Posts Tagged With: Tourist

Tuesday 4 July: Day 2 in London

Today was all about being a tourist, and seeing as much of London as possible in one day. First stop breakfast. For the first time I have not been concerned that I would not be able to find decent tea, as this is after all London. Unbelievable, endless teabags of every flavor known, apart from English Breakfast!! Luckily there was a twining tea called Every Day tea.

The buffet seemed a bit weird, no cereal or toast (or toaster) even though there were pots of marmalade and honey on the tables. I just assumed we had arrived after the rush, and had a croissant instead.

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Just before sunrise

After breakfast we got passes to the Original Tour Bus from the hotel, and headed to the stop to wait. Don’t ever get tickets for this bus – get tickets for the Big Bus, Golden Tours, or London Hop and Off – at least 3 each of these buses went past whilst we waited for the Original Bus to appear!

The bus was due at 10am, by 10:40 we were getting pretty frustrated, along with other people also waiting for this company, who like us were watching numerous other tour companies come and go in this time.

Finally the Original Bus arrived and off we went. We stayed on the bus for about and hour and half looking at the sights, and then we got off by Hyde Park and looked around the outside of Buckingham place and Westminster Abby.

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Buckingham Palace

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Westminster Big Ben

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Westminster Abbey

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Trafalgar Square

I got a photo of me in a red phone box with Big Ben in the distance, looked at the horses by 10 Downing Street, and at 10 Downing Street from the gate.

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Horse Guards

We saw theaters (Phantom of the Opera has been running non stop for thirty years), and London Taxis and double decker buses, and hordes of tourists. There are a number of places I wanted to go to but ran out of tourist enthusiasm, as well as time –  Platform 9 3/4, Harrods, to name but a couple).

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Victoria Tower Gardens

We got on a cruise to go up the Thames back to Tower Bridge, and got off at the Globe Theatre stop, and looked at it from the outside. After looking around this is also on the list for the next trip.

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Westminster. Parliament House under repair

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River cruise back downstream

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The London Eye

It was nearly 3pm and we had not had lunch so we went into a pub to try the pub pies. I had a Steak and Ale pie, which came with gravy, mushy peas and potato. The pie inside was nice, but the pastry was really tough. Shellbe said later this is usual for them, rather than it having been over cooked. Brett had a Beetroot and Camembert pie which was also pretty nice.

Then off to The Shard which has a viewing platform on the 68th floor, where you can get a pretty good view over London.

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View over the River Thames and the Tower Bridge from The Shard.

Then back to the hotel to get changed before going out for dinner. We had dinner with Shellbe, Brett’s nephew Ben who lives in London, and Brett’s stepson (also called Brett) who was in London for work.

We all met at Canary wharf at an Italian restaurant called Amerigo Vespucci. I had risotto with truffle and salad, it was really nice.  We went both ways on the metro, I am starting to get a bit more familiar with changing lines.

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Last night in London

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Editor’s note: The caption that came with this picture was “No miracles just don’t happen” . . . 

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Monday 3 July: Amsterdam to London

Today we had to get packed and get to the airport to fly to London. I was quite excited, never having been to London before. We flew KML airlines to Heathrow and managed to arrive with bags, bike boxes, etc without any issues.

We flew into terminal four and then caught the train to terminal three (flying out from there), where the bike boxes are being left until we fly home. So much easier than having to cart big boxes around, and gives a range of transport options that would otherwise not be available. Thank you Shellbe for sorting this out.

We then caught the tube with a couple changes into central London, with Shellbe as our metro guide. We are staying at the Tower Hotel and the room has an amazing view of the Tower Bridge.

Once we were checked in we went out and had a meal at a nearby pub, at St Catherine’s Dock.

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St Katherine’s Dock

I had the house specialty, which was fish and chips with a container of mushy peas, gravy and tartare sauce. I was not convinced about mushy peas, and dipping chips in gravy sounds weird but was quite nice.

