All right… since this is a travel blog after all, I should probably talk a little bit about my itinerary and my expectations. Let’s do that now…
I’ll be flying out of the Greenville, SC airport in the morning of August 8th. I’ll have a ~10-hour layover in Washington, DC, and I plan on spending time with an old friend (who, coincidentally, served with me in Peace Corps). It would be really nice to drop in to a gym out in DC, but in the end, friends and family will inevitably always take precedence over pajama wrasslin’. It will be nice to see him again before gearing up for my trans-continental flight to Germany.
My next stop will be a 2-hour layover in Munich. I will, predictably, be completely wiped out by the time I get to the Munich airport since I really can’t sleep on airplanes or any form of transportation. I’ve always envied people who can just turn themselves off like a light switch and go to sleep almost anywhere, but this is unfortunately not in my nature. The upside to this is I’m really great to have around for late night road trips.
Finally, I’m planning on getting into the Bucharest airport in the afternoon of the 9th. The BJJ camp in Bulgaria will have already begun by this point in time, and at the time of writing I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to get from Bucharest to Sozopol. I will most likely continue to have no concrete plan for travel from here on out: in my experience, travel planning for Eastern Europe is notoriously difficult to do. Nobody else really plans for anything, so I guess when in Rome… right?
The Bulgaria BJJ camp ends on the 12th, and from there I’m guessing that Sandu and I will be making a b-line for Moldova, but I’m totally at the mercy of Eastern Europeans so really anything could happen. Sandu says he wants to put on a couple seminars while I’m there, but other than that, I’ll just be trying to absorb some of the culture, seeing old friends and old places and otherwise doing the tourist thing in Moldova for maybe a week or so. After that, it’s back to Bucharest, where I’ll presumably have a couple days to see what’s new in the city and to see friends.
Since I’m a US citizen, I won’t need a visa for any of the 3 countries I’ll be visiting. This isn’t to say that I’m expecting everything to be smooth sailing. While my passport is still valid, it is almost 10 years old and therefore about to expire. I was a good deal heavier than I am now when I took my passport picture, and I’m one of those people who looks like a completely different person depending on how much I weigh. On top of all this, I have a million stamps from Romania and Moldova (I had to get new pages added to my passport at one point) and just to make my success rate at crossing borders that much more interesting, I’d spent 2 years as an illegal immigrant in Romania already so I’m crossing my fingers that doesn’t raise any red flags.
In the end, I’ll have no less than 10 border agents to convince that I am who I say I am, that I’m there legally, and for them to let me into their country (including my own).
I’ll be posting more on my trip as we get further along in this blog. I’m going to post a packing list which may be helpful for future travelers to this part of the world. I’ll most likely have to make some posters for my seminars in Moldova so I’ll be sure to post those as well. I’ll definitely have some more information as it gets closer and closer to being time for me to leave, but for now though, you will need some more background stories.