Posts Tagged With: Random facts

From Wellington to Dubai

So off again, this time riding from Kenya to Cape Town.

Very crazy last week at work, I was at work way too many hours and still didn’t manage to get everything I wanted done. Sorry Belinda and Jane who now have to pick it up.

Thankfully I had taken the Friday off to get organised. A nice change not flying the next day (or as with the last trip, working until mid-afternoon). Thanks to Delwyn for taking over the on-call from Friday. Hopefully the strike action that has consumed the past few months will settle down and will be just a memory when I return.

Once again I have not trained enough, and weigh too much, so will suffer the first few weeks  😬 but nothing new in this space. (Editor’s addition: Though this time Kaye is joining a group part way through, so everyone will have been riding since January 17th).

Nasty shock at the airport with excess baggage and savage charging, but I can say hand on heart I have not packed a single thing that I won’t need.

Flight from Wellington to Sydney was uneventful, but I lost a container of cream and masking tape at the Sydney security check. Even though my container was 100ml, it was confiscated because it didn’t say what it was (watch out for those travel packs you see in the chemist). Plus the masking tape, even though it is not on the list of things you can’t take in your carry on – apparently you may use it to tie up cabin crew, as opposed to the numerous iPhone and iPad cables! Hopefully they won’t open the bike box in Dubai.

I am now waiting to board the horrid 15 hour flight get to Dubai. Thankfully this time I am stopping over for 2 days. Get to Dubai at 5 am and then picked up the following day at 4 pm for a night in the desert.
⛺️ 🐪

Dubai has the tallest building in the world, plus a mall that is huge and boasts a sky field.




Categories: Tour d'Afrique, Uncategorized | Tags: | 13 Comments

Day 26: Cologne to Wesel

121 km – 193 climb, 367 down.

121 km and basically flat, so should not be a long day but! So much navigation today, there were 4 pages of navigation notes, both sides of the page.

We had breakfast with Maureen. Maureen was born in Ireland but has lived in Johannesburg most of her life, but is now in the process of moving to Portugal. This is Maureen’s TDA first ride. Maureen was a communications advisor, but is now retired and lives with her husband and two Labrador retrievers. Her husband doesn’t like touring.

There was pouring rain when we woke up, and it looked rainy, but apart from a few spots we managed to avoid it for the morning. There were a few places where it had clearly been pouring not long before.


Monheim am Rhein


Private garden patches on the outskirts of towns and cities

We went out of Cologne, first of all past the big Ford  factory (the number one employer in Cologne), then through the countryside and skirted through the outskirts of a couple of towns, and then had to go through Düsseldorf (which sounds like it should be a school house in a Harry Potter novel).

Düsseldorf is huge city, population bigger than the whole of NZ – 5.16 million. It took about 2 hours to get through the city and outskirts. This is where the 2017 Tour de France bike rides starts this Saturday.


Düsseldorf city centre


Düsseldorf city centre

The whole city is busy with preparations, the Main Street there was a row of tents going up. There were temporary over bridges over roads being constructed, and rows of group barrier fences waiting to be erected in the fields.


Tour de France preparations underway for the Grand Depart from Düsseldorf

After Düsseldorf we were back in the country, then through a smaller city, Duisburg. At this stage the rain, which had been threatening all day, was looking more and more likely. By now we had done 80km, so at least we avoided the rain for two thirds of the ride. It poured for about 20 km, there was flooding on the road and we had to be really careful going through small towns with cobblestones. We got soaked, but luckily it was still about 17 degrees C.

As we were coming out of one of the towns a young brat on a bike rode straight into Brett and swerved at the last moment, then did the same thing to me.

We stayed at a great hotel called Welcome Hotel, we had a suite with a lounge, balcony, kitchen, bedroom and shower, and thankfully plenty of places to hang wet clothes. However there was terrible internet and I couldn’t get on.


Welcome Hotel in Wesel.

Germany has two million refugees, the population in Germany is 81.41 million.

We have a really nice buffet dinner, high quality food which was really nice. I had some salmon and chicken and vegetables, and a selection of cheeses, plus sparkling water.

We had dinner with Peter and Catrina, John W, and Yvonne (Scott was feeling sick).  Henry Gold, the owner and founder of TDA, has come for a few days and we had a great chat with him after dinner about the South America ride.

When I got back to the my suite, I was really tired but I felt I needed to sit up in the lounge for awhile at least to enjoy the space.


Restaurant artwork decorations

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

Day 3: Monday 5 June – Tucepi to Split

Riding 76 km: 1,033 up and 1,029 down

So the bites I was not so concerned about last night are large welts today, and I still have no idea what bit me.

