LING'S BLOG

Friday 16 April 2021


"BOBAN", A RECENT CROATIAN HERO

This looks like an old, old statue, but in fact is from just 1991. At the entrance of Vodice where I stayed last night, is a monument to the Croatian solider Ante Juričev Martinčev, called BOBAN. The story the about this statue is that it was Boban who stopped the penetration of bloody Serbian JNA (Yugoslavian army) in Vodice in 1991. Before entering in Vodice, JNA formed a row of M84 aggressor tanks (The M-84 is a Yugoslav third generation main battle tank, a variant of the Soviet T-72. The M-84 is still in service in Croatia). Apparently, Boban himself stood out before the JNA tanks, raised his fingers on both hands the letter "V" for victory and threatened to the Serbs to go no further and to go back. The JNA turned and left. The Croats didn't really have an army or heavy weapons, it was mainly police who fought against the Serbs and Montenegrans. The battle is commemorated annually in Šibenik each September.

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Thursday 15 April 2021


WTF?

If I had somewhere to put it (my farm), I would have immediately bought this wonderful thing. I wouldn't try and steal that bike.

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Thursday 15 April 2021


VEGAN-FREE ZONE

These photos kind of follow a natural progression. Jon said he was unsure what was the most scary, the sign, or me. The Bastard.

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Sunday 11 April 2021


RANDOM PHOTOS IN CROATIA

Every photo I take seems to be a winner due to the scenery we get every day. This country is a remarkable place for views. However, we just arrived in Zadar (about half way down Croatia) and started to encounter landmine warnings off the main road, due to the Croatian War of Independence in the early 1990's. Jon and I are staying in a lovely apartment for 30 Euro a night, doing some washing and waiting for a front of rain to pass by Tuesday... but I notice the house next door still has bullet holes pockmarking the walls. Not quite like Sarajevo, but bullet holes? Bloody hell. PHOTOS ====== A = en route to Zadar, looking North. B = Bungee jumping bridge about 20km away from Zadar. C = These lovely coves are round every corner. D = Just stunning views from 270m up on the hillside. E = Another little village harbour. F = Taking a breather cycling up the 270m hill south of Senj. G = Always the Adriatic, always an island. H = Yet another little cove. If you like coves, come to Croatia. I = Jon holding my bike as it's a bit top heavy on the stand. By the time we got here, we were both knackered. But always a downhill to come :)

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Thursday 01 April 2021


FISH DINNER

Yum. 8 Croatian kopeks to the £, so this is about £30 for 2 ppl. Fish (hidden under the prawns) was sea bream and sea bass.

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Sunday 28 March 2021


CLOUDY

Sorry to disappoint you, but it's been a bit cloudy in Istria (Croatia) today. Tomorrow and all this coming week it will be full sun and 20-ish degrees. Hope it's nice in the UK :)

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Tuesday 23 March 2021


Trieste to Slovenia, Ling cam Crossing the border from Italy to Slovenia...

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Thursday 11 March 2021


UK Citizen EXITING SCHENGEN

This is what happened at the border crossing in the West of Slovenia to Croatia over the Dragonja river by the Portoroz Airport in Slovenia, on 10th March 2021. Now, UK citizens can only stay in Schengen for 90 days. As Slovenia is in Schengen, and Croatia is not, this is an "escape route" where you can spend 90 days outside Schengen, in Croatia and beyond (until you hit Greece) therefore freeing up days/180, and meeting the requirements to re-enter Schengen again. I had no Schengen entry stamp in my UK passport, as I had entered Schengen in Santander (Spain) before January 1st 2021 while the UK was still in transition. The Slovenian border policeman was unsure what to do. He didn't check for a Schengen entry stamp (at this date of typing this, until the end of March no UK citizen can have overstayed in Schengen, yet). He just waved me on (to Croatia). No exit stamp. I asked him to stamp me out of Schengen. It was a really unusual request, to him. He said "if you want..., I can... it's up to you". I said yes, so he stamped. Reason is, I want to prove I left Schengen. When I got to the Croatian border 200m away over the Dragonja river, I was told to wait. The policeman checked my negative PCR test (from Trieste in Italy 24 hours ago) then started to make phone calls. He came back and said "UK Citizens have to have 14-day quarantine". I said, "only if they come from the UK. I've cycled from Italy and Slovenia, previously in Spain and Portugal. After showing him proof, including a Spanish PCR test, and ferry bookings from the UK to Spain and Spain to Italy, he went off to make more phone calls. After 20 minutes, he came back saying, "It's OK, no quarantine", then stamped me into Croatia. The policeman was very friendly and was trying to be helpful... I think if you got an asshole one having a bad day, you'd be stuck. I believe it's at the discretion of the individual border policeman, that's what the Croatian guidance on their website says. VERDICT: In these days of Covid have plenty of proof of your whereabouts over the past few months to avoid quarantine. Note I had a negative PCR test, within 48 hrs old. Schengen exit stamps aren't being applied to UK citizens... yet, at least not in this sleepy border in Slovenia. I guess it will be different in Calais or Amsterdam or at airport borders. I have no idea if this Slovene border is applying ENTRY stamps to Schengen? Note the Croatians gave me an entry stamp automatically, because I am UK citizen. Hope this is helpful.

