|29-01-2002||Jirka: New pictures starting from 298.|
We,re now in Dahab in the Sinai. We had a long rest in Tarabin and then rode to here. I,ve been in Dahab before and it has changed very much, it has become a very ugly place. Tomorrow we will continue our trip (the very last bits: Dahab - Sharm el Sheikh - El Tur - Suez - Cairo).
For a long time we couldn,t update our page. Actually it,s a miracle that we are still able to update at all because most of our stuff had been stolen in Syria. Our cameras, spare parts for bikes, our journals, glasses, contact lenses, clothes, etc. were gone. At first even our bikes were gone. (This is a long story). After a couple of strange events in Syria including an arrest by the military police we got to the border where we learned that the police had caught the thieves. One of the thieves had tried to sell our digital camera the very next day in his home town. We didn,t get all of our stuff back but quite a lot and we didn,t expect it to turn up at all anyway so we were glad for everything we got.
We left Syria, raced through Jordan, were in Israel a couple of hours and got to the Sinai and there we stopped. We stayed in Tarabin for 17 days and rested. Now the time has come for the final part. It will be strange when this trip will be finished. We,ll update again in Cairo... if nothing goes wrong. Greetings from the Sinai.
|08-12-2001||Jirka: New pictures starting from 244.|
|08-12-2001||Baz: Since writing to you last we,ve had quite some dramas, snowstorms, made it to the Mediterranean Sea, cycled 130km overnight (180km in one day!), found out that boats have been cancelled, caught buses whilst being sick & still we ended up leaving Turkey a day after Jirka,s visa expired, costing us US$100!|
Oh yes, & we,ve been to (Turkish North) Cyprus.
I,ll tell you a little about Cyprus without being political (you can research more yourself if interested). Cyprus is the 3rd largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, inhabited by 650000 Greek-Cypriots & 200000 Turkish-Cypriots. In 1974 Turkey invaded the island after years of fighting between both communities & it was split into two parts, the northern third is now called the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, it is recognized only by itself & Turkey, however it functions now quite normally but all traffic to & from North Cyprus comes via Turkey. Nicosia (Lefkosa) is now the only divided capital city in the world after the fall of the Berlin wall. I lived in (Greek) Cyprus 15 years ago, so it was a bit of a return for me, however due to the political make up of the Island, it is not possible to visit the southern part from the north, however I can say that both Turkish & Greek Cypriots are very friendly & nice & we enjoyed our trip round the north, that was until we tried to leave.....
11.30 (30/11) We get to Girne (Kyrenia) to find that for the first time ever the ferry has left exactly on time (maybe not the first time ever, but they usually leave up to 2 hours late), the lady tells us to come back at 09.30 for the express service or 11.30 for the car-ferry.
09.00 Next morning & we arrive at the ferry terminal bright & early to find that the 09.30 express service has been cancelled!
12.30 We board the 11.30 service (so early then by usual standards!)
16.00 Still in the port we are informed that the service has been cancelled, it will now leave at 09.00 the following morning (only we cannot take our bikes off because the trucks are blocking us in, therefore we can leave without them or stay on board - so effectively we have to stay on board). Meanwhile I have no battery for my phone, & as there are only a handful of people on board (mainly Turkish soldiers & 25 or so Turks & Turkish Cypriots) I leave my phone on overnight to charge, along with most other people on the boat, only to wake up & find that it,s been stolen. I,m upset only because I,ve lost a load of phone numbers & Turkish & Cypriot people are generally very honest & generous, most people on board seemed genuinely upset & the Captain was outraged & had a good rant at everyone on board (our Turkish is limited but we understood that he was saying how bad it was that strangers came & were treated like that, how it wasn,t Istanbul etc, etc). I felt sorry that everyone thought that we thought badly of them which wasn,t the case at all, one bad person in the whole of Turkey & Cyprus isn,t going to spoil our overwhelming excellent opinion of them. Anyway it,s now 07.30 the following morning & I,ve made it from the boat to the (immigration) Police through an horrific storm to report my phone as stolen. I get back to the boat & it,s terrific selection of over priced dry toasted sandwiches. At 10 o,clock after much shouting & foot-stamping we finally persuaded the crew of the ship to let us off for an hour to collect supplies & return, subject to the agreement of the immigration police.
