Saturday, 6 December 2008

Plans re-evaluted

I have well and truly recovered from the accident of a few months back, and leaving on another adventure is the main objective for me at this moment. I love Australia, but after the whirlwind pace and extraordinary presence and vibrancy of the great cities and countries I have lived in recently, Brisbane seems slightly pedestrian. Over the past few months, my family have supported me greatly, and have helped me get back on my feet, without complaint - I thank them for that.

Through nightly jogging and running, some short bike trips and bushwalking, I have been slowly regaining fitness and the desire to escape again.

I have also compiled a list of various goals I wish to accomplish over the next few years, a few of which are learning Spanish, trying some some basic parkour/freerunning, and becoming competent with the Harmonica. I should be quite busy.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

If life is what you make it, its time to build...

I was hit from behind by a truck on a 'b' road in Croatia roughly three months ago, hence my sporadic blog posts. Unfortunately it has brought my trip to an abrupt halt. I was unconscious for a week and in a Zagreb hospital for three weeks before being flown home. Physically I will be fine - given enough time - hopefully by January 16th 2009, as this is the date I plan to get myself back on the road.

Not all the way back to Croatia, but a nice jaunt around New Zealand to see the sights and save some money to send to far-flung outposts in Alaska, Central Asia or Ireland (haven't decided yet!).

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Central Europe: Borders and big miles

Germany traversed, I was on my own, staring at the countless kilometers ahead of me wth no clear break until I reached Istanbul many thousands of pedal rotations away. I enjoyed, as I knew I would, the Czech Republic, following the same route through the country I followed last year - for nostalgic reasons. When I finally reached the Danube river, my well marked path all the way down to Bulgaria, I was excited, but the monotony of a dead straight, scenery defunct gravel road that stretches as far as the eye could see for weeks ahead soon expelled the happiness and replaced it with boredom and disappointment.

Imagine hundred of km's of this

I had to get myself off this waterway of drudgery, so in Slovakia I turned right at Bratislava, (a real gem of a city so close to the sheer wall of tourists found in Vienna) and headed south, destination: Adriatic Coast.

The hospitality of Hungary was a little lower compared to the previous countries I had covered, the occasional rude person, slightly bland food (still good for a parched cyclist), flat scrubby scenery, and an unbelievable mosquito population, I decided to cover the country as fast as I could and rode three 160km days to get out of there. I can't generalise a whole country from my limited perspective, so one day I will visit again. As soon as I crossed the border/borders into Slovenia/Croatia, the scenery visibly changed for the better, people suddenly seemed nicer and the mosquitos were fewer.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


Over the Border into Aachen and at last, Germany - a country we would spend the most time traveling as a pair. I had visited Northern Germany the previous year and I was delighted to be back. Instead of the pancake-flat Elbe river lowlands of the last visit, this time we would be traversing the hilly interior of the country, the heartland of Germany, starting with the Eifel National Park.

It was a startling change from the flat northern farmlands of Europe to be in a mountainous forest, but the scenery, breathtaking it it's semi-alpine beauty invigorated us with the extra energy required for the steep inclines.

After our contour exertions, we made camp on the Rhine River, bathed and relaxed. Following an offshoot of the Rhine, the Lahn River, Frankfurt Am Main - a metropolis, was thankfully skirted and we were more than halfway across the vast country, having quite an enjoyable time. We camped much of the time and bathed and washed our clothes in rivers and the like. It was a well-honed practice after a while, and I much preferred the mosquito netting and nylon of the tent to the brick-and-mortar of conventional dwellings. The freedom to stop anywhere along the route we took and the feeling of being close to nature had me hooked.

We continued through the dark green hues and summer bloom of Germany, stopping to stay with friends in Fulda and Suhl, two days of rest from cycling the mind and certainly the body needed greatly.

France, Belgium, Netherlands

It has been over a month on the road since leaving the daily comforts and ease of everyday life in England. I set off from Dover with my good friend Rachel, our hearts set on traveling East. In France, fresh off the ferry, things got off to a shaky start. It was late at night in the seedy port town of Calais, an awful place - full of neon-boarded and dodgy looking casinos. Without a place to stay, we pitched the tent in the town's park, and made a rather ealy start the next day, keen to get out of the place.

The north of France passed quickly out of our lives, an we started making headway in Belgium, only to be stopped about 15km outside Bruges by a young lady and her slightly less young, but equally friendly husband. We were welcomed into their house as if we were old friends - food, drink and animated conversation a definite improvement on Calais and a good welcome to Belgium.

The usual touring deeds were undertaken in the beautiful towns of Bruges and Gent th next day. Germany was at the forefront of my mind, so we followed the horizon-straight Albert Canal through the heart of the small country to Maastricht, and the Netherlands. We met another couple there, and they showed us the magnificent sights of this ancient and well-conquered(14 times, I recall) city.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Bad bread, German Rennsteig and catching Herentals

My trip started on the 9th of July when I left Dover on a ship to Calais. It is now the 26th and I am once again in Prague, Czech Republic. The fantastic scenery and wonderful hospitality from Belgium and Germany (the country I have spent the most time cycling) to Czech has ensured I have had an extremely enjoyable time, made even better with the inclusion of a cycling partner, Rachel, who unfortunately is departing tomorrow, leaving me once again on my lonesome.

