Pakistan

The experiences, the pictures of alldaily life in Pakistan have pulverized everything that we have seen so far. The country is most beautiful and has wonderful people, unfortunately a lot of them live in extreme poverty and can hardly make a living in a society that is exploited by a corrupt political and military elite that draws profit out of the situation rather than initializting fundamental change. And each who does is being killed by those in power or other extremist groups. The life in the districts Balochistan and the agricultural Sindh, where the flood of 2009 has done its worst damage, is as simple as you can imagine – it will remind you in a way of the Middle Ages. The damage of the incredable watermasses is still visible everywhere: we saw destroyed tracks, streets that were just completely washed out by the flood, little towns out of tents sponsored by the UN with begging people in front of them and many other sad impressions. But the comparison of Pakistan with the Middle Ages meant also something nostalgic for us: We saw beautiful endless golden wheat fields with huge palms in between, women in the most corlorfull dresses, working in these fields without any technical equipment, cropping the golden wheat with their pure hands. We saw little children on the way to their school, carrying all their schoolbooks on the head. We saw more donkeys, camels, cows and carriages than cars on the streets and were impressed by the mountains, the deserts, by the whole nature. Life in Pakistan is organized chaos, loud, hectic, wonderful and horrible in one, simply breathtaking!

So our perception of Pakistan is – to say the least – twilighted, but we hope sincerely, that things in the country will finally turn out to improve. And, starting with our entry from Iran into the country at the very west at Taftan border station, we will try to give you a realistic picture of a underdevelopped, but great country that has to deal with Al Quaida and the Taliban, the political domination by the US, radical islamism, a weak government, a lot of corruption and the consequences of the horrible flood in 2009 (only to mention the most present problems).

Travelling in Pakistan

Our Pakistan experience started rather problematically. At the passport check on the Iranian site we were told that the entry stamp (going back to our entry into Iran at Sero border) was missing, which meant for us, that we couldn’t get the exit stamp from Iranian border officials, which again is necessary to enter in Pakistan. So we were told to go back to Zahedan – the next big city in Iran – to have things worked out. But this was our last day of valid entry visa into Pakistan (April 17th) so every going back would have meant: end of journey for us – at least in Pakistan! We couldn’t believe that a simple (god damn) stamp would lead into so big trouble and I was starting to get really annoyed by the officials insisting on this issue. After some waiting, and even more argueing, they had finally made some calls to Sero border and figured out that two long haired, white skinned Germans (maybe Reinhold Messner and Wolfgang Petry) in a green Volkswagen mini bus, represent no (major) threat to their country and that – in the end – we would be allowed to enter into Pakistan :-)

So, in the whole, getting through the different border offices on the Iranian site had already taken us six hours, so we were more than glad to see the Pakistani site. But here again surprises were waiting for us. After our registration in the border immigration office we had to go into three different customs offices to finally get the import documents for our car approved (see pictures below). Here bureaucracy basically consists of dusty old rotten books that nearly fall apart. Names, passport and visa numbers are to be entered, but we are sure that no one will ever care about our entries. We saw more Ak-47 guns than properly working personal, but this would be a picture we would soon get used to in Pakistan. For after the customs adventure the Pakistani police officials had a weaponed guy seated next to Stefan in our car.

He was supposed to provide us security for our 250km trip to Dalbandin (this in the aftermath was just one of estimated 40 different police escorts we got in Pakistan). To our surprise, our new companian with his rifle did not make us feel uncomfortable in any way. But in the same time we cannot say that we felt so much safer by his presence. If someone wants to bomb you, or tries to kidnap you, this guy could have hardly prevented it, but at least for our psyche it helped a little out…

For the driving in Pakistan, going on the left side of the road didn’t cost us as much adaption as did the real bad road conditions and the permanent and recurring military check post. The first check-point looked pretty much like the basecamp of the bad guys in Rambo 3. Imagine one street, surrounded just by desert, five guys with Kalashnikovs sitting in a castle made of clay, with a big gun on the roof. When the boss of these guys was talking to us, his alcohol breath was getting in my nose and he started to command his soldiers to check our car. Unfortunaltey it was strictly forbidden to take a picture, but if you watch Rambo 3, you`ll know what I am talking about.

Stopping every 20-30km at these check-points kept us from advancing quickly and soon made us realize that we would never be able to reach the city of Quetta in one day, as orignally planned. Passing the border had simply cost us too much time…

Late in the evening we arrived at Dalbandin – a busy city located just around 40km from Afghanistan -, spending the night in a compound being protected by several police officers. Before we went to bed (in our car) the hotelmanager showed us around the crowded marketplace, carrying his AK 47 with him. And of course, as Globekickers, we did not miss the opportunity for a quick challenge with him and some other security guys. They were probably the first people we met so far, who had not seen a table soccer ever before in their lifes. So after some introduction in the process of the game, which is fortunately not to hard to explain, we had quite an enjoyable time together that both of us will probably never forget!

Next morning maybe 20 people (mostly with weapons) were standing around our car, waiting for something. Because we don`t like people just starring at us, we just took out our frisbee and had some morning sport all together :) Afterwards we prepared for the trip to Quetta. The roads got even worse than the day before, but this time we dealt with the military check post in the style of Globekickers. We stopped by, put our table out to the car, built it up right next to them and had another nice play!

After this little timeout, we made it through the desertous parts from which you can even see the Afghani mountains and arrived at our destination in daylight. Quetta is the capital of the Balochistan district and is – as well as Dalbandin – close to Afghanistan. It was the first bigger city in Pakistan that we saw in daylight, and what we saw at the first glance, we could hardly believe.
We haven’t been to a city before with that much military and police forces in it to provide security. It felt like we found ourselves in a complete chaos: traffic is totally unorganized, loud, dominated by small motorcycles, rickshaws, carriages and some few cars. Police is desperately trying to keep things running but their authority is hardly respected by anyone. Most of people are poor – their day basically consists of working and sometimes begging to make a living. As soon as they recognize foreigners, they get really curious – to say the least – and everybody in the streets, out of this curiosity, will start talking to you even if it is superficial small talking only. In a way, we started to feel like an attraction or better saying some aliens :) People in Quetta are simply not used to see any foreigners or differently looking persons. If there is something like a cultural clash, then here – in Quetta – the time for it had definetely come for Stefan and me!

Overwhelmed by this intensity of life and the extreme poverty we took a rest in a hotel for two nights. We had actually planned to spent the night in the car, but police were recommending us it would be safer to spent the night in a security area, which is what we did. So Lourdes Hotel was then after an estimated two months of traveling the first place where we spent money for a night. All the 8 weeks before we had successfully slept either in our car, at friends or most probably at Couchsurfers.

During our check in at the hotel we got to know Zafar, a Pakistani business man, who is married to a German woman and therefore speaks really good German. He help us kindly out with our upcoming itenary (see below) and invited us not only for a great dinner next night, but offered us above this to come to Islamabad where he is living. As you will see in the next article, we finally accepted his offer and went to Islamabad..

