Dirty and tired we arrived today Sunday to Teheran
the capital of Iran. Despite that we were awfully
worn out after hard driving and early wake up in a
temperature of +38 degrees, the drive into the Swedish
embassy had the dignity of a state visit.
To at least able to find our way to the embassy
we had to stop at a traffic accident to ask the
policemen for help. We got so as to speak surprised
when they instantly left the accident and threw
themselves into their police cars to drive at the
front of us. The drivers at the car crash got angry
and the policemen had to remove them from the place
before they could engage in their new assignment
– to see to that the strange Swedish caravan
with three dusty vehicles could advance through
the crowded traffic.
They put on the blue lights and even the sirens
some times, to be able to drive through. Kjell and
Patrik in the Mercedes were ordered to drive directly
after the police car, we as well with the blue lights
on and when needed the sirens as well.
Guess if we enjoyed ourselves – this was
an entrance to the Iranian city of 13-miljon habitants
that we will never forget about. We drove 28 kilometers
after the police up and down the streets. There
were hasty turns at when crossing road junctions,
where other policemen stopped the traffic. Not even
the police who assisted us could find the embassy,
so how could we have done it?
After some tours here and there we found the embassy
and we wanted to thank the police as well. But they
were not like the other official servants in this
part of the world; they declined the gift that was
The night before Sunday we slept at stubble –
field in the city of Zanjan. We found the city’s
recreation park and we felt that the field was attractive.
Truth is that many curious visitors came. But they
were mostly from the flock of sheep that grazed
right into the camp when we were having breakfast
that was the coolest thing. This shepherd as all
of his other colleagues that we had met under the
journey had a real big discipline with the animals.
Every sheep is of high value for a poor owner, the
same applies for the small cowherds that are seen
everywhere. The animals are taken care of with silken
gloves and are absolutely obedient when being guided
by the shepherds and their dogs.
So the sheep in the stubble – field, where
we arrived at after a hot day through the desert
and the mountain via Tabriz. This was a typical
driving day changing drivers at each stop everyone
made their contribution.
Two happenings under these pauses have to be mentioned.
When refueling, a suspicious creaking sound was
heard coming from the front wheel of the Ford. In
Sweden we should have had to look hard and long
for a garage that besides being closed for lunch,
would not have had time to help us before two weeks
ahead. In Iran you just have to turn around the
corner of the petrol station to find a guy with
a jack who will instantly and skillfully take on
Mended we drove from the place, later lunch was
taken at the side of the road. It was there when
we met the newly married Dutch couple on their honeymoon
journey – nine months on a bicycle from Holland
to Hong Kong, a journey wholly in Göran Kropps
In darkness we searched for the earlier mentioned
stubble- field, where we ate and slept in the tent
and cars as well as possible. We had earlier with
safety in mind tried to sleep at a police station,
but the police officer could only offer us to sleep
at the paved car parking lot, besides the main road.
We thanked him politely but said definite no.
A luxury shelter in Teheran has replaced the stubble
– field. The embassy sent us to two apartments
at a special hotel for diplomats, totally new and
with a decoration that really made a contrast to
the outdoor life the night before. We shared floor
with the ambassador from South Africa.
It is just because of the contrast that makes this
journey so unreal, exciting and interesting.
We are not trying to obtain luxury under this journey
but it has to be admitted that it is very nice to
be able to wash in the apartment’s washing
and dry tumbler machines as well as get the your
whole body scrubbed.
Hospitality has no limits sometimes. Here in Teheran
we have got in touch with Mehdi and Kabe Abtai,
father and son from Strängnäs and on vacation
in Mehdi’s old home city Treheran.
In Strängnäs Mehdi Abtai is known because
he drives the Strängnäs Pizzeria. He wanted
now to show us around Teheran, he took us to one
of the many centers that characterize this geographically
divided city. Aligahpoo is a traditional Iranian
restaurant, where many go for eating a good meal
and listen to Iranian folk music. We ate among other
things baghalipoloh (rice with beans and dill),
chelokebab (grilled beef on skewer), chelobarg (grilled
lamb meat on skewer), and jojemorgh (grilled chicken
on skewer), refreshing watermelon and the usual
cup of tea ended the feast meal.
As a mean to sponsor the expedition Abtahis treated
us to the dinner and all the taxi trips around it.
Here in the homepage we once more express a big
thank you for the festive break from all car driving.
By the way it nearly ended up into a real break.
Jan- Olov struggled tenths of kilometers on the
way to Teheran trying to get the Ford into speed.
But only reached to around 60 – 70 kilometers/hr
and violently shaking. Peter took a look into the
bonnet and discovered that a couple of cables were
on fire, Luck was on our side – before seriously
damaged, the cables were taped and now the car is
driving well again.
It a couple of other things about cars must be
noted. The police in this country have Mercedes
cars of the latest model as patrol cars. There is
scarcely even in the west another country that can
afford these nice vehicles.