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Thursday 11 March 2021


JIVOLI!

This is Ivan. We're staying at his lovely house just south of Umag in Croatia. We made it in (only just - more about that later). Every country has it's own fire-water spirit. This is Croatian grappa (from an unmarked decanter, always a bad/good sign). Not quite as bad tasting as Chinese BaiJiu, but just as knock-out. After 2 glasses, I was staggering. Ivan showed me the grappa is strong enough that you can also use it as Covid hand-sanitiser. Loving the Balkans already.

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Tuesday 09 March 2021


ANOTHER NEGATIVE COVID PCR TEST

These PCR tests are truly horrid, about 8 inches up my nose into my brain. Now, we are in Trieste, waiting to enter Slovenia and then Croatia. The Italians are very organised with PCR tests, we took one this morning and already have the (negative) results. Now, (tomorrow) we can cycle the 5km to the border, enter Slovenia, then it's 15km to Croatia. Easy. And like a flash, we are out of Schengen! I think this is the nature of travel from now on, every time need one of these dratted tests.

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Friday 05 March 2021


CRUISE SHIPS PARKED UP

Entering the harbour at Civitavecchia (Rome), look at all the parked up cruise ships. The light was bad, sorry. Also, some fantastic marketing on this BATMAN ferry... selling it to kids, I guess. Who wouldn't want to go on THAT? Am now in Italy, in Rome, have booked the (direct 10-hour) train ticket to Trieste tomorrow, £195 euros in 1st Class, for both of us including the bikes! So cheap compared to the UK. Also attached is a pic where I was tying the bikes on the local Civitavecchia-Rome train this morning. Try getting bikes loaded like this (or not), onto UK trains, good luck with that. Reason for using the trains instead of cycling is that it's about 1000km and I want to save some Schengen time on my passport. We are on our way via Trieste and Slovenia, to Croatia and the Balkans.

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Wednesday 03 March 2021


BARCELONA!

I'm in Barcelona, now, sitting in Grimaldi shipping lines terminal, waiting for the boat. Both our Covid PCR tests came back negative and it looks like my plan is coming together. I've had a KFC so I'm stuffed and happy. :) Next stop, Italy!

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Tuesday 02 March 2021


PCR TEST AND CHICKENS

Wah! Who's had a PCR test?? I'm sure that swab went up my nose and right into my brain. Fuck. Let's hope it's negative. Due to the timescale of Italy needing a <48hr test, I had to pay for a 12 hour result, and the logistics of needing the result BEFORE we get on the ferry in Barcelona, yet it still being less than 48h old when we arrive in Italy, we had to pay, and it cost 110 Euros each. Bloody hell. They will email the result tomorrow, as we are driving in the Renault Kangaroo to Barcelona, so hope to God the results are negative :) Also, here are some of the chicklets I've been babysitting for 10 days in Murcia. Cute, eh? Tomorrow AM, drive to Barcelona, hope they have finished rioting there, then cycle to the port, then onto the 20h Grimaldi boat trip for Civitaveccia.

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Thursday 25 February 2021


PICS

To cheer you up, here is a pic of a dead fox, and a pic of some live goats. The goats were great, we gave the Goatherd bloke a Snickers, he showed us how his collie dog ran after the goats.

