Posts Tagged With: Taxi

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 👍.

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.


Rees township


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Vincent Van Gogh – Terrace of a cafe at night


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.


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!


Tolkamer, The Netherlands

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

Day 8: Monday 21 Nov, Kurpipapango to Napier

Today 810 meters climbing and 1,300 down and only 82km to Napier, with the next day being a rest day. Sounds good, the only drawback is the 10km of uphill first up.

My legs felt ok when I first got onto the bike, so 900m of shingle up to the main road then 500 meters until a big steep hill. To my shame I was off my bike and pushing less than 2km into the ride. I was hoping the whole 10km was not as steep, as other wise I would take over 3 hours to get 10km. Thankfully the gradient decreased so I got back on my bike and did not have to push my bike again for the rest of the day.

There were lots of steep bits but lots of dips too, so if you got a really good run up them most of the time you could get to the top in the big gear. A few I still had to push. It was lovely and warm, with blue sky and great views.


View of Hawkes Bay

Before I knew it the lunch truck was in sight at 61km. The mood of the other riders was as jovial as mine. Only 21 km to ride and at the most 100 meters of climbing to go.

Back on the road again, 5km along a bike trail then onto the main road heading into the city. It was not too busy as it was only 12:30 pm.

We were staying at Bk Fountain Court Motel, nice rooms, comfy bed and a bath 😀. This time there was only one washing machine and it was only open 1pm to 8pm, so I decided to wait till tomorrow and go down town to do my laundry when I go out to have breakfast.


Tony outside our motel (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

After a shower I set off down town with Brett, Michele and Tony for a cold beer. We went to a lovely old hotel called The Emporium Eatery and Bar, which is part of the Art Deco Masonic Hotel. It was built in 1861, destroyed by fire, rebuilt, destroyed by the 1931 earthquake, then rebuilt.


Kaye’s Great Gatsby entrance at the  Masonic Hotel Napier


Emporium Cafe & Bar Napier


Emporium Cafe & Bar Napier

We had cold beer, and a pizza and chips to share. Sitting out on the Napier esplanade in the warm afternoon sun was great, there was no wind.


We googled a number of places for dinner but most of them were closed on Monday. We decided to go to a place in the old Napier port called The Thirsty Whale, which had good reviews. However we were not keen to walk there as it was over 5km away and I felt I had done enough exercise for the day. So we decided to get a taxi.

We flagged one down in the street, what a miserable chap he was! He was Norwegian and had been here for a couple of years, and did not much like New Zealand or Napier. When asked what bought him here he said ‘A plane’.

Anyway, he reckons New Zealand houses are shit, and the people in Napier are small minded. I was tempted to ask him why he was still here. When we got to the Restaurant I told him to keep the change, that worried him as well. Tony got his card off him as we would want a taxi to go back.

We got a great table on the deck at the restaurant. To start we shared a bottle of Hãhã Sparkling Brut with the Parmesan bread. Then we had an Ash Ridge Sauvignon Blanc with our meals. I had a very nice version burger.


Napier old harbour – Thirsty Whale

We asked the people in the restaurant to call us a taxi as we did not want the happy Norwegian – well guess who turned up. Unfortunately Michelle and I got the giggles.
He was less happy, nearly drove out in front of a couple of cars whilst sharing more of his views on Napier and the people. Apparently the people here have nothing better to do than turn the street signs round the wrong way! Really will watch out for that.

Back to the motel and in bed by 8:30pm, yay a rest day tomorrow. At midday 8 of us are off on a wine trip.



Mon 21 Napier

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 64/164: Santiago Ica to Nazca – 124 kilometres

1,300 up and 1,300 down

A cold morning again once more, again about 8 degrees. It was really foggy and hard to see and lots of trucks and cars. I was wearing my high viz stuff.

All of a sudden after about an hour the fog cleared, bright blue skies, hot sun, temperature jumped up 10 degrees in an hour.

I started the ride looking forward to the rest day but feeling a bit daunted by the 13 kilometre hill at 57 kilometres that was in our riders briefing. I got to 53 kilometres, stopped and bought a drink, had some fruit, reapplied sunscreen, and got mentally geared up for the challenge! I got to the hill, went up about 4 kilometres, then the rest of it was down 😀 :D.

Nice little downhill chunk just before the lunch truck (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Nice little downhill chunk just before the lunch truck
(Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I got to lunch and could see another hill stretching up into the distance – I was thinking that hopefully it is not like the hill before the last rest day, which turned out to be 15 kilometres.

Great spot for lunch - an abandoned roadside restaurant (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Great spot for lunch – an abandoned roadside restaurant (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

I left the lunch spot with Michelle and Tony. Thankfully the hill was about 4 kilometres up, and then down again. After about 5 kilometres Tony got a flat, and said to Michelle for us to head off and he would catch up.

The rest of the ride was rolling hills with a few steeper climbs – it was really hot! The desert stretched away on both sides, and although we were riding well the day seemed to drag. Tony caught us up about 5 kilometres out from Nazca, and then was riding too fast for us to stay with him.

When we got to town the lunch truck passed us and went round a roundabout so without looking for flags we followed. Thankfully Luiz noticed us behind him and and stopped and said he was going for ice and we needed to go back to the roundabout and turn left! It turned out our mistake meant we did not go past some raised road markers that two other rides fell off on. Sue fell and grazed her arm and broke her helmet in 3 places.

