Saturday 5 August 2017
It started, as it invariably does, with an idea, long ago but not forgotten. Since I first heard about The Tube Challenge it’s been one of my favourite Guinness World Records. 270 stations of the London Underground in less than 16 hours; a game of logistics, stamina and dumb luck – it only takes one train to be delayed on one line for the whole thing to be thrown out of whack.
Scale The Tube Challenge up to the max and you have The Odyssey Expedition.
As part of that record-breaking journey to every country in the world without flying I managed to visit every country in Europe in a little over three and a half weeks. However, I didn’t do it all in one go, it was broken up by a couple of trips to Africa.
It looks like my record of 4 years 31 days to visit all countries by scheduled ground transport is set to stand for a good while yet: travel has grown increasingly more challenging for all of us, with the double-whammy of increased instability in the Middle East coupled with the older generation’s barking mad desire to shackle us young’uns to our places of birth lest we accidentally marry a vampire or something.
So here’s the idea: let’s have The Tube Challenge meet The Odyssey Expedition in the middle – an adventure that is achievable in just a few weeks, for which there could conceivably be dozens of different routes and strategies to get from Iceland to Cyprus. Or vice-versa. Thus The Eurodyssey Challenge was born.
Participants have to visit all 50 countries of Europe taking only ferries, buses and trains. They can take taxis up to 50km in one direction, but they cannot drive, hitch-hike or even ride in a private vehicle.
I’m hoping to throw down the gauntlet at 18 days. It may take longer, although I doubt I can do it any faster. The point is that I’m bound to make some mistakes along the way — mistakes that those who come after me will hopefully be able to avoid.
My original intention was to start the challenge in September, but 2017 had other ideas, and I was forced to bring things forward a month. This meant that all the stuff I hoped to have in place before I started would have to fall by the wayside. Just like with The Odyssey Expedition, this will be a seat-of-my-pants jaunt for which anything and everything could (and possibly will) go wrong.
But unlike The Odyssey Expedition, this time I will not be travelling alone – I’d have a Passeportout, a Sancho Panza to help me on my way: Catherine “Cricket” Averett from the States, a Jinja Island alumni (she took those wonderful pictures of my reef) who helped fund the trip on the proviso that she could come with. I’ll be meeting her in Denmark on August 19.
So then, it all kicks off in earnest on August 17 the very moment I reach Iceland. I’ll be posting like crazy on Instagram and Twitter and blogging on this site, but for live videos you’ll have to follow my Facebook page.
Are you ready?!! I am!