A Travellerspoint blog

Istanbul to the former Yugoslavian country of Montenegro -22

22/34 Countries!

sunny 38 °C
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The first night in Istanbul was domianted by the snoring of the gentle man on the pitch next to ours. no matter what time of the night I woke up I could still hear him which isn;t great if like me you are a light sleeper. We decided that we would get up early on the whole day we had in Istanbul and head down to the beach. First attempted swindle of the day (after the fact that we have paid lots of money for a rubbish campsite with cold showers!) they wanted TL15 for each of us to entry onto the town beach from the entrance near to the camp site. We the told them to shove it and walked into two and went that route which only TL5 each so much better!

The beach had lush clear waters which were warm and until about noon the beach was fairly empty. I read a lot of my latest book Quirkology by Richard Wiseman and Dale played a bit of football and read some of his book Mr Nice. By about 1pm we decided that it was time to move off the beach get some lunch and head into the city centre for some looking around. Sadly we found out that it was 2hrs each way on the bus due to traffic in the city so we deicded that 4 hrs in the day was not a good use of our time and we went into the local suberb town instead.

We needed to stop for lunch and we found a cafe that served chicken doner kerbabs which were absolutally gorgeous! so much better than anything I have ever had in the UK! I ate one and Dale had two as they were so nice. I think it was the lush freahs bread that made it so good!

WE then went back to the beach and stayed there till the sun set and we couldn't say there any longer due to hunger and cold (only because we were wet from the sea not because it was actually cold!).

We met a guy on the campsite Ifram and he took us out for dinner back to the doner place and Dale and I both indulged in another Doner Kerbab! Very good again but not quite as good as earlier as the bread was different and I preferred the last kind which was more of a flat bread. We hung out with him for a bit after trying to find him 'English wife' but we failed haha!

The next day we got up really early and we lucky 'Efrum' the campsite yokel had left the gate unlocked as he was not up at 7am as promised!

The road to our next destination Macedonia Lake Ohrid was a long one but the roads in Turkey and Greece were excellent and that time passed quite quickly. The issue we had with Greece on the E90 at least is it is the worst place in the world for Petrol stations! There are none on the main highway which is an issue as you need to venture off into towns and things to find them...OMG something even the Ukraine wasn't as bad at my god! It was ok but all the hunting (for one which took card!) wasted over an hour in total. Finding a cash machine that would work with our cards was also an issue we really didn't expect from Greece but it happened never mind!

The border into Macedonia was easy. They made us pay for insurace as they didn't like ours and said it was not a green card replacement even though it says it is in black and which (there is going to be a really shitty letter going Dale's insurance's way when we are back as this is slowly costing a small fortune and he did check!). Lake Orhid was not far into the country but required us to navigate through a few small towns and villages. We stopped in one town to get some cash out just 500 which is like £5 each and we were surrounded by begging children wanting food. One really didn't look particularly malnourished though! The town did have a lot of strange looking individuals and Dale and I both thought this might have been as a result of inbreeding or something :-s there was one poor girl in particular which looked unusual and Dale wanted to go back for a second look but I wouldn't let him. It was dark by time we got to the lake and we found a camp site but couldn't find a tent pitch there even though there were apparnetly some there so we slept in the car!

In the morning we woke up to find that the site was actually more of the worlds biggest gypsy encampment that a campsite for tourists! It was amazing there was row upon row of tightly packed caravans some with fences and gardens and everything it was astonishing. We walked down to the lake which was beautiful! We took some pictures before heading on our way to Montenegro via Albania.

The road took us all along the North perimeter of the Lake so we had lots of beautiful views as we drove it was amazing! When we got to the border which really was in the middle of no where! We got through hassel free although again no stamp which was disapointing :( We have only got a handful of stamps so far maybe the next few will yield more?

Albania was an amazing place scenically but their drivers are what the Lonely planet describes as free spirited and on mountain roads this really doesn't mix well! We had a few close encounters but Dale got us down safetly. I am limited now on the amount of driving I can do as on the border insurance policies only Dale is named on them so its best I don't drive really. We both felt Albania is a country with potential but its current lack of road infratructure takes getting anywhere forever! Albania is a very small place and we only had 200km to travel today but it took us almost ALL day! terrible! The thing that suprised us most about Albania was the number of British registers luxury cars! There were hundreds of them and Dale and I reached the conclusion that Albanians are getting them on credit in the UK then doing a runner home in them??? They were all £5k plus mercedes, BMW, JEEP's etc... that kind of thing. Was very strange! None of the drivers looked very english - its not that we are racist but their tans were a lot darker than ours and their female passengers often had head scarves.

