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Old 24th August 2013, 15:30   #46
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Awesome reading so far & kudos to you guys for completing such an adventure. looking forward to the entire 40 day story! Excellently written & illustrated
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Old 24th August 2013, 19:04   #47
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Day 12

We got up and did the check out from the hotel a bit late in the morning. As I was mentioning we had almost an incident in the Transfagarasan highways when we were trying to get some Go-Pro videos. This made ‘ABS’ and “seat belt” warning lights blinking in the dash board. Also the cd player stopped working. It got locked and we had to enter a passcode so that it will start working. For some reason we didn’t find that information anywhere inside the car. Our plan was to visit a Nissan dealer in Bucharest and check if everything was ok. We searched a lot and finally found a Renualt-Nissan showroom a bit outside the city. The mechanic did some thing, and the warning lights stopped blinked. However he was not able to tell us the passcode for some reason, I think the previous owner would have changed it to something that he liked. Anyway with half our problem resolved, we went back to the city. We had heard that the Shawarma ([COLOR=windowtext]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma[/COLOR] ) that they serve here was good – being fans of that and since the ones that we get in Bangalore are not really authentic ( the last time I had a nice Shwarma was from Calicut ) we thought we should try that out. The Romanian Shawarma lived up to our expectations and it was really filling.



A couple of snaps we captured in Bucharest.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-bucharest1.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-bucharest2.jpg



I was at the driving seat and now our plan was to head towards Bulgaria and later re-enter the Schengen area in Greece. If it was rains and cold that was our problem in Western Europe, here it was the heat. The temperature was in the range of 35-36 degree Celsius. It was now when we started missing the a/c in our car. The heat was just unbearable and there was a huge traffic jam in front of us. We were traveling in that direction which made the sun’s rays to directly fall on the driver side. Kent and Sibynho who were sitting in the back seat made themselves comfortable by keeping our towels on the side and rear glasses. So basically it was me and TV who were taking the brunt of the scorching heat of the mid day Romanian sun!

The only good thing was that somehow after searching a lot in the user manual we found the code to unlock the car’s audio system. So I was able to at least listen to Romanian FM channels – which were not bad. In fact Romanian dance hits were making me really inspired to drive on. But trust me the sun and heat was really strong and I did wish to swap the driving seat with the one of the other two. Anyway the only thing to do was to be stuck behind the Romanian trucks and wish the congestion will not last long.
But it dint! It was there for miles and miles, eventually traffic cleared out and we were on the open roads.

Soon we reached the Bulgarian border. Though we had done 2 border crossings, none of them were recorded. We always ensured that we remove the Go-Pro from the front windshield and keep it back once we cross the border. This time though Kent had an idea of recording it. All 3 of us insisted that he don’t do it but being Kent, he gave us theories which he thought convinced us to record the border crossing. We approached the border with the camera in Video mode, and the officer saw the same. He said with his angry face pointing at the camera “this is not ok “. He took the camera and we thought he will convert that anger of his to delete the photos that we took and may keep us at the border for long. Even for Bulgaria , we did not have an explicit visa and we were hoping to get in with the valid Schengen visa.
Luckily for us, he only deleted those photos which were taken near the border gate. They also gave us the entry without having us to wait long.



GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-bulgarian-border.jpg

Bulgaria was again similar to Romania in terms of development or infrastructure. The good thing was that sun was going down and so the weather was getting much better than what it was in the noon. We drove further – the roads were well paved and scenery was good too. We drove till quite late in the night before we stopped for dinner. The waitress of that restaurant somewhere in the corner of Bulgaria was worth mentioning one for her excellent service and other for her beauty. It was late and normally at that time the restaurants shut down. Seeing our state she was kind enough to talk to the chef and prepare us some nice food. The way she looked, trust me she can very well challenge any of the Indian actresses. Infact we did mention it to her very politely. She had a smile on her face , thanked us for our invitation to Bollywood and bid good bye to us.

TV trying his photography skills.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-bulgaria-2-tv.jpg


Later that night we halted at a place known as Svilengrad with the sweet memories of that night’s dinner.


Day 13


Svilengrad
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-tv-tired.jpg

The hotel had breakfast included in our room rates and so we woke up early enough not to miss that. Somehow the crowd over there looked like they dint like us. It would have been just a feeling that we had, but the way the people looked at us was quite disturbing- somehow we didn’t get a good feeling from the whole place. The breakfast was just one egg, couple of bread slices , a very small veg salad and coffee.