Iran is an extremely friendly country despite the
hard regime. Just that the price for one liter of
fuel is around one Swedish crown makes one willing
to come over here. It is known that the price have
risen three times under the winter reaching to the
awful price of 98 Swedish öres for the liter.
Everybody can afford to drive here and this is obvious
on the roads and around Teheran. Until now it is
only here the traffic thickens and gets nearly impenetrable.
In the rest of Iran the roads are of good quality,
which has been a positive surprise, and the traffic
is not as dense as it has been announced.
It is said that it is different on the side of
Referring to the journey on our way to here, we
stopped for a short brake near Qusvin. There we
met a happy war veteran and all of his friends.
Johan experimented and called one of the gentlemen
from our Ericsson cellular telephone cheerfulness
raised at this meeting between the industrial country
representatives and the gang from the third world.
It is in this world that Ericsson is planning to
expand the GSM- network. A part of the plans are
the communication solutions that we are achieving
under the journey. Johans jumping into the role
of a telephone operator is just one little fraction
of the big picture, which gives proof of the impact
tha project has.
The journey continues further within Asia. What
makes everything nicer is that everyone is taking
care of the assigned responsibilities to the letter.
Kjell leads with an experienced and skilled hand
one more travel for Swed Asias, but this time a
real expedition with problems arising all the time.
He is our man to send to solve all the situations
that constantly arise, not in the least is he, self
appointed our map reader and the prompter that see
to that we get further.
At home our coordinator is sitting constantly at
the phone – or mailing. She handles the updates,
external contacts and acts with success as a problem
solver. It feels secure to have her backup
Christian and Joakim handle the food and the communications
technical equipment. Some guys, to keep everything
ready and in order. Not a second do they waste in
sulking when being pushed around by us with issues
around computers and telephones; chairs and tables;
gas stoves and cutting – boards; plates and
cutlery; pasta dishes and tinned mackerel; tea and
coffee, yes, all that has been has to them been
allotted can not be summed up.
Peter and Johan put their heads together when it
comes to the vehicles. Two very skilled technicians,
as a guarantee of a safe and secure journey.
Jan-Olov have taken more than 2 000 pictures. Half
of them might have been edited and saved. Most of
the pictures from the skilled professional photographer
are published on our home page.
Patrik is the responsible for these reports on
the homepage as well as for the chronicles around
the expedition onn the “Eskilstuna kuriren”
.There will be several other medias that will get
the articles and pictures when we are back home
sometime at the beginning of August.
This is being written late at night in a comfortable
sofa in our hotel Saba near the embassy, from where
we will fetch the cars to continue our journey.
Before that, the signer of this article will serve
Christina and Joakim breakfast in bed as thanks
for all the nice service they give us.
Kave and mehdi treated us to
a feast meal in Teheran. Here we are eating water
melon together with Christian and Joakim
With Police escort drove we
through Teheran’s streets.
One usually refers to the romantic midsummer light.
But we celebrated midsummer in total darkness. The
truth is though that it can not be complained to about
the midsummer weather. Yes, we know the weather at
home as been unstable. But here in Iran it is high
summer time- when we arrived last evening at Garziadin
the temperature +34, 5 degrees.
At least that was the temperature shown in the
thermometer in the Mercedes from Mora. The thermometer
is working well and so do the three vehicles to.
Small incidents occurs all the time but this is
part of it and can be solved by Peter and Johan,
the experts in this expedition.
We arrived to the little city (20 000 habitants),
at 10:00 o’clock PM local time (7.30 PM in
Sweden). In total darkness because of power failure,
only some few lamps or gaslights were on. With help
from a local escort we were able find our way to
the only existing hotel in the place, far from first
class with a toilet (The classical hole on the ground
that requires a special technique) in a hidden corner
out in the garden and a shower connected to the
Hassan the owner was proudest over three things,
a shower with warm, the diesel driven electricity
power engine that made it possible for some lamps
to be alighted and the throne in the dining room.
Two chairs were of a luxury model (compared with
rest in the room) for the wedding couple to sit
under the celebrations arranged for wishing them
wealth and happiness.
Back to our remote maypole rise and bands that
have to be tied. We had to be content with the pasta
and chicken sauce donated by the department of defense,
some few pieces of banana could be found in the
dish to create the real sense of celebration, and
four 1,5 liters soft drink bottles were bought for
the total of 13 Swedish crowns. In this alcohol
free country, Hassan managed in one way or another
to find some small cans of beer, which became the
We can guarantee that none of us will forget this
moment, we collapsed in our hard beds, exhausted
by warmth, impressions, difference of time and this
late hour. Especially for the brave Margareta it
was delightful, first when the hotel owner closed
the gates, could she remove her veil.
The day had begun in our camp in the mountains
of eastern turkey. Here we could we could feel safe,
bandits could not come near, the only living creatures
that approached were some wild dogs. But not even
they bothered about us.