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Lunch at St Katherine’s Dock

After dinner, it was time to walk Shellbe to the Tower Bridge tube, but will see her again tomorrow.

The view of the Tower Bridge is stunning, and I especially enjoyed how different it looked at the different times of the day.

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Sunset over Tower Bridge

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Sunset Tower Bridge

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Tower Bridge after dark from Tower Hotel

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Saturday 1 July: Day one in Amsterdam

We had breakfast at 9 am then Shellbe and I headed off to the Metro by the hotel. It was only a 7 minute walk. Once we got into Amsterdam we had to change to a train out to Oosterleek, near Hoorn. We were going to visit Christel and Margreet who were Shellbe’s host mums when she was here in 2006 on a AFS (student exchange programme). Hard to believe that that was 11 years ago.

Christel picked us from the station. They have moved since Shellbe was here, to an old farm house. The farm house has a thatched roof and we went up into the attic and had a look at a thatched roof from the inside. The thatching needs to be replaced approx every 40 years. I noticed their house, and a number of others, had mostly thatching but also some tiles. Once tiles became available the more tiles you had the wealthier you were. On the way to their house Christel drove past where they used to live.

Both Christel and Margreet work with disabled people. They have 3 cats, plus a part time cat who stays when its owners are away, and a delightful spoodle called Pip. Pip is only 8 months old and is full of puppy energy, and the cats watch him with annoyance from their safe perches around the house.

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Christel (left) and Margreet and me

It was great to meet Christel and Margreet. In 2006 we didn’t have Skype, Messenger or FaceTime, although thankfully we did have email. It must have been hard in the days of handwritten letters, and toll calls being reserved for emergencies or specially occasions. When you did call you had to deal with the delay on the phone line.

For lunch they had all the different food that Michelle had enjoyed when she was here. Stroopwafels, croquettes with meat inside, chocolate sprinkles, cheese and bread.

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Christel (left) and Margreet and Shellbe

After a lovely lunch and catching up on all the news on both sides, Christel took us for a tour and we saw Shellbe’s old school, swimming pool, and soccer club, plus we went to Hoorn which is a lovely small town with lots of old ships on the port. A number of the buildings have a slight lean and this is because they are built on silt. Thankfully no earthquake issues here.

We drove along a couple of dykes, and I was surprised how many canals there are running through every town.

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Working windmill drinking barley (Editor’s note: I don’t know where/when Kaye saw this windmill, so I’m going to put it here as she apparently took zero photos of Hoorn and I need to break up this wall of text)

There were a lot of touring cyclists – Christel says you can pick the tourists as they are the ones wearing helmets. In the Netherlands only young children up to 9 years, and serious road cyclists, tend to wear helmets. All children learn to ride a bike at a young age and at 9 they have an assessment, where they ride through a chosen route through the town and there are people at corners assessing them. Once they pass this test they no longer have to wear helmets.

While we were at Hoorn, a family rode past – all blonde and in height sequence. There were two parents and four children, and it reminded me of Matryoshka dolls, each one smaller than the other.

There was a market on in the town, so we had a look around the stalls then sat at the wharf and had a cold drink, then it was time to go back to the city. When we were walking back to the station Christel pointed out some green and yellow bikes, these are called the lottery bikes. There is a monthly draw with 400 bikes each draw, and apparently there is also a draw for lottery suitcases that are also yellow and green.

We caught the train back into Amsterdam and met up with Brett at the train station.

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Back into Amsterdam after visiting Shellbe’s exchange host family.

We then went on an hour and a half canal cruise, looking at many different buildings and bridges.

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Canal boat cruise

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Bridge, bridge, bridge over canal

There are bikes are everywhere. At the central train station is a 3 story parking building for bikes. It was pretty busy, as it was Saturday night.

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Amsterdam Central

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Amsterdam Central

We went to a Vietnamese place for dinner, I had a really nice chicken curry. After dinner we wandered around the city a bit more, called into another pub, and walked though a couple of streets in the red light district. I was amused to see a porn club advertising a hospital bar, and a black and white cat quite at home nonchalantly wandering through the throngs of people.

