Around the World 1977 - Europe

Lunch Break, Yugoslavia

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In the 70's there were quite a few firms offering bargain trips with various degrees of comfort between Europe and Asia. The most common route was between London and Kathmandu as it was possible then to do this entire trip overland. (This is before Russia invaded Afghanistan and before the Shah fell in Iran.)

Some people chose to do this route on their own, many using Tony Wheeler's first two books: "Across Asia on the Cheap" and "Southeast Asia on a Shoestring".

Some travel agents would book rail and bus tickets in advance and send you on your way. (I never understood the advantage of this.)

The company I chose (Exodus) offered the least luxurious all-inclusive trip: a converted Bedford van, simple self-cooked meals, and tents for camping out. Other companies towed a trailer behind the van to haul more stuff and more provisions. Some companies did the trip using luxury coaches. Comfortable, but they had to stick to the main highways and well on the beaten path.

The two drivers that came with us were both knowledgeable and experienced. They seemed to have been given plenty of leeway as to both route and schedule. They often persuaded us to make interesting detours and to skip some of the less interesting spots. We spent much more time than planned on the coast of Turkey and made a fascinating detour to Ladakh in Kashmir.

One of the first purchases they made, when we were crossing the channel, was about 30 bottles of Red Label. They had each of us put one bottle in our under-seat lockers (for customs purposes) and squirreled the rest away in various spots on the van. This stash would prove invaluable later on when crossing borders, passing through checkpoints and getting out of various other troublesome situations. I believe they sold what was left a handsome profit in Pakistan.

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