Last Minute Preparations
24.05.2017 - 24.05.2017
Wednesday 24 May 2017
- It's been a stressful week. We seem to be doing lots of things last minute. Packing, that most troublesome of chores for SG is taking place early evening. AG has set a deadline. SG works best under pressure but not necessarily in the best of moods. AG s deadline is based around his desire to watch Man Utd play Ajax in the Europa League Cup final in Stockholm. Loading of the car has to be finished by 7.30 p.m. Fortunately Man Utd win.
- Packing light is the issue. Taking everything suitable from her wardrope and a few 'just in case' items would be a much easier option. Fortunately the weather should be consistently warm, becoming hotter as we progress east. We are taking minimal rain gear and only few extra layers for some altitude driving and sightseeing. We both confine our clothing to 3 Eagle Creek zip around cubes. AG has slightly less volume and certainly fewer shoes. But SG, all things consideried, and most of all because she has those extra female needs, feels she has not done badly. However that most vital of accessories, the hairdryer, is not on board. SG must prepare for some bad hair days.
SG is also packing part of her Iran kit - clothing she took to wear to Iran back in 2014 - baggy trousers, long sleeved tunic tops and a headscarf. This is primarily as a precaution as we travel through Turkey. Since Erdogan's arrival on the political scene, ( some would say power grab ) Turkey is becoming a much more conservative Muslim country to visit. Plus on our outward journey we are travelling during the holy month of Ramadan, when it might be wise to respect local cultural standards of dress. SG remembers well how the further east you travel in Turkey, the more black robed women you see - with heads fully covered. Best to be inconspicuous.
- Turkey is actually the country we worry most about. We watched with interest and not a little concern the results of the recent referendum to increase presidential powers . So far so good. Or bad depending on your viewpoint. Erdogan has increased his power and status and crushed opposition. For now at least. We feel at any stage Turkey might erupt into a less than orderly state and we'd rather not be there. For this reason our route avoids Istanbul & Ankara and other no go Kurdish areas.
- Our other slight concern is getting the truck into Azerbaijan where there is a ban on pre 2004 diesel vehicles. Now our Landcruiser was manufactured in 2006. AG has read on the Hub forum that older vehicles are being turned back at the border or extortionate fees are being demanded ( $10000) . For a visit of 4-5 days we are not prepared to pay such a price, so we will turn round and simply stay longer in Georgia. We are therefore hoping that the 2 year age difference will suffice to enable us to enter Azerbaijan.
- As on previous classic rally trips and our London to Sydney epic journey in 2014 we have planned our route meticulously. Through Booking.com we have pre booked a variety of accommodation on a 24hr free cancellation policy. This gives us cost free flexibility. But we also have a destination every evening, a place to sleep and equally importantly in some of the European cities, a place to park the truck. Looking for suitable accommodation ( whatever type that may be ) is such a waste of time at the end of a long day on the road.
- And our journey to Georgia, Azerbaijan & Armenia is pretty full on. About 12000 km with a rest day scheduled roughly every 5 days. As on previous trips the rest days are rarely restful in the normal sense. The truck may have to be serviced, certainly there will be sightseeing to do ( we usually choose rest stops because there is something to do or see) . Rest days are also the stretch points of our trip and will be cancelled if we experience delays to our schedule elsewhere in the itinerary.
- We are not taking the roof tent on this trip. AG judges it to be too cumbersome and heavy for a journey during which we do not envisage camping very often. Sleeping under canvas in June / July in countries as hot as Turkey does not appeal. A good night's sleep is essential if we are to drive the planned distances. We are packing with us a 2 man tent just in case we cannot get to our scheduled accommodation and we are stuck in the middle of nowhere. Or in case the Booking.com option turns out to be so awful that sleeping under stars is preferable . As a precaution we are taking small pillows and cotton sheet cocoons in case the accommodation is neither comfortable nor clean. Bed bugs are irritating to say the very least.
- In fact our truck trip, just a week ago a 70 day odyssey, has already been changed during a frantic re- assessment of our plans. We are now travelling a mere 62 days, Our house went under offer last weekend. We thought about cancelling, but were reluctant to do so because of the time and money spent over the last year to make this particular dream a reality. And what if the chain collapses and the move is postponed or even cancelled...
- So the last week has been a bit hectic with providing solicitors the necessary info and authority to exchange contracts on our behalf. We have nowhere to move to and we still have a lot of stuff to pack and take with us, wherever we go. The tentative plan is to rent a property down in Sussex / Surrey area with a view of then doing some serious property search for our next home.
- Although feeling somewhat rushed by all the extra issues we have had to deal with pre departure, we are coping - just about. Maybe the ups and downs of our London to Sydney journey 2014 have given us the necessary experience and a more relaxed attitude. If there is a problem, just fix it!
- In any case this our second major truck trip (and one still without an appropriate name) is considerably less complex than London to Oz and half the duration. We also have fewer visas to apply, no flights to book and no shipping of the truck to organise.
- Our route is essentially circular. A truck trip with no name but plenty of destinations:
We are driving across Europe ( through countries that are the metaphoric hinterland of the EU - countries that are EU members but which are still queuing to join the eurozone. Countries that participate in, and indeed often win the Eurovision Song Contest.
Once through northern France, Germany and Austria we will be visiting Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria en route to Turkey. 6 days across Turkey taking a northern route along the Black Sea coast. Into Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. But not in that exact order since relationships between Armenia and Azerbaijan are not friendly and the border is closed.
On our return journey we again must travel through Turkey picking up a different more central route across this vast country. Into Greece, followed by Macedonia, Kosovo, Slovenia until we again find ourselves in the more familiar countries of Austria, Germany & Belgium.