. . . AROUND THE WORLD 2001/02
Africa 1999
Around-the-World 2001/02

The Team

Jeff Willner
1. Start: Recipe for Adventure
2. Zimbabwe: Hyperinflation
3. Namibia: Southern Circuit
4. South Africa: Circuit 2
5. Zambia/Malawi: Sketches
7. Kenya: Bandit Country
8. Ethiopia: Diary
9. Ethiopia: Border Run
10. Sudan: Across the Sahara
11. Egypt: Cape to Cairo
12. Jordan/Syria: Sept. 11th
13. Turkey: Hospitality
14. Bulgaria/Romania/ Hungary
15. Slovakia/Austria/Poland
16. The Baltics & Russia
17. Scandinavia
18. Western Europe
19. Brazil: Clearning Customs
20. Argentina: Revolution
21. Argentina: To Ushuaia
22. Patagonia Disaster
23. Buenos Aires Beautiful
24. Uruguay: Beaches
25. Chile: Expedition Life
26. Bolivia: Atacama
27. Peru: Transit
28. Galapagos: Gorgeous
29. Ecuador: Jungle Run
30. Knifepoint
31. Dubai: Lay over
32. Singapore/Malaysia
33. Thailand: Hospitality
34. Cambodia: Ankor Wat
35. Vietnam: Hanoi & Halong
36. Laos: Back to Basics
37. China: Beijing Tour
38. China: Shanxi
39. China: Western Province
40. China: Tibet
41: Nepal: Mountains
42. India: Driving Struggle
43. Pakistan: Dodging War
44. Iran: Overcharging
45. End: One Last Laugh

Sally DeFina
1. Cape Town: Robben Island
2. Zanzibar: Mike & I
3. Kenya: African Driving School
4. Sudan: Mud Crossing
5. Patagonia: Goodbye Max
6. Malaysia: Mike Update
7. Thailand: Ko Phangan
8. Cambodia: Phnom Penh
9. Vietnam: By Train
10. Laos: Vang Vieng
11. China: Meet Mr. Chen

Jody Finver
1. Start: Surreal Solipse
2. Great Zimbabwe
3. Brokedown in Kenyan Desert
4. Egypt: So Should I Hyphenate
5. Poland: Home is Where the Truck Is

Gulin Akoz
1. Start: Bits and Pieces
2. Zambia: Diaries
3. Egypt: Africa Memories
4. Turkey: For Your Information
5. The Team and The Bean
6. Somebody Else's Child
7. On My Own
8. Long Lost Memories of Childhood
9. The Tree and the Boy
10. Jealous
11. The Aftermath


Panamerican 2003
Various Trips
Planning an Expedition


Kensington Tours can help you plan your own expedition anywhere in the world.

#7 - On My Own
Gulin Akoz, Dec. '01

There are places I’ll remember all my life…

Is there anybody who doesn’t know the Beatles song?

There are so many places I’ll remember. Here’s just a small selection from Europe:

Berlin: I had never considered going to Germany, didn’t think it would be interesting. But Berlin and especially the Berlin walk tour was fascinating. I’ll go into the details later (some day!), I just want to mention I wish history could be taught like that at school and geography, too.

Honeymoon towns and/or hotels: I was saying I would marry the first man who came to Paris with me, thought it was a romantic place, perfect for a honeymoon. Well, that’s out of the question now.

Actually, in Brugges I made a list of honeymoon places. As I was taking a walk, saw a hotel which looked nice and couldn’t resist the temptation to go in and look. Hotel Die Swaene. It’s a 15th century hotel overlooking a canal. Every room is decorated in a different style and it’s not so unaffordable. The town is small, quiet, with lots of little nice shops and elegant restaurants. The museum has one of the best architectures I’ve seen. The color of the leaves on the stone wall lit by a lantern made me sit and stare at them for 10 minutes. Could have stayed more if Jeff wasn’t waiting.

Hotel Mamunia- Marakesh: Our guide said Hotel Mamunia was among the top 20 hotels in the world. I never did understand this kind of lists, I mean according to who and based on what? Still makes you want to learn and see it for yourself, just out of curiosity, like reading your horoscope in the newspaper. So we all go to see this hotel. At the entrance there’s the hugest vase of yellow roses with long stems. There are flowers scattered everywhere around the hotel. The shop looks like an antique shop with ivory carvings. The whole building, the carpets, the statues, the elevators are like as if they belonged to a museum, every piece is a work of art. Then I go out to the garden. This is like walking in heaven, the trees make an arch corridor. Yes, you definitely need someone beside you here. Another woman from the group comes my way and asks me to take her photo. When I jokingly tell her “I can marry the man who takes me here for my honeymoon,” she says that was what she also was thinking :)

Then comes Sienna. I would like to rent a place for a month and stay there sometime in my life. I guess I like medieval towns. And I have always thought that the idea of going to an exotic tropical island for a honeymoon was cool. But to go to all these places for a honeymoon I’ll have to get married five or six times. Or I have a better idea. Pick one for a honeymoon and the rest will be anniversary places :)

A day in Paris, in fact, not even a day, 3 hours… more than enough for Paris :)

Bilbao: I changed my ticket and paid an extra 30 $ to see the Guggenheim Museum. Didn’t have any idea what I was giving my flight up for. I just knew that I should see the Guggenheim, that was it. To be honest, that may be my stupidity of course but I don’t understand modern art. It seems like they build something simple and ridiculous, then come up with a concept to make it look like art.