Peace All

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Mendip Hills

Had a bloody blur on the lense!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Heading West

Quite counter-productively, I found myself pedalling west, escaping London, sprawling like a spiderweb, towards Bristol. One of the reasons for visiting the western capital again was to say goodbye to the Parsons, the other to visit SJSC, the old bike shop for the last time. The same stunning scenery greeted me, a literal breath of fresh air after the closed-in feeling of London, like coming out of a grey dungeon into fresh summer freedom.

I met a companion on the second day of the trail following the towpaths west, a man travelling by bicycle to his friends birthday in Bristol. Camping is naturally more enjoyable with two, I handed over the book I had recently finished and he did the same, giving me the classic "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning" by Laurie Lee. Quickly finished, it was tale that did not help alleviate my wanderlust.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Not quite Midland monotony

After my continual sledging of her hometown of Leicester and the general regard of the Midlands of England as the pits, Rachel had had enough. Detemined to set the record straight before I forsake England, she insisted I visit that same night, after the London Bush protests. After a hour and a half train ride, we had to get from the station to her front door with one bicycle between the two of us and a large hill to start off with, exercise unwanted at 1:00am.

However, I lived to see another day, precisely, one filled with a guided tour of the Leicester highlights by two of the world's worst tourguides. The following day Rachel and I departed to the Liecestershire countryside for a quintessential day ride, a pleasant meander through fields and fords, complete with a picnic in a field of clovers. I felt like I was in England.

Barking up the wrong Bush

An unexpected visit from Rachel promted my presence at the protest surrounding U.S President Bush's visit to the capital. The speakers of the event were impressive, all giving different takes on the situation without resorting to fire-and-brimstone style preaching.

Unfortunately, I had my ever-present companion with me, and a bicycle does not mix well with large crowds. The protest was panning out how most peace-promoting and tolerant protests do, until the police closed Whitehall, a major throughfare passing by No. 10 Downing St, where Bush and Gordon Brown were busy sipping tea and plotting coups.

Understandably, closing a public road to the public for no other reason except there being protestors present did not sit too well, and before long the crowd was pressed into a face-off between rapily reinforcing police lines (at least five deep). Naturally, Rachel wanted in on the action, getting a a birds eye view of the action from my shoulders, before lanching herself toward the front of the ruckus.

To the protestor's credit and police suprise, apart from a few obligatory ararchist troublemakers, the protest stayed peaceful and the night ended with a wonderfully contrasting Thai restaurant dinner with Rachel and her father. A interesting afternoon and evening that only got more interesting when I found myself on a train bound for Leicester, 100 miles away, at 11:00pm on a Monday night.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Monday, 26 May 2008

I've created a monster!

I was sitting in the bar area of a hostel in Vienna some time last year, having a good old chitchat with the usual assortment of travellers and tourists. The riffraff were listening intently to my (exaggerated) tales of high adventure, in my adorable Australian accent. I was talking to an attractive Czech lass, was even shouted a couple of beers and generally having a grand old time being the only Antipodean in the bar...but then the Contiki Tour showed up.

I don´t want to sound elite, but Contiki Tours, busabout, any of these companies catering to Westerners who want to get royally pissed in as many European cities as possible, as fast as possible can really impose on my hideously vain attempts at impressing strangers in random bars. Unfortunately, this group of 20 drunken heathens turned out to be Australian. Within moments, I was suddenly, seemingly, just another one of these obnoxious parent-funded gap year revellers wanting to experience Europe in he least cultural way. To each their own I guess.

I am not really a 'normal' person when it comes to social interaction. Call me boring, antisocial, call me what you will, but I have never had the desire to wander streets looking for pubs and clubs at ungodly hours, depriving myself of sleep, nutrients and general enjoyment for the ability to brag and compare with people the next morning who got the least sleep and who managed to have the highest blood-alcohol concentration. The Vienna anecdote reinforces my views. Unfortunately, my friends do not share my curse and have been convincing me of late to join in their revelry. It has been fun enough, I guess, but this way of life can seriously destroy your bank account in the same way it destroys your liver, brain cells and decision making processes.

Here are a couple of reasons not to involve yourself in this new-fangled youthful clubbing lifestyle:

Friday, 23 May 2008

Not in gear

I have just over a month before I begin the trip, July 10th to be precise, and yet my planning, purchasing and general tying up of loose end processes are less efficient than solar-powered torch. It hasn´t sunk in that I will be homeless for the next year or two quite yet, but when my job is finished, my lease is up and my belongings sold, I´m sure it will hit me in the face like Thor´s hammer.

I have everything I need really, there are a few wishlist items I want but don´t really need - ie: Suunto Watch, lightweight tent, waterproof jacket; but the cost of each of items is on par with being able to live on the road for weeks.

I choose the second option.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

London with a view

Here are a couple from the top of 'New Zealand House near Trafalgar Square, on a work information session - with free beer.