We got to the hotel, nice rooms, quite big, a few were still having doors hung when we arrived! We are staying Nazca Oasis Hotel.

Thankfully the hotel does laundry so just needed to sort out gear and then shower and relax.

We had beer at the bar and paid as we went, but the girl who served us kept asking for our room number and name. This was all being written in scraps of paper and given to the guy at reception. I was highly suspicious that this was going to translate into being charged twice, so I got Luiz to speak to the guy at reception, and got the scraps of paper for our table back.

A group of us decided to head off into town for dinner. We went to the reception to order two taxis. After waiting for ages an unmarked car turned up and took one car full  into town. Then after about 15 minutes it arrived back for the rest. We reckon it was a relative of the guy at reception.

We managed to regroup in town, and went to a nice looking restaurant. By this stage it was 7:30 and we were getting pretty hungry. By the time our order was taken and the food arrived it was nearly 8pm. We were looking with envy at those eating. Alex, a young guy from the UK who joined us in Lima, looked a bit nervous when his food came out at least 5 minutes before anyone else’s and we were all staring at it. The food was good, I had steak stuffed with cheese and mushrooms.

There are no tuk tuk’s in Nazca but plenty of beat up old cars, with or without signs, stopping to provide rides.

It was nice to get into clean sheets, with no alarm set for the morning.

Endless road and dunes and then mountains as we continue along.  They planted splindly little trees along each side of the road for about 50 km.  Don't know if they are surviving (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Endless road and dunes and then mountains as we continue along. They planted splindly little trees along each side of the road for about 50 km. Don’t know if they are surviving (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Typical mountains in this area.  Dead tree along the road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

Typical mountains in this area. Dead tree along the road (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

A view of Rio Grande.  We came down through the pass on the far side and are going up on this side(Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg's blog)

A view of Rio Grande. We came down through the pass on the far side and are going up on this side (Photo and caption credit: Laura and Greg’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Day 17/164: Rest Day One in Bogota

Yay no roosters, no loud music, and yay being able to get dressed upright, and have a warm shower 🙂

I  skyped with my daughter Shellbe last night who is currently in Vietnam, it was great to catch up with her and all her news.

Writing my blog in bed this morning (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Writing my blog in bed this morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I had to be downstairs at 9am to go and drop off the laundry. There was a laundry just up the road who will do it for you and charges by the kilogram. 24,000 pesos for 4 kilos, which is approximately $11 NZ.

I forgot to take my towel, so I will have to wash it by hand back at the hotel. Then off to the bike shop to get inner tubes, tyres and more brake pads (I suspect the two I bought with me will not be enough). I caught a taxi to the bike shop, which was about a 30 minutes taxi ride away. The traffic, even at this time of day, was gridlocked. The taxis though are surprisingly cheap – the trip cost 16,000 pesos which is less than $8 New Zealand dollars!

There was a group of four bike shops in a row. I managed to get everything I needed. I bought 6 inner tubes, 2 patch repair kits, as well as the tyres and brake pads. I paid by credit card and signed the receipt. When I left the shop they came running after me as they thought I had the signed copy. Who knows where it went, as I didn’t have it and they couldn’t find it. They wanted me to repay and sign another one, which I had no intention of doing, as it had already been approved electronically. Given the language barrier it was a bit like a scene from Faulty Towers! Eventually after I had turned out all the bags and pockets, and shaking my head each time I was offered a pen, they let it go.  There were a number of other riders also trying to get parts for their bikes, and some having real difficulty. Phil was having no luck getting what he needed to fix his two bottom gears.

I got a taxi back to the hotel to have something to eat, and skyped with Kelly and Lucy, and Lizzy and Xavier. It was great to have a good wifi signal.

View from our hotel window of the national museum (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from our hotel window of the national museum (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I went down to clean my bike and sort out the tyres etc. I discovered I had a heap of grass in the cluster and generally the bike was pretty caked with dirt. I got the new tyre on the back, so fingers crossed the issue with flats is sorted. I was not able to get the same type of tyre, so bought two different ones with a slightly smaller tread that I will use on the road. The ones currently on the bike are heavy and better for off-road, as slower on the paved road. I still have one brand new spare of these tyres.

Once the bike was sorted I went off to buy water and other supplies. I needed to get some more lip cream and went into what I thought was a pharmacy type shop and mimed lip stuff. Not surprisingly they had none as I was reassured after I came out that it was actually a pet store!

When I got back to the hotel I bumped into Phil who had just arrived back in a taxi. The bike shops were not able to help him, but would you believe the taxi had been a professional bike rider and managed to get his bike sorted.

I went for dinner at a meat barbecue type of place. On the way there I was looking at the tallest building which had a very colourful light display, including cyclists riding around the building and dolphins swimming. I was more concentrating on this than my surroundings, and got a hell of a fright when a small homeless man jumped up into my face and went boo! My reaction caused general merriment with the surrounding locals. Sue had an encounter of a different kind during the day, when she was in the Bolivar Plaza she was asked if she wanted some cocaine!  Sue is very partial to coke but not that variety!

Ever changing lights on a skyscraper (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Ever changing lights on a skyscraper (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Off to bed now, at 9:30pm.

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