After two days we left Quetta – again escorted by a police car going ahead of us to clear the way. Our minds still overburdened with the pictures, the people and the incredebility of impressions, we started our long journey to Lahore. This day, our military escort was really starting to get on our nerves. From the Iranian border to Quetta an escort might have made sense, but in between Quetta and Lahore, in our opinion, it was not necessary. We drove on normal streets, sometimes even motorways, so we hardly could imagine a situation, in which we would have had any advantages out of our security escort. So we slowly, but surely recognized the disadvantages of beeing escorted and got more and more pissed off. We drove through the most beautiful nature, but were not allowed to stop, because the security people permanently wanted us to continue. Secondly, they drove like (pardon) shit, sometimes way too slow, sometimes too fast. So two times, when they were too slow, we just escaped, but without success, because the next escort at the next check post was already waiting for us. And that was the third problem. Each escort had the responsibility for our security, because we were driving in their district. So each of them wanted us to leave their district as soon as possible. The consequence: We were dirving 14 hours a day and each new escort was telling us something like: “Just 30 km, then you can sleep!” But that was a lie, because after 30 km the next escort in the next district was waiting for us, telling us the same story. After we figured this procedere out, we insisted on getting some sleep, which we really needed. So we ended up in a police station, parking our car in between some prison cells and as much security, as you could imagine.

The next morning we got in our pants and brushed our teeths, watched by 20 people with machine guns and some prisoners arrested in the cells. Our journey to Lahore continued to be exciting. In one district, we got an escort, which looked like a special force. 2 Pick-up`s, 15 soldiers with M16-guns, AK 47`s and even a Bazooka. As soon as we entered a town to get some money, petrol, food or water, all the time a guy with a big weapon was following us like a bodyguard with a very serious look. We actually found these situations pretty funny and couldn`t prevent the feeling that we are very important persons :)

Finally we entered Lahore, the second biggest town in Pakistan. The escort took us to a hotel and insisted to pick us up the next morning to bring us to the Indian border at Wagah. We told them, we didn`t want their protection anymore and would continue on our own and they accepted. But – big surprise – the next morning an escort was already expecting us, but we argued so long until they left us alone. So, after five days with armed babysitters we finally were free people again.

Unfortunately, I counldn`t use this freedom to much, because I felt sick (never eat a rice-dish with meat and vegtables after it has spent a day in a 50 degree hot car). I stupidly did and layed down in bed for the next three days. Luckily, I am not talking about the bed of our car, but of the room the couchsurfer Burhan offered to us. But our experience with Burhan and his family is another story to tell. We will try to catch up as quickly as possible with the many happenings!

To be continued…

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Driving, Politics and People in Iran – and how this fits together?

We have to make a little chapter about driving in Iran, because that was actually something, we just couldn`t handle after the first days in this country. Our Iran Guidebook named Lonely Planet told us: „Maybe they seem to be hopeless, crazy and stupid, but they are not…“ And then they wrote several excuses, which should explain to the reader, why in the end, Iranians have everything concerning the traffic under control.

Our conclusion so far: Yes, they are stupid, hopeless and crazy drivers and by saying this, hopefully nobody feels personally offended. But feel free to judge on your own by these examples we have experienced:

What do Iranians do, if they miss the exit of the motorway?

Right, taking the next exit would take too much time, so they just put their gear in reverse and drive backwards to the missed exit, we saw this a lot – crazy.

Some more examples, we experienced:

Some Iranians don`t turn their lights on, while driving in the night or they just don`t have working lights
99 % never use their indicators (Blinker)
If they do, they just use it wrong and so it happens, that they indicate to the right side, while turning to the left
After using the indicator, they not even think about turning it off, so we saw many cars just indicating happyly around the streets, without any reason
Iranians overtake in every situation, from the left, from the right, before corners, just on every street, where their cars could possibly fit through a little gap
In every roundabout it works like this: First of all, there are no rules! If you don`t want to spend the rest of your life waiting in front of a roundabout, you have to enter it so fast, that other drivers think you would not be able to break, if they go now. If they think, you still could break, they just move before you.

So, as you can imagine, we felt a little better, when we finally got the chance to get an insurance for our car in Tehran (actually the first week we were driving without any car-insurance, because of Iranian holiday-time, we counldn`t get one). This personal driving experience in Iran contrasted a lot with what we had seen so far. If people give a shit about their environment, drive like complete egoistic idiots on the streets and then finally, when you meet them in person, turn out to be very friendly and sensitive human beings, that leaves you with some sort of confusion and we still couldn’t figure out, how these to sides of a medal fit togehter.

One more thing, to complete this Iranian traffic-chapter.

We regognized, that probably everybody, who is not used to the Iranian traffic and drives here for the first time, is going to face 5 different psychological stages – at least we went through these five:

1. Non-Believing and astonishment about the traffic
2. Annoyment and hate on other drivers
3. Desperation and gollows humor (Galgenhumor)
4. Resignition
5. Finally, if you like it or not: Adaption

So it might sound funny, how Iranians drive, but the sad fact is, that each year 22000 Iranians die in the traffic – 5 times the world average. What does the government do?

Nothing – chaos keeps people from thinking – is one theory, we heard. Oh . . . wait, their is one thing they do: The government is building speed bumps all over the country, which we think makes most of the time no sense at all. Maybe there is somebody in the government with a speed bump-company, otherwise we can`t explain this (excuse us) shit. They are everywhere, mostly not signed, so if you see them to late your car is (excuse us again) fucked. Once we didn`t see a speed bump and with 90 km/h our car was flying a meter over the streets :) For some reason nothing broke and we could continue our driving. Now you know all this, one more amusement: Ironically, the current president Ahmadinedschad has a Phd in traffic management. So, no wonder, that this works out as bad as the government in total.

Mentioning Ahmadinedschad, we have to loose some sentences about the political situation in Iran.
If we wouldn`t have known about the dictatorship before our journey, in the entire 3 weeks of travelling in Iran, we would have never regognized it. People on the streets are the nicest, most helpful and open-minded people you can imagine. If you are walking down Teherans big streets, you would not see so much differences to Germany, as you might think. Sure, woman have to wear a headscarf, but beside this, most young women wear make-up and western styled clothes and many of them just got their noses made (actually Iran has the highest rate of so calles nose-jobs in the world). People we met, told us, much of this outward appearance is a sign of protest. 25 years ago wearing a headscarf, which didn`t cover the hair of a womans entirely, would have had serious consequences for a female person. One example we heard of a friend is, that the police used to cut with a knife in the women arms for punishment. But now things are different. Step by step Iranians are breaking the rules and today most of the young women, you will see on the streets, just cover 70 percent of their head, so everybody is able to see their beautiful hair :) If the police would say something about it, a women will excuse and fix the headscarf „properly“. But since so many women are protesting in this way of dressing, mostly nobody says anything anymore.

But don`t misunderstand. The law in Iran is still very strict, but mostly (young) people don`t care. They (mostly in the cities) hold hands on the streets (punishment: can be death penalty, like it happend for one 15 years old girl in 2004), they bypass the censored internet-sites, they basically do all the things, young people in Europe are doing for fun (but most of them secretly). Most (young) people in the cities are not as much religious, as Europeans might think, most of them hate their government and want to get rid of it as soon as possible, most of them are just like you and me. The way, how these (young) people mistreating the repressing laws slowly, but surely, shows, in which direction Iran is going. But it is not easy. The government, or lets call it some fanatics, have the weapons in their hands and do not hesitate to use them against any opponent. With their believing, that fighting against every ciritcal person is in favour of Allah and a „worst case scenario“ of maybe getting killed one day by regime-opponents, but than going to paradise with 72 virgins, these fanatics have nothing to loose. Smart (young) Iranians on the streets do.

All these words are just expressing our personal experience and opinion, which means that we can be wrong about how we judge on the current situation in Iran. So for any feedback we are very thankful!

By the way, if you going to Iran, don`t put your thumbs up – I did it several times to express that I am thankful for good (direction) advices, but I figured out that it actually means something like „Fuck you“ in Iran – so the same meaning as in Germany the middlefinger.

