Dear father its been a long time since my last confession...LOL
(Jelly has asked me to say its in no order at all, chronologically speaking)
My Dad and Uncle are both complaining that I've not blogged at all for a long time (March!). I have an excuse. Its because for a reason I do not understand at all? This is that Weebly block many countries in Africa, Weebly are my web host for both my Free Blog and my Business site (which I pay for!). They will not tell me which countries they block. This means that I cannot update the blog unless I VPN past the block and also people cannot read my blog from those countries. Weebly inexplicably do this for security!? So their platform is so unsecured that they don't allow Nigerians, for example, to use their system in any way? This is all I can conclude. Indeed I cannot log in from Nigeria to update my blog or many other African countries. So there you have the excuse. Its a good one I hope you agree.
The last time I blogged I posted some pics of the border crossings taken on the Dash-cam. Then "Houston we have a problem" as my Dash-cam stopped working so the plan to document all the borders was over. Indeed they do get easier and there is a lot less hassle in the ones after my last but it would have still been nice to do that for everyone. So another excuse.
After leaving friends in Senegal and meeting some new ones on the way we've made quite a few stops as its now 287 days since we left home. Many things have of course happened since that and we've had Hospital stays and some stuff....so here goes.
Senegal was uneventful but there is a lot of football happening there. You cannot drive anywhere without seeing a game in progress and people training. Jelly mentioned some statistic about the number of Senegal players around the world. Its a lot! No doubt a good way for some quite poor kids to make fame and fortune. Not being a football fanatic I cannot recall the statistics. We didn't lose the Senegal flag quite then but the children do like to steal them from the car. That was later in Ghana where the little sods took three of them. A major exercise involving payment of other children who then returned all but one flag. All of course in a sorry state as once peeled they are distorted and almost unusable. What they think when they do this is anyone's guess but what i can tell you is they are not cheap to replace even to me and i make them. We now have an expensive plan to relocate all the flags to higher ground.
Making visas on the road is not an easy task and the west side of Africa is expensive for visas for all Nationalities including the the English/British/UK Citizens. I'm not sure what we are. Its says British on my passport but that does that make someone from Northern Ireland? What does it say on their passport? You tell me. Anyhow, we think we've spent well over €1000 on visas so far. Exact figure will come when Jelly does the accounts.
If you ever see one of these chocolate bars. Don't buy one. Terrible, Distgusting and just inedible. Yes i did struggle through but save your money.
I don't think I've posted this elsewhere in Mauritania escorted by Stephen and TrailPunks we went to the Ben Amera Monolith. Its the second biggest, arn't they always. So some photos of that. A couple of nights there the way in and out has kilometers of very deep sand. It was a nightmare for me. Its about 40c and second gear low range driving with high engine temps and constant beeping from my engine management system. I got stuck twice. I wasn't the only vehicle to get stuck. Even the Toyota's do....
The Gambia was like little Britain and everything was available. Products from home and food from home. It was amazing. If you want a week on holiday in Africa and you are British this is a nice place to go. There's not too much to do but its a beach and bar place. Its OK if you are of a certain age and want to go somewhere. Its not particularly for the young if you know what i'm saying. There's a lot of single white women with young black men. You even get Bacon.
I've also eaten some very strange food. Very strange indeed with some strange flavours i'm not sure if it was flavouring or bacteria and virus. I then got Typhoid.
When you get Dengue and Typhoid you end up in Hospital....Not a great Hospital as the Doctor never heard of Dengue and everything in Africa is Malaria. Even if you have Kidney Stones....its Malaria. Lots of deaths because they just say its Malaria. My medical report said I had Sepsis!?
Some of the illness took place in at a beach resort as I needed a room, so to speak. Three weeks of boredom.
I wonder what that pill was....(spot the pill)
Some of the food we buy leaves a little to be desired....cockroach rice anyone?
We took the Tropic of cancer in our stride an did a little something for prostrate cancer in the form of a wee.
The crossing from Nigeria to Cameroon was, shall we say, eventful. It involved a few hours waiting to cross a river and a few hours waiting for the mud to slightly dry. It was, in my opinion, impossible to drive. The 6x6 pingauzers thought the same and all stopped where they were. Luckily the intrepid first one took us under his wing so to speak and helped us through the really bad section. They re-made part of the road and scraped off about 100 meters of wet mud from the tops of the track. This enabled just enough traction to get up the hill. Unfortunately in all the stress and panic we did not start the Go-pro. Damn!
