We had some bright moments during our time in Southeastern Europe that we would like to share with you. Our life, which literally “ran on rails” in southern and eastern Africa, snagged at one point or another in Europe. We realized quite quickly that the Land Cruiser is only conditionally a great travel car for Europe. It is and remains a touring vehicle for neutral to nice weather. We experienced mostly rain. For these conditions a panel van is more suitable. It simply offers more comfort. Of course, we see this in comparison with our meanwhile about 80,000 Africa kilometers. In our opinion, the cruiser is unbeatable. There are few regions where you can’t travel (without risk) and the comfort fits, since life is mostly outdoors.
Shortly before we left, we received a message from an friend from the travel scene. He had passed on our name, because a young Swiss was desperately looking for a Land Cruiser. He wouldn’t know if we wanted to sell, but simply made contact. I beg your pardon? Sell Manni? Is it still possible? Hmmm… On the other hand: will the car get better if it sits in the barn for 11 months a year and is not moved?
We met with the very likeable young man and all of a sudden it was really on the table that we would sell Manni. We named our limit, parted ways and that was it. The deal was: for that price you can buy Manni (did we really say that?). If you don’t want to, it’s ok too and Manni will wait in the barn for our return.
During our entire trip, we encountered people in absolutely all countries very friendly and sympathetic. The extreme tolls surprised us. The highway toll per country is many times higher than the annual fee in Switzerland, which is why we decided not to take a general whining about the Swiss highway tolls seriously anymore. In future, we will simply laugh at the people concerned and ask them to drive to Italy, Croatia, Greece or France. In these countries, you can travel a maximum of 100 km for the annual Swiss toll – one way.
Southeastern Europe was expensive. That’s how we would like to put it. We spent on average about as much per month as in Botswana or Zimbabwe – but without the highlights of the national parks and the corresponding animals. Albania is THE exception. After Croatia maneuvers itself through the new, only as greedy price structures (in our opinion) into the offside, Albania offers, as a “positive Outlier”, very much for the money.
Southeast Europe and the treatment of animals
Well, here we address our most sore point. We cannot accept how southern Europeans and southeastern Europeans treat animals. It is simply unacceptable. It doesn’t matter whether it is Croatia, Albania and Greece or Hungary and Romania. Dead dogs on the side of the road, a flood of cats looking for help on the campsite or in the restaurant are turning off. The sympathetic Hermann at Villa Hermani in Romania laughed and gave us a “It is what it is” to go with. Yes, that is so – it is what it is. Still, we don’t agree and it is an area-wide problem. It will probably take another 10 years to get to an acceptable and satisfactory level for us on this issue.
Meanwhile, what became of Manni?
Just in time for the deadline, the sympathetic young Swiss accepted and bought Manni. It was a really strange feeling, because when we bought him, our intention was to keep him “forever”. We realized that it is wasteful to own two Land Cruisers, so we parted with the one we would miss less due to the circumstances. At the end of February, we also had an offer on the Donkey. We would have received more money than we paid for it (despite 10 months of travel) and there was no question for us to reject the offer.
The trip was helpful for us. We learned calmly that Europe is too narrow for us. Much is forbidden, little is allowed, some things are in the gray zone. There are really beautiful corners that we have seen. Was it worth it to take on the rest of it? We think no, and now prefer to travel further in Africa. Here we have much more freedom, less regulations and always the possibility to work out a solution – whatever the problem may be. Africa seems to us today like Europe 30 years ago. Well done – by the time Africa reaches the level of today’s Europe, we will be old and gray. Until then, we better enjoy the freedom of the black continent.