Stcy'c White tells a y'alcdictory talc ol' bucket-bus travelling.

l lc was swarthy. llc lookcd tncan.

l lis grcasy hair sat on his hcad likc a lilack ltuttct‘cd cat. llc sw cach sump oil. '1 hc long pointy lapcls on his gt'cctt and purplc chcckcd mohair tackct curch U\ ct' til lliL‘ lips. llc \uu'g plastic slip-(m sllnc‘s (llltl lit) socks. l lc had t'itllcd his socks in a Rt/la. and was quictly smoking thcm as hc sat hchind his small gun-mctal dcsk in his anony inous. staincd tilllcc.

llc was thc imagc ot a . . . a . . . slca/y hack-strch traycl agcnt in lstanhul.

So w hat‘s thc story hcrc'.’

You gucsscd.

‘.\lunicli'.’ You want a chcap hns tickct to Munich'.’ Surc I got 'cm. loads. llic chcapcst. You'rc in thc right placc. British. \thn d'you wanna go'.” l lc oo/cd soothing no-nonscnsc charm.

‘\\’hcn'.’ ch. but hold on. l low much is a Ilclscl'.’ \thn do thc lttiscs run.’ l low long docs it takc'."

l w cnty thousand 'l'urkish lira. plus "Still lira tor thc Bulgarian yisa. 'l'hc \ isa takcs a day. 'l‘hcrc‘s a daily hus. 'l'oday ‘s Monday. You could Icay c on \Vcdncsday. 5pm. 'l‘rip takcs 4llhours. (iot thc cash on you. hay c you. British."

‘l‘r. . . tun . .ah.‘

“I w cnty thousand lira was Hiltll) loss than thc nc\t chcapcst quotc. liycn allow ing lor thc l.ard's minimalist sct-up asscts: uninarkcd room. dcsk. tclcphonc. two-man worsch scttcc. lrarncd print ot' Ataturk -— this w as coinpctitiy c pricing. And I ligurcd thc lard was too much ola cat‘icaturc to ltc lakc. Nobody could look that duhious and actually hc a shystcr. 'l'hat would hc too good to hc truc.

‘lir. . . ()K thcn . . . \Vcdncsday.

‘( iood dccisioti. (iiyc Us Iltc cash. You hayc got thc cash. haycn't you. British'."

l slid thc moncy across his dcsk. llc countcd it carclully and shoy‘cllcd it into a draw cr.

'l‘hc only thing I got in rcturn was a dcmand lor my passport.

‘( iot your passport. hayc you. British'.’ Bulgarian \‘iszt. I nccd your passport.'

(iiying tny passport to thc Lard to play with didn't sccm likc a scnsihlc proposition. but I was swcpt along by his unctuous charm. I handcd it our and lccling dcicctcd and quitc nakcd. tnoy'cd out into thc city.

But in thc l.ard's ol'l‘icc thc ncxt day. l was ioylully rcunitcd with my passport. liy'crything lookcd hunky dory. 'l'hc l.ard cxudcd his usual Brylcrccmcd honhomic. As 1 Mt his dc rclict ot‘l'icc. hc was gouging wax out ol' his cars with a tooth pick.

'l‘hc bus was a scry‘iccablc looking machinc with thc outlinc ot‘ a hallctic okapi stcncillcd on thc sidc ahcad of thc words "l‘rans Balkan ’l'ours‘. l was allocatcd a scat at thc rcar along with an uninspiring collcction of holiday-makcrs of thc ‘l.ct‘s (io [iuropc' \‘aricty. By sonic

"w 9,; ,5 3—5- 13$me r‘

F‘é'ut‘ ii" [ii-Ix. . .4"°"”.‘$£-‘r,a.r- a): a“ fir-v" - .

f 2-} .‘ «r ' " ., e ;- .,‘ \lt' I s U. u. I

coincidcncc all thc scats at thc l'ront hallol thc has had hccn rcscrycd tor lamin and lricnds ol thc dt‘iy‘ct'. i

'l'hc chattcr at thc back was grimly rcy'caling. ‘I pay ()tltititl lira to go to Bclgradc‘ said an unassuming Iranian. ‘What l'y‘c only paid Sillllltl toch to Sal/hurg‘ ol'lcrcd a Sw cdc wcaring hilious Bcrmuda shorts. l kcpt out ol‘it. .‘slunich appcarcd hcl'orc mc likc a miragc: iust a chcap. non-cxistcnt y'ision.

'l'hc Iranian was cicctcd at thc Bulgarian hordcr. l lc couldn't satisly thc (ioy'crnmcnt's rcquircmcnt that all Visitors to thc Socialist chuhlic posscss at lcast S5tlllcash. [t was a trumpcd-up chargc hccausc no onc clsc was cy'cn suliicctcd to this fiscal tcst.

'l‘hc passcngcrs hcading lot“ Bclgradc wcrc unccrcmoniously dttmpcd on thc hard shouldcr of thc hit/ring motorway that skirts thc

Usetu' return. Contactastudent ' course, have anythingto

Inf t, travel specialist do with bucket buses. orma '0" (Campus Travel, t Eurotrain and

Although you may not Hillhead Street and 90 l Transalpino olter return

wish to take advantage J0hn Street. Glasgow fares at £197.20 tor

ot the delights oi : 041357 0608 and 041 under 263. Again contact "

unscrupulous bus ! 552 2857 0' Edinburgh I student travel

companies, you may still Travel Centre, Bristo specialists as above. 1

wishto gotolstanbul. Square. Edinburgh 031 APEX tare which is !

Student ilights departing 558 2152). These open to everyone costs '

Heathrow cost 2180 companies do not, at 2256 return.

city. 'l'hcy' wcrc last sccn tohogganing down a slip road on witcclcd Samsottitcs.

'l‘hc 5w cdc was hookcd to Sal/burg. llc was kickcd out at 3am at thc cold and rainy Austro-( icrman hordc r with sonic 3t) cxtra unplanncd milcs on his ’l'rans Balkan 'l'ours l-‘rcqucnt l’lycr l’rogrammc.

\Vc parkcd at thc hordc r lor thrcc hours. At (rain a handsomc 'lcutonic charahanc slid alongsidc. A handsomc 'l'cuton thcn ordcrcd us to translicr our luggagc and climb right ahoard. llay'ing donc this. hc whiskcd us through customs and immigration and thcn catnc to an abrupt halt. Sal'cly ohscurcd l'rom thc prying cycs ol' thc hordcr guards. . our tcmporary (icrman chaul'lcur surrcndcrcd thc whch to our dumpling-cycd Turkish driy‘cr ~ had hc rcally driy'cn non-stop all thc way from lstanhul'.’ who thcn

.s'wcpt autohahn to Munich.

manocuy'rcd us along bcautilully J 1

'l'hc List l3~ ZhJanuary5

Simon Gooch