Take the road less traveled. Get lost if you must, because only in losing yourself will you find your true path. - Virginia Alison
A few tales from the road...
- I met a western girl. 6ft tall, blonde, blue eyes, in a hostel. She and her travel buddy hung around us for a few days. At some point we swapped Instagram accounts and I had a look at her page. I was surprised to find that she had thousands of followers. A simple post with half her head showing at a poor angle in front of some innocuous location got over a thousand likes.
I joked and jostled her that it was a shame that good content didn’t get as many likes. So we made a bet – 6 months, me vs her, who could get the most likes on Instagram with their respective style of posting. Me with great photography, artistic and amazing locations. And her, anywhere, with a bit of boob showing.
I think I took the challenge too seriously. I ended up smashing Instagram daily for the next six months, winning the bet and wasting a whole bunch of time wondering whether people liked my post of not, when all I needed was a set of boobs.
- We caught a boat through the straights of Gibraltar, arriving in the port of Tangier in Morocco with very little information on how to get to a sleepy town in the mountains called Chefchaouen. We found a local at the port who had a car and said he could drive us there "no problem, you get in. I take you, three hours, no problem."
So we did. But in the twenty minutes following it the driver went to all these random places that made us wonder what he was up to. He would stop, get out of the car, tell us to wait and would come back five minutes later.
He then took us out of the city, up a dirt road to the top of a mountain. He asked for our passports, got out and again told us to, 'wait one minute please.'
My buddy looked at me with wide eyes in the back of the car and said, 'I think were about to be taken hostage.' I agreed and we both got out of the car. We were well out of the city on top of a mountain, the only structure a shantily built concrete block which the driver had gone into.
We fully expected him to come out with an AK47 and either kill us or take us hostage as part of a Jihad. Fretting, we immediately started looking for something to defend ourselves with. We armed ourselves with large rocks in our hands and awaited our fate.
The look of shock on our drivers face palpable when he saw two westerners waiting for him with rocks raised in the air .. ready to defend themselves.
He was just getting our passports stamped.
Isle of hell
- We were hungover from Scotland's finest whiskey. It was my travel buddies birthday. We had planned to take the hire car all around the Isle of Skye, visit a few places of interest and then leave by lunchtime to our next destination.
As we left the last site, a waterfall, I decided that I would have a race on the remote narrow dirt roads with a rather annoying Peugeot who was tailgating me. The Peugeot won as I hit a massive pothole and flattened the front tire.
At this point we got out, rather annoyed, to find out that we had no spare and no way of fixing the tire. We had no reception and were in the middle of nowhere without so much as another car in the vicinity.
Desperate we decided to drive on the flat tire until we could find something, anything that could help us. Twelve kilometers later (and a few sparks) we found a farmhouse and decided to drive into the property and ask the owner for help.
But there was no owner, just a note on the door saying welcome, come in and make your self at home. So we did.
They had wi-fi. We used it. The had a kitchen, we made ourselves lunch.
We called the car rental company, the insurance company and a hundred other people trying to get some help when another car came up the driveway. We went out, introduced ourselves to a rather confused owner, who ultimately said we could stay and wait for the tow truck man to come and get our car.
Four hours later (and twice as many calls) we still have no solution and are stuck in this house. The owner had since left, but warned us that this was his homestay and soon the family that had booked his home would be arriving for a week long stay.
But unable to drive the car and with no help in sight we were still there when the said family arrived. We awkwardly explained our situation and they were most accommodating, allowing us to stay until the situation resolved itself.
An hour later we get a call that the only tow-truck on the island had been in an accident due to the increasingly bad weather. So we waited some more.
Two hours later a tow truck comes up the driveway, with another tow truck on its back.
Two rugged looking Scottish fellows got out of the truck brandishing a replacement tire and immediately proceeded to switch out the broken one on our vehicle.
It was 8pm.
We thanked them, thanked the family and the host and were on our way. Only we had a 400km trip on us to get to the next town. Feeling the need to make a speedy get away I got behind the wheel and not two kilometers later am having to slam on the brakes, skid dangerously along the highway and come face to face with a rather startled looking sheep as we slid by at 100km/h.
The sheep survived.
The storm intensified, we battled raging winds and rain, poorly lit tight roads and a fuel tank that was well below empty. We arrived into our hostel five minutes before midnight.
We had no food, were tired as hell, the only thing we did have was the remnants from a bottle of whiskey we'd drunk the night before.
We promptly skulled the remaining whiskey, I wished my buddy happy birthday and we said goodnight.
A few other notes;
- Big city's are the same, the landscape changes but getting to know the people and the culture is always a must.
- Make friends – you can sleep on their couch later.
- Entry fees are a waste of money, a tourist trap. But they're also kinda cool.
- Food, drink and people make the culture.
- Public transport is how the locals do it. Do as the locals do and truly feel the city you're in.
- There are scammers everywhere. People, generally, are most welcoming, but don’t let your guard down.
- National parks are the stuff of dreams.
- Saying yes leads to many a road.
Instead of detailing the specifics of five months world of gallivanting about Europe I’ve simplified it with some Google Maps pictures that highlight the journey from an overland point of view below.
Instagram formed the most part of my visual journey which you can access here ; https://www.instagram.com/elblinko/