Once the boat left the harbor in Haifa, a big relief fell from our shoulders. We had done it! We conquered and travelled around Africa, which according to many people was supposed to be impossible or completely insane. The latter is not completely wrong though, it was crazy but sure it was fun!
This was the last time we had to deal with tough border officials for customs, immigration, gendarmerie or whatnot. We were happy to be on the water where there was a nice breeze cooling us down from the burning heat in Israel. Right after we left port, lunch was served in the dining room. That’s when it really occurred to us that this is no normal passenger ferry. We were eating with a few truckers and the rest were all crew for the boat. We were the only ones with a private vehicle. The food was good though, proper meals were being cooked three times a day.
The cool breeze from the sea didn’t reach inside the boat though. Because the boat was a former Finnish (what a coincidence right?) ferry, the windows wouldn’t open and there was absolutely no air conditioning or fan. Our cabin was way above African standards, but it was way too hot to sleep in. Not only during the day would we stay around the deck, would we also sleep on the deck. We dragged our mattress out onto the deck and slept next to the life rafts. Not very comfortable or quiet, but at least it was possible to sleep. Overall we enjoyed the trip and it was great knowing that we would arrive at the other side safely. Almost all paperwork was processed by the shipping company and the things that still needed to be done, were explained well. An advice for other overlanders taking the same ship, take a fan or something, as there is 220v available in the cabin. Also pay in local currency as they ripped us off twice over bad currency exchange, as they converted the shekel back to euro even though the company is from Cyprus.
Once arrived in Greece, the shipping agent took care of all the clearance and customs paperwork. Except that they forgot to stamp our carnet. We needed the last stamp to prove we were back in Europe. After running up and down to different people, it became clear that no one really knows what they were doing. We then personally had to tell the customs manager what he had to do and for what reason, it was like he had never seen a carnet de passage before. Eventually after a lot of struggle they put a stamp and signature, we were done. It was like they were bored of their jobs and just needed a little fight to keep happy. Anyway we had made it all the way, no more paperwork bullshit! Hurray!
The first thing we did was visit a coffee shop as we had absolutely no food left and we were too hungry to go shopping. Lavrio itself isn’t a big tourist place, but it being Greece there were little coffee shops everywhere. And they had Wi-Fi too! We sat there for at least two hours enjoying the sweet pastries, coffee’s and sharing our victory with the internet.
I still remember when we visited the Lidl next. As all supermarkets were closed in Israel, we hadn’t seen a real proper supermarket since Zimbabwe. The fruits and vegetables were so big and fresh, the bread and pastries were all smelling so good and everything was fully stocked and available. Even the prices were affordable again! Never have we been so happy to be in a supermarket.
We stocked up and started making our way north. We visited the Acropolis in Athens, drove through the Olympic mountain range and made our way to Macedonia. We noted that it was hard to be impressed by these places in Greece, as we just came from Egypt and Israel. Everything there was bigger, better and cheaper.
When we left Europe last year we kind of regretted not visiting one of the most famous castles in the world, the Nueschawnstein Castle in Germany, so we decided to go there now. Boy that was miserable. There is actually a little town in front of the castle to receive and accommodate all the visitors. We didn’t expect it to be this busy so we didn’t have any tickets booked. The next tour available in English would be in 3 hours. It was raining and even then you would end up between a mass of tourists. We were kind of shocked by the tourism created for this castle and left towards Switzerland to complete our loop around Africa.
Now we go to the supermarkets and expect everything to be there, go home and have water, electricity, normal toilets and internet waiting for us. The public transport actually shows up more than once a week and the roads do not contain potholes and corrupt police officials. Things like these are so easy to get used to, but what else should we complain about?
Our trip has come to an end and it is time for us to become a slave of the modern world again. We will be applying for jobs all around Europe, so if you know something suitable or have questions about our trip, please let us know!