If you are a keen follower of our adventures, you will recall that in our Eastern Eastern Europe Rewangering this year, we really wanted to go to Belarus but you needed complicated, expensive visas to get in. However in May Belarus held the Ice Hockey World Championships, and anyone with a ticket for one of the matches could get into the country without the need of a visa, hence we became overnight fans of the sport and got 2 tickets!
In a complex bit of logisticing, Jill’s flight to Dublin was first thing on the Thursday morning then we had a flight to Oslo at 5pm so we decided to go out and meet Aaron and Ger for some lunch during their break. We had a nice catch up, wine and some mussels at a nice restaurant with a terrace before it was time to taxi to the airport. As an added bonus, Susan had a voucher for Uber so we utilised that to get a luxury car and chauffeur like real ladies. We were met at the bus station in Oslo by Christopher (from Norway – another one of the Amsterdam/Copenhagen gang) and his Australian girlfriend Kirsty and had a few beers in the bar at the station before Christopher proposed that since Jill had never been to Oslo and didn’t have time to see it all, we should go up to the panoramic bar at the top of the Radisson hotel (which was conveniently just across the road) and sit in the window with the good view and they would give an aerial tour of the city. So we did that which was lovely (although we daren’t even think how much the beers we had in there cost, as it’s around £8 for a pint in a normal bar in Oslo! Christopher and Kirsty got them though, since it was their idea to go there and they are used to those prices and less likely to die of a heart attack than us!) and then met Erland, another good friend of Susan’s, and an ‘orrid unt of a man, for some dinner. It was about 1am by the time we got back to Howie’s (Susan’s torrid gay affair, whose house we were staying at and Erland’s twin brother – he was actually not there at the time as he was up visiting his parents in Trondheim but he and his husband Matthew had said we could stay there and Erland let us in) so we settled down to a nice relaxing two hours of sleep before we had to get the bus to the airport at 3. This was not very much fun as you can imagine – our flight to Vilnius wasn’t until 6.30am but the latest bus that would get us to the airport on time was the 3 o’clock one! So yes, it was very grim but we managed to make it and had a bit more sleep on seats at the airport before the flight boarded.
Put the rest of this in your face
On arriving in Bucharest, we decided to stop for a beer at the bar in the train station to get our bearings and decide where we were going to stay that night. The nice girl at the Rolling Stone in Brasov had given us a handful of fliers for hostels in Bucharest, so we got out Susan’s phone and with the aid of our faithful companion Google Maps we checked their locations and tried to find the one that was nearest. We stayed there for a couple more beers as we were having some good craic, enjoying a nonsensical phone call with Joe and were enjoying taking the weight off our feet after our busy day exploring Transylvanian castles. After a while, the barman came over with a tray of two glasses of clear liquor – “For you! On the house! It is traditional Romanian drink!”. Oh god…
“Is it…is it PALINKA?”
We thanked him, wetting ourselves laughing that we actually managed to get some pinge on this years Pinge and Wang, and Jill downed hers (having developed a masochistic fondness for the stuff while in Budapest for the Palinka and Sausage Festival the previous year…although she does warn that drinking too much of it results in doing stupid things like eating a salad you find in a bag on the street) whilst Susan grimaced and tried to force hers down without being sick immediately afterwards. She managed eventually, after many protests of “No! NO! I can’t do it!” every time the glass got near her mouth and eventually Mandible had to turn up to finish it.
Put the rest of this in your face
After a week of ex Soviet grimness our eyes get a real treat in stunning Brasov, Bran, Sinaia and Bucharest. As usual click on the image below to view the fully pimped out Facebook album.
So, we left off in an industrial estate in Brasov at 4.30am…
After calling into the posh hotel near the bus stop to see if the bar was open, it sadly wasn’t, so we decided to go to the service station next door for a cuppa and a beer while we made our mind up what we were going to do. We were both a bit reluctant to pay for a night in a hostel for what would only be a few hours, but were absolutely shattered and reasoned that if we just stayed up then we’d be in no fit state to see any of Brasov the next day, so got the bloke in the service station to phone us a taxi to the Rolling Stone Hostel. We rang the doorbell several times, saw no sign of life and we were starting to worry that it was going to be Budvar all over again (and there weren’t even any tables to sleep under or patio doors to open and squat in a house) but finally a nice young lady answered the door in her pyjamas and welcomed us inside. It was a lovely hostel in a nice old building with loads of wood panelling and wooden floors (so we didn’t mind taking our shoes off to go in as there was actually a reason for it this time – not like the one in Vilnius!) and our room was gorgeous. We had a four bed room (proper beds – not bunks!) to ourselves with a settee and a TV and some seriously gorgeous antique wardrobes! We had a nice few hours sleep until people started waking up and stomping around and talking loudly (all the wood was very nice on the eye but had the disadvantage of amplifying every sound!) but persisted with trying to have a nice lie in until we had to admit defeat and get up. We got ready and headed out to town with a to-do list (including going up the mountain in a cable car and listening to the organ performance at the Black Church) of recommended things and a map covered in scribbles from our hostel girl. Put the rest of this in your face
From an excessive walking to look at sights : beer ratio to an all beer zero sights ratio. Click below to view our 2 Girls 1 Country (per day) – an Adventure in Pinge and Wang Facebook album and get all the gory details into your eyes:
We arrived in Moldova after thankfully having no trouble at the border (so we must have still been within our allotted time, although it was very bizarre the way the officials just handed the pile of passports/ID cards to the bloke sitting at the front of the bus and they were all just passed around everyone until they landed on the lap of their rightful owner!), again in the pitch black. As is now routine for us, we ended up in the bus depot and not in the city centre as you’re never sure where to get off so we normally wait until the last stop. There was a pizza place across the road that had wifi and accepted cards (we didn’t have any Moldovan Lei), so we thought we’d pop in for a beer and use their wifi to get our bearings and decide where we were going to stay.
