Day 1,461: And So, In Closing…

Mon 31.12.12: If you’re lucky, very lucky, you might live 30,000 days, about 82 years. You won’t remember much of the first 4,000: you’re just a kid. The following 1,800 you’re not old enough to take on the world. The final 8,000, well, they’re kinda sucky and you won’t look so good. That leaves just 16,200 days for you to really live your life. And that counter is ticking down with every sunset. I’m 33, almost 34. I’ve already used up more than 12,000 of my overall days and 6,200 of my decent ones. But I spent 1,461 of those days, those precious days, doing something no other human being in history has ever done. I didn’t quit when things got tough, I didn’t accept no for an answer. Some may follow and do it faster, others might scoff and find this whole thing ridiculous, but…

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Day 1,455: Let’s Hear It

Tue 25.12.12: Merry Christmas everyone! I started this THANK YOU list over 6 weeks ago, and it’s still hopelessly incomplete. These are just SOME of the people who made The Odyssey Expedition possible. There are many, many more I still have to add, you’re best viewing this as a work in progress: Mum & Dad, Mandy Newland, Lorna Brookes, Dino Deasha, Simon Barber, Anna Rosser, Lindsey Bennett, Christian Olsen Alex Zelenjak, Rocco Fasano, Scott Jones, Leo Skelly, Alex Hughes, Laura McGann, Grethe Børsum, Matt Eland, Thierry Klinklin, Colm Broaders, John Howell, Hugh Sheridan, Maia, Carlos, Mario and his family, Francisco, Cedric, The Officers and Crew of the MV Miriam, Annette Callander, Linda, John & Ted of The September Song, Kim, Rochelle, Martin & Fabio, Seamus, Wayne, Captain Grant, Christal and her parents, Joanne, Kerri and Andrew of The Mariposa, Sarah, Rosa, Mehrdad, Ken, TJ & Esperanza,…

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Day 1,452: Well, I’m Back

Sat 22.12.12: I had planned a long time ago to return to my hometown of Liverpool on the ferry. Originally it was to be the ferry from Ireland, but it would have been dark by the time I arrived, so instead I opted to hurtle around to Birkenhead and take the Ferry Cross The Mersey made famous by Gerry and the Pacemakers. Either way, I wanted to finish The Odyssey Expedition by ship, pulling up alongside the iconic Liver Buildings. The ferry was all but empty, not surprising considering it was a wet and windy Saturday afternoon – as well as the last major shopping day before Christmas. The Pier Head loomed into view and up at the terminal building I could see my friends and family waiting for me. I was met off the gangplank by some press photographers and a camera crew. While I…

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Day 1,450: All The Old Turks

Thu 20.12.12: So arrived at Istanbul international bus station bang on 8am and then started the usually fun (but not fun today because it was cold, damp and my feet still hadn’t dried off from the day before) process of finding me a bus goin’ en-eeee-where. Turkey has dozens of bus companies going to every corner of the country and much of Europe. Greece was quickly struck from the list as the buses only seemed to leave at night and it would take 10 hours just to get to Thessaloniki, not even half way to Igoumenitsa. The other option then was to take a bus to Germany. As I didn’t have a map with me (and there wasn’t one on the wall in the office) I figured that Düsseldorf might be a good option. The bus would take 40 hours and arrive around 7am on Friday…

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Day 1,448: Asia, One Last Time

Tue 18.12.12: It was teeming down with rain when the ship arrived in Iskenderun. I was feeling rather intolerant of any hanging about, but that’s what we did. First of all we waited to get or passports back, then we waited to get off the ship, then we waited in the customs building for the minibus to come and pick us up. Then it took us to the wrong gate so we waited – in the rain – for the minibus to come back. Then it took us to the correct gate. Then they wanted to check our bags. Again. In the rain. I should point out that since climbing the volcano in Réunion and consequently climbing the pyramid in Egypt that my shoes have quite literally fallen apart. The upper has come away from the soul around the front of both shoes, they both have…

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Day 1,447: Africa Has The Last Laugh

Sun 16.12.12: Kendra, Mohammed, Mohammed, Mohammed and I jumped into the car and headed back to Cairo. Tahrir Square was having some kind of meltdown, so we had to get back to Kendra’s via Timbuktu, not arriving until 8am. As I wished to be on the bus to Port Said by 8am, this was not the best of all possible worlds. The ferry over to Turkey was due to leave at 1pm, so I’d be cutting this finer than Parma Ham. As the others went to get breakfast I hurtled into Kendra’s flat, had a quick shower (my last until next Friday), gathered my things together and we headed back out. What I really needed was a café with good, fast internet. Kendra said there was a place around the corner, letting her gender down by failing at special distances by a factor of 10. It…

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Day 1,446: 29.9792°N, 31.1342°E

Sun 16.12.12 So long as the world continues spinning and the sun continues to shine, there will be days. There will be happy days, sad days, rainy days, days in the sun, wasted days, salad days, dog days, birthdays, stay-in-bed days, days when the world is your oyster and days when you lose your shirt. But every so often you have a perfect day. A day in which it all comes together. It might be something you’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It might be a childhood dream you never thought would actually come true. It might be a day when you finally win the lottery. Or it might be all three at once. Today was all three at once. I love Egypt. Okay, I’ll poke fun at the place as I would a younger brother, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love…

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Day 1,444: I Predict A Riot

Fri 14.12.12: Yesterday the Sinai arrived in Aswan without too much fuss. Danny and Jill, the couple I shared lunch with in Wadi Halfa, slept the night on the deck in front of the bridge. They must have been freezing. After disembarkation we got chatting outside customs to the Aussie girl who had just, with the help of Mazar and Midhat Mahir, taken the first EVER tourist bus into Egypt from Sudan USING THE ROAD. This is no small achievement and paves the way for much easier travel through Africa for all us overlanders. The Sinai doesn’t take cars: you currently have to leave your vehicle in Wadi Halfa or Aswan for the barge to bring over a few days later. Danny, Jill and I shared a taxi from the port into town. Wow it’s grown in the last 13 years. In the afternoon I had…

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Day 1,443: His Dark Materials

Thu 13.12.12: According to some, in an alternate reality the path I’ve chosen through life puts me in a very different place. Somewhere in the multiverse there’s a Graham who is sitting on this bench in Aswan’s Botanical Garden, his sassy Australian girlfriend Mandy by his side, laughing and talking like we did on this very same bench 13 years ago. But not in this reality. In this reality I’m sitting here on my own. But maybe it was always supposed to end like this: maybe whatever path I had chosen Mand and I would have split up. Say I had moved to Australia and got a job shelling prawns in the local prawnery (foreigners aren’t allowed decent jobs in Oz, and in any case the strength of the Aussie dollar makes TV and film production vanishingly unlikely as a viable career). Would the gruesome waste…

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Day 1,442: The Battle of Lake Nasser

Wed 12.12.12: It was an early start as Mazar left to go help fix what – if it works – could herald a new era for trans-Saharan travel. Today he would be attempting to get a backpacker truck from Wadi Halfa to Aswan USING THE ROAD. The fact that the only legal way to cross the 1,275km-long imaginary line in the sand that constitutes the border between Egypt and Sudan is over this damn lake is one that is as ridiculous as it is typical of this part of the world. Why should this be the case? Well, because the guy who owns the ferry boat pays off the Sudanese government to not open the road, the road that was built TWENTY YEARS AGO linking the two countries. So instead of, you know, simply hopping a bus to Aswan (a journey that would take 2 hours),…

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