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Thursday 25 February 2021


TRAVEL PLANS

OK, this has taken some juggling, but... ...we need to leave the EU Schengen Zone soon as UK citizens are only allowed 90 days in every 180 in Schengen. I really don't want to risk flying... in close confines etc. So, as Morocco is closed for ferry travel, the best place to go is Croatia. So, this is the plan.,(any advice is welcomed)... ==== Next Wednesday March 3rd, after the dentistry is finished, we get a Covid PCR test in Murcia early morning, then we drive to Barcelona with the bikes in the back of the Enterprise Kangaroo. Drop the van at the train station in Barcelona, and cycle to the port (10 mins). Hopefully the PCR test will be back by email by then (they say 12 hours), and so we can board the ferry at 10pm. To Civitavecchia (the port for Rome). The Italians check our PCR test result. Either gat a train Civitavecchia to Rome centre - I've done that train before - or if they are funny about the bikes on the train, we cycle the 90km to Rome Terminii station. There, we get a direct train from Rome to Trieste. Cheap, tickets well less than £100. We've been assured there is room on the train for bikes, as it's a slow train (10 hours). In Trieste, we get another PCR test done, then cycle into Slovenia, cycle the 15km across Slovenia, and enter Croatia, both times showing the Trieste PCR test results. Out of Schengen! Easy. Phew. You see, we don't want to use the whole 90 days up of our current allowance, to leave options for a return to the UK. After 90 days in the Balkans, we can re-enter Schengen with a clean 90 days available again. Croatia even explain this on their tourist Gov website, advertising themselves as a haven for Brits complying with Schengen rules. Might even get jabbed in Serbia as their jabbing is going very well. Anyone qualifies, no need to be a citizen. Hence the saying "A Sputnik jab in your arse a day, keeps the Covid away". Or else, at some stage, we lock up the bikes and fly back to Blighty to get jabbed. Depends when I can get mine...(?)

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Thursday 25 February 2021


OUCH! It hurts!

I've been quiet on FB for a week or two because I've been screaming in real-life. Paracetamol doesn't work. Massive toothache! Massive swelling. This is all just one week after Jon sorted his swollen eye-lid out, so we've been unlucky, lately. We've now cycled to Murcia, a lovely city, a half-hour drive from Alicante. After a couple of nights in a hotel, we decided to rent a lovely small farmhouse for the same cost, 10 miles out of town (complete with a horse, baby chickens everywhere, and somewhere outside for Jon to service the bikes while I am groaning). A supermarket called Super Dumbo (really) is just 200 metres away. We have rented a cheap Renault Kangaroo from Enterprise, because I can't cycle to the dentist with grade-A toothache like this. After laying down >£1000, I'm half way through double root-canal treatment at a highly-rated local dentist clinic, who use a professor from the local university to do the job. My final treatment is next Tuesday, and the tooth pain is only marginal, now. My swelling has gone down, too. There is a broken bridge that needs mending too, but that might have to wait until Croatia... I'll update with our travel plans soon, but first, let me get these bloody teeth sorted... so we'll be in this farmhouse until next Wednesday anyway. As an added bonus, Jon has just been offered a Covid jab from his UK GP... but we are in Spain. Not for long though. Next stop is Italy! We need to start to leave the EU Schengen zone. More about this in my next post. I only hurts when I smile, now. :) Aaaagh.

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Wednesday 10 February 2021


AVOIDING ATOM BOMBS

Actually, they were hydrogen bombs. Four 1.5 megaton bombs. Back in January 1966, the USA managed to crash a B52 bomber into a tanker, in the air above Palomares, which is exactly on my route tomorrow or Friday. On that day, 4 hydrogen bombs fell on Spain, 3 on the land and 1 in the sea. The high explosive triggers (which surrounded the plutonium core) of two of the bombs that fell on the village of Palomares exploded, scattering plutonium like crazy. Of course, not a nuclear detonation, as the bombs weren't armed, but this was bad enough. The American dogs recovered the other 2 bombs, eventually. I noticed red areas on my Komoot map (not marked on Google maps) and these are fenced areas that still have extremely high radiation readings. So, (and this is difficult due to the lack of alternate roads in the area...) I think we will skirt this most contaminated area by at least 5km. I don't fancy a mouthful of that Pu and Americium, blowing in the wind and dust. I remember reading about this incident when I did my MSc in Environmental Management, and now, I'm suddenly right on top of it. Amazing. Of course, the "clean up" was crap. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34569614 https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18689132 This seems to be Europe's worst nuclear accident, but one few people are aware of. Wish us good luck. Luckily, we have face-masks :)

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Wednesday 10 February 2021


SOMETHING BIT JON

Well, we've been stuck in Almeria for 3 days because something bit Jon on his eyelid, and his whole left face went the size of a watermelon, and his eyelid turned into a tennis-ball affair. No way could it open. Impossible to cycle like that. He said no pain, just a massive swelling. So we moved into a 4* hotel to get some small luxuries, and he's bed-rested, and today Jon's head size came back to normal. His eye was never affected, so no panic, it was the eyelid and face that copped it. The picture is from when he was nearly recovered. Back on the bikes tomorrow!

