29 August 1990 – Home

And there it is. I am back in Melksham. I forgot Stephen & David were there to stay. Played computer games and wound down. Later, we drove them to the Little Chef to meet Andrew & Carolyn. Good to be back, although it hasn’t really sunk in that I am back. It was a good time and I’m glad we did it. Now need to get a job to pay for it!

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28 Aug 1990 – To Portsmouth

The trains only go to Biarritz two times a week. Major change – decided to head home. But the train is couchette only and we can’t afford that. No seats left so the guards told us to get off at Djon at 0230. We’ll catch a later train to Paris, then it’s easy to get to the Portsmouth ferry. Glad to be going back – saw little point in going anywhere else. May as well save the money for CDs – BDP, MC Tunes, Stetsasonic. Don’t mind if there’s not much sleep tonight – it doesn’t matter anymore. Bought some new cokes you can’t get in the UK. It’s sweeter and smoother.

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I fell asleep and we stayed on the train to Amiens! We are now on a local train to Rouen and then Le Harve. We’ll stay in Portsmouth overnight.

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Now on the ferry for England. Rouen was nice, an old place. I walked around while Barry sulked at the station. He does a lot of that. He’s been OK but you can never tell what he’s thinking. Might have met more people if I’d gone with someone sociable. We are nearly back. It’s been quite an experience.

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In Portsmouth, finishing three weeks of travel. Went to the usual chippy – lovely cod in Portsmouth. Ferry across was monotonous, but a good shower. It was really good to see the funfair, pier and Southsea as we sailed by.

27 Aug 1990 – The best country in Europe

The Yugoslavs got off near the border and we had a good night’s sleep. Needed it. Zurich was very clean. Bought apples, huge bar of chocolate, bread, cheese, crisps, buscuits. Also had 2 cheeseburgers, fries, coke in McDonalds. Hunger over. We are now going through Switzerland to Geneva. I like Switzerland a lot  – best country in Europe. Went to a pub in Geneva. Cans of McEwans!

26 August 1990 – Corridor sleeping

Help! I want to get off this train, it’s yucky. No room in the compartments. I went to the front of the train to go to sleep. Woke up at 3 and panicked that I was sepearated from the luggage. I was, but Barry was on the platform and we both got back onto the right part of the train. At 0500 I woke to find about 10 people stood around me, commuting to some factory. A horrible way to wake up, but I was sleeping on the floor of their commute. Now there’s no room at all. Sitting on our bags by the toilets with three others. Already 3 hours late. Have decided not to go to Romania as the trains are probably just the same. Instead we are getting off at Belgrade, then express to Zurich. No desire to sleep in a corridor again.

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Eventually got to Belgrade. Couldn’t cash any cheques so got on the train to Zurich. Very hungry. Plan to go to the French west coast to swim. Hassels with the conductor trying to charge us because the stamp part of our tickets were full. Barry had the cash stolen from his bag last night so couldn’t pay anyway. Long arguments via translators and eventually he made us get off. Got back on with extra page of tickets, just in time. Carriage is full of drunk Yugoslavs. Looks like a corridor again tonight.

25 Aug 1990 – To Belgrade

Some decision making today. We have 11 days left. Romania will take 3 days or more if we stop in Transylvania, which we’d like to. I need to stop. Last shower on way to Greece and last still sleep in Finland! We have decided to miss Morocco, Spain and Portugal. Probably go to Luxemburg, Belgium, maybe Legoland, then home. Spent all day travelling to Thessaloniki. Now on the train to Belgrade. Started to miss home. Well, to miss something but not exactly sure what.

24 Aug 1990 – Istanbul

In the night we stopped at the Turkish frontier and had our passports collected. Down the line we had to pay £5 for a visa – a new retaliation against the UK for saying the Turkish need visas. Didn’t have enough money so a guy, after a lot of arguing with a dodgy policeman, lent us the money. We met him at the station and waited for banks to open to pay him back. Walked around some mosques and got hassled by a Turkish youth. It was my fault really. I’d sat down to look at the map and he started putting whitener on my boots. He said no money, so reluctantly I let him. Then he demanded money and I didn’t want to give him my large note, so in the end after threats and stares I gave him about 80p in Greek money! Loads of people wanting to sell us things, and one bloke just wanted to practice his English. The Grand Bazaar was really fascinating with all the passages and identical shops. We are now in Asia. Had some Turkish coffee. It’s the same as European Istanbul.