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The connection between 2 German spies and Rapper 50 Cent – just another story from Iran

After our great days in Tehran the time was coming to move on. The plan was to make all the way from the capital to the city of Esfahan. But again everything turned out pretty much differently. For this time our big surprise was known as: Hoji!

In Iran you will hardly find a properly English speaking person. But among 70 Millions of Iranians Hoji is probably the best English speaking person in the whole country (no shit!) and, above this, he is very much in American hip hop culture and couldn’t be prouder of his own ‘gangster hood’ – the city of Badrud. Hoji has never been abroad but if you didn`t know, it would not be hard to consider him as an 100% US-American (see him on his bike below).

 

Ah, now you might wonder, how we met this guy… On the way from Tehran to Esfahan we sort of fell tired and took an exit of the motorway. Going without orientation we ended up in a place called Badrud, a small village that – how we got to know later – is closely located to a nuclear power plant program. So not surprisingly in the aftermath, the first thing that happened to us clueless tourists in Badrud was police stopping us and dragging us in their office. We, including our documents, passports and camera pictures, were checked most precisely, still not knowing what the problem was and having no idea about them considering us as Western spies or CIA agents or whatever. We already started to get annoyed by police repression when Hoji suddenly showed up. He was befriended to the police officer and showed up to do the translation. When he stood right in the doorway of the office, I was first considering him as an special secret police agent. But as soon as he explained the situation to us, we realized the problem and were pretty happy to leave the police station. After we recovered from this kind of James Bond feeling, Hoji convinced us to spent the night at his place. The next morning just started amazingly: We woke up, when hip hop music à la 50 Cent was schalling all over the house. Just realizing, how funny it is, listening to this kind of music in Badrud – a really old, traditional Iranian village, Hoji came inside the room to tell us: “Yo bros, just the early bird catches the worm, so get up you motherf…..” So we got up with amusement and we were introduced to his lovely family. It was quite a bizarre picture so see them on the floor of the living room in their traditional dresses while American hip hop tells some stories about growing up in a gangster hood and being shot and so forth… Anyways we had a tasty breakfast before we went out on our car with Hoji and his cousin to see the impressive desert around Badrud and an old bandit’s castle in the middle of it. During this tour Hoji started talking in his unmistakeable American hip hop slang, which is honestly more than amusing :-)

 

We spent two great days together and got to to know nearly all of Hoji’s big family who were all keen about getting to know us. In Hoji’s uncle’s garden we were introduced to ‘Ali the Crazy’ who was eating some green grass out of the garden like an animal and had just two teeth remaining, which did not keep him from smiling all the time (see picture; Ali is the guy on the first picture on the right). We had some cay tea traditionally prepared on an open fire for us. After this we also had a competition Iran vs. Germany at the table soccer.. You should have seen their yelling and enthusiasm… but all in vain – we won :-)

 

When we left Badrud and Hoji next day, we figured out, that Hoji had somehow made it out of the typical Iranian lifestyl for some reason. He is the only English speaking person in his family and the only one with connections to foreign countries. Up to now we are still wondering why he made it that far, but we can just say that we are more than happy having met him! And we came to the conclusion that once again a big coincidence had put us together! If we had not taken that exit on the motor way to Badrud, things had definetely turned out differently and supposedly not that well…

After this great experience we had to go on to Esfahan. Unfortunately we had to schedule our trip through Iran pretty precisely for our visa for the entry into Pakistan were expiring the 17th of April already. So – to keep up to the plan – we could not stay longer in Badrud and went on 200 km south to Esfahan.

There Ali, a friend of Mohammad from Tehran, was already waiting for us. Esfahan is probably one of the most beautiful places in whole Iran. It used to be the residence of powerful dynasties that created the most impressive and eye-catching mosques of the country. And thanks to Ali’s enthusiasm to show us his city, especially the beautiful monuments and the impressive bazar, we soon became eyewitnesses of the beauty of the city.

 

In the afternoon we also met with Najma whom we had also got to know via Couch Surfing. She suggested to visit an old traditional Iranian bath (picture below) and this is what we did! We also spent the evening together and for us, talking with an Iranian girl was a really nice experience, since so far we mostly had contact with Iranian males. Later at night we walked over several old bridges of Esfahan and out of a sudden some old people sitting near the briges gave a concert for us :) Another thing, which we couldn`t imagine happening to us in Germany. Without any fear each of them (all around their 70s and 80s) was performing a solo-song in persian language, so soon many people joined as audience to watch this spectacle. What we learned: Older people in Iran and also Turkey seem to be much more happy, active and integrated in society, than in Germany.

 

In the same evening Ali’s family had invited us to spent the night in their wonderful home! The next day we were busy playing a lot of table-soccer in Alis table-soccer club, but also with his family.

We spent our last day in Esfahan together with Ali and two friends of his again with great food prepared by Ali’s family, playing cards, somking shisha and trying to get used to Iranian music taste which – in the case of Ali’s friends – circles around Celine Dion, Enrique Englesias and Cher… Anyways, we spent a real good time, but then next day had to leave in the direction of Shiraz again because of our Pakistani visa commitments. On our way we passed Persepolis and, of course, did not miss to take a quick glance at the ancient monuments. But constructions going on, constant rain and us not being to interested into archeological stuff made these ruins a pretty boring stop for us – maybe we are not the right guys for this historical experience… So to get into more practical experience,we quickly went on to Shiraz and spent a night there in the car to get things organized. Our trip through Iranian Balochistan was getting closer and we still did not have a place to stay. Fortunately, we found Atefe in Kerman who was hosting us for a night.

On the way to Kerman we once again made the mistake to order a pizza in a quick restaurant. We had some before and learned that is just not comparable to western standards. A pizza in Iran consists basically of three things. Tasteless bread, covered with tasteless cheese and to top it all, u also got some sort of tasteless, disgusting sausage. So what Iranians do to make their pizzas sort of eatable: they just drown it into ketchup and french sauce and their you go! You dont have to be a gourmet to find out that is not the most enyoyable eating experience. So actually, when we were on the way to Kerman, I was giving it a last try and was explaining to several of the employees of a quick restaurant that I would like to have a pizza with CHEESE ONLY! What I got, you can see it on the picture below. I couldn’t really find cheese but instead of it got even more of that damn shitty sausage…

 

But inspite of that culinary mistreatment we had to keep on going to Kerman. It had gotten very late and Atefe, our couch surfing host, had already been asleep. Most kindly she got up for us to pick us up. Atefe is a young mother, working on 3 different jobs, to make a living for her and for her family and in order to fund her studies. We had the pleasure to meet her little daughter and enjoyed watching the ‘Pink Panther’ with her. Talking to Atefe made it clear to us and showed impressively how hard it can be for some (underprivileged) people to get a proper education in Iran but she even found some time for us and we went out with her to see an antic garden a few kilometers out of Kerman.

 

Early the next day we went on to Zahedan through 300km of desert. Zahedan is the last big city before the border to Pakistan. It belongs to Iranian Balochistan and this became most obvious by the white dresses that all men wear here. We enjoyed the beautiful landscape with big mountains, dried out rivers and stunning dunes. But we also had to see something sad. We don`t know, how this could have happened, but we saw a pick-up totally destroyed off the road with dead people covered next to it. Probably this accident had just happened an hour before we passed. It was shocking to see that and made in the most horrible way clear to us, how dangerous driving in Iran is. 

