Monday, July 10, 2006

Route to Mongolia

I liked Alex's reference to our 20 year old Russian Lada. "Fine" automobile. Ha! We'll be lucky to get out of Moscow let alone all the way to Mongolia without serious problems but hey what fun would it be if we took a humvee. The goal here is to persevere or short of that to at least survive. Here's a rough outline of our route although Theo and I are thinking of ditching the Belgium/Amsterdam route in lei of Paris so it'll probably change.

Start in Moscow where we pick up our "Fine" automobile and from there we are heading off to St. Petersburg where we intend to catch a ferry to Tallinn Estonia where we will immediately hop another ferry to Helsinki Finland. We are going via Tallinn just in case Finland doesn't let us in because of emissions requirements. If that happens we'll re-route through Poland but we think we'll be fine and get into Helsinki with no issues.

From Helsinki we will take another ferry to Stockholm Sweden and then drive to Esbjerg Denmark which is on the west coast of Denmark just north of Germany. We'll then catch the ferry from there to Harwich England which is just a stone’s throw north of London. Once in London we'll meet up with all the other Rally folks and Theo and I will finalize our next segment. Out only real requirement is that we all meet up in Prague again for the next checkpoint but how we get there is up to us.

The current plan for the next segment is as follows. Ferry to Netherlands then drive across Germany and cross into the Czech Republic.

After that meeting point our next one is in Istanbul Turkey and again how we get there is up to us however we'll be picking up Alex again in Athens as well as visiting some friends I haven't seen in a while so it's a required stop. Currently the route we are planning heads south to Vienna Austria and then crosses through Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria on our way to Greece. Once in Greece we'll drive down the east coast until we get to Athens where we'll meet up with Alex and visit Lefty. When we head out we'll catch the ferry across to Turkey and drive up it's west coast until we get to Instanbul.

From Istanbul we'll leave on our third segment which could best be called the "Route to Samarqand" via a ferry (We like ferry's) to Odessa. (Ukraine) We'll probably spend a day or two in Odessa as it's a beach town and supposed to be a lot of fun before we head off to Kazakhstan via Russia (Again) where we'll follow the old silk route to Uzbekistan. We'll then meet up with the rest of the rally crew for the third checkpoint in Samarqand. Then it's off to Checkpoint 4 which is on the western edge of Mongolia.

We'll get to checkpoint 4 by traversing the mountains of Kyrgyzstan (in our Lada) and heading back through Northeastern Kazakhstan and Southern Russia all of which are supposed to be incredibly scenic. Once we are at Checkpoint 4 we'll start the long trek across Mongolia (in our Lada) which has at best crappy dirt roads in our search for Ulaanbaatar. Assuming we make it to Ulaanbaatar we'll relax with the rest of the crew and fight for flights out to Beijing.

In the end we will have crossed over 25 borders and visited upwards of 18 countries. Should be a busy trip.

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