I apologize that its been so long since my last update which left you with more questions than answers I suppose. We have traversed quite a few miles since Croatia. Stopping in Budapest to hit a few ruin bars and see the mighty Danube river. Making our way through Serbia learning they have the best roads and rest stops in all of Europe, then a quick jaunt through Macedonia to Volos, Greece. Where we camped right on the beach in a little fishing village just outside of town and it was the ideal place to relax and chill after our long driving days. From there we headed south, making our way to Athens. Where 20 miles from the city the car finally throws in the towel with a connecting rod flying out of the oil pan onto the middle of the freeway and huge puff of smoke that made everyone disappear behind us. Within minutes a roadside assistance vehicle pulls up behind us (they saw the whole thing on the traffic cameras). He calls us a tow truck and 20 minutes later he comes, the two of them speak no English and we are trying to figure out where the hell we are gonna tow this thing and how we can legally get it off our hands and continue on without issues when we cross out of Greece. The tow truck driver loads it up and tells us to get in, he drives us literally half a mile to the next off ramp and there is a little parking lot right there with what looks like the start of his very our illegal junkyard. He unloads the car calls us a taxi and leaves us there scratching our heads. We quickly unload everything we want to keep and leave what we don’t need anymore. Remove the front and rear plates, registration and take the vehicle title and insurance papers; basically anything that they can trace the car back to us. Get to a hostel in Athens around 9 at night exhausted. We made a last minute flight booking a few days before to the island of Crete. The flight leaves at seven in the morning. We spread our entire gear out on the floor and start to make two piles: one of the things we need to keep, and one of the things to get rid of. We do a pretty good job of trimming the fat which means eliminating things like shampoo, camp stove, extra batteries, books we finished, tools, razor, and some clothes. If I don’t want to carry it on my back, it’s not coming with me. Needless to say, this was definitely the saddest day of the trip. The car almost made it all the way through Europe, going 41 days strong. But shit happens and we have no intention of letting it slow us down so we head to Crete and have an amazing time soaking up the sun in 83 degree weather, then once back into Athens we push on into Asia.
After our 14 hour bus ride to Istanbul, which was surprisingly comfortable, we arrive at six in the morning. Find our hostel and get some breakfast then we figure out how we are gonna get to Georgia from there. We book a bus to Ankara then the Dogu Express train to Kars. Once that is done we walk miles all around the city, seeing the mosques, bazaars, parks, and shops. After all that we were pretty tired and did what we thought any Turkish man would do after a long bus ride and busy day in the city. Go to a hammam. I had never been to any type of spa or had a professional massage before so I was unsure how I would like it. The Turkish bath house has been there since 1580 and was worth it just to see the inside and how well preserved it was. It became the highlight of our time in the city. During our time in Turkey I essentially lived off various types of bread and Turkish tea, which was very good. After a few nights in Istanbul, we began our journey across the county. More than 1,000 miles across, first the bus then the train making multiple stops and going no faster then 50mph. It was a 25 hour train ride. Yeah, and this was only going to be the first of many on this trip. Lucky our sleeping compartment was just for the two of us, and we quickly made it into our own little home. Starred out the window, hung out in the dinning car, watched movies, played chess, and a lot of reading. This is what we did to pass the time. We got into Kars at around eight at night. We had planned on walking just outside the city to pitch the tent, but met a taxi driver name Ali who spoke great english and took us to a hotel that his friend owned. Once there we are served, like always Turkish tea and are given a room for $17 per person including a complimentary breakfast. We hadn’t had a hotel room since Dublin, and I desperately needed a shower so we didn’t hesitate to accept it.
The next morning we head to the bus station and find out that all the buses are full to the border of Georgia. So we have to find another way to get across. Thats when we meet Ali’s father Ismet, who’s is also a taxi driver, and he agrees to take us to the nearest border crossing, Posof. We agree on a price and off we go through beautiful mountain ranges and farmland. Then I realize we are no longer heading in the right direction and point this out to him, he said the border we want to go to is temporarily closed because the road has washed away. He is taking us to another crossing which doesn’t even exist on google maps and not another soul was crossing there either. But none the less he got us there and we crossed with ease. Knowing the nearest town is still 20 miles from where we are we begin to walk but are picked up by a man who agrees to take us to town. Once there it was my plan to walk outside of town and camp on the base of the mountains just 6 miles from us. But Garrett overruled me and said we should get to Tbilisi tonight so we can be in the capital to figure out our next move to Russia. He wasn’t wrong. We have only seven days to get to Uzbekistan which is more than 2,500 miles away, and some of the trains only run 2 times a week. So we walked around this tiny town that we can’t pronounce for a few hours till the minibus is ready to leave to Tbilisi. It was a 6 hour ride in a cramped van driven by a guy who thought he was in the Indy 500. I loved every bit of it. So here we are now in the capital of Georgia for two nights before heading north into Russia and having multiple day long train rides to get to Uzbekistan before our visas expire. This adventure is nothing like I planned and everything I dreamed of.