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1973 India

1973 India

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Published by psblackcat
An overland travel Diary
An overland travel Diary

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Published by: psblackcat on Apr 04, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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1973 Journey to India.
The van is a secondhand red and white high roof Volkswagen origionally customisedto take a wheelchair. We have worked on it for months in Ann and Pete Chantrell's mews garage behind The Gordon Hotel in Royal Circus, Edinburgh. Registration No DWS 373C. It has a homemadefibreglass double roof to keep cold out and heat in. There is a bed for Chiara over the toolcompartment on top of the engine at the back. We have a two-burner petrol cooker, severalcupboards, extra fuel tank and loads of spare parts. Due to delayed departure dates in the past twomonths we have said goodbye to each of our friends and relatives at least twice.16
Left Edinburgh at 4:00pm from 13 Queens Avenue, Blackhall. While we were packing thevan, a cardboard box of Jim's stuff, books, talc, sunglasses and so on, disappeared off the gardenwall. Each of us thought the other had packed it, but the dustmen or somebody must have taken it.Ate fish and chips in Dumfries by the river Nith then went on to Crocketford to sleep on Archie,Sun Dok and Sara's living room floor. The van was too cold. 90 miles.17
Water frozen, ground and van covered in frost. Breakfast at Swallow Cottage then to Black Brig to visit Robin, Carol, Francis, Don, 2 dogs, 5 puppies and 2 cats. Sara was travel sick on theway. Took the M6 to
in the afternoon with long
traffic jams and fog all around so westopped in a back street somewhere off the Motorway for the night. We were not toouncomfortable. The main thing is not to lie against a window because they are very cold. 150miles.18
To London, through some fog and a little sun, but it is getting warmer. We went to the IranianEmbassy, Biba and the Public Health Department. Found Pete at 3 Theatre Street in the dark andhe gave us coffee. We ate a Chinese meal then put Chiara to bed in the van outside but she wastoo excited to sleep. Moved to Regent's Park for the night where it was colder but quieter. 200miles.19
Woke 7:45am light. Jim and Chiara went for milk. Off to get Cholera jabs £1:00 each. On theway to the Iranian Embassy the van clutch cable broke outside the Albert Hall. Phoned Pete andhe came and towed us in his breakdown van. Visas 55p each. They mended clutch cable back atBattersea. Picked up Angela then went to Oxford for a party. Chiara and I had stiff arms and coldsso did not go to the party. It was snowing.20
Woke 10am and Chiara and I went into Oxford for a Wimpy, which was so awful we did not pay for it. The colleges and Meadows arelooking nice. Jim watching TV. He picked us up at4:00pm. Spent about £10 in Woolworths and Boots on kettle etc. Drove back to London and had baths at Angela's where we slept the night since her flatmate was away. Chiara was miserablewith a cold, eyes puffed up and streaming and wanted to 'go home to Granny' but cheered up atthe sight of TV.Saturday 21
Had a long lie in bed. Read the Sunday papers then had a late Brunch before goingto pub in Kew. There we met Jim's uncle and cousins. Washed clothes and nappies at theLaundromat, while Chiara sang with some Pakistani kids, then we went back to Angela's for dinner. We watched 'Casablanca' on TV then drove back to Pete's but he was not in. Hot water  bottles and bed at midnight. Freezing again outside.Sunday 22
Pete woke us up to say goodbye then we drove to Battersea Park and made breakfast.Looked for Volkswagen parts in three garages then went back to the Embassy for our passports.Had supper at Hugh's flat, watched TV and slept there.23
Bulgarian Embassy said no visa was necessary. Pakistan Embassy told us to apply for visasin Lahore.After we left London we stopped at Canterbury Cathedral and the AA and a bank inDover for £25. Supper was fish and chips and a pint in Ramsgate. Looked at a closed up funfair.Slept at International Hover port Terminal under the White Cliffs of Dover.24
Woke up at 7:30 for 9:00am Hovercraft. The ticket cost £13:60. The windows were coveredwith salt so we could not see much except greyness on the Channel crossing. Driving on rightthrough flat
. Picked up one American hitchhiker for a bit and drove into