Without any delay we left the place and started our journey towards Greece. From our experience from Bulgarian border, we thought that we better not shoot any video or photos at the Greek border.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-greek-border.jpg

The formalities at the border were very straight forward. We crossed into Greece, weather was better than Bucharest, but still hot. We stopped at a roadside petrol station to fill our car’s tank We also had to fill in our water stocks. So we walked around and found a house where there was this old woman standing. We wanted to ask her if the water from the nearby water pipe was drinkable. She didn’t look like she would know English and obviously Greek was not a language that we knew either. The symbol to show eating and drinking is the same throughout the world so we managed to get what we wanted.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-greece1.jpg


Our plan was to reach Alexandroupolis, another Mediterranean city in Greece. The plan was to spend some time on the beach and then later head to Turkish border. We reached Alexandroupolis and then spend some time in the beach and the water. We also used the Go-pro camera under water.


GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-greece2.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-mediterranean1.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-mediterranean.jpg


Had some nice food at the shacks on the beach and then headed to Turkish border.


GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-gre-go-pro-car.jpg


The border was near by and so it dint take much time to reach. First it was the Greece exit and they gave us the exit stamped on my passport and then we drove towards the Turkish border. Among the many borders that we crossed during our rally, this was the only one which was guarded by armed soldiers. After the Greek post, there is roughly 5 km before we reach the Turkish post. All through this route there were guarded army men of both the countries. The interesting bit is that there are two bridges between these posts and one is painted in the Greek flag colors and other with Turkish flag colors. We so wanted to take the pics , but the whole atmosphere was a bit tense and so we didn’t try our luck!

Finally after a short drive admist the guards and arms we reached Turkish border.
We did not have Turkish Visa. However again for Indians we have “ visa on arrival “ in Turkey, provided you have valid Schengen visa. So we went to the border and gave our passports.
The officers at this border did not seem very convinced with us walking upto them in passports which do not have visa stamped. We were asked to wait outside the office with our cars parked along with some trucks. The place was filled with flies and mosquitoes – they were unbelievably huge in numbers. Even in Kochi there aren’t this much! Anyway the officers were not giving any feedback so we had to just wait there. After may be an hour or two , they called us inside and then they asked a couple of questions about our trip and why are we going to Turkey etc. Not really friendly I would say compared to the officers that we had in our previous borders.



GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-welcome-turkey.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-turkey.jpg

Finally after 3 hours we were allowed to leave with Turkish visa and we drove towards Istanbul.
Turkish roads are amazing they are well paved and are broad. So hitting the speed limit of the highway was not really a challenge with our car. Turkish have built so many bridges on the route to Istanbul so that there are no ghat sections on the road. In Turkey there are toll gates, but they are not manned. And we saw the cars going through the ones which are opened and no body was going towards the closed ones. Once we tried to stop at one of them , but there was no person for us to ask what exactly need to be done. There was a card slot which we tried to use but no luck again!

We thought we would just drive along and see what happens. Anyway after an hour or two and having past a dozen tollgates someone ran towards us at the next one. They asked us to stop and supposedly they have been watching us in their CCTV cameras which were installed at each of the toll gates. We were asked to give them money for not paying the tolls, the guy was not telling us how much is the toll or what need to done. He was only asking us to give him 20 Euros. For every other question that we asked he dint have any answer. Finally we gave him 15 Euros but without getting any receipt. First time in our whole trip we were asked to pay money to a person for no reason. We were sure that the money was going into his pockets. But anyhow we still dint get why there are toll gates and how can we pay the toll.

With such thoughts disturbing us we reached one of the oldest cities in the world and a city that I like the most from the ancient times. Constantinople – may be it’s the name that made me attracted to this place or the Roman king Constantine or the location of in the world map. Its a junction of the east and west. A city that has one part in Asia and the other in Europe.

We checked in to Holiday Inn this time, again using up points from Mr Kent.

