Breadcrumbs

My Grand Tour

 

 

This is a collection of stories about my very first experience of 'overland travel'. As a traveller as opposed to a tourist or holiday maker. It also includes the subsequent trips of a similar nature.Collectively, I call them my Grand Tour.

 

 My Grand Tour is not the traditional Grand Tour of Europe preferred by certain English young gentlemen. It served as an educational rite of passsage for the wealthy. This was part of my education.

 There where esecentially four trips in Asia, two trips in Africa, together with various layovers and outings that constituded My Grand Tour. In addition there are short wanderings to Europe and USA. 

First Trip to Asia

Overland to Nepal and fly back to Great Britain

Most of the early travels which constituted The Grand Tour were self organized, without any input from travel companies.

The exception to this was the ferry to get across the North Sea, the international driving licenses and the Carnet de Passage. The latter two were obtained from the RAC.

At the time you needed a special license to drive a Heavy Goods Vehicle, HGV. However, if it was not used for goods, for hire or reward, then it was just a private car, albeit a large car. There was no restriction on how large a car could be. Hence a international driving license for a car was sufficient. (Not all countries agreed with this, which you can read about in the stories.)

The ferry route we decided to use for our first trip, was from Dover to Zeebrugge. This was mainly due to the location of the ports. Memory suggests that the ferry was one of the British Rail Ferries, operated as Sealink. Citation required.

The next time we used a travel company was to book a flight from Nepal to Bangladesh, as a holiday within a holiday. The booking was with (Royal) Nepal Airlines. However, we never used those tickets. See the trip story to find out why. The next time was again with RNA, but for the flight home as we had sold the truck.

 

Second Trip to Asia, and return for the third Asian trip

Overland to Nepal with two vehicles and drive back to Great Britain with one, and passengers.

Despite being separated by a couple of years, the situation was similar for the second trip to Asia, as it was for the first. There was again the need for international driving licenses for Pete and I, but they were still valid from the first trip. Two new Carnet de Passage were required, one for each vehicle, which were again procured from RAC.

This time the ferry was from Harwich.  .... more details to come.

We were more successful with our holiday within a holiday this time and actually managed to use the tickets we arranged with Nepal Airlines. This time it was to Siliguri. We found a hotel on arrival, eventually. Then the reason for the short break, off to the railway station for a trip on the steepest non-funicular railway in the world, to Darjeeling. I understand that Kathmandu to Siliguri is now a difficult route, I don't recall that being the case at the time.

We only sold one vehicle this trip so there was no flight home to organize. We travelled back with the coach and picked up passengers on the way. No travel companies involved it that, unless we include ourselves.

Upon getting to the channel we booked the next available ferry and came across without passengers. One of the earlier passengers left something which gave us a bit of grief at the UK boarder. More of that later.

Pete and I applied for driving jobs in Germany on the way through, and following a brief spell in England, returned to Germany separately. Pete got work driving trucks but I did not, and so continued to travel. I went to Amsterdam and stayed with one of the passengers and his girlfriend.

Whilst there Pan Am launched a new service between Amsterdam and Boston, at a very reduced price of 115 guilders. I already had an America Visa and so was ready to travel. An opportunity not to be missed. I was living out of a rucksack already, so it was just a case of persuading Pam Am that I would successfully gain entry to USA, and a one way ticket was bought. I was flying to USA without a plan of any sort.

I don't recall using any travel companies in the US until I got to the airport in New York, and bought a ticket to fly home.

Fourth Asian trip, and African trips, Southbound and Northbound

Encounter Overland Expeditions towards Nepal, and London to Johannesburg (Southbound) and return to London (Northbound).

I then bumped into Encounter Overland in London. I hit it off with the owner and found myself employed, mainly I suspect because of my previous experience travelling and some of the ideas we discussed.

Encounter Overland was such an important and integral part of my travelling that it has it's own section. Trailfinders were on the same street as EO and get a mention as they provided a significant proportion of EO's clientele.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Site refresh Easter 2021

I decided to give the site a bit of a refresh over Easter 2021 and install a new template and some additional functions. One of the things I didn't like about the old site was the delay in text appearing which probably meant some people left before the content appeared. This has been corrected now. 

My Grand Tour Timeline

June 1975 to October 1975 Trans Asia Trip 1 Eastbound

Overland trip in our own truck. England, Holland, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal.

1975 - 1 Trans Asia Trip 1 EB - England, Europe

Depart from England

1975 - 1 Trans Asia Trip 1 EB - England, Europe

Depart from England

1975 - 14 End Trans Asia Trip 1 EB Trans Asia Trip 1 WB - Flight home and arrival

26/09/1977 External event Laker Airways

The second low cost airline challenged the established market helping to bring cheaper flights to all. Airline founded by Sir Freddie Laker in 1966 and closed 1982. Skytrain was inaugurated between London Gatwick and New York JFK on 26 September in 1977

26/09/1977 External event Laker Airways

The second low cost airline challenged the established market helping to bring cheaper flights to all. Airline founded by Sir Freddie Laker in 1966 and closed 1982. Skytrain was inaugurated between London Gatwick and New York JFK on 26 September in 1977

1977 to 1978 - Trans Asia Trip 2 EB Trans Asia Trip 2 Eastbound

1977 - 11 Trans Asia Trip 2 EB - India - Asia

The roads of Connaught Place, New Delhi disappear as rainwater fills above kerb height when the monsoon breaks, with the slightest breeze to send everybody running to shelter.

