Man travels around the world without flying - which Israeli city did he love?

351 buses, 158 trains, 43 tuk-tuks, 37 container ships, 33 boats, 9 trucks, 3 sailboats, 2 cruise ships, 1 carriage, and 1 police car along his travels.

 He started his 359,000 km adventure in October 2013 (photo credit: SCREENSHOT/WALLA!)
He started his 359,000 km adventure in October 2013
(photo credit: SCREENSHOT/WALLA!)

Meet Thor Pedersen, 44, from Denmark. He claims that he spent the last decade visiting every country in the world without getting on a plane even once.

He began his 359,000 km adventure in October 2013, and with Walla! covering his story in 2017. He quit his job at a shipping and logistics company, kissed his wife goodbye and left his country for Germany. "I planned to visit every country in the world without flying, and I had an idea that I might have a chance to do something amazing," he says.

"The idea was to make this journey using public transportation wherever possible. That means hundreds of buses, trains and ferries, and sometimes it was also necessary to board someone's fishing boat or a container ship."

The New York Post reported that Pedersen needed ten passports for the trip around the world - every time one was filled, he was required to issue another. According to him, the entire journey was financed by a company dealing in the energy sector, as well as through crowdfunding. And to save money as much as possible, he limited his expenses to about $20 a day.

"The longest bus ride lasted 54 hours. It was in Brazil. The sun set on me twice," he says. "The longest train ride lasted five days in Russia. I especially enjoyed 27 days on a ship, so I had time to read and exercise, and also see whales."

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According to the Danish adventurer, traveling for several hours or days by bus is definitely not for the faint of heart. "There was no way to feel comfortable riding the bus. But on the other hand, people are fun, and I had good conversations with passengers sitting next to me."

Global Romance: Meet his wife in various destinations

When he was asked about his longing for his wife who was left behind, he says that they managed to meet 27 times during the decade, when their meetings were held in different parts of the world. According to him, after each such meeting, the farewells were very difficult. "My wife didn't want to stand in my way. She was amazing and gave me tremendous support. We had amazing experiences together all over the world." This July, when Pedersen completes his journey, the couple will be able to reunite, and possibly start a family.

According to him, he is completely satisfied with his decision to embark on the unusual journey, but the only drawback he had was the fact that he could not spend time with his family and friends. "Before I left, my father was worried about my career. He didn't think I would ever be able to find a job again or be taken seriously. My mother was very proud of me for the decision."

One way or another, according to him he is not looking for a job now but prefers to spend his time writing a book about his adventures around the globe.

Israel: several comprehensive checks at the border crossing

Pedersen also visited Israel on his journey, which he reached by crossing the border with Jordan. In his blog he recalled that the expected visit to Israel raised concerns in him. "Since certain countries are completely opposed to the idea of ​​the existence of the State of Israel, visiting it can result in you being banned from entering other countries. Therefore, I preferred to first travel to other countries in the Middle East, before arriving in Israel."

At this point, Pedersen gives an excellent tip to tourists who are afraid to come to Israel so that they will not be banned from entering other Middle Eastern countries, adding, "You can avoid getting a stamp in your passport when visiting Israel because they are fully aware of this situation. Instead, you can get a visa on a separate paper and not as a stamp on the passport. This paper must also be handed in when leaving Israel. But this can only be done if you are passing through the border crossing between Israel and Jordan. This is the only option where no trace of your visit to Israel will be left in your passport."

Pedersen also says that when the Israeli border control personnel saw the stamps in his passport, which included Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia - he had to undergo extensive questioning and tests that lasted four to five hours. "I was subjected to a 'parade' of questions and interrogations and a search of my body and belongings. Usually, I am able to pack my bags within five or six minutes, but after the inspection by the Israelis, it took me half an hour to arrange everything. At least they had free Wi-Fi there so I could pass the time while they checked my stuff. They also kindly offered me a drink of water."

Spending time in Modi'in: "A modern city"

Pedersen shares with his blog readers his experiences in Israel - as in all the other places he visited. Along with experiences from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, it is surprising to discover that a significant part of his time was spent in the city of Modi'in, where one of the travelers he met on the road lives - who invited him to stay with him.

"Modiin is a modern city. Although it is 20 years old, people have lived in these areas since the dawn of civilization. The modern city as it is today reminiscent of the computer game Sim City. It is well designed with large green areas, parks, playgrounds, schools, an artificial lake and some small commercial centers. I read somewhere that Israel is the only country in the world that after 50 years has more trees than it had before. Modi'in certainly helps maintain this excellent figure."