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Dr. Terrell Neuage

Interested in what comes next and not what was. Sole survivor from another place at another time with different outlooks on ‘the way it is' as I am mashing it together as a movie for my next lifetime to view this one so I can do it differently - hopefully on another planet or at least in another realm.
Dr. Terrell Neuage has written 128 posts for I said WHAT?????

Jaisalmer

01 – 04 February 2018 Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

We left Jaipur at midnight to Jaisalmer taking a 2nd class sleeper. First class was filled when we booked three months earlier. Narda took the upper bunk and seemed to sleep more than me. A woman in the bunk across from me snored louder than anyone I have ever heard before keeping me awake for most of the night. Somewhere in the night she was replaced by two women covered head to toe in black with no face showing sitting on the bunk opposite and looking at me. That kept me awake most of the rest of the night. We got to Jaisalmer around noon and took a tuk tuk to Hotel Helsinki.

Jaisalmer is a former medieval trading center in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, in the heart of the Thar Desert. Dominating the skyline is Jaisalmer Fort, a sprawling hilltop citadel buttressed by 99 bastions. Behind its massive walls stand the ornate Maharaja’s Palace and intricately carved Jain temples.

Helsinki House (http://www.helsinkihouse.in/) is built as a Haveli, (rooms surround a central courtyard) and for a budget hotel is very comfortable, meaning the beds were soft, the shower had hot water, and the room was large.  View below is walking outside our room into the centre of the haveli.They advertise as being at the edge of the Gadisar Lake, however, we found the lake a bit of a trek away. This is because of a long-term drought. The photo of the walled city is at the top of this blog, from their rooftop. We ate most of our meals here and they were affordable and tasty. Affordable meaning a complete feed for two with drinks (not beer) for about 600 rupees which is about $9 USD. Breakfast was included. The people running it are really helpful, friendly and with the line ‘this is your home we are just here to make it good’, and they did. The one who built it lives in Melbourne now and his brother is running the place. Getting there is not worth the ride, walk those last few blocks. The single lane road is so rough that body parts begin to fall off by the time one gets to the hotel.

In one ride Narda held onto the driver’s child as we roared around the old city streets:Our first trek was to the fort which is viewable from our hotel. It looks like a gigantic sandcastle. It is one of the few ‘living forts’ in the world, if not the only one; filled with temples, shops, and thousands of people living within the walls.  Built in 1156 AD, the streets and houses are a journey into the past with the present everywhere (people with cell phones and free WIFI throughout the city and satellite television dishes sticking out of five-hundred-year-old homes). See our slideshow for a bunch of groovy pics showing this wonderful place at

On our second day we hired a tour guide. Going into the walled city there are dozens of men offering their services as guides. We were hounded by them yesterday and today when someone said for two-hundred rupees ($3 USD) they would spend a few hours showing us around and explaining stuff. I recorded some of what he said (see clip above) though at the end of the day the only thing I remember was him telling us how the fort was not attacked because the enemy’s elephants and camels could not make it up the steep stone climb into the city; the fort-folks “poured oil over the long ascending road” – what a good idea. The image of elephants, camels, and horses sliding down the mountain on oil stayed with me for days. I think I even had a dream about it. Very Freudian.We did a tour of temples in the walled city, such as the main Jain Temple with such incredible carvings, Paraswanath Temple, built in the 1100s. Narda bought some clothing, pants I think, I got a fridge magnet and toilet paper. For anyone who has never travelled to Asia before (any country) carry toilet paper with you as they never provide it. There are those water spray thingies like they have in Europe, details not included, but still toilet paper for those of you like me is a necessity. We bought hats for the high tourist price of 150 rupees each (almost $2) for our camel ride. In this city of narrow winding roads cows, tuk tuks, people, goats, pigs, dogs, and cats vie for navigational prominence. Here is a short clip of our tour of the fort etc.

Jaisalmer is a very hustling town. At every step someone or their child is trying to sell something or ask for money. I was hoping this dude would give me some groovy mantra or tell me I had the most magnificent aura ever but instead he put his hand out for money then was disappointed with the amount we gave. Even the animals, as in every city, go for handouts, with cows nuzzling up to you if food is in your hand, the same with goats, dogs, and some places monkeys.

Camels I freaked out about the idea of riding camels in the hot blazing sun. It was not the ride, but the sun that scared me. Terrell REALLY had his heart set on it. He is usually very laid back about everything (with the exception of all things computer related), but the camels had captured his imagination. So here we were. I bought a white scarf and a hat to hold it in place, Arabian style.

Our camels were one-humped boys, called dromedaries. They have nice big eyes, and lovely long lashes. My camel, named Rocket (a little alarming) stood over 7’ at the top of the hump, putting my head 9 to 10 feet up! They also have soft mushy feet divided into 2 toes. The feet splay out to the size of a large dinner place I recon, protecting them from sinking sand. They walk with a gentle roll, like being on the ocean. It was surprisingly pleasant. Mind you, getting on and off…you have to lean forwards, then lean right back. All good.

