Thoughts on a Saturday in February

The first few weeks of contacting potential sponsors have really made me realize how hard it is and how long it will take. I didn’t think it would be easy or over in a week, but I’m really starting to understand the immensity of it. To be honest, I had my moments in the beginning where I in despair thought to myself “I didn’t sign up for this” and it felt like the hardest task I’ve ever taken on. However, I’m starting to get the hang of it more and more day by day and that makes it more fun! And although we know it can still go in any direction, we are very happy to tell you that we have our first couple of sponsor meetings booked! After spending so much time on the phone I’m really looking forward to sitting down with some real people and present the project.

We’re also planning on visiting a few different fairs here in Stockholm during the spring, where we might find people interested in our project and potential sponsors. That’s also gonna be more fun than just picking up the phone, there’s nothing like getting to chat to someone in person straight away.

Other than that we’ve been doing a whole lot of thinking about the route lately. With bombs detonating in Syria, the prospects of driving through there in a few months don’t look great. But we had heard that our second option, crossing the Mediterranean into Egypt on a ferry, was quite hard these days as well, often due to the situation in Syria, and doing some research on it that unfortunately seems to be the case. Very few ferry lines are in business and nobody seems to know when they’ll pick up again. In fact, doing research on the topic “getting from Europe to Egypt with a vehicle but not driving through Syria” means getting a whole lot of negative responses. On all sorts of forums people warn you of how hard it is, and even if you would make it there, getting a vehicle into the country is insanely expensive and would you still be insane enough to attempt this – don’t even think about driving in Egypt because you will most likely be killed in a traffic accident! Yay. How encouraging. But then we felt, hey, wait now, so many people have done this before us. It can be done. We just need to figure out how, be patient and be careful.

We’ve started talking about driving through the entire Turkey, along the Syrian border and into Iraq. Through Iraq and into Jordan. But yeah. I can’t say I feel much better about going through Iraq than Syria. Another option would be to take a ferry from Italy to Tunisia or Libya – they seem to be running still – but there are two downsides to that. First of all, just the disappointment of losing out on so many interesting countries in southeast Europe. We had really looked forward to visiting the Balkans. Second of all, there is also the safety aspect of that route. Libya is unstable still and we can’t predict what it will be like in a few months from now. We read that it was difficult travelling through there by car even before, that you have to pay an escort to take you through the country and so on, so we have no idea what the rules are now – if there are any rules now. And this type of information is sometimes difficult to find on the internet. If anyone has any ideas on where to find information regarding things like this, please drop us a line!

Some people have asked why we don’t just simply change our route and go via Gibraltar to Northwest Africa. But we’re not sticking with the eastern route just to be stubborn, we just feel that that is the side of Africa we are most interested in seeing right now and going through Western Africa would mean so many more countries and we’d need more time and money to do it. However, we do realize the limitations of our choice of route since it includes a number of troubled countries and that we will have to look into different options and also budget for different option in case we will have to change route last minute.

With the pressure of hunting sponsors (especially before those meetings were booked and we felt we were standing still and not getting anywhere) and the bad news reaching us from Syria, we felt we really needed to do something fun to cheer us up and bring the motivation back this week. So a few evenings this week we sat down with the laptop and started creating a more detailed time plan. Needless to say – starting in Sweden and going through country by country, not only what there is to see (along our route) and how much time we’d like to spend there but also where to camp and how long it takes to drive from one place to the next – after hours and hours of work we’ve only covered Europe so far. But this has been lots of fun and really brought the motivation back. As I went to work on Wednesday, my mind was still circling around gorgeous camp sites in the Alps, beautiful beaches in Croatia, legendary bridges in Bosnia and amazing architecture in Istanbul.

It’s really great how you can get specific directions from one place to another on Google Maps (as long as the country is mapped, Bosnia isn’t for example) and that way know more or less how far you can get in one day. With the time plan we’ve created so far – assuming we’re taking the route past the Balkans – it will take us three weeks to drive through all of Europe and that feels quite reasonable. We know we can do it in three days, but this time we want to take the time to stop and see things and get to know the places we visit.

Doing a time plan is obviously just to get an idea of what the trip could look like on a day to day basis. And it is just that, to give us an idea – even the smallest changes, like spending a few hours less or a few hours more in one place, will turn the rest of the plan upside down completely. But one of the reasons we’re also trying to figure out a more detailed time plan is because we have been invited to spend Christmas with Brian’s family and relatives in Zimbabwe. As much as we didn’t want to have any set checkpoints along the way but rather be able to take each day as it comes and not having to rush things, it would be quite awesome to get there – by car – just in time for the holidays!

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