A week or so ago when I headed West from the Serbian city of Niš (pron. Nizh), I also left the security blanket of the long distance trail that I was following – The Sultans Trail. This is a long distance trail running from Istanbul to Vienna. It has only recently been thought up, and set up, by a dedicated team of volunteers operating primarily out of Holland. As the trail is still in its infancy, and the route not yet set in stone, the route markings are sporadic. What is a Godsend, however, are the .gpx files available on their website which you can load into your GPS device or smartphone, which will lead you from place to place, confident that your route has been tread by others, and won’t lead to any cliffs or impassable barriers. During winter travel in the Bulgarian mountains, I really appreciated not having to worry so much about the route planning aspect of my trip.
From now on, I will be freestyling my navigation, using all the mapping and aerial photography I can get my grubby hands on. It will add an extra element of excitement to the trip, as I try to avoid roads as much as possible, and decent up to date topographic/hiking maps do not really exist for this part of the world.
I thanked the Sultans trail team in my last post, but a second heartfelt thanks goes out to them again in this one. Arjan Schilling of the team has taken the trouble of transferring my blog posts on to the Sultans trail website (https://www.sultanstrail.com/), and has even translated them word for word into Dutch (https://www.sultanstrail.com/nl), for the few who might be reading my blog, but prefer reading in Dutch.
In the earlier stages of my walk I was also interviewed my Tine Lambers from the Sultans Trail team. This interview (unfortunately also in dutch) can be viewed here in the Feb news brief for the trail: https://st-sultans-trail-a-european-cultural-route.email-provider.nl/web/lu5t0ub7um/xf3e3pijbt/cw5v_vbkki/cmeaplg746
I was honoured to be interviewed for another internet publication whilst I was in Sofia, about my reasons for choosing to do this walk, my fears, aspirations, and how I deal with the logistical, terrain, and weather hazards along the way. Unfortunately this interview is only available in Bulgarian, but if there are any Bulgarian speakers who are readers of my blog and are interested in reading this interview, it can be found here: http://www.lifebites.bg/patrick-obikalia-pesh-evropa/
I am currently in Serbia, maybe 2/3 of the way across the South of this rugged, hospitable, and much maligned country. Everything is going well, except the frequent spring storms which soak to the skin, and terrify with their extreme lightning. I’ll write a full article for Serbia soon. Xxxx