But Joakim as a camp leader is nice and knowledgeable.
The tent was set up, we ate good food from the kitchen
camp and drank up some alcohol that we found in
We started early in the morning and drove through
the wonderful landscape to the boarder city Dogubayaszit,
where the only hotel in the city became our base
for some hours.
The overwhelming mountain of Ararat in the middle
of the desert like a huge sugar cone (5 137 meters
above the sea) dominates the city. True, that’s
where Noah as mentioned in the bible, arrived to
with his arc, an historical mountain that sends
time less vibrations. This applies as well to the
little Dogubayasit, where life goes on in its own
crowded and swarming everyday’ pace. The people
live a simple life, but it seems as mostly everything
can be found at the stands and small shops. It is
common to see “mobile units”, young
boys walking around selling amounts of useless items.
The most awful sight to see here, was the one of
young boy that happily and unknowingly went around
showing up a young gerfalcon. That it did not find
himself at ease/comfortable when being hold strongly
by the legs and not allowed to be free was really
At the hotel’s not existing kitchen even
though in the sign outside you could read restaurant,
a real god lunch was cooked, this because of the
usual service mildness.
Margaretha had to change clothes for the Muslim
adventure here. As a woman she is not welcome with
open arms in this Iran leaded with a hard grip by
the Ayatollahs. Because of this she has to be dressed
in clothes sawn down to the ankles and cover her
head with a veil. The hair must not be shown, arms
and legs must be hidden as well, make-up is forbidden
and as a person she, from now on must keep herself
at the background and talk as little as possible.
She knew about all of these before we left from
home, but now we feel sorry for her anyhow. In this
horrible heat she must endure this for us, such
a rigorous masquerade but for the Muslims a vital
One can really speak about cultural shocks down
On all we spent four hours at the customs; first
at the Turkish customs, who where as thorough and
unfriendly as when we drove in into the country.
For the entrance to the EC this country that otherwise
is very friendly should consider to send their customs
and police personnel to years long charm training
It did not get any better when waiting at the Turkish
a swindler appeared and carried out some bluff money
changes, Johan and Jan-Olov were awake and managed
to disclose the swindle. Kjell in all his right
gave him a good rebuke and handed him over to the
customs officer for further treatment.
Welcome to Iran!
With these friendly and relieving words Musaf opened
the gates to his country. And even if the rules
are many and strange for us, at the Iranian customs
friendship was poured on us. Under a couple of minutes
the atmosphere was totally changed. Talk about contrast.
One after another, the nice custom officers checked
the odd characters coming from Sweden. Naturally
the questions were many when they realized that
seven men were traveling with one lone woman. Even
more questions were arisen when they discovered
that she besides was the owner of two ambulances.
How could she then drive the both?
Kjell was advised to put the question in turn:
How do you handle issues when cars from a truck
firm arrive at the same time with different drivers
at the border?
It might be that was the thought that solved and
made everything loosen up.
Kjell made them not to bother any longer in going
into a more thorough control of the cars, which
had taken lots of time already. The extremely friendly
man could not see between his fingers though, when
it came to the three bottles of vintage wine from
Hungary and Turkey that openly exposed. The grieve
showing in Johans looks when he was forced to throw
the bottles against the mountain over a high gate
is something we will never forget. This was a big
sacrifice in the honor of Allah.
Earlier had Joakims magazines and some card plays
already become a welcomed souvenir for the personnel
at the hotel in Dogubayazit. That kind of sinful
articles cannot be brought in to Iran. Nobody asked
us about the technical equipment at the customs.
We know that the cellular phones are working, but
not without any problems resulting in that they
can’t be used for sending to our web page
any longer. We shall try to send through the satellite
instead. Regarding the communication issues we have
just heard that our honored sponsor, Ericsson on
a high international level is willing to venture
on the expansion of the GSM-network in the third
world, specially focusing on the catastrophe areas.
The Minister of Industry and Commerce has brought
up the item to the agenda in a statement to the
FN and it is with proud that we under this trip
are working in building a natural base that will
for the development of many of these contributions.
Now we continue our trip towards Teheran with a
weather that could make all the Swedish people on
their summer vacation green of envy.
Our wandering man Jan-Olov, see earlier report
on how he was registered as a walking tourist from
Sweden at the boarder to Bulgaria, became the big
attraction in Dogubayazit yesterday evening. The
digital camera attracted lots of men to flock around
him. He took pictures and signed autographs –
as Christian filmed them as if they were movie stars.
Now four pictures are coming from Mister Schröders
The views at the east of Turkey
are breath taking. Snowed mountains mixed with poor
villages, where the minaret is pointing right out
towards higher heights.
Ambulating sellers are common,
here the baker with new baked bread in Dogabayazit.