We got to the border with Montenegro and agin got no troubles here excellent service and crossing plus WE GOT A STAMP HURRAH! highlight of the week lol. The shocker with Montenegro is the lack of road signs or as Dale and I have no named them comfort signs as they comfort us we are on the right road! haha. We got a good old way into the country before we saw the first one and the first big town we went into had none! Shocking for the amount of intersections etc... laying around! We asked for directions and manged to make it on the right road down to Budva. This was a VERY scenic drive and looked beautiful. We found a nice hotel in the city and prepared ourselves for a few days of relaxation!

Horse and Cart: 72
Dead Community Dogs: 20
Dead pet Dogs: 1
British cars in Albania: millions!
Crazy Drunk pedestrians:1
Nights paid for the privilege to sleep in car:1
News paper appearances:3

Posted by LizaBrooks 13:22 Archived in Macedonia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

We've made the Newspaper!

Wiltshire times! www.justgiving.com/34countries28days

rain 13 °C
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Please donate to the road trip :D

Posted by LizaBrooks 01:48 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

Road to Istanbul! (18/34)

WooHoo! 2/2 Continents!

sunny 38 °C
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Next morning we woke up early to head on to Istanbul. The roads were shitty on the way down especially near the border and seemed to take forever! When we got to the border we had a few polavas. Dale’s insurance which was in place of a green card as stated was apparently not valid! The guy wouldn’t even read the part though where it said that! WANKER! We had to pay for insurance there and this dragged out the whole process. It was 3pm by time we finished and we were not looking forward to the shocking roads we had been warned about in Turkey. Once through the first road was a nice fresh new road…a much better first impression than Bulgaria, but how long was this going to last? Well all the way to Istanbul as it happens! I can’t fault their road network absolutely excellent and any time we lost in Bulgaria we soon made up! When we got to Istanbul the traffic REALLY picked up and before we knew it we were in grid locked chaos! Very exciting. We had to jostle for positions to get off the motorway at what I could guess was our Junction as the map didn’t correspond to their road names and there were no junction numbers like the map had. So I decided we were on the right side of the river and needed to head north so just told Dale to follow the car in front. With literally no idea where we were going as the map was non existent for the section of the city we were in I am not quite sure how good an idea this was to base my navigation on follow that car but I am fairly confident in my sense of direction and I know we were going in the right way ish! We lost the car in front and then found a taxi rank where a nice young man gave us some directions towards Kilyos where we were heading. The directions were a little shaky and mainly involving town names (two of them and one shopping centre to be exact) but it was enough! We got out of Istanbul with hardly any trouble and arrived here at Camping Mistik. They luckily had room for us and we pitched up on their hard ground. They tried sticking us on concrete but I laughed at them! And that’s pretty much where I leave you for now all caught up! Looking forward to two nights and one day of relaxation!

Countries where McDonalds visited: 13
Community dogs dead on roads: 18
Locals openly foraging in community bins:2
Horse and cart spotted:62
Money won for charity off my Dad who said we wouldn’t last 5mins:£50 (for two weeks on the road)

http://www.justgiving.com/34countries28days I think everyone should make a donation now after what we’ve been through LOL!

Posted by LizaBrooks 01:33 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Romania to Bulgaria! (17/34)

Community dogs rule OK!

sunny 34 °C
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We woke up early and headed onto the city. This was a shock as it was in a really poor state not what I was expecting. Shanty town style high risers and we saw our first full on open bin looter! Drivers were crazy but the people we asked for direction were really nice and most spoke some English. It was in Budcresti we first met the ‘community’ dogs on mass scale. These are packs of dogs which are really strays that hang out around the place. They were playing a game with cars on this major round about it was funny. They were not as cute as the puppy that joined us for tea the night before though. Both Dale and I wanted to take him home with us he was soooooo CUTE! When we got on the A2 we noticed something else though…dead community dogs that had played chicken with cars on the motorway and we decided to start making a tally of those aswell.

