Rambling to Home

I've read a few good blogs in my time and the best ones don't moan very much.

So I'm going to get the moaning part out of the way quick and early. Walking with a 25kg sack unsuited to walking (we weighed them thanks to a friendly shop keeper) hurts. My calves hurt. My feet hurt. We've walked over 32km every day, up hill and down dale and it really hurts. Being beeped at by lorries every two minutes doesn't hurt, but it doesn't do much for morale either.

Done. Now for the good bits.

Jimmy left you, and very poetically I must say, in Bulgaria. That morning we walked up our last mountain. On the short 10k between our lodgings and the border we met the Bulgarian border police for two final goodbyes. And then slowly the signs for Turkey began showing smaller and smaller distances.

Then we were over the border, just like that. No canoe to register, just £10 each for a 90 day visa, a stamp in our passports, a coffee in the cafe and we were in Turkey.

As we walked back down the other side of the mountain, the irregular beep of supportive or swearing toots was briefly interrupted by a German hallo. Thomas Kipp, a man cycling slowly around Europe for the past 6 months, chatted and took our photo. He then smoothly gave us a business card. We're having canoeing-the-continent ones made up as we speak.

That first day on the road was hilly. I'll avoid moaning about our hardship and instead focus on the fact that we received as many waves from lorries as we had done when we were a novelty on the canals of central France.

The second day saw us carrying on our new rhythm: up at sun rise, swapping bags with a two minute break every half an hour. One of these breaks saw us sitting by the highway outside of a school. I shouted answers to their bemused questions in English. Then, inevitably, we were beckoned over for a cup of tea. Then, much less inevitably, we became heroes.

A very pretty young teacher led us around the school. We were accompanied by a swarm of buzzing children. We went into two English classes, and bizarrely a maths lesson, and told our story. The throng of shouting children were pretty intimidating (I'd probably say scarier than the naval base) but it was inspiring to be applauded out of the school, supplied with lunches and a journey-affirming break from the road.

That morning our next stop was a shop. While our shopping wasn't free, he was about as interested as shopkeepers get and went so far as to weigh our bulging bags on his scales. With a morning like that behind us, it was no problem that the first ATM we saw was in a military base. We said Salem, and they duly let us use the cash machine. Hopefully the Bulgarian military aren't checking Jimmy's cash card transactions.

As the day wore on... I'll leave out the moaning. At 4ish we passed our last village before the prime camping locations to be found in the Turkish scrubland. Here, once again, we were beckoned over. We had more Turkish coffee, got out-bantered by several old men and finished the day with great respect for Turkish hospitality.

Today we were once again up before the Mosque's call to morning prayer. We were camped pretty close to the road and it was pretty cold and that's my moaning done for this day as well. Finishing today in the dark, we have made a massive distance and found some wifi in an Internet cafe as friendly as anything we've so far experienced. We now await more Turkish hospitality from Ufuk, a friend we made through the couchsurfing website.

Not one of the best blogs I've ever read, but walking has definitely allowed us to share out story in a different way.