Posts for November, 2014


A castle and cobbled streets (Ohrid, Macedonia)

Journal entry for Saturday 1st Nov, 2014 (day 474, miles 8356)

Todays activity was a visit to, and a little sightseeing in, the nearby town/city of Ohrid. The campground host organized us a taxi into Ohrid and gave us a couple of business cards so that on the return journey we could explain our destination.

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A Best Western parking lot (Skopje, Macedonia)

Journal entry for Sunday 2nd Nov, 2014 (day 475, miles 8477)

Today we made our way to Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. An unremarkable drive except perhaps for the bright autumn sunshine that eventually appeared to push away a morning mist. As we approached Skopje the highway turned into a motorway (or at least a toll-way) though in no way was it European standard. After a few toll stations and lots of pot holes we began to think that the road was more of an employment system for locals. There seemed to be a toll booth every 5 km or so.

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A visit to Skopje (Near border, Bulgaria)

Journal entry for Monday 3rd Nov, 2014 (day 476, miles 8647)

Around 8:30 we got the hotel reception to order us a taxi to take us into downtown Skopje for a quick look around. The taxi deposited us right near a big open square in the center of Skopje. We soon discovered that it was called Alexander the Great Square and had a whole series of extravagant statues of Alexander and other historical figures. Indeed as the morning progressed we noted that Skopje had a real taste for super sized statues of various figures.

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Castle, cobbles and English rock climber (Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria)

Journal entry for Wednesday 5th Nov, 2014 (day 478, miles 8759)

Yesterday morning we left our disused gas station camping spot in a blanketing mist and spent much of the morning driving through a grey haze. It was quite late into the day before the sun finally made its appearance.

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The Black Sea (North of Varna, Bulgaria)

Journal entry for Thursday 6th Nov, 2014 (day 479, miles 8917)

One of my goals for our Balkans Adventure was to get to the Black Sea and today was the day we headed for a town called Varna a largish coastal town and apparently a Bulgarian sea side resort. Because we are running out of time on this trip the exercise was symbolic rather than substantive as we only planned to stay there long enough to touch the sea and then move on, but, it seems to me a lot of travel is symbolic.

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Border crossing and ring route (Bucharest, Romania)

Journal entry for Friday 7th Nov, 2014 (day 480, miles 9113)

Today was "just a driving day", from Varna to Bucharest and for much of the morning this required back-tracking over yesterdays route generally through farming country. The day did not really get interesting until the Bulgarian-Romanian border.

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The Palace of Partliament (Bucharest, Romania)

Journal entry for Saturday 8th Nov, 2014 (day 481, miles 9113)

A tour of Bucharest was the order for today. Last night we had been briefed by some other campers about the process of catching a bus into the city and the fact that we would need our passports to visit the Palace of Parliament. So around 9:00 we headed off on foot to the local shopping mall to find the bus into the city. Along the way we discovered that our route took us right past the US Embassy.

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Dracula Country (Bran (Castle), Romania)

Journal entry for Sunday 9th Nov, 2014 (day 482, miles 9214)

We got an early start today headed north towards the region of Romania called Transylvania and maybe a look at one of the "Dracula" Castles. It did not take long to notice two things. The first was the signs, indicating that trucks should not be driving on the roads on Sundays (today) and secondly the large number of cars and the high level of activity in some of the smaller villages.

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Just driving along (West of Deva, Romania)

Journal entry for Monday 10th Nov, 2014 (day 483, miles 9419)

There is not much to say about today, we drove, making our way towards Serbia and the capital Belgrad. But we did not get that far today.

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The Danube (Belgrad, Romania)

Journal entry for Tuesday 11th Nov, 2014 (day 484, miles 9606)

As we approached the Romanian-Serbian border this morning we had the usual discussion as to whether we would join the line for cars/buses or the line for trucks and how would the border staff respond to us being in the car lane.

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Another fortress and more cobbled streets (Belgrad, Serbia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 12th Nov, 2014 (day 485, miles 9606)

This morning followed what is now a familiar pattern. From the camp ground walk to the bus/train/tram stop, figure out how to buy (or maybe not buy) a ticket and then join a crowd of locals going into the "city" ( what ever city it might be today), and then spend part of the day (and all of our energy) seeing the sights. However today was a bit different, missing was some of the enthusiasm that we (or at least Nina) has for the experience. Today we both felt jaded despite Belgrad's obvious attractions our interest was low. We concluded that we are experiencing the "headed for home" or maybe more accurately "too close to the end" syndrome and for both of us our thoughts are more focused on getting back to Germany, dropping off the truck and flying on to India and Australia. So in many ways today signaled the end of our Balkans experience.

