Month: July 2007

The Blue Mosque from our balcony

Moonlight over Istanbul

A guy sells coffee in the central bazar – Isatnbul

Dumitru entertains us in Moldova

Park bench in Odessa

Cooling off in Moldova

For more pictures see: here and here.

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“You are 1978 man” said the receptionist at our hostel.
“I am cave man” said one of the 65 carpet sellers we spoke to today.
“Why you have no hair?” asked THREE differnt Turks today! I might wear a wig tomorrow.
“You are a beutiful girl – I give your dad five thousand camels” a travel agent said to Ajda. Definately worth some consideration.

Anyway, I’m back on dry land in Istanbul. Our 2 day ferry from Odessa (Ukraine) was fun and we met a bunch of people from Moldova, Ukraine, Syria, France, England, Canada and Turkey – quite a random lot. We shared a cabin with Yulia from Ukraine and a Moldovan grandmother who managed to befriended the entire ship in just two days. They were both great.

We hit the disco bar last night so we all rolled off looking a little green and we’ve all been having serious land-sickness problems today which is a new experience. It feels like you’re still at sea and I keep going wobbly.

I haven’t seen much of it but Instanbul is an incredible and large (16+ million people – that’s 8 times the population of Slovenia) city and we have a busy schedule before we catch a night train to Bulgaria on Wednesday.

To our amusement, Bruce (one of the guys we met on the boat) just found a bottle of wine called Dikmen. Nice. It’s not as funny as this guy‘s name though.

Our hostel looks out over the Blue Mosque. Not a bad view.

Oh, and apologies to everyone for not emailing – I’ll do it soon, honest.

Big, 1978 man Eddy

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A tribute to Bingo and Shakespear

A police car and a screaming siren –
A pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete –
A baby wailing and stray dog howling –
The screech of brakes and lamp light blinking –

That’s Entertainment” and it’s a pretty good description of Chisinau too BUT, that’s not the only entertainment you’ll find in Moldova.

Despite the problems that exist in this small and relatively new republic – I had a suspicion I’d love this place and I did. OK, culture vultures won’t find much to photograph and boast about but then, I’ve never been into magnificent churches and over-sized monuments.

It’s small, it has it’s problems (largely thanks years of Soviet mismanagement) and the Eastern part has decided to go-it-alone but, put this aside, grab yourself a Chisinau beer and start talking to the locals and you’ll have a great time.

Once we were settled in our flat (along with an American (Kevin), a Swiss guy (Michael), a Welshman, a French guy (Johan), Sara (an English girl) a dutch guy (who I lost during a night out – and never saw again) and a German guy called Tossten) – we hit the town. I will remember Moldova (and Transdniestr) for the following things…

  • Buses that cost 4 pence

  • Gold teeth

  • The man wearing a cabbage leaf as a hat (apparently this is not unusual)

  • Chisinau beer

  • People who talk with high voices (a Russian thing) and say ‘excuse me’ when they don’t have what you want and ‘good luck’ when you leave.

  • Cash machines that don’t work with any card that has a ‘chip’

  • Girls that dance with themselves in the mirror in strange Sunday night discos

  • Eating cucumber with honey!! (try it – it’s nice and not unusual for Moldovans who “like to experiment with taste combinations”)

  • Girls in high-heels and dresses to impress 24-7

  • Common parents. You get these in Moldova when you get married. They are very important and should be visited first during important holidays (Christmas etc)

  • Dried fish

  • The breakaway region of Trandniestr – a non-recognized (therefore non-existant) country that does exist and resembles Moldova but in Cyrillic. Luckily for me the border guards wanted to marry Ajda and decided to like me. I was mildly concerned when he laughed at my name and called me ‘big man’ but I think he was joking.

  • …and last but not least the people. That is, almost all the people we met in Moldova. In particular the ‘shoe man’, Marisha, Natasha, the girl who worked in the bar (and told me how to find shoe-man) and most importantly Cristina and Dumitru. They were all great and I’ll write about them all when I have time as they all deserve a mention – however I have 10 minutes to get back to our hotel and 40 minutes to be the other-side of town.

Odessa is a cool city, full of people and today we walked up the famous Potemkin steps, explored town and failed (annoyingly) to book ourselves on the ferry to Istanbul tomorrow.

You can see a selection of pictures HERE

Love from the black sea

Eddy xx

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The real country of Moldova

The real (but unreal) country of Transnistra.

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Bunã ziua, from Chisinau Moldova!

Fourty-Two hot, smelly but fun hours after leaving – we made it safely to Chisinau Moldova. I’ve not got much time to write but so far it’s been fun and we’ve been entertained by…

:: An Egyptian travel agent who clearly doesn’t like Slovenia (i’m always suspicious of people who don’t like Slovenia) but it was fun to here him rant.
:: An expressive Croatian girl on her way to a Jazz festival in Hungary
:: The craziest (happiest) passport controller I’ve ever met (Croatian/Hungarian border)
:: Great views of lake Balaton in Hungary, the largest fresh water lake in Europe outside Scandinavia
:: A nice Hungarian man who acted as a translator and helped us acquire some Forint
:: Three Austrian students who shared our Couchette. (Guy’s I hope you made it to the festival OK)
:: Two gypsy children begging on our train. They weren’t happy with the chocolate croissant we gave them, they wanted the biscuits, my mobile and my camera too. Cheeky beggars
:: The huge ‘peoples palace’ in Bucharest. The worlds largest failure.
:: A shifty looking guy at the station who clearly wanted to do something shifty to us.
:: A guy who (in Romania so this is all deduced) started by asking if our water cost 2 lei (which it did) and then, undeterred by our lack of Romanian, launched into a story about being Moldovan and how the Soviets were big fascists!

…and last but not least our friendly and extremely helpful host Marsha who met us at the train station and has told us everything we need to know about Chisinau.

It’s hot, very hot, infact – it’s too hot today at 45 degrees. I cannot think about things and so instead I deal with everything by breaking into a sweat and mumbling ‘shit it’s hot’. It seems to work.

Hope life is good with y’all and I’ll keep you posted with pictures and updates when possible.

Hugs and Kisses


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