Milano – a touristic perspective

So many times i passed Milano, the big, fashionable city of the North of Italy, but never stopped by here. Till now. At least getting a glimpse of the city, i thought. But why i come in the cold autumn, i asked myself after a cold night looking into a misty, cold morning.

First comes first. A real cappuccino with marmalade filled croissant in a typically Italian coffee bar. What a delight. Although this has not lifted my mood for a city walk, i have to admit.

But since i’m here anyway, i approached the famous Cathedral of Milano. At its wall i discovered a relief with the scene of the expulsion from paradise. Paradise, as i would define it, a bright, peaceful place with enough space and food for everyone, and warmth. Instead i found myself between huge pillars in a gloomy dark and cold room. People scurry by, whispers floating in the air, swallowed by the flickering candlelight and incredulous prayers are sent to the unreachable dome. Only the beautifully windows brings some bright colors into that dark mystic room and tells some stories of hope and light.

Talking about places of worship, there's this huge 'Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II'. A palace of consumption, excess and decadence. Just next to the catholic cathedral, also equipped with a huge dome, people flock in to get lost in shopping. Those who don't believe in their prayers for luck only, has the change to get some more luck by placing their heels on the balls of a bull figure on the floor and turn themselves three times around.   

My walk lead me to the famous 'Teatro alla Scala'. There i passed the statue of Leonardo, certainly one of the most famous person of all times. Finally i reached 'Castello', but didn't visit it, took some time in the big park behind it, where joggers run between trees and lovers meet up at the bridge, where they hope to lock their love at the rail.

I need a break, i decided, and rattled towards my camp by public transport...

Crossing The Alps – New Journey Starts

It’s already late this year.

My feet got more and more itchy. But finally my #TinaTortuga is ready to take her out for another, bigger trip.

The decision for a destination was hard to find for this winter. There’s no lack on ideas and opportunities, tho. But where to put the priority?

Traveling by my Landrover #TinaTortuga.

Heading to warmer places.

Explorer new regions.

So, let’s start by crossing the snowy Alps, having a coffee in Italy first…

Greece – Arrival In Igoumenitsa

Greece. Since my brief visit in 2017 i knew i’m coming back. Due the pandemic it was difficult to make any travel plans. However, i just went off, needed a break, needed to get a glimpse beyond the horizon again.

The last working shifts was planned as nightshifts. That’s how the idea came up to travel by night since i’m in that rythm anyway. On lonely Swiss and Italian highways i covered dark 800 kilometers trough the short night. Coffee along the roads kept me awake and focused as the distance was melting with the rising sun.

Ancona was awaiting with the “Superfast” Ferry. All went smoothly. I just wished the floor i lied down was smoother too. Another night with almost no sleep was ahead me.

To my surprise Igoumenitsa wasn’t as bad as expected. A nearby campsite right at the sea offered a lovely place to camp. And in the small city of Igoumenitsa wasn’t crowded with tourists, but i found everything i was asking for. Some nice little coffee shops, few supermarkets and a shop selling me a SIM card to stay online on my trip. Not a bad start.

Sister Therese

A friend wrote me a message, telling me about a German lady, who lives in Africa since decades as a nun and founded several dispensaries. If i’m passing by that area i should visit her, he suggested. And indeed, it seemed i’m pretty close there anyway.

On my way i got stopped by the traffic police. Once more. While the officer check my papers he wanted to know where i’m heading to. I told him the story of the old lady, doing so many good things for local people. I admire to meet her and maybe making some photos of the place she founded, i explained. As the officer has seen my camera he wanted me to do a portrait shot of himself. I did. With a smile on both of us he let me go.

Just ask for ‚Sister Therese‘ when you reach the town, my friend advised me. And indeed, even the people on the street didn’t recognized the name of the dispensary, they reacted promptly on the name of the nun. But Sister Therese doesn’t live here anymore. The new chairman of the small hospital organized a nice chap who’s guiding me to the new founded dispensary of Sister Therese. It was about an hour drive or so. Maurice asked me to stop in a village to introduce me with the chief, who owns a shop. It’s all interesting and so much to learn about, but also time consuming. Finally we reached the dispensary and i met Sister Therese in person. After a brief tour trough the building and nearby garden, she told me her story by a soup and tea. Since she was a young girl she wanted go somewhere far. As a young nun she went to Southern Africa, studied to become a nurse and stayed many years in Zimbabwe. Many stories about trouble and terrible times, in Southern and later in Eastern Africa, but also about never ending hope and times of happiness. Her eyes are always smiling even when she’s telling dark stories. A truly strong woman, which i’d like to spend more time with, but it got late and time to leave for me. Despite the short time with her, it let a deep impression on my way out of the bush.

Rough Road To Kenya

I could take the nice tarred road out of Uganda, but the scenery on the northern slope of Mount Elgon was to tempting. The road became more bumpy and dusty with every mile, but bigger also the people smile. From time to time i had to stop for a photo, or just for the stunning view, or simply to give way to a big truck on narrow roads. Time schedule got lost. Instead of a few hours drive i needed all day to reach the Kenyan border post. The last village before frontier i found a fuel station where the diesel pump worked by hand. Can’t remember when i had such a laughter with tank guys filling up my diesel tank.

The Sipi Falls

From Kampala leads a wide, tarred road to the Kenyan border, but on my way i decided to drive a detour to the Sipi Falls. The camp was settled opposite the falls with stunning view to the scenery. Even a sprinkling rainbow appeared with the setting sun. Unfortunately it’s a typically ran down campsite, as many others in Uganda and in Africa in general. The staff tell me from a owner living far away, not interested to invest in facilities, nor seems the employers really keen on keeping it nice and tidy. they only count on customers coming (and paying) for the scenery up here. Probably i would had stayed longer if the campsite would been better maintained. However, that one beautiful night i enjoyed the place.

The Source Of River Nile

I felt the privilege to camp on a grassy site overlooking the River Nile. One site called „The Haven“ became easily a base of tranquility and peace, inviting me to stop by for awhile and do nothing than watch the river flow, the eagles fly and fishermen boats float. It was both, inspiring and meditative. The village nearby couldn’t offer much but laughters and friendly talks when i got to the only little shop around. It was actually just a shack with a weird calendar showing the Ugandian president in truly Rambo style. The ‚roll-eggs‘ they made was delicious, though.

Another camp i found was just above the spot where the Lake Victoria giving birth to the River Nile. A humble monument shows the place where the first European, a certain Mr. John Hanning Speke, spotted the source of the river on 28th July 1862.

Nyero Village and Rock Paintings

A few kilometer off the main road, the dusty road leads trough savannah and small villages. Red rock boulders appear on the horizon, growing bigger to nice shaped mountains. On such boulders, the Twa people draw mystical signs and figures on the rocks. Next to a tiny building, which suppose to be the office, i can even camp over night. This let me time to explore the the small caves with rock arts, climbing on the rocks to watch the landscape from above and visiting the villages around. There’s hardly any artificial light at night. The colors of sunset and sunrise are amazingly strong and the full moon send a silver light over the landscape.

At The Banks Of River Nile

At the other side of the Nile a fishing lodge offers boat trips even into South Sudan, i heard. Fishing lodge sounds posh, but when i arrived it was a run-down lodge with basic facilities. Yet still the charm of better times stays in the air. A small group of locals arrived just after me. They came for a little party under friends, brought a living goat in the car trunk and let them to the butcher to slaughter it in the backyard. There were more animals waiting to get eaten up, but having a peacefully live till then. A pig with a bunch of small ones, chicken, more goats. Eagles circling over the river when i walked along the banks and gave the scenery a peaceful touch of freedom.

Moyo’s Refugee Camps

There’s a beautiful landscape far north of Uganda, just at the border to South Sudan, i read. Off i go, and many bumpy kilometers later i reached Moyo, a dusty border town. Dozens of big, white Toyotas and trucks with blue UN letters or red crosses crossing my way. It’s not a sleepy town anymore since thousands of Sudanese refugees fleeing from the war and passing trough here. I stopped for a bitter lemon at a bar, watching busses with refugees coming from reception camps, get somewhere out of town. Young men hanging around, drinking cheap liquor from small plastic bags. I need a tourist camp to stay overnight, i tell them. Helpfully they explain me the way, spell the name of a place and show me the spot on the map. Just at the river Nile. Looks great to me. When i arrived the place it turns out as huge refugee camp. It’s too late to turn back, so i ask around for a real „tourist camp/lodge“. Another friendly guy shows the direction, just to end up in another refugee camp, even further away from next town. I felt lucky to see a bunch of big, expensive Toyotas with the emblem of a NGO. I asked friendly to stay at the carpark, where a guard is watching at night anyway. A young white guy called himself in charge, but refused to take any responsibility and sent me away. When i turned for another help, he gave me the advice to ask the neighbors, but offer them some money for their help. „sure“, i smiled to him, but thought ‚fuck you off with your cheap advices while too cowardly to let me even stay here, you white prick‘.

The locals were more helpful, sent me to the police station midst of a refugee camp. In front of a few round houses some police officers were sitting in plain clothes. After i got the allowance to stay, i sat with them and listen to their stories. The current camp opened only three months again. Every day hundreds of more refugees are coming, flooding the camps and plans for extending the area already existing. While we spoke, some armed officers arrived in uniforms, turned back from their patrol by motorbikes.  In one of the round houses the prisoners are kept until there’s a transport to Moyo to the bigger jail. Some of them move relatively free, others were with hand chains. They get out of the house to help carrying water or doing some minor jobs. When night falls over the camp, all went silent. No light, no noise. I felt like sleeping in a completely remote area.