While on our trip from Mumbai to London, we spent three weeks passing through the states that used to comprise Yugoslavia: Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia (unfortunately we didn’t make it to Macedonia). Encircled by European Union states1, they feel totally European — great public transport, drinkable tap water, lots of consumer goods on display, relatively little poverty, and a great café culture.

However only twelve years ago these republics were at war.

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The Caucasus

April 18th, 2007

Our journey from Tehran to Kars has been exhausting. An overnight train from Tehran to Tabriz, a taxi, a bus, another taxi and an execrable border crossing to Turkey followed by three more buses has left us in need of a few days on the beach to unwind. We are now, however, in the Caucasus, which has almost nothing in common with a beach. For a start, it’s snowing. Read the rest of this entry »

Iran

April 17th, 2007

Despite media portrayals of Iran as violent, fundamentalist nation, it is really a wonderful place to visit. Firstly there is of course a wealth of stunningly beautiful monuments, art-work, and cool stuff to buy. More importantly though, there are the people. Iranians are all too aware of the shortcomings of their totalitarian political system, and will often complain to you about it mere seconds after meeting you for the first time. However in terms of everyday life, it is certainly not nearly as repressive as most of the Gulf countries, or even in (compared to the Gulf) relatively liberal Islamic republics such as Morocco or Pakistan. Read the rest of this entry »

From India to Iran

April 3rd, 2007

The trip that Rani and I are taking has gone through several incarnations. My first plan, which led to Rani dropping to her knees in tears and begging me to stop, was to drive my silver Bullet (motorbike: a thousand quid; software delivery: priceless) back through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Europe. Having just met a couple who cycled from London to Delhi, and given that we are at present sharing a hotel in Iran with three Germans who are motorbiking from Australia to England, I now feel my original plan was perfectly reasonable. Indeed, our hotelier tells me that Iran has an overland cycling season. However since everybody else thought I was completely insane and my mother and fiancee would have disowned me, I was forced to reconsider. Read the rest of this entry »

On holiday

March 23rd, 2007

Rani and I start our holiday today. Over the next 10 weeks we’ll be working our way back from India to the UK by land and sea. We start off on a freighter ship from Mumbai to Dubai (assuming we make it in time – I’m currently sitting in Beijing, and we have three connections to make in order to get to Mumbai with a few hours spare before we have to board). Then from Dubai we go (inshallah) to Iran, and then via Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia (hi Maja), Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and France back to London. There’s a map at Rani’s blog. Since things like this don’t happen every day, I’ve bought my first ever camera, a Nikon D40, and I’ll be putting pictures up on our flickr account. Don’t worry though – I won’t be spamming ThoughtBlogs with them. This is the last you’ll hear from me until I get back.