A present from the French Police for speeding. Its only taken nearly 6 months.

I received a gift from the French Police last week. A speeding fine for Colin dated 29th September, five days after I left the UK. I was allegedly travelling at 97KPH in a 90KPH. Interesting that its taken 6 months to arrive. In England we have a limitation on proceedings time limit. Initially I thought he couldnt manage 97kph but realised its only 60mph. Then I thought of Brexit, will we exchange driver details the same way or will co-operation reduce? I could chance it and find out next year whilst travelling through France? Knowing my luck they will check for some minor discrepancy and find it not paid and a warrant has been issued for my arrest and costs of 1000 Euros. or similar. That would be a good story for my blog,. Then I thought I am never doing another blog so I paid it, 45 Euros for “early payment”. Quite impressed used an app they supplied on my phone and it all worked….amazing

Some left over bits from Ethiopia

My apologies for the delay in posting but been really busy since I got back to the UK. I have in fact tried once before and found that I can’t post lots of photos at once due to the image size and upload times. Therefore I have had to reduce them all and that took a while to understand etc. the usual IT stuff. It all convinces me that I will never do another blog, whilst I love recording my journey, the time needed when travelling just isn’t ever a priority until you get somewhere that you think has a decent signal and then you find its still not good enough.!!

Anyway here is a post covering bits of Ethiopia I missed.

The demonstration below was in the Ethiopian town of Bule Hora, an overnight stop whilst on my way to the border with Kenya. There were hundreds of people involved but it was very peaceful but very enthusiastic. They were demonstrating about an incident in the border town of Moyale that occurred early last year when 9 community leaders were killed by government forces and then 5000 people fled over the border into Kenya where they were temporarily housed in tents by the Kenyan Red Cross. A new prime minister was elected in April and whilst he has made massive changes for the better he still had his hands full with tribal differences all over Ethiopia.

 

 

 

Found this short clip below that gives you some idea of how bad the roads were in Ethiopia. I ad 150kms of this before I hit Kenya

 

The last town of Moyale stretches across Ethiopia and Kenys. It’s had a lot of recent troubles and continues to do so. There were further tribal clashes in December just after I left when more Ethiopians again fled across to Kenya after many had returned from the problems in March last year. Their best hope is the great Prime Minister they have in government. I wish them and Ethiopia peace and security for the future.

 

There are still lots of photos to put up. I will do my best 

Catch up pictures from Ethiopia, a country worth visiting

Africa was a nightmare to upload photos from. so sorry for the delay Kenya will be next. This is the second time in 2 years I have been to Ethiopia. It’s a great country with spectacular scenery and a great history where apart from a brief period during the 2nd world war when Italy invaded they have never been colonised. Whilst poverty is still in evidence almost everywhere, it has the highest growth rate (GDP) in Africa at present.

This was my camp spot for the night in Metema on the Sudan side of the border with Ethiopia. Its a Police compound and you can see my mosquito tent on the concrete loading deck.

This picture above shows how I had to refill petrol travelling alone. For security reasons I refuelled from the jerry cans (Two 35 litre cans first filled in Eygypt that I had to carry in the back of the car. I never felt comfortable with this as the car always stank of fuel and I was always concerned someone with a cigarette could accidentally ignite us all). I always refuelled in an isolated area as fuel is hard to get and its best not to advertise you have extra!!

Metema a transit town with little in it other than trucks
This petrol tanker with trailer turned over. You can see it blocked the road but traffic was able to drive onto the grass to get around it. What you cannot see are the people lined up with jerry cans draining the fuel out on the other side of the tanker !!

The road terrain in Ethiopia is rough at best. I estimate I drove 200 kms on dirt and stone roads. Often you would be down to 5-10kmh because of the pot holes. Google Maps coverage is very poor in Ethiopia so I relied always on Maps ME which apart from the heat problem rechanging the phone was very reliable almost everywhere.

Driving in Ethiopia is an experience you will never forget because there are people and animals everywhere and many have no road sense at all so, you need to be very careful. Then there is the road surface itself and abandoned vehicles, old road accidents and huge pot holes, road subsidence and land slips. It all adds up to a challenging drive. I didn’t use my music at all in Africa as I felt I needed all the senses I had to avoid catastrophe.

Anybody who knows me knows I drink very little alcohol, but after Sudan and with the heat a cold beer was very welcome at the end of every long day
Its really common to see men and women carrying massive balls of grass on their heads like this. Going from the field s to store them at their homes where animals are kept in pens at night

The above pictures show some street scenes. In Ethiopia there are always people walking at the road side, cars are rare outside the capital, its mainly lorries and pick up trucks. Its got a huge population of 102 million people. The large picture shows a petrol tanker and trailer that have overturned blocking the road completely. You can see the vehicle track on the grass where we passed the crash. What you cant see is a big line of people with jerry cans on the other side all draining the petrol from the tanker and its trailer!!