The place smelled so good and we were pretty starving (we’d forgotten about our Transnistrian pasties that were still in Jill’s bag) so we ordered a pizza to share, a couple of nibbley things and a bottle of wine. We were also over the moon to be back in the Latin alphabet (Ukraine and Transnistria were all Cyrillic)! Even if you don’t speak the language, it’s much easier to work out what things are if you recognize the letters! Still, something must have broken down in our communication as the waitress brought us a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon instead of Sauvignon Blanc, and we struggled to communicate this through gestures and grunts and even trusty Google Translate so she got the manager who spoke English, was really lovely, sorted it out and thought the whole thing was hilarious. Upon booting up our faithful companion Google Maps, we discovered that Chisinau was quite a small city, the bus depot wasn’t far out of the centre (not in the in the back of beyond in an industrial estate as per usual) and we would only have 20 minutes or so to walk to either of our shortlisted hostels. Put the rest of this in your face
We arrived in Tiraspol at about 7pm in total darkness, where we were greeted by some official looking chaps on the platform and escorted to a little window round the front of the station building, using the walk to wisely plan how to get out of having to bribe them if they tried to detain us for anything, and were pleased to find out we just had to fill in our registration forms so we could stay for 24 instead of 10 hours. It was a very professional and official looking set-up, where the bloke in the window had to hold back the blinds with paperclips so he could talk to us, and kept stopping to text his girlfriend. Once we were all official and everything, we headed off into the night (with no passport stamp, bad show!).
Earlier in the day while sat in the bar in Odessa, it had occurred to us that due to the drunken tomfoolery of the previous few days, that we had forgotten to book our hostel in Tiraspol. Well…we had attempted to, but their website was abysmal and nothing happened when you clicked either the “Booking” or “Contact Us” button. Since “Tiraspol Hostel” was the only hostel in the whole of Transnistria, we thought we had better get it booked just in case, so we emailed “Tim” the proprietor (upon finally managing to find the email address on the website) asking if they had room for us tonight. He replied quite quickly saying that yes, this was fine, we exchanged phone numbers in case we got lost and he sent us vague directions to “Andy’s Pizza” where we would meet him and he would take us to the hostel. Said vague directions were along the lines of “go right outside of the train station, past the park, right down the main road and Andy’s Pizza is on the left”, so we attempted to follow them and ended up miles from anywhere (after nearly being trampled by a stampeding horse and donkey being raced by what we can only assume is the Transnistrian equivalent of chavas– great first impressions of Tiraspol!) as we’d assumed the wrong road was the Main Road (they’re all main roads when we’re finished with them). We were glad we had his phone number at this point, and Susan rang him to see where we’d gone wrong and despite his offer to meet us at the corner told him to stay put at Andy’s Pizza and we would be there shortly. Upon finally locating the now infamous Andy’s Pizza, Tim was nowhere to be found. Susan rang him again and he had taken it upon himself to have a walk to try and find us instead of staying put, so of course we missed each other. After 10 minutes of hanging around, stroking the horse and donkey (a different horse/donkey combo than the ones we’d been stampeded by on Not Main Road) that were randomly tethered to the railings outside of Andy’s pizza and throwing a welcoming smile to any bloke who walked past in case it was Tim (before thinking better of it stood on a random street corner in a dubious break away Soviet state), the man himself finally turned up. Continue reading Searching, looking for dubious bars, every place we caaaan. Searching, looking for baaaaaars, we have to find an old man! – Tirispol, Transnistria
Look at the bucket? Is it empty or full? It is empty! Fortunately Jill has managed to not vom, and you find us at 3pm the next day, poor Sexy Jill already having been up and gone to work for a half day came home and gone back to bed, unbeknownst to us in our stupor enjoying the respite of a good lie in. Susan, upon rousing after about 10 hours of sleep, in her vodka addled fog thinking “I can’t wait for the night train to have a nice sleep”, despite being slap bang in the middle of a nice sleep. If only if wasn’t for those pesky awake moments between all the nice sleeps! Informing Jill of this on waking and gaining her agreement we have renamed the expedition “Soups and Sleeps of Eastern Eastern Europe”.
Surprisingly Susan is first up today and finishing off the Sommersbys to clear the fog whilst cleaning up last nights demolishing of The Hammered & Sickle. She has been dreaming about bread and cheese. Sexy Jill, the hostess with the mostess, has provided a variety of both for breakfast and her cutting of both has awoken sleeping beauty from her sick bucket! After a painful waking up period and deciding Jill being ready for a mender we were dismayed to find we had polished off all the brown boozes, the last of the vodka and all that was left was the hideous honey & chilli vodka and some sweet cloying cherry liqueur, which Jill was trying to force down last nights remnants of mixed with flat cola and vodka, but we were both dying for a nice lager bottom. Put the rest of this in your face