11.30 In the sergeant,s office, the storm outside was getting worse & we were informed that the boat wasn,t leaving until the next morning at the earliest & that everyone had to leave (and we therefore had to leave without our bikes). The sergeant was quite stern but after much respectful pleading he agreed that we could stay on board & go to a super-market close by & gave us 50 minutes, whilst he kept our passports, we ran through the pouring rain & collected enough food for a couple of days (which was to be consumed by the other inhabitants of the boat in due time of course!). We arrived back within 40 minutes & thanked the sergeant who was under no obligation to grant us re-entry under those conditions.
The following morning & we finally set sail, the seas were moderately rough, but judging by the other passengers you would have thought that we were on the heaviest seas known to man, everybody was being sick, most couldn,t be bothered to go to the toilets, simply heaving & retching inside (which was nice for me & Jirka who were trying to sleep & eat, completely unaffected by the sea!). After 5 or so hours we arrived back in Tasucu (Turkey) in the dark.
We moved inside & Jirka obtained his new visa in record time (no problems now, only a matter of US$15!) & we waited in the queue to clear immigration. With the storms there had been some power cuts & the police computers were down, we would like to congratulate the police for trying to remedy the situation by sitting around drinking tea & informing nobody of what was going on, eventually they decided to process us manually & then helpfully put up signs indicating which line people should queue in (obviously not in alphabetical order, but some seemingly random string of surnames in one line, others in another etc), of course it would have been impossible to have put the signs up earlier. Meanwhile more boatloads of people who had been delayed for 3 days had arrived from Cyprus. We decided not to move queues & cleared immigration & customs in a relatively painless 3.5 days after setting off!
Seeing as the rain had slowed to a torrential downpour, we decided that discretion was the better part of valour & retreated to a warm hotel for 2 days & waited for the rain to clear.
We left Tasucu on Tuesday (04/11) & cycled towards Adana, sleeping in two citrus groves on route (including someone,s private garden who came to investigate armed with a pitchfork, as he thought we were thieves, it was no problem however, he simply moved us to a better part of his garden!), we arrived in Adana on Thursday, found a dirt - cheap hotel & watched the rain start again! We,ll leave for Syria ASAP, where we,ll have no contact with the outside world, so our next report will probably be from Jordan.
|20-11-2001||Jirka: Isparta, new pictures starting from 234.|
|14-11-2001||Baz: Eskisehir, Turkey. Well a lot,s happened since I last wrote a proper report so I,ll try & give you all our news without boring you to death! When I wrote last we we,re in Varna in Bulgaria & I was having my wheel fixed (it,s fine now after a little more work in Izmit here in Turkey!). The big news of course is that we,ve made it to Turkey & changed our plans - after much consideration we have decide to abandon our planned route to India because of the situation in Pakistan - it would probably have been fine but we had no alternative if the situation was to get worse (ie Iraq or Afghanistan). The good news is that we,re going to Eqypt via Syria, Jordan & Israel instead (so not all bad news then!).|
So don,t believe all the tourist brochures that you read about Turkey, we entered the country in the rain, then we had three days of gale force (100km/h+) winds followed by torrential rain with which to enter Istanbul (as you can see in the photo section). We had some nice weather in Istanbul but as soon as we got back on our bikes it started to pour down again, we are beginning to experience Murphy,s law on a daily basis! I have to say though that Turkish people are very, very friendly & generous, our only complaint is with their driving which is quite horrendous - the horn is a substitute for the brake pedal in this country! Last week when leaving Istanbul in the rain we both fell a little ill with a stomach upset but we,re ok now, back on the bikes & feeling good. More news next week hopefully from Antalya on the (we hope sunny) Mediterranean coast. Bye for now.
|14-11-2001||Jirka: Eskisehir. New pictures starting from 170. Last time I had a try to upload pictures the electricity fell out. Now we are in the best i-net cafe we,ve been in until now...|
|09-11-2001||Jirka: Having problems with internet here in Turkey. Trying to upload pictures in the fourth internet-cafe i;m in but until now without success.|
To inform you in brief: We arrived in Istanbul 28.10 in very bad wheather and were glad to find a reasonable youth-hostel there. We thought our trip through seeing pictures on the t.v. and reading advise my ministry of outer affairs is giving us on travelling through Pakistan and decided not to go in that direction for three reasons: (1) to give peace to everybody who loves us and is dear to us, (2) out of respect to the country Pakistan that is now having enough problems and doesn;t need two happy cyclist potentially causing more problems and (3) the only border crossing open for us to India is quite north and we would have to go to the region we wanted to avoid. We have investigated other possibilities as cycling through Syria and Jordan to Saoudie Arabia but we would not be aloud to cycle in S.Arabia, or taking a ferry from Iran to the Arab Emirates continuing to Oman but there is no boat going to India from Oman...