So we were very glad when we had finally made it safely to Zahedan where Mohammad (our friend from Teheran) again arranged enough things for us, so we wouldn’t get bored in this City. First of all we had a meeting with a team from a TV channel. They were interviewing and filming us driving on the bus and playing a quick match. Later that night we enjoyed some so called “ancient games”, a mixture between religion and sports taking place in a mosque (see below). After this long day we were glad to meet our beds and dream about what would happen to us in Pakistan. So much I can tell: We planned to cross Pakistan in 2 days, after 3 weeks we are still here, so next article will not be a boring one :)

Dear Mohammad, Iran has been great for us – our project has got a lot of feedback and publicity due to your efforts! Thanks a lot for helping us out so much and of course for the great sport suits. We will definetely deliver the third one to Volker to Germany! It would be great to get a copy of the television clip about us sent to Germany as soon as we will be back! But anyways, thanks for showing to us that beautiful Iran we will not forget about! Stefan and Simon!

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Iran

So we finally made it to Iran! Our travel in this country started slow, a little bit disappointing, but our adventures progressed quickly, so that we have a big bag with great stories from the Middle East for you. We have experienced so much, that we consider ourselves in a position to give you – with the following articles – not only an impression about our personal adventures, but also about politics, culture, daily life and especially traffic in Iran. But first of all we`ll start in this first article with our travels.

After we became millionaires by changing some Euros at the border into Iranian Rial (the rate is approx. 1 to 15500), we headed east and got an amazing reward for the border-stress. The sunset at the saltlake named Urmia-Lake gave us a first idea of the beautiful landscape of Persia.

 

The next recompense of the unjoyful border experience was already waiting for us in Tabriz, one of the bigest cities in Iran. There we met Masoud, an Iranian student, who invited us into his appartment for the next couple of nights. Glad about this warm and comfortable place to stay we prepared a nice dinner (green beans with rice – ‘Lubia polo’ as far as we remember) together with Masoud and his cousin, learned some card-games and finally fell asleep.

 

The next day we made a trip alltogehter in the bus to see Kandovan, a very ancient, 3000 year old village that is located directly in the mountains. People built their houses right into the sand stone and have been living here for hundreds and thousands of years untouched by major modernisation. But of course nowadays a lot of tourism has found its way into here, what we were a little bit annoyed of, although I know we are just visitors ourselves. On the way to Kandovan me (Stefan) and Masoud’s cousin were trying to play chess in the back of the car. Due to the numerous speed bumps on the Iranian roads, it was quite a tough job for the driver Simon to ensure us good playing conditions and once, by going to quickly over one of these damn obstacles, he messed up our whole game. 

After this we didn’t want to deny Masoud and his cousin the opportunity to have a game on our table soccer. Actually, Simon and me, we were really keen about having our first match versus Iranians. So we went from Kandovan into a nice park in Tabriz and built up the table right there.

  

When it got darker, we were invited to a skatepark of a friend of Masoud. When we arrived there, we felt transported back into our teens. Techno music sounding like ‘Blümchen’ or ‘DJ Bobo’ was all over the place and everybody was going crazy about inline-skating and skateboarding, a thing that started similarly in Germany 15 years ago. Out of a sudden even a Kia Pride came along with music on board, which encouraged some people to dance and improvising breakdance-moves in front of the car – seeing this and knowing this just happens in Iran, I was pretty amused about the scenery.

At the same time, inspired by his own skating experiences many years ago, Simon tried some skating and immediately got many new friends. But when the Iranian skater-hipsters got little to pushy, wanting to have a race with him, we left and had something to eat in the ‘Godfahter’ restaurant. Simon and me actually wanted to have something traditionally Persian to eat, but it finally ended up with the conclusion, that this ‘Godfather’ was pretty much the same bullshit as McDonalds, just with the pictures of Ayatolla Khomeini and his successor Khamenei hanging at the wall instead of Ronald Mcdonald :) After eating we bought some snacks in a small shop and looked out for something to drink. Since Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and gets officially punished with 139 lashes, we watched out for something similar and – believe it or not – we got some nonalcoholic Oettinger in a little shop.

  

After one more day together with Masoud in Tabriz, we left the city into northern direction to hit the Caspian Sea, which we were very curious to see. Beach, swimming, fresh air, delicious oriental food – some kind of these thoughts were circling in our heads. After a damn long drive over the Elburs mountains and partly on the motorway called (no kidding): „Martyrhighway“, we made it to the coast, but we were mostly disappointed of its appearance. The hole 750 km of Irans coastline was completely overcrowded and overloaded with buildings or remainings of those. The few „beaches“ that remain are completely wasted, because people living here – as in the whole Iran – do not really care about their environment and are just throwing all their stuff in the nature (see picture below to get an impression). Another thing which really started to annoy us, was the traffic and the crazyness, Iranians use to „what they call it“ drive. More to this topic in an extra article coming soon.

Summarising for this day, the experiences had left us with a taste of disappointment. Cause we didn`t find a place to park the car at the seaside, we spent the night in a very poor looking area with little houses, watched a movie and dreamed about upcoming adventures. The next morning we were pretty surprised, when an Iranian lady came by to our Bus knocking at the door. First of all, we were annoyed by her waking us up, but we soon realized that she was holding a breakfast on a plate (Cay-tea, biscuits, fruits etc.) right in front of her. Of course, we kindly opened up and the woman warmly invited us into her house for lunch. By trying to use our picturebook, which is supposed to make an understanding without knowing a foreign language easier, the lady unfortunately misunderstood the situation and thought this book is a gift from us to her. So she just took it very thankfully and being polite, as we are, we continued our travels having one piece of luggage less.

 

After another night at the Caspian Sea we headed back south, again through the Elburs mountains, to make it to Tehran. When we arrived, it was an iranian celebration day, called Natureday (for us little ironically, since we didn`t see untouched nature so far). Tehran, a city of approx. 15 Million people, was like dead, as all the people went out into the nearby mountains for vacation and all shops were closed. Being pretty lost in this big and noisy city with no internet available, we were glad that Patricia and Greg from the U.S., the former host family of Simon’s girlfriend Anna, had offered us a contact in Tehran – Macih or Mac, as we call him. So after giving Mac a call in the same evening, we could not have been happier to meet him at his flat in the center of the city next noon. The next days turned out to be very exciting, entertaining and eye-opening to us. Mac was reading out of the Koran to us, to teach us about Islam (see below), showing us around Tehran (and the political situation), taking us out to some traditional Persian restaurant and he was even cleaning our car for us (without permission). Dear Mac, thank you for hosting us for so many days in your quiet and restful flat! We are so glad having met you more or less by coincidence – we will miss the nice discussions about Iran, religion, life in general, your pilot stories and of course your swearing like a trooper while in Iranian traffic :-) !!!

Next and last stop for us in Teheran was the olympic-town, a huge sport-area, situated in the middle of the city. Every sport you can imagine, you`ll find it here, from rock-climbing, bowling, any fitnessstuff, swimming to even paintball. And the very best, unlike the rest of Tehran, here you can smell a lot of green nature and fresh, non-polluted air. Ok, so far so good, but you probably wonder, how and especially for what reason we got to this place. The answer is named Mr. Mohammad Chamani. He is the coach of the Iranian national team in table-soccer and a very very kind person. We got this enjoyable contact through Volker Gröschl, an German table-soccer-player, who supports us permanently on our trip. Thanks a lot Volker! So we got the opportunity to play against the Iranian nationl team and even had the honor, to challenge Abdulla, Irans most successful player and one of the best players on our planet. We didn`t look too good, but at least we shot a few goals, which satisfied us a lot. During our gaming we were also asked to give an interview for the iranian sports TV, so Simon and me answered the reporter`s questions, while Mac, who joined us for this happening, translated for us. Actually Mac couldn’t have made a better job looking like a real officia person – so thanks again for doing this for us! A few days later they broadcasted it and hopefully we`ll get a copy of our TV-perfomence sended to Germany. Our last night in Tehran we spent in a nice hotel in the olympic-sports-area, sponsored by Mohammad. Before our departure he invited us to take a swim and hang out in the whirl-pool, while having a great view at the Iranian mountainside. We even got 3 original Iranian-National-Team-Table-Soccer-Jackets as a gift (one is actually for you, Volker!).