The views at the east of Turkey
are breath taking. Snowed mountains mixed with poor
villages, where the minaret is pointing right out
towards higher heights
We had already left Istanbul and Ankara before the
terrorist attack. The NATO top summit starting under
the weekend, in which the President of the US will
participate not only attracts around 50 top politicians
but also all mal intentioned terrorists, that regards
the US as their enemy
The situation is tense in Turkey, something that
is noticed in all police activities across the roads.
But we have already reached Eastern Turkey, thank
God and have left the hot cities behind us. Yesterdays
attack to Bush’s hotel in Ankara, were two
policemen where injured, and in Istanbul a bomb
killed at least five people, are two devastating
incidents shaking the world. We are pretty much
aware of the tense situation and want to leave Turkey
as fast as we can. We have set up our night camp
350 kilometers from the Iranian border and approximately
the same distance from the boarder to Iraq.
We have the intention to leave as early as possible
so as to reach the Iraqis customs and police by
daylight. It feels easy when thinking that we will
be passing one of the customs with a reputation
of being the worst in the world. Nothing escapes
these men guarding one of the hardest dictatorships
in the world. Kjell has given us detailed instructions
for when we pass through. Among other things we
have removed all the antennas from the ambulance
with the purpose of not waking any unnecessary interest.
All the papers have been checked, and we think that
we have a pretty good idea on how to handle questions
around the fantastic Ericsson technical equipment
that we have brought along. No body knows if we
will succeed in getting through the customs the
satellite telephones, the computers, our walkie-talkies
or even the cellular phones over this critical border.
It might end as badly that this daily report will
be last one for a while. To decorate a maypole will
definitely not be part of our midsummer celebration,
the removal of all our communication equipment will
be more like it.
For the rest we hope that everything goes well
even if we know that the boarder controls take an
awful lot of time. We have counted on it before
the trip through the desert continues in Iran.
Everyone in the group is sleeping just now, Peter
in the Ford, Jan-Olov in the Mercedes the rest in
the tent. Peter’s two-men tent crashed down
but Kjell seems to be snuggling cozily inside anyhow.
Patrik, myself is sitting writing this diary in
jeep’s front seat. On the roof, three persons
are sleeping. The only ones that seem to be awake
together with me are the moths that fly and get
stuck to the computers screen.
This day has gone well, over very high mountains,
(the road at its highest point goes 2 100 meters
above the sea) through a landscape that belongs
among to the most beautiful that can be seen.
It is unbelievable that there are still places
that are this wonderful on earth, that have not
been reached by tourism yet. The east of Turkey
is one of these areas, with lovely valleys, extreme
vegetation, splendid tree alleys and standing at
the back of these scene the snow covered mountains.
The scene is so breathtaking that it makes it difficult
not to stop at each curb; it made me think of the
Norwegian “Hardangervidda”, which might
be a bit wilder landscape than this one.
Kjell urged us to continue and saw to that we kept
god speed so we could keep the time schedule towards
the boarder. We got plenty of time for eating Joakims
excellent light lunch tough, this time by a little
lake nearly 1 000 meters above the sea. We were
suddenly visited by a group of gentlemen in a car
that turned out from the main road to check if an
accident had occurred. There were ambulances on
the field, you can never know.
Joakim, Christian and Johan found the place where
we are now standing, around 100 meters from the
main road. The cars build three walls and the middle
there is a table, on which we have been eating tasty
pasta with vegetables and some other good stuff.
As alcohol is forbidden in Iran, all whiskey and
the leftovers of gin were drenched this contributed
to a highspirited atmosphere. The entertainment
was on Christian and Peter, the first mentioned
showed a short film about three male friends during
the preparations of their recently celebrated graduation,
the last mentioned playing eminently the harmonica.
Of course the cheerful atmosphere did not diminish
when it was time to
carry through all the nightly procedures, during
which a tent crashed down an the burst of laughter’s
roared between the mountain walls. The wolves might
have heard the Swedish cries of joy, which kept
Don’t go on wishing Sweden only, good luck
at the football EM, but think a little about us
to, so everything goes well under the next two days,
when the journey progresses through difficult areas.
A little notation for the day, in yesterdays report
I told you about the hotel owner Mutlu, whom we
stayed at the night before today. He is extremely
interested in Sweden, he speaks German thanks to
33 years of living in Munich and he is very service
minded. At very early morning he fetched newly backed
bread with egg at the bakers and was standing besides
the breakfast table shining as a sun holding a bunch
of paper cups. These he had gathered after us the
night before and had touchingly washed them up.
Talk about recycling!
If you are missing an acceptable midsummer weather
at home you could borrow some from us – sun
a clear blue sky and really warm.
Now it has become midnight with the stars as a
ceiling. In the middle, the half moon is shining
and looks as a Turkish symbol. And soon it will
be time to jump into the cars, this time for an
exciting trip into an Iran that we still know very
little about. This will be a most different midsummer
evening that none of us will ever forget about.