The road to Constanta was really good condition and quick we made it to the border swiftyly and had no trouble crossing into Bulgaria. It was a bit of a shocker though how much the roads changed though just changing to there! They were from excellent to back to the Ukraine style. Not the best for a first impression! They did improve though as we headed south to Varna. We asked in Varna about campsites but there were none and we were directed to the lonely planet recommendation 20km south by a local. We found this fine and it looked ok but a little busy as we struggled to find pitch! Our first night in a bed and first showers! Lovin it!

We headed down to the beach it was beautiful! The sea was warm as was the breeze and we relished in the sunshine and just relaxed. It was about 4pm by time we got there but still nice. Apparently was 38degees when we were in Varna!
That night after tea we heard some music and a little tipsy after some beers ran to the beach thinking it was coming to the beach resturant. We were greeted by a young small crowd and off to the bar we went. Tequila slammers 1.20lv wow bargain we thought…wait that’s for both of us! So worked our 12.5p ish per shot amazing! We drank till the pocket change we had ran out. Dale even gave the bar staff both a £1 souvenir of England :-p We were now quite drunk but made it to bed ok and I was out quite quickly!

Nights slept in car now: 3
Scariest place in the world: Ukraine
Poor children we felt sorry for:1 (he was very dirty from working on road)
Suicidal birds impacting with car:1
Dead community dogs:14

Posted by LizaBrooks 01:31 Archived in Romania Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Ukraine is hell on earth! But locals are nice. 16/34

I am never going back here EVER!

sunny 32 °C
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We woke up early and started heading out of Budapest. This was a mission in itself with a massive network of one ways and no entrys we didn’t experience on the way in they clearly didn’t want us to leave. We managed it after 1.5hrs of being stuck in traffic nightmare. We got stuck behind a toxic fiesta at one point which was pumping more fuel out the back than burning. We had to move as we nearly died from asphyxiation!

The road to the border was ok not too busy but there were a hell of a lot of vans on there with lots of people in heading back to the Ukraine. When we got to the border there must have been 100 odd vans queuing to get in but as a car we skipped the queue and went to the front. Getting in was fairly painless a little confusing as they spoke little English but we passed with little trouble.

Dale was driving and for the first 200km or so the roads seemed pretty good until we nearly crashed into a pothole of death while going 80mile per hour with a lorry on the other side not nice! Shortly after I took over and this is where our trouble started! We checked the water and noticed it was really really low on the car panic struck! We topped it up and thought we would check it in 150miles. That we did and it was really low again. With no breakdown cover for Moldova the only way to complete the road trip was to minimize our time there so that meant going right through the Ukraine almost to Kiev then south to Odessa. This seemed better than going all the way back to where we started so off we went. Now the roads were getting pretty bad…no correction VERY bad. Their idea of a motorway is one which you can’t do at more than 30mph due to bumps holes and livestock on the road. It is shocking and not something I think people would believe till they saw with their own eyes although as you’ll read on I don’t recommend visiting the Ukraine!

We both really started to feel uneasy at the point and if we’re honest a little scared-most scared then I was in Joshua tree national park in USA with no other living soul for about 10mile radius and no one expecting to hear from us for two weeks. Everytime we stopped for directions as all the signs were only in Russian and not English (no good with an English map on a tiny scale!) no one understood us. Few even knew where they lived on the map itself, it was pretty bad. Dale took over after I had done about 250miles and we had tea of pasta and butter the staple diet of this road trip so far. About an hour into our Journey and a police car pulled us and 2 other vehicles over. They let the others go but were keeping Dale in their car. I was pretty scared at this point. Dale came back and told me that basically they wanted a bribe. Apparently over taking cars in the Ukraine is illegal and unless we give them $100 or €100 they will take his license for 1 year. We tried calling the British Embassy but they were closed or just over run by other law abiding citizens being abused by the corrupt Ukraine law enforcement. So by this point we were really in the shit. I had $11 and after telling them we were going to go to the station then and I would need a full receipt for the ‘fine’ they backed off and said ok $11 and go. Their English suddenly was a lot better than it was when just Dale was with them. I thought under the circumstances we handled it well but it was enough to put me off the place! Those police were rubbing their hands together as soon as they saw GB on the car it makes me sad to think a country so corrupt as that is part of Europe.

