All hands on deck.
Prelude to the Journey
The days prior to our journey were not the best. I was ill and there was even talk of shifting it by a week. The build-up was not how we had planned it. Marc and Cathleen arrived in Adelmannsfelden, Germany on the 9th of May in the evening, making us all slightly worried as they were expected early in the afternoon. The thought going through our minds was “oh no!!!” Was the stress maybe too much, have they had an accident even before we can begin. It turned out they just started from Heidelberg later than we had thought. The following morning our journey began. The sun was shining, promising great adventures and fun ahead of us in the next days to come.
Heading out of Germany
So after a good hearty breakfast and a lot of warnings and take cares and advice from Rainer’s parents we started our journey two hours later than we had planned. We made our first stop in Aalen to pick up the final paper required by Rainer for the trip. Yes, people, that’s how “organised and ready“ we were for the trip though it had been being planned for more than half a year. After picking up the documents needed we started our ride. It being the very first day and us having no training on long distances we stopped almost every hour, our bodies starting to say enough. But we knew we could not give up and had to finish a distance of 780 km that day.
Driving through the Alps into Venice
Like all bikers and budget travellers we wanted to avoid toll and take scenic biker roads if one may call them that, and scenic it was! Driving out of Germany into the Alps in Austria is breathtaking. It is a must for anyone who enjoys the majestic beauty of snow-capped mountains with crystal blue green water and small lakes along the stretch. We could not help but stop to take in the beauty of the place. These stops also cost us time. So the initial plan of budgeting and taking winding roads changed very fast as we realized we had to get to Venice that night for our ferry was the following morning. So reluctantly we decided to take the Brenner pass for the remaining of the road. On the way we had a few minor problems already with the motorbikes, but the big shock came when even before reaching Venice the back brakes of Cathleen’s motorbike decided to stop working.
The Floating Romance of Venice
After many breaks we finally reached Venice very late at night, so we could not enjoy the romantic canals of Venice though we did drive along the only road they have through the city. Getting to Venice we realized we need to find a way to fix the bike first if possible and also find a place to stay. It was already quite late so we initially decided to sleep outside the gates to our ferry at the harbour. But before that we needed to find out where the BMW workshop was so that the next morning would not become too hectic. So off we drove out of the harbour area greatly to my relief, as it really should not be anyone’s first pick as a place to spend your first night of a three and a half month tour. We found the shop but of course arriving in the wee hours of the morning we decided to sleep on the side walk in front of their gates. Oh well, it still beats sleeping at the harbour. A thought that has always crossed my mind and crosses it even more since our stop that night is why a harbour is such a staking out ground for sex workers. What makes a harbour more alluring and inviting? On that night in almost every direction one looked every few meters were sex workers loitering around. What was also odd was their seemingly young age. Some seemingly even under-aged. Anyway, my thoughts are maybe for another article on that matter. Here let us stick to our journey. So next morning we were the first customers true but lady luck had decided to turn her head the other way. The spare part was not available so with no choice left but to head for the ship we left the shop and started back for the harbour.
Mediterranean Sea: Pristine Blue Waters
Finally, we were on our way out of Europe and bound towards Africa. Our next four days were to spent on board a ferry for the Visemar line (http://www.visemarline.com/). Expecting to get sea sick, I packed myself with sugar coated ginger and a lot of travel medication. But the ride was pleasant and wonderful to say the least. The ferry had almost no passengers due to the political unrest in the Middle East and so we were probably the last group to have done the crossing before it was suspended until further notice. If and when the ferry restarts it’s a definite must and something we would strongly recommend taking to get from Venice to Alexandria, if one wants to save time and also reduce hassles of entry into the many more countries. The shocking blue of the sea is enough to hurt the eyes. But with the gentle lull and breeze blowing it is a perfect way to unwind and relieve oneself of all stress before one enters Africa. The ferry also offers good food on-board (note they only accept Euros on-board!). As we got closer to Alexandria, we could feel the excitement and also see it in the eyes of others. The excitement of a land full of history and wonders was beckoning us all.
Alexandria, here we come!!!
This is the second part of Maqsuda Afroz’s series on biking through Africa
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