So we have decided to set a new goal which has become Cairo, Egypt and we want to get there by going: Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Egypt.
We have finally escaped Istanbul and it,s poluted neighbourhood and are now on our way to Antalya.
Hope to get better conection soon, see you.
|20-10-2001||Jirka: Stopped smoking for a month now and feeling great. New pictures starting from nr. 118. Here comes our route again:|
06.10 Fagaras - Sercaia - Persani - Vladeni 07.10 Vladeni - Codlea - Ghimbav - Brasov - Sacele - 19km before Cheia 08.10 Cheia - Maneciu - Izvoarele - Lipanesti - Ploiesti - Bucov - Albesti-Paleologu 09.10 Albesti-Paleologu - Ciorani - Jilavele - Barbulesti - Urziceni - Ion Roata - Sfantu Gheorghe - Ciochina - 10km before Slobozia 10.10 Slobozia - Bucu - Ograda - Tandarei - Giurgeni - Harsova - Ghindaresti - 12km before Stupina (PUNCTURES) 11.10 12km before Stupina (having repaired 6 punctures) - 3km before Stupina (7th puncture) - Stupina (three more punctures, plus Baz has 3 punctures) - Crucea - Galbiori 12.10 Galbiori - Dorobantu - Nicolae Balcescu - Mihail Kogalniceanu - Ovidiu - Constanta - Lazu - Agigea 13.10 Agigea - Eforie - Tuzla - Costinesti [resday] 14.10 Costinesti - 23.August - Mangalia - 2.Mai - Vama Veche - [Bulgaria] - Durankulak - Vaklino - Sabla - Gorun - Kavarna - 4km after Kavarna.
Two days later we were in Obzor where we are still. First because we wanted a real rest, then because Baz.s back wheel broke down...
Baz: Well it,s been a while since our last report, I must apologise but it,s not possible to stop everywhere that there,s a computer!
Well since leaving Fagaras a lot has happened. As you,ll see from the photographs we,ve encountered our first big mountains, stumbled across a beer festival (always terrible when that happens!) unfortunately missed Dracula by 30km, had more problems with our bikes, re-encountered the Danube, arrived at the Black Sea, finally got out of Romania (it was a lovely country but 2 weeks was enough for us) and arrived in Bulgaria!
At this point I,d like to say hello to our Bulgarian friend Javor who is studying in Germany & tuning in to our website regularly!
Yes another stamp in the passport & another country, after leaving an overly formal & fussy customs officer behind in Romania we got to the Bulgarian side & the Border Guards seemed quite happy to see us & theatrically raised the barrier to let us in. We cycled for about 50km on a very hot Sunday & then we found heaven - in the form of draught beer! Two later (served by our very friendly host) & we wobbled back along the road to try & find a cash machine (pretty scarce here though). The next day, still cashless we got talking to a German speaking professor of tourism who told us where we could find one & taught us some basic Bulgarian. 12km later & we were in a quite bizarre place called Albena which is an all in one holiday complex frequented almost exclusively by German tourists - both of us thought that it would be the last place that we would like to go as it shows nothing of the real world, but each to there own I guess. Onwards and to Varna which is a nice city on the Black Sea coast where we unsuccesfully tried to find kebabs. But that,s a different story.
We cycled on up the motorway (strictly illegal I know but the best road in Bulgaria) and on to arrive in Obzor where we got a room in a motel for an outrageous 6DM each per night and set about having a couple of days (well earned we believe) rest. By Friday (19.10) it was time to move on and 10km up the road and disaster struck, my back wheel which has been causing problems for over a week finally gave up with me cursing appropriately at the roadside. We,ve been philosophical about this though & it,s fixed now (back in Varna via the bus from where I,m writing & Jirka,s uploading the pics) & when we get to Istanbul I,m going to give the whole bike a proper service & replace all worn parts & potential problem areas before we tackle the might of Turkey, Iran & beyond.