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Back home- sort of (Zagreb, Croatia)

Journal entry for Thursday 13th Nov, 2014 (day 486, miles 9863)

After yesterdays realization that we are in "get there mode" today was simply a driving day. Navigation from the campground to the main highway west towards Croatia was pretty easy and then the remainder of the day was on good European highways all the way to the Zagreb ring route.

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A Black Forest Campground (Badenweiler, Germany)

Journal entry for Monday 17th Nov, 2014 (day 490, miles 10514)

In the past few days we have put on a lot of miles, traveling from Zagreb all the way across Slovenia, Austria and Germany to the Black Forest area in the South West corner of Germany. We will spend a few days in this area, catch up with our son Brendon and prepare the truck for 6 months in storage while we go do some other things outside Europe.

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A first taste of India (Delhi, India)

Journal entry for Monday 24th Nov, 2014 (day 497, miles 10514)

Again I am doing "catchup". We had a productive and pleasant time in Bardenweiler and as planned dropped the truck in Gaggenau on Friday morning. Spent Friday night in the Gernsbach Stadt Hotel (we have been there so often now that they recognized us) and Saturday trained to Frankfurt for our overnight flight to Delhi, India.

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The Start of our tour (Delhi, India)

Journal entry for Tuesday 25th Nov, 2014 (day 498, miles 10514)

At dinner last night we met our tour guide Rajeev and the other members of the group, a total of 7 in all, two Australian guys, a Canadian couple, Nina and I plus Rajeev. This morning as instructed we met in the lobby at 8:00am and then into a mini-bus for the "days events".

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First sighting of the Himalayas (Katmandu, Nepal)

Journal entry for Wednesday 26th Nov, 2014 (day 499, miles 10514)

Today we are off to Katmandu for 3 nights. Pickup at 8:00 by our tour bus and an 11:00am flight from Delhi airport. We did not really take much notice of the airport on our arrival. I guess we were too sleepy and got out of the place too fast to take much in. But it is a very large and modern airport. We soon discovered that the Indian security services have added their own touches to those familiar airport checkin, immigration and security screening process. Our boarding passes were checked at least 6 times between checkin and the end of security screening, and at the security screening posts a young uniformed official dutifully recorded the details from the boarding pass of every passenger into a hand written ledger (where of course the information is totally useless). After security we were confronted by a massive array of duty free shops.

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The streets of Katmandu (Katmandu, Nepal)

Journal entry for Friday 28th Nov, 2014 (day 501, miles 10514)

We have had two packed days in Katmandu, packed with Pagodas, Stupas, narrow streets, people and processions and a couple of "burials" - but we will get to that. At the end of our whirlwind visit the impression I will take away is that of a village that has grown into a city way too fast. With a population of around 4 million the roads and other infrastructure seem totally inadequate. But never the less the place is fascinating. Many of the historic and religious buildings are situated in "squares" that are still part of the public life of the city. So for example while standing looking at a particularly impressive Pagoda one can be passed by a tractor pulling vegetables.

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The Himalayas (Katmandu, Nepal)

Journal entry for Saturday 29th Nov, 2014 (day 502, miles 10514)

We were up early this morning and underway by 5:30am in order to take a scenic flight over (or really beside) the Himalayas. A quick bus ride brought us to a crowded car park and then a walk through an active building site and we arrived at the Katmandu Domestic Airport - really nothing more than a large waiting room that would eventually be packed with people waiting for planes. In the room there were people like us waiting for a scenic flight, trekkers with lots of gear waiting to fly to the starting point for their trek and piles and piles of supplies going to mountain villages.

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Life (and death) on the Ganges (Varanasi, India)

Journal entry for Sunday 30th Nov, 2014 (day 503, miles 10514)

Another early (5:30am) start today, this time in order to get to the banks of the Ganges River in time to see the start of the days activities. The river is called Ganga by Hindus and is worshipped as the god Ganga by them, and is one of the four mothers every Hindu has.

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