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
Today should of been the day when we were gonna throw it back to Chernobyl, by now we should of somehow realised that nowt ever goes right for us, as despite having emailed the hostel 3 days in advance to book it for us (and the government require 3 days advance notice to sort out your documents etc) they didn’t reply until a day later when it was too late. Factoring in our as yet unresolved cash flow crisis this was probably for the best. So over a spot of breakfast and beers in the hostel we decided the only thing for it was to head into Maidan Square to soak up the aftermath of an historic event – how often is history happening right up close to you, like an onion?
Now being experts at the Kyiv Metro Location Unit, we jumped on the metro for the two stops to Maidan and headed up the infinite escalator, quite unsure as to what we would find at the top. The metro emerged slap bang in the middle of the protesters encampment – a desolated square, covered in khaki tents with fires on the go, banners with patriotic slogans and Ukrainian flags, huge barricades of debris, tyres and burned out vehicles, the charred remains once-grand international bank headquarters and literally MOUNTAINS of flowers and candles for the people killed during the most violent couple of days of the riots. Words can’t describe the atmosphere – it was very sombre and triumphant at the same time. Someone we met later that day summed the feeling up very well – “We have won our freedom, but the cost was very high.” Continue Reading
We arrived at Kiev with the bouquet intact where we resisted the harassing offers of taxis into town (with the aid of our cunningly scribed hand dictionaries) and decided instead to make our own way on the little old rickety mini bus that took about an hour to get to the train station. From there, our hostel had given us directions of the various Metros we needed, so we (upon finally locating the underground station and having a quick beer next to it – after Lithuania’s non-street drinking/no kiosks with booze on the street corner, we were very relieved to find the streets packed with little shacks selling cheap booze for the thirsty traveler) we bought tokens for the metro and attempted to put what we thought were the tokens into the turnstile, only for it to spit them out and the security man shouted at us until we sussed out that we were actually putting our loose change into there instead of the plastic tokens. Michael Bayed that right up like! We then descended down into what seemed like the core of the earth on the massive escalators and pushed our way onto the packed Metro, trying to perfect our non-standing out, dour Eastern European demeanour of not smiling at anyone when making eye contact.
Put the rest of this in your face
You find us one week ago, on Susan’s birthday, stepping groggily off the luxury bus from Riga to Vilnius. Bedraggled and hideously hungover. Susan’s friend Laimonas met us at the bus station (with a lovely birthday bouquet for Susan, that is still with us on our travels!). He drove us to our hostel (which was fortunate as we would never have found it on our own), which was a very bizarre little place that seemed apart from us, to be occupied by lone male travellers, all of whom were wanting to stick their man parts in the little blonde receptionist who was git loving the attention and treated our arrival as a bit of an inconvenience breaking up their worship of her. Plus we had to take our shoes off, just to check in, and then put them back on again to walk back over the road to the building where our room was and it was a TILED FLIPPING FLOOR so what the fup damage would shoes do? And we didn’t get our welcome beers!!!
Put the rest of this in your face