Apologies to avid readers for the 4 month void in this blog. I went off on a trip, did quite a bit of metre gauge in Indo-China. The European version of the India trip is all but ready to roll. It’s not going to be quite the same as last time though.
There’s not a lot to say at this stage, except that we’re all go go go. Only 12 have made it past the last “you dont mind if I bugger off for 2 weeks on some ridiculous train trip costing anything up to 2 grand, do you darling ?” hurdle. Of those, 2 are and always were only doing the extreme north, though one of those has actually been told by his better half to stay on the train to Budapest. Truth be told, she’s more rail mental than he is. And one other, as per usual, is jumping ship a few days early in Barcelona. So there will only be 9 of us who will be able to wear the T shirt and say they really really did do it.
While I know that, on re-reading, my “glowing eulogy” of Ffestiniog Travels is a tad sickly, it’s all valid. They did exactly what they said they were going to do, when they said they were going to do it, and for the price they originally quoted. Considering we had 3 people doing something slightly different, and also the miscommunication on who was collecting the money (FT thought I would do that but agreed to handle it when I told them I couldn’t handle 15 grand bouncing in and out of my current account just now ), the resulting task facing Ffestiniog’ consisted of about 300 individual bookings. In short, if you are a lone traveller, a small group, or a whole army of train nuts, look no further than Ffestiniog Travels. The total cost then, not including food and drinkies, for all the train tickets including sleeper and posh train supplements, all 4 buses, and 5 nights off the train, is under £1,300. I challenge anyone to get anywhere close to that without using my mate Ruth from Snowdonia.
I still need to work out exactly what happens between Ploce and Split. It’s a bus, hopefully on the coast road, but working out exactly which one and how to book tix is non trivial as everything is in Serbo-Croat. Another issue is the Bucharest to Sofia sleeper. While “guaranteed” by the Bulgarian transport minister, it’s going to be an adventure all of it’s own. We’ve kept the dorm at Canape Connection in Sofia and will hit there on arrival for breakie and a wash and brush up. For under a tenner each that’s a deal, as we might even need the beds if we discover as we move south that this train isn’t actually going to happen after all. But with luck we will be able to spend the day in Transylvanian Brasov, which in my opinion is a way better place to burn most of the 12 hours slack we have than all afternoon and evening in Bucharest, before moving on to the capital.
Most of the other loose ends are really about how we execute each city. We have detailed plans for each of them, and the all important supply logistics of where the patisseries, charcuteries, fromageries, chocolatiers, etc etc, are has essentially been completed. But we’ll probably do quite a bit of last minute analysis of all that while on the go. I doubt there’s anywhere, other than the Arctic, that at least one of us hasnt visited long enough to have an opinion on how you get rid of 3 or 4 hours there.
If you know any of these cities and know a deli-to-die-for, please please get in touch ASAP. (i.e any capital in Europe except those in ex-USSR or called Helsinki, Warsaw, Athens, Luxembourg, Podgorica or Tirana).
Don’t expect anything else now till blast off on the 6th, when you will get the customary “We Have Ignition…..”