Breakfast was back in the enormous dining room again. Yay I found a toaster. Unfortunately what I thought was a small container of jam was pate or possibly spam! Luckily I managed to find jam. It’s a beautiful spot but couldn’t spend a week here eating buffet food made for the thousands.

Once again it was as hot as it is at midday in summer in Wellington before we left the hotel.

As we had come down a few kms to the hotel yesterday, I was expecting to climb out. We had a busy road and we were stuck in the traffic for the first 5 or so km. The drivers were pretty good, with only a couple of cars honking at us as we sat in front of them at the lights. No sure what the honking was meant to achieve.


Looking down from highway over Makarska

After this there were ups and downs for the first 20 km. At 21 km whilst climbing I was looking with joy and anticipation at the road not far ahead, stretching into the distance, with a lovely long descent 😀 but just as I got to the flat before the start of the downhill there was an orange flag directing us to take a sharp right turn and start climbing up. Thankfully this climb was only just over a km, and then we turned left and headed down hill again.

We were out in the countryside with the occasional house, it was very peaceful after the busy traffic. We then had quite a steep down hill which was great but on the way down I was thinking “of course what follows a steep downhill is an equally steep uphill”. The uphill was not steep but was a steady 7 km climb. I was getting worried about how slow I was going, until we got to the town of Radici where the rest of the riders were all stopped for a coffee, so I can’t have been that far behind them, as they were all still drinking.

I had a lovely ice cold water to drink, and to fill up my water bottle with. So far today I have drunk 4 bottles of water and it’s only mid morning.

I noticed whilst sitting there that the bite on my left leg was really itchy, so I had a look – it was now much bigger and swollen, and had a raised head in the middle. I decided it was time to take an antihistamine – luckily I carry some on the bike in case I get bitten by a bee.

Off again, two more km up, then mostly down through Canyon Cetine, until we came to a gorgeous holiday town called Omis. As we were riding into Omis I was looking at my right where there was a huge switchback going up and up and up. I was thinking please don’t let that be where we are going.

We rode into the town, having a look around, and we were going straight: so far so good. Then we turned right, crossed across the river, and my heart sunk: yep we were heading to the 6 km quite steep switchback.

We got to climb this in 36 degrees, plus the added heat of the sun off the rocks. It was hideous, and after what seemed forever I passed the sign by the side of the road: only 3 km climbed! 3 km more to go!

On and on I went. By 5 km I was swept (where the sweep catches up with you, meaning you are last) and I was walking (they call it a “push bike” because you can push it 😀).

At about 5.5 k there was a nice cool corner where I and a few of the other riders had a rest. At 52 km I was finally at the top. This was followed by 3 km of pretty flat gradient to lunch. There were a number of riders still at lunch, a couple looking as stuffed as I felt.


From the bridge at sea level in Omis, the big hot climb back up, I’ve made it

After lunch I was not thrilled to be getting back on my bike again. Joyfully the next 12 km were all downhill 👍👍 all the way till 67 km. Then only 6 km to go, how hard could that be?


Followed down Cetina River to pass through the gorge at Omis.

We went uphill for about 2 km, with crazy busy motorway speed traffic, with no shoulder. I was very scared, lots of cars and trucks helpfully tooting at us. As well as having no shoulder, there was gutter with a downward gradient that I was worried about getting my wheels into, in case I came off my bike.


I wanted the low road, but no we had to go up and over

This was followed by a downhill for another km, speeding traffic, no shoulder, and having to cross to the centre lane to turn to the town we were staying in. Thankfully there was a traffic light, otherwise we would probably still be there!


Then 6 km, not as busy to the hotel. We stayed at the Bellevue Hotel, which would have been a grand hotel in its day, but is now very dated. Very pretty seaside city, lovely promenade. The population in Split 178,000.


Hotel Bellevue on the waterfront

Once we arrived, first we had to take bike up 3 sets of stairs to the room they are being stored in. Then bags up to the room. I lay down on the bed and had a nap. Then up, showered, and off to find a laundry. Luckily there was one just up the road. Then off to have a look around, and get a cold beer.


Promenade on the Split Waterfront

We sat in one of the seaside bars and had water and a not-cold enough Croatian beer called Amber. It was really hot, so we left to find somewhere cooler to sit. We went up an alley way and into in the old town (UNESCO heritage site) and were in an old courtyard which was lovely and cool, and had a nice breeze following through it.

We decided to eat at a restaurant called Tavola. We had a sea food platter for two with a bottle of pleasant white Cossetto Malvazija recommended by the waiter. The sea food platter had tuna, sea bass, prawn and mussels. The mussels were tasty but tiny.