Vi can inform that the situation at the Swedish embassy
in Ankara is well. We have taken the embassy in Turkey,
not as violent as it was under the time the Vikings
in their usual unfriendly manner went on their excursions.
We got help finding our way to the embassy. Kjell
had an agreement with the embassy's chauffeur to
meet at the outskirts of the city. With his Volvo
at front we made it into the city swarm. The embassy
garden felt the same as the one by the consul in
Istanbul, a real oasis, a badly needed lung to breath
out with in the city.
We arrived here after a day through one of Turkeys
best roads, the excellent highway that goes through
mountains and valleys. The landscape and nature
are breathtaking and varying.
Here at the embassy we can do everything. Jan -
Olov and Margareta are boiling water in the special
percolator we brought along. That is each day we
get the badly needed water, we are drinking a lot,
at this moment the temperature is 22 degrees under
the shade and in the sun the temperature reaches
up to 34 degrees in the middle of the day. It is
then when it is comfortable to have an AC in the
Mercedes, when we get out of the car it feels like
entering straight into a Turkish bath.
It is worse to sit in the Ford and the jeep as
well, as both lack of AC, especially in the cities
where the wind does not refresh through the open
windows. Furthermore the Ford is getting hot, the
cooling system has chosen cease functioning. On
the road the car keeps a low temperature in the
big cities it gets awfully warm. For lowering the
engine temperature the chauffeur rises to full effect
the temperature inside the cabin which is not very
comfortable when it is already enough warm.
For the moment margarita is re-stowing the cars,
Christian and Joakim are working with the advanced
techniques that Ericsson stands for. We daily boast
on Ericssons achievements wherever we are, the latest
was yesterday evening when the ambassador Anne Dismorr
suddenly stood between the cars and in a charming
manner invited us to his terrace for some wine and
hors-d'oeuvres. His 14 years old daughter Filippa,
she to acted as the perfect hostess and as by a
miracle presented us with Swedish Magnum-ice cream,
by the looks it can be said that Peter was the one
to enjoy it the most. The ambassador took a good
amount of time with us and gave us a lesson on the
political problems of the country, where issues
around feminism seem to be in focus. Turkey is a
country with many different ethnical groups with
very much tension between them but in common for
them is how women are treated. They are not allowed
out in society the same way as women in the west
are, women are valued very low outside the walls
of their homes. In accordance to Anne Dismorr, women's
position is among the most important matter to with
for today's government.
One of the concrete examples she gave was the law
addressing the right of inheriting soil. Earlier
the fields were divided in such way that the daughters
inherited the areas near the sea that could not
be cultivated meanwhile the sons inherited the fertile
areas inside the country. It is the opposite nowadays;
when tourism bloomed it were the areas by the sea
that rose in value. In this unequal country the
inheritance law was changed in economical disadvantage
to the women.
Naturally this is a minor problem for a country
dealing with many problems, such as the ethnical
ones. With Iraq as a neighbour and the tensions
in Kurdistan it is easy to understand the difficulties.
Catharina Lilliehöök-Jäger whom
is the embassy advisor is helping us first with
Kjells and Peters passport that the many policemen
at the boarders have succeeded in tearing some pages
off. They must be in a good shape when passing Iran
What is worse is that the package with documents
sent by DHL has not arrived to the embassy yet.
We know through controls that the package has arrived
to Ankara. It seems that it is waiting at a delivery
firm to be sent and will hopefully arrive here today
at noon. Otherwise we will be delayed and that will
jeopardise our future plans.
Margareta is at the moment re-stowing the cars;
everything is being mostly stowed around in disorder.
One of the mechanics is working with the cooling
fan, Kjell is leading the troops and talking a lot
in the phone trying to get in touch with different
people, Jan-Olov is editing pictures, Johan is acting
as guinea-pig for Margareta who is testing the blood
pressure instrument at the same time that he is
working with the jeep, Christian and Joakim are
searching for a spot in the fantastic garden where
they can send over this report that Patrik is writing.
We have taken a break from the car driving but
there surely are a lot of things to do anyhow. This
is not precisely what could be called a holiday
trip, even when yesterday we could follow on the
Turkish television the football drama. It was quite
funny with the exalted Turkish sports commentator
who was really engaged in the game. At least that
is what we think as we of course did not understand
We ate kebab dinner as well and experienced a taxi
trip through Ankara, where the two chauffeurs engaged
them in a competition on who drove the fastest and
boldest with the radio on as in the best of discos.
They drove us to the hotel, which was very cheap
and was good enough for a night in the capital of
We are anxiously waiting to take off towards the
east, our next goal of which we now very little
about. Our excitement is rising.
Under our trip towards the East drama is becoming
Sitting under the laurel leaf tree in the Swedish
general consuls garden, situated in the middle of
a chaotic Istanbul. We have been longing for this
oasis. The last day have brought quite an
amount of problems that we have feared and expected,
but not expected that they would materialize already
It happened yesterday when we reached the boarder
between Bulgaria and Turkey that the bureaucracy
and meanness of the custom officers in the worst
of mixtures poured down on us.
