Wednesday, September 20, 2006

20th September 2006


After extensive passport checks and our first border stamps we have reached Serbia! There has been a dramatic culture change and we are now truly in the depths of Eastern Europe. We are currently in Belgrade after a long 7 days of solid walking since our last blog update from Croatia. It has been an interesting week with on-the-spot police checks, drinking sessions with the locals of backcountry villages and the crossing of our first minefield!

The first of our 'on the spot' police checks came 4 kms from the Serbia border and took us rather by surprise at 6 in the morning! We were peacefully plodding along after an early start on a road that would lead us to the Croatian border town, when in the distance we heard sirens and saw blue flashing lights in a cloud of dust racing towards us. We were forced to surrender our documents by the 4 heavily armed officers who leaped out of the car. They looked very disappointed when we didn’t take off across the fields so that they could take chase or even have some target practice! However they were very impressed with our efforts and quickly sent us on our way.

In our first Serbian city of Sremska Mitrovica we met a lady that spoke very good English and she immediately warned us of the trouble that we would have in Serbia if we were not careful. This is partly due to the role that the UK had in the NATO force that heavily bombed areas of the country during the war in 1991. However so far her views have been as far from the truth as possible and we have met incredibly generous and nice people who have always been amazed at our adventure and how far we have come. Once again we have been treated to a whole host of freebies ranging from beer to donunts which has kept us motivated on the road.

The only other news to report is that over the last week we have twice been thought to be Russian! I can only assume that this is because of our dirty, bearded appearance and our attempt to speak Serbian! The roads are so full of diesel fumes and dust from the old cars and lorries that our lungs are about to give up and are voices become rather deeper than normal. We have however had a chance to clean up our appearance now we are in Belgrade for 2 nights while we await a diplomatic bag from England full of new maps to get us to Istanbul.

The end is truly in sight and within the next week we shall have walked further than the straight-line distance between London and the North Pole ! Just 6 weeks of solid walking lie between us and Istanbul now! Thank you once again for all those of you that have sponsored us over the last few weeks. It is great moral boost and reminds us when we are in a low spot why we are doing this marathon effort and bring us back on track. Please encourage all your friends that have not sponsored us to log on to help us try and reach our £10,000 target.

As promised we also have an update o
n our party

Hours of day dreaming while we endure our endless march across Europe has lead to some rather productive party planning for our (hopefully) triumphant return to London in November.

On the 25th of November we shall be having a massive fundraising party in London. We have already, thanks to the invaluable help of a couple of friends and family, been able to secure a number of fabulous prizes for our raffle. A fancy Belgrave venue has been booked, caterers consulted and Oddbins warned to double their Christmas stock order! There will also be photos, videos, endless story-telling and for the geography minded of you, hundreds of maps!

The dress code changes hourly but be sure that it will get you out of your Monday to Friday suits and is certain to take Belgravia by surprise!

Obviously invitations are a little tricky with us being on the road 6 days a week so don't expect a fancy invite through the door quite yet but everyone is of course invited so please keep evening of the 25th of November free.

Andy and Paddy

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About Me

A 5,000km walk from London to Asia for the Red Cross