Toudeshk (IRAN) Settembre 2017

Bus YazdIsfahan

We need to get down in a village, between these two cities, but it’s not even reported on our map! Toudeshk!
After three hours of travel along a very arid desert landscape where, very seldom a small village appeared around a mosque... suddenly the bus stops... we look out the window... nothing... 35 degrees... all the passengers look at each other questioning what was happening... the driver approaches us screaming: Toudeshk!

We get down... the driver leave our backpacks on the dusty ground and, worried, looks at us with a very eloquent expression: "what about now?"
Pretending that we know what we are doing, we smile at him wishing him a safe trip! The bus departs... the scene is hilarious...

We laugh and we go towards the only hut we see... there is a chubby man.. he looks at us and says: "Mohammad Jalali" (the owner’s name of the Guesthouse booked by the bus terminal)... as if it was a code word, I nod and two seconds later we find ourselves packed in a pick up with our backpacks and stroller in the back of concrete and lime! Luckily he brings us to the guesthouse where we will spend one of the most characteristics and unforgettable nights of the whole journey.

 

 

Maho Beach (ST MAARTEN) March 2017

The sea is so clear and transparent that gives you the impression of being in a pool....

Run, jump and PUFF... dip in the CaribbeanSea...

In relax and without noises I enjoy this feeling of lightness when suddenly I feel Gianluca touching my shoulder shaking...

I soon come out the water right away when a huge boeing passes a few meters from me, scaring me a lot!

 

 

Maun (BOTSWANA) November 2016

By mokoro (local canoe carved from a large tree trunk) we start to discover the magnificent Okavango river slipping slowly on its waters, almost caressing it gently!

Suddenly our poler stops, he looks very worried... from the bleak backdrop a large hippopotamus emerges, it could have made us sink very easily... basically this is the animal that reaps more victims in the whole Africa...

Luckily, it looks at us a bit curiously but then disappears again... we'd better move to another place!

Mt Hagen (PAPUA NEW GUINEA) October 2014

Stefy asks a girl her age. She candidly and calmly replies that she doesn’t know it... while suddenly a friend of her approaches us saying that she knows that… she should be around 20 and 40 years old!

 

 

Lomè (TOGO) March 2014

[Stefy]: "I bought an orange fabric in Ouidah and I really liked it, because I wanted a dress tailored at Lome market, we ask around to find a tailor. We walk along the main street of crafts, we turn to the fruit one, then we turn over a side street ending in small and tight private courtyard where, in a corner, there is a skinny kid pooping in a jar of tomato sauce... ok we have fund the tailor! I take all the measures and agree the price of 5000 CFA. Ila and Rosy meanwhile end up buying the fabric to another store to be able to make a dress too... In 1 hour time the tailor will prepare our dresses... just to get that money they would have promised us the moon! In fact, after more than an hour and a half he had just started the second one! We will wait less than 4 hours to see our clothes ready... but it was worth it! "

Queen Elizabeth NP (UGANDA) December 2013

It's 5.30 in the morning in this camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Out of nearly dawn . The two rangers yawning sitting on a log in front of the remains of the fire that warmed them all night.
There are still two big hippo footprints near our tent . I think to myself , my SCOUT friends would enjoy here to look for traces of a thousand animals of the savannah ...
I headed to the "bathroom" ... Ernest, our guide is already removing his tent ...
just a few feet away from me a huge elephant with its trunk ripping whole branches to chew like chewing gum ... I smile to myself thinking how different it can be my awakening in Italy ...
But better to do it in the open air rather than the bath one meter from the pachyderm ... Ernest continues to dismantle ...
That peace in the morning , only the sounds of hippos deaf not far away ...
But now I have to rinse your face ... the fountain is next to the large pachyderm but I'm not worthy of a look ... just when
I approach a small elephant emerges ... I freeze . The big elephant trumpets with force and shaking huge ears ... Step back ... Five or six other elephants come out ... I turn to Ernest ... where is it? It runs in the opposite direction ... and if the African guide escapes ...

San Josè (COSTA RICA) February 2013

Chatting with Carlos about Costa Rican idioms, he explains us that it is very common to be called, among friends, "huevon" (literally: large eggs but also "two balls" or "two testicles").

Too bad that shortly after this conversation we all go get an ice cream and I'm buying it. Here is the scene: - "A helado porfavor ... with dos huevon ..." and Stefania: "Yo tambien" (translation: An ice cream, please, with two dorks!).

The ice creamer looks at me puzzled ... Carlos starts laughing as a crazy!

 

Roatan (HONDURAS) January 2013

I get the smart idea to follow a group of snorkellers, super fitted in a spot of snorkeling ...

Too bad that: 'cos of my fogged mask, I'm often forced to many pit stops and especially the lack of fins, at some point I find myself completely alone in the middle of the sea ... the beach is far away, I can't see Stefy anymore, a strong current pushes me away even more off ... the organized group suddenly veered and I am alone, lost and tarnished with the mask.

I see a guy in the canoe, he, instead of helping me, suggests me to get as close as possible to the rocks without touching the dangerous coral, there would have been less strong current.

The marine flora was so lush and majestic for me, it made me imagine a scene from Jurassic Park.

I do my best and, above all, try to stay calm, the beach is 150 meters far, maybe more, but at least the current does not carry me far away anymore... slowly, struggling with the waves, I approached and finally, after fifteen minutes of forced swimming, I reach the shore and collapsed exhausted on the shore.

Panglao (PHILIPPINES) March 2012

Relaxing at the pool, a few minutes after our arrival at our beautiful guesthouse, we were approached by a French guy, who also just landed on the island! His name is Kevin and lives in Singapore. Chatting a bit he suddenly askes us: "Are you those guys from CouchSurfing?" - "What do you mean, pardon?" - His eyes wide with wonder - "A few months ago you asked me hospitality in Singapore but for a variety of misunderstandings we didn't mnage to arrange it!"


Sometimes world is so small!

 

Kuta (INDONESIA) March 2012

We arrive at the airport in Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) and pay fees out of the country with 24 Brunei $. While waiting for our plane, we take a coffee in the airport bar: 2 Singapore dollars. Three hours later we land in Kuala Lumpur, we have lunch in a local restaurant and pay the bill: 15 Malaysian ringitt.
Another flight and we land in Bali: U.S. $ 50 for entrance fees. We stop to have dinner in a stall not far from our hotel and eat some good noodles paying 16 rupees Indonesian! The day ends here but: no fear, I still have our 210 euros for emergency hidden under my T-shirt!

Kuala Lumpur (MALAYSIA) February 2012

While visiting the holy temple "Tatt Khalsa" accompanied by a very courteous Indo-Malayan lady and after chatting with one of the leaders of the temple, praising and extolling their culture, I find out that my flip flops had mysteriously disappeared!
General embarrassment! Disappointed and angry, I quarrell a little with our bearded and humbled Cicero who gather once all his henchmen.
A few minutes later: here my flip flop are again!
"By mistake", the priest of the temple had taken them...
I look at him straight in the eye and we understand each other... all around us everybody are mortified and continue to apologize for what happened... I cut short by saying that things like this can happen... but we understood each other!

Poipet (CAMBODIA) January 2012

Here we are at the border between Thailand and Cambodia. A Cambodian policeman, regardless of the correctness of the data on my entry form in his country, or my passport photos shows me a card, written in pen, in which informes the tourists that you had to pay an additional fee of 100 baht per head with no other explanation ... I only have 120 baht left... he asks me to get out of the line to follow another policeman on the sidelines... I empty my wallet before his eyes... he grabs the 120 baht, nods to his superior, and he pockets them without problems... Whatever!

 

Vang Vieng (LAOS) January 2012

Forty miles along rough roads by red earth, crossing remote villages, fields of plantains, rivers and dense forests when we are stopped by a bunch of people right at the beginning of a bridge ... They tell us we have to pay a toll to cross the bridge ...
Toll? Yet another ... Not this time ... I turn around and try to cross the river with my  motorbike ... but it is too deep ... we have no alternative .... Under the amused and arrogant gaze  of the people of the bridge, at a walking pace, I approach the group that was already preparing to collect the tax ... we are now a few feet from them when I accelerate suddenly, I almost lose  Stefania, flying over the bridge, I glance back  just on time to see their astonished eyes!