After dinner we decided to go for a walk along the waterfront. We got an ice cream and stopped to watch some children playing. It was very pleasant down by the water, the heat had gone out of the day. Then we continued walking. Unfortunately I walked onto some pavers that were slimy with fishy water, and as I was wearing jandals I had no traction and went for a skate. I went backwards,  with a crash landing on my hand, then hitting my head. I was lucky in that my head just missed a bollard!

The result was one fishy smelling dress and a very sore arm. Hopefully it will settle over night and hopefully is just a sprain and will not be bad enough to send me home.


View from my room at Hotel Bellevue

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 1: Sarajevo to Mostar – 132km

132 km today: 1,100 up and 1,500 down.

I was very relieved when I woke up to find out that it was 1,100 metres climbing, not 2,000 meters.


Today’s whiteboard (Editor’s note: Just casually a mention of landmines!! Kaye neglected to mention that part) 

To start it was a convoy for the first 15 km out of town. We rode right along Snipers Alley almost all the way to the airport. It was quite sobering to think that just over 20 years ago there were snipers targeting this area.

In the morning it was quite cool, but by 10 am it was sweltering. I had not done enough training, but two weeks before I left I had comfortably climbed Makara Hill at home, which is over 2 km with a reasonable gradient. So 30 km into the ride I was surprised to find I was struggling to get up a 4% gradient. First off I thought I must be dehydrated so I drank more water. Then I had to get off a couple of times.

Finally I got to the top and started down quite a steep decline. Halfway down I stopped to let my rims cool down (rims can get hot enough to pop your tyre with rim brakes). At this stage I became aware of my heart rate being unusually fast. The next 20 km to lunch was pretty much all downhill so I decided to keep going to lunch.

After sitting for about 10 minutes at lunch I took my pulse, it was 140 with some ectopic (extra) beats (a normal heart rate is 60 – 100). One of the other riders Kerry is a nurse so I asked her to check my pulse, she was concerned, then it turns out her husband Antony is a cardiologist, so she got him to check too.  He said my pulse wasn’t usual, but hopefully would correct itself, but no riding until my pulse was normal. So on day one (!!!) it was into the lunch truck for me.


Overlooking the dam at Ostrozac before lunch

The ride after lunch was pretty scenic, stunning green lake and pancake mountains, but also contained a number of the numerous tunnels in this and the first section of the ride,  some short, some long, some well lit, and some in total darkness. The worst one today was 600 meters unlit with the road surface uneven.  To add to this, the traffic was heavy and there was very little shoulder.


Afternoon along the gorge, more tunnels and river reflections

The Bosnian war also affected Mostar. Mostar is a world heritage site because of the 15 and 16 century architecture. Of most note the Mostar bridge, which was once the biggest man-made arch in the world. This bridge and many other buildings were destroyed in the conflict, but the Mostar bridge has been completely rebuilt. Link:


Photo credit:

I am still not used to the novelty of all hotels. No tent to put when you arrive in camp, plus all the dinners are in a restaurant.

My room is tiny, just enough space for a bed and a couple of bags, but it has an ensuite, you can stand up inside it, and it doesn’t have to be packed up in the morning! Antony checked my pulse again when I arrived, it was down to 90 so heading in the right direction.

Dinner was at 7 in the restaurant. It started with a salad, then a chicken and noodle soup, followed by a meat platter with potato. Plus a dessert that I didn’t eat, which was a date pudding smothered in honey, it looked nice but I was full.

Strictly water for dinner tonight for me: no alcohol, coffee, or tea, or any other stimulant. I’m thinking it was possibly the really strong cup of coffee I had this morning that was the culprit for my increased heart rate.

Off to bed and asleep by 9. I slept really well until 6 am, so am getting adjusted to the time change.

Addition to day:
My pulse was back to a normal resting 60 beats a minute when I woke up, and I rode all day without a problem. I plan stay away from really strong coffee in future.


Sarajevo Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart (Editor’s note: I think this was supposed to go with yesterday’s post. My bad).

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 74/164: Rest Day Two in Cusco

I slept in again, had breakfast and then went off to have a massage I had booked at 10am.

Along with general exhaustion I have
1. A really sore neck on the left hand side, I can’t even turn it
2. Altitude sickness, still really breathless and have coughing fits
3. Gastro related to the altitude medication, or the anti inflammatory medication for the neck
4. My bottom lip has big cracks in it even though I have been constantly covering it with lip sun block
5. A pressure area on my butt, thankfully the skin is not broken
6. Asthma, related I think to the altitude.

