Hello! By the time you read this blog we shall be crossing the Croatian border in to Serbia. Since leaving Zagreb over a week ago, we have been racing in the straightest line possible towards Belgrade. This included a quick trip into Bosnia to add another country to the ever growing list.
Over the past couple of weeks we have been increasingly aware of just how close to Asia we are starting to become. With people now booking flights to Istambul for our crossing of the finish line, we thought it prudent to have a reckoning of just how much of the job there is left for us to do. Thanks to some astonishingly detailed map work carried out by our Surrey office, we can present you the following vital statistics:
In the next forty seven days we must walk 1,320km through three more countries. Although we will still allow ourselves one day each week for laundry, a shower and blog updates, we will otherwise be covering at the very least 35km or seven hours walking every day until the end of next month. Although that might not sound too much to you folk reading this from the comfort of your desks, think of this as walking between Sloan Square and Crazy Larry’s, twelve and a bit times every day, carrying sixteen bottles of wine on your back, for the next seven and a half weeks - sober. Ok, it’s still better than being an accountant.
This endurance rate is taking its toll on our bodies. Paddy has been hit with tendonitis, whilst I continue to wake with cramp in the night caused by being a foot too long for my tiny tent. It will be both a mental and physical challenge to keep up this pace to Istanbul, but a challenge we look forward to facing. Keep sponsorship and texts raining in as it really boosts moral, and keeps us motivated.
Croatia, meanwhile has been fascinating. We didn’t realise the extent to which the Balkan wars had affected the whole of the eastern half of the country. Every village through which we pass shows the clear signs of recent conflict. In the poorer regions, where repair and reconstruction is less common, every house front is pock-marked with bullet holes, and every second paving slab is shattered by mortar rounds. While in the more affluent areas the damage has been completely repaired with new breeze-block houses lining the roads, there is still the anti-Serbian graffiti, black-clad widows, and road-side memorials, which is so unexpected in communities that are, don’t forget, within walking distance from London!
This not withstanding, the people have been welcoming, friendly and generous to an extraordinary degree. Not half an hour ago we were beckoned in to a village bar for a free lunch (thanks Krono), free drinks, and sent away with bundles of chocolate bars which we are trying to munch our way through before they all melt in the afternoon heat.
However the novelty of being stopped in every village, by upwards of twenty people, to ask us what we are doing is wearing thin and slowing our pace dramatically. We are longing for the hopefully less populated mountain passes of Bulgaria where we can wander undisturbed and not feel like the local celebrities.
All that remains, before we say farewell for another few days, is to tell you all to keep the evening of the 25th November free. We will be having an enormous party in London, and everyone’s invited. More details to come next week.
So thanks once again for all the sponsorship and encouragement, its hugely appreciated.
Paddy and Andy