To Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany and back to the UK.
Wednesday 3 September 1986 - Saturday 13 September 1986
Wednesday 3 September - We crossed into Poland. It took ages due to time difference (2 hours) and customs procedures. One thing you do not do is mess with border guards. One of the guys played silly buggers by arriving in the USSR on his New Zealand passport and he tried to leave on his British passport. Border guards are not stupid and they soon spotted this. He was told to stand to one side whilst the rest of the group was processed. By the time he was seen again he was literally sh*tting bricks. They gave him a stern telling off, but nothing like what Dennis gave him once he was back on the bus.
The customs officers then found some roubles. It is totally illegal to export roubles and so they wanted to get everyone off the bus and search it thoroughly. Dennis managed to calm them down and we managed to avoid the searches. This means I managed to get my 3 rouble note out.
We got to the Polish side of the border just in time for them to go to lunch. So we had our lunch in no man's land whilst waiting for them. The total time taken was four hours. We arrived Warsaw in evening. We had an excellent dinner in the best restaurant in town, paid for with food kitty using black market zlotys.
Thursday 4 September - A city tour of Warsaw. Wandered both the old section (rebuilt after WWII) and new section, eating excellent mushroom rolls from street vendors. Another superb dinner in city. Food is far better than Russia.
The city gate and walls.
The rebuilt old town.
The old prison.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial.
Friday 5 September - An early start for a long day from Warsaw to Prague via Auschwitz. We had tour of both Birkenau extermination camp and Auschwitz itself, visiting the prisoners' cells, punishment blocks, the execution wall, the remnants of the crematoriums, gas chambers and so on. It is a very sobering place, especially as weather was gray and overcast. Arrived Prague late in evening.
Auschwitz concentration camp.
The memorial in Auschwitz camp.
Saturday 6 September - Morning shopping in city. Up to Prague Castle for look around and yet another changing of the guard ceremony. Back in town after dinner for Czech beer. Very nice (and cheap).
The changing of the guard at the castle.
A view over Prague from the castle.
Sunday 7 September - Day of doing nothing as we had a night drive to Berlin.
Sunset over the Czech countryside.
Monday 8 September - A very early arrival in West Berlin after two border crossings. The afternoon was free, dinner at camp and another party!
Tuesday 9 September - A city tour via Spandau Ballet (sorry, Prison). We also visited Charlottenburg Palace and I hopped off the bus here and went out to Tempelhof Airport. Evening spent in city in Irish pub.
The Soviet War Memorial in Berlin.
The Berlin Wall and memorials to those who have died trying to cross it.
The Berlin Airlift Memorial at Tempelhof Airport.
Wednesday 10 September - A free day in Berlin. I visited Checkpoint Charlie again and did a bit of shopping.
Thursday 11 September - We drove from West Berlin to Cologne. A boring drive, East German police officious.
Dennis having a well earned nap.
Friday 12 September - A day of sightseeing, cleaning and packing up before evening drive to Brugge in Belgium.
Saturday 13 September - An early arrival at Zeebrugge docks. The morning ferry to Dover, bus to hotel in London. The end.
Summary - As my second major trip on a bus around Europe, this one was very good. It was a larger group than the first group so more people to talk to and drink with. The trip was mostly Kiwis and Aussies with a few Brits thrown in for good measure. Going behind the Iron Curtain was very interesting as you always had in the back of your mind that someone was watching you. My favourite places were Prague and Berlin. I was still troubled by not having enough money for things, especially in Scandinavia where things are horrifically expensive. Eastern Europe made up for that thankfully. Again, I saw a lot, took lots of piccies, drank a lot and generally had a good time.