Leaving London

Well we're leaving London tonight at 22:30 local time. We've got mixed feelings about the move. After six years in London, it's a pretty big move to up stumps and head to the other side of the world, even if it is to move to the country we grew up in. I am, however, looking forward to seeing my mates and family, beaches, prawns, good Thai food and seeing the sun once in a while. Not looking forward to the redneck reactionary politics and media.

So London peoples, it's been great fun and we've met some wonderful people. Stay in touch and drop in if you ever make it to Sydney.

Sydney peeps, we'll see you soon! Plan is to spend Tuesday with my parents, then drive down to Wollongong for a few days. I'll probably be back in Sydney by the weekend.

I've uploaded some new photos:

Homeward bound

So we've been in London since Tuesday, staying with Rachel. We've booked our flight back to Sydney for 3rd September, arriving the morning of 5th September. We'll probably spend the day with my parents, then head down to Wollongong to stay with Holly's Mum.

In other news, I bought a laptop. First time I've ever bought myself a new laptop, and I'm well impressed. I chose the one I bought due to its Linux compatibility, and it's incredible: just about everything has worked out of the box under Ubuntu. Wireless, video, sound, DVD drive, hibernate. Wow!

The laptop an Acer 2428AWXMi, i.e. a Pentium M 1.7 GHz with a gig of RAM, 60 gig hard drive and DVD burner. Built-in wireless 802.11b/g and Bluetooth. Highly recommended! The only thing that's a little flaky is 3D stuff in Google Earth. Will have a fiddle around and try to sort that out.

We're off camping with our mates in Norfolk this weekend. It's a long weekend here in the UK, so when we decided to come back they'd already organized this. Should be fun, and the weather promises to be just about okay.

Heading home

We're going home after five months on the road. Our flight to London leaves on Tuesday afternoon from Sofia. We'll organize our flight to Sydney when we get there, but should be in London 10-14 days or so. We'll plan some big get-together so we can say goodbye to everyone.

The reason we're heading home is a family thing for Holly, so we've had to cut short our trip. Still, we've had a damn fine holiday!

We're staying in Ohrid, Macedonia until Monday night, then an overnight bus to Sofia for the flight to London.

I'm currently uploading some new photos into the Macedonia gallery which include today's boat trip out to Sveti Naum which was lovely.

Cornflake breaded chicken?

Cornflake breaded chicken

The picture to the right shows a rather odd meal Holly ordered in Sofia. She was expecting some kind of schnitzel, but ended up with a cornflake-coated chicken thing instead of breadcrumbs. Weird!

We're still in Skopje, leaving for Lake Ohrid tomorrow. It's bloody hot so we're looking forward to cooling off in the lake.

I've uploaded some more photos. There's a bunch from Veliko Tarnovo and Sofia in the Bulgaria gallery and some new ones taken today in the Macedonia gallery.

Welcome to the Balkans!

Well we had a very eventful journey to Skopje today. We turned up at the bus station to find the "bus" is in fact a minibus, and chock full, so there's even a passenger sitting shotgun between the driver and his mate in the front seat.

The driver seemed to lose his concentration completely after the first stop (did he have a beer or six perhaps?) and thereafter was completely unable to keep his eyes on the road for more than two minutes. He's look at the scenery to one side, then jerk the steering wheel back to get back in the lane. Then he'd last another thirty seconds before deciding to have a good look at the girl in the middle's tits.

Over the four or so hours of this, we had rather a lot of near misses: either veering off the road into the barriers (where they existed) or into oncoming traffic. Then, of course, there's the ridiculous blind-corner overtaking maneuvers, with several near misses.

Well, if we needed any convincing that we're in the Balkans, this was it! Sofia and Skopje are only 300km apart or so, but the journey took 5.5 hours.

That said, there are advantages to being in the Balkans. The food is better, with kepabci and burek. Then there's the essential Balkan character of the people: fun-loving, charming and light-hearted. Makes a big change from the more stoic, staid attitude of the Eastern Europeans.