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Tuesday 02 February 2021


ASS-CAM. MALAGA TO NERJA

A lovely trip today, over 50km along the coast, some of it on the beach, from Malaga to Nerja. This is slightly less than the distance from Leeds to Manchester (but much warmer). I'm slowly heading up towards Barcelona. Jon shoved a camera towards my ass, so you can follow me, and see just what the trip was like. This is part of the EuroVelo 8 cycle path (but is very incomplete). EV8 goes all the way from Cadiz to Izmir in Turkey. 22 degrees, just wonderful. Big hills to 200m are coming tomorrow...

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Sunday 31 January 2021


GUESS THE SPANISH NATIONAL ANIMAL

Everyone knows it's the DONKEY, and to show support to my EU friends, here I am riding one. This animal represents the European Commission, on 4 legs. This burro, I christened "Ursula von der Donkey". "Grassy Arse" ..as they seem to say, here.

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Saturday 30 January 2021


JERRY THE GERMAN

So, a German called Jeremy read my post about crossing the Portuguese/Spanish border bridge and he copied me. Then, he caught up with Jon and me, south of Seville... and we decided to cycle to Malaga together "over the top", using the Via Verda de la Sierras, a repurposed mountain railway. That was brilliant. However, in a most un-Germanic fashion, Jeremy has an old slightly crappy (but, hey, it does the job) Decathlon bike, and his SRAM derraileur snapped on the mounting plate just where the wheel QR axle goes through. However, Jon had his chain splitter, so we ripped the derailleur away and made the chain much shorter, so it would only work on 4th gear. A one-speed bike! Jon also disconnected his rear brake as due to the axle qr not having a flat surface, the rear wheel was also a bit wonky and the brake rubbed like hell. Jeremy rode like this all the way to the outskirts of Malaga (which we hit today), and in the morning he'll be straight to Decathlon. He's quite the hero, as we did over 2000m of climbing (and descending) and he did it all in one gear., and with just one brake. The hills nearly killed Jon and me... but we've survived. Lovely 22 degree weather, though :) Here are the pics of the repair, the roadside effort and some camping. Jon insists this is an aluminium issue, he hates the stuff. He says we have steel derailleur hanger plates which are unlikely to stress fracture, and if they do, they can be welded by a farmer and ground with an angle grinder and re-uesd. The derailleur that broke was an SRAM SX4 if anyone is interested. I'm still unclear what Jeremy means when he says "donkey shite"? Google translate can't find it. :)

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Sunday 24 January 2021


ROUTE PLANNING

So, we are in Las Cabezas de San Juan, south of Seville and we were going to head for Cadiz and go around the coast, Malaga direction... But we have some nasty wind and rain this morning, so decided to stick in our apartment we rented for 1 more day. Have been reconsidering the route to Malaga (see the maps). The wind seems consistently west to east. Now... having done some planning... We are considering heading to Malaga direction "over the top" as the crow flies as it's actually less climbing overall than taking the coast, plus 180km, not 360km, and the wind seems on our backs. But less metres climbing overall even though it gets to 800 or 1000m on the way, rather than just 200/300m max on the coast roads. Plus that coast road is busy, and we have to fight the wind to get to Cadiz direction.. So we think to go over the top, past Ronda seems sensible. I'm building up for some serious pushing up the hills. Any opinions will be gratefully received.

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Monday 18 January 2021


ANOTHER FERRY

Crossing the Rio Guadalquivir at Coria Del Rio, near Seville. I just couldn't get the price right. I love these small ferries. https://www.facebook.com/Barca-de-Coria-Transportes-Fluviales-Coria-SL-214463095271118/ My selfie was shit. More lovely weather. Near the end of a 70km day, looking for a restaurant as they have a 6pm curfew, here.

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Monday 18 January 2021


ILLEGAL MOTORWAY BRIDGE CROSSING FOOTAGE

I thought I'd lost this mp4 from last week, as I hid the memory card in case the police stopped us, but I just found it again at the bottom of my bag. So here it is. Crossing the blocked off motorway bridge between Portugal and Spain. You can notice I also lost my LBT yellow vest and had to steal a Portuguese workman's vest.

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Sunday 17 January 2021


WILD WEST SPAIN

Quite by chance we stopped in this really weird town (because a ferry wasn't running so we had to re-route between Huelva and Cadiz). The town is called El Rocio. It's got a magic virgin Mary, similar to Lourdes, but the power of witchcraft is strong ....as every year an event is held when over 1 million people descend on the town from all over Spain (4 x Glastonbury volumes). Many arrive on horses or do the pilgrimage on foot. Hope Mary is good with blisters. All the streets of the town are sand and there are more horses than cars, every house had a horse tie-up post in front of it. Many of the houses are bunkhouses for visiting pilgrims, named after the Spanish cities and places that own them. It's a fantastically well-kept town in the Donana National Park. So we've stayed here an extra day, I did some horse riding on an old nag, had a great meal and we had a good look around. El Rocio is amazing. 100% weird and wonderful. Is it Spain or is it the Wild West of Mexico??? It's real, not a Disney type show-town. Also, just notice the weather. 20 degrees, not a cloud...