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In the red light district

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Red Light district

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Then it was back to the Metro and back to the hotel. We stayed talking in the bar for another hour.

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Canal Elandsgracht

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Canal boat cruise

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Day 14: Rest day in Innsbruck (16 June)

It was nice to wake up today and not have to pull on the Lycra and head off on the bike. The biggest challenge today was trying to work out amongst the many selections which was black tea.

My arm and wrist was very sore when I woke up this morning, but I think this is most likely because of all the braking, especially on the downhill yesterday.

After breakfast the first job was laundry, followed by the continuing hunt for conditioner. On the way to the laundry we went past a shop selling shampoo etc so stopped in there on the way back. Success! I now have conditioner called Pfledge -Spulung, moisturiser, more sunscreen, plasters and a new toothbrush 👍.

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Golden Roof

Back to the hotel for a couple of hours to catch up on emails, blog and the news, then we went for a wander around before lunch in the old town.

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Inns River and Old Town

There were a number of street performers, a lady all dressed in silver with her dog with a hat and a plaster on his paw. Real or not, it evoked sympathy and cash, followed by the Headless man and Charlie Chapman.

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The Silver Lady

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With the Headless Man and Charlie Chapman

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Where’s the Silver Lady gone?!

There were a number of stores selling souvenirs, but nothing of enough interest to try and fit in my bag for the next three weeks.

We had lunch at a restaurant called the Golden Adler.  I had fish fettuccine which was with a fish called Bio Char. It was nice, not creamy like the fettuccine I am used to though. Brett had braised leg of lamb with cremolata, garlic sauce, polenta and vegetables.  We had a bottle of red wine: Kaiser Josef Blauer Zweigeit classic 2015 winery Philip Grass from the lower Austria region. This is the most common red wine grape in Austria.

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Lunch at Golden Adler

While we were eating a nun with twins turned up and settled them both into high chairs. One of the twin boys was very friendly, and kept engaging me in smiling and chatting. The mum said they were 12 months old but were born 12 weeks early. One of the boys was smaller at birth and is still smaller, he was not as friendly but I did get him smiling a few times with peek a boo, hiding my face behind a serviette. I felt quite honoured when the mum asked if she could leave the friendly twin with me while she took the other one off to change him.

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Gran “baby sitting” while mum changes other twin.

At the back of the restaurant outside the hotel, there was a wall list of names going back to the 1494 Kaifeng Maximilian the first century, two of note: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1773 and Albert Chamus who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952.

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The wall

After lunch we wandered around for a bit more, and saw a pretty pink bike with flowers and a basket – I thought if my daughter Kelly rode a bike, I think it would look like this. Then it was back to the hotel for a nap and a couple of messenger calls with two of my children Kelly (blog editor) and Tracey.

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Found a bike for Kelly 🙂

We caught up with Janice (who had fallen off her bike yesterday) and she had been and had a CT scan, and thankfully nothing ominous was found.

We had dinner at a restaurant called Ottoburg. It was really nice being able to sit outside and eat without having to worry about the gusts of Wellington wind. I had a really nice rack of lamb for dinner.

Afterwards it was back to the hotel to pack, and get ready for tomorrow.

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Central Plazas

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Day 4: Rest day in Split

I slept off and on, there was a full-on party on the promenade most of the night. When this fizzled out the street cleaners took over.

My arm is pretty sore, it’s not too bad holding it straight, but as soon as I try to rotate it, ouch! Luckily this trip has a number of doctors: there are 3 ED doctors Kathy, John H, and Peter M, plus Tony the cardiologist. So when I went down to breakfast I pretty much picked the first doctor I saw, which was Peter M, and got a consult. Sure beats spending hours waiting around at medical clinics.

