11 Apr 2006 - Tripoli - Frankfurt
After boarding at around 4.15am we arrived Tripoli at around 5.30. We collected luggage, thankfully quite quick at this time in the morning, then Mohammed from Numidia Tours took us on the long drive back to Tripoli centre and the Garnata Hotel this time. Somebody had to be woken to come to the door to let us into this smallish, traditional establishment, and by the time we were all checked in it was around 7am, and of course fully light. Hardly worth sleeping really but Sabine and I, who shared a room, managed around 4 hours kip but Guenther and Matthias spent the time exploring nearby and using an internet cafe.

This situation really left no time to buy any last minute goodies to bring home. As it turned out, the airport shop did not really help with this, as it had little apart from the usual fare you can buy in any duty free shop, except drink of course. There was nothing edible of identifiably Libyan origin, except some chocolate coated nuts that were packed by an Australian company!

Anyway, Mohammed was back in the small bus for us at 1pm, with Abdul, who brought along Sabine's stuff and my other telescope that I had sent back to Tripoli from Ghadames. Good to see it again, and reunite it with its mate that had survived the ordeal of the desert with little to show apart from some scuffed paintwork from all the bumping about in the vehicle, and slightly gritty bearings from the all pervading sand.

Sabine came with us, although she would be staying on in Libya to pick up her next group that had started without her. Both she and Abdul saw us off through passport control - a moment of sadness as it marked the end of a fantastic trip. While it had its moments of chaos and disappointment with some accommodation and last night's ordeal, I found the trip thoroughly enjoyable. The level of personal service in the desert, when we were so few in number, was an added bonus. I think it is a realistic prospect that some of us will stay in touch and meet up again for a future adventure, perhaps another eclipse over Russia or Mongolia in 2008.

The journey home was essentially the reverse of coming - Tyrolean Air back to Vienna, where Matthias left us for a flight to Stuttgart, then change of plane to Frankfurt, where Guenther took a train home. I had had no proper opportunity to book accommodation in Frankfurt - my flight being the next day - so I phoned and got in the same hotel in Walldorf as I had used coming. I planned to pay a visit to Frankfurt tomorrow, never having seen the city even though I had been through the airport several times over the years. I therefore dropped off my telescope briefcases in the left luggage department, and in the morning would check in my main bag with the British Airways fast bag drop. This would leave me with just the small rucksack for a few hours in town, courtesy of one of the several tour bus companies that run excursions from the airport.

And so to bed, in a hotel room where everything worked, or was I dreaming it...


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