Day 431: Back On Track

07.02.10: The ferry ploughed head-first into the Greek port of Igoumenitsa at around 6am (it was still 5am for me) and speedy disembarkation was encouraged… mmm… no passport controls… nice! Whilst sleepily trudging across the car park I noticed that there was a bus marked “Istanbul” waiting picking up passengers off the ship. Must be some sail & ride scheme or something. Not wanting to waste a minute, I knocked on the door and asked for a ticket. The driver’s mate asked for €80. I offered €50 and that seemed to work. Lucky it did, the bus took off before I got to my seat. No time for love, Dr. Jones… Igoumenitsa is not the most attractive of towns, so it wasn’t too much of a heartbreak to bypass it and head straight towards Thessaloniki through some of the most scrumptious countryside in the world. Not…

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Day 432: Day of Disaster

08.03.10: Woke up at a respectable time and headed over to the Iranian Embassy all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I jumped in a taxi only to find it would have been a five minute walk. If that. And so mere seconds later (and €5 lighter) I waltzed into the Embassy and gave the bearded chap behind the visa window my reference number (given so I could pick my visa up ‘straight away’)... sadly I was told that my reference number wasn't valid. What? I paid CHRISTKNOWSHOWMUCH for this damn number. Are you on crack? Try again tomorrow. Dammit. Not to be phased by this unfortunate turn of events, I then jumped in a taxi and asked him to take me to the Azerbaijan Embassy. MORE TAXI FUN! To be fair he DID bother putting his meter on, but then he drove in circles around the one way…

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Day 433: The Pope’s Nik-Naks

09.03.10: Scraping my face from my pillow, I headed back to the Iranian Embassy (this time I walked) with a shiny new reference number. The embassy’s only open for two hours in the morning, so I tried to get there in good time, but after making me wait an hour they asked for a photocopy of the page in my passport that had my Turkish visa stamp in it. I hurried back to the hostel to get it copied, then headed to the bank to pay in the WHOPPING €95 visa charge (most expensive in the world so far, I reckon), but by the time I got back to the embassy, it had closed. I’d have to come back tomorrow. Damnit. Oh well, I thought, I’ll head over to the Azerbaijan Embassy and get my other visa sorted. A long tram-funicular-metro ride later, I got to…

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Day 434: My Wit’s End

10.03.10: I dropped the passport, photos, photocopies and receipts off at the Iranian Embassy, expecting a ‘great stuff Graham, here’s your visa!’, but instead got a ‘come back tomorrow’. One more night in Istanbul, then? Humph. Sans passport, there was little I could do about getting my Azerbaijan nightmare solved today, but I went to the embassy anyway to make sure everything was in order. I was told that the Letter of Invitation which I had paid £80 for was now invalid. Why? Because it was addressed to London, not Istanbul. So what?! I hear you cry. Man, this lot LOVE their paperwork. Just love it. Like a teenage boy likes to lock himself in his room. Maybe they kneel down with all their juiciest paperwork spread out in a horseshoe in front of them, undo their flies and... and... oh, never mind... The short of…

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Day 435: The Getaway

11.03.10: The fact that I got out of bed this morning just goes to show how dedicated to the cause I am. Atheer didn’t get up until well after noon. First up, I needed my passport back. After a quick (but surprising) fingerprint-taking session, the Iranian Embassy gave me my little burgundy booklet of travel, furnished with a brand new visa. I had Iran in the bag. Now I just have to get there before World War III kicks off. I had got in touch with Jamel, a couchsurfer in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to ask if he could write me a new letter of invitation. No probs he said, but it would take him a couple of hours to get it proofed and everything. The Azerbaijan Embassy closed at 1pm and was way way way on the other side of town. I HAD to…

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Day 436: Rimming The Black Sea

12.03.10: Dear old Bertie died of a heart attack in the 1920s and - according to his wishes - had been stuffed and kept in the little museum on the grounds of the fabulous manor house that Mand and I were visiting for Pimms and cucumber sandwiches. Bertie looked hilarious in his tartan and tweed and hadn’t aged a day. He was characteristically mounted standing up and holding the very glass of whiskey he was drinking when he passed away. The whiskey had evaporated over time, but one sleuthy sniff revealed to me the tell-tale smell of almonds in his drink – arsenic, old bean: dear old Bertie didn’t die of a heart attack, he was MURDERED, and what’s more… his killer was in this very room… Before I could whip around and reveal whodunit, I woke up and found myself on a bus heading east…

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“Graham’s World”: My Very Own TV Show Starts Tuesday!

Okay, Odyssey fans... this is it, the television show documenting my travels is being shown every TUESDAY at on the Nat Geo Adventure Channel, which is available in 40 countries across Asia and South America.  If you can get it, great.  If you can't, you're stuck with my YouTube videos until it gets broadcast on the BBC (fingers crossed) early next year!! The eight episodes of season one cover the first 133 countries of The Odyssey Expedition - my journey from Uruguay to Egypt, starting on 1st January 2009 and finishing on 31st December 2009. EPISODES: 1. From Argentina to Guyana 2. Caribbean Castaway 3. From Cuba to Tunisia 4. Arrested In Africa 5. African Rough Road 6. Congo Chaos 7. Africa Island Hop 8. Pyramids Or Bust As for the final 67 countries... (including Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea) Lonely Planet TV have just bagged first refusal on the second series... WATCH…

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How To Travel The World On The Cheap!

I've been stuck on the border with Papua New Guinea for the last few days, so not wanting to waste my time I made this here video for ya! It's set up so that EVERY CLICK results in money going to the charity WaterAid: so why not set up an auto-refresh program, such as this one for Internet Explorer or this one for Firefox, leave it running overnight and give give give without spending a penny!! Enjoy! Share! Comment! Here's the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAbCgr6jJ_0

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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 1,450: 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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