The consensus of Peter and John was there is no break at the wrist, and possibly a small crack in the radial head (which wouldn’t be plastered anyway) and badly sprained. Approx time to come right is about 10 days. Riding won’t make it any worse, and whether I can ride will depend how sore it is. Thankfully today is a rest day as I don’t think I would be able to ride with it today. Fingers crossed it is improved tomorrow.

Breakfast was an experience trying to do everything with my left hand. Amazing how difficult it is to use a spoon or butter toast with your non-dominant hand.

After breakfast Brett and I headed off to get the laundry, and then to a small supermarket. I have been trying to get some hair conditioner since I got to Bosnia but neither country appears to sell it. My hair is looking seriously messy! Back at the hotel I spent some time catching up with the blog (thankfully typing doesn’t require me to rotate my arm).

Then off to explore, we looked around for a while and then we went to a place called Chop for lunch. I chose the Angus Beef Burger and had major food envy as Brett chose Lamb chops and they looked amazing. Luckily Brett gave me one of the chops. Have a look at the photo, you will see what I mean. We had a very nice red Korlat Syrah.

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Next we went for a walk around in the old town, very interesting, lots of small alleys with the buildings very close together. Just about every alley had a few tables with sometimes the restaurants just inside, and sometimes a couple of streets away. You would see waiters weaving their way through the streets with food or empty plate.

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Old town

A huge underground shopping area, plus in the Diocletian’s palace in the vestibule were Dalmatian singers, stopping in between each song to hawk off their CD.

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The Vestibule at southern end of the Peristil

I bought some sandals with slip resistant soles (something I should have done before I left NZ). I also bought a couple of presents for the grand babies, a plug, and could not resist a quick visit into the lolly shop.

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Cathedral tower rising above the Peristil

After this we went back out onto the promenade and a pirate looking ship caught my eye. My granddaughter Lucy likes dressing up as a pirate, and pirate stories, so I decided to have a look at the ship and take a photo. When we got up to it we were asked if we wanted to go on an hour and half cruise. We asked when it was sailing and “Now” was the response, so we hopped on board.

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We headed out along the coast for about 35 minutes, it was really nice being in the sun and the breeze. Then they stopped and said anyone who wants to go swimming now is your chance. I had no togs (or swimmers as they are called in Aussie) but with the beating sun and inviting looking clear blue water, it was an easy choice: off with the sunnies, hat, and shoes, and over the side.

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It was amazing warm water, we spent about 15 minutes swimming. It was a bit of mission to get back in the boat, as I had to go up a ladder which started at the water line. This required hauling up my body weight, but not being able to use one arm. Thankfully Brett went up first and gave me a helpful pull.

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Heading back to the waterfront

Once we got back to shore we wandered around the old city some more. Whilst walking up on alley we noticed a sign “wine tasting”, so we stopped at Diocletian’s Wine House to try 3 Croatian wines.

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First was a white Kujundzusa, unfortunately I can’t make out the rest of the name on the photo. We tasted this with shrimp and feta
Second was a red Dingac Nikolica, we tasted this with prosciutto and cheese
Third was also a red, Bedalov Zinfandel. We tasted this with cheese and honey.

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This grape wine Zinfandel got a disease and was dying out in Croatia, there were only 25 vines left. Some of the wine makers took some of the surviving plants to other countries so the type of vine would have a chance to survive. 20 years ago the vine was bought successfully back from America and now this wine is made again Croatia.

While we were there, we asked about the sign that said they prepared traditional Dalmatian food. They prepare a dish called Peka, which is a famous Dalmatian dish prepared with meat or octopus and vegetables. The ingredients are placed in a covered pan and cooked in the embers of the fire. This type of cooking is often referred to as cripnja (under the bell) as the pans often have a bell shaped lid. As this is the only rest day in Croatia we booked in for this at 8pm.

We wandered around a bit more, then back to the hotel to tidy up and get ready for the next day.

