Weapons of Kaas Destruction

What’s the Worst Thing Since Sliced Bread ?

Ready sliced cheese, surely.
We have just discovered that you can’t take bread knives on the Eurostar, it’s regarded as a security threat. Indeed the Thalys (flashy high speed train from Paris/Brussels to Amsterdam) also prohibits knives, which means we are going to have trouble cutting it once we get into train picnic territory upon departing Amsterdam on The Borealis night train to Copenhagen. The two appointed joint chief breadmeisters, replete with bread boards and carving knives and ready to create sarnies from the four corners of Europe, are a key feature of the plan.

We’ve asked around and we can get a couple of cheapy bread knives at Blokker in Brussels. We wont have time in Amsterdam, but I’m hoping if they are still in their packaging that Mr Train Conductor isn’t going to confiscate them if they remain in our bags. I am told that AVE in Spain, who run the high speed trains there, also does bomb checks and prohibits knives. So we’ll be on sliced bread, or tear and share, and cutting the cheese with a butter knife, once we hit Barcelona if this holds true.

The Thalys and Eurostar people also don’t like anything smelly either. We’ll still be on day 1, and apart from a few earthenware jars of potent Belgian beer we should be none the worse for wear at that stage, and so shouldn’t be regarded as a biohazard. Any thoughts of acquiring a round of Époisses de Bourgogne in Brussels, or bringing a few hundred grammes of Stinking Bishop as an English contribution, are likely to have us busted before we leave the country.

Note: there are showers on all but our most southerly trains, and we have plenty of bathing options down there anyway, so there should be no need for stinky people on this trip.

Culinary Quest

I have started putting the shopping lists together for most of our main supply centres, see Food section.  Apart from kitchenware, we will of course be getting top end choccies in Brussels. We’ll have all kinds of stuff for the Smørrebrød in Copenhagen, and I’m still looking for a shopping guide to help us tackle Budapest, which is the one stop above all that needs proper forethought, though we’ve got a pretty good idea what we’ll be aiming for. It turns out that the Hungarians do a fine line in fancy cakes, and the Dobas Torta is the champion of such things.

Dobas Torta, King of Hungarian cakes, best served with top quality Hungarian palinka.

Extra Day In Istanbul

Analysis of the catering requirements has revealed that we really need to be in Budapest on a weekday in order that we can hit the Grand Market, which is an attraction all in it’s own right, and is an essential port of call so we can get all the supplies we are going to need for this run down to Istanbul without it turning into some kind of endurance event.

But we also cant leave Geneva on the night train to Barcelona on a Thursday (cos it doesn’t run that day), which is what would happen if we just moved everything forward a day.

A critical destination on the whole plan is Istanbul. We can’t really do something called the disOrient Express and not do Constantinople. Our connection at Bucharest, while at 2 hours is a lot less risky than it was when we first put the plan together, could still easily go pear shaped if we end up struggling through the Carpathians via Sighisoara and Brasov in the morning on our train from Budapest. There are things in Venice, notably those horses outside St Marks, which I want to visit the origin of in Istanbul and then travel the length of the Adriatic and witness in their “new” resting place. (I just found out nobody knows exactly where those horses were pilfered from, it’s just though that they are obviously Byzantine. Either way, the integrity of the whole expedition will be wrecked if we don’t do a proper job on both these two cities)

The conclusion therefor has been to move the start day forward to Saturday, but stick another overnighter, our 4th in total, off the train in Istanbul. Its not ideal, we already had more time there than anywhere else, even than the other overnighters, but it solves any concerns about missing the train out of Bucharest, and also not making the most of Budapest. And of course there is actually shed loads to see, eat and drink in Istanbul. We will therefore need a proper base sorting out, which is still likely to be The Metropolis Hostel, but you are welcome to skive off and do something a bit more fancy at this half way point if you don’t want to slum it. The Metropolis is OK, and there’s a great rooftop place for a BBQ which we will organise.

So you now need to be here for the stonking English breakfast that we’re organising to start the trip

  The John Betjeman Arms, St Pancras International,
07:00 on the dot, Saturday 6th July 2013

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