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Travel Diary - 2003
5 January | Senegal
22 January |Gambia
18 January |Guinea
9 February | Mali
22 February | Burkina Faso
3 March | Ghana
19 March | Togo
20 March | Benin
25 March | Niger
12 April | Chad
15 April | Cameroon
16 April | Nigeria
30 April | Congo
24 May | RDC
31 May | Angola
5 June | Namibia
27 June | South Africa
30 August | Lesotho
10 September | Swaziland
9 October | Botswana
17 October | Namibia
19 October |
Zambia
29 October | Malawi
4 November |Mozambique
16 November | Tanzania
12 December | Rwanda
16 December | RDC
18 December | Uganda
24 December | Kenya

Travel Diary - 2004
9 January | Ethiopia
6 February | Sudan
21 February | Saudi Arabia
23 February | Jordan
3 March | Syria
5 March | Turkey
12 March | Greece
21 March | ...And Home

 

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17 months, 43 countries, and 2 vehicles

And Home....

Italy

I'd have got hopelessly lost as I'm now driving without maps, but fortunately a German couple on their way back from India gave me a spare ADAC map just in time to save me a long detour. I'd hoped to visit Italy, but with a map in hand it was clearly out of my way by a few hundred kilometres, so I decided to drive straight to the border - I guess I was also worried about all the stories I'd heard about thieves (and these sound scarier when you are hearing them from hardened travellers in places like Khartoum)

By the evening I'd got to the border with Switzerland - my plan was to visit Steven in Zurich as well as Chantal and Michael in Basel - but first it was time for an often-postponed visit to Lugano.

Switzerland

First I had to find somewhere to stay - campsites were everywhere, but all seemed to be deserted. Eventually a local directed me through the drizzle to a beautifully located car park on the lake shore where I camped next to a no camping sign. I fully expected to be woken in the night told to move - I even mentally composed my essay on the ethics of hospitality - "Switzerland and the traditions of Islam: Compare (20 marks)".

maybe it was because this was Italian Switzerland, but whatever the reason, to my horror I was left to defile the car park for a whole peaceful night, and arrived in Basel that morning. How small Switzerland seemed to have become since I lived there - I suppose that's just the effect of driving so far across such a vast continent.

After meeting up with Chantal and seeing the old sites I nipped down to rainy Zurich for a day to catch up with Steven, who I'd last seen in Gonder. His broken pelvis was still causing him to limp, but it was good to see him walking again - and a relief not to have to carry him to the toilet... He was about to return to Nairobi to recuperate before picking up his bike and continuing his journey.

And so I end this entry in Chantal's apartment in Basel, drinking good fresh coffee, and eating boring Swiss food. Some things never chance - even the street entertainers are the same...

 
After a relaxing week I drove across France, stopping near Montpellier where i was blessed with a night's camping in torrential rain and hurricane strength winds which tested my tent to the full, and also managed to soak half of my mattress. After Switzerland where 30 buys you your road tolls for a year, it was a shock to find the same amount just about gets you to the Spanish border when you are in France.

I was heading for Barcelona - a city which I've stopped at several time, but never once had a chance to explore, but first I took a detour through the Pyrenees to Andorra for a bit of cheap fuel, whisky, and a look around - it mostly seems to be about duty free shopping...

Barcelona, on the other hand, was a fantastic city - despite the zillions of tourists (like me, I suppose) clogging up the place. I've always enjoyed Guadi, and it was a great experience to be able to wander around his cathedral, visit his house, and get lost in his park.

I also checked out the museum which is mostly underground - you can explore the Roman and medieval ruins which was just as well as the above-ground section was closed. And at grave risk of this becoming something like a very long web-based a post card, I popped in to the Picasso museum - some good stuff there even for somebody who isn't a great Picasso fan.

Best of all is a great night life, especially around Las Ramblas in the centre of town - and I managed to find a surprisingly good and cheap restaurant just around the corner - we were the only tourists in there which was a definite score.

I took a pretty expensive room in an amazing youth hostel in town, but with six to a dorm my tent (which I'd left open to dry) was just too tempting, so I snuck out and had a restful night there instead.

I was now two easy days away from Gibraltar, and the urge to get on with it was getting stronger and stronger, so on my third day I packed up and hit the road - I drove through Valencia and Alicante before finding a small town with a great little camp site run by a German family - there were a few travellers there taking refuge from the winter - and the temptation to loiter was only reluctantly overcome. So I set out - my lat real day of travelling - On to Granada, roads I'm familiar with again. Malaga, and the motorway West, and to my delight the road now runs straight through without the slow stretch through Estapona. Then as I crest a hill I see my destination - the distinctive outline of Gibraltar lies floating above a light sea mist, the familiar Levanter cloud streaming from her peak.

The Camel is home.