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Travels

 



cope1
Man City Transfer Target!

Oct 7, 2011, 9:11 PM

Posts: 7272
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Post #1 of 3 (2135 views)
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Travels Can't Post or Reply Privately

I go away quite a lot - short breaks on budget prices - and I love it. I wondered where anyone else has been or is going. I've been to a wedding in the Ukraine this year as well as making several visits to Germany to visit my sister and I've also been to Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Macedonia and Turkey.

I find languages very interesting and, being a bit of a gut bucket, love to try local dishes and experience a bit of history. I am NOT a sun-worshipper and tend not to go near beaches if I can help it.

What about anyone else? Looking forward to hearing where you go and what you get up to.


DonQuixote
Chelsea Transfer Target


Oct 7, 2011, 10:37 PM

Posts: 6012
Location: Crossrail - Zone 6
Team(s): Romford, Everton, @BrentwoodSunLge

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Re: [cope1] Travels [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Just spent the last month 40 miles north of Barca and as I love the sun,
every day (apart from two), was 30 degrees-plus and swimming in
the Med 12 weeks before Xmas was quite surreal.
Fifteen second dash to the beach every day and the sun waking one up and
the sound of waves crashing on the beach every morning does it for me.
Lunching by the front on Lobster paella, merluza a vasca and other local delights
puts me deep in a comfort zone.
My French is pretty piss poor - I go by train - but my Spanish is good, until they
think you are word perfect and start talking back at machine gun speed!
Twas all good and no bad, until the missus and kids joined me for the last week!
Messi was pretty impressive too. You don't realise how much of a religion el Barca
are until you are walking around the town when a game is on. Every bar, house,
apartment seem to have the game on.
Must check my Euro millions numbers soon.. Cool




FA Vase semi programme wanted: 2001 Taunton v Clitheroe.



Andrelux
First Team Regular

Oct 8, 2011, 1:46 AM

Posts: 1213
Location: Luxembourg
Team(s): Brentford (for my sins - obviously done something really bad in a past life

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Re: [DonQuixote] Travels [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

A few years ago, I was on one of those small group tours, on this occasion through Central America. There was a Japanese guy in the group who notched up his 100th country visited during the trip. The rest of us were a fairly well travelled lot, but between the eight of us we still couldn't beat his total.

That was about seven years ago, so he must be on about 130 by now if he kept up the pastime.

Not sure what my personal tally is: I'm not really a collector of countries, although I think it must be somewhere in the 60s, maybe 70? It's boosted by the fact that I used to travel a lot on business, which must account for at least half of those. Must do the sums sometime, although I feel that you need to have actually set foot outside of the airport or train station to be able to count it. So, my list wouldn't include Japan, Malaysia, Iran, the Netherlands Antilles, or Saudi Arabia, since I either stayed on the plane or just wandered around the airside part of the airport.

A couple of years ago, I managed to eat a meal in four different countries: glass of beer and snacks as a starter in Germany, drive to Luxembourg for the main course, then on to Belgium for ice-cream as a dessert, and finish off in France with a cognac and a coffee. Of course, living in Luxembourg that's not desperately hard.

Biggest disappointment at a country I have not visited: about 8 years ago arranged a tour to North Korea - the last totally closed country in the world. Sadly, plans were thrown into complete disarray by SARS wihich meant that they closed the border with China, which is where we would have entered the country. Never got around to re-booking another trip so far.

My most memorable travel experience has to be through the southern part of Mongolia - the Gobi. Bush camping most nights, and spending two weeks visiting a part of the country which was covered in the Lonely Planet guide to Mongolia in two thirds of a page: i.e. remote, need guides.

There were three of us (me, the missus and an American girl), plus an interpreter and the driver of our Russian jeep. Backup was a second vehicle with a cook, cook's assistant, driver and his mate who came along for the ride.

After a day in the capital, we flew down to a small town on the edge of the desert. We were told that this was going to be the last opportunity we would have to stock up on beer & co. Not wishing to seem like complete pissheads, we settled for two crates of beer and a bottle of vodka.

The first night, we were all separate: Mongolians and tourists, and we sipped a beer each while they sat separately. We later found out that they had been warned not to socialise too much with the tourists.

