It looks like a dream will come true... At least the drunken visions we had in Nancy became true!
For Valentine's day in 2009 we went for the weekend to Nancy, France. A former colleague of Agi had told us Nancy is really nice and has a fantastic French restaurant, which should not be missed. So we headed of to Nancy, got a nice hotel room downtown and enjoyed the city. In the evening to went to the square where this excellent restaurant should be, but after three circles around the church and checking every restaurant we saw (read: a lot. The French know how to eat well....), we still didn't find THE
restaurant. So option two was the local beer bar: more than 200 kinds of beer and a could vibe. There in that bar we started talking and planning about what we wanted to do. We were already looking to buy a house, had saved some money for that and suddenly the thought came up: backpacking. We don't have a mortgage, we don't have kids and still: one year is not that long.... You start working when you're 25 and stop when you're 65. So 40 working years. 1 year out of 40... That's ok, so lets beat the global crisis by traveling!!!! More drinks followed, other discussions came up and we finished our evening with the best Lamachun ever.
Approx 2 or 3 weeks later, back in Luxembourg, I or Agi asked the other: "Did you also think about the backpacking idea?"
and apparently we both had. But no decision. These kind of questions lasted for a couple of months and only in ~June 2009 we decided we would go for it. Once the decision was made, it was pretty easy. The only hard part was telling our parents... But all other stuff was pretty easy. We sold a car, quited our jobs, terminated our rental apartment, sold a big chunk of our furniture and packed our remaining belongings in boxes and had them stored at basements and attics of friends of ours.
The trip could begin!!!
We left Luxembourg on September 16, 2009 and went back to our parents on December 2010. I went to Holland, while Agi went to Hungary (No, we didn't break up, but it's just that our parents are living there). In total 15 months and 30 territories and they were great. No strange accidents, no big thefts nor any other crises. We had a good trip and we might do it again....
December 15th 2010
All good things come to an end... So our trip also came to its end. But somehow we did manage to do it with style. We arrived in Africa by boat, so flying out didn't sound that good. And what is the easiest option to leave Africa? By boat: taking a ferry from Tangier, Morocco to Tarifa, Spain. Ok, it's a ferry, but it goes that often, it's more like a bus. A nice fancy ferry with huge letters on the side: 35 minutes. The crossing itself indeed might be 35 minutes, but including the departing & arrival procedures it's an easy 2 hours trip. So time enough to indulge ourselves (read: myself) in a huge bag of M&M's up to the point of becoming nauseous.... Back on the Continent after 456 days So back in ... read more
December 7th 2010
Spices, Spices, Spices!!! From Dakhla we took a late night flight to Casablanca. As we only got there around midnight and were planning to move further right away early next morning, we decided to spend the night at the airport. We found a quiet spot hidden from the herds of travellers, layed down our multi-purpose Air Pacific blankets and happily fell asleep. Next morning we got on a train early to Rabat (trains, trains, we love them so much and the last time we used a train was in Myanmar. That is 9 months ago). But we realised that the weather in Morocco is not what we expected. At least at this part of the year. Pouring rain all day, heavy winds and cold. We got a nice room in a cosy family hotel next ... read more
November 28th 2010
Ok, Western Sahara, what did we know about this? Not much, besides that it's a disputed territory. Morocco claims it, while the local claim independence. It was quite 'peaceful' for quite some time, but just when we started to plan our crossing through Western Sahara, Moroccan security forces shot dead some local protestors... The cause of the shooting is still 'not' determined. Some say it was self defence, some say it was unnessary violence.... The border was closed for some time bt was open again when we wanted to cross, so from Nouadhibou went tracked on North... Danger, mines!!! So after our fish-feast night in Nouadhibou we took a bush taxi with 2 American and a French fellow travellers through the border up until Dakhla in the middle of Western Sahara. As it was Mauritanian independence ... read more
November 27th 2010
