Holiday 1992 in Greece

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This story is about one of the most exhousting trips that I have ever made. It all started when one of my office mates at the Leiden Observatory (Eleni) asked me if I was interested in comming to her birthday (or rather nameday) party ..... in Athens. For those of you who don't know Europe, the distance between Leiden and Athens is about 3500 kilometers. Yes this is NOT a typo. And of course, me being me, I said "yes sure".

Image of my car and caravan So, I started to plan the trip. Remember that she asked me less than two weeks before the party started. After carefull planning (just buy a few maps from Europe, get some foreign currency and find the camping gear) we (my brother and I) went on our way with the car and caravan.

The first part of the journey went nice and easy. At the end of the first day we were near Munich. On the second day we drove through Austria and ended up in the southern part of Hungary. So far so good. Hungary is a nice country. Good roads, nice campsites. It's a bit like the former Yugoslavia was in the early eighties.

But on the third day we arrived at the Romanian border. It took us about an hour and a half to cross it. The roads were awful, especially in the cities. The first big city we saw was Arad. Just before entering the city there was a big traffic jam. Maybe an accident had occured. Or they were working at the roadside. How naive of me. All these people were standing in line for petrol. Boy was I lucky that I had been at the Hungarian petrol station just before the border.
The journey went on and in the afternoon we started looking for a petrol station. After a while we say one, so we drove to it. What a disillusion. Sold out. Sorry! Well, this can happen. So on to the next one. And the next one. After about two hours driving we found the second petrol station in the country that was open. But it was on the other side of the road. To give you an impression about the circumstances: we were standing in the shoulder of a two lane road which was the main road of the country and we had to make a u-turn to get in line on the other side. So my brother had to stop traffic (what a fearless guy).

Image of Romania We managed to get to the other side of the road in one piece. With only 2 or 3 liters of petrol left, a queue with about 50 cars, 30 degrees in the shade and begging children at your door. It took us two and a half hours to get the petrol but we were on our way again. We were heading for the border and then about 65 kilometers before that the sun went down. Stopping in the middle of nowhere seemed out of the question so we drove on. The soutern part of Romania is not the place to be at night. It tooks us more than 3 hours before we arrived. Driving in a pitchdark area with no lights apart from your own and from cars comming your way (with blinding headlights) is no fun. Especially when there are people and cattle on that same road. I ran over a dog that was standing on the road and I realized that instead of a dog a person could be standing there as well. Around midnight we arrived at the border.

We knew that we had to take the ferry over the Donau to get to Bulgaria. What we did not know was the fact that the first ferry left at 8 o'clock in the morning. And the queue that long that we realized that we had to take the second or third ferry. So again we were waiting. Soldiers were checking to see if you were sleeping - which was forbidden - so we had a plan. We slept in 1 hour shifts in the caravan. The other person stayed awake in the car. The next morning the ferry started and around half past two in the afternoon we were on the ferry.
The Bulgarian border was also a lot of fun. Again waiting for more than two hours to cross it. At least the roads were in a better condition. In the evening were tried to find a place to sleep, but we only found the signs of a motel, not the motel itself. In these countries it can happen that you follow a sign and suddenly there are no signs. By looking at the roadsigns on the other side of the road you can see if you have not missed one. But in the evening this is not working. So we camped on a hillside in the neighbourhood of Sofia.

Sunset On the fifth day we arrived at the border of Greece. Hell was over. At last a civilized country. We found a perfect campsite near Thermopilea, about 180 kilometers from Athens. And now the biggest joke of all. After two days we went to Athens to visit Eleni. We ended up in the center of this very large, and very busy city and we could not find any parking space. Oh boy. After driving several hours through the city, being in the neighbourhood within a few hundred meters we failed. The next morning I called Eleni to apologize, but she has doubts about me being in Greece.

But I have the proof. So here are a few photo's at Delphi.
Image of Delphi Image of Delphi Image of Delphi Image of Delphi

No need to tell you that the way back was that same hell again.

This document was last updated on 29/12/00