Posts Tagged With: Border crossing

Day 27: Wesel, Germany to Arnhem, Netherlands

89 km and basically flat.

Had to put on riding shoes that were still damp, but everything else is dry and hopefully will stay that way. The forecast has 4% chance of rain đź‘Ť.

Today riding was mostly on levees on bike paths. We went through a town called Rees where there were concrete statues of town people so had to stop and take a photo.

IMG_3156.JPG

Rees township

IMG_3155.JPG

Riverside path in Rees

Then back on the bike paths. Some bike paths are shared with walkers and some are just for bikes. This changes frequently and occasionally you are not sure which is the correct path for bikes. So a couple of times we accidentally went on the wrong path, and within a minute or two a German striding along – often with walking sticks – would politely or extremely rudely wave sticks around to direct us to the correct path.

IMG_3158.JPG

Countryside after Rees

There were lots of people walking dogs, and they were frequently off the the lead but when there were riders approaching they were all called to heel and sit, waiting for them to go past. Well almost all of them, a couple were joyfully ignoring any commands from their owners.

There are lots of dogs here, they are allowed on trains, buses, in restaurants and hotels.

IMG_3154.JPG

Bike paths, good riding, with climbing today of only 48 metres!

IMG_3162

Loaded coal ship passing Emmerich am Rhein

We crossed the border into the Netherlands at 49 km. The rest of the day was pretty much the same, riding on levees lots of other cyclists, walkers and dogs. Lots of canals appearing, and the pasture was very green.

IMG_3166

Border crossing

IMG_3165 (1)

Crossing the border from Germany into the Netherlands

There were quite a lot of sheep grazing along the river banks. Different from our sheep in NZ, there was one that had black spots, and quite a few black sheep.

IMG_3176

Black and white sheep

We got to the Hotel at 2pm, and quickly got changed and went by taxi with John W and John H to Kroller Muller museum and Sculptor park, 40 km away. When the taxi arrived I thought “this cant be for us” as it was a gleaming new Mercedes S something series, with sunroofs and leather seats. The driver (also called John) was immaculately dressed – this is nothing like the Wellington cabs. John agreed to also pick us back up at 430pm so we would be back at the hotel in time for the riders meeting.

IMG_3177

Driver John

The Kroller Muller museum has the second largest collection of Van Gogh in the world – 90 paintings and 180 drawings. Plus works by Monet and Picasso and many other artists. There are 25 hectares of sculpture gardens, plus a surrounding 5,500 hectares of forests, grasslands, and sand drifts. These are home to deer, mouflon (wild sheep) and wild boar. There are over a 1,000 white bikes at various places around the park that you can use for free to ride around the park. We could have spent all day here but we only had 2 hours.

IMG_3180

Vincent Van Gogh – Terrace of a cafe at night

IMG_3183

Vincent Van Gogh – Self portrait

The Kroller Muller museum represents the life work of Helen Kroller Muller. Between 1907 and 1922 she and her husband Anton bought 11,500 works of art. One of the largest private collections of the 20th century.  Helen’s dream was to have her own museum where she could share her passion with other art lovers. This dream was fulfilled in 1938 when the Kroller Muller museum opened.

IMG_3184

Claude Monet – Monet’s Studio Boat

I had a great time looking around but I felt like I only skimmed the surface.

John the taxi driver picked us up on the dot of 430pm, and drove us through the park grounds on the way back.

We got back to the hotel just in time for the riders meeting and dinner. I had dinner with Brett, John W, Graham, and Henry Gold. I had bell pepper soup which was rich and tasty, steak and salad with fries, cream brûlée, and red wine.

Tomorrow is the last day of riding!

IMG_3170

Tolkamer, The Netherlands

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 15: Innsbruck to Garmisch – Partenkirchen (aka GAP)

64 km of riding, with 815 meters up and 666 meters down

IMG_2768

Today’s ride

My arm and wrist is very painful today, which is most likely because like an idiot I stopped taking anti-inflammatory as I thought I no longer needed to take them. I am back on them now.

The first hour of riding was along flat bike paths, and we rode 21 km. The next 20 km took two and a half hours! This was spent pushing the bike up 17% gradients with slippery gravel, riding when able to and and pushing my bike down hill, with rockslides, gravel and some steep gradients.