Ayutthaia (THAILAND) December 2011

We stroll around  from an archaeological site to another....
Some are still closed to the public because of the flood that devastated this area of ​​Thailand... at first blush, however, we do not understand the reason for closing considering  that the situation now seems to be restored, but Stefy soon realizes it when before the nth sign: "do not go overcome this point" ... to take a picture, she  takes a step forward, exclaiming: "But it's all right ..." indeed "it's all riiii..." since she slips on the fresh mud landing with the back on the ground

Kolkata (INDIA) December 2011

After a long and emotional conversation with an elderly nun who told us stories of life lived with the Holy Mother Teresa, we go away from her, with our  eyes still shining when a girl from  Eastern Europe timidly approaches us, very embarrassed, turns to Stephanie asking: "Excuse me, may I ask you where you bought these pants? they are so beautiful ..."

No comment

Alleppey (INDIA) November 2011

We return to the room after a romantic dinner  in our usual restaurant: Mushroom.


A few moments later I hear a scream of terror coming from the bathroom.
I run there and I see Stefania that looks horrified a huge spider that rests quietly on the wall beside the toilet. I am not exaggerating when I say that was huge!
Never seen one so big. It was as big as my hand.
It would not be hard to kill him but first I wanted to understand who I was dealing with.
I quickly call Johnson, the manager of our Guest House, just trying to reassure us he diminishes the incident but his face changes when he sees the spider.
And instead of  killing it, he tries to catch it alive, creating a huge mess and managed to loose it, allowing it to run away and hide somewhere in our room!
Damn!


A little embarrassed, he  goes away wishing us "good night"!
I couldn't manage to sleep!

Udaipur (INDIA) Novembrer 2011

Stefania is packing her big backpack.


In a short time we have our train to Bombay.

She has just finished taking a shower and, finally, still in her bathrobe, close the last string of the enormous backpack.

"It 's done" - she exclaims satisfied ... when, suddenly, she turns to me with a bewildered and says, "Nooooo, I forgot to leave out the clothes for the journey"!

 

Ajmer (INDIA) October 2011

Maha, an old Hindu in his 70's, takes us to visit the lake of Ajmer.


We spend some time with him  chatting about many things  until we notice a huge group of people  around us, just to observe us, so big that even  the police approaches to make sure there were no problems.

Varanasi (INDIA) October 2011

Exiting  from the cremation ghat, yet super smoked after receiving the blessing of two old holy women who sent us their "good karma", after a hefty offer, I do not even walk three steps, with my  flip-flops, that I fall over a huge cow shit...
Good  karma, uhm?

 

Pokhara (NEPAL) October 2011

[Stefy]: The bus Pokhara - Sarangkot, full as ever, occasionally stops to board  other passengers.  Now they start  sitting  on the roof  'cos inside there was not an inch off.

Suddenly I saw a woman passing a baby, a few months old, her son, from a window  to a total stranger  who had managed to sit down while she was climbing on the roof.

 

Pokhara (NEPAL) October 2011

We leave our bag with dirty laundry in a laundry in Pokhara and when we get the recipt of the collection date: October 16, 2068!
"Damn,  how long does it take you to wash these clothes?"

Fortunately it was only the next day according to the Hindu calendar

 

Death Valley NP (USA) June 2011

Our car trudges uphill and downhill, we're not used to the automatic speed.

The second car suddenly stops. It has the front wheels on fire.

Panic.

We get down and suddenly shots of gallons of water we try to limit the damage!

We manage!

 

Las Vegas (USA) June 2011

We enter one of the many chapels where with $ 55 you can get married.


You need just a simple ID!

Just in front of me and a receptionist answers the phone:
"Oh yes, we are available on Wednesday at 16.00. What time you prefer to get married? Ok see you tomorrow then! "

 

Venice (ITALY) February 2011

Looking for a little warmth we take refuge in a bar, not far from the famous Piazza San Marco in Venice.

We believed that the distance was enough to avoid being "treated" by "average tourist" ...

Apparently we were wrong.

€ 17.20 for a tea and a h ot chocolate ...

Those 20 cents made me ill!

 

Caia (MOZAMBIQUE) September 2010

In the middle of the night I have to go to the bathroom!

I quietly and shipped enter the first.
Suddenly I block before two large unidentified insects resting on the wall ...
Whatever. I shut the door and cautiously enter the second ...


Whew! What seemed a mere twig on the toilet is actually a large praying mantis ...
Last bath... A big cricket welcomes me ... but now I am tired: my flip-flops prints on the wall!
I'm in a hurry.

 

Caia (MOZAMBIQUE) September 2010

We instruct the ranger of our camp on the Zambezi River to purchase some beer and coca cola for dinner ... As a reward we offer one to him.
He departs with his bike and lighted his torch ....
he disappears ...

After a while, the boys begin to become nervous and almost take issue with me, the ideator of everything.

I am an optimist. He can not disappear like that!
An hour and a half later we see him riding towards us, all sweaty and tired. African Time? No, he had to ride ten kilometers to reach the nearest village with his old bicycle to complete the mission

Vilankulo (MOZAMBIQUE) September 2010

After viewing the photos taken by Anna at dawn, we put aside our laziness, we decide to wake up early...

Pitch dark in the hut when Ugo questions or exclaims: "It's five o'clock"!

We jump up and in a few seconds we are out of the hut as snowmen covered and wearing all that we found...
Cameras ready ... Nick is sleeping... Anna strangely is late... I greet a girl who enters the hut closest to us and I think to myself, "Shit, this girl goes back at five in the morning" ... The music of a discotheque on the beach not far "pumps" ... "At this time?" I keep thinking ... Ugo gets angry because his watch had stopped at 2.37 a.m. and asked the exact time to all of us, but nobody in a hurry took his watch...

After a while Anna comes out and curiously asks: "Guys, where are you going now? It's twenty to three! "
We look at Ugo that justifies: "I just asked!"

Two minutes later we were again wrapped in our sleeping bags ...

 

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) December 2009

Angel confesses me: "You know Mark, after hearing that there might be our return flight to Italy on January 19 I can't help thinking about this date, I started the countdown and then time seemed stopped ... "

And I, reassuring him: "You are wrong to think about it... I try not to think that there 44 days, six hours and 26 minutes missing..."

 

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) December 2009

I enter the office and see Tuncer "aka Iceman", Turkish Muslim, with a box of candy in his hand ... curious I wonder: "Ice, where did you get it?"
He, innocently: "A Belgian soldier dressed by, how do you call him? St. Nicholas and distributed to all ..."

I ask: "St. Nicholas?"

And he sure: "Yes, St. Nicholas, the one of your Christmas"


- "Wait, maybe you meant Santa Klaus?"


- "Ah yes, that's right, Santa Klaus!"

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) November 2009

Paoletto and Dido working with the barbecue ...


I go over and innocently ask my friend from Rome, in English, "Hey Paolè what about any pork ribs?"

Paoletto stops for a moment, looks at me deep in thought and answers me in English: 'I do not know what does it mean but if it's a bad thing: I'll kick your ass!

 

 

Muscate (OMAN) September 2009

We were talking about the "Efze" (a kind of tobacco that is held in the mouth under the lower lip)... but when they offered that to me, joking, I refused, saying that then I couldn't have been able to kiss any girl if you feel the taste of tobacco.

Suliman, from the top of his 150 kg, reassures me that there are no problems...


The mean Faisal approaches me and suggested, in the ear, to ask Suliman if he had ever kissed a girl ...


I, however, defending the gentle giant, address the question just to Faisal who proudly declares: "Of course! I kissed one three years ago when I was in college! "

Abu Dhabi (UAE) October 2009

Despite the veil that put us a little in awe, noting that two girls smiled at us we decided to go and talk to them.

"My name is Zarah, which in Arabic means flower."
"My name is (I did not understand the name) which in Arabic means gift." Her friend said.
Gesturing while they were speaking we noticed their hands painted with henna and very well cared...
We answered, just to defuse: "My name is Mark and Nick that does not mean a XXX in Italian!"

We ask them if we can take a picture together, just beacues it's weird for us talking a photo with two girls with a veil...
Her friend soon says that they can't, Zarah however, despite the criticism of her friend immediately and gladly accepts.
While Nick takes a picture three local boys in robes and turban approach us and say something certainly not nice to Zarah but she answers in English: "I do not care!"
In the meantime we had already gone away while her friend in the distance shouts "Excuse me, you're very handsome!"

These Arabic girls ... who knows what they hide beneath those black veils ...

 

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) September 2009

While chatting with some Afghan labourers I noticed that everyone was born on the first of January ...

They soon explained me that this was actually only a notional date because no one knows the exact day or even the right onth of birth.. barely a year ...

