Monthly Archives: November 2013

Sunny Barcelona

Barcelona (Spain), 27.11.2013

Spain welcomed me with one of its more beautiful sides. As I left my hotel in the morning, bright sunshine welcomed me, it was a fresh clear day. I strolled through the Gótico and Born districts to a café I like to go to in Barcelona, where I had a long breakfast, chilling, reading, writing, and preparing my time in town. Continue reading

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Back to Spain

Barcelona (Spain), 25.11.2013

225 days after leaving Spain on a sunny April morning, now came the day to get back. In the morning I packed the car and left Milan in bright sunshine. In no time I was on the motorway towards Genova and spent two hours to reach the border with France. Roads were excellent, traffic very light, weather good – perfect driving conditions. Starting my descent towards the Mediterranean, at some point a valley opened up in front of me, the sea at the end of it, a thick white cloud over the scene, and the sun made the water sparkle, while some white sails moved slowly on the horizon. I wanted to take pictures, but the narrow motorway didn’t allow for a stop. Continue reading

Milano

Milan (Italy), 25.11.2013

Born in Rome, the dislike of Milan has sort of been built into my DNA since childhood. After I got over this silly division with the years, I still never managed to get along with the city, even when I partially lived there for some time. Since this journey had changed my way of visiting and seeing places I thought I’d give Milan another try this time. There were a lot of friends to see again, that had kept contact throughout these months on the road by all means of digital communication to a point that even in the middle of the Mongolian steppe I was kept up to date on the latest developments in town. Continue reading

Central Italy

Milan (Italy), 20.11.2013

The motorway from Rome to Milan is a straight and comfortable ride through an initially very beautiful land and on impeccable roads. I left Rome in the morning after rush hour and was astonished to reach the motorway just 15-20 minutes, usually this takes a lot longer. Weather was OK, and the first 1,5h went by quickly. After many months of driving on anything from bad to nonexistent roads, driving through Italy seemed like a driver’s paradise. Continue reading

The Eternal City

Rome (Italy), 19.11.2013

Although I spent several days in Rome, it is difficult for me to write about it. Everything here was familiar, the city had barely changed in the last two decades, and after months of daily discoveries of new places and people I struggled to accept the return to a known world. I kept looking around like I did in so many other places, to see things I didn’t know and analyse the environment. And I found the love and despair I have always witnessed in the Eternal City. Continue reading

Mezzogiorno

Rome (Italy), 13.11.2013

As the Italian mainland came in sight I woke up on an uncomfortable bench in the ferry’s saloon. Around me some people were still sleeping while the kitchen crew started its preparations for breakfast. A cappuccino at the bar helped staring the day. Outside a fresh but not cold wind welcomed me. Industial chimneys were the first buildings on the shore to stand out. The docking procedures lasted not too long before the handful of cars drove off the ship onto the Brindisi port. At the port’s gates, a customs official asked me a few questions, but got confused by my accounts of where I was from, the journey I did and where I was heading to. Continue reading

The Gods’ Anger Over the Peloponnese

Patras (Greece), 12.11.2013

Almost 20 years ago, on one of my first tours by car, I had visited the heartland of Greece, the Peloponnese. That trip had left many impressions in me, among them the love for Greece and its culture, and it got me hooked to exploring places on four wheels. I remember the simple villages I had crossed, every valley had natural beauty and archeological sights on offer, roadside tavernas were great for a rustic lunch and a refreshment during the heat of the day. Now, on my way back, instead of just driving from Athens to Patras in a couple of hours to take the ferry, I had planned to spend two days exploring this relatively small peninsula full of history. Continue reading

The Birthplace of Western Civilisation

Athens (Greece), 10.11.2013

Many sites of great cultural significance have shaped the route of this journey, and most of them in Asia. To retain the spirit of Eurasian travel, there are some places that cannot be skipped to make the tour complete. And Athens is a major one of these. Inhabited for over 3.400 years, this city is the birthplace of many foundations of western civilisation, and walking through town I could see history everywhere around me. After breakfast I walked towards the Acropolis, through the Psiri district. There were a lot of people on the streets, enjoying the great weather and the marathon that was celebrated today. Continue reading

Hellas!

Athens (Greece), 08.11.2013

Sunshine greeted me as I left the hotel, and I was really tempted to take a walk through the center of Sofia, stroll through the streets and enjoy a breakfast in a cafe. But focus! I wanted to see Meteora in Greece where I had been almost 20 years ago on one of my first car trips. So I left Sofia in the morning, and soon after reached a mountain range on the road south where low hanging thick clouds made the sun disappear. 200km into the day, I reached the border with Greece. The villages I crossed in Bulgaria were very poor, run down, half abandoned. The EU’s wealth hadn’t spread until here yet. Continue reading

The City Crossed Twice

Sofia (Bulgaria), 08.11.2013

The route of this journey runs like an infinity sign with a hugely inflated eastern loop. The place where the lines meet is Sofia, the only city to be visited twice. After the first stop in April, today I reached it again. In the morning I left romantic Sibiu in bright sunshine and tried to cross the Carpathian mountains to the south through a smaller, more interesting road, the Transfagarasan.

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