Harry's Trails Around The World

Harry Travels World

Driving, controlling the wheel, conquering the road...

This page is dedicated to the roads I have driven down... There is no sensation quite like driving and no better way to see a place, feel its beat, mix with the locals. You can go as far into the countryside as you want, step where no tourist has ever stepped, eat in places that tour guides have never even heard of. And you can feel in control of your own destiny. And isn' t that the essence of life? The countries/territories are listed in alphabetical order, and the routes I have driven down are noted...

Aland Islands (Finland)

From the capital Mariehamn to the provinces of Lemland and Lumparland, then back through Jomala to Finnstrom, Saltvik, Sund and the end of the road at Geta, then down to the western provinces of Hammarland and Eckero. Beautiful small wooden houses with porches, empty roads in good condition making it a pleasure to drive, and all around trees and sea. On a good day, this is the best drive...why, oh why did I have to lose my camera in Helsinki airport just after landing from here, without having transferred the pics somewhere safe?

Andorra

In from France, through the second largest town of Encamp to the capital Andorra La Vella and then the next down out to Spain in the south. Mountainous scenery throughout, pleasant, easy to drive roads. Done this same route twice, once in April 2000 with my friend Vagelis, and once alone through considerable fog upon entering Andorra, as you can see in this pic, in April 2009.

 

Ascension Island (U.K.)

One of my worst experiences ever was stuck here for 5 whole days. Two of these I went up and down every single road of the place in hope of finding something to see. The top of the mountain where the island's governor lives is probably the most interesting point with a slight tropical vegetation and a steep drive up and down. This is the only place I drove on the 'wrong side' of the road, though it wasn't hard given the absence of vehicles (and life in general).

Aruba (Netherlands)

A small island and an easy drive really from the one end to the other that won't take more than a few hours. The south is more barren and filled with cactus trees, the middle and north seemingly more developed, up to the lighthouse and passing a few nice beaches.

 

 

Azores (Portugal)

As can be expected, this is a fascinating place to drive in , and I rented a car on the island of San Miguel and  did the entire western part of the island which includes quaint villages, volcanic lakes and crashing rocks all in one. From the airport, northwest to Sete Cidades and then past the lake to Mosteiros, then on the northern part of the island east all the way to Ribeira Grande and then down to the southern part by Agua de Pau. From there to the capital Ponta Delgada. This made for one of my nicest days in 2009.

Belgium

Belgium: From the border with France to Gent. Uninteresting really, just like the whole country, though I did this in 1996 so it is a while back...

Bermuda (United Kingdom)

Thanks to my couchsurfing acquaintance Chemmy, I not only rode a scooter here but also did it on the 'wrong' side of the road, the first and only time I have dared do such a thing. It was worth it, as Bermuda can only really be experienced on wheels and the scooter is the best way to do so. I rode from Warwick, where Chemmy lived, westwards via Horseshoe Bay to Southampton, Somerset, Hog Bay and up to the Dockyards - got hopelessly lost on the way back but somehow survived... In the pic, the scooter parked at Gibb's Hill lighthouse, with a view to the south.

 

 

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

First time in 2003 just to the small town of Orasje on the border of Croatia. Second time in 2005, a whole ride from Bosanska Gradiska down to Laktasi and Banja Luka, then northeast through Derventa to the border with Croatia at Brod. Then back into the country at Brcko, going down into the Federation at Gradacac and then through to the major eastern Bosnian town of Tuzla, up through hellish Ugljevik to Bijeljina and out into Serbia. Generally quiet roads in far from perfect condition, and nice country scenery. Third and four times in March/April 2009, in at Zvornik with a lot of snow and back into Serbia via Bijeljina in March. In April, in from Montenegro, passing to Dubrovnik, and on the way back a major route through the whole of Srpska, covering Trebinje, Foca, Gorazde and Visegrad.

Bonaire (Netherlands)

A very pleasant surprise indeed. I truly loved Bonaire, and driving around this island is really easy. The nicest part is the almost abandoned road around the lagoon where the salt mines are. The 'capital' is small and easy to navigate and  the inland roads take you through barren expanses full of magnificent cacti. Really pleasant, with sea almost at every corner.

Bulgaria

Whole driving tour lasting a number of days, starting from the capital Sofija and off east ending the day in Gabrovo, having past Koprivshtitsa, Tryavna and the Sipka pass and including a burst tyre - luckily only 50 meters from a gas station! Then on to Veliko Tarnovo and turning back west to the mountains around Teteven. Back in Sofia where I got completely lost. I can't believe that this is all EU territory, the rural realities here are...hard to imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada

Driven here twice within a month or so back in 1998, in first instance from the border of North Dakota to Winnipeg and back (in heavy snow), and the second time (also in snow) from Toronto through to Niagara Falls and back. In July 2009 I went all out in Canada, almost in every region. Drove in Yukon from Whitehorse through Carcross to the border with Alaska and back. Also from Montreal through to the Vermont border and back in from Maine, through St. Georges, to Quebec City. Also, finally, from Moncton in New Brunswick to Prince Edward island (the connecting bridge is pictured here) and the on the ferry to Nova Scotia, overnighting in New Glasgow and ending in rather nondescript Sydney and Louisbourg.