1977 - 11 Trans Asia Trip 2 EB - India - Asia

The roads of Connaught Place, New Delhi disappear as rainwater fills above kerb height when the monsoon breaks, with the slightest breeze to send everybody running to shelter.

1977 - 12 Trans Asia Trip 2 EB - Nepal - Asia

Christmas Day 1977 in the Himalayan hills. Hopping for a white Christmas but in fact it was T-shirt and shorts in the garden of our Pokhara hotel.

1978 - A3 Kathmandu layover - Holiday to Dhaka

CANCELLED - Find out why!

1978 - A3 Kathmandu layover - Holiday to Dhaka

CANCELLED - Find out why!

1978 - Trans Asia Trip 3 WB Trans Asia Trip 3 Westbound

1978 - 1 Trans Asia Trip 3 WB - Nepal - Asia

The girls travel on eastbound whilst Pete and I return in the coach with passengers.

1978 - 1 Trans Asia Trip 3 WB - Nepal - Asia

The girls travel on eastbound whilst Pete and I return in the coach with passengers.

1978 - 4 Trans Asia Trip 3 WB - Afghanistan - Asia

Though Afghanistan and into Iran only just before the Afghanistan Coup on 27–28 April 1978.

27 April 1978 Military coup in Afganistan

Military coup, known as the Saur Revolution, started days after we cleared.

27 April 1978 Military coup in Afganistan

Military coup, known as the Saur Revolution, started days after we cleared.

1978 - 7 Trans Asia Trip 3 WB - Greece - Europe

This time we drove all the way to Athens

1978 - Germany Germany

Back to Germany on public transport, to meetup with some of the passengers.

1978 - Germany Germany

Back to Germany on public transport, to meetup with some of the passengers.

1978 - Holland Holland

From Germany to Amsterdam, Holland on public transport, to meetup with one of the passengers, and his girlfriend, who was not one of our passengers.

1978 - USA USA - North America

From Amsterdam to Boston, a new route for Pan-Am. Lone hitchhiking in North East USA. Massachusetts, New York, Toronto, Canada Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey

1978 - USA USA - North America

From Amsterdam to Boston, a new route for Pan-Am. Lone hitchhiking in North East USA. Massachusetts, New York, Toronto, Canada Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey

1978 - EO Trans Asia Trip 4 EB Encounter Overland Trans Asia Expedition

1978 - EO 5 EO Trans Asia Trip 4 EB - Turkey - Europe and Asia

A very eventful time in Eastern Turkey, and a touch cold as well

1978 - EO 5 EO Trans Asia Trip 4 EB - Turkey - Europe and Asia

A very eventful time in Eastern Turkey, and a touch cold as well

7 January 1978 – 11 February 1979 Iranian Revolution

Overthrow of the Shah. Hotels burnt down in the street we were staying

1978 - EO 6 EO Trans Asia Trip 4 EB - Iran - Asia

Into a war zone with tanks on the streets and hotels ablaze.

1978 - EO 6 EO Trans Asia Trip 4 EB - Iran - Asia

Into a war zone with tanks on the streets and hotels ablaze.

December 1978 External event The Dakar Rally

The first Paris to Dakar rally held

December 1978 External event The Dakar Rally

The first Paris to Dakar rally held

1979 - EO SA 01

1979 - EO SA 02

1979 - EO SA 02

1979 - EO SA 03

1979 - EO SA 04

1979 - EO SA 04

1979 - EO SA 05

1979 - EO SA 06

1979 - EO SA 06

1979 - EO SA 07

1979 - EO SA 08

1979 - EO SA 08

1979 - EO SA 09

1979 - EO SA 10

1979 - EO SA 10

1979 - EO NB 01 Trans Africa EO NB - South Africa - Africa

Another group on our way north with a full complement. In fact there was an extra person sat on a box in the isle. Just for a short part of the way.

1979 - EO NB 01 Trans Africa EO NB - South Africa - Africa

Another group on our way north with a full complement. In fact there was an extra person sat on a box in the isle. Just for a short part of the way.

1979 - EO NB 02 Trans Africa EO NB - Swaziland - Africa

Not normally part of the northbound trip, but with the direct root closed by war, Swaziland is the place to fly from for the next part of the trip.

1979 - EO NB 03 Trans Africa EO NB - Zambia - Africa

Fly from Swaziland to Zambia, with a change of truck, we were now set up for the rest of the trip north

1979 - EO NB 03 Trans Africa EO NB - Zambia - Africa

Fly from Swaziland to Zambia, with a change of truck, we were now set up for the rest of the trip north

1979 - EO NB 15 Trans Africa EO NB - France - Europe

The race through France to get home.

1979 - EO NB 15 Trans Africa EO NB - France - Europe

The race through France to get home.

1979 - EO NB 17

1979 - EO NB 17

1979 - EO NB 18

1979 - EO NB 19

1979 - EO NB 19

1979 - EO NB 20

1980 External Event The Camel Trophy

The Camel Trophy began in 1980 with a transit of the Trans Amazonian Highway

1980 External Event The Camel Trophy

The Camel Trophy began in 1980 with a transit of the Trans Amazonian Highway