Saturday, July 17, 2010

Far From Glamorous

Q, Casa and I arrived safely in the Netherlands a week ago, and that marked the end of first segment of our big trip - hooray! (Separate posting with map to follow.)

Looking back at our postings so far, I can see how we tried to pick out positive stories and focus on enjoyable bits – probably to keep up our own spirits first and foremost. To be fair, it is a bit misleading if we have been painting nothing but rosy pictures. The truth is that our travelling was quite smelly, dirty, itchy, heavy and, well, hard.


I recall back in Bandar Abbas, Iran, at the very beginning of our big trip, I sat in a small and stuffy hotel room, counting out the mosquito bites from previous night's ferry ride - 9, no, 10, wait, that was a double? I had to do it a couples times to confirm since the construction noise next door kept on distracting me - apparently it is okay for hotels to open for business when half of it is still being built.

The total bite count was 10 - I did a quick math in my head about how this would turn into a pretty disastrous situation should it continue, and the thought scared and depressed me a little. Then I realized the discomfort around my belly and back and neck weren't caused by insect bites after all. It was heat rash – painful and itchy red patches all over. Of course this would happen if you wear the same sweat-soaked clothes with 8 kg of motorcycle gears in 40+ degrees for two days – DUH! A moment of stupidity later, I felt a sudden panic – this was from only two days, how would I manage more?  "Ugh, check this out," I cried to Q, "My body is telling us to get outta this region." No response from Q. I turned around and saw him passed out in bed from sheer tiredness.


In the following few days we tried to head up north as quickly as possible to beat the heat. Unfortunately the frequent military checkpoints made it rather difficult – I calculated that there were about four of them to each gas station we come across.

Because of the heat, we often got exhausted by midday and needed to pull off the roads for a nap. To find a shady spot to nap is hard since trees were hard to come by also because of the heat.

P1000118The first day we headed in Turkey, we welcomed a thunderstorm in our dry and cool hotel room. Like little kids, Q and I were so giddy and excited about it. We probably wouldn’t be as enthusiastic had we known that the same thunderstorm would follow us for most of Turkey. :)


There you have it, our travelling was far from glamorous. In fact it is pretty darn hard at times. Luckily even the worst parts somehow make good stories after a while. Just like life.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Let the game decide...

We're in Bolzano, Italy, watching the game in the football world cup between Uruguay and the Netherlands. It's exciting, because it's the semi final. If 'we' win, we'll go to the finals! That's been a long while...

So, what will be decided. Today, if Holland wins, we will go to Holland quickly to watch the final on home turf. If they lose (they just scored 3-1, so I guess it won't happen), we will go to either Germany for the final, or Spain, whoever wins...

Let's see how it goes!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Back to the roots

We have left Asia behind and are now in Europe, Greece to be precise. We finished two weeks of Turkey and are now crossing through the home of the Olympic games on our way to catch a ferry to Italy.

Since Turkey we have picked up CouchSurfing again, and Greece is no exception. We made a last-minute request to a few people in the second largest town of Greece, Thessaloniki, and the family of Maria, Kosta, their son Michelangelo and a whole farm of animals, ranging from dogs, cats, fish, one horse, chickens, you name it, have agreed to host us. To our relieve, they don’t live in the downtown area, they live in modest house in a small coastal village some 30 minutes south of Thessaloniki.


Our hosts in Greece, with their home-grown pumpkin

We were welcomed with some delicious foods after a 13 hour driving day, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that among others the cheese was of their own making. Now on our second day here and we are learning more and more about the self-reliance they have built for themselves. They have their own garden in which they grow a lot of produce, lots of which they use themselves, including cucumbers, tomatoes (some of which they sun-dry), lemons, limes, courgettes (zucchini), herbs, prunes (tasted their home-made prune marmalade), pumpkins (pumpkin pie).


Home-made prune marmalade and pancakes


The horse and Michelangelo

Tonight we enjoyed a wonderful simple, but oh so delicious meal together with the family. Barbequed sardines and oyster mushrooms, and also home-made tzatziki, a delicious salad (you guessed it, most, if not all, ingredients were from their own garden), home baked bread. Simply gorgeous! I think we can learn a lot about self sustenance, I mean, Shu and I do make the odd product ourselves, but we never grew anything other than the odd herb plant, but we don’t come in the least bit close to what our hosts are doing here. And best of all, it is simply delicious and healthy!


Home-grown tomato

The family loves doing all this, and with the economy being hit hard in Greece, it reaps it rewards in many ways. And it is a great for them to keep local traditions alive as well.

True back to your roots.