Friday, 21 July 2017

Why we went east again

Mondays off, comrades of Sofia!
Travelling doesn't exactly make you lazy but it does slow you down. Its pace has led me to realise that the 9-5 working day, especially the 9 bit, is quite inhumane. But that's for another time. I'm just making an excuse for the two-month delay in updating the blog.

As we may have mentioned before, we cut short our trip through India in March to return to the UK, via two special weeks in Jordan. A holiday from our holiday if you like, and it was a great month.

Supping at the tourist trough of London
Restored by hugs, cheese and Old Brewery, we then flew down to Athens and a happy reunion with Nellie in her tangerine packing factory. Her only deterioration was the big hole in the bonnet's insulation via indeterminate creatures which I hope died slowly of fibreglass poisoning.

So where to next? We were drawn to the fossilized republic of Transnistria in Moldova, on the Ukrainian border, the only country still sporting the hammer and sickle.

Macedonia. Not just a pretty flag
But as usual good food and wine, nice weather and lovely people got in the way: after zigzagging through gentle northern Greece we popped out in Macedonia - a beautiful, cheap, pocket-sized country with a great flag (which stopped it joining the EU - long story).

Then east to Bulgaria, which is the same, minus flag (like Greece they detest the Macedonia flag - another story) but plus a great Land Rover mechanic and the best beaches on the Black Sea.

Also the driving in Bulgaria was unusually good. I thought this might be because of EU membership but then remembered the Belgians, so it remains a mystery.

Blinking Balkan loveliness
These weeks reinforced our opinion that all the Balkan countries are magnificent, and everyone should visit, now.

The man at our Bulgarian beach campsite was a lorry driver in winter and it's his fault that we forgot all about Transnistria and continued east, via friends in Turkey, to Georgia and Armenia. We thought the borders and military situation would be too tricky but this gentleman drove there every other week. And we had an itch to go: we had noticed that the oldest church in almost every country we had visited, including Burma, was Armenian, and we wondered why.

So that's why we kept going east instead of circling up and round to head home.

But at last we are westward ho. As for Georgia and Armenia, and the Black Sea ship I'm writing this on, they deserve their own blog posts. Ditto photo albums on Flickr. All coming soon. Ish.

And 40th Happy Birthday to our biggest fan!

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