Friday 13th June 2014,
To whom it may concern:- This is the last will and testament………………(not really but getting very close!)
It has been a while since my last update, so have jotted a few notes ‘en route’ since Romania. Wifi is and has been rare.
I enjoyed Romania on the whole, we met Lilli, Roxana, Simon and Mihai and their adorable little dog Sacha. These two couples were camping in tents and as I mentioned in my last blog they got rained out. We joined them by their site and shared stories, beers and laughs! After copious amounts of Bulgarian/Romanian beer Simon got the girls red wine and coke – Yes together!!! I’ve never heard of this concoction but it most definitely worked. Simon did point out that it must be dry red wine. We enjoyed their company very much for the whole weekend and are still in touch, we hope to remain lifelong friends with them.
When I say I enjoyed Romania ‘on the whole’ the downside of this was the buses (see Dennis I have tried public transport!). They are truly crazy, the bus is a large minibus, probably 25 seater, however no-body gets refused entry. WCG and I were patiently waiting for the ‘68’ at the side of the road with three other people. When the ‘68’ arrived it was full with maybe four or five people stood up. Madam ‘pink hair ’behind me muttered what could only have been described as “Hurry up” and shoved me on the bus! All five of us are now stood up with the other four and are progressing to the next stop.
- Three get on!
- Three get on!
- One got off (from the back, for Gods sake)
- Six get on!
- I am now seriously losing the plot! Three get on
We are now like sardines and are hurtling along at probably 70kmp lunging from one side to the other. I can see the driver through a gap of arms and legs and notice he is smoking with his left hand, on the phone with his right hand and chin combined and got a woman passenger sat on his bloody knee! I am sharing air space with an unshaven spotty youth with a bad case of B.O. and Halitosis, he is looking directly at my cleavage and didn’t even avert his eyes when I gave him my most sternest look.
We reached destination ‘Mall’ and fell into the road with relief. After a coffee and a look around the mall we asked about going into the city. The alternatives were a 5km walk or the ‘68’——I chose the walk!!!
Unbebloodylievable! This was a shock to the system. After passing through the Romania/Moldova border it was raining quite heavily, I made a coffee and a sandwich whilst Dave went to buy insurance. I sat in the cab feeding 2 stray dogs my lunch and looking out, I thought this road looks in a state of disrepair. This turned out to be the understatement of 2014!
Holy hell, it was unbelievable, pot holes, cracks and craters everywhere, to do a kilometer you have to do two zigzagging around the road trying to avoid damage, which was impossible (at this point I threw my remaining coffee through the window as I was wearing most of it). I spotted a sign for the capital Chisanu which was our aim, I felt like crying when it read ‘272kms’.
We had planned on reaching the Stejar Hotel for about 4pm, we finally arrived at 7.45pm we were wrecked and it was pouring with rain.
Emma the receptionist was lovely, she arranged a garage mechanic to come and change one of Plodds tyres and she put an extension cable through her office window so we could have 240v electric. We went into the small restaurant attached to the hotel where a log fire was burning – this gave a little more semblance to the evening and Emma helped us with the menu. We stayed there for two days coming to terms with the fact the next stop was the Ukraine.
Ukraine Day 1
We left early but after one hour only we had a blowout. Customs here was awful it took four hours to pass through and we still hadn’t got the tyre changed. Just into the Ukraine we had the tyre changed but are now acutely aware that we have no spare. The roads are just as bad as Moldova if not worse (if that’s possible). We reached Kiev at 6.30pm and are shattered, we cannot find the Bratislava Hotel. After asking a police officer and paying a taxi to take us (he did a runner) we decided to give up and take the motorway to the next town. Using the ring road was proving a lengthy experience especially at this time in the evening but fortunately at 8.30pm I spotted the hotel in the distance and we were delighted to stop.
Dinner was in a place next door to the hotel which was dire! We met a very hospitable young man called Ditjon Xheka who helped us refuse the main course after we had waited two hours for it. WCG had been driving for a little over twelve hours today – too much.
We dare not go on without a spare so unfortunately had to pay £120 for a bald one as it was our only option. We took the Metro into Kiev centre, where there were barricades of old tyres (how ironic) everywhere. Dinner was Langoustines boiled in beer and a Ukranian fish pie with aniseed potatoes – very nice indeed.
Songs being sung on Plodd
- Back in the USSR (our rendition of this was truly diabolical).
- You picked a fine time to leave me loose wheel.
- On the road again!
Long story short:-
Away from border 3.15pm
Truck stop 6pm.
WCG Meets Truckers
We are now part of ‘Truckers World”, it wont be long till I am a fully fledged member of the Yorkie Bar Club. Daves in his element he’s found some friends to talk to, have a beer with and obtain some much needed information about this Countries roads.