The country is 64% Christian and 35 % Muslim. The Christian Ethiopian Orthodox church is very visible with lots of people often going to or coming from church. They are always dressed in white and in big groups.
This was a horse race in a village called Banja. All the horses were decorated in similar dressings and I assume it was an important day for the village. It was on the main road that I was driving on and about 30 horses were galloping along ignoring all the traffic!! This guy was winning.

The pictures above show some of the recipients of pens pencil and colouring books as well as footballs that Julia Albu wanted distributed on route.
I stopped for a pee at the side of the road once where it looked quiet but as usual in Ethiopia, four young lads appeared from nowhere to just stand and stare. This happens a lot no matter what you are doing. They look at you and you look at them and then some sort of communication begins. I had pens etc to give them but you need to be very careful how you distribute things especially on your own as they get excited very quickly and can begin pulling all sorts of things out your car. I always had all the doors locked and the items on the passenger seat covered over and ready to hand out of the drivers window and that seemed to work well.

On one of my stops above I was interested to find in the middle of no where what looked like a Muslim and Christian burial site right next to each other. Another sign of how different things are in some places

The above pictures show a market scene in North Gondor the large picture shows a river being used to wash vans an tuk tuks, whilst on the other side of the road they were doing laundry. The guy with his hand out in a tuk tuk has at least 4 goats inside and was trying to stop others following.

Village life in Ethiopia
Gathering wood takes a lot of time
Wood is a stacked up along the road side ready for transporting often by hand and just walking to their homes.
I didn’t see too much crop burning in Ethiopia but it does go on.

In the highlands Gelada baboons were a road hazard too!

Sunset in Africa is nearly always pretty special

Moyale, a border town between border with Etthiopia and Kenya is an interesting town. In March 2018, the Ethiopian army using “bad intelligence” came into the town and 9 community leaders were shot dead in the street. 50,000 local people then fled over the border to Kenya where they were treated as refugees and housed in tents by the Kenyan government and the Kenyan Red Cross. A new Prime Minister was elected in April 2018 and has brought huge reforms in, including making peace with Eritrea within 4 months after 20 years of war. Many people have returned back to Moyale as they feel safe
While I was there, a big demonstration was taking place about equal rights for tribes in the region. It was all peaceful and could have never taken place before the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali came to power in April 2018
This was only a small section of the crowd. They came back about 5 fold more and jogging along chanting
Small problem, I forgot to put the petrol filler cap back on whilst filling with jerry cans so asked the locals to help out. $10 to the first one who can find a replacement. They ran off in all directions and a few came back and tried but they didn’t fit , but within 15 minutes I had a new filler cap and one of the locals thought he had won the lottery>
My waitress in Moyale who served me the stringiest chicken I have ever eaten in my life but I cant complain. I haven’t had one single issue with food poisoning or upset stomachs on the whole trip, and I have eaten locally as much as possible.

Visited the Ethiopian Red Cross in Addis Ababa and met Abdi who told me some of what they do. They have big plans for a shared office and head quarters in the future

Three photos above show Ethiopian Bank being built by Chinese companies. The Chinese are building bridges, roads and buildings all over Africa.

Ethiopia still has lots of problems one major one for me was finding petrol again. Whilst not as bad as Sudan it wasn’t easily available either. I had a little fuel left on arrival and had tried at least 5 stations on the way into Addis without success. So the next morning I asked my hotel to get me a taxi driver who spoke good English. When he turned up I got him to sit in my passenger seat and asked him to direct me to where there was petrol. It worked a treat he took me to a local station where there was a small queue and then he went to the front of it and filled me up himself as he knew all the staff there.

Lots of signs that life in Addis is getting better and easier for people, and of course they were very friendly too.

Welcome to Country No 26 France (again).

It’s a strange feeling when you have to think carefully about what country you are in when you wake up in the morning.

That’s not unusual when you travel fast and to as many countries as I have been to in the last 5 months. It’s even stranger when you don’t know what country you are in. That can happen easily when the borders are seamless. Today I found out that the tunnel du Mont Blanc borders Italy and France. I was convinced it was Italy and Switzerland.

Driving through Europe in the winter has proved to be a challenge, especially without winter tyres or snow chains!!

Rules vary from country to country but psychologically driving without them when it’s cold is a challenge that I don’t recommend. Asking advice, watching the weather forecasts and keeping to main roads made it possible, despite the snow and ice that was about. The road authorities appear to do a great job keeping them open.