When the mud ends the dust starts....
There are also to massive potholes
Once of the wild campsite in Angola comes complete with its own ship graveyard. Some you can get on as they are on the beach (mostly).
Maintenance and oil changes and all sorts of repairs are needed on the road. Top tip is glue. Lots of different glues. Tapes. Screws bolts and rivets. All make for a simple same day repair. No hunting local shops for stuff. We even need the odd car wash. It always nice to have a sand free, wind free, sun free parking area to do maintenance. Preferably flat and concrete.
This has so far taken 6 hours to post so here are some random photos that were in my list to talk about.
I'm way behind on these so apologies. They take a while to do and I can only do it when we have a good connection. I also missed the photos on the Cassamance to Bissau so theres nothing to post. My DashCam through a wobbly, as we say in the UK.
Easy border with some bad roads involved. First rule is to ignore iOverlander its WRONG ! We manged to sign and stamp out of Guinea Bissau twice because of this. The first points in Piche are not there (its not in Gabu either). There is nowhere to stamp out in Piche. We tried ! The a little farther along that road is another point where you can do it all. I presume Piche is the place if you want to do it via the river crossing??? Anyhow continue all the way to Buruntuma and do it all there. This is only Bissau Exit as the Conakry entry is past that on some super rubbish piste. Axle twisting bad piste.
Its a super easy crossing with the only problem was them not knowing what to do with the carnet and not understaning you didn't have a passevant/laissez passers. I think if you do have one of those they the cofusion would be less. Either way it was easy. No charges.
After youv'e done both and hopefully got only one exit stamp where we got two they lower the rope and you are across to the Guinea - Conakry side. The last bit of piste before the border is terrible and then the part after for some kilometers is also the same. Be prepared for this. Its not that long but takes time. If articulated trucks can do it so can you. The distance is not large but from Bissau to Koundara took us 10 hours including a small stop for lunch.
Arriving at Conakry these a rope across the "track" and the guys in the hut will ask you to drive past once you've stopped at it. Normal process. They do'nt need to see anything. Park infront of Customs or as directed and give him your Carnet. At this pioint I was told to go over, quite a way to the immigration place on the left. Its a walk or about 100 meters. The photos below show it was we drove past. Once we got stamped into Conakry I went back to the truck and was handed my Carnet by the waiting guy. He came out to give it me. All easy and no charges.
This is a super easy border. Just don't arrive on the Senegal side at lunchtime. You know the lunches that are 3 hours long from 12 to 3pm. How a country runs with everyone doing this is beyond me. They start at 8am and finish at 5 but have 3 hours off in the middle. Anyhow, yet again we arrived in the middle. The Douanes on the Senegal side is closed for lunch. Other than that I presume they are NOT 24 hours here.
Gambia side is all in one building to the right of the road going south. There's 2 steps to perform and the first in in the little window to the right. This is simple process and Jelly stayed in the car. The second part is the office to the left and that's the carnet stamp. Julie never left the car as is normal. There was no hassle really apart from a guy wanting a lift to Senegal. No money spent.
You then drive through no mans and on perfect tar and to the Senegal side. This is two buildings quite far apart (drive it) and one hut. The first part is the Carnet Office on the left and thats shut for lunch for 3 hours. The second part is the little Hut where you show your passport also on the left. The Carnet and Hut were easy. The guy in the Hut wants to see your passport, that's all. No money spent.
Drive on to the passport control hut about 1km farther on. This has two windows and also had a large queue for the outbound window on the left so I presume also shut for lunch and clearing the backlog. You need the smaller window on the right. There was a helper here which I presume was official although not in uniform. He told us where to park and dragged me from the wrong queue and put me at the smaller window on the right. The guy in here was a big officious but all good. Wanted to see both people and needed occupation for his book. No money spent.
Gradually getting round to posting these crossings as i get the time. IT takes ages! Anyhow i know this is not the official name of the place as the border is miles before the actual ferry and Barra but it describes its location quite well. I've also posted below the way to get on the ferry. The bridge at the moment has no on an off ramps so large trucks are limited on the bridge. This limit will be removed soon enough. The trucks all use the ferry. Its sometimes busy so avoid mornings and evenings if you can. We had no problems and they are now running two ferries again. The last one sank....