 

 

So, that was our stay in Tehran – awesome!!! The things we gonna experience after Tehran will be even more crazy - promise - and for the upcoming article we won`t have you wait to long. And Mohammad, we really have to thank you sooo much, it felt, like you took care of us as of your own children. We appreciate this a lot. Hopefully, we will see you again, maybe in Germany for a match :)

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Turkey – An hommage to ‘Osman’ – the typical Turk

Who the hell is “Osman”? By entering Turkey Stefan and me saw all kinds of Osmans walking around, whether in the city or on the rural side. Osman may be a farmer, a taxi driver, a seller in a bazar, a car engineer, a gas station attendant, a student.. actually Osman could be pretty much everyone you see in the streets. Most of all, Osmans share some typical habits as for example drinking cay tea or/and eating Turkish kebab. Osman is a very communicative and most probably open-minded character, so as soon as an Osman realizes you are a tourist, especially a German one, he will speak frankly and in the most direct way to you. He actually does not have any sense of shame that might prevent him from adressing you and asking a lot of questions. This can either be very kind and helpful but at some point may also annoy people who are simply not used to this kind of behavior.

“Osman” (in our metaphorical use of the word) is the typical turkish citizen (a “Müller” of Germany) – the most helpful, interested, curious, direct and warm-hearted person one could ever imagine.

So far Turkey is definetely the country that surprised us most with respect to mentality and this has undoubtedly a lot to do with the insane amount of kind people we met in our two weeks ot traveling through Turkey. We simply did not expect to meet so many “Osmans” but – before we came to Turkey – were rather prepared to see a different kind of Turkish mentality and culture (probably prejudiced by our experiences in Germany).

This sort of lecture about getting to know different cultures is one of our major motivations for our trip and that is why we are glad about having made this impressive and lasting experience! Beside this very memorable impression of Turkish culture we also had the opportunity to learn a lot about the political and social situation in the country. There are a lot of conflicts going on which range between modernty and tradition as well as between individualism and family…

After this anecdote on Osman and his home country Turkey, we do not want to forget to give you the latest update on our trip:

We left Istanbul after five days full of action and wonderful experiences. We wanted to make it to the south-eastern part of Turkey which is much warmer than the Bosphorus in march. So after one night close to Ankara we headed south in the direction of Adana, where the Mediteranean Sea was waiting for us. On our way to the Sea we got lost somehow in a very rural and agricultural area where at some point roads stopped in the middle of nowhere and traffic signs – if existing – were nothing but confusing. So we could not help but ask people in the villages for the proper roads. Here we actually found countless “Osmans” and “Osmaniyes” (female version) who were not only helpful but rather keen about helping us out (see below).

After some driving Bernd took us safely to the small fisher village Yumurtalik which is nicely located at the Sea. We used the great weahter with temperatures up to 20° to take the first swim during our trip and had some sunny games on the tablesoocer with some guys right at the beach.

After two wonderful days at Yumurtalik and after Stefan had finally given up on his tries to do some fishing, we started in the direction of Sanliurfa – east of Turkey – where we were planning to meet Halil, a really cool and relaxed guy and actually a friend of Steffi from Istanbul. Somehow Bernd, our car, didn`t seem to be so excited about going east and gave us some trouble.

First problem occured at a gas station, when we realized all of a sudden that fuel was leaking out of one small hose (Schlauch). We did not know at all what had happened and – not able to do something about it – we watched our expensive fuel (in Turkey it is approx. 2€ per liter – highest price in the world) passing away. But within two minutes a gas station attendant, who had become aware of our problem showed up with a new hose, which exactly fitted. He did not even ask us before he climbed under the car to replace the broken parts and fixed the car. For us, this guy was just another Osman and a perfect example of the great Turkish mentality and helpfulness.

After this we went on to have a quick stop at Gaziantep (where the delicious pistachios are being cultivated). When we stopped the car, we realized that something was wrong with our accelerator pedal, which kind of stucked a few times before. We tried to fix it by moving the pedal up and down but somehow made it just worse, so it simply was not movable anymore.. This being our second problem with the car within one day, so we started to get pissed of Bernd and were pretty certain that we would not be able to go on the same night. Pretty desperate we were checking the internet for a solution for the problem and, surprisingly, found one very quickly. So this time we, ourselves, got under the car, did some screwing and finally fixed the broken parts. This actually fulfilled us with some pride for this was the first time we did some engineering and fixed the car on our own.

Anyway, although it was already late, we could continue to Sanliurfa where Halil (the cool guy we mentioned before) was waiting for us until midnight and took us to the appartment of his friend Mehmet. We spent the next three nights in his nice place and had a really chilly time togehter! In these days Halil introduced us to all parts (and Halil might know what we mean by that..) of east-Turkish lifestyle and culture. We really started to like spending our time in Urfa, where Turkish, Kurdish and also Arabian people are living togehter. In a way Urfa reminded us of our imagination of Syria where – because of our lack of time – we unfortunately can’t go. Not only the cultural aspects, the great food but especially Halils great hosting made this an unforgettable stop for us Globekickers. Before we had to say goodbye, we build up the table in a park playing with some kids and had a picknick.

From Sanliurfa we started in the direction of Iran, our next stage. On our way we had to pass the very mountained eastern parts of Turkey/Kurdistan. We had a quick stop at Diyarbakir – the “Kurdish capital” of Turkey – and the same day went on to Van, which is located at a big lake surrounded by mountains. Although it was very cold, we spent three days in the middle of the mountains with the beautiful snow covered nature around us.

We had a kicker match on the top of one big mountain (I could catch up and the score is now equalled to 6:6 in matches) in front of an impressive panorama. But we are certain that pictures of the Himalayas will even top this scenary!

The day after we headed to Yüksekova, the last bigger town before the Turkish-Iranian border station, we decided to spent another night outside and finally found a place to stay (actually the spot was just 50km away from the Iraqi border, which made us feel a little uncomfortable). The next morning – the night had been quite and peaceful – we woke up when some Turkish guys – who had not recognized the two of us sleeping in the back of the car – were trying to open the doors of our car. They were actually trying on every single door to get into the car. We got up and knocked angrily at the door to make sure that Bernd is our property and does not like to be touched by strangers.

After this kind of unexpected experience with people – who were definetely no typical “Osmans” (that is for sure) – we headed to the Iranian border.

At our arrival a complete chaos of cars and people going crazy expected us. The computer systems of the border station had crashed (which apparently happens once a year, we`ve got told) and the whole place had been closed for several hours. When the gates were reopened, hundreds of cars and their crazy drivers inside tried to make it over the border as quickly as possible which obviously overburdened the Turkish bureaucrazy that we were “kindly” introduced to. The whole scene reminded us more of a stock exchange or a bazar than of a properly working administration.

