11th October 2014 by helen
Saturday 11 October
Our final route through Europe was sadly quicker than we hoped due to the last minute shipping delays that saw Landy held up in Port Said. From Istanbul we travelled firstly through Bulgaria (where I got to practice reading Cyrillic again) and Croatia where we stayed a couple of nights in Zagreb while Paul did some of that stuff called ‘work’ and I went shopping in Lidl’s (and made sure I bought a Lidl plastic reusable bag because it was written in Croatian). The next day we managed to drive in four separate countries: Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Germany, noticing how the buildings became more Austrian in style and the scenery more mountainous as we approached Austria. From there we went to Brussels to meet up with our friend Marianne who first put up with us, I mean put us up, when she was working in Nicaragua. We’ve been joking that she’d be back out in another country before we managed to get to her but we made it. We’d arrived low on diesel but were quite unable to spot a fuel station as we tried to get out of the city until we went putter putter putter and Landy’s engine turned itself off. Fortunately a woman in a local corner store was hugely generous and took Paul off to the nearest fuel station a couple of kilometres away while I sat guard in Landy illegally parked on a traffic light.
As we get closer to England we have found our route converging with our journey in the opposite direction, passing the campsites where we spent our first two nights on the road. So much has happened since then!
Our last night was spent in Calais, which caters well for the many travellers using the ferries. Next morning we did not see the hordes of asylum seekers apparently running amok in Calais as we boarded the ferry to Dover.
Back in good old Blighty we hot wheeled it off the ferry, through Dover and on to Ramsgate where we met up with family who welcomed us home, right on the very spot where we posed for photos before we left in June 2010. Back on the ground where we began, our starting spot, we had finally completed our goal of a True Circumnavigation Overland!
1st October 2014 by helen
After three weeks in England following Landy’s progress on the shipping tracking websites we flew back out to Istanbul to be reunited. A last minute delay in his leaving Port Said meant we had a few days longer in Istanbul than expected. On Sunday the shipping agents took us on a tour of the cafés and showed us some of the places of interest but otherwise we enjoyed a relaxing week wandering around the local streets around our apartment. Right on the edge of the old town, the former city of Constantinople, we spotted the small groups of men sitting outside the cafés drinking the traditional tea and coffee and playing cards or backgammon. We discovered our favourite café, the Negrile Café – or Waterpipe Café, where we sampled the traditional achingly sweet apple tea for ourselves and enjoying our first Turkish kebab in Turkey. Narrow streets, traditional buildings, Turkish carpets, calls to prayer, all made up the sights, sounds and smells of this part of town.
After Paul spent all day at the port on Tuesday we were reunited with Landy and it was time to get ready to leave this wonderful city.
29th August 2014 by helen
Port Sudan is hot hot hot, but then we are here at the hottest time of year. Just as in Khartoum and elsewhere everyone is polite and friendly and it’s an absolute joy to be in this country. Our first couple of days were spent making contact and final arrangements with the shippers. On Tuesday Paul was very grateful for some paid help in the final washing and cleaning of Landy before shipping, but there was still a lot of work for him to do in the 50C shadeless heat to ensure everything was packed safely and securely while I kept him supplied with endless bottles of water. On Wednesday Landy went into his container. We were a bit nervous about the photos of his lashings and we had the container opened and re-lashed. Still not confident – it seems the lashing was done the ‘African way’!
Sadly it was too hot to really explore much of Port Sudan on foot but on Thursday we took our first ever Tuk Tuk ride to the famous fish market down by the Red Sea. The market it quite small and it was late in the day but there were still plenty of fish available. Nobody seemed to mind that we were tourists wanting photos more than to buy fish but we did stop at the only nearby restaurant for our fish supper before taking another Tuk Tuk back to the town centre.
Like everywhere in Sudan there is little in the way of ‘welfare’ and begging and giving to beggars is pretty normal.
Finally, it was time to leave again and on Friday we flew from Port Sudan back to the Acropole Hotel in Khartoum. Boarding the plane a man in his early 40’s stood at the bottom of the steps making sure all the women, children and elderly boarded first but Paul managed to find me once he was able to board. Paul was a little nervous as he looked out of the window and saw how close we were sitting to the propellers of the plane at Port Sudan but all was well and we arrived in Khartoum in one piece. Having landed though we experienced something on a plane we have never seen before. Nobody, absolutely nobody stood up when the plane came to a standstill, or before the seat belt lights went out. In fact nobody, except one young teenaged boy, bothered to stand up until the airline staff began to open the doors. No rush, no impatience. Amazing!