Day 1 – Gallery


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GPS Tracking


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GPS tracking powered by InstaMapper.com

Mapping the Route


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As the final days of the trip approached I started finalizing the actual maps, routes and locations on GPS system.

Google Maps:
The Google Map application has been the most useful in terms of planning and charting the route. It has become universal and all the mobile devices are able to use it almost as a second nature these days.

Pocket Earth (featured in Apple App Store)
The printed Road Atlases have been used for years and I have enjoyed these colorful atlases, but with the iPad I have extensively looked for the eBook versions that I can easily refer to on my device specially on the iPad  but have not been able to find it. That is until now. I finally I found an App that really does what it says. Not only the maps are detailed and contain many layers of information but you can download the actual maps with all of its data right onto you mobile devices specially on you iPads. This is a must application for the people who would like to have the maps downloaded onto their mobile device. This way traveling abroad in Europe or anywhere outside USA we would not incur enormous amount of money for the data usage.

I just downloaded the maps of all the countries we will be traveling through (total of 12 countries). These maps are amazing, not only you get down to a street level but it contains plenty of useful information from sight seeing locations with Wikipedia information with just one click but it also contains hotel, parks, other relevant information as well. Small or big they are mostly under 200 MB in size.

 

GPS Tracking


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The GPS tracking will be very important. It will serve many purposes. First I would like to keep track of all the Geo data points of our travel. Second it will allow live feed to our travel that we can share with our family members and friends across the globe. Third it will be a way of keep our location known to others in case of an emergency.

The Orient Express


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I am fascinated by the journey from London to Istanbul not only because of the length but also how historic each route between the cities is. I am really interested in the famous routes ancient and modern.

Orient Express: From: http://www.greatistanbul.com/
Inaugurated in 1883 by a French railway company, the Orient Express soon became a legend. Originally traveling from Paris through Munich, Vienna and Sophia to the Sirkeci train station of Constantinople (Istanbul today), passengers could continue the journey, traveling by boat across the Bosphorus to the Haydarpasa Railway Station to join the Taurus Express to Anatolia or even to Baghdad. But usually many passengers decided to stay at the Pera Palas hotel for their vacation.

A historic train of the late 19th and early 20th century, it was the most luxurious long distance rail journey in the history of travel. The route varied throughout the years but it generally ran from Paris to Istanbul, a distance of 3186 kilometers (1980 miles). Royalty, aristocracy, the rich and the famous traveled regularly on the Orient Express. Gourmet chefs, chandeliers, fully equipped bathrooms, staterooms and dining rooms were a high standard of the train.

The train was mentioned in many books but it is mostly remembered today by Agatha Christie’s book (and later a film) “Murder on the Orient Express”. She spent some time at the Pera Palas hotel which today her room became the most famous and requested by almost every book appassionate visiting Istanbul.

The Orient Express was originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. But it slowly declined in the 1930s with the Simplon Orient Express and the Arlberg Orient Express partially replacing it.

In the 1980s the Orient Express was re-introduced by investors running from Paris to Vienna (1390km or 864mi) and from Stuttgart to Prague (1253km or 778mi). The name “Orient Express” surely being a misnomer for these routes.

Unfortunately in the 1990s travelers are more interested in the speed to reach the destination rather than the journey itself. The glorious days of train travel are long gone but the name Orient Express still remembers us the past.

In 1998 Orient Express re-visited Istanbul once again on a special journey conducted by some travel agents who wanted to remember people its glorious past. Nowadays the company which owns its name runs the train mostly between London – Paris – Venice. There are even plans to disconnect it in 2007 because of the weak demand

It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light …


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It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one’s hat keeps blowing off.          – Woody Allen

 

Certainly, over the years I have found that travel by car is the best way to travel. It is specially true in USA where the convenience of this kind of travel is unsurpassable. More importantly however, it is not how fast and how easy it is to travel but how you travel. 

 

Car Rental in Europe is Tricky


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I found out that car rental is some what tricky. Why do I say this?. In Europe travel by car is extensive, the road, the highway system is well-developed. However, since we are dealing with so many countries, so many nationalities, border rules and driving systems, road travel will require a great deal of planning.