At 8 pm on the dot we arrived back at Diocletian’s restaurant, ready for a new food experience. The Peka was good, it was very rich as the liquid content had reduced due to the long slow cooking. I thought it was just over onto the slight overdone side, but still enjoyed it. This was followed by a panna cotta with berries, also very nice but much thicker / denser than any panna cotta I have had before.

Then it was time to return to the hotel, another day riding tomorrow. Pretty noisy outside, but am pretty tired after last night so hopefully will sleep ok.

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Diocletian’s Palace

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Day 2 in Sarajevo, Bosnia

I woke up this morning feeling much better. After breakfast I spent some time sorting out my bags and catching up with the blog.

At 10am was a compulsory new riders meeting. A bit painful when you have done a number of rides already. Then it was bike checks to ensure all our bikes are in good working order. After that we had the rest of the day to ourselves.

I was interested in getting to understand a bit more of the history of Sarajevo, especially the siege that lasted from April 1992 to February 1996. Plus I wanted to go and see the tunnel. We booked a tour to go and see the tunnel, meeting in town at 2pm. While we were waiting we had a look around the old town and had some lunch.

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Sarajevo Old Town

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Sarajevo

Background info:
There are a number of complex reasons and background history to the war, but in summary the war started because the Serbs and the Croats living in Bosnia wanted to divide it amongst themselves. The Bosnian population is predominantly made up of Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims).
The overall death toll on all sides of the war was 10,000.
There were atrocities on all sides, including genocide and the Srebrenica massacre where 8,500 men and boys were slaughtered.

The siege of Sarajevo lasted 3 and half years, the city had no power, was running out of food, and no heating with winters that reach up to minus 20 degree C.

3 of the 4 hillsides were held by enemy forces . The 4th hill side could only be gotten to by across the airport, which was controlled by the UN. Crossing there the snipers would shoot at anyone they saw.

There were 10,000 people, killed 1,400 of them children, in the siege of Sarajevo. The snipers on the hillside would shoot anything that moved in the city, and on average 300 shells were fired at the city daily. Over 20 years later there are shell holes in numerous buildings, and many ruined buildings still waiting destruction or repair. The main route through the city was known as sniper alley.

Coming into Sarajevo, still plenty of evidence of the siege (Photo credit: Brett’s Facebook page)

A tunnel was built under the airport to the hillside. This tunnel was also referred to as the tunnel of hope. It was constructed from March to June 1993. The tunnel was dug 24 hours a day, in shifts of 8 hours each. 2,800 square meters of dirt had to be disposed of in such a way that it was not noticed by the Serbs up on the hillside.

The tunnel was referred to as the Trojan horse of Bosnia. It allowed food, guns and medical supplies to be bought in. Also a pipeline of oil and electricity. There were over a million trips. Each journey took two hours, and the height of the tunnel meant the majority of people could not stand up straight in it.

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Sarajevo Tunnel House

The tour guide gave the history of the siege and the tunnel. Most of the tunnel is now collapsed, but we got to go in a 20 metre section that still exists. I had to stoop, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in it for two hours, laden down with stuff.

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Inside the Sarajevo Tunnel

After the tour Brett and I stopped and had a cold beer, and we shared a Bosnian sandwich, which is bread with a selection of meat, cheese, and coleslaw. It was very nice.

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Sarajevo beer o clock

Back at the hotel I was feeling very tired, so had a nap for a couple of hours. Then we walked to a couple of restaurants, but we had not realised Ramadan had finished and it was the start of 3 days feasting, so they were all booked. Instead we stopped at a small supermarket and bought some stuff for a picnic back at the hotel.

After packing the bag, it was time for an early night. I am feeling a bit intimidated by the thought of riding 135km, with 2000 meters climbing, tomorrow.

Links from Kaye about the Seige:

https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Siege-of-Sarajevo
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarajevo_Tunnel

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First day in Sarajevo (rest day for riders)

Having gone to bed about 7pm I was wide awake about 4am. Earlier in the night I woke up as I had heard some singing/ chanting which I wasn’t sure what it was. Later at breakfast one of the riders said it was related to Ramadan, and it was called “singing to welcome the new moon”.

