RUSSIA AND WEST AFRICA (AND UK)- HYPERTRAVEL HYPED**
About this blog
My 2-in-1, sometimes 3-in-1, travel combinations seem to be getting wackier, but there's some logic in there somewhere, the common point being that flights to almost anywhere around the world are cheaper from London than anywhere else, and so are these. In a way I guess this is the apex of my hypertravel, two of the most difficult locations combined into one, as though I'm so seasoned after a year and a half of constant travel that I'll be fazed by nothing. Russia is difficult because the visa is a pain in the ass- letter of invitation and all that jazz- and so expensive, especially if you're in a hurry. Accommodations in-country don't seem so cheap either. West Africa is difficult because 1) it's Africa, so chaotic and unpredictable, and 2) they all require visas, too, so that ups the expense AND the hassle. It seems the Visa Touristique Entente- one visa for five countries- may be defunct by now, too, so... I wish I'd never heard of it.
At least the countries between Cote d'Ivoire and Nigeria are easier than the ones west of there, a veritable no-man's-land until you get to Senegal, visas expensive and unavailable at the borders, travel itself hard and long. I won't tell you that West Africa is my favorite travel destination... it's intense. We'll see what happens. First comes Russia, and that's as big of a question mark as the other. All I know is that I'll visit Moscow and St. Petersburg, and pass through Belarus somewhere along the way. If I can work in Luxembourg, then my European stamp collection will be complete. Either way, I'll rest for a while after this. I need it. At least I'm not getting that sick feeling that I got last time on the flight from London to Nairobi. Maybe that's just what happens before you get kidnapped.
** This will go down in my memory as the 'asterisk' tour, partly because it used the asterisk-looking hub-and-spoke system of travel more than the usual loop, but mostly because it was marked by so many irregularities and eventual abortion, not the least of which being the volcano in Iceland that shut down air traffic in Europe for a week, and threw an already patchwork trip into dire uncertainty. I only reached four new countries on this trip, tied for the lowest in this series, the first. Fittingly this will be the last... for a while.