Days 1,490-1,493: The Last Leg

Mon 29.01.13 - Thu 01.02.13: Monday morning saw Casey and I silently creep out of Lindsey's place around 7am. I was in an epic rush to get to the coach station for 8am so I said my farewells to my better half on the Bakerloo Line before changing at Oxford Circus for the line to Victoria. I had to run like a bag-wielding maniac down the road from the Underground to the bus terminal, arriving BANG ON 8am, sweaty and dishevelled. The bus to Gdansk, Poland was just about to pull out of the station... I waved and shouted and clambered on board. Had I missed the bus I would have been snookered. My Russian visa is waiting for me on the border. It has to be picked up at a certain time on a certain day. That day is tomorrow and that time is 12…

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Days 1,483-1,489: Man of the World

Tue 22.01.13 - Mon 28.01.13: I finally heard back from the Russian visa guy this week. He hadn’t received my original email, so I’ve had to postpone my trip to Kaliningrad for a week until after the Telegraph Adventure Travel Show at which I’m speaking this weekend. But everything has gone through, the visa has been paid for and, well, things seem to be running relatively smoothly. I also got an email from Guinness World Records saying they were ‘considering my appeal’, so fingers crossed there. On Tuesday night I made Spag Bol for Sally to say thanks for letting us darken her doorstep and moved my kit to Matt The Mick’s gaff a little up the road in Brixton. Matt and I used to live together when we were in Manchester University. Now he lives with his lovely wife Tiff. They were happy to supply…

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Days 1,476-1,482: Life In Limbo

Tue 15.01.13 - Mon 21.01.13: I was hoping to be in Russia today. But since when has The Odyssey Expedition run as smoothly as you or I would like?? The past week has been spent crashing on a variety of London couches waiting waiting waiting for the call that never comes. Three this week: Paradigm, Guinness World Records and the Russian Visa Guy. Paradigm The problem is that since Paradigm expressed interest in me, I haven’t wanted to even consider any other options. I was put in a very similar position in Australia when the guy with the magic yacht came on the scene promising me the known world and all the gold that I can eat. You don’t want to appear ungrateful and you don’t want to jeopardise the opportunity that has come your way. The sad thing is that it would be better not…

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Days 1,469-1,475: I Didn’t Do It

Tue 08.01.13 - Mon 14.01.12: Dear Graham Hughes, Thank you for your application for 'First Surface Journey To Every Country in World'. Unfortunately, due to media reports that described that you snuck into some of the countries you visited, we cannot accept your application as a new Guinness World Record, as we, as an organization, do not accept any illegal activity in order to achieve a record. Thank you and we hope you understand. - Guinness World Records When I had gathered my aforementioned jaw off the aforementioned ground, my noodle went into overdrive as I attempted to suss out what the hell I was going to do next. THINK, GRAHAM THINK!! Okay. Calm. The only place I crossed a frontier at a place other than an official border point was when I foolishly attempted to wade across the the River Narva from Estonia into Russia.…

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Days 1,462-1,468: An Unexpected Email

Tue 01.01.13 - Mon 07.01.13: 2013 began, as all good years should, with a kiss. The cute redhead (that isn’t me) is my new girlfriend, Casey Turner. She’s a professional designer, artist and musician and she complements my talent set like Crunchy Nut Cornflakes complement VANILLA ICE CREAM (I demand you stop reading this for a moment and try that for yourself). She’s young, feisty, talented, sweet, witty, dangerous and blessed with a brilliant and cunning mind. We make quite a formidable team. And we’re both ginger. BOOYAH! Casey and I saw in the New Year at a house party off Hope Street in Liverpool. We had been invited along by my gorgeous friend Lorna Brookes. Lorna’s persuasive phone calls to shipping companies had been instrumental in the successful completion of The Odyssey Expedition. There was fondue and a stack of booze, it was all very…

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Day 541: Africa’s Final Fortress

25.06.10: We arrived in Massawa Port, Eritrea just after noon. As I sauntered down the gangplank my head, usually filled with logistics and gibberish, felt surprisingly clear: all I could imagine was the little strip of white running down the right of Africa finally being coloured in. The final sticker in my collection, my last Pokémon, the Kenner toy that completes the set. When I finally touched down it was as good as landing on the moon. Africa. Done. At last. Arriving in Tunisia at the start of May 2009, I would have never envisaged it taking so long and I guess I can say that I’ve been to all the countries in the Middle East as well, but thirteen months is a long, long time to spend cracking one (albeit vast) continent. South America took me two weeks, Europe just 21 days. I honestly thought…

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Record Breakers United!

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of meeting the legend that is Mr. Kashi Samaddar – the current Guinness World Record™ holder for visiting every country of planet Earth in the least amount of time. Top bloke!! What makes Kashi’s record even more impressive is that he did it all on an Indian passport – meaning that for some countries he would be faced with the nightmare of having his visa rejected for some lame reason and then having to wait SIX MONTHS before being allowed to even apply for a visa again! Kashi treated me to an amazing seafood feast at the Far East Restaurant in Dubai and we chatted for a good few hours about our various adventures… you think I’m mad – he’s gone places where angels would fear to tread. I asked him the questions I always get asked – favourite…

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Day 515: Encounter at Farpoint

30.05.10: UAE: The big task of the day was getting my bumper to bumper passport back to the UK so I can get a new one – if you’re keeping up, it’ll be my fourth. Mission accomplished (thank you DHL, you’re THIS much better than British Airways) I arranged to meet up with a certain Mr. Kashi Samaddar. Yep, the bloke whose Guinness World Record™ I’m attempting to beat. It took him six and a half years to visit every country in the world. Me? I’m up to country 158 out of 200 and it’s only been 17 months. (Although I am STILL firmly convinced it could be done in a year… if only I had a yacht…!) Oh yeah, and I’m not flying…! Sometimes I fail to see how monumental the task I’ve set myself really is – I mean, what other world record can…

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Day 514: Cyclic Redundancy Check

29.05.10: UAE: I arrived in Dubai at precisely three hours later than the bus company promised, but that just meant three hours more kip… which is never to be sniffed at. Dubai is pretty hot, especially when you have a backpack and a leather jacket tied around your waist – I was just asking for trouble… I frantically texted Damien, Helen Power’s mate in Dubai who had generously offered his couch for me to sully for a couple of days. Incidentally, I am thoroughly convinced that Helen should change the name of her house to Greyskull, for reasons to obvious to document here. Damien (I would find out later) was nursing the mother of all hangovers and therefore in no fit state to text back, so I spotted a nearby Subway and thought sod it and sat there for a couple of hours finally polishing off…

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Day 513: Curse of the Black Pearl

28.05.10: So with a day to kill, Tracy and I headed out to the museum of Islamic Art. As I’ve mentioned before, with a pretty much outright ban in place over depicting any living thing in a picture or a statue, Islamic art is concentrated around two disciplines – calligraphy and complex geometric shapes. When these two disciplines come together to create something as spellbinding and complex as the Taj Mahal, it truly is a joy to behold. What was particularly cool about the museum (certainly not the architecture I have to say, typical boring brutalist crap by I.M. Not-Very-Good-At-This-Am-I?) was the Pearl exhibition that was on. Before they found oil in the 1930s, the Gulf states paid their way through the pearl trade. A trade that had pretty much dried up over the preceding decades as cultured pearls for Japan had begun to dominate the…

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