On that note, we are both aware of everyone,s concern regarding Iran & Pakistan etc, what we would like to say to everyone is that we still have a very long way to go before any potential trouble (ie Pakistan) & also that we are both quite sensible & well travelled & have no intention of coming to any harm. Whilst we appreciate that it is good-natured advice that we receive from everyone, we will not put ourselves in danger!! Please have some faith in our ability to judge what is or isn,t good for us especially as we have maybe two months until we get to Pakistan. Thank-you for your concern, we are aware of the situation.
On that note thanks all for looking in on our site still, more news from Turkey - Regards, Baz.
Jirka: Here I would like to say something aswell. The situation does appear to get worse at the moment and our alternative route which would lead through Syria, Jordan, Saudie Arabia and Oman (taking a boat from there) is also not that unattractive.
I,ve seen quite a bit of the moslim world and we both are looking forward to see some more. Bye for now, Jirka.
|05-10-2001||Jirka: O.k. I,ll do the boring bit again, the route from Szeged on...|
30.9 Szeged - Deszk - Ferencszallas - Kiszombor - [Romania] - Cenad - Sannicolau Mare 01.10 Sannicolau Mare - Lovrin - Sandra - Biled - Becicherecu Mic - Timisoara - Remetea Mare - Izvin - Recas 02.10 Recas - Sustra - Topolovatu Mare - Belint - Costeiu - Lugoj - Traian Vuia - Dumbrava - Faget - Margina - Cosava 03.10 Cosava - Cosevita - Dobra (see pictures of the two very kind people) - Sacamas - Vetel - Deva - Santuhalm - Simeria - Orastie 04.10 Orastie - Sibot - Sebes - Miercurea Sibiului - Apoldu de Sus 05.10 Apoldu de Sus - Sacel - Cristian - Sibiu - Selimbar - Avrig - Arpasu de Jos - Oltet - Voila - Beclean - Fagaras.
Oh... one thing: the people in Romania are very very nice! (We,re only tired sometimes of saying ,Salut!, to everybody while cycling. Oh, and the girls are very nice too, especially in the cities (I,m only looking). Michal, I can understand your choice :-)
Baz: So it,s been a while since I last wrote a report, I,ll keep it a little more brief this time so as not to bore you & also because my contact lenses are playing up so I,m squinting at the screen (apologies therefore for any typos!)
Since writing to you last I,ve replaced two wheels, one tyre & one inner tube but thankfully everything seems to be ok now. We,re in Transylvania now and blood sucking vampires have been plaguing us since we arrived in Romania - yes mosquitoes - well at least they don,t have malaria yet! Romania is very nice and the people so friendly, of course it,s not so rich here and agriculture seems to dominate the way of life but I haven,t stopped saying hello to people since we arrived. Hungary was also very nice & we must both thank Nagy in Budapest for his generous hospitality. I,m writing to you from Fagaras in central Romania for those of you who like to look at maps & later today we should be in Brasov - the home of Dracula, complete with his castle. Maybe the next report will have some interesting stories, tune in next time.......