To arrive to turkey by a country road is nothing
to recommend. The controls are many and the personnel
are stressed and impolite. If they find something
wrong in the well-scrutinized papers, then
you are in big trouble. Guess why it came as a chock
when the complicated car documentation for the jeep
had in a place a wrong registration number. These
matters are administrated by the
Swedish vehicle, engine owners association, ("Motormännens
förbund"), we did not check what was written,
but the result was that the Turkish custom officers
After more than three hours at the customs a provisional
document was written and with that in our hands
we continued to a late night lodge in Edirne, a
city with many mosques and a festival with a band
playing trumpets as they walked across the city
at early dawn. The dinner by midnight was of course
After a short morning sleep and some driving we
have arrived at the general consuls offices where
the personnel have proven to be service minded beyond
what is usual expected.
With DHL and classed as urgent the document has
already been sent from Stockholm, with some transfer
through Brussels and Istanbul will it hopefully
be ready for picking up at the embassy in Ankara
on Wednesday. DHL has now the opportunity to prove
if they can live up to the marketing that they so
often spread through TV.
This day has already passed, the evening will be
spent at the hotel having some dinner, watching
some belly dance and eventually visiting any places
that are worth seeing in Istanbul.
It is a confusing and tangled city and the trip
through the alleys and the big city to the consul
was nearly terrifying. Narrow, ups and downs which
makes the Old City in Stockholm ("Gamla Stan),
look like a boulevard - the three chauffeurs Jan-Olov,
Joakim and Patrik were given the opportunity to
give proof of their driving licences.
Without the nice policemen in Istanbul, totally
the opposite from their colleagues at the custom
offices, we would have never found our way through.
They drove before and after us and they sat in our
cars as well. Margareta even sat on the lap of one
of the policemen, and in Joakim's car the officer
in charge of the district jumped in, he who was
in charge the evening that the English embassy was
blown up. He said that he
was ashamed of what had happened.
We saw the embassy from the outside; it is wrapped
into some kind of material that looks like tweed
stuffing, with the purpose of preventing new attempts.
We tried to drive into the yard as the ambitious
policemen got the impression that we were Englishmen
and were on our way to the embassy. But that was
not the case.
The situation with the customs has some good points.
Do you know that Jan-Olov is a walking tourist?
It was by the Serbian-Bulgarian customs that Jan-Olof
suddenly went missing.
Seven out of eight passports were handed over by
Kjell, three of us were promoted to chauffeurs by
the bureaucracy. It seems that this kind of information
has to be correctly stated and stamped.
Jan-Olov went out of the Mercedes and walked towards
the custom officers cage. When he appeared the officer
looked like a big question mark. And as Jan-Olov
walked towards him, he got stamped as a walking
tourist, furthermore, all the way from Sweden. This
even breaks Göran Kropps fantastic bicycle
trip through Sweden - Himalayas turn and return.
Dazzling sunflowers, rich cornfields and sun ripe
vineyards have boarded the roads, as well as the
roads out of Serbia. The road towards the Bulgarian
Sofia is still the most beautiful.
We have also been able get a view of Greece and
a glimpse of the sea. Tomorrow we will see more
of the later when we drive across Bosp.
At the same time it should be mentioned that the
bypassing roads around the capital of Bulgaria are
among the worst part of this passage, with bad signposts
and a paving from early days.
There is a very good mod within he expedition,
regardless of the obstacles. We are certainly already
a day delayed because of the paper issues but problem
makes us struggle together to get further, the 400
kilometres to Ankara tomorrow
The only woman, doctor Margareta, thank god has
only needed to give out pills against allergies.
She herself is clearly feeling very well, even though
a customs officer in Bulgaria got very angry when
she tried to photograph him.
Our cheap hotel is waiting for us now in the alleys
of Istanbul. We can leave the cars in the fenced
and well-guarded yard in the consul. Though it will
be a terrible hazard to get out on the alleys with
the cars tomorrow towards new targets.
As every morning Peter has recharged and is watching
over the vehicles as an eagle, as the true mechanic
supervisor he is.
Christian is responsible for the technical issues;
I will hand over the computer to him so he can send
home by satellite the material for the homepage.
With a severe look the customs officer looked at the
passport. He then moved
his attention, with a superior look towards the cars
and asked in a
sarcastic manner: Sweden-Nepal. Where the hell is
His obviously more nicer colleague - presumably
his superior, with to
stripes on his shoulders - and a fatherly smile
replied quite sure of
himself - Everybody knows that Nepal lies in
This proved the lack of knowledge that many people
have. At least we within
the expedition knew where we were bound to travel.
It is not that simple though, as we cross countries
and many borders, of
For example when we reached what we thought was
a toll road for the highway
access and Instead it was the Hungarian customs.