So the route till now from Google maps.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-rally-till-now-map.jpg
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Old 24th August 2013, 19:24   #48
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by nishantdlv View Post
Then I better see the other parts of the world first and keep the best for the last

Great write-up and nice pictures mate!
Hooked to your TLog since day one! Feels as if I'm travelling with you all as a silent soul!
Yes I bet , you keep Himalayas for the last. Im happy to hear that our travelogue is making you feel so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by YanTra Makto View Post
Amazingo!!,
Rating it as 5 star as that is the max available.
How much did the car cost?, and what did you do of it after Mongolia??!!
Just inquiring, if you did not have any GPS map device on board?
Enjoying a lot and totally hooked on?
Waiting for the Go pro vids!
Thank you . Car cost us 2000 + GBP, including the agent charges and registration. We brought a GPS that had the map of Entire Europe ( excluding Russia ) and Turkey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramanjit View Post
At the outset let me congratulate the team for their gutsy spirit. Doing the stretch in such a car (the size) itself is commendable. I am sure most of us on this forum at some time or other have thought about doing a European,american or around the world trip. The stumbling block is who to take along with (the biggest worry) of course the logistics and the cost are also a big deterrent.Keenly following the thread,the pictures are good.Keep up the good work.Would also appreciate detailed breakdown of the cost involved after you have finished filling us up with your exotic travel stories.
Thank you. You should really do that. We had even thoughts of traveling around the world on road as much as possible. Something like starting from South America - North America - Russia - Europe and Africa. But yea the costs are going to be high.
As you mentioned finding the right people to join you will be the biggest of the worries. If that is sorted then money / logistics wont be big deal or rather there are ways to get those sorted.
Yes I shall try to mention the detailed cost involved after the rally - at least all those mandatory expenses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rmonie View Post
Awesome reading so far & kudos to you guys for completing such an adventure. looking forward to the entire 40 day story! Excellently written & illustrated
Thank you. The entire story will definitely take long for me to complete - that's the challenge.
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Old 24th August 2013, 19:44   #49
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

This is one of the best travelogues I have seen in TeamBHP keep it up
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Old 24th August 2013, 21:35   #50
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Amazing Travelogue. Kudos to you guys for not just thinking but completing the whole journey. Hooked on to this thread. Keep it up.

Just keep on rolling the travelogue. This is epic.

Rated 5* as deserved.
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Old 24th August 2013, 23:33   #51
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Very interesting travelogue. Will be tagging along from this point.
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Old 24th August 2013, 23:42   #52
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Bravo GKEIC! You have shown that nothing is unimaginable. An European trip or American road trip is something. But a trans-continental, that too to Mongolia is something really amazing for average Indians like us. Certainly there seems to be some adventurous instinct or bug within you. My salutes to you!

What made you guys think of this? How did you convince yourself and your families?

I am sure this trip would have changed a lot of things for you. Eagerly waiting for the next episode.
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Old 25th August 2013, 02:30   #53
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Day 14.

We planned to spend the whole day in Istanbul. Aya Soffia and Blue mosque were on top of our list. We also thought of seeing Aya Irini – a church under ground and the military museum.
We went to the city square in a tram and started roaming around in those touristy places. We went to all these places which were filled with tourists – only to realize that we enjoyed the daily driving better. Nevertheless we did spend time in that circle just relaxing and chit chatting.


Those who were following our travelogue from the beginning would remember that we postponed the purchase of tires and roof rack till we reach Turkey. In fact all our car accessory purchase was supposed to happen in Turkey. So with that idea in mind we walked around to find a tire shop. But supposedly the area that is famous for car accessories was a bit far away. So we just walked around and clicked some pics.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-aya-sofi.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-underground-cathedral.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-inside-blue-mosque.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-istanbul3.jpg

Day 15
The next day morning we left Holiday Inn. Our plan was to go and find the place where we can buy a new tire. Sibinho wanted to buy 4 spare tires, Kent two and I thought only one is enough. The plan for getting a roofbox was scrapped. We had already got comfortable in the way things are packed on the roof of our car. Moreover we were not getting a roof box in a rate which you call “Cheap”.