Anyway, with some help of kind Iranians, who did the necessary talking for us, we made it out of hell in 3 hours and finally got into Iran, where some big challenges waited for us – as the following article will show you :)

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The power of coincidence – parking in Istanbul

Preface

For us Turkey began in Silivri, a town near Istanbul. On Saturday night we didn`t make it the whole way to our planned destination (which was Istanbul), so we parked our car just in some street in Silivri. While everybody apart from some barking dogs was asleep, we joined our new „neighbours“ for a night and dreamed about the adventures lying ahead of us. The first one of those came walking by our car the next morning just after we woke up. Still not 100 percent awake we saw a bunch of children coming closer to our „bed room“ and we quickly figured out that this was the opportunity to start our first soccer match with a crowd of Turkish youngsters. So we asked them: „Hey guys, u wanna play?“.The picture below might give an impression of the answer they gave us :-) We played and had a good time, even though it was a bit difficult to enjoy the moment, having to keep an eye on all our stuff, which our upgrowing friends were little too curious about.

So, playing with 15 kids was quite a nice start in the day and some sort of introduction to the crowded and busy city of Istanbul, which was waiting for us. First lesson we`ve learned about traffic in Istanbul ( like Ahmed, a friend we met later, used to say): „You have to look the enemy in the eyes and if you see some weakness, you drive first!“. Doesn`t sound like German traffic rules, but it`s the only way to make some meters in Istanbuls totally crazy traffic jams. After recognizing that our navigation system is not working any longer, no gas station has a city map and that leaving the mainroad was a big mistake, because we`ll never find back on it, we anyhow made it to Steffi`s place in 4 hours for 20 kilometres (no shit..). Finally entering Istanbul we could smell the traffic, see the beautiful ocean and feel the overwhelming presence of masses of people on the streets. Here life is happening outside – just astonishing!

Steffi, a friend of a friend but now just a friend welcomed us at her place and showed us around to get some good Turkish food. Food – that actually should get a chapter on it`s own. So far we have become real fans of Turkish cuisine. Recommended are Köfte, Adana-Kebab, for vegeterians Cig-Köfte and the very traditional but awesome Lensesoup. Each meal is followed by a cay-tee (or some more). And sweets, so many tasty sweets, we still can`t get enough of it. So for us, Turkey has definitely been a culinary highlight.

But lets get back to what we did in Istanbul, if not busy eating. After we had the pleasure to enjoy Steffis hospitality, we also got to know her flatmate, Faruk. The four of us spent a lot of time togehter. We`ll never forget our deep conversations while having some Efes Pilsen, the nice places you showed us in this neversleeping metropole and of course – the Schooladventure.

Ahh, I forgot to tell you. Faruk is a teacher, probably the most chilled and coolest one we`ve ever seen and he took us to his lessons. This is why little Turkish kids got the opportunity to ask many questions about us, our trip and Germany. Afterwards we enjoyed playing on the soccer-table with them. So we had a real good time with these lovely children and we suppose it was pretty enjoyable for them too!

Their actually was one „problem“ left. Parking our car and not paying loads of money for it.

If you would ask a person from Istanbul, if he or she could name just one good thing about searching for a free-parking place, especially in the Istanbul city-center of Beyoglu, the person probably could not imagine any positive thing connected to that, because first of all searching for a parking space sucks everywhere, but in Istanbul it is horrible to find a spot and it will stress you totally out, because traffic is just a big mess. In our case searching for a spot for our car was the best thing that could have ever happened to us – just an example of the power of coincidence and our luck. Why? Because all of a sudden (right when we were starting to despair), their came a funny guy (his name was Mihran) knocking on our window and said: „You need help? Are you searching for a place to park? I can help you – you can use our parking area!“. Not believing in our incredible luck, we (of course) accepted his offer and he unlocked a parkingplace in front of his house for us. But that`s not enough, Mihran, actually kind of an artist, dancer and actor, performing together with his friends from the „Çıplak Ayaklar Kumpanyası“-community, (just check it out on their website: http://www.ciplakayaklar.com/english/index_e.html) invited us for his performance later that evening, which we totally enjoyed – thanks a lot for that! We are so glad, we met all of you!

But still not enough. We met some more of Mihrans friends who warmly welcomed us and had some more suprises left for us.

First thing again had to do with our car. We had some serious problems with our wheeling, it was blocking sometimes so that we couldn`t drive properly in certain situations. Anyway, we tried to fix it on our own, but soon figured out, that we can not do it and have to find a repair shop. So it is quite more than a task to find a good repair place, specialized in VW-busses with staff able to speak english in a city with 17 million people… But not if you know Cihan who is – no surprise – a friend of Mihran. He took us to the best place for old vw-cars you probably can find in whole Turkey: „ARZU OTO – Full Servis“. When we arrived at the place, first thing these guys did, was calling Ahmet, who speaks excellent German and English, so he could translate for us and really helped us out of our misery. Perfect, thanks so much for your help! The VW-guys soon recognized the problem and fixed it in a few hours – in Germany for sure it would have taken us 3 days, because they would have had to order a new piece, which our turkish friends just fixed on their own somehow :) – but it works so far!

Dear friends, thanks a lot for fixing our car and so make it possible for us to continue our journey!

„Sevgili arkadaşlar, arabamızı tamir ettiğiniz için ve yolculuğumuza devam etmemizi sağladığınız için çok teşekkür ederiz!”

So Bernd (our car) again was on the road, actually in a big „stop and go“ after we left the repair shop. Since we moved one meter per minute, I decided to take a pee in a hotel I saw next to the road. When I came out of it again I didn`t see the car anymore, traffic somehow was moving fast, so I started running in the middle of the 5-laned road, searching for the green bus. Luckily for me I saw it after a 5-minute sprint through the streetsmok, then lost it again, because Simon couldn`t just stop in the middle of the road. Finally, I made it… but just picture me running – the long German guy just trying to catch up with his own bus – hilarious :-) . After I had made it back into the car we drove as quick a possible to Taksim Square, where we met Zeynep. We originally wanted to stay at Zeyneps flat, but then just met for a nice dinner in one of the countless restaurants in the streets around Taksim. Dear Zeynep, unfortunately we could not spend to much time together, but still we enjoyed meeting and getting to know you!

So, what next … sure, next surprise. To keep it short. We were invited to another performance of the artists community and Cihan, whose is doing flying effects professionally and made us Globekickers fly as well (check his website: www.vertigoeffects.com). Thank you so much for making this possible – we really enjoyed this a lot!

With this our really impressive and unforgettable Istanbul-experience ended and left us with the strange feeling that quite a lot of our experiences is influenced by coincidence and fate!

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Serbian Klopizza, Romanian filmmakers, Bulgarian sinkholes and German Bratwurst!

Again it takes us more than a week to update our website. Sorry for keeping you waiting! So here is the latest update about our traveling:

After our stop at Sarajevo we went through the mountains of Bosnia all the way to Belgrad, the capital of Serbia. Considering that our GPS was not working and regarding that there are no motorways but only loopy, messed up and – in our case – snowy roads between the two countries, we had quite an exhausting trip. To see the rural and rarely developed areas of Bosnia and Serbia was the first real different experience so far. Poverty is reigning in those regions where there is nearly no agriculture or economy going on. It sort of seemed to us as if clocks had stopped ticking here 40 years ago. So the only thing going on was police and borderstaff stopping us six times on the road. But as soon as they figured out that we don’t speak their language they let us pass anyway ;-)

After a quick stop at Užice, where we had some KLO pizza (klo actually stands for a little snack), we were quite happy to arrive at Belgrad. We somehow managed to get to Simkas lovely place. Simka is the mother of Srdjan whom we had met in Vienna a few weeks ago. Although he could not make it to Belgrad when we were there, Srdjan had kindly arranged that we could stay at his parents place and so in the late evening we were welcomed in the warmest and most hospitable way you could ever imagine with Serbian cake and cheesepie made by Simka. We spent the next two nights the two of us each in a room for his own, which you honestly start to appreciate after weeks of sleeping next to each other. Simka was taking care of us like a mother of her own kids – preparing our food, doing our laundry, giving us a city tour… After two days we had a quick tablesoccer match in front of Simkas flat together with her Ex-husband but it was actually a little to cold to have a real competition of the generations. Simka had prepared tons of food for us to take on our trip to Romania. Dear Simka, thank you so much not only for receiving us but also for the interesting philosophical talks in your kitchen – Hvala lepo!