This is an easy border. There were loads of kids as always and a few touts and no fixers. We changed money here with one guy. The rate was OK. We secured his services early on and he stayed with the car. I did everything on my own and then Jelly went to do her passport. She always stays with the car. It means queuing up times are doubled for passport control but it was no problem.
When you arrive it looks like the pic above. Go left and park up. Someone who may of may not be a police guy will tell you where to park. We parked at the far end near the Douane booth. Pic below.
Take your carnet here (above). Now i'm not so sure you must do this as the car is cancelled later on and you might be able, as I've heard to cross Gambia without burning a carnet page but that's your decision.
'Next go a queue for the passport exit. The queue is to the right. The other queue on the left is the entry queue. There were a few people working and the queue "snake" was three "wiggles" deep and it only took 10 mins.
Next you go to the back office. There's and entry way in between the two queues. See the kid in blue in the photo. Right where his face is. Go down that and get to the windows and go left in front of all the windows. Then at the back left a corridor to a small office on the right. This is where you get the car stamped out (i think the passevant is cancelled) in your passport. He also took my finger prints here as they didn't do it at the front windows. They did however do Jellys fingers and photo at the front. So maybe this is a way of making sure you do it?
That's it you are done.
This one is a little confusing but its all good. We paid nothing as we are visa free. First go to point 1 which is the main desk/counter on the left in the main office. I handed him my carnet and he kept it. They were busy. He stamped the carnet with a police stamp on the page eventually. This is not the main customs stamp you need. That's later. Then they sent me to the back right office where he looked at the passports (point 2). I was on my own again. Jelly stayed with the car. Then to the office at the back left (point 3). Right at the back. Down the corridor and last door on left. This is where they took the passports and filled in the big book. Again I was on my own. Jelly is normally never seen. All good. I suspect if you need to pay for a visa this is the place. Below is a list of the visa free countries. ALL others pay.
Next go to the Douane office (point 4) and get the carnet stamped. He almost knows what hes' doing. No drama here.
No fees for us and no inspections and no hassle. One carnet guy asked for something an I told him he was 50th in the queue for a gift as we'd been asked loads of times before. A bit of a joke and we were on out way.
So now you are in Gambia and passing a few check points. Don't miss the ticket off which is actually a weigh bridge. You MUST get your ticket for a foreign vehicle here. Cost was 8000CFA and 500CFA for the person extra. Driver is free. You pay inn CFA !!!! not Dalasi.
Drive into the weigh bridge park up and go to back of the hut shown. All very pleasant. We are a Land Rover so no need to weigh. Not sure if they would ever ask to weigh you.
Drive on to the port gates. Go straight to the metal gates and wave your ticket. Get let in and queue on the ramp. The red white metal gates across the road are manhandled by a yellow vested womble.
Taken me some days to get enough connection to post this.
We arrived at the border from Nouakchott but it would make little difference if you arrived from Boghe via Rosso along the river road/track. It must be said though that the road from Nouakchott to Diama is shockingly bad but being re-paved. There's about 100km of terrible car destroying potholes and corrugations on the diversions. The reason i mention this is the mandatory National Park fee of 200 per person which even though you don't want to see it, you pay it. Its basically a toll road. There a guy in uniform at the last police checkpoint before Diama collecting your money.
After him its few km of track to the border. There are some buildings on the left and almost zero touts or people hanging around. Its quite pleasant. There was one change guy "Goulam" from Senegal doing the money and the rate was OK but we changed only a small amount so the charge was quite a lot percentage wise. He spoke good English and I gave him a card which i signed on the back. So you will know its him if you decide to change to some CFA.
First office is the passport office and the door on the right. Its in the picture. No change was made or asked for to stamp the passport. This is normal. There should be no charge.
The next office is the Douane and there is a charge for the stamp of 10€ and for this a receipt is offered. The office is clearly marked and the middle front door leads you to a lobby and you go to the office at the back left.
While we were talking to the money changer a police guy came over and took our passports to the next office. We never actually went in to that office. It was a "delivery service" but we might have been lucky. The office was next right to the Douane had a single door and an desk inside to the left with another office to the right. This is where they took the passports to stamp us out. There was a few waiting which is why they might have taken the passports to stop us having to queue. I presume this is the office where the corrupt €10 charge is attempted but for us, nothing.