One thing I forgot to mention is the change in the way people behave on road when one travels from west to east. In the west starting from UK, honking is considered very rude and will only be done during emergency. When stopping for a traffic signal or a round about, one should keep at least a car’s distance from the one in front of you. Once we stopped our car behind someone’s in UK like we do in India and then the driver inside the car in front of us got really scared thinking that were going to rear end him. This is more or less the same until you reach say Romania. The change in the way people drive can be noticed from Czech or Italy, but it becomes apparent in Romania. Here people cut lanes without indicators, honk etc. In Turkey you almost feel like you are driving in India. People honk to ensure that others move from their way, cut lanes without any warning. We were really careful when we were driving in the west and ensured that we don’t get honked at. However in Turkey there is no way that you will not be honked at for they honk so that you drive fast enough to cross that signal before it turns red / start driving just seconds before the signal turn green. Being tourists we had no idea when the signal was turning green until it turns green!

But that being said you will still feel safe while driving in Turkey when compared to India. Even Russia is better when it comes to road manners. Here people bully you, The car guy always shouts at the bike guy, the bus and truck guys shout at the auto-walas, the guy in the expensive/ luxury cars shows faces at the chap in the Tata nano / Maruti 800. The matters gets only worse if you are in a car with a L board. The worst, the cab guy behind you honks continuously for apparently no reason.

Anyway, I dont want to get this thread moved to " Street-experiences"section. So let me get back to where I left, we drove towards Asia! Yes in a short while we were about make our first “continent border crossing “. It’s something the people of Istanbul does everyday. But then for us it was an experience one of its kinds. For those who don’t know, Asia and Europe is separated by a narrow strip of water. Istanbul is one of the rare cities in the world which exists in two continents. It has both Asian side and European side. Asian side supposedly is very famous for shopping streets and markets. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to visit those places – shame on us.
While we where approaching Asia I should mention that our car had became a local celebrity. With “ London to Mongolia “ written behind and a huge irregularly shaped luggage tied on its top our car was a unique sight in the streets of Istanbul. People passing by in their cars were waving hands and wishing good luck on our journey to the Far East.



Asia in our sights.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-thats-asia1.jpg
Bridge that connects both the continents.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-bridge-asia.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-almost-there-asia.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-asia-istanbul.jpg

Our plan was to reach a place known as Safranbolu which was an Ottoman city that have survived the pressures of the modern world. Its given the status of a World heritage site by UNESCO. So we were bidding good bye for the time being to a great city in the history of man kind. Istanbul is a city where I would like to go many more number of times. All of us agreed that there is much more to that city than what we explored.

Our route to Safranbolu was quite straight forward.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-turkish-petrol-station.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-putting-gravel-roads.jpg


Kent's own hotel

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-his-own-hotel.jpg

We reached the place late in the evening, the lonely planet that we had with us mentioned a place where one can stay. We found that hostel and stayed the night there.


Day 16

Safranbolu in Pictures.

The Hostel
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-safranbolu-hostel.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-safranbolu.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-safranbolu1.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-safranbolu2.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-safranbolu4.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-safranbolu3.jpg


In the morning without wasting much time we got ready and we left. We were rushing a bit so that we can reach our next destination Trabzon fast. We have to get a Ferry to cross the Black sea to enter Russia. Apparently the ferry is a weekly one service so if we don’t reach there on time we will have to wait for a week or at least a couple of days before we enter Russia. The Russian visa had a strict number of days in its validity so we dint want to take many risks.


Beautiful countryside
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-turkey-after-safran-bolu3.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-turkey-after-safran-bolu1.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-turkey-after-safran-bolu.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-siby-n-turkey.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-tv-back-his-skills.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-car-so-far-so-good.jpg


On our way to Trabzon we stopped in a village for lunch. Even though it was the holy month of Ramzan, luckily we found a place where they served food. We were also causing a bit of attraction from the locals. They gathered around our car and us and were trying to ask us where we from and what we were up to.
The local village president was also present and he was happy to take a photo along with us.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-turkish-village-president.jpg

We traveled further and stopped at a petrol station for filling up the tank. In Turkey the price of petrol was as high as 2.74 Pounds per liter. So filling up our tank was creating a bit of a hole in our pockets. The guys at the petrol station were happy to hear that we were from Hindustan. They wanted to treat us and being the month of Ramzan they couldn’t offer us anything other than plain water. We were thrilled to see their humble hospitality and friendliness.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-locals-turkish-petrol-bunnk.jpg