Starting from Belgrad we were heading for Romania. Although it was only 500km we could not make it to Bucharest on one single day. This can basically be explained with the worlds most inefficient border clearances in Bulgaria and Romania. We still do not know how, but somehow we made it to the other side of the river Duna by ferry (which was actually a complete rip-off) and arrived at Calafat, where we had some difficulty in distinguishing roads from acres… But anyway, next day – after spending a night in the car at Craiova – we continued to Bucharest where we met Diana. My friend Christoph had announced and introduced us to her a few days before. Diana is a film maker (director of photography – to be more precise) and although she was pretty busy preparing a shooting she let us stay at her flat in the very heart of the city for two days. We were very glad to have someone to show us Bucharest with its diverse culture and – to say the least – entertaining night life. After our arrival we had some traditional Romanian food (with pork knee in it.. but still very tasty!) and went to “Control Club”, which actually went pretty much “Out of Control” that night. It was International Women’s Day and chicks got their drinks for prices that you would not even find in German supermarkets… we have probably never seen that many girls in one place! Diana, Bianca, Daniel, Stephan and Tudor – thanks so much for going out with us! We really had a great time together with you and would be happy to see you again!

After this inspiring night we spent the next day to have a drink on the roof of the popular “House of the People” in the center of the city and saw a lot of more great places.

Bucharest as a cultural and artistic hotspot with its relics from the communist period really blew us away. It made us thinking how much it contrasts the rural parts of the country where carriages are still going instead of buses. Not only there but also in the Romanian capital itself you can still see a lot of poor people especially in the Sinti and Roma population that seems to live in some kind of parallel society apart from culture and society.

When Diana and her boyfriend Stephan actually started shooting for their new project we decided heavy-heartedly to go on to Bulgaria where we were planning to spent a few days at the coast of the Black Sea near Balzik. The next day we found some quite and enjoyable spots in the nature close to the sea where we spent the night and waked up from a sheperd with all his sheeps running around our bus. Going off road the day after this, again with the intention to find some comfortable place to put the car for the night, we were kindly introduced to Bulgarian potholes. Actually we had to torture Bernd going on horrible tracks to finally end up at a terrific clearing. We put a camping-fire there to prepare some potatoes and original Deutsche Bratwurst that we had found in a store hours before and made us feel a little like at home!

When we started our route to Istanbul after two days in natural surroundings we had a quick stop at Burgas (Bulgaria) to check on the internet. Only then we got to know about the catastrophe in Japan. It felt weird that we had not at all learned anything about the earthquake and its horrible consequences for 48 hours being isolated from all kinds of media within modern information society…

Still depressed by this horror we got on the road again. In the last part of Bulgaria, 50km before the Turkish border, the road got more and more messed up – again we had some umpleasant rendez-vous with sinkholes and craters in the streets (to be more realistic). Going not more than 30 km/h on average it took us hours until we arrived at a traffic sign announcing a place named “Turcia” in 3km. We were sort of confused as we could not find it on the map and we were starting to wonder if we had taken the proper route. So we took the road in the opposite direction and went for a while.. But then, all of a sudden, I had this flash of genius that “Turcia” is not a town but actually stands for Turkey. Pleased by our own stupidity we turned the car and finally got to Turcia!

P.S.: Some people let us know that the pictures on our website are causing some browser problems because of their size. Now that we made them smaller, we hope that everything is fixed!

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“I guess she’s drunk!”

Wow, the first article in English. We really want to apologize to all those who do not speak any German! Sorry for keeping you waiting for our first English update on our trip. We promise to upload more content in English from now on!

So, where to start… We, Simon (the smaller guy) and Stefan (the taller guy) are the Globekickers, who are going from Germany to India by car with a table-soccer on board. Our plan is to build up the table-soccer everywhere we go, to get in touch with people and to faciliate communication in situations where our language is no longer working.

The last German article finished with our arrival at Budapest and continues now with Laszlo and Melinda, who hosted us for two days at their cozy flat in Budapest. We were warmly welcomed with local drinks and got some introduction to the City and the things worth seeing at Budapest. Having some drinks together we were asking for the Hungarian expression for „Cheers“ which is „Egészségére!“. We were trying really hard to keep this in mind but somehow we could not make it. So Melinda finally told us that people use to remember this saying by speaking out „I guess she`s drunk“ as fast as possible. This indeed sounds like the original, especially after many drinks!“. So far so good :-) The next day we did a big city tour with Laszlo, had some pancakes for lunch and more drinks in the evening. Thanks again for welcoming and sharing your flat with us! It was great to meet you two!

Our next goal was meeting more wonderful people and having a good partytime. That was pretty easy since we got to know Jade and her great friends with whom we spent Saturday night. All started with an Erasmus-party (hello to all the french guys we met there) and ended up at the „Instant“ club, which was quite fun, although we lost Jade at some point…

But Saturday was just the beginning of what Budapest`s party scene had to offer us. Although we needed half of Sunday to get rid of the hangover from the night before we then continued to visit some really awesome bars. Once you are lucky to hang around in Budapest, you definitely have to go into Csendes Bar and for sure to the Szimpla Pub, which is probably the best bar we have ever been to!! But there so many other recommendable places, mostly alternative and artfully designed, that make Budapest a great and entertaining city.

We spent the late evening at Jade’s to build up the table soccer and had some funny matchups with Ioanna and Alejandro, Jade’s flatmates. Thanks so much for giving us such a great time and cooking that great Carbonara for us ;-) !

The next day we left for Croatia. After a hell ride of 7 hours on iced roads in the Croatian mountains we were glad to finally get savely to the Adriatic Coast at Zadar. Fortunately it was warm enough  to spent the following nights in the car. We used the next days to travel along the whole coastline of Croatia, passing Split and ending up at Dubrovnik. Its Old City made quite an impression on us and thats why we wanted to put our table soccer on the fu…. huge wall surrounding it. It was hell of a job to put the 75kg table all the way up to the top and we risked our lives going up dozens of stairs in an 60° angle… but as you can see, we somehow made it! By the way, something funny, Stefan lost his first Kickergame and has now the honor to wear the beautiful yellow losercap.

After 3 days at the Mediteranean Sea we left for Bosnia to meet up with Ajla, Riad and Aldin at Sarajevo. Again this was a lot of driving and we were relieved that our bus Bernd carried us on the tiny and loopy roads over the mountains all the way to the Bosnian capital. On our way we made a quick stop at Mostar with its famous Old Bridge.

