Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Lowlights of the Grand Tour

"For we live in the best of all possible worlds" (Voltaire's Candide)

1 - "Triple Soup" in Bergama, Turkey. Do try it.

2 - Hitch-hiking through 300km of rural Turkey to retrieve my forgotten passport, on my second day in that country.

3 - A hasty and complex change of Roman hotels from the port city of Patras, Greece, after unveiling disturbing news about the hotel I had previously booked.

4 - The lurching high-speed ferry to Dar-es-Salaam from Zanzibar. I now have an unusual pavlovian reaction to Mrs Doubtfire.

5 - The bus from Antalya to Olympos, undoubtedly the second-worst journey of my life.

6 - Realising I had no way of withdrawing cash in Cairo.

7 - The sudden sharp loneliness after the girl I explored Rome for a week with left to return to Finland. I could have sworn she was still following me through the streets for days afterwards, and kept turning to see no-one.

8 - Being stalked by an unseen presence as the darkness fell in the forests of Meteora, Greece.

9 - The interminably boring land border crossing from Turkey to Greece. Dante must have taken notes there for one of his medium-intensity circles of Hell.

10 - The bedbugs of the Freestyle Hostel, a cesspit the size of a living room, with the worst bathroom I have ever imagined to be feasible. In fact, the Freestyle Hostel deserves three notches on this list, if it weren't for the saving grace of two lovely girls from Kansas.

11 - Watching, with traffic-accident morbidity, the growth of footworms in my colleagues' feet as we travelled across Africa.

12 - Realising that the Tanzanian Schilling cannot be transferred into any other currency within Tanzania, or anywhere else in the world.


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