We drove on and this time me and Kent were sleeping at the back seat. After a while suddenly TV woke us up and said “ da we are going to be robbed !! “. When we opened our eyes we saw that the car was stopped and there were 2 men were outside our car talking to Sibynho. We got out of the car getting ready to surrender all our belongings. However to our surprise those men just wanted to take a photo with us!
Well the story goes like this. While these guys were driving there was this one car which tried to overtake us and Sibynho slowed down and let them over take us. They slowed down again and we overtook them, then it all started. The guys behind us started honking and were showing signs to pull over the car. Smelling trouble sibyho shifted the gear down and tried to go fast, but then we couldn’t. So the other guys again over took us and this time was blocking our car and was asking to stop. The way that they looked and communicated made my friends think that they were trying to loot us. All this were happening in a road which was literally empty.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-turkish-mafia.jpg

Luckily nothing happened and we were happy that we were not looted. The guys took one photo with their camera and gave us the typical Turkish greeting with a hug and left.



We stopped there for a while and then restarted our journey towards Trabzon. We reached Trabzon later that night and found some hotel to stay that night.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-trabzon.jpg
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Old 25th August 2013, 03:04   #54
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Absolutely great write up man! And hats off to you guys for doing this. Totally glued on to this TL. Awesome!
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Old 26th August 2013, 11:52   #55
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What a splendid travelogue! One of its kind Kudos to you guys for having pulled it off. The photographs are really good.

Rated the thread 5*s and subscribed to it.

Last edited by _raVan_ : 26th August 2013 at 11:53.
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Old 26th August 2013, 23:21   #56
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Wow ! This is the mother, nah its the Grand Mother of all trips, mate
When I read through your post, saw the pictures, I felt as if I was in a dream. You guys are certainly not average Joes to plan and execute something as brilliant as this. The folks who sit at home reading this in the comfort of their couches are the average Joes IMO. I will be more than eager to follow this thread on a daily, hourly basis , so please keep us posted of each and every detail if you are able to. By the way, do you have road coverage for the entire trip, won't you have to take the Micra (they could have allowed till 1500cc cars) in a ship/boat to ferry you across continent , rivers etc ?. Also I din't quite get the Euro tunnel train thing, do you have to drive through just like any other tunnel or does it have some kind of a conveyor belt which takes you to the other end ? .
Wish all of you the very best for the rest of your trip. Drive safe achievers !

Last edited by shinuak : 26th August 2013 at 23:31. Reason: Giving more clarity
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Old 26th August 2013, 23:37   #57
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Quote:
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Also I din't quite get the Euro tunnel train thing, do you have to drive through just like any other tunnel or does it have some kind of a conveyor belt which takes you to the other end ? .
channel tunnel = large underwater pipe, from dover (UK) to calais (France), stretching across what is called the english channel (sea).

railway lines inside the pipe.

trains have coaches which are 'drive-in' for transporting cars.

eurotunnel = company which manages this infrastructure & charges usage fee
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Old 27th August 2013, 02:28   #58
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Day 17.

The first thing in our agenda that morning was to find the office of the ferry company that we spoke to when we were in India. They had asked us to come and meet them in their office to confirm our slot in the ferry to Russia. We went around searching and finally found the place. The guy was quite happy to confirm our car’s slot in the ferry which will go next day evening. So the main thing confirmed we thought we should do a bit of sight seeing.

Trabzon is a very old city and served as the entry point to Turkey for Russians and Romanians across the Black sea. There is this famous monastery in Trabzon made by the monks of Greek Orthodox Church.Its history goes back to 386 AD. Supposedly the monks made this place sitting up in the cliffs of Mela mountains facing the Altindere valley after finding an icon of Virgin Mary. A couple of pics that we saw in Lonely planet and the age of this monastery made us plan a road trip to the same. It was around 50 km from the city through a route which was really picturesque. The climb was quite steep and as always our car struggled to climb uphill


We also had to walk around 2 KM from the place where we parked the car through a rough trail to reach the Monastery. But then once we reached the Monastery, we felt that every single drop of sweat spent on reaching the place was worth it.

