple juice Barbara’s mom had made and I ate more than my fair share of little cookies she had put out on the coffee table. By the time we woke up in the morning, Barbara and Helen had both left. The apartment was empty save me, Mike and three large cats who drank fresh, clean water and ate from bowls set in a corner of the kitchen plastered at cat’s eye-level with nature photographs.

From Zagreb, we made good time through Slovenia, into Italy at Trieste and finally to Venice, where we found a parking spot on the roof floor of a ten story parking garage. Sitting up in bed, through the rear window of my VW bus, I can look down onto the Grand Canal, over rooftops and clear across the entire Venetian island to St Mark’s Square. There are even toilets at the base of the elevator. Not bad for 20 Euro’s a night!

One Thought on “Athena to Venezia”

  1. Suzy Says:

    Within the same paragraph you mentioned your conversation about Americans being fat and then you mentioned how you ate more than your fair share of cookies…. Looks like you were the real life specimen right before their eyes!!! GOBBLE GOBBLE!!!

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