Jim manages to remember to keep to the right. Passed Aachen and Koln to near Frankfurt where we stopped for the night in a forest off European Route 5. It was beginning tofreeze. 310 miles.25
Eggs for breakfast then off to a Resthauf to wash. Through Frankfurt, Nurenburg and finallyMunich as it got dark. Cable trams and high buildings. More snow beside the road, getting colder as we cross the border into
Several inches of snow when we stop in beautiful Hallien for the night and have rice and fish for supper.26
Hallien is like fairyland or a Christmas card. The trees are snow encrusted on every branch.Pavements snowy, only the roads swept. High mountains just behind the houses, which are green, pink and yellow lime washed with balconies that have bedding airing and window boxes.Consum supermarket had prices about the same as UK and a horse outside for Chiara to admire.We walked about town then had coffee with separate little pots of milk to warm us up. 5/- each but very nice. On the way across Austria we picked up two teenybopper hitchhikers (nolederhosen or Tyrolean caps). Beautiful dramatic scenery, clear road, passes open, a few Austriansclinking past with snow chains. Gorges, icicles, Alps, cattle in the barns and empty white fields, ahay barn in each field. Children on skies and babies being pulled on sledges.Into
 before dark. 37 dinar to the £1:00 The hayracks in the fields have little roofs.Mirrors at road junctions. More ski resorts, then down into the industrial areas. A bit Victorianapart from the lorries, supermarkets and TV. Drove on down to the coast. Stopped in a restaurantcar park in Ryeka (Fiume). No snow. Bed at 10:00pm.Saturday 27
Up at 10am. The sun had warmed the van. Some palm trees and locals with a dayoff. The toilets lady was taming the pigeons. Scene is Mediterranean looking but with chillymorning air. Yellow houses, tiled roofs, balconies and shutters. Snow capped mountains behindthe coast of stony terraced countryside but no beach to the clear blue sea. Winding main road,grey rocks, terraced vineyards and olive groves. Little harbours one side of the Main Street.Touristy looking but closed for the winter. Stopped for the night by a bridge but we were movedon by soldiers. Ate spaghetti and Austrian sausage for supper with Austrian rye bread andAustrian cinnamon biscuits. It's raining.Sunday 28
. Woke up in the outskirts of Zador to cocks crowing and a donkey braying in thedistance. Youths on motor bikes. Hung bedding to air and had breakfast beside a closed campsite.Sunny, Chiara playing football. The girls are all in maxi coats and nylon knitted trousers, flared or with turn ups, so I wish I had bought a trouser suit in the sales to travel in. There are old ladies inlong black dresses with white caps and spotted aprons. Drove along the coast through luxuriantcountryside. Gave a chap a lift to Split. Windy but the sun made bathing seem possible. Passed ariver bay filled with rushes and little reed huts. Where people used to live? Parked by Dubrovnik harbour after dark. There is a fairground, one-way system, parking meters and toilets at the busstation. Parked in a back street beside the tennis courts. It was windy outside during the night.29
In the morning we can see an orange tree with oranges but no dates on the palms. Cats sittingin the sunshine. Back to the toilets then into the old walled town. The houses are all 15
and 16
century. Steep stepped streets and marble paved roads. Very clean place for pedestrians only, withlittle souvenir shops, fountains, museums and a market. Bought bread, eggs, milk, fruit, cheeseand cherry brandy. Picked up Dutch Joseph on the hill outside town. He is going to Greece;maybe we will go there too. He is going on to India with only an overnight bag and a coat, nosleeping bag. He speaks several languages so usually gets invited to stay the night with locals. Wedropped him off at the Titograd road. Met a Landrover of three British we'd seen yesterday on arough, narrow country road from Bar to Ulcinje. A chap and two girls on their way to India. Gotinto the campsite.30th Porridge for breakfast. Tidied the van and did a washing. Jim cleaned shoes and overhauledthe van. Chiara playing, picking flowers and washing in the sink. A fisherman came to sort out hisnets near the restaurant. His mates arrived and sat on coke boxes. We have our own toilet in achalet. Jim mended a boot and decided to go fishing. They drag a net through the water after dark.