Croatia

First time just a short ride from the border at the village of Tovarnik to Zupanja, also taking in Vinkovci, back in 2003. But the second time in 2005 I made up for that and have driven to Zagreb until the Slovenian border, north to Varazdin and Cakovec again until the Slovenian border and southeast from Zagreb toward Slavonski Brod. In 2009 a quickie in from Bosnia to see Dubrovnik and Cavtat.

Easter Island (Chile)

One of the most exotic places to drive, that much I can say for sure! Did the whole island, volcano, town and all.

French Polynesia (Tahiti)

I drove around the whole of Tahiti starting at the airport and going south towards Papara (which sounds really funny to a Greek) and even did the little 'satellite' island as far as Teahupoo before returning 0n the less interesting eastern side and getting to Papeete. All in all I have to admit I was rather disappointed by the island given its reputation worldwide.

Finland

Well, I used to live here and on two occasions rented vehicles. One was for helping in moving, and drove a van from Helsinki via Jyvaskyla to the middle of nowhere at Uurainen. The second time from Ivalo headed north in Lapland toward Norway and came back at Nuorgam, the northermost point in Finland. Lovely to drive at these north latitudes, a true joy.

France

The first time on a business trip drove from Paris north via Lille to the Belgian border. It wasn't easy driving out of Paris, I was so bloody nervous. The second time entered in the south from Spain and headed for Perpignan, and then west and crossed into Andorra. This was easier and I won't forget not being able to find a place t0 eat, which meant Vaggelis and I arrived in Andorra absolutely ravenous. In April 2009 repeated this last route, through quaint towns and into ominous foggy Pyrenees in the dead of night... In February 2010, I once again entered from Spain in the west and drove a few kilometers up to Biarritz. Still, I have never rented a car on the French mainland!

Greece

Home base for many years, so my routes here are multiple. I have interestingly almost never driven on one of the islands, with the exception of two pilgrimages to Mitilini (Lesvos Island). However, I have done justice to the mainland, from Athens to Patras and Nafplion in the Peloponnese, and frequently north to Halkidiki and the northern borders around Kilkis, Serres and the lot. Twice been to Meteora in central Greece. The roads leave something to be desired, and the route north to Thessaloniki is a bore apart from the Tempi gorge. Yet, the sea makes up for all this... 

 

Near Greece's borders with Bulgaria and what is in this picture (taken in 2004) still noted as Yugoslavia. 

 

 

 

 

 

Guadeloupe (France)

A brief drive for the couple of hours I was there took me from the apart past Pointe a Pitre to the beach at Gosier. One could do worse than that I suppose...

 

 

 

 

 

Guam (United States)

Guam is probably one of the most offbeat places I have driven around. U.S. territory means acceptable infrastructure and automatic cars. I had the vehicle for a day, from 5 a.m. to the evening, which is as long as I stayed on Guam, doing the circle of the island and also to the romantic Two Lovers Point. I was exhausted and frequently needed air to wake up, and also breaks at the mall for an infusion of Americana that, as much as I hate, I also kind of enjoy from time to time. Missed this.

 

Spanish-influenced gates on the south end of the island of Guam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland

What a great drive. Going around Iceland was one of my best experiences, and also this is the country I have driven the greatest percentage in given the country's size, doing the whole circle of road 1. Starting in Keflavik at the airport and going to Reykjavik and then east to Geysir and the Golden Falls, then to Selfoss, Vik and up to the east coast fjords at Djupivogur, heading north to Egistadir and then west to Akureyri via Myvatn before returning. Iceland has fascinating changes of scenery at every turn, from green fields, to lava-infested barren expanses to sn0w-capped mountains to glorious waterfalls. A real highlight of my driving days.

Lampedusa (Italy)

In September 2009 I made it for a day to this tiny island which is the southernmost part o Italy, mostly known for refugees from Africa. I rented a scooter and went around the island, which is rather dry but does have decent routes and nice beaches and a rather adorable town centre. An unusual place to go to, certainly worth it.

Italy

I hadn't driven in Italy until 2009 but then really went for it despite the reputation of made drivers. First time in the Rimini region, up to Ravenna and down to Cattolica; second time from Verona airport through to Luino on Lago Maggiore and then back in Varese and up to the Simplon pass, and returning from Switzerland in Porlezza by Lago Lugano and then in Como and up to the airport in Bergamo.