Let the pics speak more.
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sum4.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sum-1.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sum2.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sumela-explanation.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sum3.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sum5.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sumela.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-mountain.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sum6.jpg


Should we climb up ?
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-should-we-climb-up.jpg


Day 18.
The next day we dint do much other than just roaming around. We went around had some nice food and chilled around. In the afternoon we went to the ferry office and the guy took us to the port. We had to do some paper works and as the car was in my name it was mainly involving me. We saw some other Mongol rally teams also there. They were too waiting to get into the ferry and cross to Russia. We were really happy to see them. Obviously its nice to meet others in the same rally and to know their experiences and their plans and routes etc. Another reason was a bit disturbing one. Well, though it may sound lame we were a bit apprehensive about driving in Russia. Atleast me and TV were. Sibinho too shared our thoughts in India ( though he still denies that ), but then after meeting Kent and he describing about the history of Indo – Russian relationship and that we still buy many things for our Army from Russia , about BRICS, and the relationship between Lenin and one of the prominent political party in Kerala and all those gave him some kind of confidence.
For me and TV though the thoughts of some Caucasian coming and showing his rage on us were disturbing. We thought that if we any of ours and the other teams plans and route meet then we could probably go as a convoy. At the same time we did not want to express our feeling openly to them.


All this worry was caused when we read about the disturbed parts of Russia and how they can get tough on the tourists. Many of the websites mention that as foreigners especially brown or dark skinned are better off not driving in Russia. One of the main reason was the language and other was a sect of people who consider them to be of a superior race and cause issues if they meet someone who are not of their race.

Anyway chit-chats continued with our new found mates. One of the teams had 3 elderly folks the eldest being in his late 60’s. He sold his beloved Triumph in preparation for the rally. Another one left his job for the same. I was stunned almost literally hearing their story. I mean we in our late 20s are worried about many small things. These gentlemen in that age of theirs going through roads and conditions which at the least can be described challenging was something worth a salute. Well we thought it would be a shame for us to be worried about the things ahead of us irrespective of how crucial or life threatening they are. GKEIC was getting back to its original spirits.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-port1.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-eng-chaiwala.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-others.jpg

Soon the time for us to move our cars into the ferry came. The word ferry gave me an image of some of the English channel ferries that take cars and people across the English channel. They are actually quite comfortable and even can call them posh. But then this one was a very basic one. There was place for us to park our cars and one level above that people sat in very basic chairs. There was no bed or mattress or a cabin and we had to spend that night in the ferry before we reach Sochi.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-merc-gl.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-inside-ferry.jpg

We got into the ferry and went to the top deck to see the setting sun and to bid good bye to Turkey. We were still chit chatting with the other rally teams. As the night fell we went down and had our dinner.
It was getting cold and our sleeping bags were in the car. We were not allowed to go down to that area as well. Actually we dint think that the night would be that cold as the days were really hot. Don’t ask me why, we just thought that way. Luckily the ferry people were distributing woolen rugs, but then they dint have enough number for all the passengers. The team with elderly guys got only two so we offered ours to them. Sibinho and TV managed with one and I thought I have a thick enough skin to resist the cold.
It was fun actually – on top of an old ferry breezing across the black sea – under a clear sky. The moon was big enough to form a reflection in the water. Honestly I liked it even though there wasn’t anything close to what one can call creature comforts in that ferry. I was standing on the side rails of the top deck lost in my own world.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-bye-trabzon1.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-bye-trabzon2.jpg
GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-bye-trabzon.jpg
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However in about an hour, the situation changed. The cold was just too much for my shorts and shirt to bear!!. My friends were really comfortable inside the rug. Though I tried squeezing in, I couldn’t. Later I thought its best that I go down to the passenger deck and that would at least protect me from the cold.

Later in the morning I came to know that the cold was just too much for my friends also to bear so they also came down and slept where I was sleeping.

Day 19.
So finally we are about to enter one of the biggest countries in the world. A country even today can compete with other world powers in terms of natural resources / military size / geography / technology -

Russia! Russia is a country which I think has got a charm. May be it’s the name. Prior to Russia, the USSR – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or may be it was the magazine Soviet Union that we used to have at home when I was a school kid which brought that image into me.


We were just a couple of hours away from experiencing Russia.

We had heard that clearing customs in Russia was going to be a pain. My friends left me as they went for the immigration control room. I couldn’t leave as I had to be with the car and also finish its formalities. I was filling the form inside the ferry with many other car owners and rally drivers. The wait was getting longer than I thought. It was almost noon and still I am stuck in the ferry. I was sure that my friends would hardly be worried about me but making back up plans if the Russian officials arrest me or as seen in some movies kidnap me along with the car!