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Stocked up on food, waiting on the train. Lots of Americans and Germans. Makes me want to go home when there’s nowhere to sleep. I’m not fussed about Morocco but Barry is keen on Romania so we’ll go.

23 Aug 1990 – Through Greece

Got back to the station via the British-designed tube in time for the 0630 train. A lovely blonde girl spoke to us in the carriage but some of the seats were reserved so we had to move. 22 hours left to Istanbul. It’s raining for the first time on the trip. Athens was all we saw of Greece. I’ll come back in the future, and to some of the Islands. May go into Asian Turkey but not sure if they are letting anyone in due to Iraq/Kuwait etc.

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A strange day, sleeping most of it. The sun hardly came out and lots of the countryside looked like Salisbury plain, but mountains again now.

22 August 1990 – Athens

Had a really good night’s sleep on the deck. A strong cool breeze but not at all cold. Slept till 0880 and felt a lot better and ready to go again. As soon as we got to Patras we bought crisps, biscuits, water, Smarties, then got straight on the Athens train. It’s narrow guage and dirty. Briefly spoke to some English girls. At midday it was so hot. Get to Athens at 1845 for evening sightseeing then plan an early morning train to Istanbul.

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I like Athens a lot. Loads of pushers for hotels on the train but we just used our map and left our packs in one. Walked up to the Acropolis and it looks brilliant lit up. Loads of other ancient buildings dotted around, including an amphitheatre with an orchestra. We looked down from the hill above it. Now sitting at a taverna with wine.

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Have now had most of the wine and am quite merry. Lots of grapes overhead, I tasted one but the waiter gave us a bunch of the nice ones. I gave some to a girl walking past. The waiter has been talking to us about AIDS, drugs, girls, Turkish gold, all sorts.

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We collected our bags and Barry went to sleep at the station. I spent the rest of the night walking around most of the impressive buildings of Athens. I enjoyed myself a lot and the exercise did me good. It was quite a scare walking alone at 0400. I took a small bread knife! The walking did something to my digestion and I had to have a crap in the trees below the Acropolis.

21 Aug 1990 – To Brindisi

The closing the curtains and lying down only works when the train isn’t full. This one is packed. Some German girls came in, then some young Italians who smoked a joint. Can’t sleep sitting up, so left at 2. Slept for a couple of hours in the corridor but woke and panicked I was in the wrong section of the train. Now sitting outside the crowded compartment. Only a few hours sleep in the last few nights.

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We are sitting at the port of Brindisi waiting to get on the boat to Greece. Our ticket is free for the deck only. I don’t mind – it’s warm enough. Bought bread, cheese, chocolate, crackers and have eaten most of it. Feel warn down and tired. Wouldn’t really mind going back to the UK now, but in the long term I’d be disappointed.

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On the ferry. Just had a shower and could feel a week’s grime just wash away. Feel really refreshed and have no desire to go back early anymore.

20 Aug 1990 – Naples, Rome

I am pretty pissed off. Got to sleep and an Italian woman & son came into the compartment and kept us awake till 2. Then slept too deeply. When I awoke we’d gone through Rome and my bag I’d left above my head was near the door. I thought nothing would be left but the only things gone are my cashpoint cards and about £5 cash. Camera, personal stereo, travellers cheques, passport still there! I should have put it all in my sleeping bag. So we went on to Naples. Cancelled the cards. I hate Naples – so dirty and hot and busy. We’ll just see Rome and then I’ll be glad to get out of Italy. Hope rest of the day is better.

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Rome was far too hot and busy. Colleseum didn’t look impressive. Saw St Peters, looking really good in the dusk. Walked to the Spanish Steps where we are now sitting. Lots of people here but mostly boys.

19 August 1990 – Venice

We are now in Venice. Didn’t sleep much on the train – people kept knocking me. That’s what happens when you stretch out in the corridor. Venice is nice and not too busy. Seen all the main sights. Went up the clock tower in St Marks Square for a brilliant view over the city. I like the quiet back streets and canals the best.

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2 weeks into our trip. Sitting at a pizza restaurant in a town in NE Italy. Wine. We’d tried to go to Florence but didn’t realise you had to change train so ended up in this small town. Lovely waitress. Waiting for the train to Rome.

18 Aug 1990 – Innsbruck

On our way to Innsbruck after spending only half an hour in Munich – Burger King at the station. I want to go through the Alps in the daytime this time, hence leaving Germany so soon. Sat next to a German baby. For the last 2 nights we’ve had a compartment to ourselves which means a free bed. We just got on and shut all the curtains.