All in all the three rest days are badly needed. A number of the riders have organized tours to go to Machu Picchu but I decided not to. I was really conflicted as I am so close but in the end decided that I need to look after myself if I want to manage the whole of this ride. Sue went with a group of 7 of the riders, up on the early morning train, got to the main gates and was inside for ten minutes and collapsed. Sue was taken back to the hotel they had booked there and slept for 18 hours (which equates to a USD $750 sleep). Four of the other riders who went have also come back unwell, mostly with gastro related symptoms.

The massage (80 soles) was great, the masseuse really knew her stuff and spent ages on the left side of my neck and back. I had lots of knots. She would work on them for a few minutes and then do another area, but kept coming back. As I left I could already feel the difference.

Next off to get my hair cut and buy some sandals, mine have finally fallen apart. As I was walking up the street looking for sandals a pleasant seeming young man stopped me and asked me if I was from New Zealand. When I said yes he said “Wellington?” which I of course said yes. He then asked if I wanted anything for my hike, which is why most people come here. When I said no I am biking he changed to ‘did I need shoes, Lycra etc’. I assured him I had everything I needed. So then he asked me if I want some Charlie, blow or clean cut. I was a bit stunned and found myself shaking his hand saying ” I appreciate you asking but I am ok”. Weird, so I figure Charlie is heroine? Blow is cocaine? But ‘clean cut’? Crystal meth? Any ideas?

I managed to find some sandals finally in my size, a number of shops had sandals I like but not big enough to fit my feet. After this I had some lunch, bought some really warm multi colored socks, and went on the city bus tour. It was raining to start off with so I sat downstairs, but as soon as the rain stopped I moved upstairs, better for taking photos.

We went up quite a steep hill and I jokingly said to one of the other riders “I bet we come out this way”. No need they assured me, the main road leads straight out of Cusco.

View of Cusco from top of hill

View of Cusco from the top of hill

We stopped at a statue of Jesus that was donated to the people of Cusco by the Palestine government in recognition of the shelter given to the Jews in the second world war.

Rest day two in Cusco . The Jesus statue from the Palestine Govt to the people of Cusco for providing sanctuary to the Hews in world war 2

The Jesus statue

After this the tour went to an Alpaca clothing factory. I bought a dorky looking, but really warm hat. Hopefully the socks and the hat will make a difference at cold camps.

On top of your bus in Cusco rest day two ( with my warm bed hat)

On top of tour bus in Cusco with my warm hat

We saw some Inca ruins that were a ceremonial centre and temple to the sun called Saqsaywaman.  The rocks were fitted together, some weighing up to 130 tons. The Spaniards took a number of the rocks from here for buildings in the town.

Photo of Sagsay waman in Cusco

Photo of Saqsaywaman in Cusco

Another view of Sagsay waman in Cusco

Another view of Saqsaywaman

Sun temple in Cusco

Sun temple in Cusco

On the tour I also learned that 70% of the adult population in Cusco work in the tourist industry, and the average monthly wage is $750 soles.

After the tour I saw two of my favorite riders Shirley and Dan from the USA sitting in a boutique beer bar so I joined them for a beer.

Dan, Shirley and Brett and boutique beer bar in Cusco

Brett, Shirley and Dan at a boutique beer bar in Cusco

I could not stay long as I was meeting Rebecca, a friend of Kelly’s, for dinner. Rebecca comments regularly on my blog, and has been travelling through Peru the same time as me, but only arriving in each place just after I left, so it was a good chance to catch up.

I met Rebecca in the lobby of my hotel and we headed off to a Peruvian restaurant “The Andean Grill” that was recommended when we went past on the tour. It was quite nice, I had fillet migon again, was nice had garlic in the sauce. Rebeca had lomas saltardo which is a Peruvian spiced stew. We traded stories about all the different places we had been. Rebecca has been on a number of Intrepid Tours all over the world. It was a good evening. Rebecca heads off next to walk the Inca trail.

Earlier when I had arrived at the hotel after the tour, I was greeted by the news that Eriberto, one of the full tour riders, was throwing in the towel and heading home the next day. “Too cold and too hard” was his reason. I was quite startled as he is one of the better riders and had given no prior indication that he was even thinking of doing this. However he is very cheerful about it and has booked his flights and will be home where he lives near Venice in less than two days, he tells us “drinking good coffee, red wine, enjoying fresh pasta and being warm”.

After dinner I went back to the hotel I tried skyping my son Dan, but the connection was really bad so I will try again tomorrow. Off to bed, last rest day tomorrow.

Water fountain in Cusco

Water fountain in Cusco

Interesting mural in Cusco

Interesting mural in Cusco

Small boy who waved and calked out whilst on your bus in Cusco

Small boy who waved and called out whilst on tour bus in Cusco

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

Day 32/164: Rest Day in Quito

A month since we left Cartagena today! I decided not to weigh myself before I left, as I knew I would not like the result (plus I was worried the scales might say “Only one person at a time”) but I did my measurements, and decided I would re do these measurements each month. Today is the day! So out with the tape measure. And what my clothes have been telling me is confirmed, I have less of me to drag up those hills than I did a month ago 😀
Stomach (fattest part) – down 10 centimetres
Bust down – 4 centimetres
Thighs – down 3 centimetres
Hips – down 7 centimetres
Waist – did not originally measure, but have measured this month.

I went to sleep at 8:30pm last night but did not sleep well. I skyped with Shellbe at 4am and then never got back to sleep. Shellbe is in Bangkok for two more days before she goes to Sri Lanka to volunteer for a month (Editors note: this blog is from 11 August, so Shellbe was well out of Bangkok before the bomb attack). It was good to catch up with her news. I skyped Lizzy yesterday and got to catch up with her and talk to Lucy also. Lizzy was minding Lucy as Kelly was at work. I did not get to talk to Xavier (Jig) as he was at day care. Shellbe told me that when she skyped Lizzy and Lucy, Lizzy asked Lucy where Aunty Shellbe was. Previously Lucy had said Shellbe was in Asia and Gran was in South America. Today she looked at Lizzy like she was a halfwit for asking the question, and said “Aunty Shellbe is in the iPad, with Gran!”.

Today was glue hunting and tourist activity.

The Plan is to go Quito old town, Plaza Grande and the various historic buildings in those. Plus the cable car – Teleferico – which goes up to 4,050 meters. Quito has a population of 2.671 million, and is the second most populated city in Ecuador.

I decided not to have breakfast at the hotel. Sue was feeling a bit better so decided to join me on the tourist tour. First of all we caught a taxi up to the entrance to the Teleferico. Once we got dropped off we had to walk up about 5 minutes to the ticket office. Then waiting in line for a cable car – 6 people per car. The ride up took about 15 minutes and certainly was steep.

Inside the Teleferrico looking down

Inside the Teleferrico looking down


The cable car going up the hill

Looking down at the city (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Looking down at the city (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

When we got to the top we had a drink and something to eat, and walked around. Given that we were at 4,050 meters I found walking up any of the steps a challenge. Sue however does not suffer at all from altitude sickness and zoomed up the path (luckily not all the way, as we found out afterwards it went for 5 hours). I found a nice rock in the sun and sat and waited for her to return. There was a man selling small toys and Ecuadorian music which was really good so I bought a CD.


At the top, view of the city

Volcanoe in distance top of the Teleferrico

Volcano in distance

Sue coming down from the walk

Sue coming down from the walk

Me up at the top

Me up at the top

Another view from Teleferrico cable car

Another view from the cable car

We then went back down again and caught a taxi to Plaza Grande. The traffic was pretty full on and the taxi driver took a number of side streets. Some were quite steep so I ended up feeling a bit carsick.

Plaza Grande Quito (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Plaza Grande Quito (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Plaza ground square

Plaza ground square

Policia on horses

Policia on horses

In the square we saw a line of shoe cleaners. There were two small boys, aged about 10, in the square who said for a dollar I could take a photo of them. I declined the offer but appreciated the initiative and gave them both a dollar each (this turned their frowns, when I said no, into delighted smiles).

Shoe shining in Plaza Grande Square

Shoe shining in Plaza Grande Square

View of houses from Plaza Grande Square

View of houses from Plaza Grande Square

We went into Catedral Primada De Quito. The order was founded in 1535 but the original building was demolished in 1545 and this building bulit. It houses an important collection of art, paintings and sculptures, but you are not allowed to take any photos.

catedral Primada de Quito

Catedral Primada de Quito

Policia on segways

Policia on segways

We also saw from the outside, but did not go into, a beautiful church called Basilica Del Voto Nacional.

The church in the background is Basilica Del Voto Nacional

The church in the background is Basilica Del Voto Nacional

Sue was feeling a bit unwell due to the antihistamine so we went back to the hotel. I had a nap, downloaded some photos, and packed my bags again ready to depart the next day. A small group of us went out to the same restaurant as the first night in Quito. My gastronomy seemed better so I had pork spare ribs (yum) and red wine. Some of us never learn!  I went back to the hotel for an early night.

When I got back I saw the white board – Quito to Papallacta: 64 kilometres. This sounded ok but we are already at 2,820 metres, and we would be riding up to 4050 metres (I can’t even climb up steps at 2,820) . I have not been taking altitude sickness medication as I had been told we don’t need it again until Peru!