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Former Yugoslav Republic...driven here many times (though not in the car in this picture!), from the Greek to the Serbian border on the highway, and also to Bitola through the border at Niki. Also been countless times to Skopje and once to Tetovo. A couple of times into the country through the crossing at Dojran, going up to Strumica and once to Stip. Apparently now the country is a no-go zone for Greeks due to bad neighbourly relations, but in the early years of this decade, this was my destination of choice when I need a border crossing high.

Martinique (France)

 Quite a lot of driving here, from the airport at Lamentin west to Le Francois and then south all the way to Marin, and back north to the middle of the island where the capital lies, Fort de France. Surprisingly, quite a lot of traffic here...

   

Montenegro

This is one strange country to be driving in...I have done quite a lot here, from Podgorica through Ostrog monastery and Niksic to the border with Herzegovina, and then back in from the north in Serbia, through Bijelo Polje to Andrijevica and then through a terribly small mountain road, where I picked up a drunk old hitch-hiker who had loads of stories to tell, to Kolasin and into the terrible capital - from there via Lake Skodra to the shore at Sutomore and Bar...a country one can feasibly drive all around in (almost) a day.

Norway

This is one old, old photo. I have only driven in Norway at its northern-easternmost point, back in September 1999. Entering from Finland and on to Kirkenes and to the easternmost point on the border with Russia, and then back and further west to Tana Bru and then down to Finland. One of the most exotic drives I can imagine, to be repeated of course...

 

                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

Portugal

In May 2011, I finally drove in mainland Portugal as well. From Lisbon headed east to Evora and then Elvas and the Spanish border, while on the way back passes quaint villages on the way to rather dreadful Setubal. Portugal remains my favourite country even if its roads and highways are not so great, but the scenery one passes, and the historical towns, make up for the winding, hard to negotiate, roads.

Romania

Boy have I driven in Romania...in fact I think this is the place where I have roamed most both on and off the road. For a long week in the autumn of 2007, my friend Ionut and I drove from Iasi and covered the monasteries of Moldavia, up to Suceava in Bucovina and then through Vatra Dornei to Maramures where we had an eco-tourist experience par excellence. Then we came back via Bistrica and the impressive Bicaz Gorge. That was an unforgettable driving experience showing the variety of what may well be Europe's most fascinating country. Before that, in 2005,  I had driven my own car in from Serbia at the Iron Gates and driven to Baile Herculeane with my friend Dan. In 2008, I rented another car in Timisoara and took in Arad, all the way east to Deva and Hunedoara and then Resita as well as the border area with Serbia. A great place to drive, as long as you are careful as the roads can be deadly...now here is a plan for 2012...

St. Barthelemy (France)

This is perhaps the greatest paradise I have ever been to. A tiny island, not difficult to see in one day, though by no means an easy drive what with the mountains crashing in the sea and the rather large traffic around the main 'hubs'. I drove everywhere here, from the airport, the most dangerous in the world, to Lorient where I stayed, to the capital Gustavia, to Salines in the south, Colombier in the northwest etc... True bliss.

San Andres island (Colombia)

On this island the most popular way to go around is a golf buggy! And so I learned very fast how to drive one of these, and off I went around the whole island, which isn't very big but is truly enchanting in many ways. This ranks as one of my best rides ever, and the open gulf buggy means plenty of photo opportunities without hassle.

St. Maarten/St. Martin (Netherlands/France)

One island, two countries, France and the Netherlands - though the latter is mainly in name, very little Dutch feeling aroun. I rented a car at the airport and drove passed the 'border' to Marigot, from there to Grand Case and around the French part, then south past Quartier d'Orleans to Oyster Pond which is the border; enjoyed some border crossing up and down before heading to Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch part, and then back to the French part at Cupecoy. A nice place to drive for the border-thrilled.As you can see in the pic, the car they gave me was a rather impressive convertible...pictured here at Oyster Pond.

 

 

San Marino

Well, a small country...where you will definitely have to pay to park your car! Entering here is done from Italy at Dogana, and through Serravale you drive to the main 'town'. However, I left the country to the west on the way to San Leo, and then re-entered from the south (after a detour in Italy) to communes of Montegiardino and Faetano. 

 

 

 

Sardinia (Italy)

In 2008 in Sardinia, I drove from Alghero airport through to Sassari and the coast past Castelsardo to Santa Teresa de Gallura (the northern part of the island) and then down a little southeast to Olbia and up to San Teodoro. The seas one goes by here are truly among the most beautiful beaches in the world. The villages are small and out of this world, as if life has stopped decades ago. Very nice drive.

Sicily (Italy)

From Palermo to Monreale and then Trapani, this was one of my shorter drives to be honest but perhaps one of the most dangerous, given that the Sicilians drive like real maniacs. And Palermo's traffic is insane, the roads confusing and parking next to impossible. So in a way, if you can drive here, then you can drive almost anywhere...

Serbia

Just looking at the map in order to remember all the routes for this entry is enough to make me cry. This is my favourite country subjectively, and so I have driven here numerous times in my car and rented ones, starting in 2001 with a daring drive to Nis from the south. I have taken in the whole highway on the way to Croatia, and driven north to Novi Sad and from there to Backa Palanka; east from Belgrade to the Iron Gates and Donji Milanovac. In central Serbia to Kragujevac via Smederevo and then south via Nis to Kladovo and the Iron Gates through virgin countryside and roads not travelled at all. Recently I have driven more in the west, discovering Loznica and Sabac, and further southwest in from Bosnia at Mokra Gora/Drvengrad (Kusturica's village) and then via Zlatibor south to Montenegro. If you wanted to punish me for the rest of eternity, just tell me I won't drive here again...

Slovenia

In 2005 with my own car, Goran and I entered from Croatia at Lendava and then headed west on small roads (and nearly had an accident) to the pretty town of Ptuj, which has a nice fortress and an unthreatening atmosphere. At Lendava, they asked me for my car registration documents, the only time this has happened. A few days later, I also entered from Croatia to Brezice (seen in photo) a few kilometers inland, for a coffee with Nusa Derenda.I doubt I will ever drive to Ljubljana, given how strict they are with parking.

Spain

Surprisingly, I did the same route twice, once in 2000 and then again in 2009 - from Barcelona to the border with France; only the first down I detoured to Figueres to see Dali's museum, while the second whizzed through and only stopped at the border town of La Junquera. On this second trip, I also took in Puigcerda on the border with France (in and out) and then on the way in from Andorra all the way to Lleida, Zaragoza and west to Pamplona (from where this pic) which is quite a distance really. In February 2010 I had a major route in Spain starting in Bilbao and looping down through Bourgos, up to Oviedo and ending in Santander, where, a few minutes before giving the rental car back, I had a crash in a parking lot of a mall. Not my best moment...but the drive had been very pleasurable.

Switzerland

I think given the attitude of the police in the country, it is best to avoid all forms of driving here unless you have to. My experience here to date is limited to crossing at Simplon and driving through Brig to Sierre and back again. Pretty harmless, this was, actually despite the obvious border shenanigans of the overly eager guards. I also did Ticino, which is a more organised Italy really(but this is soooo politically incorrect) , and there drove on two occasions, one to Locarno and down to Lugano and out to Italy, and on another from Ponte Tresa down to Mendrisio.

Tuvalu

On this beautiful and little heard of Pacific island nation, riding is a real pleasure as it is unlikely you will meet many forms of transport. This was the first time I ever rode a scooter, thus breaking a promise I made to my mother when I was 13.  But what a thrill, here, you can also ride on the runway, which becomes a road/sports field as there are only two flights a week... The island of Fongafale, where the capital Funafuti is, is actually longer than you would think, and so I drove up and down for about 15 kms, with water on every side. If you take one trip in your life, let it be Tuvalu. No other tourists here...

Ukraine

Upon arrival at Simferopol airport in central Crimea, it dawned on me that renting a car would be the only way to make the most of my 24 hours. And most of it I did. Drove down to Alushta and then Yalta and did the whole ring via Sevastopol (where I slept) and back to Simferopol - even took in Evpatoria before heading back to the airport. Driving here was surprisingly smooth and I didn't get a speeding ticket. The best part was catching Turkish radio, the air waves obviously travel from the other side of the Black Sea. Sevastopol is grand and worth it for sure and the people are much friendlier than expected - imagine getting a taxi driver to show you the way to a hotel in the dark, and he drives, you follow in your car for 2 km...and he just waves goodbye when you get there! This pic is taken from the road down to an incredible sunset somewhere between Yalta and Sevastopol.

United States

Last but not least alphabetically, the United States, and this is likely to stay this way, as I doubt I will be driving in Uzbekistan, Venezuela or Zimbabwe in the near future. First drove here in 1998 from Minneapolis to Grand Forks, North Dakota and then north to the Canadian border in Manitoba; also on that occasion drove from Toronto to New York, and believe me, driving in Manhattan is no pleasure at all, not to mention getting lost in Newark. In 2009, drove in and around Charlotte, North Carolina. And later that year, rented many a different cars. First to go from Memphis, Tennessee to Louisville, Kentucky, and cross 5 other states. Secondly, a day rushing from Denver to the capital of Wyoming, Cheyenne and also taking in a little slice of western Nebraska. Then, in and around Skagway, Alaska (driving in from and out to Canada). And lastly, again in from Canada at Vermont, and crossing northern New Hampshire and Maine before heading out to Canada after Jackman, Maine. In 2010, I drove more than 2500 kilometers from Albuquerque, New Mexico all the way to Minneapolis, Minnesota, through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Indiana.