These guys turned out to be invaluable, their experiences/information has helped us no end and is still doing so now. WCG now has a new satnav and map book thanks to his new friends. I personally think he would love to have a go in one of these 40 ton trucks and is dying to be invited, I only hope this does happen at some point on this journey so we don’t have to buy one to fulfill another lifelong ambition!!!
The second day Plodd is taken for new shoes yet again, (this girls got more Christian Louboutins than me, especially given the red clay roads) and we returned back to the same truck stop for the evening, knowing we would have to travel to Moscow to register in the morning. I wont bore you with the details of that as I know Dave has updated the website himself about this.
After Moscow we went on the endless ring road till we met the M7, in my experience, and I now have plenty, the Russians are the craziest drivers I have ever seen.
Invariably the motorways are one lane on either side with half a hard shoulder each. The trucks/buses/larger vehicles tend to use the hard shoulder and motorway together straddling the white line so that all the Kamikaze drivers can head straight for each other in the centre. With Plodd being a right hand drive this puts me in ‘Centre Aisle’ staring at the whites of the eyes of the oncoming drivers, which I can assure you is not a good place to be especially when I considered the fact we had 7’000kms to do across Russia.
At one point on the M7, actually a dual carriageway for a few kilometres, all the vehicles in front slammed on their brakes. The reason for this was a pedestrian crossing (across the M7), letting two little boys and their granny saunter to the other side. Other hazards on the road have been an overturned lorry, a herd of cows, several hundred accidents and a pair of fornicating dogs giving a full floor display in the fast lane!
Whilst we are talking driving I feel I must indulge you in the ‘new satnav’. WCG is delighted with his new toy bit is put into submission when it hails “EXCEEDING THE SPEED LIMIT!” almost constantly. I’ve taken to wearing ear plugs.
We have been on these roads for approx. four weeks now and have covered 6’000km to Lake Baical and it has been arduous, we have met some interesting people and endured some gastronomic travesties.
My Canteen Experience
Sometime in week two in Russia we pulled into a truck stop on the M5, our plans were to BBQ as the weather was glorious. The insect life put paid to that idea, the whole area was covered in mosquito’s, people were covered head to toe and wafting themselves in protection of the mossies.
Dave went on a recce to investigate the facilities available to us, this turned out to be a cafeteria. On the way he made me promise not to ask for a wine list or a napkin – not sure why myself, but there you go.
Meet Ulga (badge on navy tunic), armed with slotted spoon and ladle, face like thunder. Dave told me to select what I wanted from the stainless steel tureens lined on the counter. I thought pasta would be a safe bet so indicated my choice to Ulga with a smile. She never cracked a muscle, just splattered a huge dollop of overcooked Penne on to an inch thick white ceramic plate and followed it with an equally large dollop of goulash. She served Dave’s in much the same way before she stuck her finger in her ear – inspected it – and trolled of to the dessert counter. We paid, we abandoned dinner, we departed! Lol!
Meals have been hit and miss in Russia, their staple being ‘stodge’ – potato dumplings, potato cakes, pancakes and large amounts of pies and pastries.
They always seem to have soup to start, which is in a big bowl and pasta is added to it. At one stop I witnessed a young man enjoying a bowl of pasta soup, he at first attacked it with a spoon then after a couple of minutes gave up that idea and plunged his face into the bowl. He came up for breath with the remains attached to his nose and mouth, this gets the award for the most repulsive act of eating I have ever seen.
We travelled along the M7 to Novosibirsk in Siberia where we had Plodd serviced at Mercedes. The warranty manager Andy was great, he helped us get a hotel in the city and even drove us there. Thank you for your time Andy and good luck with your promotion. It was pleasant to be in a hotel for a couple of nights and the Gorlisky was sumptuous. We ventured into the centre on both nights, the first to Goodmans Steak House which according to Trip Advisor is the second best in Novosibirsk, I could argue that point but cant be bothered (although I do believe WCG has reviewed it). The second evening we ended up with KFC as the Russian hospitality in Cromptons didn’t extend to any help with the menu. Dave drew then a picture of a cow and they still didn’t help, now I know he’s no “John Constable” but come on a steak is a steak in any language.
People are now starting to take on Asian characteristics and slightly darker skin as we travel further east in Siberia towards Mongolia. We have been told the water is unfit to drink so conveniently spotted a natural spring by the side of the road where we filled all the water carriers, it was ice cold.
The weather is freezing now and I have had to retrieve all the winter clothes from ‘Under the Bed’
The roads are getting worse now day by day, roadwork’s every couple of kilometres and red clay paths with mud everywhere, this results in being shaken head to foot for hours on end. If I was unfortunate enough to live here I think I would opt for selective orthodontic work which would enable me to remove them, sit them on the dashboard where they could chatter along all day!!!!!!!!
That’s all for now folks……see you in a few weeks! (I hope)
Note to Self:- Will I have Great Knowledge of all these Countries? Will I be Older
Well love one things for sure, you will definitely be Older and almost assuredly a whole lot WIDER!!!!