IMG_2771

Pettnau, Austria

At some point we crossed into Germany, some of the other riders said it was when we went through a field full of cows with bells.  https://www.facebook.com/tdaglobalcycling/videos/10154728790261314/?pnref=story

IMG_2776

Tidy farmhouses in KrĂĽn, Germany

There are lots of other cyclists going both ways on the bike trails, some are friendly, some look like they are having a horrid time, and some ride two abreast and only swerve at the last minute back into single file, which is a bit nerve wracking.

The last 15 km on was mostly tar seal, so despite the 2 1/2 hours to do the 20 km we arrived at the hotel at just after one pm, to find the rooms were not ready. We got changed and walked into the city centre to catch up two of the riders, Daryl and Alex, at an Irish Bar. The Irish bar had the most amazing view of the Dolomites.

img_2783.jpg

At Garmisch- Partenkirchen – view of the Dolomites in the background

When we arrived the TV was on, playing the NZ national anthem then the Maori All Blacks did a Haka. It was quite nice hearing and seeing it over the other side of the world.

IMG_2780.JPG

Maori All Blacks on the TV at an Irish Bar

I had a lager and Brett had a Guinness and got given a bag of Guinness chips (or chippies as we call them), they were seriously delicious.

Daryl is one of the Aussie 6 from Sydney, and had been here a couple of weeks before the ride doing training. Daryl does ultra marathons where it goes over three days. Day one swim in the ocean 10 km and bike 150 km, day two bike 240 km, day three run 84 k (2 full marathons). Daryl is in his late 60s and the last one of these he did was last year, and he currently holds the record for his age group. This explains his incredulous look when he saw me sitting outside the hotel when he arrived. “Take the truck did you?” he asked, and when I said no he wanted know where I had passed him (the Aussie group stopped for coffee at the top of the second 20 k). Daryl is retired but was a stock broker.

Alex is also one of the Aussies group from Sydney, he is the oldest in the group at 74 but is a very strong rider, and often leads the Aussie peloton. Alex is also retired and had a career in some sort of advertising.

IMG_2731 (1)

Alex and Anthony

On the way back through town we stopped at a Chocolaterie called Amelie, it was amazing – so many different types of chocolate, and so many tasting platters! Yum!

IMG_2794

Chocolaterie Amelie

IMG_2788.JPG

Chocolaterie Amelie

Back to the hotel for a shower, and then we went to dinner where we had the most unfriendly waitress ever, and she stayed consistently unhelpful and unfriendly for the evening.

 

Initially I was sitting with Jeff and Dianne, Robert, Graham and Brett. However it was so noisy, and there was quite a long wait so Dianne and Jeff left to eat elsewhere. Robert is one of the Aussie 6, and I never got round to getting a photo of him. He is a psychiatrist who works both in private and public in Sydney.

Dinner was a nice tomato soup, followed by mushy vegetables and tough chicken, with lovely mushroom sauce, and fried potato medallions. Dessert was fresh fruit and sorbet, all served with a frowning, unfriendly waitress. The waitress asked where Jeff and Dianne had gone, and I said they were having problems with the noise and hearing. Her response was “People with hearing problems shouldn’t travel in groups”.

IMG_6743.JPG

Jeff and Dianne, with Miriam (in high vis)

Tomorrow we get into Munich, the end of this stage. A number of riders finish here, including Anthony the cardiologist and his wife Kerrie who is a maternity nurse, who provided assistance when I had the tachycardia the first day riding. I had been planning to get them a bottle of wine all trip and finally did so today. I gave up trying to explain to the wine waiter that I was buying it for another table, as I wasn’t getting anywhere, so just ordered it and when it arrived I took it over to them.

IMG_2729 (1).jpg

Kerrie (left), and Torpie and Darryl (in blue shirt)

We are staying at Mercure Hotel.

IMG_2772.JPG

Editor’s caption: I received no caption for this photo. Nor is there any mention of it in this blog entry. However, I am doing my due diligence and including it here for your enjoyment. 

 

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 13: Brixen, Italy to Innsbruck, Austria

94 km: 1,369 meters climbing and 1,426 meters down

The first 3 km was down a steep hill, then for the next 52 km it was mostly up. We went past vineyards and went mostly on bike paths. Some were paved, some were rocky, and some were steep with gradients up to 19%, with slippery stones so I got off and walked.

We spent about 5km on one track that had slips, it was really steep and hard to navigate. When we got to the end of this track it had a barrier across and a sign that the track was closed!

IMG_2712.JPG

Coming out of the closed off bike path

The last 15 km to the Brenner pass / border was a rail trail – yay mostly 2.5% gradient and no more than 4% gradient.