The central theme of this journey is the road trip by car. We explored the various possibilities to get the right car for the journey. Best option would have been to ship our car from the US to UK. Use it all over Europe for 19 days and then re-ship back to USA. This will avoid any Rent Car Co restrictions etc. You would not need any registration as long as you are not planning to stay in UK for more than 6 months. However, the cost of shipment, the loading and unloading fee, the other taxes turned out to be expensive. The most important issue is the timely delivery of your car when your arrive in England. Most companies would not guarantee the exact dates the car could be delivered to us in UK. The ocean freight takes 3-4 weeks to ship your car.  So this options was scratched.

Renting a car in Europe will be somewhat tricky for an US person. Restrictions on number of passengers are somewhat more than in USA. Choices of car sizes are limited, but available for 5 passengers as well. Travelling across the EU countries is similar to traveling from state to state in USA. People caution for the road travel in East European countries but not much of a concern and with caution can be done.  Some countries might require a permit to be displayed in the car, all would require proper papers from rent companies. It appears that renting car is still fairly doable thing. The cost range from $1400.00 to $2000.00 for the entire trip.

In terms of insurance coverage there will be additional charges to have a comprehensive coverage to take the car to east european countries and Turkey. Finally we need to add the cost of fuel as well.

The Google Map are phenomenal


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What was life without Google maps just a few years ago. For now everyone with mobile device uses google maps. For simple directions to thousands of miles of journey an excursion and so on.

For a road trip like this google maps are essential. The planning of the road trip, charting all the routes with built in hundreds of features, the google maps offer so many things that just planning a trip its becomes a very joyful experience. I found having a google account and creating various maps is very simple and easy to do. Keeping track of the ternaries and getting mileage information is very useful.

 

Thank You …


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There are many people over the past few month have helped us in the planning of this trip. Umar Daraz, Syed Waqar Yusuf, Rehman Khan, Ahmed Girach and Nadeem Shakir have been specially very helpful. In addition, I have gotten very valuable information from Dr. Anetti about Croatia and from Dr. Osman Arpad and his wife about Turkey. We are very much excited to know that hopefully we will meet them in their home town during our car trip.

Welcome!


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  • Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving..”
    – Einstein

Introducing
Road Trip from London to Istanbul

Finally, so many year of only thinking about it, in the year 2012 things are shaping up. Last year’s trip to England has been a big impetus in this direction. The road trip across Europe is shaping up. I have been in touch with many of my good friends from Dow; Umar Daraz Khan, Syed Waqar Yusuf, Rehman Khan, Ahmed Girach and Nadeem Shakir whose valuable information and help is greatly appreciated.

Started out as a personal summer vacation road trips that we are very fond of in USA, we wanted to see if we can excite few more people into doing this trip. While the response has been encouraging the reality of getting everyone plan for the whole trip is not that simple. Share the information about this trip and possibly meeting few people along the way or travel part of the trip together is something quite doable. Thus, creation of this blog.

This blog is designed to present the idea and the information relevant to the road trip; from the idea to planning, arrangement, the route we will be taking and the cities we will be traveling through during our 19 days of roaming in the Europe. Starting from London to Istanbul journey takes its historical route through some of the most historical countries of Europe. Tracing the historical route through France, Switzerland, Italy, Former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Hungry, Austria, Germany and back to London. Along the way stop over at the major cities to explore it and move on. Small little excursion in the country side, small towns, and full control of your schedule are the main reason to travel by car. 

The Route:

1. London, England – Paris, France – Geneva, Switzerland – Turin, Italy – Genova, Italy – Florence, Italy, Italy – Venice, Italy – Belgrade, Serbia – Sofia, Bulgaria – Istanbul, Turkey

2. Istanbul, Turkey – Bucharest, Romania – Budapest, Hungry – Vienna, Austria – Munich, Germany – Zurich, Switzerland – Geneva, Switzerland – Paris, France – to London, England