Cute, very cute we were, but even more naive....The bus ride from Bamako to Nouakchott was indeed a bit more than the promised 30 hours, which I also mentioned in the previous blog entry. I would have settled for 40, but in the end it became 50 hours. Ok truth be told: we arrived just a bit too late at the border, so we were forced to sleep there. But the Mauritanian customs were nice and suggested to sleep next to the cabin of the border police: more safe. Ok safe it was, but still cold.... But the ride in itself was uneventful, too many 'security' checks, but that's ok. The bus attendants wanted to collect bribe money to pay the police at the checkpoint, but we did not fall for it. They explained that we ... read more
November 18th 2010
The other main reason why a lot of people go to Mali is Timbuktu. Everybody has heard about Timbuktu, but not really knowing where it actually was. The only thing you knew was that it was somewhere there in the middle of nowhere. For me personally, why did I really want to go to Timbuktu? The two basic reasons. The name in itself has a funny ring to it. It's a fabled city tugged away in the sand dunes and my final reason, most important reason: Donald Duck. No joke, I'm talking about Walt Disney's Donald Duck. Ever since I was a small kid I read the weekly DD comic and every time he ran into troubles and had to fled Ducktown, he would go to.... Timbuktu! But ok, but first we had to get there. ... read more
November 2nd 2010
Why did I always want to go to Mali? Two reasons, and Dogon is one of them. Just imagine a big field with nothing much interesting to see. In itself it's pretty dull and boring, but then for some reason there is a huge cliff-like rock wall there. A bit like the Grand Canyon, but then with only one canyon wall. The wall can be up to 500 meters high. At the base of the wall the Dogon have numerous small villages where they live. This sight is already spectacular, but the Tellem houses are the finishing touch. But I'm rushing ahead. So in Sévaré we arranged a guide and headed off for a 4-day trip hiking along this wall. The guide was a small guy, who actually lived in one of the villages that we ... read more
October 29th 2010
Some people say: Save the best for last Some people say: The last part is the hardest part Relating the first phrase I think indeed came close here in Mali. Agi thinks the second phrase is also true... Going to Mali was for me always something like a dream. In 2002 I came close, but lacked the time and money. Now I could spare both. So when the option arose, I took it with 2 hands. Agi came along, happy to complete our trip. The African continent could not be missed. Senegal was just a stop-over. Mali is the core destination. We've spent the most of our 'african' time here, knowing that the clock is ticking and the people at home are getting more and more eager to see us again. So there we went and ... read more
October 19th 2010
A Happy Puppy in Dakar Once disembarked the ship, we were looked after by the representative of Grimaldi in Dakar. He drove us to the immigration, which basically was the port's police office. Got the entry stamps and they said we can stay in the country as long as we want. We looked surprised, but as they were also surprised at our question I guess they don't know much about these rules. No problem for us... At least as long as we don't run into problems when we leave the country. We found a cheap hotel (read: a local brothel), recommended by LP and it was actually acceptable. Our room was far from the 'active' section, so no disturbing noises... Amazing how tolerant one becomes after travelling for so long... We spent the weekend in Dakar ... read more
October 15th 2010
We made it Ok what is the best way to cross an ocean when you have plenty of time and you don't feel like watching 2 in-flight movies and to 'enjoy' a luke warm breakfast just before stepping onto an African tarmac?? Then you take the luxury of taking a cargo boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Instead of an overnight flight it takes just 15 days.... Ok, our boat took 15 days, but that was because the only option to embark our boat was in Buenos Aires, eventhough we would pass 3 Brazilian ports before crossing the Ocean to Dakar, Senegal. The Repubblica del Brasil A bit about our boat, the Repubblica del Brasil. Saling under Italian flag with a mixed Italian - Philippini crew (28 heads in total) and the cook was definitely ... read more
September 30th 2010
Repubblica del Brasile - Grimaldi lines Going from Buenos Aires to Dakar. Our home for the upcoming 2 weeks..... ... read more