Prologue: Balkan Itinerary
June 7, 2001
Dear Family and Friends,
On Tuesday, June 12, I leave for a one-month adventure to The Balkans.
I fly on Swissair non-stop to Zurich and then on to Bucharest, Romania. I hope to see my friend Corina who I met in Budapest last summer.
From Bucharest I will travel north by train to visit Brasov and the smaller cities of Sinaia, Sibiu and Sighişoara. Then by train again north to Cluj-Napoca. Then east to Suceava before returning to Bucharest.
South to Bulgaria. By train to Ruse, on The Danube - the border between Romania and Bulgaria. Then to Veliko Tậrnovo before heading west to Sofia. From Sophia I will make day trips to Karlovo and Plovdiv. After Sofia, I will take the train south to Rila and then the border town of Melnik before crossing the border into Greece.
I will travel south to Thessaloniki and rent a manual transmission automobile (yes, I can drive a stick-shift) and drive around northern Greece. I am not going to Athens or any of the Islands. I am saving that for next year's trip to The Mediterranean and Turkey. I plan to visit Volos, Trikala, Kalambaka, Metsovo, Ioannina, Prevaza, Kastoria, Edessa - a clockwise journey through Thessaly, Epiros and Macedonia.
Think I am crazy? Listen to this. Your meshugganah friend Jan is seriously thinking of climbing Mt. Olympus! Zeus and Athena are calling me.
Yes, I will take lots of pictures. Yes, I will take a hat and a handkerchief and an umbrella. Yes, I will take a roll of toilet paper. No, I won't talk to strangers trading money on the street. The only problem I can foresee is that I don't know how to say "No pork, please" in Bulgarian.
Bye-bye, La revedere, ДОВИЖДаНе, Ανζίο
Jan, Ian, Ivan, Janni
P.S. Several friends have asked my why I am going to these regions. The simple answer is, I have never been there before.