It’s exactly one month and a day to go as I scramble about making sure that everything and everyone that I intended on booking, reserving, notifying, cajoling, begging, querying or purchasing has been ticked off. There’s the odd cake shop I still haven’t got a reply from. In particular, I am still waiting for anyone in Sweden to agree to supply three Smörgåstårta to us at 8am in Stockholm. For a country with one of the highest rates of English literacy and also internet usage, you Swedes are pretty lousy at answering emails or contributing to travel forums.
We’ve had all the tickets back from the travel agent, all 1.3kg of them!. After I’d unpacked it and found myself with several hundred tickets and booking slips strewn across my desk, I had a minor breakdown. But I managed to pull myself together. My 11 accomplices have subsequently all received their InterRail passes and are all quivering with a cocktail of excitement and fear.
A few minor tweaks have been needed and the odd train changed, but considering the size of the project, and the moving target nature of doing anything like this, it’s been a fantastic effort. Each of our railways change their timetables regularly, often withdrawing services, making a journey of this length and tempo devilishly difficult to nail.
Croatian Railways had one last go at stuffing us by deleting the Belgrade to Ljubljana service we were due to catch out of Zagreb at 09:00. As a result, Zagreb has been truncated to a mere whistle stop of under an hour at the station.
Another spin off as a result of Croatia’s unilateral war on international train travel, is our trip along the Šargan Eight railway on the Serb-Bosnian border. I have at last made contact with the people who run this and we have got 10 seats reserved. If you want to get info and make a booking on the Šargan 8 then send a mail to “Buking S8” <email@example.com>, but expect the reply to come back in Serbian. I’m sure you can find an internet based tool to help you communicate. Always start your mails with the phrase “Worshipful”.
We’ve pushed the boat out a little further on the social media front. We now have a FaceBook page you can follow https://www.facebook.com/GCERC and a Tumblr page http://disorient-express.tumblr.com/, (oh, and another tumblr page I only just discovered I had at http://gcerc.tumblr.com) and a Twitter account https://twitter.com/DisorientTweets . Several of the group will also be writing their own blogs and once they are running I will syndicate them here, and on the facebook page, and on the twitter feed, and on tumblr, etc etc etc. We’re still working out which of us is going to fork out for a 3G contract to cover Switzerland and a few of the Balkan bits, but one way or t’other we should be able to spam you to a crisp every time we get on or off a train..
There is one critical matter remaining which anyone wishing to meet us on our return to St Pancras, after we’ve spent 17½ days on the rails, will be keen to see resolved. How many sets of undies are we all bringing ?. There was some extensive research on the matter for the Indian trip which you can catch up on in The Indian Undieworld .