 

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) August 2009

i jump in my office in the evening to take the keys of my SUV and I find all the guys on high alert and worried!
Zdenko asks me for help.
A civilian Boeing has just landed with an injured patient on board ... he is very serious...
I was with Paoletto. We jump on my Toyota and ran off towards the hospital.

A German doctor and a Portuguese nurse are next to the ambulance and are excited ... the ambulance driver is missing ...

Me and Paoletto look for a moment at each other... My friend jumps into the ambulance and I escort them to the civilian apron...
Run against the time ...
The patient needs absolutely oxygen ...
We board the airplane and find this guy on a stretcher completely wrapped in silence while all passengers that observe the scene ...
The doctor rushes on the patient and after a while she turns towards us and shakes her head ... he is paralyzed and has a bad wound to the spine and head ... he must have been my age ...

We can not load it ... he's a civil Afghan ... luckily the Afghan ambulance comes to us...

This morning I heard that our intervention was useless... the boy died shortly after.

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) July 2009

Nine Italians, untroubled, sitting in front of a plate of carbonara... thanks to the kind Miro we have the whole mess all for us ...

While we were chatting we hear the sound of an incoming SMS to one of the guests cellular phone... two seconds later another, then another ... five minutes later we had all received the same SMS from the same sender: our embassy.

"Pay maximum attention. Bomber covered by a burqa is strolling around near the airport ... "

 

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) July 2009

A civilian plane carrying food for ourmess-hall is made parked by the control tower, by mistake, in a corner for civilian rather than military ...


The Afghans "porters" begin immediately to download the airplane's cargo but soon they are stopped because it was not the right place ...
The pilot asked them to put all the things into the plane and even though they had downloaded only a few "pallets" they sit on the floor and refuse to continue if not fully paid...

Me and my Turkish friend Adbullah try to find a solution and to mediate between them, the pilot and the representatives of the Supreme... In the end, tired of all these useless discussions, we ordered the pilot to taxi to our apron and we go away while they were still keepin on with their fruitless discussion ...

 

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) July 2009

The funniest thing ever.
I was at the Czech Bar with Angelo drinking a Bacardi Breezer and chatting when we receive a call... Emergency in one of our Apron...
We jump on our Land Cruiser and 100 meters later the hated IMP (International Military Police) stops us ... The Polish policeman with laser pointer pointed out that I was going at 27 kmh (I was driving), the limit was 10 kmh...
He asks me the driving license and I.D. Card ...
By procedure I should do the Alchool test ...
I can't believe it... The only time I ever drank in my life (among other things by force of circumstances since the bar did not even have a coca cola) they make me do the test balloon ...
Result: 0.05% I ask hopefully: "What's the limit?" He freezes me with a curt: "Zero."
In the end I also have to listen him saying that I should not drink anymore ... Meeee??

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) July 2009

Many times happen things that I have seen only during the drills, but they are always real here... Like yesterday: inauguration of the new military field hospital, a lot of VIP guests, suddenly the whole area has been surrounded and in the distance we see a case considered "suspicious package "... the ceremony skips and the package blows up...

Kabul (AFGHANISTAN) July 2009

Later in the evening I reach my accommodation, I quietly open the door and suddenly I notice a huge shadow rising menacingly step towards me ... recoiled instinctively showing my key ... "hey mate, I've been assigned this room"... I try to say hastily ...


He was my roommate ... a huge U.S. Marines colonel ... he looks at me for a moment ... and as a big bear, he lies again on his bed ...
Weird way of presentation...

Dunedine (NEW ZEALAND) March 2009

We stop near a small beach curious by a strange figure...

We approach: it was a big sea lion that was relaxing in the sun...

An old fisherman tells us that it often happens that these enormous animals stop to rest there.

"Anyway don't go too close"!

 

Franz Josef (NEW ZEALAND) March 2009

Italians abroad

The caring waitress asks Mimmo at first and then Rossana if they were enjoying the meal and the answers: "It's nice" "It's beautiful"


For the series: the important thing is to make you understand!

 

Tongariro (NEW ZEALAND) March 2009

In a lost hostel at the feet of Tongariro Mount...


Pina is cooking a dish of pasta and sauce with mastery when a man with a frying pan with sausage charred is looking at her in amazement ...

I approach and say, "Hey mate, this is Italian style!"


He gives a look at his poor desolate wurstel and exclaims: "This is French style"!

Ciudad del Este (PARAGUAY) January 2009

This is the first Country in which you enter without being checked at all.
When we appeared in front of the sleeping customs official to record us with our passports in hand, he watches us and asks: "Well, have you just entered or you are going away?

 

Puerto Iguazù (ARGENTINA) January 2009

In the Argentinean forest we met so many different animals... from birds to fabulous and colorful butterflies to crocodiles, strange lizards, iguanas, etc. ...

While we were walking enjoying the spectacle of the waterfalls, a Brazilian gentleman comes to us and warns us saying: "Beware, 50 meters further there is a quati" and goes away...
"What? What's there? "
We: two Italians, two Germans and a Dutchman stop and we look at each other not to know what to do while our unique Brazilian (Fernanda) tries to explain what this "quati" was... "Has it the wings? Does it bite? Is it a reptile? Does it fly? "
We enjoyed so much...
The poor Fernanda tried to explain but with poor results...
Every animal that we saw we turn to Fernanda asking: 'Is it that the quati "? And there were so many animals in 50 meters path...
Just when we had lost hopes, a kind of rate, quietly, passes in front of our feet and enters a bush...
I still do not understand what it really was...

Puerto Iguazù (ARGENTINA) January 2009

 

The last train of the park is about to leave. From the "Devil's Throat" it will bring us at the exit of this huge naturalist park...
We decide to take the last one just to enjoy as much as we could this wonderful spectacle of nature.

Ian, Katarina and Nick run forward... Me and and William stop to photograph a nest of brightly colored birds but when we turn around, we do not see anyone anymore... Suddenly we see Katarina shouting: an entire train just waiting for us... We start to run as fast as we could...

Ignored, however, that Nick had told the conductor, to wait for us, because one of us had fallen and hurt his leg...
We noticed that there was something wrong only when suddenly we appeared running as two chrono men in front of the eyes of the conductor, who squared puzzled and interdict...

Foz do Iguaçu (BRASIL) January 2009

 

We arrive at three in the morning at this posada immersed in anything...
A very kind 40 years old lady opens the door, she has long grey hair, a black tunic till the feet and smiling, she warns us: "We were expecting you..." Ok that we had booked it but there was only some music in the background missing that seemed to be in the movie "The hostel " or in a classic horror...
She brings us in small room: minimal, bleak and not very enlightened... Me and Nick, absolutely do not envy Fernanda that had taken a single one... we lock inside, I even close the window with my locker... And we fall asleep hoping that everything will be all right while Nick continues to grumble afraid to lose some kidney.
The following day we discover that we had only unfounded conjecture... Even if our adventure mate, William, had the same feeling: he fell asleep thinking: "Something will happen! "

Rio de Janeiro (BRASIL) January 2009

 

I stop a taxi and explain that I would approach the favelas of Sao Conrado to take some photos. He freezes immediately: "I will not go inside there!"
After so much talk I convince him to take us as close as he can...
Will we be unconscious? We'll see.
Now we head towards Flamengo's stadium, nearby there is a tunnel which comes out just at the entrance to this community, the largest in South America.
The tunnel is long and bleak, and while we run it I imagine what could be and move above it...
It ends... A huge beehive colorful, decadent, dilapidated appears to our eyes, the driver instead of slowing down to let me take some photos, he accelerates...
He makes a long ride without going inside and then settles into a fairly small space and hidden and says: "If you want to take some photos, do it from here and then we go away"!
Better than nothing, and as I always say, let's not challenge too much the fate...

Guarulhos (BRASIL) January 2009

 

Ready to take the plane that will take us to Rio de Janeiro... We wake up at 5:30 in the morning... The taxi that will take us to the airport is on time... In the car ride, we joke, chat with the driver when suddenly his face changes and the car begins to slow down till it stops... What happens? We get worried... Take it easy... the car is broken... Damn: we had to push the taxi on the street while we all the people were enjoying themselves oy watching us...

 

Guarulhos (BRASIL) January 2009

Veronica calls us... In a fast Portuguese we understand that she's coming to take us to the "Oriental baño"...
Me and Nick starts to foretaste relaxing steam baths, saunas, oils, steam, massages, scented essences... We begin to prepare ourselves when I discover that it was not the Oriental bath but the Oriental "BARRIO" that is: a crowded Chinese neighbourhood under an infernal heat...

