Surprise, surprise…we missed yet another hotel breakfast due to sleeping in! We were up and packed a good half hour before the driver was due to collect us so we managed to get a couple of coffees in us before hitting the road. Today’s plan was to taxi from Termiz to the Tajikistan border, walk across the border, get a taxi/marshrutka from the other side to Dushanbe, have some lunch and a few beers in Dushanbe then catch a flight to Khojand early evening (we had been planning on staying the night then taking a car over the beautiful and scary Pamir mountains but due to all of the mishaps we needed to make up some time). We’d booked the taxi for 10:30am and reasoned that that would give us plenty of time.
It ended up taking about an hour longer than it should have to get to the border as we were stuck in hideous roadworks/cows were crossing the road, but for the most part it was a nice drive with interesting scenery, our driver was a bit grumpy but he still accommodated our needs of regular beer and toilet stops.
The border itself was a complete nightmare – mainly on the Uzbekistan side. We’d had to fill out some customs forms on arrival from Turkmenistan (basically listing all your money and valuables) and as we’d had NO money then and did have money now (having been to the bank) – it blew their tiny minds!
“How do you have more money than you came in with?”
“We WENT TO THE BANK!!!”
We think they were convinced that we’d made it by flogging all those Turkmen carpets that they were convinced we’d brought with us on the way in, and made us fill in new forms giving the same amount of money as we’d entered with.
Go to the bank…
We had intended to be up and about early to catch a daytime train to Samarkand to get back on track, but the previous night’s vodka session had taken its toll and neither of us wanted to get out of bed, despite our friend the receptionist continually knocking on the door telling us we needed to get up if we wanted to get the train. We had told him the previous night that this was our plan, so bless him, he reminded us shouting “Girls you will be late!!!” (followed later by “Girls! You will be VERY LATE!!”) through the door. When we finally emerged it was around lunchtime, and upon paying the bill we found that the cheeky “what is your opinion on sex?” birthday vodka gifter room invader of the previous evening had actually charged it to our bill! And it was Uzbekistans best vodka! But then OK it was only less than a fiver so we just laughed it off but ee, that’s a shan birthday vodka that like dude. After a breakfast beer or two in the room we packed up and headed out to the nearest internet café (that was located upstairs in someone’s house and had to be accessed via a rubbish tip) to check out trains and flights as the hotel wifi wasn’t working and neither of us had any 3G signal. After having no luck with trains (and a lot of our go to rail websites being blocked by Uzbekistan!) we’d come to the conclusion that our best option was to get a flight to Tashkent (the Uzbek capital), where hopefully there would be more transport opportunities available. We could see that there was a flight that evening at around 9pm but he Uzbek airlines website wouldn’t let us book online – we put this down to the ancient browser on the pc at the internet café and decided we’d head to one of the posh hotels in the centre to have a beer and use their wifi.
Ever upwards to The Intermnet
Totally where you would expect to find The Internet
Climb the broken stairs of the wifi oroffice…
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
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
Let us take you back…back to Gatwick, where it all began.
After an emotional reunion (involving many bottles of wine and a big bucket of ice, and we’ll say no more about it) we made it to the airport on Friday morning in time to brave the hideous queues for beer. The 2 hour flight passed in to time, mainly due to the delicious 40 Euros worth of wine and nibbles.
Arrived in Tallinn to find it bracing but sunny and set about demolishing a couple of cans of local cider from the kiosk before getting the bus to the city centre. Which we stayed on until the last stop which was actually a ferry terminal nowhere near where we had to be. So we walked in the general direction of the church spires, hoping that would be some kind of central square, and with the help of Google Maps managed to locate our hostel (The Red Emperor) which was on the top of a nice pub called The Beer Garden which served a nice range of local beers and the food that the table behind us were eating looked quite nice so we decided to get some dinner. Susan had a smoked cheese, mushroom and sun-dried tomato soup with a pastry lid that was basically an Estonian fondue and fupping delicious. Jill had a platter of lards of the world, with gherkins and a shot of vodka on the side. The soup was definitely the winner, but you cannit be having the option of a lard platter and not try it!
Put the rest of this in your face
It will come as no surprise to you, that we had quite a nice lie in until about 10am and missed the last bus to Tikal, so decided to have a wander around Flores and get some breakfast and hopefully happen upon some kind of tour company that could get us there that day. We walked along the lakeside and the only place we could find with a breakfast menu was the unimaginatively named “Bill’s Place”. We ordered traditional breakfast (Jill getting very excited about the accompanying Guatemalan tortillas, freshly made and kept warm in a basket wrapped in hot tea towels, bringing back fond mammories of her previous adventures in these parts) and a couple of Gallos. Bill himself, a domineering but friendly American ex-pat, came and introduced himself (breaking the ice by scrounging our cigarettes as he was supposed to have quit), poured himself a breakfast scotch and joined us on our table. We mentioned we’d just come from Caye Caulker and he told us that he’d wanted to open a bar there, but they’d wanted a million US dollars for a tiny tumbledown hut on the beach and he was having none of it, so opted for Flores instead. He’d ran bars all over the shop, in Jamaica, Cuba, and Belmopan in Belize, which was quite an impressive feat, especially since he spoke NO SPANISH. He came across as quite ignorant in this respect, barking his requests to the Guatemalan girls behind the bar in English but they were obviously quite used to this and usually laughed at him before going about their business.Conveniently, the bar lead through into a tour office that opened onto the main street, that was also owned by Bill, and after hearing of our plan to visit Tikal he shouted through to the lady to come through and talk to us and within 10 minutes we’d got ourselves booked on a shuttle to Tikal and back, entry to the ruins and tickets for our planned night bus to Rio Hondo (from where we would continue on to El Salvador). We were a bit reluctant to resort to a tour company sorting our stuff out, but it was a weight off our minds to know that our onward journey was all booked and taken care of, so we could enjoy Tikal without the stress of worrying about having to sort it all out once we got back. So we happily supped on a few cold beers and Susan got to touch a really cute dag.
Put the rest of this in your face