Day 376: The First Cataract

11.01.10: Off the train and then over to the High Dam port. Back in the god-knows-when, the British built a dam at the First Cataract. The First (and subsequent) Cataracts are a series of rapids that are impossible to navigate a boat over. Since you couldn't sail a ship over the Cataract, it seemed like a good place to plonk a dam – it would allow the Egyptians to better control the yearly floods and provide nice green energy for the nearby homes. In the 1950s the President of the newly independent Egypt, Mr. Nasser, decided to go one better – he would build The High Dam.. So large that it would wind up creating the largest artificial lake in the world, the High Dam was an impressive feat of engineering. However, by flooding the land south of the First Cataract and thereby creating this massive…

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Day 375: Odyssey Again

10.01.10: Here's what you need to do to get a visa for Sudan: Have two hours sleep Taxi to Sudanese Embassy Queue up at the window Be told to get a letter from own embassy Go to British Embassy Pay $50 for a photocopy of a letter explaining why the British Embassy will not write a letter Back to Sudanese Embassy Queue up again Give them letter explaining why the British Embassy will not write a letter Take application form Fill out application form Panic that you've given your Africa Lonely Planet to Mandy and consequently don't know what to put down on the form for where you're going to stay. Queue up again Be told that you have to photocopy the filled out application form Go down the road and get application form photocopied Queue up again Be given slip to take to Window 2…

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Day 374: Globe Alone

09.01.10: Again I woke up at 6am with every intention of visiting the pyramids, and again I looked to Mandy for moral support on this desire, and once again it was not forthcoming, not because she fell asleep again, but because she wasn't there. Deeply saddened by this revelation, I fell back asleep. It was one of those days during which, I just couldn't be bothered – not with The Odyssey, not with writing up my blog, not with those damn YouTube videos that the powers that be might just let you all watch sometime this decade. Well, then I wasted the day away in the Sara Hotel. There I met Veronica, a girl from Canada who had toured throughout the Middle East and had a ton of wisdom to dispense about Iran – she actually made me look forward to going there. Once I sort…

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Day 373: Goodbyeee

08.01.10: It was a restless night – I had to upload the last of my 2009 tapes to my computer so Mand could drop them off in Lonely Planet HQ next week. Uploading tapes to my computer is not a fun job – it means setting your alarm every hour to get up and change the tape. Mandy slept through it all, but when the 6am snooze went off, it was time to get up-up – I wanted to finally get inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. I've been to the Giza Pyramids a bunch of times – but as only 150 people per morning are allowed in the big one, I've never made it inside. But this time would be different. If we left now, we could make it for 7am, be first in the queue for Pyramid tickets and Bob's-Your-Uncle, Fanny's-Your-Aunt and Who-Killed-Cousin-Monty? I…

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Day 372: It Belongs In A Museum

07.01.10: Thursday started with a very early morning trip to the Sudanese Embassy – I missed out Sudan and Eritrea on the way up here, so Sudan was next on my list (Eritrea will have to wait, all of its land borders are currently closed). There, I was told to come back at 10, which I did (Mandy slept in, the lazy bugger) only to find they meant the 10th of January. It was closed until Sunday. A bit annoying, but no big deal – so long as I could get a visa on Sunday – Sudanese visas can take up to six weeks in Ethiopia. So I roused the Mandster and we headed over to the greatest/worst museum in the world – the Egyptian museum in Cairo. It's the greatest because it’s stuffed to the gills with more Egypticana than you could ever want. It's…

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Days 368-371: The Whirling Dervishes

03.01.10-06.01.10: So Mand and I had a few days kicking around Hurghada. Our hotel had been pre-booked up until the Tuesday night, so we thought we might as well make the most of it. We didn't do much (there ain't much to do!) but we managed to keep ourselves occupied. God it's nice to be back in the arms of the one I love. I don't want to get too mushy about all this, but I seriously appreciate just how bloody marvellous Mandy has been all year putting up with all of this. It's one thing disappearing off into the wild blue yonder for twelve months, but when you leave behind the one you love, it really makes the whole thing that much more of an ordeal – for both of us. When I was locked up in Cape Verde and the Congo, it wasn't what…

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Day 367: Brookes Was Here

02.01.10: To say that our hotel in Hurghada was a bit lousy would probably do insult to lousy hotels. My general dislike for large-scale tourist hotels was not helped by the unhelpful staff, the twin room we were lumbered with or the remarkably bad breakfasts they doled out, much in the manner of an African prison... and I should know! But we made the most of it, fighting our way through the throng of German and Russian holiday makers and out into the bright light of Hurghada. I was in Hurghada about ten years ago, and I found it a dusty, unfinished mess of litter and concrete and I'm sorry to say nothing has changed. One of the first Red Sea holiday destinations, insensitive planning and an unbridled frenzy of concrete tat means that of all Egypts cities, it is possibly the most unattractive. Plus it's…

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Day 366: That Was The Decade That Was… A Bit Crap, Actually

01.01.10: Welcome, friends, to our newest, shiniest decade in years. And, might I say, good riddance to the old one, the rotten turnip that it was. The decade in which being clever was a bigger faux pas than turning up at a Jewish wedding decked out in full Nazi regalia. The decade in which people BRAGGED, yes, BRAGGED about how stupid they were – and, what's even worse, made a skip load of money doing it. The decade in which it was deemed sensible to believe in anything as long as one other nutter on the internet agreed with you. At the first point in human history when all the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the ages are available to everyone, everywhere at the touch of a button – a great leap forward in a world where knowledge is supposed to be power – we find…

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2010: Odyssey Two

Well...we are pleased to announce that Graham managed – unbelievably - to get from Dar-es-Salaam to Cairo in two weeks, via Rwanda and Burundi (without flying!) and met up with his erstwhile girlfriend Mandy at six minutes past midnight on the first of January 2010 at the Pyramids of Giza where they first met 10 years ago...gripping stuff! Our Graham is now the official holder of the world record for visiting the most countries in one year without flying. We're hoping to count 133, but as our figure includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as separate nations, as well as Kosovo, Vatican City and Western Sahara that figure might be revised down a little – we'll have to see what the Guinness World Records people say. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have gone out of their way…

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THE ODYSSEY: Review of 2009

I guess now is a good time to look back over what was the year that was, the highs and lows of life on the road. If you can't be bothered reading my blogs for the whole year (and who could blame you?) here's 2009: An Earth Odyssey in a nutshell... January 2009 Ah, January – the whizzbangshebang through South America... for the first two weeks I was on target and on schedule. But then The Caribbean reared it's ugly head and well and truly stuffed me up for the next couple of months. Countries Visited: 19 Running Total: 19 February 2009 February was a difficult month – just getting from St Vincent to Mexico required all my skill and dexterity, of which I have neither, which is probably why it took me a month, not the week I expected it to. Countries Visited: 10 Running…

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