This is it; Baku or Bust. If everything goes to plan (and it hasn’t so far!), this is our very rough route. Thank you to Neil Dymock and the Gôl trustees for organising and sorting out *so much* for us. Thank you to the local press and broadcasters of North Wales for their help and raising the Gôl “Baku or Bust” profile. Big thank you to everyone who has donated, sponsored and supported us, and for all the banter from colleagues, friends and the pubs of Conwy and Penmaenmawr leading up to this…
I’ll not post another blog until we are on the road. Up-to-date progress will be on my Twitter account (or just look at the right-hand panel here), Twitpics from my phone, some live in-car video from my mobile phone now and again on the Live Video page, and you can follow our progress with GPS tracking on the car courtesy of Sanoodi. We are not using GPS in-car to aid us, just paper maps, road-signs and will hopefully not have to crack open the compass…
Friday 22nd (Wales & England)
Leave Conwy approx 6.30pm from The Bridge / Vicarage car park, drive to Dover, meet up with all the other cars at the port, collect our passports from Gôl trustee Neil Dymock (with or without Azerbaijan visas - see BBC News item), either grab a bit of kip or caffeine / Pro-Plus myself up the eyeballs before boarding the ferry.
Saturday 23rd (England / France / Belgium / Luxembourg / Germany)
Ferry departs Dover 2.50am, arrive Calais 5.50am. Drive into Belgium, through Luxembourg and in to Germany, arrive Stuttgart, set camp.
Sunday 24th (Germany / ???)
As i’m typing this, we have not decided / mapped out where we’re going. We’ll see how the car is and make a decision en-route. Leave Stuttgart mid-morning, heading vaguely in the direction of Vienna, camp… somewhere.
Monday 25th(??? / Austria / Slovakia)
Arrive in Vienna, visit the Rainman Centre (Gôl visited here in 2005), this is a day centre providing therapy for autistic young people. Gôl will be viewing how their £1500 donation has helped towards building an activity and relaxation room. We will then leave Vienna and head into Slovakia, where Gôl will re-visit Podunajske Biskupice Orphanage in the capital Bratislava. Gôl visited in 2007 and donated £750 towards building a football pitch in the grounds. We will then set camp somewhere near Bratislava.
Tuesday 26th (Slovakia / Hungary / Romania)
Push on from Slovakia into Hungary, where we will stop at Gyermekotthon Orphanage, previously visited by Gôl in 2004. An orphanage housing 126 children, where we will be shown photos of their summer camp Gol donated £500 towards in 2004. Visit the Hungarian capital Budapest. Then push on into Romania, through Transylvania, our first stop in the region will be the Casa Josef Orphanage in Beius. Here 37 children live in complete care and would otherwise remain in the state institution system. Then on to Cluj, and set camp.
Wednesday 27th (Romania)
From Cluj, we will drive to the capital Bucharest, where we will meet with the Family Care Foundation showing us the problems faced by abandoned children in Romaniast and the Pinocchio Orphanage. We will make camp outside the city towards the Bulgarian border. European Cup Final (Champions League / Big Cup) will be watched from somewhere…
Thursday 28th (Romania / Bulgaria)
Cross over into Bulgaria, and over to the coast of the Black Sea to the city of Burgas, and visit the Al. G. Kodzhakafaliyata orphanage. I *think* we may have a restful afternoon and a night out in Burgas / Sunny Beach - it’s been mentioned more than 10 times between us anyway, and our next days driving is a relatively short distance…
Friday 29th (Bulgaria / Turkey)
Saturday 30th (Turkey)
Join back up with the Turkish motorway network and drive to the capital, Ankara, to visit the Ataturk Cocuk Yuvasi Orpahange. This the largest of all orphanages in Turkey translated as ‘The Children Heim of Ataturk’. It was founded by Great Ataturk to protect the war orphans in 1922. From Ankara we will head north toward the Black Sea coast and drive as close to the Georgian border as possible. Will try and catch the FA Cup Final < it’s been preached to me/all of us from an early age just how international the FA Cup is followed throughout the world, we’ll put this to the test. Setup camp in north east Turkey.
Sunday 31st (Turkey / Georgia)
We will cross into Georgia, driving through Batumi, heading towards Kutaisi. This is the city twinned with Newport, Wales. We will enter the city in convoy under police escort. Once in Kutaisi we will visit the Football School “Martve 91″, and a number of Newport County shirts and ’stuff’ will be donated. We will also visit Childrens Home No.44 to donate books and gifts. Thankfully we have a hotel in Kutaisi for 2 nights.
Monday 1st & Tuesday 2nd June (Georgia)
Kutaisi, visit universities and schools. Meet with the mayor of Kutaisi and several governors of Georgia. We will also play a game at the 20,000 capacity Givi Kiladze Stadium (home to FC Torpedo Kutaisi), Wales Supporters v Georgia Supporters.
Wednesday 3rd June (Georgia)
After saying farewell to Kutaisi we will visit Gori, visiting two orphanages housing approximately 100 children as a result of last summers conflict in the region. From Gori we will travel to the capital, Tbilisi. If we haven’t got them already, pick up Azerbaijan visas from the embassy. We have a hotel booked in Tbilisi.
Thursday 4th June (Georgia / Azerbaijan)
Make the short drive to the Azerbaijan border, visas permitting and law permitting we can drive our right-hand cars over the border. Where we will visit a total of 8 orphanages in the towns and cities of Qazax, Agstafa, Ganja, Ucar, Kurdamir, Saray, Gizildash and a refugee camp just outside of Baku.
Friday 5th June (Azerbaijan)
We will have sight of the Caspian Sea and roll into the capital Baku, a football match between “us lot” and the team of “Baku International Oil and Construction Workers FC” that evening. This is our hotel in Baku.
Saturday 6th June (Azerbaijan)
The day of the match. We will visit two orphanages outside Baku, the Saray orphanage (see 2 posts back) and Gizildash orphanage.
We will then travel back onto Baku, pick up match tickets from the FAWs very own Lucy in a hotel bar. Then onto a fans match between Azerbaijan fans v Wales fans, arranged on a pitch in the inner city of Baku for later in the afternoon, before we all make our way to the stadium for the 2010 World Cup Qualifier: Azerbaijan v Wales (I *think* the local kick off time is 8pm, which will be 4pm UK time?).
Sunday 7th (Azerbaijan)
Visiting a refugee camp outside of Baku, some sightseeing, and staying up right through the night, head to the airport around midnight for our flight.
Monday 8th (Azerbaijan / Latvia / England / Wales)
Early hour flight from Baku, arrive in Riga. Then a 12 hour stop and a wander into Riga, Chance to dip our toes in the Baltic Sea on Rigas beach. Connecting flight from Riga to Liverpool 8pm Riga, arrive 9pm UK time in Liverpool John Lennon, and a drive back into Wales… collapse.
Tuesday 9th (Wales)
Final word from the Furries;