New Territories (HONG KONG) Novembre 2008

[Nick]: We stop at a "7eleven" to ask for directions to the Nan Lian Garden...
There are three waitresses...
The first one answered half in English and half in Chinese but for us it is incomprehensible... "Wait." Call the second which begins in Chinese but after a while, aware that it is not the case...
call the third one... Finally ... (This will speak English, we reassured...)
She begins, like a machine gun to give us clear and detailed explanations and directions, complete with gestures for about five minutes without ever taking breath, all in perfect Cantonese.
Initially we look incredulous, then begin to laugh with tears as she spoke... and the more she explained they more we couldn't help laughing...


[Mark]: At some point I had a doubt... Did all the rice we ate made us almond's eyes?

 

Tsim Shai Tsui (HONG KONG) November 2008

In a bus in Hong Kong. As in England, the ticket is purchased directly on the mean by the driver. You put the coins in a box and then you can go to your place...
I did it and I started expecting that the driver gave me a positive signal that could go to my seat... But he neither looked at me... when a girl behind me said: 'It is no use that you wait, we don't count the money here, we trust ourselves... "!

 

Hong Kong Island (HONG KONG) November 2008

One thing that struck me a lot of these Chinese is their extreme generosity, respect and education. When you ask for an information they almost feel in debt to help you and if they can not they get mortify, they are so tender! Many times we happened to open a map along the road and all the times someone stopped asking: "Can I help you?"
Let me cite an episode: just now, after being helped by two pairs of boys to reach a post office, prior to greet one of them stopped me and asks me: "Do you think I am a girl of heart?" (Words of text) I look at her with an interrogative expression, not understanding what she meant. She specifies: "Do you think I am a girl with heart that helps people!" "Of course. Thank you. You are very kind! "
Almost as if my opinion was important!

 

 

 

Doha (QATAR) November 2008

Noting a hole in the fence hyper subsidiary of Arab TV... we decide to enter... we'd better avoid it...


We neither had the time to take a picture that a white car, whose windows blacked, stops in front of us... An Arab with a long black beard and white robe is still close to us, does not seem friendly and shakes his head as if to say "Now it will be your business!" Among other things, he speaks only Arabic!
A second later a great white jeep stops behind us and drops another Arab in white tunic and radio in hand... We are surrounded and we look scared... At least this last one understands English and begins to make us many questions: " Who are you? What do you do here? Where do you come form? Why did u want to photograph that palace? Why did you enter? Show me the pictures you've taken! Delete them. Prove me that you deleted them! "


I admit that I have been very scared because in those circumstances, with these Arabs, you never know how it can end and moreover we were also in mistake...
I already saw myself in an Arabic prison accused of international spying... I try to explain that we had found a hole in the fence and we were curious that's why we entered, but neither Nick nor they seem satisfied with my explanation... Indeed! I do not know what happens but the one who speaks English gets calm for a moment and beckoned us to disappear... we do not let him say twice... While we are going away, suddenly, I shot a couple of photos and Nick a quick video... We only stop for eating our tuna sandwich bought in the big Mall of Doha.

Doha (QATAR) November 2008

We have to go to the post office.
We are told that from here, a taxi costs about 5 Riyal (1 Euro), good! But once there, the driver asks for 30!
We contract up to 15 with the second one but we are aiming to 5! Nothing to do... instead of us, a Filipino boy enters but the taxi does not leave...
I see the two chatting and suddenly the taxi driver beckoned us to climb aboard.

During the journey we chat and play with the Bangladeshi taxi driver and his customer from the Philippines. There is nothing to do, we Latinos are really sociable! We get at the National Post Office and ask for the fare when the taxi driver answered: "Nothing, I was on my way...! But in Italy, when you meet Bangladeshi people: Help them! "

Cartagena (COLOMBIA) January 2008

The story of the stamp lost

Everything started a warm summer morning. Along a classical "calle Cartagenera", with the ancient balconies in wood, the walls of the colored colonial houses and the itinerant sellers that strolled around looking for tourists...

Two "tourists by chance", with some postcards in hand, think: "We have two free minutes, let's quickly buy some postage stamps so later, with calm, we could write and send them!" - Last famous words! -

More than half an hour later of walk, bounced by a shop to the other, from a postal office to a travel agency, from a branch of the Avianca (Colombian Airline) till the central postal office. In vain.

Later on we discover that even our hotel, the luxurious and five stars Hilton didn't have them!

In the central post office we are informed that they have them but in that moment there was not the principal and therefore they could not sell them... The manager was not there? Do they need the manager to sell a couple of simple postage stamps for postcards? They ask us to return later. Whatever, we will try somewhere else. The first day passes in this way.

While we are searching them, we are told that we need 5600 pesos for every postcard.. The correspondent of 3 Euro to postcard... Are they crazy?

We keep on and two days later we attack again! We wander so much till we get again to the central post office. Same story of the last time, the manager is not there and we should return... We have no choice! As scheduled there we are. This time they must satisfy us... Long attended. Almost 30 minutes later, after filling a form for the purchase (as a banking: name, last name, quantity of postage stamps to purchase, number of passport etc.), from a distant staircase a guy goes down with a box of postage stamps! Halleluja!

xxx (XXX) xxx xxx

Very bad news from Xxx. Xxx has just been arrested. After a tormented night in train we arrive in this anonymous city. We are hungry, Xxx enters in a great supermarket and goes out from there few later with a pair of Twixes and things like that in his hands, he comes to me when a huge man suddenly appears behind his shoulders, it grabs him from a shoulder and "invites" him to return in the shop. At that point I have not understood anything anymore. I wanted to enter but I couldn't leave there our two backpacks. I decide to wait. Endless moments! After a lot of time a police van arrives. I start getting worried seriously, I don't know the law of the place in subject of shoplifting! Few later the two police officers go out maintaining Xxx more another who were bringing the purse of my friend.

I go to him and he reassures me saying that here it works this way: "They don't make you pay the things shoplifted but they bring you to jail for a maximum period of 24 hours." The police officers were not angry rather also gives us the time to organize us on where to meet us, leaves me the number of the plant and the van armoured departs. I'm on my own with two backpacks bigger than me...I don't know what to do...

 

[Xxx]: This time I have been really scared! Luckily they have taken me, I have almost desired this moment... I have been fooled by such a simple safety system that I had never seen before, the keeper not in uniform that was shopping, actually he was pretending to, he waited that I went out and then he stopped me!

He brought me in his office and he made me deposit what I took on a table, then a phone call started. I try to render less dramatic, I don't succeed there. Few later the police arrives. He tells them what happened and they ask me if I confirm. I do. They list me my rights. It's a new experience. They bring me out. I see

Mark, he is astounded. I quickly explain him the situation and they bring me away in the van to the central. They close me inside a cell, they almost joke with me. I feel more relaxed. I look around thinking to as a prisoner would have been able to escape, he would not have made it. They conduct me in a room where they question me recording everything. They seal and they preserve the ribbons. They bring me in the cell while they are deciding what to do with me... I fall asleep. They return. They make me a descriptive photo, they make me engrave the digital imprints on two sheets. I am filed. They give me back my stuff guarded in a sealed transparent envelope. For this time they release me but if it had happened again they would have brought me before to a judge and I would have done at least 24 hours of jail... I am out. There is Mark. He wants to know everything, poor guy, he had to bring till the police station the two backpacks...

Cartagena (COLOMBIA) January 2008

Walking around near our hotel, we meet a very nice lady with whom we had chatted the evening before.

While we were joking with her suddenly a taxi stops and her daughter get down: Monica, 23 years, very pretty. We soon invite her for a drink but her mother asks us to go up to their flat.

In their house. We take advantage of it because we are curious to see a true Colombian house.

Two armchairs at the entry, sometimes some sinister type leans out from a room and observes us in a bad way... We are intimidate a bit, are we in the den of the wolf? Monica gives me her cellular phone number and as soon as we can we escape away. We will never know who that people really was because, of course, we have never called her... Maybe they were normal and good people but here we have to be very careful!

ISRAEL - JORDAN Border December 2007

After so many vicissitudes we finally succeed in re-entering in Jordan thanks to the help of Ahmad.

He asks us a favour: we have to follow him to buy, at the duty free shop of the border, some bottles of whiskey and the sticks of cigarettes for Sameir (his boss, the one who organized our tour in Holy Land).