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Thursday 14 January 2021


MOTORWAY MADNESS

I wouldn't normally cycle on a motorway, but there was no other way to Spain. It's just about impossible for cyclists to do Southern Portugal to Spain (or vice versa), legally. The little ferry from Vila Real San Antonio to Ayamonte over the Guadiana river was suspended due to Covid, so I checked the bus station... no buses. No way would the bikes go in a taxi. So off we cycled to the motorway bridge, about 8km North. Joined the motorway slip road to ESPANHA, ignoring the "NO CYCLING" signs, and pedalled like hell towards Spain. Going past the old customs post, a Portuguese GNR cop watched us, but made no move. No waving or shouting. Guess he thought we would be the Guardia Civil problem soon. Near the bridge, the traffic contraflowed onto the opposite lane because the bridge was being repaired, but we dodged the cones and stayed on the right hand side of the central reservation. Then we had to open a fence blocking that (southern) lane on the bridge. Still no one stopped us. Surely there must be cameras? Then we cycled over the bridge, avoiding diggers and workmen in the blocked off lane. They shouted "Bon Dias" and "Hola" and waved us on. On the Spanish side, after the ESPANA euro-sign, there was an immediate turn off to Ayamonte, so we took it. All in all, a bit stressful because we were expecting some police action... but nothing happened. We're now back in Spain, in Andalusia, heading East through thousands of Orange trees along the coast.

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Monday 11 January 2021


CROSSING INTO SPAIN

Has anyone here taken a cycle from Portugal to Spain over the southern border? The only bridge on the Guadiana river is a motorway bridge, so I guess there must be a ferry. Google says there may be one from Villa Real... Has anyone used it?

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Monday 11 January 2021


SAND IS MY ENEMY

My crash is at 1:20. Any sand more than 1" deep is a nightmare. My bike just stops dead and auto-crashes. I hate sand. Any advice is welcome. For info, I have 26 x 2" tyres Scwalbe Marathon Mondial tyres with 55 - 70psi (or 4 to 5 bar) in them. I think I need those 4" fat bike tyres? But those would mean a new bike, as Jon says 2" is the max on.a Surly Long Haul Trucker.

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Monday 11 January 2021


IF ONLY I COULD FIND A BLOODY SEA VIEW!

Sometimes it's useful to look up from my phone screen... :) I'm in Albufeira, FYI.

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Sunday 10 January 2021


NOT QUITE A BRIDGE TOO FAR

Over a stunning bridge and some really amazing sound effects from the wind - I'm unsure you would even notice these in a car. I show you my new hotel room... when you can get rooms (it's more than a room!) like this for under £30, what's the point in using a guest house or even camping? A short day, maybe 29km... but the North wind is cold and strong, so we decided to take it easy. BBC weather shows sun symbols all week, temps getting to 15 degrees... so that will be lovely for mid-January.

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Saturday 09 January 2021


BACK ON THE BIKES TOMORROW

Storm Philomena has passed, and tomorrow we'll be back on the bikes, heading East.

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Thursday 07 January 2021


A PORT IN A STORM

There's quite a storm on the way in southern Iberia, the news is saying there will be snow in southern Spain! Even though we are in the Algarve, it's no fun cycling with hard winds in my face and solid rain soaking my pants. We are in Lagos, a wonderful place. Quite a sizeable town on the south coast of Portugal with city walls and all that. Great restaurants, a fantastic atmosphere and loads of life. Jon has repaired his bent pedal crank (he slipped and fell on his bike in a wet garage) so he can now get all his gears again. We've spent some time cleaning the chains and adjusting the brakes... and relaxing. We'll re-set-off at the weekend.

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Thursday 31 December 2020


SAGRES

At last, I've reached Sagres. Any further, my feet would be wet and I'd be swimming to Africa. No self-made images, as it was dark when I arrived. Happy new year everyone.

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Wednesday 30 December 2020


BIG COW

That's a big cow!

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Wednesday 30 December 2020


FINDING THE END OF THE NEW SILK ROAD FROM CHINA

The port of Sines is considered a key link in the One Belt One Road project launched in 2013 by the current president of the People's Republic of China, Mr Xi, in particular for its special geostrategic position of connecting the continents of Africa and North and South America. However, I'm the only Chinese in sight as I travel south on my way to the Algarve...

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