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In Innsbruck, sitting in a street cafe with white wines, largers. A tempting cable car. Excellent journey into the Alps, the best thing we’ve done yet.

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Shit. Our train to Venice is 3 hours late. Don’t really want to go to sleep because we’ll probably miss it. Barry is asleep.

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At last. It’s 0520 and the 0142 is about to leave!

17 August 1990 – To Copenhagen

Just left Stockholm, to Copenhagen. Most people had reservations so we are sitting in the smoking section, but no one is smoking so it doesn’t matter. Bought a newspaper to see what is going on. Slept for 10 hours last night. In the evening yesterday I went to the back of the train to take a photo and the ticket man locked me in that carriage. Had to wait till the next stop and there were suprised looks when I jumped out of the luggage compartment!

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Now sitting outside the Interrail centre at Copenhagen station. Too hot and crowded inside. A place like this puts things back into perspective. During thelast few days we didn’t seem to have a purpose – just travelling. Soon we’ll be back in major cities. Got to Copenhagen after listening to a mad Australian giving a rendition of his round the world trip to some poor chap. At this station there’s a shop called Toms Chocolate. A fat bald man I’d never met wanted to be in the picture with me.

16 August 1990 – Narvik

This Scandinavia lark is taking a long time. We have been travelling via crappy connections, hanging around. Caught a train north at 0215 and changed at 0620 so didn’t get that much sleep. I’m getting thinner.

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At last we are on the overnight train to Stockholm. Today in the far north of Norway, at Narvik. Went up a cablecar just into the snowline. Feel more positive after Finland. Bought crisps, chocolate, biscuits, apples and have eat them all already. We haven’t eaten much the last few days.

14 Aug 1990 – Finland

Now sitting on the floor of the luggage compartment waiting to go north through Finland. From the station in Stockholm, we travelled by tube and on foot to the harbour, waiting till 2115 for the boat to leave. Very posh boat and departure lounge, which seems typical of Sweden. Night crossing, at the disco until 0300. Nice girls around, danicng. Finland seems a long way from the UK. Just been moved on from the luggage compartment.

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Up to Rovaniemi which is about as far north as the train goes in Finland. Disappointing journey, just trees all the way up, with glimpses of lakes. We are now in the youth hostel in Rovaniemi and tomorrow we cross back into Sweden and the scenic line into Norway. Barry is right in saying we have been travelling too much.

13 Aug 1990 – Through Sweden

1 week into the journey. On a train now to Stockholm, having decided to take the ferry accross to Finland, then back through Sweden and Norway. Will take a few days. This is the best train so far, very plush. Breakfast of cornflakes and toast etc, all on a table and you could have as much as you wanted. We made loads of ham & cheese sandwiches and took them with us. Lots of blonde girls around.

12 August 1990 – Denmark to Sweden

Sat in a couchette but didn’t have enough cash in any currency so we didn’t pay anything. Sharing with a Norweigian girl and a Dutch scientist who let us sneak back in after the ticket man had gone. Woke at 6 before he came back and moved out into the corridor. Now on a ferry from Denmark to Sweden so we are really getting somewhere. I think we are trying to get a proper bed tonight. Not so much a bed I need but a shower.

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Just had a really good bath. We are at the youth hostel in Gothenburg. Had to buy some papery sheets for the bed. It’s good to have stopped in a room. Not really sure how to get to Finland – free ferry or round the top into the arctic circle.

11 Aug 1990 – Rotterdam

Got to Amsterdam after sleeping in the train corridor – better than sitting. No accommodation in Amsterdam because of some yachting event, so couldn’t stay long. Walked up one street which was like Carnaby Street and ate a McDonalds. Back on the train now going west towards the Dutch coast. We’re not sure why.

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Went west on a suburban train out of Amsterdam. Got to a countryside station. It made a change to sit in the countryside. Then to Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port. The girls are just amazing, really nice. Sat in McDonalds again and watched them all go by. I’ve decided I quite like Holland.

10 Aug 1990 – Nice

Arrived in Nice around 0830 and got a croissant for breakfast and a litre of water. Walked down the main street to the beach. Nice is not as garish as I thought it might be. Water really clear but didn’t swim as couldn’t leave passports, etc. Climbed up the steps to an old castle with a good view. Caught a train along the coast to Italy where we needed our passports for the first time. Wish we’d gone to the Alps but couldn’t find the right station. Not sure what we are doing tonight. Overnight train? Where to?

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We decided to return to our original route and catch the train from Milan to Amsterdam, if we can find what patform the train goes from. Journey to Milan was slow & hot.