Then there's the guy that lifts the second bar over the road. That's the community charge of 50MAU
That's it your done. It was easy to exit Mauritania.
Now for the dreaded entry in Senegal. Easy as...
First stop is the gate on the famous bridge. There's a guy in uniform from the water/dam company. He wants 4000CFA. If you've chnaged money with the guy i mentioned then you have collected enough small bills for this part of the journey. Get some low notes to pay these charges. Change was give by the gate guy so a 5000 will do.
So you're over the bridge and into the fun stuff. Well that's what you've been told. Its easy although there was a lot of discussions by various police staff but i don't not know why. We had our passports done, vehicle documents and driving licence typed into the PC. Photos and prints taken. All pretty normal. Again no charges. What i can say is a local was charged something like 10€ for his local car carrying some foreign business people. We were not changed for the passport stamp and it was not asked for. He wanted to see original documents. Not copies.
So then its to Douane for the passevant. 72 hours given. We arrived on a Wednesday at 2pm and were only given until Friday. The charge is 2500CFA. He asked to look at the carnet and asked if the vehicle was a 1998. It was and so we needed the carnet or there is according to form a 250€ charge for the passevant. The passevant gets you to Dakar where you get the carnet stamped at port.
Have a beer....
Go to the port customs office in Dakar to get your carnet stamped. The details are on iOverlander. The parking is street side and we found some on the red and white curbs (illegal) with a load of other cars and trucks. Jelly watched the car. The place was closed (Friday in our case) for lunch 1200 to 1500. I just waltzed straight in. Bypassing the desk on the left and headed straight up the stairs on the right. Look like you know where you are going. Go to Second floor. If anyone offers to help just say no thanks. If anyone asks to see your docs that's not sat in an office just say no thanks. Go to the floor with the coke machine. Its in front of you at the top of the stairs. Turn immediately left. See the chairs and the office behind them. The guy in there singularly does the carnet. You do not need to see anyone else. The office is signed as Temporary Imports. That's it. 5 mins and you are out. Knock on the door if its closed and open it !
BTW....the people sat are not in a line/queue waiting for this office.....
There is no charge for this. The Carnet was complete and he kept my passevant.
To do this process you NEED a copy of Passport and Driving licence and vehicle registration document. We got these easily in a copy shop between St Louis and Dakar. 50CFA each. You will see loads of signs for copy places.
Hope this helps you. Thanks to StephenD for the tips on the second floor and iOverlander and also the many other people before us who crossed the border like ChrisR. I cannot possibly thank you all but its a rule that i need to try to thank everyone. Thanks Everyone!
Excuses first...Mauritania has shocking Internet speeds and thanks to an "idiot" in a campsite I lost all my data allowance and all my credit. So many thanks to the owner in Bab Sahara for not listening to a word I was saying a blindly pressing keys on my phone and so he allowed all my data to expire. This was further compounded by the fact I then ended up with 300MRU worth of voice i could not use and nobody sells the 100MRU top ups to recharge my data. Then once i did do this my SIM card (both UK and Mauritania) succumbed to the heat. This meant i had to start all over again.....anyhoo.
We've not been treating poor Henrietta very well. She's battered, bruised, damaged, dented, scratched and just hot. Shes had a new steering damper fitted as my last one was (we hope) causing death wobble. We've travelled some "roads" which the local said were impossible. Been stuck in sand a couple of times and also watch others get stuck in sand. We've taken Henrietta to places no other Ambulance has been, EVER !
Here's a video of one little bit of the BFGoodrich KM3 roack crawling. Now this looks a little tame but i can assure you it was not and in a 3800kg Ambulance. Its hard work.
We drove part of the train line to Ben Amera from East to West from Choum to the rock. The track from the train station in town is OK for the most part but with some serious stretches of sand dunes the nearer you get to the rock. The rock is the 3rd largest monolith in the world. Its pretty impressive. Also an excellent place to camp.
So let jump back a bit. After entry into Mauritania we went to the normal towns and to the capital in the south. It was VERY windy all the way down and the fuel here is crap so my MPG was terrible. Allow for this! Seriously my MPG went down 10 and this was with all the trucks so its not just my huge box on the back. We then went all the way back to the north east to Chinguetti and on the shitty corrugated road to that pointless waste of time. The landscapes around the area are stunning though but we got a little more adventurous and did Passe de Amojar. A camel fell off the track two days before. It not easy. 70km of very hard piste. When our travelling companions get home there should be more photos and videos of us.
After the Passe we met some Germans in the campsite where i lost all my data and we decided to go to the Monolith. You seen those photos. After the Monolith we went to see some isolated prehistoric crocodiles. No idea why. It was VERY hard work and again super deep sand. Henrietta was by this time getting used to it. We still got stuck. It was a few hours walk and we were exhausted and dehydrated as we were told it was 10 minutes and so went unprepared for the heat and over 2 hours.
Did i mention we went past the Tropic of Cancer. I took a piss on the sign in memory of all the people and family who've suffered through prostrate cancer.
Now we get a bit random and i'm posting photos from the last month or more....from two countries....
The exit from Morocco is pretty easy as borders go. No hassle at all from anyone. The Mauritania border is pretty typical with touts, fixers, money men and sim cards. Its wasn't at all difficult. Some pictures below of the places you need to go for the process. You can get a fixer to help for 5€ or there abouts so if its your first real border this makes it easier. Its really not needed though. They will latch on to you as soon as you arrive but just say you do not need help, thanks.
First Queue straight infront in this shot. Park at the side of the line of trucks and walk over. They might give you foreign priority and push you to the front. This is Passport only if I recall although I think they needed to see the Moroccan TIP but this has been scrapped now for who knows. The Last Queue shown in this shot is a walk back from the exit gate. Its on the left when walking back and its a small office window with one guy. Its the first one on the left in the "island" in the complex.
This is the bypass to the XRAY. The guys will want to see all sorts of stuff both outside and inside the XRAY. Its normally what they call the "Carte Gris" but this could be both your nations vehicle registration or the Morrocan TIP paperwork which is now scrapped so who knows what you will show in future.
Park in the XRAY and get out. When finished move car out of XRAY and park up. Wait for your stamped Morrocan Paper. Drive over to the far side of the Truck and the guy might want to take a look inside. Not an inspection just nosey. If they see anything on the XRAY they will want to look at it. They missed various drones in multiple cars and wanted to see some bottled water.....must have looked like something else.
Park at the front of the last office on the right here and get a stamp on something. Take it to the guy standing in the middle and he sends you to the last office on the left as seen in this and the first photo. Your out. There are many people just outside the gate. Ignore them all and go to Mauri border post. If you want to change money do so but its less hassle on the other side. Both MAD and Euro is exchanged. You will need 1275MRU for the vehicle insurance. We didn't get this at the border as the office closed and got it in Mauritania.
Snake through the horrendous no mans land of wrecked cars. Arrive at the gate and park on the left after the white building. Walk back to the office marked 1 above then go to office 2. The ladies queue separately from the men in office 2. This is where you pay for the Visa and take the photos and fingerprints. We also exchanged our money here and decided not to get a sim card just yet. Visa is 55€.
(got the card in town) Sim Mauritel 100MRU. Inc 500MB. Top up 1GB valid 7 days 100MRU via scratch card's. Three shops tried 500MRU for 1GB but its only 100.
Office 3 vehicle fee 10€. Go inside there's a building on the right with an open door. Go in there and its first on the left.
Last office. Police check. Yellow building....and off you go. If you get insurance there's is a small cafe on the left after the gate. The Assurance office is inside the first door on the left there's a desk. If hes there!....restaurant guy is super helpful. If he's not there go to town and buy it there. Its 1275MUR for 30 days. Which is the max. duration. They sell it 10 and 20 days also i think. Maybe less that 10 also. There seems to be a price list for Foreign insurance and it seems to be fixed price. We got ours in town. No problems.
We are sort of in Surfers Paradise but that,s in Australia isn't it?
There was also the trip to Cirque Du Jaffa where we nearly died last time. This time its all been made "road". Some friends of ours had a similar experience nearly turning over their UniMog.
We are not quite lost but we've lost our blogging spirit. We've been doing Instagram and FB posts quite a bit. It takes so long to do a proper blog post it just falls down the list. Once I've got some better WiFi i will post some YouTube videos. We got stuck....i think that's on Insta.
Been all over Morocco now but make no mistake we've not seen it all. We've been doing a bit of stuff helping others out as much as we can. We do know getting insurance in town in Morocco is about the same as getting at the port. So for those that want Car Insurance in Morocco its 932MAD for a Land Rover in down and just a shade under 1000MAD in Tangiers Med. So your choice. I've posted before about how to get tickets and stuff for the ferry before.
We've also got a IAM (Maroc Telecom) sim. It needs some random stuff doing to make it work but they are 20 or 30MAD and then 10Gig is 100MAD. What we do know is about 6 weeks after you start using it they want you to register. If you do not you get cut off. You can register in the MT shops in the larger towns. You cannot do it anywhere else. I tried.
With regards to the random stuff sometime you will get FB and WhatsApp but no true internet. If you dial 888 and then press 2 and 1 after listening to all the messages and then hang up. Then dial 555 listen to the message and hang up. This sometimes makes the internet work on a new sim. I got this off Reddit after searching. It seemed to work.
We've had a few issues with the car. Firstly we have white foam ontop of the PAS (powersteering) reservoir. Just on the clear glass. The liquid is crystal. So we changed it in a Total Garage using the free pit and workshop. Its made no difference. I think its just that we have a clear bowl and you don't see it foam on the black standard ones. We've also had a oil cooler pipe unscrew and eject 2 litres of oil into the dessert. We fixed that but the pipe is leaking from its union so a nice guy is bringing us some down from Belgium. Thanks Patrick! (thanks to Mark and Larry again at LVB in Doncaster for the parts. We are here again in Midelt waiting for Partick to "Mule" them down. Top bloke! Midelt is bloody freezing at night.
We've been back to see Cirque de Jaffar which is where we nearly turned Matilda over in 2011. We blogged that. Its now been widened and made good. So we went to look. We did however go slightly wrong getting there the day before and ended up in a pickle.....we survived. Again will try to post videos on YouTube. I will link them in a blog post when i do.
They are actually filming it here so i'm sure my normal habit of using film titles is allowed in this case. However i'm not sure that anything we have done recently is related to the title which is what we normally go for.
Been almost all camp sites so far and not much adventure so we are hoping someone might come down and help us change that. We don't like going too far off the beaten track on our own.
Bits Sandy in the Sahara. We went for a bit of a walk up the dunes. WE walked up the BIG one. You gotta do it once. Erg Chebbi.
If you want to see how big the dune is...This is people on the top. Its not an easy walk but taking your time and having a rest and pack lunch at the top is three hours. Walking to the top is 90 mins for the unfit from the hotel. We took 4 litres of water which was plenty.
A German guy made some art in the dessert.....Hannsjörg Voth was him. We did not pay the 20€ fee each to go inside. You only need to pay this since somebody ("stupid American") fell down the steps and tried to sue the Artist (allegedly as we've been told this by a third party).
We've also been to what has to be one of the best camps in Morocco. Toilets immaculate.
More on FB and Instagram almost daily.
Just a quick post to let you know we are still alive although we are updating the Facebook and Instagram accounts more frequently nowadays.
We took the opportunity to relieve the boredom on the boat. I hate boats. I'd not make it across the Atlantic on one. I almost lose the will to live at an hour. Luckily on the Aswan to Wadi Halfa trip i was asleep most of the time. The Marie Celeste must had had someone like me on board. I would go "postal" quite quickly.
We are here in Morocco and we've spent 3 days on one campsite so far with the "Thou Shall Travel Slowly " rule. Allocated rule number #15.
Rule #14 has been allocated to:-
Thou Shall only Drink Alcohol in a Place of Relative Safety.
What are these ladies selling? They are all nicely dressed...theres one in every track end into the fields. Maybe they deal in Bananas & plums?
First, don't get used to it. Blogging will not be every day. Ever....lol. Even Casey tried it and he didn't succeed. IF you don;t know who that is, he's on YouTube.
Few More Photos. Random. Picture of Taurus the Austrian Army truck with Martin the Swiss Driver.
Henning defacing my sticker, My next round the world vehicle, a boat ship thing? Some SatNavs to avoid the tolls and cameras and to track the route, Some signs for Michellin central where #BFGoodrich are. Me doing washing and me pissing about.
I lost three pages of typed blog due a dodgy WiFi connection. Was not impressed to say the least. Welcome to being back on the road Nelly I hear you say. Hour and an half in a supermarket carpark wasted. LOL. So sorry its taken so long but this is the 5th attempt at least. McDonalds is pointless with 100Kb/s and costing 5€ for each attempt. They are a bit busier than before. Go back in the blog to early days to see the historic early French McDonalds....they are now the same as UK i.e. Packed !
We left Henning and his hospitality and along with his lovely wife and daughter we had a great time. I think Julie was "played out" as the little girl monopolised her a great deal. It was great catching up although i'm not sure we talked about anything new. Same stories and same stuff as we used to talk about before. It was a little like old times and we will miss our travelling buddy.
After Denmark it was Germany and we got away with the class 3 toll on the bridge again and got class 2. What a relief.
Now we were in Germany where we drove North to South passing four, in total speed cameras. Upon entering France there was 4 in the first 10km. I've looked at the stats and the accident rates between Germany and France are similar. So what are they for? Maybe the French are so bad at driving that it would be 100 times higher without? Anyhow its a pain in the bottom. Nobody can actually tell me the speed limit for a Motor Home in France, not even the police. Do we come under the truck limits being over 3500Kg or don't we. Are we a Van? Are we a Truck? The web sites contradict each other on the verdict so the result is we drive about 10Km under what we imagine the speed limit might be for us. Sometimes ridiculously slow even on the Motorways where we do know there is a minimum speed. That is well publicised. Whats that french saying "Such is life"?
We went to the Millau bridge and went under and past rather than pay the toll. The photos are better from under it anyhow and budgets don't bend to 14€ for nothing. Random photos below. So a Great British Design meets something by Norman Foster.....hehe.
We managed to visit Andorra and get another flag on the truck and some cheap Vodka. Andorra is tax free so anything with tax on it is cheap. Mainly Alcohol, Cigarettes and Fuel. So 1.09€ for Diesel and a bottle of Bison Grass (i forget the name) Vodka which is twenty something in ASDA at home is 8€ in Andorra. You can only get 3 litres. We got stopped on the way out and checked, well asked what we had. Oh and one other thing. Denmark have a soft border and we got stopped. So whats all this fuss about us having one?
We are now in Spain and the weather is superb. We like Spain more as the driving is easier and the roads better. We've met a couple of English and a Swiss overlander. Hi to Martin and in his truck Taurus. We've paid for a couple of campsites and tonight is 15€ which is the limit for us. The last one was 12.50€ which was good. I don't mind spending 12.50€ for a shower and a campsite. Problem was no WiFi. This one at 15 has and so the blog.
We've only had one failure on the truck in the form of a blown USB socket which luckily I had a spare. We are almost all USB charge now so loosing two of the 6 sockets we have was bad. We're even on the look out for a USB charging toothbrush. Not that we use it much. We need to get back into the routine.
'Henrietta made it to Denmark and has another flag. We came here on a surprise visit to see Henning. It was a very BIG surprise. Henning came home from work and we were sat outside his apartment. A few cryptic facebook messages and it suddenly dawned on him we were outside and not on our way to Africa. We are actually still on a way but with this little detour. 550 miles and a 34 Euro each way on the bridge. Luckily we got class 2 for the camper-van otherwise its nearly 80 Euro each way! That would have be enough to reconsider the visit and turn round.
Still learning how to use the new camera so the selfies are rubbish. Some shots in Copenhagen and of the expensive bridge. The trip to Ikea Sweden for an free "Family Card" tea is cancelled as that's nearly 100 Euro return so the free tea and that extra overlandstickers Sweden flag doesn't quite add up in trip budget terms.
So that's it. The end of the first blog entry for the new trip. I'm sure they will get better...maybe not.
I'm sorry to say that my beloved #Crocs are no more. The company has just shut its last manufacturing facility in Italy. I wept a little when I heard this news and am in fact devastated! If #Craghoppers went the same way i'm not sure i could carry on being an #overlander. Its not enough that my famous Craghoppers blue fleece is on its "last legs", the burn marks from the many nights of camp fires, oil stains from the days under the truck. For my loved Crocs to be vanishing is unacceptable. I have one pair in reserve but before long they will be worn out too. What should i do. My wife, as they do, has tried to move me over to Birkinstock's but i'm not a Pringle jumper wearing "golfer" so that is just out of the question. I'm too old for flip-flops, I've tried them, they just look wrong on a middle aged man. Should i grow dreadlocks next? So whats a man to do? I think i might cancel the trip......
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