Jim's share is 5 fish. We are going to bed earlier. We will probably go to Turkey via Greeceinstead of Bulgaria depending on the weather.31
Wake up early and Jim goes fishing unsuccessfully. We have breakfast on his return. I gutfish. He washes his hair. Drive out to the gates but Receptionist who has our Passports is notthere. Have a beer while waiting for them. Get lost in Ulcinje and go back across the road wecame in by. Stop to buy bread in Bar. Up the winding mountain road to Titograd, across a huge,shallow, misty lake beside the railroad tracks. Eat the fish in a lay bye. Drive on, Chiara sleepingand stay the night outside a Hotel in Kolasin. Rain melting the snow. Step up toilet.1
. Post a letter home. Travel up the Cakor Pass, which is the highest in Europe. Verysnowy, but the road has been snow ploughed clear. Houses with wood shingled roofs. Turkishcoffee in the Café at the top. Everything white. Gave a grandfather a lift to Pec down the other side. Held up by a lorry loading logs and another with a burst tyre. Pec is oriental. Walnut TurkishDelight, ladies in harem pants like in Ulcinje. Horse drawn carts, bullock carts and a holidayatmosphere from the loudspeaker music. It gets foggy. Chiara asleep as we drive to Skopje,famous for its earthquake, and stop for the night in a back street in front of a Police station.2
The toilets are squatting ones, under a bridge. There are boys who wash windscreens, an oldTurkish Baths and a Gallery of Contemporary Art. The soldiers march out of step. We visited awonderful bazaar of traditional crafts, blacksmiths, barrel makers, tinsmiths, bakers, slipper shops, candle and harness shops. Old ladies selling peppers and paprika immune to sneezing, plastic sandals, a fish shop with live carp, hens lying with their legs tied. All very ethnic but nottoo smelly perhaps because its still winter. The E5 is now almost a cart track following the River Vardar. Pick up Ajax who is also Dutch and cross into
 No Insurance. Thessalonika ishuge, car orientated, neon lights even on the church with the odd Roman or Greek ruin. Barbersand Men Only Cafes where they play backgammon. Find a place to park and go to a Restaurant.Chiara threeping for chips. We get them with chicken, bread, wine and crème caramel for 30/-.They give us endless iced water and go next door for coffee rather than explain that they do notsell it. 69 drachma to the £1. Walk around the closing shops till 8:00 pm and Chiara is given asweetie. I have a sore head and ache, stop overnight in a muddy field.3
Stuck in the mud so dug and pushed ourselves out. I stay in bed as we drive to the Lake and buy some fish. Jim stops to fish near a shrine and a herd of sheep with tinkling bells graze aroundthe van. We cook the fish for lunch and move down the coast in the dark to Keramoti, Thrace, thePort for Thassos. Loads of shrines on the roadside, square glass ones with metal frames, churchshaped ones and some like bus shelters with icons and candlesticks. The graveyards all flicker with eternal lights at night and look quite friendly. We sleep by the sea.Sunday 4
Porridge for breakfast. Sunny but windy. I took Chiara for a picnic, the shore slopesround to a lagoon beside the village. Jim is drinking in a Taverna with the local fishermen whoinsist ouzo must be downed in a oner with biftek, salad, pomme frites and cheese dip. Move thevan round to the pretty lagoon and get bogged down in sand this time, after a heated discussionabout whether we will or not. Jim is sick and goes to bed early.5
Its sunny when we get up late recovering. Watched the ferries crossing the bay. I made aminnow net for Chiara to fish with while Jim dug the van out. Scrambled eggs for lunch. A walk in the afternoon gathering wood and cones for a bonfire beside the sea. Made corned beef hashand fruit salad for tea. Jugoslavia had colour TV but Greece still seems to be black and white.6
Got up early to get the ferry to the island of Thassos. We left the van beside the school.Discovered we were an hour behind the locals. There are plenty of closed souvenir shops withnice expensive reproduction classical vases in them. Horses and carts, Thassos honey on sale andclassical ruins lying about everywhere. The houses are built on ancient foundations; there are theremains of a theatre and other ruins among the tree-clad hills. Watched the boat builders cuttingup tree trunks to make planks for a Fife style fishing boat. The locals mostly carry worry beads.We had walked through the woods to a private holiday village beach for a sardine picnic. Cloudy

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