Got to admit the building itself is impressive, that Frank Gehry is creative and original but still my favorite architect is Gaudi. Of course, after my dear parents :)

On the streets in Bilbao, I almost got run over by a car a couple of times. Wasn’t looking where I was going. I mean why look where you are going when you can read a book or look at the buildings around you? :) I decide that’s how I’m going to die someday. It´s such a pity that there are no trams anymore so it won´t be as tragic as Gaudi´s death. Gaudi had devoted all his life to his work and religion so he lived in ragged clothes and when he was hit by a tram and was unconscious in the hospital nobody could guess a genious was lying there. They thought it was some old, poor man. Gaudi himself as a person and his work fascinate me!

hurray freedom, long live the trains!

Jeff left, I dropped the truck at the port and was free at last!

Took the train from Bilbao to Salamanca.

Liked Salamanca a lot. Did you know the cathedral here took 220 years to be completed and the book says "when you´re trying to take in the details of the facade you will be amazed how they finished it so fast." Well, I thought “People build things like this so that other people can look at it and go VOW!!”

At the pension, sitting in my room: suddenly I hear the captivating sound of a guitar. As I’m listening to the music, I once again confirm: Salamanca is great. But I bet I won´t feel like this waiting at the train station tomorrow at 4 o´clock in the morning!

Don’t go in to see who is playing the guitar, afraid to disturb him. Later on I find out. It’s the man who runs the pension. I learn more about him. He goes jugging 3-4 days a week, swims and bicycles on the rest, has been playing the guitar for 3 years, says it’s hard, is thinking about starting dance lessons. And he is a great cook! I so much admire people who are multi-dimensional(?)

the train station of Salamanca is engrained in my memory now. 21:00-04:38 (7.5 hours) the other day, 02:20-10:30 (8 hours) yesterday. I knew I wasn’t a born backpacker but next time I want to spend a night at a train station would someone please remind me I’m too old for this stuff?

I almost miss my train back to Salamanca from Porto and I almost miss the station to get off. An elderly couple comes into the compartment. They look so good-natured and amiable. I had intended to stay awake but finally I can’t resist it anymore and sleep takes over. I have the alarm on but I wake up before it goes off. It’s still not time (I figure where to get off from the arrival time). “Salamanca should be the next station. I woke up just on time,” I think to myself. The fatherly old man asks where I am going, “Far?” he says “France?” No, I answer “Salamanca.” He gets up and looks out the window. His head turns this way, looks around the other way, says “This is Salamanca.” I grab my bags in haste. He calls out behind my back not to hurry. I feel bad I couldn’t say good-bye properly… but I’m sure they understood.

I’m sitting in a park. My eyes closed, enjoying the sun when I hear a ´Hola! (hello)´ which sounds like it is addressed to me. I look to see a small boy approaching. He asks “Por que no vas a casa? (why don´t you go home?)” :) He is sooooo cute!

Night fell… I get on the train once again, am trying to put my stuff together on the corridor when a man calls "Hey chica" and says something. I finally figure out that he is saying the last 'compartamento' is empty and I can use it. How can one not love Spain and the Spaniards?!

Porto: It is sunny and nice in Porto. I was thinking to myself that Porto would better worth staying sleepless for two nights and looks like it will be.

I spend the whole day walking the narrow streets, discovering the port, the tram museum, the cathedral, the plaza. Some cities look better at night. With lights, they are like women with make-up.

It is warm during the day but is cold at night. This is supposed to be Europe, right? It looks like these people have not heard of a radiator or a heater and it’s not that it’s too hot that they don't need one!

I cannot say I’ve really been to Porto. Because I didn’t drink port! Unfortunately, Jeff was not there to make me drink :)

i'm so glad i'm doing this trip, that i'm here.
i'm growing-up!

London: Soooo happy to be with a friend! Two days with an old and close friend. The rest of the week with people I didn’t know before. Never could have imagined that I could feel so at home with complete strangers. Met these Turkish people through a Fin boy I had met on the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm. They are so hospital and friendly. Thanks for everything Turgay. I’m so glad to have met you and Namik and Ilkay and Christina and Oguz.

Also it is so good to see that there still are things which can impress me after having been to so many museums and places. The Imperial War museum was so moving. And really would have liked to go to the Tower of London but didn’t get around to it somehow. Anyway, you always need a reason to go back to a place!

Though London was not so rainy and cold as I had expected, I’m happy to be going to summer to Rio de Janeiiiiiiro!

Copyright January 1999-2011
All rights reserved - Jeff Willner
Contact: jeffwillner@yahoo.com