This African-Crossing Alfa Romeo Sprint GT Continued On Across Israel And Greece
Photography by Andy Efimovich
This is a continuation of Jethro Bronner’s epic journey in a classic Alfa Romeo. If you’re looking for a cross-continental trek from South Africa northward in a vintage GT Read the previous entries here: Introduction, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, The Sudan, and Egypt.
I arrived at the Egypt-Israel border post late in the afternoon after an exhausting week on the road struggling with the Egyptian military and Tourism Police. The border crossing procedure into Israel was a long one—I was lucky to arrive at the same time as two full bus-loads of tourists—and I was given extra security checks thanks to the Sudanese stamps in my passport. But though slow, it was mostly painless, and the officials were friendly. They brought me coffee and I sat and looked out over the Gulf of Aqaba while I drank and waited.
I spent a day in Eilat, and learned that a day is not enough time to spend in Eilat. The beachfront city felt surreal after weeks on the road in North Africa, and being back in a First World country took some adjustment after sweating through the desert in the Alfa, but I wasn’t complaining. It was amazing to once again have 100 octane fuel, good coffee, an Internet connection, and a lack of people holding machine guns near my face.
A made the trip “cross-country” to Tel Aviv in a single morning, and settled in with some friends in a leafy suburb, a world away from the rough unpaved roads and middle-of-nowhere border posts I had become used to. Tel Aviv provided the perfect space for some time to recover and recoup. Beyond being just very tired in general, I was also quite badly sunburned and dehydrated. The sprint from Nairobi for instance had been exhausting, and the thought of spending a couple of weeks in the same place was bliss.
I spent my time with the Israeli Alfa Romeo Club while I was there, which is an incredibly active group of enthusiasts, who very quickly became friends. I find that wherever I travel to find them, the Alfa Romeo crowd always makes for great company, and car guys—vintage enthusiasts especially—are quick to get in touch and offer hospitality and the always welcome chance to get together and talk about cars. All the best people I know I’d say I know because of cars in one way or another, and I wouldn’t trade this passion for anything. I met up with the Alfa Club on Friday nights for their weekly get togethers during my stay. Also on Monday nights for Italian Restaurant Night, naturally.
We also took a drive into the hills in the north of the country, and I did a photoshoot in Caesarea with videographer/photographer/Porsche fan Andy, who quickly became another new friend. I even had dinner with Haim Cohen, a well-known chef and all around great guy, who also happens to be an Alfista, owning a Giulia Sprint GTC and a few other classic Alfas.
Overall I would say my time in Israel was pleasant and lazy. I had time to reflect on the past few months, and how dreamlike it felt as I lived in comfort in Tel Aviv. In a way I was melancholic about having finally made the trip across Africa though, despite my satisfaction. I had spent two years thinking about this trip, and now I had done it. I felt a certain lack of purpose.
I had booked a spot on a cargo ship far in advance, heading out of the Israeli city of Haifa across the Mediterranean to Lavrio in Greece. As the departure date loomed, I grew increasingly uneasy about leaving Israel. I had come to feel very at home, but the urge to continue on was strong too. After almost a month in Israel, I boarded the ship MV Alios, and four days later the car and I touched down on the shores of Greece.
MV Alios is an aging truck-carrier based out of Limassol, Cyprus. After leaving Haifa, I lost any contact with the outside world. The ship was mostly empty, apart from some truck drivers from Eastern Europe, and a few members of the crew, who kept to themselves. I read two novels, and otherwise mostly went for walks around the ship to occupy my time.
Athens is only a short drive from Lavrio. After disembarking from the cargo ship I’d called home for a brief and empty period, I found a place to wash the salt spray off the Alfa, and then I headed off for the capital. I didn’t have much planned for my time in Athens, so I found an underground car park and put the car away for a little while and explored the city on foot. I am not naturally the world’s greatest tourist, and I couldn’t get myself out of road trip mode, but I did spent a happy weekend walking about without much of a direction. What I really wanted was to get back behind the wheel—if you can believe it!—so on a Monday morning soon after, I booked a ferry headed for Italy.
Jethro will continue to share his story on Petrolicious over the coming months, as time allows. We can’t wait for his next update from the road. To keep up with him, visit his website, dargletodargle.com, or check out his page on Instagram.