Second night started in the same vein, but after a while we felt uncomfortable and invited them over. That set the tone. Both crates of beer and the bottle of vodka were finished in record time, Mongolians love singing and everyone had to sing a song... and another... and another...

None of this was helped by the fact that the tradition for drinking spirits is to use just one glass, which is then passed around to the next person when you have finished. This definitely pressurises you to finish more quickly, since someone else is waiting.

Anyway, we woke up the next morning happy, but slightly concerned that we'd drunk a fortnight's supply of booze in one night, with no prospect of getting any more.

However, how foolish were we to be concerned. There was a conference in Mongolian, and the following day's route was modified to take in a small village.

Actually, these aren't villages. The area we covered on our travels was the size of France, but had a population of about 50,000. Nevertheless, at intervals of a hundred miles or so, there are small settlements or administrative centres. where the nomads may go to vote and register. These usually consist of two or three brick buildings, there may be a petrol pump, and there will be a small shop, with a few essentials (hair products seemed to dominate) but most importantly, for our purposes, a couple of crates of beer and a few bottles of vodka.

So the pattern was set: we'd drive around to visit the sites we should, but do so via places where we might be able to stock up, Then in the evenings, it'd be party time.

And what days they were. First of all, there is the utter silence when you stop. No wind, no birds, no insects, no leaves rustling. Just a complete quiet. Then there were caves with semi-precious stones shining in the light of your head torch, or whole petrified forests, or a valley near the Chinese border where they knew there were lots of dinosaur fossils , There's a six foot long thigh bone they'll take you to, but even if you aren't a paleontologist, you can find bits of dinosaur popping out all over the place, just by wandering around. "Why hasn;t this been checked", you ask. "Well", they say, "Everyone knows it's here, but it's a three day drive from the nearest airstrip and it's not going anywhere. There's other sites that are easier to get to in the meantime".

And then the evenings - well. party time. They only had one cassette - which they had borrowed, because they thought we would like Western music - which was
Boney M's greatest hits.

I shall never forget dancing on the roof of the jeep whilst the hazard lights of the cook's wagon provided disco lighting to the tune of "Ra ra Rasputin...". All of this in the middle of the desert, with no town of any import for several hundred kilometres, under the crispest and clearest of night skies.

Or sitting in a Ger tent after haviing been invited to a wedding, at the far end with the elders 'cos I was the oldest man, having to deal with snuff coming from their most elaborately made snuff boxes from the left hand side, whilst a variety of strews, mare's milk beer or mare's milk vodka (airag) keeps appearing from your right, whilst trying to remember which hand you can do what with in order not to appear insulting, whilst at the same time (since I didn't have my own personal snuff box), trying to dole out cigarettes.


Other things which come to mind:

The huge difference in temperatures through the day. Even in summer, it's near freezing at daybreak - by 10am the temperature is in the 30s celcius

The quiet and the clarity of the night sky, I'd heard that it was possible, but on one moonless night, I could see a Venus shadow.

The beauty of the whole area. And, strangely enough, the variety. There are mountains, there are plains, there are sand dunes, there are oases.

The camaraderie, We couldn't speak a word of Mongolian (although we could sing the first three verses of the 12 camels song by the end of the trip) and they couldn't speak a word of English (although, inevitably, the song they had to learn was Yesterday), but we had a rare old time. The boundaries were muddied so much that we too ended up being on latrine digging rota when we struck camp.

Perhaps the most telling moment was right at the end. We saw the tell tale dust which showed that a car was approaching, We'd seen one every other day. The missus wandered off. The car stopped and two English women got out. We had a brief chat, and they drove off. The missus then returned. I asked her what the issue was... did she have stomach problems? ( a euphemism for needing to find a latrine somewhere). No, she said, she just needed to get away. Now my missus is the most gregrarious, sociable person it is possible to imagine, She will chat to anyone and everyone. Very strange. I think that meeting two Europeans for the first time for weeks made her realise that something was coming to an end. Stranger still, since she was cursing me with every name under the sun on the first night, when we we lying in a tent with the wind howling and the tent flapping, freezing because we neither of us had realised at the time how much the temperature could drop, and laying the blame for the schedule (OK, I had skated over the precise amount of camping involved when I'd sold her the idea of the holiday), the weather and the availability of creature comforts squarely on my shoulders. She wasn't a happy bunny that night: two weeks later, she didn't want it to end.

 
 


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