Categories: Ecuador, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 25/164: Rest Day Two in Agustín

It was nice sleeping in a bed and waking up, and being able to have a warm shower. I had better make the most of today as there are six days riding before the next rest day, with four days riding until we cross the border into Ecuador.

Today a group of us had organized to go to St Agustin archaeological park. The park opened in 1936 and is constantly being improved. It is based on the site where statues from previous inhabitants of this land have been found.  There is no known name for these people so they are referred to as the early culture of San Agustin. There are two schools of thought:
1. That it was one people who evolved over a few thousand years to following different practices and customs (such as how they bury their dead)
2. That there were 3 separate groups of people during this time (approximately 3,500 BC to 100 AD).

At some stage they have organized an elaborate irrigation system for the hillside to grow crops.

The earliest inhabitants had the practice of burying their dead under the floor in the middle of their houses. Further on the rich, or high standing, had tombs with statues depicting various significant animals and things such as water and people guarding them. There was one bit of hillside that over 700 years they flattened – bit different to now where it is a project we undertake over a long weekend. The earliest evidence uncovered at this stage dates back to 3,500 BC.


Statues at the cultural village in St Agustin


Cultural village in St Agustin


San Agustin archaeological park


Statues at the cultural village in St Agustin

The walk around the park took about 3 hours, and we stopped at a cafe where one of the riders – Erwin – asked for a drink of cane sugar, and we got to see how they feed it through a flattening machine about 4 to 5 times, and it produces enough for a glass. It is a greeny colour and tastes really sweet, but is meant to be very good for rehydration.


Sugar cane and machine that grinds them into sugar cane juice

Editor's Caption: And now for a photo where you can actually see the machine (Photo credit: Of course, Sue's blog)

Editor’s Caption: And now for a photo where you can actually see the machine (Photo credit: Of course, Sue’s blog)

The cane sugar drink is in the plastic cup next to Erwin

The cane sugar drink is in the plastic cup next to Erwin

We caught a bus back down to the town and four of us stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We got the special of the day, which was a really nice meat based soup with beans and carrots in it, plus I think spinach as was quite dark for cabbage. Also a main of chicken which is sliced so thinly they must have a special machine to do it (as this is common way of presenting cooked chicken here), rice, and my favourite – fried plantain (not), some type of peas, and chunks of potato with avocado (which sounds pretty strange but was actually very nice).

Erwin and Sue at lunch

Erwin and Sue at lunch

Couple who own the restaurant we went to for lunch

The couple who own the restaurant we went to for lunch (Editor’s note: classic Kaye photo)

Then I went off into the town to get a haircut. I was pretty nervous about this but I can’t go 6 months without a cut. And having done it, I don’t have to worry about it again for a few months. It turned out ok, and was the grand sum of 6,000 pesos (approximately $3 NZD). The last time my hair was cut for 3 dollars I was probably about 2.

On the way back to the hotel I stopped to try something I had seen for sale in the village. Not sure what you would call it. The lady making it was slapping it round and round on a stick, it looked like it had golden syrup or molasses in it. You got a small pottle of it, after it had been dipped in brown or raw sugar. I’m still not sure what it was, it was thick and sticky and sweet. I am not a convert, but the locals were lining up for it.

The lady making toffee like stuff

The lady making the toffee like stuff

Then I went back to the hotel to check on the instructions for tomorrow, and to sort my bike and bags.

A group of us went to a restaurant in town, and ordered the special of the day again, which this time was a thick soup, and chicken, rice and beans. After that I went to the supermarket to get more water.

I got back to the hotel and tried to get onto the wifi – it was ok to send an email but not any photos.

Tomorrow is a 161 kilometre ride, with 2,250 climb, so lunch truck to lunch for me 😀

By a statue in the cultural park (not long before the $3 haircut)

By a statue in the cultural park (not long before the $3 haircut)

View of country side San Augustine

View of country side San Agustin

Coffee place in San Augustin - riders Peter from NZ and Anna Greta from Denmark

Coffee place in San Agustin – riders Peter from NZ and Annegrete from Denmark

Same coffee shop in San Augustin ( Asha from USA and PHil NZ)

Same coffee shop in San Agustin (Asha from USA and Phil from NZ)

Type of bus that the locals catch around the country

Type of bus that the locals catch around the country

Side view Of the type of bus locals ride in around the countr

Side view of the type of bus locals ride in around the country

View of back street in San Augustin

View of back street in San Augustin

Street in San Augustine

Street in San Augustine

Modes of transport range from horse and cart to trucks

Modes of transport range from horse and cart to trucks

Coffee beans on a plant in Columbia

Coffee beans on a plant in Columbia

It's a dog's life (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

It’s a dog’s life (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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General Update, and photos – 29 July 2015

There is very little smoking that I have seen so far in Colombia. A bit more in the city but probably less than 1 in 100 people, and in the country less than that.

However all the major food chains have made their way to the cities: Mc Donald’s, KFC, Subway, and Dunkin Donuts. Everywhere sells coke (cocola), and a local fizzy drink called Postobon, which is really sweet fizzy drink. Mostly the locals are slim but the obesity epidemic is starting to appear.

Interesting fact: 70% of the world’s species of birds live in South America.  Out of the city you see birds of all sizes and colours. There are also huge brightly colored butterflies – bright blue and crimson and multi colored, flying around.

The toilet situation is variable from outhouse, to toilets with no seats and hoses for washing, to systems that look like the ones at home. However despite where you are, you don’t put toilet paper in the toilet – you put it into a rubbish bin next to it which takes some getting used to.

Beside all the toilets are small containers to put the toilet paper into it. Some are closed lids with foot levers, but others like this are open. It takes quite a bit of getting used to.

Beside all the toilets are small containers to put the toilet paper into it. Some are closed lids with foot levers, but others like this are open. It takes quite a bit of getting used to.

Correction: Regardless of what I say on my blog, when I say feet I mean metres, sorry, so we have been climbing 2,000 metres not feet (Editor’s note: I have now gone back and corrected any references to distances in feet that I could find, but if you find any please let me know).


Graffiti is everywhere, same as in Santiago


Making full use of the space in the car (In Bogota)


Side view of the same car


The man sells dog clothes – note the boots on the dog

Picture of a building in Bolivar square in the historical part of the city don't know what it is called

Caption from Kaye: “Picture of a building in Bolivar square in the historical part of the city, don’t know what it is called”


Name of the church in the next picture


The church


Tim and Rhonda who are leaving the tour here in Bogota

Editors Note: Below are photos that I’ve just found from Kaye, that I hadn’t posted earlier. Oops, sorry bout that: 

Dad and daughters on a bike in San Marcos

Dad and daughters on a bike in San Marcos

Tyres for sale at local supermarket in San Marcos

Tyres for sale at local supermarket in San Marcos

Car in San Marcos

Car in San Marcos

Our equivalent to Telecom: Movistar technicians in San Marcos

Our equivalent to Telecom: Movistar technicians in San Marcos

Tour staff buying 5 trolleys of food to keep us going to the next rest day in San Marcos

Tour staff buying 5 trolleys of food to keep us going to the next rest day in San Marcos

My lunch date in San Marcos

My lunch date in San Marcos

Washing on roof of Art hotel in Medellin

Washing on roof of Art hotel in Medellin

View of Medellin from roof of Art hotel

View of Medellin from roof of Art hotel

View from roof of Art hotel Medellin the building in the foreground has King Kong painted on it

View from roof of Art hotel Medellin the building in the foreground has King Kong painted on it

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

Day 18/164: Rest Day Two in Bogota – The tourist!

Bogota has a population of nearly 8 million people. With the surrounding towns this goes up to 10 million. Bogota is amongst the 25 largest cities in the world, and is situated 2,640 meters above sea level. Also it is the second highest city for elevation in South America (highest is Quito).We have approximately two more weeks in Colombia before we cross into Ecuador.

Before going off onto tourist activity we needed to go to the laundry (lavanderia) to pick up our laundry.  The bike clothes certainly look better having been washed at a laundry rather than in a sink.

Sue and I got a taxi to take us to the cable car to go up to the Monserrate monastery, at 3,152 metres above sea level. The ride with up in the cable car takes about 5 minutes and is pretty steep.

The cable car station (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The cable car station (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)


The cable car to take us up to Monserrate


View of the city from the cable car

Not a fan of heights, so gripping on tight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Not a fan of heights, so gripping on tight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We had decided beforehand to have lunch up there. When we got up there the first restaurant we went to was a fine dining French restaurant. We thought what the heck, tomorrow it is dirt roads and sandwiches, so we sat down to a delicious  meal.


The French restaurant we went to on the left

The French restaurant at the top of the cable car at Monserrate

The French restaurant at the top of the cable car

Kaye and Sue at lucnh You can't see in this photo as it was raining but about 5 minutes later the mist cleared and we had a glorious view of the city

Sue and I at lunch
You can’t see in this photo as it was raining but about 5 minutes later the mist cleared and we had a glorious view of the city

We had French onion soup, and salmon. Sue had flambéed bananas for desert and I had creme brûlée – yum. We had a half bottle of sav blanc to go with it. Plus coffee. The cost was 125 pesos each, which is about 65 NZ 😀


With my delicious salmon meal (Photo credit: Sue’s camera)


The waiter about to flambé Sue’s banana desert at the restaurant

We then walked around the monastery for a while.

the monsastry

The monastery


View of city from Monserrate monastery

Overlooking Bogota (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Overlooking Bogota (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We had to go to the toilets (banos) which costs 500 pesos and you get your own individual packet of toilet paper!

Sue with the little packet of toilet paper

Sue with the little packet of toilet paper

We then caught the cable car back down and jumped in a cab to go to Bolívar Square which is part of the historical old town. However there was a protest going on and the first few roads were closed by policia. The taxi dropped us off as close as possible.

View of Bolivar square

View of Bolivar square

In the square you could buy corn and feed it to the pigeons, and they will eat it out of your hand. We wandered back to the hotel looking at all the street stalls. We came across Rhonda coming out of the French bakery. I was looking at the cakes. There were some amazing looking little cheese cakes. Cheese cakes always make me think of my daughter Tracey, who loves cheese cake.

The little cheese cakes made me think of my daughter Tracey

The little cheese cakes made me think of my daughter Tracey

Back to the hotel to download photos from the camera, then out for a quick small meal as I was still pretty full. Back to the hotel to catch up with the blog, pack, and get ready for another 6 days riding – and take one more hot shower.

We have to be downstairs with our bags by 5:30 am tomorrow, so a 4:45am start.


A cat having a snack at the bottom of the cable car

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Day 10/164: Rest Day in Medellin

Even though we could sleep in I was awake at 5am. It rained heavily again during the night. The hotel is built around a small courtyard, when it rains you can hear it pouring down through the floors.


The inner courtyard of the hotel (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We had been told that the hotel had organized to get our washing done at special rates but we had to bring it down at 9 pm. When we bought it down the people at reception knew nothing about it and wanted to do it at usual hotel rates which would have cost approximately $100 NZ, so now we have to get it sorted today on a public holiday. It’s national Independence Day today in Colombia. Lesson learnt from this is that unless something can be done right away, don’t count on it.

I went down to breakfast, had cereal and fruit, and strawberry juice – that was a first! Interesting but not a convert.

Last night we went out to eat, I forgot the name of the place but it was Colombian food. I ordered a dish that came with a spicy vegetable soup, beans, rice, a potato cake (which was like a bread cover with potato inside), dried beef (it was like beef dust) and pork crackling, set off with a fried egg and quarter of an avocado (which is three times the size of NZ ones), cooked plantain (which is in the banana family), and a banana. It was interesting but way too much. There were 6 of us and we shared a jug of sangria. The bill was 35 pesos, which is approximately $16 NZ.

Today we had to meet in the lobby at 10am to go to a bike shop. It had been organized in advance for us to stay open today. A number of the riders needed to get various parts. One rider Eric could not get the parts he needed and ended up having to get another bike to be able to continue.

I needed new cleat clips for my new biking shoes, a magnet for my speedo, drink bottle (I bought a spare also), some bike lube and more chamois cream. I also bought a tube which is something you can wear as a hat or as a scarf around your neck or over the bottom half of your face. I figure this will be useful as we go further south. Nothing worse than having a frozen nose.


The bike store that opened specially for us (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Ended up doing the washing by hand in the bath. I hung it up on the roof, and no sooner had I done this than it started to rain again. Hopefully the sun will come out again soon.

Trying to dry stuff ip on the roof ((Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Trying to dry stuff up on the roof (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Medellin is the second biggest city in Colombia. It is located in the Aburra Valley, in the Andes Mountains. Situated 1,500 meters above sea level it is cooler than some other parts of Colombia.

As it is close to the equator it has pretty the same temperature all year round – an average of 22 degrees. The climate is tropical rainforest, so lots of rain and sun. Not great to keep a tent dry but excellent for growing.

The population in the city is 2.44 million, and with the surrounding areas it comes to 3.5 million. I have not seen any stray dogs in the inner city, but have seen some homeless people on the ride in.

The poor people live up high in the hills and there are a number of chair lifts operating so they can get to and from work. Whilst Medellin is considered a safe city it is not considered safe to wander around in the poorest areas.

We spent the rest of the day getting sorted for the next 6 days riding, before the next rest day in Bogota. My clothing is 95% dry. We went out to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner, I had half of a very nice bottle of Cab Sav from Chile – only my second wine on this trip – Colombia does not produce any wine, and some excellent ribs.

(Photo credit: Sue's blog)

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

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