We follow him. We climb over a net and we enter the shop. We had to imagine that a thing like that, in a border wouldn't have passed unnoticed...

Shortly later my passport is in the hands of two angry guardians that harshly reproach me in Arab and they order me to follow them... I, fallen by the clouds, beginning to follow them, when behind me the whole group (over me and Nick, there were the two Hungarian and other four Italian).

When the guardians see all those people, they stops, ask me: "Are they all with you?" - A bit resigned, gives me back my the passport and tells me: "Disappear!"

Kerak (JORDAN) December 2007

Along the road for Kerak we have assisted, from our van, to a real lynching live.

From what we have been able to understand: a man had invested with his car a person, at that point all the relatives and the neighbours of the wounded were raised up against the driver with fists, kicks, beat , stones, while the unlucky poor man, barricaded in his car tried to run away.

This impressed me a lot, it seemed one of those scenes that you often watch at the television about popular insurrections in the Middle East.

So many times, travelling, it happens to me to see things, to assist to events watched only in TV and to exclaim: "Damn, they really happen!"

Amman (JORDAN) December 2007

If you want to organize a visit in Israel from Jordan is not very simple despite is distant only few kilometers...

We contact different local travel agencies but they all indicate thousand problems. Actually you needed to book a van with a driver and a tourist guide, one for the Jordanian side and the other two for that Israeli one. So we would have needed of a car that brought us up to the border and from there we would have had to continue with another one in Israel, same story on the way back.

Despite these negative premises, thanks to the mythical Sameir Tadros of the "Jerusalem Gate" we succeed in resolving all the problems stipulating a real contract... Too bad that everything is written in Arab... There could be written anything there... The Roman lawyer that travels with us is not properly convinced... Who knows!

Dickwella (SRI LANKA) September 2007

We decide to come back to Matara (43 km by tuk tuk) to say good bye to Ann. During the night, with no lights on the road, with our poor tuk tuk and our confused driver! It starts pouring, me and Nick look at each other as to mean: "Have we done the right thing?"

Our tuk tuk was sailing uncertain among those muddy streams, while every kind of vehicle: from bikes till lorries grazed and avoided us in the last moment making us jolt all the time.

Suddenly it starts climbing a road never seen before... I ask him: "Are you sure this is the right way?" And he: "No" And he keeps on going as nothing happened. I'm getting nervous. I tell him to stop and ask for information. He: "Ok". But again, he keeps on as nothing happened.

I loose my temper. I make him stop, we ask information to an old lady with her nephew, I take our driver mobile phone and I call Lucky. At last, after many adventures, we get to our destination safe!

There is another problem yet. The return! We decide to pay four times more but we go back with Anil and his "proud" van!

 

Matara (SRI LANKA) September 2007

We make our tuk tuk stop near a post office, we have to buy some stamps... We enter and we find just a poor writing-desk, an old shelf and no one... Documents, sheets scattered everywhere... But no clerk! Someone tells us that we should knock at someone else door and ask for a postman...

Whatever, we will try in another place!

Dickwella (SRI LANKA) September 2007

[Nick]: Marco is taking a shower, I'm in the bed writing the last adventures when a guy from the staff pounces in our room saying that there is a tsunami warning and we have to evacuate. They move us to the tower of the disco, they say that three years ago tsunami didn't get over there. I'm worried! I don't have the courage to go back and sleep in my room tonight!

A Belgian sea biologist offers us hospitality in his house. He lives towards the interior, a bit confused: we accept.

 

Dambulla (SRI LANKA) September 2007

We enter dead tired in our room... We are not alone, there is a "friend" who is resting just near Nick's suitcase...

It will be normal after that, all the times we entered to a room we used to do a brief check, in the end of the journey, no one was missing at the roll-call: crickets, bugs, big cockroaches... Sometimes we had to invent something to look after us....

Belize City (BELIZE) May 2007

When we got out of money because of the problems with the change of the Euro we did all our best to discover if there was an exit tax to pay and if so, how much it was, because we didn't want to get in trouble once arrived to the border!

We visited many offices of the Local Police but we didn't find out any new. Suddenly and at last a wise policeman tells us how to do: "Guys, you have to get to the border and ask how much you have to pay!" Cool, he solved our problem so we could keep on enjoying our holiday in Belize... I'm not sure yet if he was serious or he was jocking!

Rio Hato (PANAMA) January 2007

...we decide to visit Rio Hato, Manuel little town, the gay barman of our resort!

The best happened when Jeff, innocently, enters in a pharmacy with Manuel to buy a condoms package and the pharmacist kept on staring at them with a very talkative glance, as to say: "these gays don't have reserve at all! Now they also come together to buy condoms, who knows then to do what...!" - he would have thought....

Pararapuru (PANAMA) January 2007

...suddenly a man that was staring at me, approaches to me... He asks me in a stunted Spanish : "Where are you from, far?" -"Italy!" I answer, secure. "Ah!" and keeps on looking at me not very convinced, then he makes courage and continues: "And where is Italy, far?"! - A bit surprised for this last question, I answer: "It is in Europe!"... but he keeps on staring at me a bit hesitant, at this point I anticipated him: "Do you know where Europe is?" - and he, in a shy way, shakes his head. Tenderly I answer: "Far, my friend, far!"

Marsa Matrhou (EGYPT) November 2006

We heard some children screaming ... They were in a school nearby. We approached there with my aunt and Virgy and soon we notice a crowd of children screaming who were climbing everywhere to celebrate us. Suddenly a "ghost" woman comes out nowhere, with a black burka and in a good English, but in a brusque way, asked us : "What do you want?" I intervened to calm down the situation explaining that those two women where Italian teachers and were searching a bathrooms. She stared at me and then she started to walk away from us saying, in a cold way: "Follow me!"; a little confused, we looked at each other but we followed her... Some steps later we heard Jerry and the two drivers of ours, who, running towards us, intimated us to stop. Few moments later we were again in the car with them, far from that school...

No one will never know the reason of the fear of our drivers when they saw us following the "ghost woman" and to make much more mysterious this story there is also the fact that, while all these things were happening, she never turned towards us or answered anything to our drivers/bodyguards, and as she came, in the same way she disappeared again...

 

Alexandria (EGYPT) November 2006

[Nick]: We stop along the street next to a man who was selling "hagheb" (Muslims veils), suddenly a big crowd gather, everybody want to buy these hagheb, and I, without realizing it, find myself with many veils in my hands and surrounded by all these women with coloured veils who ask me the prices and drag and shak me all around... I felt embarassed...

 

Rossano Scalo (ITALY) July 2006

"Jeff, it's very easy to fish octopus with the harpoon, then if we are two, is even easier! You just need to do like this: we dive, I show you the stones to be raised, because polyps usually hide under them, you raise them up, if we see it, I' will hit it with my harpoon!" As we said! We dive, look at the backdrop, then I notice a stone that could be a perfect shelter for a polyp; I show that to him, he dives down and raises it ups! Suddenly a disturbed polyp goes up, I go towards it with no hesitation. On the shore, Jeff, admired, tells me: "Bravo Mark, it's very easy to fish polyps...!" We didn't know that, that small polyp would have been the only one fished in a whole week in Calabria...

Paris (FRANCE) July 2006

We are in the famous "Latin Quarter " looking for a typical restaurant to taste some French food... Suddenly we notice a leaflet. Tourist menu: "First, second plate and dessert: 14 Euro!" A good bargain, we think! Typical French dinner but then a very dear bill spoils our digestion! We have to pay more than the double of what we were expecting.... "Don't worry, maybe they did something wrong", I say... No way! Drinks were apart, and we knew that, what we didn't know was their price: a small bottle of water 0,5L (4 euro), and we ordered manyof them; then I needed a credit card to pay the bottle of coke of 1 liter: (11 euro)... luckily we didn't oreder any champagne: we wouldn't have found our houses in Italy once back! Beware at these cheat restorers!

 

Saona Island (DOMINICANAN REP) June 2006

After 45 minutes sailing with our boat and after coasting a great part of the island, admiring wild and enchanting landscapes, suddenly a tropical thunderstorm, so frequent and dangerous here, hit us. We soon change route and we turn to a small bay where we see indistinctly some hovels. We get on the ground with Juanito! It was a fishermen village. We all sheltered under their hovels while they were looking at us in an incredulous way and silently. Few minutes later it stopped raining and we thought about buying some fresh fish there, a wonderful giant pink and red fish (more than two kilos) and many others smaller just fished.

