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Berlin

It made sense to fly to Berlin instead of taking the train – which was considerably more expensive. Which, after taking a large amount of trains of late, is our preferred mode of transport. So, after a two hour flight from balmy Nice we found ourselves shivering outside Berlin airport. And, very strangely, I found I could understand a lot more German than anticipated.

Quickly we met up with my ugly little brother, Si. He is now living in East Berlin with his girlfriend, Kaz. That night we cooked, downed some beer and caught up. It had been over three years since I saw Si It was great to see him and Kaz. Over the next few days we bounced about Berlin. The christmas markets now abound there was a distinct smell of chocolate and cinnamon in the air which was wondrous.

There is so much in Berlin to discover and experience that it just can’t all be done in a few days. So, we met up with some friends and did the usual tourist things, The Brandenburg Gates, The Wall, The German Film Museum The Salvador Dali Museum and we even got our passports stamped with the East German check point stamps!

We both loved Berlin and would happily return. And now that we have some family and friends there – maybe we will.

muni

Nice – it’s nice!

I spent hours writing this post…!



muni

Destinazione

I look out of the train window. The passing scene in concert with my mp3 player becomes like the digital display from a graphic equalizer. The digital reactions intensifying as we approach towns and cities, subsiding as we depart. The Glimmers Fabric Mix is perfect. Who could of known that this old countryside is in binary synchronicity? An audio visual symphony.

The skyline is low, punctuated by church steeples and old Tuscan looking buildings. A plethora of greens, auburns and burnt yellows flash by. Terracotta tiles, ploughed fields, farms and vineyards. A sudden pang for a glass of Merlot. No visible wildlife apart from Black Crows. Cabbages, millions of them and trees laden with a strange orange fruit that defies classification. I fall into a stare and The Glimmers snap me back as a wide lumbering grey river inches closer to an imposing cathedral.

Rovigo, a station. Old buildings overgrown. A small hut is engrossed by some flowering vine type tree. Two parked rusting bulk trains, heavy and long, are behind the station. The platform is polished from years of wheeled luggage and Italian shoes. The ticket office is surrounded by Vespas and bicycles, the car park abound with Fiats and Alphas. A marble bench sits lonely and weathered next to a dry fountain. Our adjoining track is, for some unknown reason, bleached white. A dull thud indicates imminent departure. “Din Daa Daa” adds some audio strangeness to this Italian ticker tape.

on the train

“My Speed boat is faster than yours” blares in my ears as we overtake a small plane on take off. No clickety click, these rails are new. We glide forward. Ferrara station is overlooked by two Ballymun-esque towers. Topped with many satellite dishes they are grey and ugly.

An old woman fiddles with her Nokia. Frustrated, she glances over at us with a look of indignance. Maybe she is late or her son cannot make it to pick her up. Again she fiddles and with quiet resignation eventually stuffs it into her expensive leather handbag. We’re in no rush. A night in Bologna wouldn’t be too bad. “Monkey Star” has my foot tapping as we snake away…

muni

Österreich – ist nicht scheiße!

Off the plane, back on European soil and it’s cold. BLOODY cold. The average daily temperatures here are circa 3 degrees Celsius. Vienna is our starting point for the European tour on the way home. Our main reason for being here is to visit Pete & Bini – the overlanders we had become friends with while on the road. The first thing I notice is how grandiose the place is and the speed and pace at which that everything gets done. People walk faster, traffic lights are obeyed and everything is extremely expensive.

Vienna 1Vienna 2

We shuffled about Vienna like Michelin men, smothered in hats, gloves, woolly socks and warm clothes. The miserable weather taking its toll on my body and Africa on my mind. My golden tan is already fading! I have so many stories to tell now, of far away lands, but they seem meaningless. Who cares if I saw desert Elephants? or the biggest mud structure known to man? I find myself at odds with these people. I struggle with my confusing thoughts. I don’t want to be here but I want to see my friends from Africa. We walk about town to look at the this and that building. I find myself at an opera. This could not be more different and a world apart from where I have just come. Vienna is a very beautiful city but, sadly, I see no black faces.

