Monday, October 20, 2003
After leaving Shaun to his fate in Greece, Ilja and I plunged north into the mountains of Greek Macedonia, pausing briefly at Phillipi, former home of Alexander the great. Then on to Bulgaria and the Balkan mountains through the gathering storm. We got ourselves thouroughly drenched but managed to find a nice resort in the mountains (peaks over 2,700 meters). The next day we made it to Sophia, following a car that was spilling fuel for about 40 km. Not much fun in the rain.
Sophia seems an interesting city so we spent the night there as well, hoping to dry out our clothes. We had planned to go to Yugoslavia, but at the border I was surprised to learn that I would have to purchase insurance to the tune of 80 Euros (about $90). So I got a reject stamp in my passport and back to Bulgaria to try and go through Romania.
The weather started to turn again as we entered another mountain range. About 1,200 meters up we started to hit snow. The pass is 1,410 m. and there was a good 8 in. there already. Well, we had to stop for a snowball fight. After I managed to get a snowball in Ilja's open visor, I declared myself the winner.
Passing through the Tintinesque mountain villages we made our way to the Danube by nightfall and crossed into Romania by ferry. We managed to find a "throughwaiver" as Ilja calls them, who pushed us to the front of the line for the exit customs. The Romanian side is filled with music and the border guard, after ensuring that we had no more than a few small weapons and less than 2 kg of heroin, quickly also waived us through.
Romania has long fascinated me, not just for the vampires and werewolves, but as a cultural and linguistic enclave. Here in the midst of Turkic, Germanic and Slavic languages, is a small country speaking a language that is very similar to Italian and is a holdover from Latin. My brief time in central Europe has only served to whet my appetite for more. I definetely want to spend a few weeks exploring this region when I get the time and money.
Our next stop is Budapest, Hungary and then Austria and Ulm, Germany. Then I have to face the inevitable and start looking for a job. If anyone needs a good attorney/adventurer let me know. I may be able to find one for you :)
posted by matt; |