La Habana (CUBA) April 2006

Here our taxi: a mix of Yugo-128-Lada, rather old, without optionals, actually, without the most important things as brakes, seat belts, doors handles etc.; let's not talk about the mechanics because, even if I don't understand anything about engines, thinking about all the noises and the smells I felt, I can't imagine what there was over there... You could turn it on only bundling it and during the way he had to stop for the strong burnt smell, he opened the coffer and few minutes later we left again! When we arrived we felt so good! We survived!

Ilha Boavista (CAPE VERDE) November 2005

Ilha Boavista – Ilha do Sal flight. Time 17.20.

We arrive at the airport at 16.45 and we watch the last people of a queue that were boarding... “Stay cool, it's not our plane, our will take off in more than 30 minutes...” I say in a quite way! Actually it was our flight... The last flight and the only one of that day!

The mess starts!
We hear many people screaming, shouts in Italian, English, Portuguese. My aunt, (travel agent), inveighed against the responsible of the airport, a Capeverdian couple against another one, two Brazilian tourists against some other employee of the airport. The plane takes off really early... maybe it was in over-booking, but they should have "protect" who didn't take that plane (for their fault) giving them a hotel and a dinner. My aunt fought for that. They call the police as long they don't know how to behave and silently they go back away, after all we are in Africa... and we are living it.

After many adventures we reach an agreement, they pay us a night in a cheap place (we also had finished all our money because we supposed to come back in the same day) but we go to sleep without eating anything but that only banana...

 

Bilbao (SPAIN) November 2005

At the ticket office of the Guggenheim Museum. Two perfectly similar twins...

Angelo: "A ticket for the museum, please". Cashier: "How old are you?" And he:"27"; She: "If you were till 26 you would have had a discount, too bad, you will have to pay the whole price!"

Jeff: "A ticket for me too, please!" Cashier: "How old are you?" He: (A bit hesitant) "26". She: "There's a discount for you!"

Who knows, maybe they are not very similar...

Skopije (MACEDONIA) August 2004

After walking so much, at last, we find a delicious little restaurant, it's full of nice people. We take a sit but... the menu is written only in Cyrillic!!! At this point, we close our eyes and order what our fingers point on the menu... we are going to eat that then! Surprising dishes!

Skopije (MACEDONIA) August 2004

Transfer Skopije Train Station - Hotel... we notice that the taxi we called (an old Yugo) could never manage to take three guys and their huge back pack! No way, our taxi driver, takes our back packs and put them in the coffer, but half of them are in and the other half outside... Damn!

Transfer Skopije Train Station - Hotel... Three worried heads, outside of a taxi window who check that their back packs are still over there... We were so worried every time we stopped at a traffic-lights because there were many motorbikes who buzzed around our car as many mosquitoes...

Riga (LATVIA) June 2004

Vincenzo, after fighting by phone with his girlfriend (who was in Italy), decides to clarify everything by calling her again from our hotel room, Radisson SAS... Few later we see him walking with a sheet of paper in one hand and a very sad expression. He fought again with her? No way, he paid 50 Euro for that call! We made fun of him all day long.

But what goes around comes around. The following day, the same thing happened to Peppe (leader of the ultras who teased the poor Enzo)... but this time our jokes were needles as well... 192 Euro and his girlfriend was quiet again... We thought: "If he took a plane to go to her and clarify by person: wouldn't he save some money?!?"

Lisbon (PORTUGAL) June 2004

During the European Football Cup. I meet two football players of the Greek national team in the elevator, they were staying in our same hotel, the very elegant: "Dom Pedro". They had to play a very important match that night against France and if they lost they would have been eliminated, so I said: "So? Shall we meet tomorrow in the airport?" (Because we had to leave the following day) But, not only in that airport we met Zidane & company but also that unknown team, in the end, was the winner of the tournament, maybe we brought them luck!

Rome (ITALY) April 2004

During one of the usual check at the hand luggage in Rome Airport (Fiumicino), when Nicola passes under the meal detector I notice two policemen who starts to get nervous. They order Nick to open his bag and start to search something, as if they already knew what to search, it wasn't a normal check but a real research. Few minutes later, out of patience, they go to Nick and say: "Come on man, give us that knife!" (They wanted to mean, come on let's not waste time, we know you have it). I see Nick getting very red and then he exploits in a: "Search and take that knife" giving them his bag again. Luckily after many other checks and tension moments everything is all right again. The two policemen were wrong!

Nabeul (TUNISIA) January 2004

We are sitting and waiting at a bus stop for a local bus and, we go in without knowing where it will go, we decide to get out at the terminal.

[Nick]: We are crammed as sardines inside and it stinks so much, everybody look at us in a curious way but we are very happy to go out from the business world.

After a long way we get to Nabeul, a city very famous for her ceramics!

Belgrade (SERBIA) August 2003

[Luca]: We are cooking some pasta in our hotel room when the gas bottle gets over... "And now'? How shall we change it?" Gabriele tries: "raise it up, pull over there, leave the finger... the gas bottle breaks... Scared we soon throw everything out of the window (we are on the third floor).... It falls down, luckily, without damaging anything... In Italia they would have arrested us, here, instead they were happy because it was the umpteenth NATO bombing, they are not angry, actually they invite us to use the hotel kitchen! Spaghetti party with all the people who work here!

Belgrade (SERBIA) August 2003

[Luca]: We cross the railway station to get to our hotel when two shady people approach us and blunting start talking to us in Serbian. Marco soon answers that we didn't need anything and keeps on walking when one of them stops him showing him a card. They were two policemen and wanted to check our passports. We don't have them with us! ("It's the end", I thought) In stead, after realizing that we were Italian, they started laughing and let us go away...!?!

Riga (LATVIA) August 2002

We go back home after a nice evening in the disco. It's the dawn but there is no problem, we have the house key so we are not going to bother anyone, then the front door is opened with a code but "it's always opened - Krists docet!" Quietly, enjoying our Prussian cake" we are entering when... Oh! The front door is closed! We try, and try again, but it is really closed! We telephone Krists that, few later, very sleepy gives us a code.... it's not right! We try and try again. Nothing to do. We telephone to Martins that gives us another code (2378), but it doesn't work as well! Suddenly, the lucky Agos manages to open it... The following day we discover that Martins' code was right but here the door must be opened at the contrary!

Riga (LATVIA) August 2002

Coming back home by car with Vilnis, we are stopped by the police and soon fined of 5 Lats (about 7,5 Euro) because Vilnis didn't do the revision at his car... What impressed me was that: first of all they didn't have the police car but an ordinary one, then they were stopping everybody and fined all of them, in the end the penalty was just 5 lats? Neither in the bus when you don't have the ticket they fine you for so little! Welcome to Eastern Europe!

Brig (SWITZERLAND) August 2001

I ran out of money. I'm passing myself off as a Portuguese to go back home with Pedro's ticket... This because: when you travel during an inter rail, you buy some European zones where you have a kind of season-ticket except for your country, where you have a mean 50% discount. Trying to pass as Portuguese with a ticket bought in Portugal, if I manage, I should get to Calabria, the very South of Italy, where my parents are on holiday, for free! Pedro will try to do the same with my Italian ticket to come back to Portugal!

It has been very hard, I had to stay almost 24 hours without speaking not to be discovered but I managed this time too!

Zawiercie (POLAND) August 2001

In Czestochowa railway station two tramps tried to rob us while Pedro was sleeping. So we decide to catch the first train we see to go away from here and to get out in the first train station we stop: Zawiercie. A place unknown also by the Polish. What are two inter railers doing here? This place is neither on the maps... We can't go to Bratislava, in Slovakia, from here as we had planned. We decide to go to Brno, in Czech Republic. Our train will pass from here at midnight. We will have to wait several hours here... Let's hope for good!

While we are waiting, warming us up with a hot tea, we hear the megaphone saying a destination which sounded very similar to Vienna. I run to the information desk, that was going to close, and I ask if that train, which was arriving, was really going to the Austrian capital... Yes... Here we are, ready to Austria!

Riga (LATVIA) August 2001

In the disco, at "Slepenais Exsperiments, while I was dancing a drunk guys approaches me speaking in Latvian and pointing at his foot. I was alone with Pedro and I was sure that a brawl was going to happen. I got myself ready. As I understood: while I was dancing I pounded his foot... every excuse is good to fight here!

After may speeches we understand that actually, he pounded my foot and, according to their traditions, I had to pound his now. I wasn't sure I understood well, or actually, I found it absurd! At this point, this character, bored, takes my leg, raise my foot up, put his foot under mine and leave my leg falling until I pound his foot, now, happy, he quietly goes away, satisfied, with his pounded foot!