As there are no tea or coffee making facilities in the room I was downstairs at 7am, the moment the restaurant opened for breakfast, to get a cup of tea. I met four new riders from Sydney who were doing their first TDA ride and chatted to them for awhile. After an omelette and a few more cups of tea I headed back upstairs and fell asleep again.

I was woken by the phone just after midday to say Brett had arrived and was waiting down in reception.

We caught up on family news, Brett had a shower and then we headed out to have a look at the town. Unlike yesterday where the heat was stifling, today was not cold but not too hot either. We didn’t really do any site-seeing just milled around, and sat watching the crowds.

For dinner we went to a place called Apetit, which is rated number two for restaurants on TripAdvisor. It was only a five minute walk from the hotel, hence the decision to go there and not to the number one.

It was an interesting place, only seats 12 with no menu for food or wine. They cook and serve a selection of what they have got that day. It was a lovely evening, the staff were the chef and the wait person, who I think was also the owner.

We started with a salad and then had steak with vegetables and pepper sauce. Yum – no room left for dessert.

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Afterwards we had a wander around for a little while, stopped at an English pub complete with a red phone box and Laurel and Hardy outside. We went inside and had a drink. I had forgotten what it was like when people could smoke in pubs and restaurants yuk!

Back to the hotel as jet lag was catching up with me.

a phone box

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Day 11: Thursday 24 Nov – Porangahau to Eketahuna

133km today – 1850 meters climbing, 1540 k down

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Today’s ride

Another big day of riding, but thankfully it’s not as hot as yesterday. No shops to buy a snack or a drink until about 70km so I preloaded on water and made a sandwich.

The first 5 km was flat so I had some time to get the legs warmed up, then up a hill but thankfully not the one we rode down yesterday.

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Back over the river out of camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Some of the hills were pretty steep. As I was climbing up one of them I thought to my self that although I had made a sandwich, I didn’t remember actually packing it into my bike pack. I got to the top of the hill and got off my bike to check. Drat! I had left it behind, plus I ate my emergency snack the other day and have not yet replaced it! So I was now worried about how long it will take to get to 70 km and how much climbing there would be, as I am seriously worried about bonking (a riders term for completely running out of energy due to lack of food).

Then I thought”Yay the 2nd truck has not yet gone past, I may be able to get something off that”. Less than 2 minutes later the truck came past so I did a thumbs down which signals them to stop. Thumbs up means you’re ok and they go past. Luckily they had a few bananas so they gave me one.

Off I went, much more happy, and ate the banana about 10km.

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Obligatory tourist photo with the world’s longest place name

The day was nice and warm, not much wind, with a few climbs. There was one quite big descent and I could see a big climb looming, but then yay there was a flag and we took the road to the left. A really nice gradual downhill of about 10 km following a river bed.

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Some downhill ahead, yippee (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I stopped at 70 km at the shop and had an ice cream: pecan nut and caramel. It was a bit sweet but it tasted really good. Then I headed off again.

The day wore on and the legs were getting tired. The last couple of hills I got off and walked a bit.

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Coming down after another climb

We finally arrived in Eketahuna. Never did I imagine I would be thrilled to arrived in Eketahuna, but thrilled I was.

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Eketahuna, I love you.

We stopped at the Eketahuna Pub after 9 1/2 hours on the bike – that cold beer tasted really good. Then 2km to camp.

The camp was surprisingly busy with motor homes, and more arrived after we got there.
I got the tent up, had a shower, and then it was dinner time. Dinner was chicken casserole -the chicken was really tender and tasty, with white rice, salad and caramelised  pumpkin with feta sprinkled on top. Michele and Tony shared a bottle of Moana Park Merlot with us.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is not looking great: rain plus gale force winds. We are staying at a Top Ten so I rang and booked a cabin.