We finally find ourselves on a train platform in front of Pete & Bini laughing and giggling at the strangeness of seeing them in Austria. They immediately took us to their lake and opened a bottle of champagne. August, the truck we know so well is still there and in good stead. We spend the next few days drinking and eating the best the Austria has to offer. From Sturm to Wurst we are constantly stuffed. We talked Africa for the weekend. The ins and outs. They were the tonic I needed. For this I feel better. They have adjusted to life again at home but travel is still in the back of their minds – like ours. We agree to meet again, maybe in Morocco, in our own over-landing car or truck.

Art

No it's not a rock - this is "Art"!!!

We part company and head back to Vienna and tomorrow we head for Northern Italy where hopefully the weather picks up. My nose is protesting and my bones feel cold!

muni

Google Route

I have updated our route page to have a more interactive map. It can be dragged and zoomed in on etc…

To see it click above on “the route” link or click here

muni

Our African Ponderings

We have spent a bit of time writing up what it was like to spend time in Africa and our experiences. We have created special pages for just this. (on the top right)

Molly’s page is : HERE

Muni’s page is : HERE

muni

Beware!

muni

african-oscars

Well now that we leave Africa soon (Boo Hoo!) Muni & Molly’s African Oscars are now published.

The categories are : (drum roll please)

1. Best Accommadation / Hotel : Green Turtle Lodge, Dixcove, Ghana
2. Worst Accommadation / Hotel : Pensão Leeta, Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique

3. Best Meal : La Colombe, Constainia, Cape Town, South Africa
4. Worst Meal : Cafe No Name, Arsi Negele, Ethiopia

5. Best Transport : CTM, Morocco
6. Worst Transport : Burundi

7. Friendliest People : Tied at Burkina Faso and Malawi
8. Unfriendliest People : White Namibians

9. Best Value : Ghana
10. Worst Value : Rwanda

And last but by no means least…

11. Best Beer : Primus 720ml, Burundi
12. Worst Beer : Laurentina Stout, Mozambique

And the most coveted award for biggest tosser in Africa goes to….

The fat, Afrikaner, make-up put on with a cement mixer, hair-do like a bulldog’s arse, manager of the Cat Nap Guest House in Springbok for her inability to take a booking 3 whole weeks in advance. Moan about the check in time, lie about her presence prior to us checking in and then only say that we had booked one night when two were requested. I hope you catch the clap from a toilet seat and you choke on some worm infested biltong again. Congratulations, your golden Oscar is in the post.

We’ve also added some additional categories for those that were worthy of such an acolade.

They are:

Toughest Day : 8th April 2009, Butare, Rwanda after visiting a genocide memorial. (I talk about it HERE)

Most adventerous moment: Boarding a tug boat to travel down Lake Tanganyika en-route to Kigoma, Tanzania

The 5 best highlights (in no particular order):

1. Getting up close and personal with 5 Silverbacks in Parc National de Volcans, Rwanda
2. Being pamered in Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa
3. Juming out of a dhow, after spotting Dolphins, onto the best beach in Africa. Praia de Chocas, Mozambique
4. Standing on the precipace of the plateau in Dogon Country, Mali
5. Giggling at the confluence of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean’s at the southern most tip of Africa

Muni & Molly

The Do’s & Dont’s

The Do’s & Dont’s of Travelling Africa – our take.

Do:

  • keep your pack small, compact and especially light
  • plan the journey but be very flexible
  • grow some patience – you’ll need it
  • throw yourself into local cultures
  • bring one luxury – ours was a two cup travel coffee press
  • sign up for Skype – it will save you a mint for calling home

Dont:

  • let the reputation of a country put you off
  • travel after dark
  • offer bribes
  • give your travel documents to just anyone who asks for them
  • be afraid to make a total mess of the local language (Mambo!)
  • let a child sit on your lap – it will pee

muni & molly