IMG_2722.JPG

Beautiful rail trail – only 2.5% gradient.

IMG_2719

Passing through village of Vipiteno

IMG_2716.JPG

Scenery from the bike path to the Austrian border.

There were lots of cyclists going both ways, some independent touring with panniers, and others in groups, and a surprising number on E bikes.

On the whiteboard we had been told the profile of the day was up to the Pass and then downhill to Innsbruck.

When we started going down the road. it was really busy both ways. I have never seen so many cyclists and motorbikes. It was like it was the national “ride your motorbike” day.

We had about 15 km downhill, and then turned to the right and started climbing again! This was totally unexpected, and not at all welcome. I had pushed really hard in the morning in the belief that it was downhill in the afternoon.

I was hot and tired, and although the views were magnificent, I did not enjoy the next 15 km of steep (up to 17% gradient) up and downhills in the beating sun. Finally the 10 km downhill into Innsbruck.

IMG_2727.JPG

Into Austria, descending down to Innsbruck

Riding through the city to the hotel, I was very careful with the tram lines as they are just the right size to get your bike wheel into and get tipped off. Also the edges of the pavements, if you hit them the wrong way they can also tip you off your bike. Sadly this happened to Janice, one of the riders, just 300 meters from the hotel – she clipped the pavement, went down with a crash, broke her helmet and knocked herself out! Luckily she was riding with Cathy and Peter M who are both ED doctors.

After checking into the hotel we had a cold beer in the hotel bar, and chatted to the Aussie riders Kerry, Tony, Robert, Darry, Torpe and Alex. After this we went out for some dinner and went into a place called Stiftskeller. We ordered red wine and food, and it arrived within 5 minutes! It was actually nicer than I expected given the preparation time!

I had pork cooked in beer and shared a mixed salad with Brett – a different type of mixed salad than I have ever had before: sauerkraut, potato mash with onion, and grated carrot. It was pretty nice. We had a bottle of red wine Blaufrankisch 2014 Weingut Hansigley, which was pretty nice.

IMG_2734

Dinner menu and wine

On the way back to the hotel I noticed a balcony with a number of dummies dressed up like workers. The streets were pretty deserted at only 8 pm at night. We found out the next day it was because the previous day was a holiday. It was Corpus Christi (Roman Rite Liturgical solemnity celebrating Jesus Christ). Corpus Christi is the second Thursday after Whitsun (which is the 8th Sunday after Easter).

The hotel we are staying at is called the Hotel Central.

IMG_2735

Workmen & women figurines

Untitled.png

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 2: Mostar to Tucepi

95 km riding today: 1,244 meters of climbing and 1,268 meters descent

It’s already as hot as Wellington gets on a summers day when we leave. During the day the heat gets up to 37 degrees Celsius.

The first part of the ride is climbing up for the first few kilometres, then some descents followed by steady climbs.

IMG_2395.JPG

Vineyards! 

We got to the border at 46 km, and all had to meet up there to cross together. Thankfully when faced with 45 riders, 3 staff, and vans stacked with bags, the Bosnian  border just waved us through. Once we got to the Croatia side it was a simple passport stamp and off we went.

Coming into Bosnia the riders who did the first section were standing for over an hour in the heat getting through the border, so everyone was relieved not to have this repeated.

IMG_2397

Just crossed over into Croatia

The next 20 km were climbing, which was a bit of a struggle and I had to stop a couple of times. Lunch was at about 15 km. After lunch more climbing, followed by a nice descent, followed by a long hot climb.

At 67 km I was thinking I am not going to be able to finish the day. I got to 71 km where I thought the descent started, thank god I thought, but no! A descent for 2 km, then climbing again!

IMG_2400.JPG

Another hill to climb

Then thankfully at 82 km, just when my legs were giving up, there was a long descent. The last 4 km we turned off the main road, and came down a very steep and narrow track to the coast. I got off and walked a stretch as it was so steep.

IMG_2398

Have a go at this in Croatia

Down on the coast, Tucepi is a lovely holiday town, with a beautiful beach and lots of hotels. We stayed at a Hotel called the Blue Sun. It was a very big hotel with a big swimming pool, and a number of outside areas and bars. The room had a small balcony looking out to the sea.

When we got there, there was a note on the white board that Grego (tour leader) had weighed the bags, and orange stickered those weighing over 23 kg, with an instruction that they needed to be 23 kg the next day. Thankfully my bag was not one of these, as there really is nothing I have that I don’t need.