It took awhile to get to sleep, as unsurprisingly the other camp residents weren’t planning to go to bed at 7:30pm! But I was quite happy after a big day dozing in my sleeping bag, listening to music on the iPod.

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Eketahuna (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Day 2 -Tuesday 15 November

115 kilometres- climbing 110k, down 130k

Thankfully when I woke up the rain had not yet started, but by the time I had nearly packed up the tent it was starting to spit. Luckily we had a covered space for breakfast with tables and chairs for breakfast. Yanez the cook had made stacks of French toast and one of the Canadian riders had bought a tub of real maple syrup, plus cereal and yoghurt.

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After breakfast I put on my over shoes on, put on my rain jacket, and off we headed. I was riding with Michelle, Tony, and Brett. The first 44.5 kilometres of the day was flat with lots of left and right turns. Left was into the wind, and right it was behind you. When heading into the wind I kept thinking to myself “At least it’s not the 130 kilometre per hour wind and torrential rain that was happening in Wellington”.

We stopped at Paeroa for coffee, and then of course obligatory tourist stop by the big L&P bottle on the outskirts of town. For non-NZ blog readers, a factory in Paeroa used to make a drink called “Lemon & Paeroa” which was lemon with Paeroa spring water. Now it’s made by Coca Cola but is still a NZ favourite).

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Brett and me at the L&P bottle in Paeroa

Then we headed off up the Karangahake Gorge. There was not much of a shoulder to ride in, and at times there was no shoulder and lots  of traffic. A friendly driver gave us an earful as they went past. Sue got a flat on a nasty bend but managed to find a safe bit off road to change it. Brett and Tony stopped to help whilst Michelle and I continued on.  Thankfully at 58.4 k we turned right to Waitawheta and had a nice quiet country road until 70.1 k where we turned onto SH2.

We were on SH2 for most of the rest of the day. It started pouring down , there was not much of a shoulder, and what shoulder there was a lot of it was taken up with raised white lines, which are not pleasant to ride on.  The trucks were whizzing past and spraying water all over us. One tanker came way too close to me.

Lunch was at 73.7 k, where there was a tarpaulin to sit under plus a nice selection of sandwich fillings. Is this really a TDA ride?

As soon as we stopped riding, even though I had layers of clothes,  over boots, water proof gloves and rainproof jacket, I started to feel cold. I had lost my water proof skull cap a few weeks ago, so I solved the problem by putting a shower cap over my merino wool skull cap. Almost Enid Sharpels looking but of course it wasn’t quite a hair net. Once my head was warm I started feeling warmer.

Off we went again into the pouring rain, with busy traffic and big trucks. There were often reasonable shoulders but they would disappear and all of a sudden you would be on a narrow piece of road with a large vehicle in each direction.

About this time I started regretting my lack of training. I kept meaning to increase my training but sadly I didn’t. The most I have been getting done over the past couple of months is two rides a week, of about two hours and about 50 k each. These rides had hills but not enough.

At 107 kilometres I was coming up a hill and I thought “I am not going to be able to get up this hill” – my legs have just about stopped working. I gritted my teeth and locked my eyes onto the Challenge Petrol Station sign up the top of the hill where I had decided to stop, and I managed to get up there.  It’s amazing what a nice hot chocolate and a 10 minute rest will do. While I found the going tough for the rest of the day I didn’t have another “I can’t do this” moment.

At 118 kilometres SH2 becomes like a motorway going into Tauranga, then add rush hour traffic, and having to cross lanes  – crazy!

At 125 kilometres we had to go right at the third exit of the roundabout, but to get to it we could either go off the track onto a bike path across the road, or ride about 1 kilometre on a bridge with two lanes, no shoulder and heaps of traffic . Michelle kept on going onto the bridge, but after waiting about 5 min the rest of us managed to get across the two lanes of rush hour traffic to the bike lane.