Cesis (LATVIA) August 2001

At last my parachute is opened! Long sigh of relief! But it wasn't ended yet!

Krists told me that it could happen that the ropes could get tangled, the so-called: "spinning". If it happens, I had to: be quite, closed my eyes and the parachute would have done everything by itself! Whatever, it wouldn't happen just to me! Anyway, how could I understand it? I just needed to put my head backwards, if I couldn't manage it meant that there was the "spinning"!

Here we are... It happened to me! I try to be quite and suddenly my parachute starts to whirl around until, at last, it completely opens and slows my falling down!

I managed !

Cesis (LATVIA) August 2001

Krists invites us for a flight on a plane piloted by himself.

It was a Russian "four-seats". In front of us there was my Latvian friend with another pilot, behind: me and Pedro.

When Krists piloted everything was all right. A classical standard school-flight. We did three quite touch and go with no problems. We also unfastened our seat belt, to take a photo and we fastened it as we could soon later.

His friend was crazy. When he started piloting: he soon did some acrobatics in flight. At the first he point the sky at 180°, then, with the engine at minimum, the plane, for gravity, turns around and falls in dive... But our seat belt was not fastened very well and we are soon and suddenly "thrown" towards the high giving a painful butt on the cockpit! We were very scared and we hurted our head too!

Last shudder: the landing. We "cut" perpendicularly a highway, two meters from the land, while a lorry was coming in our direction honking as a crazy... Was it worthwhile?

 

 

Helsinki (FINLAND) July 2001

We have been in a ferry in the Finnish capital port for few hours. Our ferry to Tallinn is still here while all the others are leaving... The megaphone informs us that: "If the damage is not repaired at ten o'clock... They will try to solve it!" What does it mean?

Few later, the megaphones advices us that the damage is not repaired yet and there is the chance to take another ferry! Panic on board! Everybody run to the exit doors, almost as the Titanic was drowning, and we, when we understand what's going on we are the last of the queue!

In spite of this, we manage to overcome the line and we wait for the opening door of the new ferry. When we were entering we are stopped because our ticket was not good for that ferry! No problem, we just have to go to our Ferry Company desk and make it change for free. Pedro takes care of this! Hundreds and hundreds passengers enter but my Portuguese friend looks vanished in the air... In the end I remain alone with a steward, a hostess and our two back packs!

I start arguing, very angry, with the steward who didn't let us enter and he, very kindly, goes and search Pedro and makes him jump the long queue that meanwhile was created for the ticket change... But there are no free seats available. We have to pay a very expensive ticket to travel in first class or we wait for four hours for the following ferry!

We decide to wait and we notice a couple that running, enter in a half-closed door and manage to embark at the last moment! Pedro looks at me and runs over there, I follow him. We clamber over a gate and we are in. We look around and we notice something familiar! It was the same ferry that one hour before we abandoned because it had some problems! Oh no, here we are again. This time the damage is repaired, we leave.

Suddenly the hated megaphones says something in Finnish. We see everybody rushing in the lower floors. Damn, what's going on now? I stop a guy and ask him what was happening: "The ferry company, to apologize for the delay, offer the lunch to all the passengers in the restaurant room"! At last a good news!

Helsinki (FINLAND) July 2001

In Helsinki main railway station. A 30 years old girl, hidden in a corner was looking at all our "activities": Phil was asking for information about ferries to Stockholm, Pedro the ones to Tallinn, the two Swiss girls from Zurich news about the trains to Narvik, Wolfy was playing football with our famous ball, two more Swiss girls were looking after all our backpacks, I was preparing a cappuccino with our gas-ring and this girl, suddenly, approaches us and takes a picture of us. We, curious for the unexpected flash, turn toward her, who, embarrassed, thank us and escapes away!

Köln (GERMANY) July 2001

We settle in a comfortable compartment when suddenly, two train controllers enters. As two "Nazi" inform us that without reservation we have to go in the last compartment, where there are the bikes too.

We find a Finnish couple and a Danish. In the course of the time a Norwegian comes too, then an American and an Indian girl. We were all right and happy, all inter railers. Just when I exclaim: "Guys, take it easy, no one will send us away from the train.... Aren't we better than a bike!" The door is opened and a controller, as "Nazi" SS policeman, say just two words: "No reservation? Out!" At the first train station we are "expelled" in a very bad way from the train, as we had done a very bad crime!

We are in Dusseldorf. Police approach us as we were criminals, maybe they didn't know that we didn't have the reservation (six mean Marks) because we could have bought it only 24 hours before, but at that time we weren't in Germany yet! Flabbergasted, all together we go away, but we will manage. We search the first train to Hamburg but we have to take it in Koln (where we left). We go back there with another train. We pay a very expensive reservation and we had been waiting for several hours our new train! Danke Germany.

Cerro Maggiore (ITALY) July 2001

My aunt introduces ourselves a nice and very old couple, her neighbours. One of them, 85 years old, kept on talking to Pedro in Italian. "Excuse me, Pedro is Portuguese, he can't speak Italian!" He looks at me a bit confused and keeps on chatting with Pedro in our language. I try to explain the misunderstanding again, this time miming and gesticulating that he couldn't speak. Maybe I managed! At last he exclaims, triumphant: "Ah, I understand! He's deaf!"

Oporto (PORTUGAL) January 2001

Hugo makes me laugh so much! We were in his flat after the match, he was hanging around the room with his Oporto T-shirt on and with a name printed on his shoulders: Nugueira, while I was watching on TV the Sporting Lisboa match when I ask him: "Hugo, who is Nugueira?"

He suddenly stops, he looks weird, he watches around... Doesn't answer... He stammers something, as lost trying to watch, to explore the TV. he finds some strength and then he confesses me, a bit embarrassed: "Well, actually... That's my surname!" "Ah, Ok", I say and I keep on watching the television. And he, as scared: "Why did you ask me that?" keeping on examining the TV. It was impossible that there was a football player with his same surname and he didn't know that. And I: "No, because I read behind your T-shirt!" Ahhhhhhhhh

Oporto (PORTUGAL) January 2001

Hugo has a spare sub-scription more to enter to the stadium, so I try to enter without paying. It wasn't very easy. At first I couldn't talk at all because if they discovered I wasn't Portuguese they would have sequestrate Hugo's friend's sub-scription. I soon give my photocamera to Hugo so when police would control us they couldn't ask me anything. Marco (Hugo's best friend) enters first, after him I enter following every single movement of the one in front of me and with Oporto scarf which covers almost all my face because I was a bit different by the owner of the sub-scriptiong pictured on it, I pass the first check. Second one, the police one: they ask me something but I go on without answering them. Everything is all right there too. Third and last check: the check of the subscription in a machine. I'm wasting time. One of the controller screams me something... I don't look at him, Hugo pushes me forward, we managed! We are in.

Lavra (PORTUGAL) December 2000

The beach, when there is a stormy Ocean is so romantic!

I see a huge rock not far from the beach surrounded by the water but sometimes, when the waves, after beating on the beach were going back, left a small free path that, with a spring, it let you reach the rock without getting wet. I have an idea. I decide to take a picture just on the rock. I discuss with Pedro, we calculate the right time of the waves and I get ready to run over that at the first useful chance.

Pedro keeps on saying that I will not manage. In his opinion I will get completely wet.

The water goes back and I run toward the rock. I jump. Everything is all right. I'm on balance, I'm over it, I managed! I turn a bit behind to watch the majesty of the Ocean but... I see a huge wave running in a threaten way toward me, it's fast, too fast... I feel lost. It crushes on the rock, one second later I'm full wet! From my head till my feet. I'm surrounded by the water, I'm alone, on the rock and so much water all around me. I turn again and I feel as a small sand grain, so tiny in front of that huge water mass. Luckily few later the water goes back again. I jump and run toward the beach. Pedro was lying on the sand laughing so much, sadly, and with the "wet" tail between my legs I go back home...

Lavra (PORTUGAL) December 2000

On Lavra beach it happened to me a very weird thing: while I was searching some shells on the beach, I see a huge dog going out from an abandoned little house and running towards me barking; thinking about the saying: "Dog who barks doesn't bite", I keep on my research... Suddenly it stops, gives up barking and escapes away scared, this scene really surprises me but I neither have the time to understand what's going on that a sand storm hits us so strongly. What a pain. All those grains over my face really hurted me... I had the feeling as I was stung thousands time per second with tiny pins...