We went on our way shaken but in one piece. We then decided it was safer for Dale to drive as who knew what else the police would do for payment if I was driving. I was genuinely frighted that if taken into the car with them I would be sexually assaulted or worse. We stopped in a lay-by/restaurant car park to check the car again it was ok! Thank god one bit of good news we thought! We then found a person who spoke English (Oyla). She was great and told us overtaking is not illegal and that the police force is totally corrupt there. She wrote us a letter saying that we were doing the road trip for charity and that we had no more money. She also gave us her mobile number and for that we thank her greatly as it made us feel a little more secure that at least someone could translate for us. She and all the other locals we met although our way were really friendly and nice even if they couldn’t help or understand where the Ukraine is on a map of Europe they were nice people trying to help us. It is a real pity anyone there with power chooses to abuse that power.

We drove on and stopped when we could drive no more. Still about 600km from the border we were looking for not good ☹ We were shocked by the number of tatty Lada’s on the road the things barely looked like they would drive but they were going…smokey but going! Seems that it was the car of choice I don’t think I have seen one in the UK for about 10 years lol! We pulled up on the side of the road this was really scary and I certainly didn’t sleep well that night. We were woken up at 6am to find women herding their cows around our car that was very scary! We were in a kind of field on the side of the road but they just kept on their way and as soon as we had gathered our thoughts we were on our way. Dale was a legend today and drove for around 18hours on 5 hours sleep! After checking the car every 50miles for ages we decided that it was ok and went for the shorter route straight through the centre of Moldova.

Issue number 2, border control in the Ukraine. They seemed all nice but again they wanted money. They kept us there for ages and wanted to see all our money they even saw me hiding the last of my Euros! Cheeky buggers! We showed them the note and eventually they sent us on our way without a bribe. Border control 2/4 was Moldova ‘Declaration’ writing. We had to fill in a form which was only in Russian with LOADS of details. They wanted to know more than a passport application! At least someone there spoke English but again they wanted a bribe. €5 for the car €5 for entry and €3 Tax! Well that’s what they called it. We were eventually on our way and moved on to the next station. This one was fairly straight forward and took little time. We still didn’t have a passport stamp though and were getting a little confused with the whole process this was one dam big border as it was about 20km between stations! We made it to the 4th and final station and at this one we had to see three different people and register the car for migration into Moldova! Then these other guards told us we had to pay €5 for the car! I told them no and that we already paid and that I had no money so tough basically. That seemed to work but no passport stamp!

Moldova was our biggest shocked on the trip. The poorest country in Europe practically with a GDP per person of under $1800 we were expecting it to be terrible. We dreaded the roads as after the Ukraine it had to be worse given that income. To our surprise it was not. Great quality roads by comparision and a nice clean capital city! We saw a sign for McDonalds and headed for it. We were right smack bang in the Centre of Chisnau and the people looked well dressed the streets buzzing and traffic heavy. After our food we managed to find an English speaker (of which there were many but we needed one fluent to try and describe how to get out of the city!) she took us to a taxi and arranged for us to pay him 50lei to take us out and where we needed to be. Fantastic! He did try and blag an extra 10lei which was really silly as he saw us get the 50 out of the cash machine but he was pretty sound otherwise. The road he got us on was not the one we wanted but it was good quality and about 50km shorter! Result he was probably worth the extra 10lei!

Getting out was really easy thanks to a young man named Stefan. He spoke fluent English and helped us through the process even paying the 5 lei for the boarder as we had none left. He told us we should have had a stamp at the border on arriving but getting our was not an issue and thank goodness we were not stopped. I never thought I would be so glad to see Romania the country where I used to send shoe boxes as a kid, but watching that EU flag flapping in the wind was AMAZING!

We were heading towards Budcresti and got within about 100km of the city before we had to stop this time in a lay-by. What was shocking in this country was the number of Horses and carts on the road! There were so many and we started a tally of them for personal amusement back in Poland when we saw the first one. The lay by was more comfortable and I slept a lot better.

Bribes paid: $11, €13
Bribes avoided:2
Friends made:3
Cute puppy found:1
Horse and Cars:51

Posted by LizaBrooks 01:30 Archived in Ukraine Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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