United Airlines, Airport Sleepovers, and Steve Feiden

There’s no better welcoming to remind you that you’re back in America than United Airlines. After our 5 pm flight was delayed 20 minutes at a time for 4 hours and ultimately canceled, we were welcomed with complimentary bottles of water for our overnight stay at the DC airport. The one saving grace to this unfortunate turnout was a single United customer service employee who decided to help out our group of students traveling back. This employee was the one and only Steve Feiden. Despite my complete lack of trust for this man, after 30 minutes of him cranking away on his computer and not having to wait in any lines, Steve came back and had every single one of us rebooked an another flight for the morning. Some, like myself, got luckier than others with a direct flight home, and other were a little less fortunate with another full day of travel ahead of them.

The saying goes that you never know what you have until it’s gone. Never has this saying rang more true to me than last night lying on the floor of the Washington DC airport. There was no waking up to a sunrise over a beautiful city, but rather it was someone vacuuming the floor directly next to your head. Instead of the warm hospitable people of Slovenia that were always welcome to have a conversation with you, you were surrounded by airline personnel who are battling between hating their job or the people they have to deal with more. There was no three course meal for dinner followed by an hour long conversation, but rather a bag of chips at a store where I had to beg the person closing to let me make a purchase.

Slovenia, you were amazing. You left me with more memories and great friends than I ever could have imagined. You blew my expectations out of the water and I cannot stress enough the need for anyone and everyone to see this place. As I finish this last blog of the trip, I realize that I only have one thing left to do…. convince my mom to come and see this place. See you soon Slovenia.

-Marty

Border Patrol, Bribery, and Croatian Jail

Throughout my recent years of travel, it has become an inside joke in my family that I am always the one who gets randomly searched or stopped going through customs or border checks. Coming onto this trip, I felt it was necessary to inform the group I was traveling with of this problem for when we did go to another country, they would be aware that they would most likely have to wait for me.

With this background, we will now fast forward to my trip to Croatia for a lovely morning round of golf. To get across the border, 5 guys and I all took a quick taxi in order to get to the golf course. When we pulled up to the border check we all handed our passports to the cab driver and waited for the border patrol guy to approve our documentation and let us through. After thorough examination of our passports, it seemed as if one was giving him trouble. All the sudden, he slams a passport against the window demanding, “WHO IS THIS?” Remembering the story that I told them earlier, my friends saw that the passport against the glass was me and began to laugh which just made the situation even worse. After finally acknowledging that the person he was looking for was myself, the man began to question me as to why there was 5 euro in-between the pages of my passport. It appears that when I wan in Venice I accidentally had put a 5 euro in my pocket with my passport and the two must have accidentally come together. Whether or not border patrol was mad because of the “bribe” attempt or in disgust that I thought 5 euro would get me anywhere is still yet to be decided. Moral of the story, however, is always check your passport before heading through border patrol because there’s nothing that’ll get your heart going like a Croatian border patrol worker who becomes visually upset and is looking for you.

A Quirk in European Dining

 

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On our trip, one of the most consistent things has been the food. It has been unbelievably delicious for very fair prices. We have eaten at wonderful restaurants and have enjoyed nearly all of our meals. Often times the interiors of the restaurants are beautifully decorated with artwork and detailed woodwork, while some establishments go for a more modern touch. You may be asking, “Whats wrong with this picture?” No one sits inside!

At almost every restaurant that we have visited, the patio is packed. But if you peak your head inside, you will find an empty restaurant. I think this can be explained for several reasons. The weather on this trip has been amazing and the locals are genuinely excited to enjoy the sunlight. In addition, there are just more things to look at while dining outside in Europe. Whether one is sitting along the Ljubljana river or enjoying a glimpse of the Slovenian Alps, everyone likes a dinner with a view.

The Most Romantic City in the World: Perfect for Friends

The trip to Venice was definitely one of my favorite experiences from the trip. After the boat ride across the Adriatic, we were all eager to explore the new city and see what it is so famous for. Unfortunately, as the boat docked, a rainstorm began and by the time we were standing on land, it looked like the streets were slowing turning into canals. However, the team made the decision to have a positive mindset and to make the best of the day.

I split off from the big group with three of my friends, Noah, Wyatt, and Marty. We had a wonderful day exploring Venice and seeing what the city had to offer. Initially, we went to a wonderful pasta restaurant that had authentic Italian cuisine. After the delicious meal, we went to the Rialto Bridge and decided that it was necessary to invest in  a Gondola ride to truly experience Venice’s famous canals. This set the group back about 80 Euros, but it was well worth it in the end. Finally, we spent the rest of the day roaming around the city, voyaging up the bell tower, and popping into high end shopping stores.

On this one day excursion, it occurred to me that traveling his always enhanced when you are doing it with people that you enjoy. It is fun to have a variety of perspectives and to be able to have fun discussions about the various things that you see. Overall, Venice will be beautiful for anyone who visits; however, friends are a necessary packing essential.

A Day on the Coast

slovenia3The day was started with a brief visit to Hidria and a less brief bus ride to Piran. However, the two hours in the bus were well worth the time on our trip to this Slovenian coastal city. Piran sits on a peninsula along the shore squeezed in between Italy and Croatia. The next three days are sure to be exciting in this picturesque and breathtaking part of the world. Tonight’s plans include watching the sunset over the Adriatic and becoming familiar with the new city.