|30-09-2001||Jirka: Just woke up, had a coffee, we gotta let know from us before we,re going to Romania, which we,ll do in a minute, so i,m sitting here in this i-net cafe in Szeged to upload our last pictures.|
First I will bore you with the route we took so far, for those who,d like to know:
14.9:Praha - Mukarov - Zasmuky - Suchdol - Kutna Hora 15.9:Kutna Hora - Caslav - Zleby (Castle) - Ronov nad Doubravou - Tremosnice - Sec - Bestvina - Nova Ves - Chotebor - Libice nad Doubravou 16.9 Libice - Zdirec n.D. - Vojnuv Mestec - Zdar nad Sazavou - Nove Mesto na Morave 17.9 Nove Mesto - Bystrice n. Pernst. - Cernovice - Lysice - Cerna Hora 18.9. Cerna Hora - Rajec-Jestrebi - Blansko - Jedovnice - Ruprechtov - Vyskov - Manerov - Bucovice 19.9. restday 20.9. Bucovice - Nesovice - Dobrockovice - Nesovice - Nemotice - Korycany - Kyjov - Strazovice - Zarosice - Nasedlovice - Cejc - Hovorany 21.9. Hovorany - Mutenice - Hodonin [Slovakia] - Holic - Radosovce - Senica - Jablonica - Trstin - Boleraz - Trnava 22.9. Trnava - Sered - Galanta - Mostova - Jahodna - Dunajska Streda - Dolny Stal - Velky Meder 23.9. Velky Meder - Bodza - Ton - Zlatna na Ostrove - Komarno 24.9. Komarno - Iza - Patince - Maria - 10km before Sturovo 25.9. 10km before Sturovo - Sturovo - [Hungary] - Eszergom - Pilismarot - Visegrad - Szentendre - 10km before Budapest 26.9. Budapest -restday- 27.9. Budapest - Dabas - Tatarszentgyorgy - Ladanybene - Kecskemet 28.9. Kecskemet - Varosfold - Jaszszentlaszlo - Kiskunmajsa 29.9. Kiskunmajsa - Szeged 30.9. - that,s today. Szeged and we,re going in the direction of Romania.
Second, I don,t want to say anything else because I want to get as fast as possible to Romania and... south. It was warmer the last two days, yesterday about 25o C but today is colder again. See you in a while. Here,s one small message for my girlfriend who can,t understand English: Milacku, klikni sem a obevi se ti fotky.
|24-09-2001||Baz: We got up on Thursday morning bought some bits & pieces from the bike shop (like a rain mac for me & the all important cycling gloves for both of us - now everybody can see that we,re proper cyclists!). We left Bucovice at about 10.30 and went to Dobrockovice & visited Jirka,s great aunt who really is great! She insisted that we take some food with us & so we left armed with rolls, salami & a bottle of home made slivovice. We headed up into the hills with the sun beating down on us, hoping to make the border with Slovakia, unfortunately a wrong turn at Kyjov followed by the mother of all hills & a realisation that we now had an extra 20km to go meant that we slept outside near to Cejc.|
Friday morning & we were on the road for 07.00, a quick (1hr) stop at a petrol station & we arrived in Hodonin for about 10.00. We had our last meal & of course our last Czech beer, double checked that we had our passports & onwards to the frontier. We arrived at the control point where a very friendly (Czech) border guard was only too happy to oblige with stamps for our passports when asked, 200m later and we were half way across the river Morava and it was time to pose underneath the sign welcoming us to Slovakia. When we got to the Slovak side an equally happy guard obliged us with stamps & told a story about a friend of his who had taken a similar trip by bike & is now on his way to Israel. By the end of the day we had reached Trnava, about 60km inside Slovakia.
12.30am Saturday morning & our fantastic plan to sleep outside because - It will never rain tonight - has turned a little bit wet. Off we go to the filling station to try to dry out, play some cards & watch the sales assistant beat a mouse repeatedly with a broom, so at least we were kept entertained through the night (Jirka,s aunt,s slivovice helping to beat the cold).
On the bikes at 06.30 and the first 20km was over before we knew it, we filled up at a grocery store and pressed on towards Dunaj Streda which we reached in the late morning, we had some lunch headed out of town and decided to catch up on an hour,s sleep...
4.5hrs later and we woke up just in time to make it to Velky Meder which had a very Medeterainian feel about it, warm new smells, terraces, dark streets with occasional lighting & a completely unfamiliar language - Hungarian - being spoken widely. We camped at a pension/camping ground Matius with Matius & Mrs. Happy our delightful hosts, we are both happy to recommend that you never ever stay here.
Sunday morning and we had coffee at a cafe before leaving the happy guesthouse, we stopped to eat after 15km, came outside to discover that the rain was coming down quite heavily, we pushed on to Komarno by which time the rain was really heavy. Here though we saw another couple also on bikes with luggage & therefore took great delight in ridiculing them! We booked in to a very nice pension, had hot showers & slept forever.
|19-09-2001||Baz: Well finally time for my first report. So we got going on Friday and by the time that we reached Kutna Hora my legs knew about it. Saturday started with fine weather but by the late afternoon it had started to drizzle, also we had problems trying to find a pension so ended up roughing it as the pictures show!|
Sunday started well and by 14.00 we had covered almost 50km when we stopped for lunch in Nove Mesto. After lunch we started to climb (again) out of the town when I heard a strange noise, upon investigation I discovered that I had split my outer rear tyre and so back to Nove Mesto we travelled. Unfortunately it being Sunday there was nothing that we could do so we waited for the cycle shop to open at 09.00 on Monday morning....
