How I visited every country in the world – without a single flight – cites on Iran

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/activityandadventure/9710860/How-I-visited-every-country-in-the-world-without-a-single-flight.html

On the morning of January 1 2009 I took a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia in Uruguay. This would be the first of many border crossings as I embarked on what I knew would be the biggest adventure of my life: the Odyssey Expedition, the first surface journey to every country in the world. It would take me to more than 200 countries, 60 islands and six continents. I thought I could do it in a year. It took the best part of four.

One place that will always stick in my mind is Iran. Instead of the stern, joyless place I expected, it turned out to be the warmest and most hospitable nation in the world. I was treated like an honoured guest by everybody I met. On an overnight bus, an old Persian grandmother smiled at me and passed me her mobile phone. I took it from her, a little nonplussed, and put it to my ear. The guy on the other end told me in perfect English that I was sitting behind his grandmother and she was concerned about me. When I asked why, he told me that the bus got in very early the next day and she was worried that I wouldn’t have anything to eat. She wanted to know if she could take me home with her and cook me breakfast.

What I have learnt from this adventure is that there are good people all over the world; people who will go out of their way to help out a stranger in need. I have learnt that people wherever they live are not that different: we all just want a fair deal. My faith in humanity has been restored, although my faith in politicians is even lower than it was when I started.

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