The bike lane took us off to the side of where we needed to go but we managed to work our way back to where we needed to be but no Michelle. We waited for awhile and when we didn’t see her we figured she had gone ahead so we set off for camp. It was mostly down hill from there to camp. Whilst I was riding I was thinking “I hope we don’t have to come back this way tomorrow”.

At 130.5 kilometres we arrived thankfully at camp. I was very pleased I had rung before and booked a cabin. Shared with Tony, Michelle and Brett. It was a nice camp with a laundry with washing machine and dryers, so was able to get our soaking wet bike gear dry.

There was also a covered space with tables and chairs, plus of course the lovely hot pools. But no Michelle at camp. We were reassured however that she had a cellphone plus also any local would give her directions so we headed off to the hot pools.  It turned out there were workmen at the roundabout and they had removed the orange flagging, so a few riders got lost. Michelle arrived in camp having done an extra 6 kilometres but one rider did an extra 20 kilometres – so a total of 150 kilometres!

Welcome Bay Hot Springs are very close to Te Puke where my dad lived with my step mother Lynne. Dad sadly died 6 years ago but Lynne still lives in Te Puke, so she came to visit at the camp to visit.

I had got two small holes in my gloves and had forgotten to bring needle and thread, so I text Lynne and asked her to bring this with her. Lynne not only bought the needle and thread but sewed the gloves up as well. Unlike me, who spends about 10 minutes trying to thread a needle with glasses, Lynne just does it straight away and doesn’t even wear glasses! Pretty good vision for a pensioner.

I had arranged for Lynne to stay  with us for dinner. We had a very nice beef stew with potatoes and a salad with kale, tomato, feta and olives, yum. Plus Lynne had bought two bottles of red wine which went down well with the group. It was good to catch up with Lynne, and she enjoyed meeting people she had read about in my blog, especially Sue and Walli.

A few of the riders had approached Emily, the tour leader, about how uncomfortable they were with the SH traffic and lack of shoulders. We discussed alternative routes and luckily Lynne was there to give local knowledge of the alternative roads.

At 8pm I was suddenly very tired, so Lynne set off home and I crashed into bed.

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

November 13th – Tourist in Auckland

Today I woke up quite early and headed off to have breakfast, then back at 10am for the riders meeting. It was great to see Sue, Wali, Michelle, Tony, Chris and Linda again, plus meet the other riders whose names I will get to know.

tda.png

I am not sure that I have trained enough and am feeling fat, so the prospect of continuous days riding in NZ is a bit daunting. Also it looks like the weather may not be great. On the plus side for the first five nights we have hot pools each night, and there are only three riding days till the first rest day.

Our first three days of riding

Our first three days of riding

Tomorrow we have the joys of navigating our way out of Auckland to look forward to, with turns every kilometre or less. At least the traffic will mostly be coming into Auckland not going out.

The whiteboard instructions for leaving Auckland

The whiteboard instructions for leaving Auckland

Tomorrow we are staying in Miranda at the hot springs and we go past a fresh oyster shop (yum) on the way.

I went to a really nice restaurant called The Depot for lunch with Brett, Michelle and Tony, and we shared a range of small plates. The food was really good. So good that when we met up as a group for dinner and Sue really wanted to go to The Depot we happily went again.

Lunch with Michelle and Tony and Brett at The Depot

Lunch with Michelle and Tony and Brett at The Depot

This afternoon we went up the Sky Tower and watched a brave – or crazy! – young guy do the SkyJump! You free fall until just about at the end – 192 metres! Not for me.

Sky City Tower

The Sky City Tower at 328 metres tall it is the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and 25th tallest tower in the world.

View from Sky Tower - Auckland withRangitoto Island in the background

View from Sky Tower – Auckland with Rangitoto Island in the background

Now I am sorting out my bags, trying to work out what I can do without until the rest day – not much and I am trying to make sure I can still fit my pillow in. Then it will be an early night as we have a 6am start to get up and out of here.

Categories: Cycling trip, Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments