Took a while to get back online and get time to continue. Sorry
when the customs dance was over we filled up with Diesel having spent 13 days in Jordan on only one tank of fuel. Its a small country. We only got 21MPG from it due to all the driving in sand in Wadi Rum. Filling up in Egypt is a marvellous thing. The price for the fuel isn't advetised so we were a bit worried we'd have enough. We put 112 litres in and the tank only holds 120 ish so we were nearly empty. Its a good job Julie said fill up where we did as there wasn't another one for ages. I bet you can't guess how much it was.....it was all of £125 Egyptian so about £13 quid. For 112 litres !!! We can leave the engine running all day an all night and drive needlessly everwhere just to waste fuel. Well thats how it feels.
We're currently in Sharm El Sheik (hopefully spelt correctly) and yesterday we went to the old town (as we've been told) and slept there in a car park near the hub of things. Tonight we are in the new town (as we've been told, and can see) and we've no idea where we will sleep. I've just repaired Matilda's headlights as one was pointing to high and so blinding people on the side of the road. Just a bit of glue and some packing in the form of toilet roll.
The washing has again been done and is almost dry although we've also put some in the laundry and we pick it back up tomorrow. We've also successfully blagged another shower at the Marriot. This time we told the truth having suss's out who makes these decisions in th hotel world. We just walked straight to the SPA and asked the guy on the desk. He said no problem and we both had a shower. Mine was cold as the hot water was broken. This i know as the technicain turned up just as i was drying off. Within minutes he'd fixed it so i should have taken longer....... I tipped the guy on the desk for the gesture £30E as this is what we seemed to pay in the service station in Europe. Only fair considering. I should have discounted because it was cold !
We've also had the oil changed in a garage. I provided the oil and filter and paid a guy £30E to do the dirty. He made a bit of a mess under the car as there is oil everwhere but at least its done. I need to do the weekly checks again as its been 3 weeks !!! since they were last done. The propshafts need greasing and the transfer box level checking. Not easy whilst trying to stay clean. The oil we used needs replacing so i need to find a shop. We also had a tyre pressure guage break so the tyre pressures are all wrong and i can't let them down for sand and pump them back up to correct pressures. I need to find another. If there were only Halfords in Egypt. There's certainly everthing else including Burger King where we are typing this.
We've just met a very nice Dutch lady who lives here who's told us where to go for such tools and things so we may take a detour there tomorrow to see if we can get one. She's also given us her phone number so we can call in an Emergency for help. Very nice.
are easily parted....
We have been robbed. Nothing too serious but my Axe and Impact screwdriver have been taken on the ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba. I'd mistakenly left the rear door unlocked and when we returned to the car after the 3 hour sailing (actually 11 hours if you take into account the waiting and customs) they were gone. It could have been so much worse. The car was unattended for many hours, at least 6. So they could have taken a lot more. They had full access to the insides. So my Axe (very new and Wilkinson Swords) and impact driver (cheap and from toolstation) were the victims of a light fingered local or crew member. I even got the first Officer out of bed to complain at 1am when we'd docked at 9:30pm. We only noticed on the customs search much later.
Not at all happy but it was my fault...I won;t do that again.
The customs was as we expected a nightmare but made a deal easier by using a local fixed to go through the hours of paperwork, photocopies and money. We came out exactly £850E lighter including the £70E tip for the fixer. About £85UK. My fireextinguisher passed muster and resulted in me getting another bit of paper to go with the other 50 or so they produce for each foreign car.
More later as Julie is wanting to do something.
Last night we moved just down the road from the hotel. This was a good move for the Pub but a bad move for the noise. The road noise we can put up with but at about midnight the disco started. Luckily they cannot have been busy as it only lasted 2 hours.
We are posting this from the adjacent Mcdonalds again and if they don't open soon they will have missed selling me a coffee as they are meant to open at 10am and its now 10:30. We aren't the only one surfing on the doorstep. Luckily the wifi is full open.
Not looking forward to today.....Egypt. Bah.
One good thing from staying near the pub was we got some cakes (sweets as they call them) from the bakery. This from a market over the road we'd not see the day previous. We also found another restaurant to get more burt meat.
Today we pulled a fast one. Well, not really fast but more of a slow con. We slept outside the Intercontinental 5 star resort last night. The road is a dead end and we parked up pretty early and got a good nights sleep with no cars whizzing by. In the morning we got up and entered the lobby with the intention of stealing a shower in the pool changing area. This looked to be too risky so we (actually I, me and not Julie (who allegedly doesn't do cons)) went over to reception and told a little story that we were meeting our friends and needed to clean up before they arrived (i think i might have said "check in" by accident). An hour later the reception manger had contacted the Spa manager and we were in. Into the Spa that is,,,complimentary shower with a much 5 star hot water as you can shake a loofah at.
So thanks Intercontinental for the best shower we've had in weeks and a really nice hotel also. I'd recommend it if you're ever in Aqaba, Jordan. They even look after the people pretending to be meeting fictional guests that afternoon. I did note a Spa day is 115jod so about £100. I wonder what a shower is? They have a really nice beach and no doubt a nice price tag. We considered staying there a second night but the lure of the Rovers Return Pub was too great so we're sleeping outside there (on the road with cars wizzing by. Such is the life of a overlander and the need to spend left over currency on beer and red wine)
We got our ferry tickets today to Egypt and also the Visa. The visa from the Egyptian consulate in Aqaba and this took a little over an hour. They were quite helpful and said we must promise not to got to that square where the problems are. We are of course not going there. The ferry tickets soured the whole Jordanian experience as they processed our tickets and then wanted payment. Looking up at the huge Mastercard sign about 6 inches from my forehead on the glass inbetween me and the agent I offered my Mastercard only to be told they don't accept it. He wouldn't cancel the tickets (he said he couldn't) and told us to go to the bank up the road. The bank up the road was no good for us and we needed to go to one about 15mins away. Which we did. On arriving back the guy had left the office for the day leaving a none English speaking person to do the deal. We had tickets, no idea what time the boat was and no idea where to go. He left us high and dry. We spent the next two hours getting the tickets translated and eventually ending up in the port to check we knew where we were going and what time. Thanks to the numpty in the offical office of the ferry company. We should have used an agent in another office we saw earlier ! If this were England i would have complained a lot !
So tomorrow (if i get chance to post this) we go to the worse place on the planet for getting a car into. The bribes the corruption and the hassle are second to none. We have two 2Kg Fire Extinguishers and i wonder how many they will force us to buy as ours arn't big enough...even though i've done the research and these are much larger than needed. This is a known scam by the corrupt customs team. The back handers and bribes are legendary and to be honest if Egypt could be missed every overlander would miss it out completely for this reason. We shall see if i feel the same in just over a days time.
Something i'd been looking forward to was this place called Wadi Rum...no idea why but Julie knows as its in the Lonely Planet. This is a very large deset area with some great rocks in the middle. You can see on the photos. Its like the holy Grail of off road driving and the mecca of all Land Rover fanatics. All round the world people eventually come here. Its a must.
Its also a bit of a tourist trap and once you have explained that "we have our own car" about 4 times your are left alone. Its only 5jod to get in and by all accounts theres a charge for the car which we never paid and no one asked. Even the guy that checked our tickets (on the road) never asked.
In the photos you will see we did some washing. We do this by filling a dry bag with soap and water and lashing it to the roof of the car. The motion gives it a good wash. We then rinse out in the other dry bag. (thanks to Andy and Emma for the Birthday present) The gatehouse to the Wadi had a tap so we took 60litres of water into the widerness to wash clothes and ourselves. Check out the photos of the clothes washing but none of Julie getting a desert shower as we thought the bikini in the dead sea was enough and I'm sure Bev would agree..( I doesn't happen often Bev and now I have photos ! )
We never got stuck in the sand in Wadi although i tried hard and there were some close calls. Since the are is so large we stayed 2 full days and slept in a couple of spots although they look quite close together they probably are in relation to the expanse. We drove probably 50 miles through sand, rock and dunes and saw some amazing sights.
You will see below a picture of the rear door stay that broke. I had it welded back up in Amman and fitted it in the lazy afternoon in the desert (not much to do!!!) We only took a bottle of vodka so unless we wanted to get drunk there is absolutely nothing to do after the sun went down at 4:30pm....It then gets cold so we went to bed by 6pm and watched a video on the Laptop and then sleep at about 7pm only to wake up again at 6:30 when the sun came up. We're getting a full nights sleep for sure.
The picture of the Land Cruiser wasn't me pulling him out or vice versa but a local guide who offered us a cup of tea and a chat. He's not getting much buisness due to the syrian thing and the Egypt thing. He's was quite well informed on all things and asked us to post his details to the following Sweedish contingent. We shall oblige. The tea was nice, as was the conversations and insight into local life.
The rock bridge although accessible was out of the question without a guide and Julie would have freaked out as well might I. We watched some people cross it as they can be seen on the photos (not the one i posted unfortunately).
You've got to be kidding......its 60jod to get in,,,,EACH !!!! that for the uneducated is £50 ish....admittedly the ticket is for 3 days but the one day ticket is 50jod so not much cheaper. you just have to pay it though.
I had no pre-expectations on Petra and knew very little about it. What i know now is you need 3 days and you need an lot of energy and its certainly not for the old, infirm or disabled. We spent all day walking miles and miles. We walked up and down 3 very large hills to see, the high place, the monastry and the high view of the treasury.
Poor little Matilda has never seen such hills than the ones on Jordan. I nearly had to go into low ratio to get up to the castle car park. This isn't helped byt the fact they pull out on you not realising i'm carrying 3 Tonne and my handbrake isn't very good !!
The castle is really good the car park is even better having got the best nights sleep so far. Better than the hotels by miles. Its only 1jod to get in a well worth the visit the excellent tour guide helped us wth the parking/sleeping arrangements and even got us a hot shower in the morning. This was in the ladies toilets but i'm not shy,,,the other tourists that came in part way through Julies drying session on the other hand might have been ! We used the shower bag obtained in Decathlon on our last trip, Morrocco. The guide showed us how to turn on the hot water so one hour later we could fill the bag from the tap. The hour was spent taking the rear door stay off (the thing that stops it blowing open and closed). This had fractured and broken and needs to be replaced (this is a later story).
You might see from the Map this evening we spend in a quarry and i did my first green field number 2 ( more on these later ! ). Julies still not needed one....i'm sure women are decended from camels and can hold it for a week. I wondered why she keeps getting strange looks from the "ships of the dessert". Possibly it should be shit in the dessert.
We stayed in Amman another day to get Matilda an eye operation. She now has left hand drive lights. They are soooo much better and will be much safer on the African roads. These were tested to the extreme as it rained all the way to the Dead Sea. Its not very far but we left late after visiting the landrover part place one last time to get some valve covers and some rockers for my kit. I'm now prepared for the problem the Dutch faced should it happen to me. The £25 worth of parts costing about £160 but thats life on the road......We didn't visit the John the Baptist site as it was £22 and a royal rip off. I wonder what JC would think to the price? I know if he were a Yorkshireman he'd think it was too expensive. The Dead Sea Panorama visitors centre on the other hand was £3.50 and excellent. Worth a visit. the weather had cleared giving us OK views of the other side. I doubt it gets much clearer across the sea as its very low lying at -400 meters. The lowest i've been ( other than when i worked for Noel ! ). The joke is for Noels amusement.....
We are now at Karak and sleeping in the car park of a Crusader Castle although I doubt they had cars so i think its an addition. This is one of the places we are visting that Top Gear haven't been as everywhere else seems to have featured in the show. It's better than Lonely Planet.
One of the highlights so far is the Dead Sea swim. The Dutch team kindly sent us the GPS coordinates of a secluded beach so we made good use of the seclusion and even Julie came in for a swim. More of a flounder (for both of us) than a swim. I now realise what a new swimmer must feel like getting used to floating as the dynamics are so different you flounder about like a fool.
The air quality in Amman in terrible so we are going back for antoher try.
Upon arrival in Jordan we went to Jerash into a hotel which the Dutch team paid for (a thank you for the help, very nice). It wasn't great but its was OK for one night. It would have had some fantastic views had the wather not been so rubbish in the morning. We arrived late and the night ported made us dinner in the form of omlette and hummus etc etc. Traditional stuff. We also had a few beers but then realised they were about 5 Euro each!! Again the dutch paid and this prevented me having a heart attack paying for 5 Euro beer.
We left the hotel and went into Jerash to see Its roman ruins,,,its quite large. I'll post some photos. We also took the now compulsary drive in "heavy traffic getting lost route" around the town. This seems to be a theme we are continuing everywhere we go. We tagged along with the Dutch as they seemed to know where they were going.
On leaving Jerash we went onto the capital Amman to firstly find me a replacement Fuel Lift Pump. We found eventually the main part supplier for Land Rover bits in Amman luckily still open late on Thursday (Friday being the weekend so closed). They were really helpful and had a pump in stock so my part is now replaced (over twice the price of the UK) . They are also trying to get me some left hand drive headlights and some spare rockers for my parts box. (we are returning to Amman on Saturday to collect them)
We managed to excel with the "heavy traffic" route to the Amman hotel taking two hours only to find it unsuitable, having no parking, so we moved on to another. We went for a walk into town to get some dinner and find a Bank. Santander had cancelled the card so i purchased a SIM to call them, so it cost me 10 Euro to call to sort out the mess. They say they hadn't cancelled it but next time we tried it it was miraculously working. Like they hadn't done anything! Dinner was in a famous street cafe, was damn nice and didn't cost much. We borrowed money to pay.......
We actually didn't use the hotel we found in the end and slept on the street outside. A nice quiet Cul-De-Sac. Since the weather is now getting better we were too hot. The dutch did however use the room. I thought 25 Euro wasn't justified having had a shower the night before. Budget and all that.
Today we've moved on to Madaba to see some mosaics but are on our way back to Amman straight after so we can collect the parts tomorrow.
I hate covering a few days in one post it gets all confused so i hope you get the jist of twhat we've been up to.
Have a guess where we found Wi-Fi.....side of the motorway in, you guessed it, the big Golden Arches......
Finally through Syria, where i couldn't post to the blog. The Dutch team had a timing belt failure and this caused quite a bit of damage. I diagnosed them on the road just outside Homms. Not the best place in the world the breakdown! We were on the side of the road for about two hours at which point we arranged a truck to take them to the dealer in Damascus. We slept in the car park in the dealers for two nights and although i had a lot of the parts needed i didn't have spare rockers for the rocker shaft. I had spare push rods and belt and a fuel pump (which also was faulty). We ended up only using the fuel pump as we managed to get the rest in the parts in the local market. Syria has never had this model of engine so it was a miracle they had any parts at all. This also meant the mechanics didn't know what to do so i did quite a bit of the repair (after we lost our temper with their fumbling). I changed the timing belt and adjusted the timing and put all that back together. The rocker is an easier job so they did that. Spending 5 days without a shower isn't fun. On the second night we were awoken to the sound of small arms automatic fire and 50 caliber, helecopters and RPG explosions. Rather worrying. This was 4km away and the attack on the Government Communications centre. We wanted out which is why i did the repair otherwise we'd be still be there. The middle eastern men don't like losing face but we just wanted out.
The fees for getting in and out are also pretty steep. £161 in and $50 out USD some of this was a tax on diesel cars $135 !!!
Actually Sub Zero....This place was freezing last night. Heater was on all night making it too hot.
This is a gem of a place (Goreme, wikipedia) and i bet its really busy in summer. There's some stunning views, some off road areas, some caves, stone arches and geological and man made wonders. We will post some photos of the stuff we've seen but we haven't seen it all and need to leave this morning. The Dutch we are with have been here twice now and we might very well return on day to do all the tourist things we can't do today.
We rescued a stranded motorist in the off road area who'd ripped his trye off his rim. We were about a kilometer away ontop of a hill when they signalled us from the valley below. Waving arms and a white flag. I could see thier spare wheel on the ground (just) so we went looking for them. The place is a maze of tunnels and volcanic mounds of something called "Fairy Chimneys". It took us 40 mins to find them and we nearly got stuck. We blew their tyre back on and gt them on their way, by which time it was dark and getting very cold so i don't know what they would have done. Good job they spoke good English !
The party is complete, we've met the other two travellers and are now jointly travelling the rest of the way through Syria. Thats if they let us in !
We have also contacted a "fixer" (travel agent) in Damascus to see if they can get us a guide or similar to come with us the whole way through Syria. A local speaking person in one of our cars will be beneficial (possibly). Lets see what they say. I'm not so sure it will make any difference as he's going to be the first person running away if we hit trouble and he's likely going to be more scared of the police than we are.
Tomorrow we move on to Goreme in the mountains and its meant to be COLD....the others have a hotel and we are in the car. Webasto heater will be on all night so we will be toasty. Benefits of sleeping inside the car at the moment but when its 40C i wonder how we will get along wth no aircon. The others have a roof tent. Did we do the right thing not getting one?
Firstly i'd like to assure everyone our diet of purely Mcdonalds is entirely untrue. We have only eaten two breakfasts and two hamburgers in the whole trip. We are using them as Wi-Fi hotspots only. We've had fishfingers, Chilli, Beans and eggs, spam sandwiches, frankfurters, Tom Yum Soup and a few other things i cannot remember. The useage of gas is begining to worry me as i was assured Camping Gaz was available everywhere and i've not yet seen a single suppier, shop, stockist or anything else. So we might yet be eating in Mcdonalds !
Today we are in our first hotel purely becuase we needed a shower and we are meeting our Syrian crossing companions who are staying at the hotel down the road. We had a little fight with the hotel parking attendant as the hotel is on a very steep hill and i don't trust my handbrake ilst carrying 2700Kg. The parking attendant seemed think kerbing was enough, i didn't and a fight to chock my wheels ensued with at one point about 6 participants in the discussion. Needless to say my wheels are chocked. I dread to think wat my 110 would do the parked cars down the hill had the cable snaped. The curb would do little but straighten the wheels out for the decent downwards.
The hotel is OK and we will sample the breakfast in the morning after all we think its included. I know a good strong coffee does wonders for my regularity if you know what i mean and they have western toilets so who knows how long i might have to last before my next sitting!
I can hear the parking guy right now directing someone else on the street below. He really rules the roost here.
We had a little snow last night as we were in the hills in a service station. The Webasto heater is getting some use. Matilda doesn't like to start in cold weather but did so first time, reluctantly. Filled up with fuel and the price here is comparable with the UK so it wasn't as expensive as i'd been told.
Once we hopefully meet to ther later on we should get something to eat.I'm starving.
I had my charred meat for Dinner in the form of a Kebab (of course) and we've even posted a picture for you. Go check them out.
We had another fun time parking and they really should try harder when trying to rip off a Yorkshireman. We arrived back at the park and I said "20 more mins" to the guy as we were blocked in. So giving him some warning we wanted to move. He said "6 hours max" so we had to go as we'd been 6 hours already. I promtly paid him the 30 Turk Lira and said "OK we go now". Once on the way back to the car he ran up and wanted another 5 TL for the over-run into the 7th hour which was quite legitimate as we had indeed been 6 hours and 5 mins (which is why were going to be another 20mins having a coffee not wanting to waste the town center parking) I promtly explained if its 6 hours max how can he charge me for 7 ?? He gave up and we drove off.
Stayed last night in a really bad services and have now discovered there are better quality ones to be had even in Turkey. I have found they have western toilets in Disabled form and in Child form. Today i used the smallest toilet in the world. I could hardly get my ample backside on it. Enough gross descriptions but you'd understand if you've ever been to a nursery recently.
Now on our way to Ankara. We have a phone card now as Turkey is in the worldwide mobile rip off zone where it goes up from expensive (35p per min) to thats a rip off (£1.70 per min). The phone card was 5TL for 60 mins UK calls which we need to tell the bank where we are to stop them blocking the card.
Sat outside guess where,,,,, but not using their Wi-Fi for once. We are on someone elses. We've just had a worrying time trying to recharge our Turkish Toll cardfor the motorway. You can only do this at Shell stations and there seem to be none on the motorway so with a empty card, how do you get off to fill it back up again. Luckily we've found one. Panic over in only 100km.
We didn't feel a thing.
battery is rubbish so quick post form the square in Istanbul. Julies taking photos so will try to post some later if we can find power, Internet and parking.
Looking forward to some grilled meat in bread.
we're in Turkey. Took 2 hours to get through the border on a little back road that happens to be the main route in from Bulgaria. Lots of windows and lots of passport showing and stamps. Insurance, Police, Vehicle and a few others i can't quite remeber. Its all practice for Africa i suppose. I didn't use the Carnet although i could have used it but i doubt they'd have known what to do with it.
Currently sat in a motorway services hijacking some Wi-Fi from somewhere. I don't think its meant to be open but it is. Will post more again as soon as we find more Wi-Fi but at the moment i'm starving and i have 5 fish fingers with my name on them....Fish finger sandwich....mmmm.
Did i mention you also need a Visa,, one of the windows i forgot.
traveller is with us across Syria. UKtoSA have pulled out and are using RoRo across the med. We might not yet get through ourselfs. We are still meeting another couple on the 13th. We shall see what happens. Sources inside Syria are saying its OK (barely altough Homs is bad) and the other crew have pulled as they cannot risk being turned away as they are on a deadline. We are not, and can wait. Fall back plan is to also RoRo or wait it out in Turkey or somewhere else. We can also wait for the Swedish convoy in December and try again.
We've left Constanta where we stayed in our first campsite. Not the best one in the world but contary to a well informed source the price wasn't 70 whatsits it was 35 whatsits so thats about £7 for a hot shower and a view of the Black sea. It's not black actually its just like any other sea and its almost blue. Unlike the north sea which is brown. I dread to think what the resort of Constanta is like on peak season, it looks like it would be mental. According the Lonely Planet its VERY expensive and VERY packed. It looks like it gets pretty hot also.
We did our first washing in a dry bag. You throw in the clothes add water and soap powder and seal it up by rolling the top (as per the way of stopping stuff getting we inside) and roll it around on the floor for 20 mins. You should have seen the colour of the water that emerged....even i was amazed. I'm blaming it on my socks as i've been driving in just socks to keep my feet cool and my foot well is a bit dirty. We need to buy a brush to clean out the car. I'm sure a market in Istanbul will have one. After rinsing the clothes we now have a pile of wet washing that we are slowly hanging up on the washing line across the back of the car. Julies knickers were hung up when customs wanted to inspect the rear of the car at the Bulgarian border. Julie is a little embarassed her "smalls" were there for the multiple customs men and the "one in the suit" who;s likely to be some secret police. Her knickers now have a record........at least they were clean.
We are now in Varna and worried the car will be stolen. The crime in Bulgaria is pretty bad. We are in a secure park but the guard looked as dodgy as they come. Please don't steal my home !
Dinner tonight is eating out in "Be Happy" (a chain) and it was pretty nice and the price was also pretty good. They have free Wi-Fi so i'm sat here drinking my last Pint (500ml,,,undermeasure!!) and typing this. We aren't the only tourists in here. Theres me and Julie 15 years ago sat across from us except they arn't English but are speaking it. After all its the universal language and you don;t need to speak anything else......i hope !
Just a few more photos in the section. Off to stay in a campsite in the hope they have 1)HOT showers 2)Laundry. For 70 ROM it should have...thats £15 !!!
Map plot tomorrow morning of where in the world we are.....I know what in the world we are,,,, and thats knackered. Camsite look
The whatsit pass named above is closed from the 1st of november even though its easily passable on an electric disabled motor scooter. No idea why they close it every year even if they've had no snow. Thats Romania. There's a tunnel at the top that has some big heavy steel doors put across it with a normal door allowing foot traffic and bikes through. So we had the 60 or so Km back track to go the long way round. I was hoping it was open but wasn't optimistic. You may have seen it on Top Gear as they did it on their Romania Special Episode.
Theres a lot of UK registered cars on Romania. I wonder where they come from? If you read between the lines, some are likely stolen according to Top Gear. They all seem to be Y reg which is also strange. Seen a few nice Land Rover Defender 90's,,, and again this strange.
We are again in McDonalds getting Wi-Fi. We've hopped on a few rogue Wi-Fi zones elsewhere. What we will do once he McD's dry up i have no idea. We had a crap day yeasterday finding facilities. We need a shower badly. Its too cold to wash outside so need to find a services with a shower. If we don't find one we will be in a Hotel for the night. The bonus is the hotels in Romania are cheap and should be around £20. I might try the "we don't need the room, just a shower" trick. I don't want to stay in a Hotel as it means leaving all our stuff on, and in, the car. Thats unless we get a room with a view on Matilda and/or a security guard or locked compound.
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