09.00 Monday morning. Great, the owner of the bike shop is away on holiday, only two weeks to wait! The next option was a car tyre service where the owner was great, he couldn,t help us with the old tyre but he took us to another cycle shop where I got a new tyre which he promptly fitted. Back on the road and we finished the day in Cerna Hora where the locals decided to play music out of the loudspeakers all over the town to triumphantly announce our arrival (or so it seemed!).
After sorting ourselves with supplies (ie milk + chocolate) we had a good day cycling, stopping in Vyskov to have my back brake tightened and my computer fitted to the bike and Jirka tried unsuccesfully to upload some pictures thanks to a woman who had four computers (a long story which will no doubt appear here at some point in the future - so keep watching). We ended the day in Bucovice and decided to have a rest day today with a day trip to Brno.
|13-09-2001||Jirka: Baz arrived on Wednesday with his Iranian visa. We,ve prepared everything that was still needed today and tomorrow is finally the big day !!!|
At 12:00 there is 3 minutes of silence for the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center, after that we will start our journey from the Charles Bridge in Prague. What will happen in the muslim world in the coming weeks and months because of the attacks nobody can know at the moment, and so if it will have influence on our planned route we can not know now. We will see...
|05-09-2001||Jirka: It,s certain now! Thursday the 13th of September we are leaving. This doesn,t mean that we both have our Iranese visas: I got mine just this week but Baz doesn,t know if he,s going to get his on time. If he isn,t we have to think of an alternative route, but it,s time to go and we can,t wait any longer.|
There are several alternative routes that will get us to India but one forces us to take a boat somewhere on the way and another one is a big detour... A third possibility is to try to apply for a visa again in Turkey and cycle on and then take a bus back to pick up the visa. We will decide in Turkey what we will do. For now we are still hoping that Baz get,s his visa before leaving to Prague. We,ll see...
|22-08-2001||Jirka: Our trip has been delayed because we are both still waiting for our Iranese visa. As soon as we get our visas we can go. We hope to leave on the 5th of September.|
|06-08-2001||Jirka: I,m writing this report from a little internet cafe in Warsaw. The computer is very slow but it just manages. I called the Pakistan embassy yesterday and the answer to my letter (having sent a reminder on Friday) was: no obligation. So I took the first train down to Warsaw and I got my visa today ! Tomorrow I can apply for my Iranese one.|
Since I had to be in Warsaw anyway I took the time to shoot some pictures and try if my app. is i-net-cafe proof. Well it is (though I have to get used to slower computers). I put the pictures on the picture-report page, they will be removed as soon as we start uploading our bike-trip pictures. That,s it for now. Greetings from Warsaw.
|24-07-2001||Jirka: Returned from Warsaw today. I was at the Pakistan Embassy, had to fill in 4 forms with a detailed explanation of why I want to visit the country. I could have lied, but they were asking very specific questions and they would have found out. So I gave them the whole route we are going to follow in Pakistan and said we would change the route if we were advised not to go to a certain region. In fact I didn’t write "we" but "I" because that might have made it even more complicated. Of course there were questions about me, what I do, who my parents were, etc. They wanted to now who they should contact in case I would disappear or some other nice thing would happen, I felt like I was going to the Sudan again.|
This all didn’t suffice and so I had to write a letter and ask for the kind permission etc. and discovered it is going to be send to Islamabad and that I will have to wait for approval which can take a week or two or three... Warsaw was great and it looks I am going to see more of it in the near future. Next week I will start calling them.
|20-07-2001||Jirka: So this is the first report to be printed on our page. I just finished the application today. The one for uploading our pictures was finished yesterday and it looks like the page is almost ready to be used.|
Baz is (still) in England getting some more money together for our trip. I am going to Warsaw on Sunday to visit there the Pakistan embassy on Monday, since there is no Pakistan embassy in Prague anymore.