Yes, you read it correctly the return trip from Zarate to Tilbury, London is 29 days! for Bob & Dave it was even longer at 33 days & my embarkation delay has saved me 4 days on board!!
This is the entrance to Zerate port with the vessel ‘Grande San Paolo’ our home for the next month in the distance, I’ve finally made it & meet up with the other boys.
Zarate is a major port for transport of vehicles between Argentina & the world, you can see them all lined up on the dock, in Argentina you can only Import goods to the value of your Exports so major manufactures have to open factories in the country.
I ask Bob & Dave if life on board is good? unfortunately the reply is the opposite as the standard of the ship & the food already has the thumbs down.
This journey is a necessity rather than a pleasure so fellow travellers note, the quality of Grimaldi Lines vessels is not the greatest although you do get a different view of the countryside.
Our next stop is Paranagua in Brazil & then Santos the port close to Sao Paulo, shipping containers & cranes everywhere with all the ports similarly equipped.
A brief trip ashore is also made to stock up on some Chocolate to make the trip a little more bearable.
Santos is a large city with many ferries crossing the estuary, if you look at Google Earth however compared to Sao Paulo it’s tiny.
The coast of Brazil is littered with small lush green islands, some like this one have Beach resorts & old fortifications.
Entering our last port in South America at Rio we run to man the 'depth charges' in case this sub is transporting drugs, we can’t find any & we let it pass unscathed. Rio de Janeiro as you can see suffers from a bit of smog, not a total surprise as 6.3 million people live here.
I’ve never suffered from ‘Ship envy’ but I would sure like to be on one of these cruise liners, at least they have things to do rather than our limited repertoire of films on the laptop & books, at least the company from our fellow Swiss, French & Canadian guests is good.
Rio at night with ‘Christ the Redeemer’ illuminated in the distance, we did intend to get off the ship here but the traffic was so bad outside the port that we turned round & came back, we only had a few hours & we are off to Africa in the morning so it wasn't worth the hassle.
7 days later we reach Africa & dock at Dakar, Senegal, once again it’s very hazy but this time due to dust with everything covered in a thick layer, no chance to leave the ship here but I did manage to get a WiFi connection from the shore.
This was a bit of luck as when I checked my bank account someone had withdrawn £600 from ATM’s in Lima while I was crossing the Atlantic, Dave was also done so we both spent some time on the phone to N&P who were great & refunded the money straight away, at the time it also looked like Bob was OK.
The temperature in Dakar was 43 degrees C & now 9 days later it’s nice to be back in the cooler climate of Hamburg, you do appreciate the order & calm of Europe when you have been away for a long time.Bob tried to get some money from an ATM, he was refused & it turned out his card had also been cloned, thankfully this only happened on our way home.
In Germany we pick up a new chef & although we only have a few days of his cooking it is significantly better than we have been used to, here we are celebrating our imminent return to Tilbury with Bruno & Don who actually chose this trip as a Holiday!!
If you ever wondered where all the old cars from Germany & the UK go here is your answer, the ship is loaded at both ports with anything that can be driven prior to it’s return trip to Africa.
Well we made it!! It’s a shame we have to return tomorrow to pick up the bikes due to Customs being closed on Sunday but it was a real treat to receive a great reception from about a dozen BMW club members at the docks.
A Few brief Facts about the trip:
Total distance travelled: 32,250 miles for Bob & Dave with 21,500 miles for me.
Number of Punctures: 1 for me in Chile
Number of Accidents: 3 for Bob plus a few ‘lay downs’ for all of us
Collisions with Dogs: 2 for me
Lowest point: 85.5m below sea level at Death Valley (USA).
Highest point: 4,690m above sea level between La Paz (Bolivia) & Arica (Chile).
Days travelled: 326 for Bob & Dave with 248 for me.
It’s great to be on the road but it’s also good to be home & see the loved ones we missed!! Time to start planning the next tour?