We were then leaving
Slovakia and Kjell and Patrik were
amazed on how surprisingly we had reached the boarder.
Patrik became surprised as well when on Saturday
when he tried to pay the
road toll. The man at the station refused persistently
to receive the money
and became nearly enraged. It was
then that Jan-Olov commented that the man was bearing
a gun. Patriks
thoughts went instantly towards robbery and concluded
that the man by the
toll road surely was located in a
risk zone. But, yes, of course, it was a customs
station again, more
This long Saturday we passed through Bratislava
in Slovakia, Budapest in
Hungary and Belgrade in Serbia. We drove 750 kilometres
from Györ at the
outside of Bratislava in Slovakia to the Serbian
Nis, where we had the
pleasure to meet a retired Serbian in a living in
a new built apartment.
Zdenka is a relative
to Patrik and doesn't speak a word of English.
By the way, there are no limits to hospitality
in this war stricken country
that again is under such a strong and focused rebuilding.
This has been
proven by the warm friendship that overwhelmed us.
Under our visit to Zdenkas in her well utilized
and cosy apartment. As an
example, for the occasion lady that spoke English
was invited through
friends of friends to act as a language bridge.
by an excited Jan-Olov as having a face made for
being photographed, - had
crossed through the city, got a car and guided us
all the way to the table.
There were loads of national delicacies that
Zdenka has been producing under the two days of
waiting for his Swedish
guests. Joakims and Christian comments "Fett
kul" ("Awfully nice") is
enough to describe this touching visit, during which
a relative was sent in
the middle of the night for buying some beer just
because Kjell was craving
to refresh himself with this malt beverage. Guess
if the homemade aquavit
was welcome after the hard and sweating car trip.
It became late before we reached Nis. It was so
dark then that we missed the
turn-off sign from the road. Suddenly the three
cars reached once more a
road toll on the way out towards
Skopje. After sorting out a diversity of obstacles,
we managed to find our
way in to Nis, where a service minded policeman
tried to put everything
right and to each and every question that we asked,
he answered politely
"da" and none of us became wiser. With
a combination of telephone calls and
weather knowledge we managed to find Marija.
Margareta wanted badly to take some photographs.
On Friday her interest had
reached to the limits of earth level, poppy and
lavender were portrayed and
by this immortalized. After many tries the crew
in Ford vehicle succeeded in
finding a smaller field at the north of Serbia,
where she could be let out
on the countryside.
- They could be bigger and more beautiful commented
At the outskirts of Sazched in a lunch pub we took
our meal, there where
several turkeys and hens of the surroundings have
offered their lives. This
day was in the sign of food, with a feeling of
"Grand final" and until late midnight
was spent at the "Grandmother of
Serbian food, whom had even invited other relatives
and neighbours to
partake in this "Holy Communion".
A gasket to the shock absorber hydraulic system was
the cause of the little
drama that affected our Mercedes ambulance the first
day in Poland. Our
experts found the fault when they crawled under the
car with the church
festivities in Krosniewice as a background scene.
After this cultural shock we drove in darkness
to Lodz, where we after many
tries found the first camping after a whole day
in Poland. There was rain in
the air and none of us was especially keen on setting
up the tent. But we
were lucky that the lady at the camping could offer
us lodging in plain
bungalows for only 74 Swedish crowns per person
and night. Besides the bed,
bed linen and a toilet in the room, a guarded parking
lot and one shower
occasion per person was included. The few night
hours were spent to refuel
the cars, a visit to McDonalds, small chatting,
picking up stuff around and
in the cars along some brief sleeping.
Early in the morning we were waked up by Joakim,
who was stumbling around
like a zombie, we all rushed out of bed. After eating
breakfast we left and
drove through four lane highways that made kilometres
just rushed by.
The Mercedes garage that we found along the road
was an experience; it was
as being transported to Sweden in the fifties. In
formal overalls the
personnel rushed here and there, with a discipline
and order similar to a
German office, the garage shone up at us. The service
was fantastic we were
served god tasting coffee under our waiting of 1,
5 hours. The diagnose made
by our own duo of mechanics proved to be correct
as well as the performed
operation, but a spare part was still needed and
the check up was
scrupulous, the car was test driven and everything
was checked again.
Vi expected a very expensive bill but it only ended
up at 350 Swedish
For Johan this was like Christmas Eve, for someone
with an interest for
veteran cars, in the garage were cars that made
this Strängnäs native to
nearly reach the verge of tears. Two Mercedes of
cupé model from the sixties
and a rare 300 model from around 1955 were found
among the treasures.
After this successful stop we continued towards
Katowice and shortly before
we made a stop near a parking lot by a car dealers
firm to enjoy our lunch.
We could state the fact that car prices in Poland
are suspiciously low. Real
bargains can be made here as a Swedish buyer.
