I've never been very skilled at learning languages (well, non-computer languages). I "studied" French for seven years in elementary and high school, the end of which I had memorized a few words for different types of clothes and body parts, how to conjugate verbs, and how to ask to go to the toilet, s'il vous plait. After seven years I don't think I could speak a complete sentence. In elementary school I was "diagnosed" with having some kind of auditory processing problems which means that it supposedly takes my brain longer to turn raw sounds into meaning. In grade 5 I even got a detention for not being able to respond to a phrase from my teacher that I really should have known (I actually did know the answer, I was just too afraid to speak). But it was about this time that I completely gave up all hope of ever being able to learn a new language.
We were in Paris standing on a platform on some hill, overlooking the city below. The orange rooftops, small winding streets, churches and cathedrals poking up above everything else and the Eiffel tower off in the distance. I took out my camera to snap some shots and... no batteries! Scott Mac and I had just arrived in Europe, and I'd forgotten the batteries for my camera! This was a disaster. I frantically ran back to find a store that might sell some, they were just double A's I needed after all. But no stores sold them. No one had even heard of this mystery "double A" sized battery. They had completely different kinds of batteries in Europe and I wasn't going to be able to take any photos for our whole five week trip!! My heart sank... "how could I forget my batteries!!??".
As I climbed into the minivan I started to think that perhaps I should've taken Rok's advice and written "no kidney" across my stomach. I had all my things with me, so at least in the worst case I could easily grab it and make a run for it if things came to that. My stereotypes of eastern europeans (or at least people that speak an eastern european / russian sounding language) have long been ingrained in my mind from countless James Bond and other spy movies. They all must be somehow involved with either drug or people trafficking, and probably pack at least one hand gun too, right? Well, these were the thoughts that lasted for but a moment on my "bus" from Venice into Ljubjana, Slovenia until I realized just how friendly everyone was, regardless of the fact that I couldn't speak a word of Slovenian and they could only speak a few of English.
The trip I'm on is a two week trip but would work well for a trip of any length if you're jumping between places. I pack differently if I'm going to be staying in a single place for a month or longer. It doesn't matter if you wear the same thing everyday if you're always in a new place (as long as it doesn't stink! :) ).
I arrived in Venice safe and sound yesterday and hopped on a boat into town. There's a bus you can take if you want and I think it's quite cheap... like 3 euro or something. But I decided to opt for the 15 euro boat trip in, about 75 minutes and well worth it.
I'd not pre-booked any accommodation for this trip, which is a first for me and admittedly I was a bit (irrationally?) stressed out about it :). When I got to my hotel the price per night was significantly higher than was listed on a few travel sites but I decided to stay anyway, mostly since the room seemed ok and I was tired of looking for a place. Everywhere else I saw was somewhat more expensive anyway. After checking in I ended up founding a place that was a bit nicer and the same price so I'll be staying there tonight.