24 August 2007

Oddyssei: Three Countries and Counting

Corey woke up fresh as a daisy, must say!

we hung wıth the gang as long as their schedules would allow and then got to some web searching for tickets to Istanbul by train or bus or whatever. after some failed attempts onlıne and by phone, we decided the best policy would be to just head to the train station in Mons.
we got on Shawn and Beccy,s bıkes and took off for the open road. wow, there really isn,t a shoulder on the main road from their house to Mons, must say. however, what it lacks ın road infrastructure it makes up for with landmarks. the SHAPE area. what is SHAPE? how,s thıs for a title: the SUPREME Headquarters of the Allıed Powers of Europe. who can beat that for a name?

we got into Mons and swung by the tourist center, whose proprietor promptly told us how foolish it would be to ride that stretch of road on bikes. too late.
we continued on to the train station after some puttering around Mons and asked the ticket booth agent about train reservations from Budapest to Istanbul. she first tried to get us a reservation from Budapest to Vienna, and when we described our route again to her, she blinked a few times, looked a little flustered, and then said, "most people fly". yes, we know. so that didn,t work out, but we were able to get tickets for our bikes for the train from Mons to Jurbise (why not?). we discovered that just because you have tickets for your bike doesn,t mean YOU have tickets, but the conductor took pıty on us. in the meantime, we enjoyed some great framboıse across from the train station.

had a few moments wıth Matt, Becc and Shawn before heading to the Charleroi airport with Shawn at the healm (John Cleese dıctating dırections). a fare thee well and we were on our way to Budapest. the only thing that held us up was the passport agent who looked through all of my visa stamps twice and the security check guy who made Corey slam a bunch of water.

on the plane, off the plane, a 30 second bus ride to the terminal, customs, bus, metro line, train station, running around for international ticket booth, nail-biting wait, tickets in hand for Sofia, sigh of relief, snatched plastic cups from Burger King, harried wait, and we were on the train to Bulgaria via who knew what route.

we met Alex the Spaniard who was going to work on the Serbian border at a zoo for an undisclosed period of time and Laura of LA fame who happens to live on an off-grid community and, by the way, knows the band TOOL personally on the way to what we learned was Serbia. Alex kept thinking he was getting off the train and was again and again repelled by the border police swarming the train. we started referring to him as the Spanish Boomerang and were rather suprısed (though happy for his ultimate success) when he didn,t come back. no sooner dıd Alex exıt than Mısha, the ınebrıated Austrian, grace our compartment wıth nothing but spontaneous and devoted love for Laura. quite an adventure overall!

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