The beach looked so inviting so off I went for a swim. Instead of sand there were quite big pebbles, and it was quite rough to walk over. The water was lovely and warm.

IMG_2404_edited

comparing the Adriatic Sea to Titahi Bay

I noticed later that I had a number of bites on my back and side, not sure if there was something in the water, like a jelly fish, as had I not felt anything bite me. I did not think too much of it at the time.

IMG_2405

At the Hotel Beach, where’s my boatshed?

Dinner was an experience: a dining room that would have sat 1,000 plus people, with three separate buffet counters (all serving the same food). The hotel has a number of tours where the table was reserved. The buffet catered to a number of tastes, including the English tourists with roast meat and chips available. Whilst it was not high up on the gourmet scale, there was food that was ok to eat, especially after a few hours on a bike.

The other riders are very welcoming, the majority have done TDA tours before. In the first section there was only one rider who had not ridden with TDA before. In this section there are 7 riders from Sydney.  They are a group of friends who have done a number of rides together. Over the next week or so, once I have got a handle on the names, I will introduce them.

IMG_2406

Sunset over the hotel in Tucepi

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 81/164: Juli to Copacabana* – 63km

Climbing 675 meters, down 674 meters

Another short ride today. We have the border crossing into Bolivia and you can never be confident it will go smoothly. The trucks are not allowed to cross where we do and have to go over 300 kilometres to the border by La Paz. Our daily bags were loaded onto a local truck so we would have our tents etc if the trucks were held up. Turns out it was luckily this plan was put in place, as the trucks were held up till the early hours of the following morning due to protest action in La Paz.

It was very cold getting up and having breakfast. The ride out of town was quite steep and I had to stop at about 3 kilometres to take clothes off as I was already too warm. There were great lake views.

One lady was moving her sheep and I had to laugh as a lamb was not following the plan and got threatened with a long stick. It must have had experience with the stick as it soon got back into line. One of the two sheep dogs ran at me barking, but it was not sure what to do when I said “Good boy” and it sort of made a groaning noise and ran off.

The border crossing went smoothly. The American riders had to pay about $160 USA dollars and provide heaps of documentation. Apparently it is payback for what Bolivian’s experience when they try to enter USA, but for everyone else it was straight forward.

We enter Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We enter Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once we got through the border the first thing I noticed was no tuk tuks. There were a number of Taxi vans and a few taxis. The traffic was quieter but this may change as we get further into Bolivia.

There was only 8 kilometres to Copacabana*, about 6 kilometres was a hill. Given the short riding day and the lack of complications at the border I was in Copacabana* by midday. I had some lunch in the village and then headed to camp.

On the road to Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road to Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View of Copacabana

View of Copacabana

We are staying at Samawi Hostel on the lake front (camping). There was not a lot of space for camping, and there were rooms available, so given how cold it gets at night I got a room. Alas: cold showers only, the whole of Copacabana is currently without power. Apparently this happens frequently as the grid gets over loaded. I caught up with some blogs and emails ready to send when I next have wifi, which will probably be in two days time in La Paz. Then I dozed the rest of the afternoon.

Our camping spot tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Our camping spot tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The time difference has changed and we are now ahead an hour. At the rider’s meeting we found out about the trucks being held up in La Paz due to protest action. We were told there was a possibility that they may not get here at all. However there was a back up plan with local transport for our day bags and the cooking equipment. Fortunately the trucks did arrive in the early hours of the morning.

I am pleased I have a room as it was very cold eating dinner. When I got back to my room it was considerably warmer than outside. Alas, no nice hot water bottle, but the power did come back on at about 7pm.

Dinner was meat kebabs, a vegetable ragout (like a tomato paste vegetable stew but not sure how to spell it), various condiments, and pita bread.

Dinner is cooking (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Dinner is cooking (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

*Editor’s note: This is not THE Copacabana from that awesome song, as I was excitedly led to believe. Apparently there are TWO Copacabana’s – one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and this one in Bolivia. So no Lola’s where Kaye is.

13.1434930206.8-copacabana-bolivia

Copacabana, Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Copacabana Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Copacabana Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sunset over lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sunset over lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Bolivia, Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 45/164: Macara to Las Lomas – 61km

Up 600 meters (turned out to be 700), and down 1,100 meters.

I had a reasonable sleep, with the usual roosters dawn chorus competition of course – but at least they waited until about 5am!

We had a nice short day, allowing plenty of time for the border crossing. We set off about 6:30am with 9 kilometres to ride to the border. School is back in and at 6:30 the children are arriving for school. A number of utes and small trucks arrive with their back-trays crammed with school children.

Welcome to Peru - where the old bridge used to be (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Welcome to Peru – where the old bridge used to be (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Getting out of Ecuador was pretty quick, then across to the Peru border counter. This took ages as they had a network issue, so the line seemed to hardly move.

The queue for Immigration (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The queue for Immigration (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting at the border (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Waiting at the border (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

While we were waiting in the line we noticed a puppy that was about 4-5 months wake up, stretch, then wander over and start gnawing on the handle bars of one of the rider’s bike. When the puppy was yelled at he moved down to the saddle bag and started gnawing that, and when yelled at again he slinked off to find mischief elsewhere.

Then a healthy adult goat appears and wanders up and down the road chewing on plants.

Finally the queue starts to move and our passports are stamped. We still have to wait around for the dinner truck to go through in case they want to search the bags, so we go to get a drink while we wait. Next thing Mr Goat appears again, and trots into a restaurant across the road confidently like he has a reservation! Then suddenly he see the owner, and he’s off down the road at rapid speed with the owner throwing stones after him. I suspect he has had enough success in the past with this manoeuvre to make the risk worthwhile. The dinner truck is waved through and we are off.

Welcome to Peru, on the new bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Welcome to Peru, on the new bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Immediately you can tell we are in a differently country, the people look different, the houses are different, and there no yellow taxis. There are Tuk Tuk’s galore (motorbike in front and covered seats behind) as well as some white ute taxis. The country is very dry here, you can tell we are not far from the desert with cactus and dry dirt roads, and houses without grass.

A Tuk Tuk

A Tuk Tuk

The local taxis (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The local taxis (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The people are more friendly than in Ecuador. A number smiled and waved at us. There are a number of loose donkeys grazing at the side of the road, and herds of goats. Unlike in Ecuador they are not tied up.

We had rolling hills which are great as you can get up the hill quite a way with the momentum from coming down. As it was only a 60 kilometre ride I was pushing myself to go as fast as I could. I am also concentrating on changing to smallest gears as late as possible and changing up as soon as I can. On rolling hills you can do this as you know you will soon have the downhill to recover.

There are lots of dogs, at one shop I saw about 11 dogs, and some quite large dogs, milling around. Thankfully none so far (bar one very small dog with big dog aspirations) have been aggressive.

The town where we are staying is basically a town square with some surrounding shops. It is very hot and dry. We are staying tonight at Salon Communal Santa Isabel, which is the community centre, so tent city again! But the other option is outside in the beating down sun, on a patch of dirt, in 38 degrees heat and possibly will get hotter.

Tent City

Tent City

A number of the locals have lined up outside the building to watch our goings on with great interest. There are adults sitting on the tuk tuks, and children milling around the door.

Taxi drivers watching us (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Taxi drivers watching us (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Passers by stop to watch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Passers by stop to watch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After getting the tent sorted I went off into town to find a cash flow, and a cold beer. The cash flow worked ok, thankfully, as I suspect it is the only one in this town. I have had some problems in some other towns where some cash flow machines don’t work and others do. The machine only gave $100 dollar notes which are too big to cash in most of the shops. So I went into the bank, which has an interesting system where you don’t queue in a line or at the teller, you sit in a seat and as each person gets served you move up one seat.

Playing musical chairs at the bank (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Playing musical chairs at the bank (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I had a cold beer and then returned to the camp site to get my clothes to have a shower – the restaurant down the road was letting us use their shower. The restaurant also has wifi. I had a shower, but despite trying a number of times did not manage to get onto the wifi.

The place where we are staying has no running water, and the toilet has to be flushed by using a bucket, and pulling the water up from a well.

By dinner time there were about 30 townspeople gathered around watching us eat with great interest.

Dinner was Israeli couscous, beef stew, and broccoli.

Locals watching dinner preparation

Locals watching dinner preparation

Categories: Ecuador, Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 30: Ipiales to Ibarra (or not) – 143km

I have got hit by the gastro bug again. I have been really careful about hand washing and don’t eat the meat left over from dinner at lunch the next day, so not sure what else I can do. Apart from not eat any food that contains meat prepared at the small roadside cafes.

My plan was to ride half a day today, given that it was 143 kilometres and substantial climbing.  At breakfast Australian Jackie said a group of them were planning to go on to Quito that afternoon to get an additional rest day there, and did I want to come? I considered this long and hard, and a micro second later said count me in. I think I could do with an additional rest day, plus tomorrow’s riding is also going to be long – another 143 kilometres, and up up up.

The plan was we would ride to lunch in the lunch truck, and then bike to camp, get washed and catch a taxi van to Quito. However, we had to cross the border into Ecuador first. The border crossing took quite a while, not for any reason other than the logistics of 45 people crossing (including TDA crew). By the time we all got across, it was after 9am.

500m to the border with Ecuador (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

500 metres to the border with Ecuador (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

000km to the Ecuador border, on the Pan American Highway (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

0 km to the Ecuador border, on the Pan American Highway (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Filing in border cards in advance (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Filing in border cards in advance (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The plan for going to Quito changed, it was decided that we would go straight from the border to Quito and not ride at all today. I was in with this plan, as I was still having gastro issues. Then we hit a road block – the TDA staff would not unload our daily bags for us to take. A couple of the riders got a bit heated and TDA were standing firm (to be fair to TDA, loading and unloading 40 bags takes a while and they had already lost a lot of time that day at the border). Luckily a reasonable compromise was reached – we would follow the dinner truck (which has the daily bags) to camp, get the bags there and then go onto Quito.

Our bikes were loaded also onto the dinner truck. Thankfully the taxi driver was obliging and agreed with this plan. Also thankfully the dinner truck does not move very fast, as the top speed of the taxi van was about 60 kilometres. It was nice to be riding in a taxi where I was not constantly terrified, although a few oncoming drivers cut their overtaking very close.

The beautiful countryside (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The beautiful countryside (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Lots of agriculture (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lots of agriculture (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Riding in the taxi I was very pleased not to be riding, as the hills were steep, and the temperature was hot. We were back in desert like conditions. The 143 kilometres to camp at 60 kilometres an hour took until lunchtime. Once we got there, we had lunch at the campsite cafe whilst waiting for the bags to be unloaded (which we helped with when the TDA crew were ready of course).

The camp was by a big lagoon and was very pretty, but there was no one swimming as the temp in the water was 11 degrees. Being a Sunday there were lots of locals and heaps of cyclists. After lunch we got back in the taxi van, and drove another 143 k to Quito. We finally got to Quito about 3:30 pm.

The driver thought he knew the way to the hotel, but after driving around for about 30 minutes he realized he didn’t. We flagged down a taxi, luckily a couple of the group speak really good Spanish, and it was agreed we would follow the taxi to the hotel (for $5 USA). We were about 15 minutes from the hotel.

The total cost of the taxi van ride, 286 kilometres from the Colombian/Ecuador border was USA $250, split between 8 people. Considering it had taken most of the day this is really cheap. A number of us also gave him our Colombian Pesos, and we bought him lunch. It would be interesting to know what he made of us, following the dinner truck to get our bags and not cycling etc.

The Plaza International Hotel sounds pretty flash! It is not. It may have been in the early 19 hundreds, but is now pretty run down. Australian Jackie and I shared a room which was very basic – no air conditioning or heating. The shower had missing tiles, and you have to run the water for 10 minutes before it became hot. But there is plenty of hot water, the staff are very friendly, the beds are comfortable – we have one each, and have an ensuite. Plus the hotel does laundry for USD $1 per 1/2 kilo which is pretty cheap. My stack cost $7 which is about NZ $10.50 NZ. Also the prices are cheap – it was USD $43 for 2 for the night.

Hotel plaza international in Quito

Hotel Plaza International

On a Sunday not much is open at night. All 8 of us, plus Ruth (who is the wife of Henry, the TDA owner, and had been here for a few days) set off to find something to eat. We went down to an area that Ruth said was popular with tourists. On the way we got talking to a lady Sabrina from California, who joined us for dinner. Sabrina imports hand made goods from here. We found a nice looking place for dinner. Reasonable looking menu, and as my gastro had settled I decided rather unwisely to have red wine and filet mignon, which was really nice. A few of the riders were heading off to a bar after dinner but I joined the group heading back to the hotel. It was nice to go to bed knowing I did not have to get up at 5am.

View from the road today (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

View from the road today (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

On the way down to camp (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

On the way down to camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

More cyclists! (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

More cyclists! (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Small Ecuadorain town (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Small Ecuadorain town (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Columbia, Ecuador, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment