Hello, and welcome to the next step in my post-military globe-trotting. Many of you followed my first blog (tonyrides.com) as I traveled the United States on my Motorcycle, riding over 18,000 miles and reaching 49 states and three countries.

In this next installment, my friend Jerod and I will be going abroad for an open-ended jaunt. We will start in the Middle-East at the end of February and see where the roads and the winds take us.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another one

So, is anybody still reading this? 

I hope so, but otherwise I guess I will keep writing for posterity´s sake.  Posterity always reads my blogs, but can be a little stingy with the comments.

I ended up spending two extra nights in Ljubljana.  I like that city a lot.  It is pronounced Le (as in french "the") Blee Onna.  There is a cool little part called Matelkova that used to be a Yugoslavian military and prison compound.  It has since been taken over by the youth counter-culture, whatever that means, and is now kind of a lawless nightlife spot, filled with graffiti, skateboard ramps, and a wide variety of punks, skins, hippies, rockabilly folks, and metalheads.  The beers are cheap and they blatantly flaunt the smoking ban.  It´s probably the only spot in the city where my beard doesn´t attract awkward stares.  I like it. 

Now I am in Vienna, Austria, home to some of the world´s most famous composers, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Strauss, and my man Ludwig Van B..  Not sure what I am going to do here, but I think I will start with a cup of coffee in one of Vienna´s famous cafes.    

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where are you?

That seems to be the question I keep getting, and I think it is proof that I have been negligent in my blogging duties.  I've been quite busy since I last wrote, and have covered a lot of ground.

Upon leaving Romania, I took the overnight train to Belgrade, Serbia.  For the first half of the train ride I shared a cabin with a Romanian autoparts smuggler (so I assume).  I watched bemused as he carefully scattered his assorted fan belts, light bulbs, and other parts around the cabin in attempt to make himself less conspicuous.  I thought maybe the customs agent's disbelief at my beardless passport photo might distract him from the smuggling, but he quickly stamped my passport and had the man gather his autoparts and follow him.  Based on his remaining on the train I guess he had to pay some sort of extra duties on the parts.  When the train emptied out I joined two Portguese travelers and a young Serb, all of whom spoke excellent English.  It was then that I learned that our train was following the tracks of the original Orient Express.  The Orient Express, as far back as 1882, has carried rich adventurers from Paris to Istanbul.

Belgrade welcomed me with a heat wave, and the gap-toothed smile of war-damaged buildings.  A friendly cab driver pointed at the ruins with a smile and simply said "NATO".  My two new friends from Portugal and I walked the tourist routes of Belgrade before spending the rest of the day cooling off in the man-made lake on the river Sava, a tributary of the storied Danube.  After a weekend in Belgrade I got back on the train and made my way to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.  While in Zagreb I was busy visiting with an old classmate from the Coast Guard Academy, as well as meeting some previously-unknown family who are assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb.  Ivana and Nik, and Jen and Sam, thank you for all of your hospitality.

Since Zagreb I have spent the last two days in Ljubljiana, the capital of Slovenia.  I was planning on leaving tomorrow, but may stick around at least long enough to watch the Slovenia vs USA worldcup match tomorrow.  Things are going well, and I have been taking a bit of a holiday from my holiday.  The only thing I have spent money to see so far has been the Nikola Tesla museum in Belgrade.

So now my plans are not that exciting.  My original idea was to go to Verona, Italy tomorrow, followed by Innsbruck, Austria before meeting Aimee in Munich.  However, if I stay tomorrow for the soccer game I may just have time to go to Vienna before arrivng in Munich.  Either way, I am not too concerned.  I have had to make harder decisions in my life.  

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eastern Promises

Hello from Sofia (София) Bulgaria.  Today is my first day of solo travel.  Jerod left this morning for a week back in the states, and will be returning to Bulgaria in about ten days.  We are going to enjoy central and eastern Europe on our own terms before rendezvousing in Krakow, Poland on the 10th of July.  For those of you who don't know it yet, we also booked a flight from Warsaw to Buenos Aires on 15 July.  We will be spending a few weeks in Argentina taking a 40 hour Spanish class before heading back North over land.  

So what have we been doing since Turkey you ask?  I will tell you....lots of running around.  We had some time to kill before needing to be in Bulgaria for Jerod's flight so we decided to shoot up to Romania for a very brief stay.  After an overnight from Istanbul to Sofia we spent the day walking around Sofia in a daze, waiting for our next overnight bus to Bucharest.  We arrived in Bucharest in the AM and booked a train to Brasov.  Finally we arrived in Brasov and made our way to a hostel.  Brasov is very pretty town and is also the jumping-off point to go to Bran castle, home of the legend of Vlad the Impaler and Dracula.  We also arrived on the day of the annual electronic music festival/drinking event held in the ancient citadel of Brasov.  It was quite a scene, and we would have stayed longer but exhaustion was creeping in.

After exploring Dracula's Castle we grabbed a train back to Bucharest and got a hostel for the night, setting ourselves up for a train-ride back to Sofia the next day.  So now we are back in Sofia.  Well, I am back in Sofia.  Jerod is probably on his way to Amsterdam, where he catches his connecting flight to Detroit.  We also were able to meet up with our new friend Theodora who was introduced to us, digitally, by a mutual friend.  After two botched attempts at meeting (botched by Jerod and Me, and excacerbated by no telephone) we finally were able to meet in person.  We now have a much greater appreciation for the Cyrillic alphabet and the revolutionary Bulgarian poets Botev and Levski.  Note any similarities??

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Full Circle

Greetings from Istanbul.  It has been about 40 days since we were here last and it feels good to be back.  We are staying in the same hostel in Sultanhamet and it was fun being greeted as returning friends.  They even noticed that I had lost weight on the Lycian Way and that my beard was longer.  They also wanted to know if I had heard any news about my bike, which I have not.  Hopefully it is still safe in the parents' basement.

Since the Lycian way we spent a few nights in Kemer, a coastal Russian tourist town.  We spent our days soaking up the sun and swimming in the Mediteranean and watching the annual Turkish wrestling championship.  From Kemer we travelled back to Fethiye, where we had started our hike from.  What took 29 days of trekking was undone in 7 hours of combined hitchhiking and bus trips.  It was really fun to pass through some of the sections of our trek again, though, and we even caught a few glimpses of the trail markers where the path crossed the major roads.  Back in Fethiye we checked into the same Hostel and ate at the same small local sandwich shop we had frequented a month prior.  Both were happy for the repeat business.  We spent our free day on a boat trip, which inclded several swim stops and a barbecue lunch.  Nice to swim off a boat given Turkey's rocky coast and beaches.

We took an overnight bus back to Istanbul and will spend another day here before taking the bus up to Romania and Bulgaria.  Our next big visit will be Bran, Romania, home of the Vlad the Impaler, the origin of the Dracula legend.  Lookng forward to leaving Tukey behind after about 48 days here.  It will most likely be our longest stay in any country, but we definitely picked a good one to make our cornerstone/ 

Until next time, keep reading......