As you all know by now, we’re struggling to reach our budget and are wondering if we will be able to leave as planned in August. You could pretty much say that’s all we think about right now. Not only is it tough to face a change of plans once you’ve set your mind on doing something and planned and prepared for it for a long time, we also have “real” reasons to want to leave this autumn. If we don’t leave in August or September or possibly beginning of October we’re going to have to wait until March, April sometime, simply because 1) the cruiser’s offroad tyres might be great in snow but Bambi-like on ice apparently and 2) it will be too cold camping outside during winter and too expensive paying for proper accommodation in several countries even if we could drive.
Also, staying here this autumn would mean the cruiser would be due for another inspection. You should see Brian’s face from just thinking about that. That would mean removing everything again. Rock sliders, bull bar, back arms, spare tyre, fridge, back seats, recovery gear and anything else adding weight to the car. And putting the load bars back in. Most of these things are a lot of hard work and since he put them back in not thinking he’d ever have to remove them for another inspection he’s not too keen on doing it all over again. The option would be to ignore the inspection but that would mean driving the car illegally and that would obviously affect the insurance so that’s not really going to work.
With summer coming up and most companies closing for several weeks towards July, August we’re swiftly running out of time. We have decided to give it one last big push up until Midsummer’s holidays (end of June). After that we might have to steer over to some sort of plan B. So lately we started going through our options to really find out what plan B might look like. There are ways of saving money but it’s all a sacrifice of some kind. We just have to weigh it towards actually getting to leave as planned. Maybe it would be worth some sacrifices?
This all also involves new research on what route to take. Since Syria is out of the question we’ve mainly looked at how recent travellers have made their way to Africa – and it’s not easy. Take the two Swedish groups for example, one leaving earlier this year and being in eastern Africa now, the other starting their journey just the other day. The first group drove to Turkey and shipped their car across and flew over to Egypt themselves. They paid quite a lot to do that, being in the hands of the local officials. The second group shipped their car all the way from the west coast of Sweden to Egypt and flew down. We’ve started looking into doing something similar but we know two things; we’d like to drive down through Europe and ship from the northern Mediterranean somewhere (even if we have to sacrifice most of the European part of the trip by cutting down on the number of countries and driving through much quicker than planned, we would like to see some of it!) and we don’t want to leave the car on a ferry if we can avoid it. The guy I spoke to the other day, with Grimaldi lines, warned us about having anything loose in the car since the rules are that all cars are left unlocked onboard the ships. I said that we had thought of that and were going to pack everything into the big storage system in the back and lock the back door – but then he told me the back door can’t be locked either! Maybe we could make a fairly secure locking system for the storage system, but we concluded the best thing would be to be on the same boat as the cruiser.
Grimaldi first told me we could ship it from Italy to Alexandria and that we might be able to go as passengers on the boat. Great! We thought we had our solution, but were still a bit nervous to find out how much it would cost. But then that illusion was crushed by another guy, informing us that passengers can’t disembark in Alexandria. He pointed out another option though, something we had considered before but discarded long ago thinking it would be too much of a hassle: Going to Israel.
If you travel between Israel and the muslim countries in the region you will most likely encounter big difficulties getting into the muslim countries with Israeli stamps in your passport. People get around this simply by having double passports! So we were told that this could actually be an option, we could embark (us and the cruiser happily together) in Italy and disembark in Israel and then drive into Egypt. At a total cost of about 10 000 SEK – much cheaper than the option we had heard of before. And as I told Brian all of this he lit up and said “Hey, that also means we could go to Jordan and the Dead sea!”
So now we’re continuing the research – would the Israel option work for us? Are passenger ferries at all an option and how much would they be? I know how to solve the double passport situation for me, but we still need to figure out what Brian must do. (We both needed new passports anyway since mine expires later this year and Brian’s won’t have enough empty pages in it for this trip.)
So the two main ways we’re looking at to save money right now – and increase our chances of being able to leave this year – are:
– sacrificing the European stretch of the trip. Instead of spending about three weeks getting to know southern and southeastern Europe we will pretty much go straight down to Italy. Europe is expensive compared to most African countries, the diesel is more expensive than in Africa. Spending five days to a week there instead of three weeks would definitely save us some money. We had really looked forward to seeing more of the Balkan area and many other places but it’s a sacrifice we might have to make.
– shipping the car across from Italy to Israel and arranging it all from Sweden if possible, rather than driving to Turkey and trying to arrange a trip across to Egypt on site with local offices, risking bribes and problems and delays on both sides.