Jan-Olov as always immortalized the lunch and was
practically forced by us
to sit down on his chair so he could enjoy Joakim's
codfish stew, coalfish
in tomato sauce or "lapskojs" (lobscouse,
a dish made of meat and potato
This lunch was lighted up by champignons bought
by Margareta as a
replacement to the chanterelles she missed yesterday
when we passed by the
Eventually we found our way out of Poland, even
the chauffeur Margareta who
suddenly had been gone. When she became aware of
that she was lost, she
quickly found her way and joined the troop.
Afterwards we drove over the boarder to Czech without
The formalities might have seen to simple to Johan-Olov
and Margareta, their
car got an engine failure and stopped at the customs.
This was solved before
Kjell and Patrik would have been forced to drive
back and rescue them.
The passage towards Czech, 41 kilometres in total,
went through serpentine
roads in a sunny and beautiful nature landscape.
In the new EU-country
Slovakia we were welcomed without any bureaucracy
- our anxiety over the
paper work and problems with the blue lights and
sirens, up to know have
been exaggerated. But still many other countries
are awaiting us, where
bureaucracy, is as much of a daily bread as terror
and other threats are.
Hopefully these problems altogether will not be
as extensive - we put them
aside for the future. We are approaching Bratislava
the capital of Slovakia
in good progress, where food and lodge for the evening
are being planned.
Peter and Kjell will be keeping a look out this
evening. They are sitting in
the Ford ambulance, which is driving at the front.
The jeep with Christian
at the steering wheel is in the middle. Joakim is
taking a nap in the front
seat and myself, Patrick sitting and writing these
lines in my computer
between bumps, curves and hip-hop music at the back
seat, which is not an
The mod is on top as well as weather and wind.
For the ones that wish to read more can on Saturday
the 19th of June read
Patriks first chronicle about the trip in the Eskilstuna/Strengnäs
on the www.ekuriren.se.
This is a report from a side road more or more precisely
from the city of
Krosniewice at the north of Lodz.
The city has recently celebrated the Thursday Church
day, in reminder of the
body of Christ, a festival where little girls dressed
in flowers have come
to hand in hand with their mothers, grandmothers
or aunts. At a look at the
sea of heads queuing at the front of the "Holy
Communion" table, that there
are only women present int the church. But as it
is a catholic church the
priests are men, as it usually is the case.
We made a start for the day with a wonderful midday
in the ferry to Gdansk,
where we went through all the technical issues and
took the opportunity rest
mentally for our trip to Poland.
Gdansk received us with sunny day. The sun was very
nice but it could have
been nicer and better if they had better signposts
thoroughfares. There was one sign by the customs
station - which we passed
through without getting any reaction. Poland has
recently become a member of
the EU and as a good member of the community they
have adopted an easy and
smooth passage through the borders. The
customs have simply taken some sort of livelong
The signs in Gdansk where as earlier mentioned
insufficient, but after some
turns through a grey and dull housing area, we did
a u-turn and as by magic
we found our
way out from the only middle time city that still
exists today by the Baltic
sea coast. We didn't have time to take a near look
at it. What counted now,
was to aim for the south so we as soon as possible
could get through a
country with roads that are not dimensioned for
any sort of high speed. But
this is not a possibility for our caravan either
- two ambulances and one
jeep that can at the most drive at a speed around
80 kilometres per hour. We
have more or less managed constantly to hold this
speed through all the dull
cities that sometimes enlightens by a smiling landscape.
Disregarding the "necessary" pauses,
we found a suitable place for our
lunch. It might have been that farmer did not agreed
with our choice, in the
middle of our lunch he wanted to turn into the road
that we had chosen for
our break in the middle of a field. He could wait
though for while, bribed
with cigarettes and biscuits. You can bet that he
had something to tell to
his wife under dinner - he was prevented from accessing
his little road by
some mysterious vehicles on their way from Sweden
to Nepal. And was rewarded
Lunch as well as dinner, which we had at the church
place in Krosniewice,
was splendid. Joakim who is a master cook when creating
something out of the
supplies donated by the department of defence. This
combined with some coffee, biscuits and other goodies
from "Bengtssons ICA"
lighted up these meals.
It should be noted the excellent order that Joakim
and Christian have on
their stuff in the jeep, everything has its own
place. Not even one package
of food food can disappear, not even if it tried
We are dealing with today's problem; the Mercedes
ambulance is leaking oil
from the rear axel. Both our mechanicals Peter and
Johan have driven the
vehicle to a curb outside the church, where they
surgically are inspecting the damage. It seems that
the question for today
is where we will set up our tent. Will be go any
further this evening? Shall
we camp by the cemetery?
I have been calling among others to our contact
in Serbia to inform him
arrival will be delayed. As an example we are planning
to pass through
Budapest and Belgrade by the earliest on Saturday.
Everybody is feeling very well - we take turns
on driving the cars as
alternating seats. The atmosphere is at the top
and everyone is in high
spirits regardless the problems with our ambulance