After a long wait I drove the car out of the ferry into Russia. The officials were checking the cars in front of me all doors opened. I was thinking that our car with the entire luggage at the top and messed up interiors will make the officials to do a thorough search before they leave us. But then luckily they were pretty cool about me and our car. Just went around our car and also peeped inside.
Again I was comparing this with our police officers and guards in our country. I am not repeating my words again – but I have to say we need to learn how to be polite and nice to others than bossing around. When I say ‘we’ I am not only referring to govt officials / politicians / police officers, I am pointing at myself and to every other citizen in our country. I believe that power is only an opportunity that brings out our lack of compassion and insensitivity to fellow beings. I am not saying everyone is like that, but a vast majority can become like that if they are bestowed with power.
Sometimes I feel this is a small price that one need to pay when he / she is living in the world's largest democracy.


Sorry for being off-topic.

Finally I met up with my mates outside the border security office in Sochi.
We quickly went to a nearby restaurant to have food. Sochi being a Port town attracted a lot of tourists from Northern Russia. Russians come here to enjoy the sun and the weather. Supposedly most of the Oligarchs have a house near the beach in Sochi. Sochi will also host the 2014 winter Olympics. All this made us to travel east towards Georgia to find a cheap hotel to stay. It was a bit late when we found one fitting our budget.

GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Car!-sochi.jpg
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Old 27th August 2013, 02:42   #59
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Default Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHummerGuy View Post
This is one of the best travelogues I have seen in TeamBHP keep it up
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joy View Post
Amazing Travelogue. Kudos to you guys for not just thinking but completing the whole journey. Hooked on to this thread. Keep it up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guite View Post
Very interesting travelogue. Will be tagging along from this point.
Thank you everyone. I wish I wrote the posts more frequently.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BusyBoyKK View Post
Bravo GKEIC! You have shown that nothing is unimaginable. An European trip or American road trip is something. But a trans-continental, that too to Mongolia is something really amazing for average Indians like us. Certainly there seems to be some adventurous instinct or bug within you. My salutes to you!

What made you guys think of this? How did you convince yourself and your families?

I am sure this trip would have changed a lot of things for you. Eagerly waiting for the next episode.
Thank you :-)
Well as I mentioned in the beginning it was an idea that Kent came up with. He was searching for a road to travel to India from Cyprus, while he was searching the same , he came across the Mongol rally.
Convincing the family - we told our parents that we were going for a road trip mostly in the Europe but will travel a bit more east. But then really all our's parents deserve a much better salute for not being completely fussy and causing a big scene about the whole thing. May be we just got lucky to have such parents

Quote:
Originally Posted by midazolam View Post
Absolutely great write up man! And hats off to you guys for doing this. Totally glued on to this TL. Awesome!
Quote:
Originally Posted by _raVan_ View Post
What a splendid travelogue! One of its kind Kudos to you guys for having pulled it off. The photographs are really good.

Rated the thread 5*s and subscribed to it.
Thank you Midazolam and Ravan

Quote:
Originally Posted by shinuak View Post
Wow ! This is the mother, nah its the Grand Mother of all trips, mate
When I read through your post, saw the pictures, I felt as if I was in a dream. You guys are certainly not average Joes to plan and execute something as brilliant as this. .........
I will be more than eager to follow this thread on a daily, hourly basis , so please keep us posted of each and every detail if you are able to. By the way, do you have road coverage for the entire trip, won't you have to take the Micra (they could have allowed till 1500cc cars) in a ship/boat to ferry you across continent , rivers etc ?. Also I din't quite get .....
Wish all of you the very best for the rest of your trip. Drive safe achievers !
Thank you very much for your appreciation.
Insurance coverage, we managed to get one agency to do that for 15 days for around 40 Euros. I dont remember the exact amount. Will update later.
Kazak / Russia and Mongolia, we get Insurance at the borders.
Euro tunnel - Channel Tunnel , venky explained it very clearly I guess.
Ferries as far as I know allow vehicles irrespective of their engine capacity. But then it again depends on what kind of Ferries they are. The one that we took from Turkey to Russia was a small one so I don't think it will allow a truck for example.
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Old 27th August 2013, 12:15   #60
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Talking Re: GKEIC's Road Trip - 4 Average Joes, 16000 KMs, 16 Countries, 40 Days in a Puny Ca

No! No rejoycjohn! Not more frequent! Or else my boss will fire me!
I just cant resist reading your updates!
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