Bucharest (ROMANIA) August 2000

[Rossho]: I'm trying to fall asleep even if I'd better avoid it because here it's full of gipsies who enter in the compartments and rob everything they can. It happened to us too, luckily we weren't completely sleeping...

In the heart of the night, Marco was doing the guard, I was in drowsiness, suddenly the door of our compartment opens and the hand of a little guy, dirty, pierces inside toward a pouch of ours. Marco as instinct gives a fist on that arm and this hand soon disappears again. I hear Marco saying: "Fucking gipsy!"

Sofia (BULGARIA) August 2000

[Rossho]: They have just kicked us out the railway station... After asking the favour to stay in, two policemen kicked us out all the same, at midnight it closes, but maybe we have found something better... We are going to sleep in a bar opened 24/7... We will stay in a deposit... Incredible, they are giving us a coke and something to eat for free. Why? Let's pay attention, there's something strange.... We will discover it... The guy who offered us these things is here with us now. Marco and Takx are hiding the money, the passport and the inter rail tickets. Marco tries to be funny: "If I have to die at least i sponged you a coke"!

The situation seems better now, Marco and Haasso are going to rest till four a.m. while me and Takx are doing the guard, they will be our change later...

Istanbul (TURKEY) July 2000

After the Greek border everything changed. First of all they reserved the first wagon only for us, the rest nine for the Turks, but, while we are 17 in a wagon for 50, they are hundreds and hundreds, amassed as sardines. There is an armed soldier who is guarding at the door of our wagon, They can't enter here. When the train stops in the railway stations, all the crowd notice at first our empty wagon and then they have to amass in the others, this fact gets me a bit worried. A lot of them are show themselves at the window and look at us persistently. Let's hope for good.

Athens (GREECE) July 2000

[Rossho]: The train that will take us to the border with Turkey arrives and very fastly we go in. Tarenc puts his backpack on the seat and disappears. The train is about to leave but no track of him. We do all our best to delay the departure of the train but useless... Actually we manage but just for few minutes... So the train departs but without our Turkish friend, at least we thought so... As instinct, I take his backpack and, thinking that he was still down, I threw to a controller who was in the train station, from the window.

Just one second later here the quiet Tarenc walking in the corridor. Rossho collapses on the seat with a pale face... We soon take the Turk to a controller who suggests us to get down in the following train station, go back to Athens, take the backpack and the following train: at midnight! In this way we say good bye to the three Turkish guys with whom we spent a pleasant morning in the Greek capital!

 

Riga (LATVIA) January 2000

Today a very weird thing happened to me. I wake up at about 11.30 a.m. I'm not sure yet if I was sleeping or I was awake, anyway my right arm suddenly was blocked on air, then all my body got immobilized. I tried to scream: "Andaaaaa!". Few later a weird figure, he looked like a guy, as a ghost, approaches me, till the right corner of my bed, near my tight arm and tells me: "I want to come with you at ten o'clock" (his exact words). I was scared.

Anyway at that time, nothing weird happened to me!

Riga (LATVIA) January 2000

Me and Martins go back home at 7.30 a.m. after a whole night in the disco. Strangely, Anda (his mother) was waiting for us and was very upset. She wanted to know what was going on, she got worried because she did the following reasoning: they don't drink alcohol; if they don't drink = they are not drunk; so they are clear = so what are they doing at this time outside if there is nothing and no one? "Good night, Anda".

Riga (LATVIA) January 2000

Today we went with Reinis and his cousin Kristos to an abandoned civilian airport to do a kind of rally with cars and little sledges!

We take two yuta bags, we fill them with snow and attach at a car. I sit on one and Martins on the other.

Everything was all right at the beginning, then Reinis starts to accelerate, we go very fast, snow covers and disorientates me. Suddenly we crashes against a small heap of snow bigger than the others and I didn't understand anything anymore. I saw everything white, after several impacts I found myself under the snow. The car was far by now. Few later I get up. Snow was wherever, in my Caterpillar boots, in my salopettes, inside my jacket, even in my gloves. I was cold and my wrist hurted me very much. At last Krists and Reinis came to help me, they made me enter in the warm car and we went away. Damn!

Riga (LATVIA) December 1999

We climb till the top of this hill situated inside this huge green area... ehmm white I meant and there someone pulls me down, I'm thrown off my balance and with my back on the ground, as a sledge, as a crazy bobsled, falling I end, for mistake, on the runway used by the real sledges with my bottom that meanwhile turned into a snow-board! I don't know how it happened but few later Svetlana falls down as well and ends like me, the brave Krists, to be a gentleman, tries to help her but he didn't consider that with moccasin on the snow it's very hard... Not only he can't catch her but he also lands on her! There is only Ilona left that maybe for mistake or for solidarity she follows us in spite of her elegant fur!

Riga (LATVIA) December 1999

I did a snow puppet but my hands got so frozen and I took a cold too. It has been funny. All this just for a photo! Francesco ready with my photo camera, I put near my "snow sculpture" and... Smileee. Nooo! My film is over. All the others are in my suitcase already sent to Latvia!!!

 

Irun (SPAIN) August 1999

At 16:34 we had a train to Nice. At 16.25 a train stops, we get on this right away and we depart. Are we sure it is the right one? Strange that it departs 10 minutes in advance (usually it happens the opposite)! I guess we are wrong! We get off at the first station, we run and walk back along the tracks until our departure station, we manage!

Bruxelles (BELGIUM) August 1999

In the train, we are almost arrived in the Belgian capital. Simona, the Turinese girl who travels with us in the Benelux, asks a cigarette to a man close to us. He offers her a whole packet! After a bit he takes a bottle of wine and wants to toasts with us... We cannot drink so much because we hadn't eat enough... The cart port-foods passes and he offers us various sandwiches... But who is this man?

Let's know him better: Ernie Taylor, 43 years old from London, porno photographer. He has had a life very troubled, up to five years ago it starved in Madrid, then suddenly his life changed... Everything started with some amateur photos he took to his wife during a vacation... He now works for a lot of European magazines, today he had earned around 6 millions of liras (3000 Euro) for a photographic service. Has also shown us some photos!

How many weird people you meet when you travel!

Dublin (IRELAND) August 1999

It's one in the morning and we don't know where to sleep...

Enough! We will plant our tent here, in this public park... What a nightmare night! For about three hours we have not succeeded in closing eye, we laid down on our sleeping bag, dressed and with the shoes and straight with the knife in hand...

It has been the worse night of the whole trip, I sometimes felt rustles noises of footsteps that drew near to our tent and the words of the people known during the day always redounded in my ears, about Italians in coma after having been attacked here in Dublin.

Takx sleeps saying: "If something has to happen to us, sleeping or awake, it happens all the same!" I don't think so and I watch over. The following morning, the kind Antonio, comes us bringing us the breakfast just when a man approaches us saying: "You can't have camp here... Two weeks ago two Italian boys have been attached and hurt here by the Irishmen..."

Thurso (SCOTLAND) August 1999

Arrived in this city, terminal of the United Kingdom, we decide to camp on an immense green expanse coloured only by the igloo-tents scattered here and there; there are some Harley Davidson parked nearby to some tents, some children are playing next to their campers... We will put our tent in the further point of the field, just on a ravine on the Sea of the North... We will spend here the night... Actually I wanted to plant our tent on the beautiful beach really at the base of the ravine...

[N.d.r. The following morning, with the tall tide, that small beach had disappeared completely, we have been lucky this time!]

Manchester Airport (ENGLAND) August 1999

We will spend, as intruders, the night in this airport... Before an employee to the safety has stopped me asking me what I was doing there... While he was asking me this question I launched a furtive look to the display of the departures and noticing a flight scheduled for the six in the morning for Verona I quickly answered: "I have the flight tomorrow, early in the morning, for Verona!" - "Ah, excuse!"

Oxford (ENGLAND) July 1999

We must save otherwise we won't succeed in bringing at the end this trip as we want. English buses are very expensive therefore will try to make only a ticket! We got on board and I immediately stopped in front of the driver to pay my ticket while Takx, covered by me, quickly enters inside and run to the second floor...

But this time something goes wrong. The driver notices something weird and, stopped the bus, goes immediately above to check...

The driver realizes and, stopped the bus, salt immediately above to check... She checks all the tickets except to me (I was the last who purchased him) and meantime I had given it to Takx that quietly passes the control... The driver, a bit perplexed, returns to her place...

 

 

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