After arriving at Sarajevo we stayed at Riad’s place in the very center of Sarajevo. After 3 nights in the bus we were hillarious about the couch and especially about our company for the night ;-)

The day after we walked through the City of Sarajevo, which had been destroyed during the Yugoslav Wars. Nowadays pretty much everything has been rebuilt, at least from what we can tell. Seeing Christians, Muslims and Jews coexisting peacefully made quite an impression on us! After having some Cevapcici, the local dish at Sarajevo, we went all the way up on the AVAZ tower from where you can see all the city of Sarajevo covered with snow.

In the evening Riad had a lot of people invited to his flat for a party. Imagine a big flat screen, a Play Station 3, something about 10 guys with tons of beer as well as great Bosnian food. That`s Bosnian party as we got it to know. We soon had to learn that Bosnian guys never get tired of playing virtual soccer and are actually beating us very bad. This is why then – preferring the rather practical and physical experience – we built up our soccer table and played together with the bosnian table soccer newcomers. We had a lot of fun this night. Thanks to Ajla, Riad and Aldin who spent nearly their whole weekend with us and took care of our accomodation. It was a pleasure to meet all of you!

@ Riad, next time you are in Germany, we`ll give a party with at least 20 girls :)

Next day – after taking a final picture next to the Sarajevo castle – we went on to Serbia… But that is another story we`ll telling you soon.

Ah, yes one final thing: As you all know we are competing with each other playing the table soccer. And Stefan is not good enough if he does not have a certain kind of „motivation“. So far the yellow hat worked quite well for that and he won most of the games, but now that the fear and embarassment of wearing it is fading away, we are running out of further awards/punishments. So if anyone has a good idea for either an appropriate award for the winner or an sufficiently embarassing punishment for the loser, we are all open to your propositions.

So far from us! Greetings from cold Belgrad!

The Globekickers!

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Ein Kicker ist kein Mülleimer!

Nach einem eiskaltem Intermezzo in der österreichischen Hauptstadt sind wir der Donau folgend in Budapest angekommen. Bernd (unser Bus) ist wieder fit und leistet uns erneut verlässliche Dienste.

Fangen wir in Österreich an:

Superkalt. Das war der erste Eindruck. Das Wien aber noch mehr zu bieten hat, als abfrierende Fingerkuppen, durften wir dank der Stadtführung Tobis feststellen. Der Dank dafür, wieder Gefühl in den wichtigen Gliedmaßen zu haben, geht an dieser Stelle an Brano. Er empfing uns herzlichst in seiner wohltemperierten Wohnung, in der wir die folgenden zwei Tage Unterschlupf fanden.

Zwei Sensationen sollten in Branos vier Wänden folgen: Zum einen spektakuläre Kickerpartien, ausgetragen zwischen 5 Nationen an einem Globekicker. An dieser Stelle sei Srdjan aus Serbien, Endre aus Rumänien, unser Host aus der Slovakei und der Österreicher Daniel gegrüßt.

Zum anderen die Komplementierung des ersten Duells zwischen Simon und meiner Wenigkeit. Ja, was soll ich sagen: Klarer 3:1 Satzgewinn. Die Konsequenz für Simon dürft ihr auf dem unteren Foto bewundern: Eine gelbleuchtende Marktkaufmütze muss der Verlierer der letzten Kickerpartie in den folgenden Duellen tragen.

Weiter im Geschehen:

Trotz einigen logistischen Aufwandes (der Tische wiegt sicher 40 kg und die Wiener Parksituation ist einfach sch….) nutzten wir die das schöne Wetter dazu, den Kickertisch zum ersten Mal außerhalb Deutschlands – nämlich vor dem berühmten Schloss Schönbrunn – aufzubauen. Bevor wir ihn ausklappten, pausierten wir auf einer Parkbank vom Geschleppe und da dachte doch tatsächlich jemand, unser Kicker wäre ein Mülleimer und schmiss seinen Kaugummi rein. Hätten wir ihn dort länger zusammengabaut stehen lassen, wäre es wohl nicht bei einem Kaugummi geblieben.

Nach dem zweitägigen Wiener Aufenthalt ging es dann weiter nach Budapest, wo wir nun das Wochenende verbringen werden. Ein kleines Problem gab es da jedoch noch: Stefan hatte zwar die richtige Straße in das Navi eingetippt, jedoch die falsche PLZ, weshalb wir in einer höchst runtergekommenen Gegend endeten und beim Klingeln an der vermeintlich richtigen Hausnumer circa zwei Minuten warteten während geschätzte 10 Schlösser aufklackten und der ältere Herr, welcher dort herausstappfte nicht ganz unseren Vorstellungen von Laszlo, geschweige denn Melinda (unseren Hosts) entsprach :) Nachdem uns klar war, was falsch gelaufen war, wurden wir eine halbe Stunde später sehr herzlich mit ungarischen (alkoholischen) Köstlichkeiten von unseren Gastgebern begrüßt.

Leider ist es noch immer sehr kalt und wir fiebern nun wärmeren Gefilden entgegen. Nach dem Wochenende wollen wir dann zunächst nach Kroatien weiterreisen und dort dann bei hoffentlich wärmeren Temperaturen zum ersten Mal im Bus übernachten. Zunächst werden wir aber Budapest und sein Nachtleben austesten. Wir sind gespannt und harren der Dinge, die da kommen.

Besonderen Dank an Brano für den Host und an Endre, dank ihm hab ich jetzt ein Mobiltelefon.

Es grüßen aus Ungarn – Stefan und Simon!

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Von Autopannen und Minibars

Bier auf dem Nachtschrank, Schokolade und Chips in der Mitte unseres Doppelbetts, während Bundesliga Pur auf dem 47 Zoll-Flachbildschirm flimmert und Stefan überlegt, gleich noch ein Schaumbad in der riesigen Badewanne zu nehmen. Klingt weder nach Autopanne, noch nach Weltreise, ist aber gerade der Stand der Dinge! Aber der Reihe nach: Am Donnerstag (17.02.) ging die Reise endlich los! Erste Station war Braunschweig, wo wir unserem Lieblings-Lasse einen Kurzbesuch abstatteten. Freitag gings weiter nach München. Ziemlich erschöpft nach knapp 900 Kilometern in 2 Tagen kamen wir an, für ein paar Kneipenbesuche reichte die Energie dann grad noch. Am Samstag führte uns Frank tagsüber durch die bayrische Hauptstadt und wir sollten in den Genuss des Münchner Nachtlebens kommen, das uns allerdings nicht gut mundete. Feiereimäßig gibt’s selbst von Bremen noch einiges zu lernen. Trotzdem ein super Besuch, der Sonntag mit einer ersten Kickerei vor dem chinesischen Turm und der farbenfroh beleuchteten Allinazarena endete.

Soweit – so normal. Dann gab Bernd auf dem Weg nach Wien schön bei einsetzendem Schneefall und Dunkelheit, mitten auf der Autobahnabfahrt den Geist auf.

Aber wie es aussieht, fällt unsere Panne in die Kategorie „Viel Glück im Unglück“. Der Abschleppwagen kam sofort, ab in die Werkstatt, auf dem Weg dorthin den Simon und den Stefan noch im „Königer-Hotel“ abgesetzt. Morgen ist Bernd laut Abschleppmensch wieder fit. Aber das Beste: Den ganzen Spass zahlt unsere Versicherung. Also an dieser Stelle nochmal Schleichwerbung für den 5 € Schutzbrief der HUK, der in unserem Fall das Hotel, die Minibar und die morgige Taxifahrt zur Werkstatt sowie die oben bereits erwähnten Luxuriösitäten bezahlt. Vielen Dank an Lasse und Frank!!! Wir sagen dann morgen hoffentlich: „Goodbye, Germany!“

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