Going through the tunnel du Mont Blanc was also an experience. Sunshine in Italy and grey dull snow laden and overcast in France.

We left Brescia in Italy on a lovely sunny but cold morning and had about 3.5 hrs drive to the tunnel in good sun shine. Everything was good, and I was surprised how low in the valleys we were for most of the drive. The number of lorries between Venice and Milan on the road was huge. Again from all over the world. This slacked off after Milan.

The tunnel into France is 11.6km long and is just under 1400metres at it’s highest point. It cost us 46€ one way. ( There have been lots of toll roads on our route and the cost does mount up but they are good roads and are well maintained in the winter). As soon as we emerged into the French side the weather changed immediately to dull grey overcast no sunshine and much colder with snow all around us. We were now much higher up too. There are steep hills and tight bends on the way down. Fortunately we were following a huge Polish lorry that went really slowly. For once I was happy to sit behind him patiently and wait. The dull weather continued for another 100kms and at times it got very white. I couldn’t make out whether it was fine snow or mist but I was happy to stop near Lyon at an Ibis around 5pm when it was becoming much colder and darker.

The good news is I think we are over the worst of the bad weather. Although I suppose we could always get caught out in the UK when we get back.

Finally I can’t believe this but I have decided my wonderful Citroen Saxo deserves to be given a name. I have only topped up the windscreen water since I left. I checked the tyres the other day and the oil, brake fluid, and radiator levels and they are fine. I haven’t touched any of them since I left. I hum along happily between 50 and 75 mph and have never had cause for concern😂 which is just as well because I don’t know much about cars.

So from today after all his hard work he will be called Colin!! 😂🤣😍

Country No 24, Slovenia, for a second time and then No 25, Italy.

We were lucky yesterday getting a cosy night in a hotel. In the morning we had to make a decision to carry on

This was the foot bridge crossing the carriageway

This was the main road. My biggest fear was no winter tyres but after speaking to a few locals decided I could give it a go on the main roads.

I was pleased to see minus 4.9, too cold for snow!

The gritters were out too.

So we had about 140 kms to drive in poor conditions. We were going to Zagreb but as I went there on the way down decided to turn left and head for Venice. Neither Leila or me have been there before!

This is the front of the car when we got into Italy. Number plate and skirt completely frozen over!

Welcome to Croatia/Slovenia border, very relaxed. Border police officer 1 checks passports on Croatian border. Move 10 yards to next hut and police officer 2 on Slovenian border checks us in, thats it done.

Was were in Slovenia for about 30 minutes!! Longer than Bosnia. I’m realising that I’m a T shirt and shorts or kilt guy. It’s much more comfortable😎

The Slovenian/Italian border was one hut but with an Italian flag and no one at home, so drove straight through to Venice. Busy busy motorway with so many lorries from all over the EU and Turkey, Belarus, Russia, Poland, Lithuania and all the Baltic countries. Makes you realise how little impact the UK really has with European countries. Lots of work being do e on the motorway so probably at least 10km of almost stationery lorries crawling along on inside lane.

Managed a lovely mushroom risotto at a family run restaurant last night before exploring Venice today.

It was blooming cold but still full of tourists.

Its a beautiful city, falling into disrepair all over the place though, but still unique. Battling nature is proving a challenge and really expensive.

The famous St Mark’s Basilica and Piazzo San Marco in front of it were flooded with a few inches of water when we arrived. Staging is in place about 2ft high to keep tourists out if the water. I was told high tide was the cause! It’s a massive problem for the city.

St Mark’s Basilica. The city was once the richest in Europe!

Tonight we are in Brescia, Italy and following the weather forecasts closely. I reckon we might make an alps crossing via Switzerland into France. Google maps says ok and the forecast is sunny most of the way.

Country No 23 Bosnia and Herzegovena and then straight back into Croatia.

Spent the morning in Dubronvic before heading north to Bosnia then Croatia again.

Dubronvic is a beautiful place. I imagine it’s heaving with tourists in the summer

Welcome to Bosnia. We didn’t see any officials at all at the border. Only a CroToan policeman who checked our passports. My fears of green card insurance for the 15 minute drive across or worse still. “You need winter tyres” were unfounded

I can see why winter tyres are useful though. Driving in Croatia through the most miserable, dull, grey and wet afternoon suddenly turned to snow!!!

Snowploughs were out very fast as the temperature dropped to minus 5 degrees.

That didn’t stop the snow falling, so for a while we wondered what to do for the best. Great in snow front wheel drive so we ploughed on and miraculously found a hotel at the roadside after about 20 minutes