Today, we spent the whole morning at the police station in Budapest… And it wasn’t Edgar’s fault.
When we arrived in Budapeste, capital of Hungary, Thursday afternoon, day #48, we met my friend Gabor. He lives there but he worked at the hungarian department of China Radio International, in Beijing, for more than one year. Besides working for the same company, we were neighbors and played football together. In Budapeste, He didn’t have space to acommodate the five of us at his apartment, so he helped us to find a hostel near downtown, where he came to meet us.
We rested for a while and then got ready to go out to try the local food and beer. When I turned on the engine of our car – that was parked 50 meters from the hostel entrance – I realized the right front window was broken and the GPS was gone from the glove compartment. Lucas bought the GPS in Frankfurt right after renting our car last week. I called the guys to show them what had just happened but Lucas stayed inside sending emails. Edgar went back to the hostel and told him: “I have bad news for you”. He closed his computer with sadness in his eyes and stood up. “I already know”, he replied. “Nadal is not going to play the Olympics”. Edgar and Bruno started laughing and invited him to come to the car, where he understood he would have to buy a new GPS.
We let the car in a closed parking lot near the hostel and went out to have some local beers, as we planned. The next morning, we called the insurance company and the police. An officer came to check our documents and took us to the central police station. We stayed there more than three hours just to sign a paper because they didn’t have anyone that could speak English. The insurance company told us they would like to change our car in Wien, but we don’t want because all the stickers we put on it. Tomorrow, Saturday, we’ll try to fix the window in Wien and see what happens…
On our way to Timisoara, western Romania, we stopped by the Danube River, on the border with Serbia, to prepare a delicious barbecue, put stickers on the car and swim naked…
Wednesday morning, day #47, we visited Craiova, in the south of Romania, and went to a supermarket to buy very important goods like a grill, coal, beer, meat, scissors, glue, sugar, cables, letucce and so on…
Tuesday morning, day #46, we visited Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. It was really hot and before leaving the city, we stopped in a bar to try the local beer. Of course, one has to drive, so, there is always one of us that cannot drink. Afterwards, we left to Craiova, in Romania. We calculated our route on the Internet and put it on the GPS, but we didn’t know that there is no bridge connecting these two countries where we wanted to cross. Well, it took us almost three hours to do all the customs procedures and take the ferry boat from one side to the other. Because of that, we arrived in Craiova after midnight and was really hard to find places to eat and sleep.
On day #45, we left Albania, crossed Macedonia and arrived in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria.
In Albania, we found this beautiful river and the Ulze reservoir, where we jumped in the water to refresh.
In Macedonia, we stopped in Skopie, capital of the country, to visit the fortress, the old city and the main square (with a huge statue of Alexander the Great).
After traveling more than 10.000 km by bus, taxi, donkey chart, tractor, ballon, boat, scooter or bike we finally have a car again. Our Brazilian friends Bruno and Lucas met us in Dubrovnik with a van they rented in Germany so we can travel together to London. Because we are three days late, we are going to drive long distances for the next days so we can arrive in London on time.
On the first day with the new car (day #44), after diving, we left Croatia, crossed Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro then arrived in Albania, where we found a hotel with only three beds available, so two of us had to sleep on the floor.
On our original schedule, we were not supposed to go to Croatia, Montenegro or Bosnia, but the guys that were supposed to meet us in Albania with a rented car would be four days late, so we decided to meet them in Croatia. Sunday (day #44), while they didn’t arrive, we spent the last day of our beach season in Dubrovnik, where we took the Olympic Spirit Torch to a new underwater experience.
After spending two days in Budva, Montenegro, we took a bus to Dubrovnik, in Croatia. These two countries were not on our schedule and now we are two days behind.
This is Polytimi, that hosted us, with her boyfriend, Manolis, in Greece. She promised to send us a picture of her running with the torch of 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and there it is.
Montenegro wasn’t on our schedule, but we decided to come here to check the beaches and ended up here on Budva Beach.
We went to walk around and visit Tehran, capital of Iran, on the 24th day of our trip. After playing football with some kids at a park, we decided to visit a monument suggested by the girl from our hotel. When we arrived there, we found out it was an obelisk to end religious diversity. When we entered the country, we were forbidden to wear shorts because all the men are supposed to wear pants that cover the whole legs. Women must cover their heads with a scarf and cannot show any part of the body besides their hands and the faces, even when it’s close to 40°C.
The next day, we went to the bus station to buy our tickets to Tabriz, in northwest Iran. After, we went to the market to buy food and Paulo went to find a place to exchange money. Edgar stayed with our luggage and, tired of just waiting for us, decided to take pictures of some girls that were walking around. When I came back, a police officer was holding the camera with one hand and Edgar’s arm with the other. I came close and the officer told me to sit down and took Edgar away. After half an hour, he hadn’t come back yet. We started getting worried, thinking about what could have happened to him. Paulo went to try to stall the bus until Edgar came back and I started to search for the Brazilian consulate’s number in my notes.
Ten minutes later, he came down the stairs jumping the steps with the camera on his hands and we started to run to the bus. When we were seated, he told us what happened there. The officer took him to their boss, that was on a meeting with nine or ten people. From there, he was taken into another room, and then to another. The camera passed from hand to hand of nine people, but no one knew how to use it. They tried to talk to him in Persian and he tried to explain, in English, that he had only took pictures of his friends and that he had to catch a bus to Tabriz. But they didn’t understand him. But then, a younger officer arrived who could speak English. He told Edgar it was forbidden to take pictures inside the station and all of the photos had to be erased. Before explaining how to erase them, Edgar was able to delete the last two that were showing close ups of two beautiful girls that were seated near him. At the end, they erased all the pictures he had on the camera. We were lucky because the night before I had copied most of them to my computer.
Just before the bus was about to leave, the guy who sold us the tickets came on the bus and said, “You are in the wrong bus.” He looked worried. “This one goes to the south of Iran, yours is the other on.”
Today, on the 40th day of our expedition, we left Sarande, in Albania, and came to Golem beach, in Kavaja, north of the country. Before, we jumped on the water and took our torch to swim.
Monday, the 38th day of the trip, we took a five-hours bus from Athens to Pirgo, and another local bus to arrive in Olympia. It wasn’t on our way, but we had to visit it because it’s the birth place of the Olympics and the Olympic Spirit. It was really nice visiting the ruins of ancient Olympia, where they used to host games to worship Zeus, father of the Olympian gods, especially the stadium where 45.000 people could watch the competitions.
After that, we took another bus to Pirgo, the biggest city around there, and caught a night bus to Sarande, the most famous beach in Albania. While I was on the bus, five people started a huge argument in Greek because I tried to recline my seat a little bit. The old lady that was behind me didn’t like it and started yelling at me. The others joined the discussion for some reason and they spent 10 minutes yelling to each other around me. I didn’t understand anything and had to spend eight hours quietly and uncomfortably in that seat.