So we made it to Skopje. We'll be here a couple of nights and then head down to Lake Ohrid. My phone doesn't work in Macedonia or Albania, so if you need to get in touch in the next couple of weeks, call or text Holly's number.

Sofia, off to Skopje

We've been in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, the last two nights. It's a pretty scruffy place and there's not a whole lot to see. We stayed in a really lovely hostel, nice and quiet. Not a whole lot to see in Sofia though. Yesterday we went out sightseeing at midday and had seen all the big sights within a couple of hours.

The main purpose of staying here, however, was to get my Macedonian visa. Picked that up this morning and we're off on the five hour bus to Skopje, capital of Macedonia, this afternoon. Not much in the way of cheap accomodation in Skopje, so we're going to camp.

Veliko Tarnovo

We're in Veliko Tarnovo in Central Northern Bulgaria. Nice little town and we got an apartment in the centre for €15 a night which isn't bad. Even has a telly with English channels on it!

Tomorrow we're off to Sofia for a few days. Not sure how long it'll be as I need to get a Macedonian visa. The Macedonian Foreign Ministry's web site doesn't work so I can't get any indication of how long it'll take but for turning up at the embassy. Not exactly inspiring confidence at this stage.

From Sofia we'll tool off into Macedonia and see a bit around there. Lake Ohrid sounds particularly good.

Beach bumming in Varna

We've been in Varna a few days and we've had loads of fun. Staying in a very fun hostel with loads of people, including some Brits we met in Krakow. We've spent most of the days lazing on the beach. There's a great bar called A Lounge which has sun lounges and serves you drinks and food while you laze around. Fantastic!

Here's some photos we've taken so far. Mostly people you don't know though.


So we made it to Varna after our mammoth train journey. It wasn't anything like we expected. The sleeper compartment was comfortable, though a little dated and old, but the carriage seemed to just get hitched to different trains along the way. That meant we were confined to the one carriage for the whole 35 hours. Very lucky we took lots of food as there was no dining car!

We awoke on the train yesterday morning to a completely different view from Central Europe. It could have been Jamaica: hot, with green hills covered in trees. Beautiful!

We spent yesterday and today on the beach, chilling out and swimming. The Black Sea here is a bit grotty, with rubbish and stuff, but nice anyway. We're hoping to go on a day trip to some cleaner beaches, maybe even do some kite- or wind-surfing as well as snorkling. Should be fun.

Leaving Krakow

Having hangover? Ask receptionist for alka seltzer

So we've now spent seven days in Krakow. We found an awesome hostel with a really relaxed atmosphere and incredibly helpful staff, so we stuck around.

The visa dash to Warsaw was successful, with the visa being done within four hours. €30 for a visa to a place I'm not even visiting, just passing through on a train, is a bit annoying though.

We're off on our huge train ride tonight, heading to Varna in Bulgaria. 35 hours should be interesting. We've got a private sleeper compartment, so that should be nice. Charging up our mp3 players and we've laid in supplies of food, snacks, vodka and books.

Poland has been loads of fun. The people are very friendly and it's pretty easy going. We've got some photos up including our trip to Auschwitz.

We've had some interesting food experiences here. There's the Polish classics which are always good: pierogi, borscht and their tasty sausages. We also discovered a new thing for us, zapekanka, which are kind of glorified cheese on toast. They're incredibly cheap and available everywhere, taking much the same place as kebabs in the snack food field.

Last Sunday we noticed a queue of about 100 people outside an ice cream shop, and noted the location for a later visit. For 1.20 Zloty (30c in Euro) you get three scoops of luscious handmade ice cream. Definitely worth queuing!

This hostel has had some really friendly, interesting people staying. A really different crowd from the rich trust-fund American college kids you get in Italy and Spain. It's been loads of fun just hanging around the hostel, chatting and meeting people from around the world. Hopefully the hostel in Varna will have a similar style. It gets great reviews on Hostelworld, so here's hoping!