We got picked up at the hotel. The driver stopped at a few villages on the way, the first one was full of kids, the second one was ruins from 350 years ago, abandoned because of a mixed marriage. A boy falls in love with a girl from the wrong caste, and all hell breaks loose. That’s the short version.

Actually, speaking of caste, the system is still alive and well in India. Our tuk tuk driver Shambu, a lovely guy, told us about his upcoming arranged (by his brother) marriage. She was from the shoe-maker caste, as he was, and so he told us that this makes life so much easier, especially when there are children. They would meet at MacDonalds to get to know each other better. He just completed building his one roomed house, and now he is ready to receive his bride. Bless them!!

I am surprised everyday in India. It is such a fascinating country. And the food……don’t get me started…..is fabulous; you don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant. The dodgiest looking little places serve the most wonderful food. Though last night I nearly had to call the fire brigade when I bit into a serve of Momos..HOT dumplings. The waiter came rushing to me with a spoon full of sugar…bless him…it helped. Back to the camels. We rode for some 2 hours, then sat in the sand and waited while the camel guys cooked us a meal over a fire. From scratch, kneading the dough; the whole thing! The ride home in the 4Wheel drive was the scariest thing. He had to ‘gun it’ to get past the sandy area, otherwise we kept getting bogged. That was definitely a ‘white knuckle’ ride. I recommend camel riding; another surprise.

Our video, not to be missed, of camels’ adventures with us

I loved the camel ride and could have gone for longer. Narda’s camel seemed friendlier, I know this because mine spit at me when Itried to pet him, and Narda’s didn’t. While our guide(s) cooked, our rides were tied to bags of something to keep them from wandering off; not sure how many or who belonged to us but there were at least five blocks around the campfire cooking, frying, laughing, a couple holding hands. We were told that the camels had to be tied up as they were males and females were in a wanting mood, and if let loose, our camels ‘would go off and party and not return for days’. The idea of camels humping one another (get the humping joke?) whilst we sat in our meditative moods on their humps did not seem so picturesque. Until sunset we sat on our own little sand dune with no one else in sight. After dark we wandered toward the fire and got our meal which was very good, though, as one would expect, there was some sand in it. Most people we met at our hotel did this for days. Narda’s son, Brendan and a gal, did an overnighter but we were not quite up to it and got back about ten pm.

Below some happy city residents of Jaisalmer that Narda caught smiling at us. We have four sources of photos: our Nikon with wide angle, regular and zoom lenses, Narda’s Samsung phone, and tablet, and my iPhone. From our room we would watch incredible sunrises every morning – see the clip below…

For a great way to end the day there is always tea at the Tibet Café inside the walls. Then we took an overnight, eighteen-hour, train to Jodhpur, the incredible Blue City, in an AC1 carriage – we had our own room. That will be the post next.

I also do this blog at our India site which is located at http://neuage.org/india and is often more up to date than this as we are too busy exploring where we are or reading. Currently Narda is reading, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” and I am reading “Homo Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow” both by Yuval Noah Harari. I have already read the book Narda is reading. We love these books and recommend them to everyone. Any time left, which is little I post my photo textual work at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB

I post my daily thoughts at http://neuage.org/2018/

My HomePage is http://neuage.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaipur

Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan
25 January, Thursday

 Narda slept most of the way from Agra to Jaipur. We had first class sleepers which were comfortable. I sat up the whole way (six hours) and played with some Photoshop stuff.

We got to Jaipur after eleven pm and took the first tuk tuk driver we spoke with. For 100 rupees he got us to our hotel and along the way he told us that he had fallen on hard times and he would give us a tour for the day for 500 rupees (less than $8 USD). He did not have a card or website (very few do) but he gave us his brother’s phone number if we were so inclined. I did write it down, but we never got in touch again. The reason being that every time we walked out of our hotel, restaurant, shop, there would be dozens of tuk tuk drivers offering their services. When we said we were just going for a walk people would walk alongside us offering tours, guides, rides, marijuana, hash, even opium, along with carpets, and textiles to view and purchase.

The Anaraag Villa (http://www.anuraagvilla.com/) was quite a change from our place in Agra. Both were around $20 USD but this place was heaps better with a garden that filled with peacocks in the morning and evening (I counted twelve once). And the food was excellent for the whole week.

We spent most days wandering around our neighbourhood, a couple of times we took a random bus ride into town and one day we had a tuk tuk drive us around.

The famous places are the forts, which we went past but not inside, and the Pink City. I bought a new suitcase as the wheel fell off the one I have used for the past couple of years, Narda got dresses and scarves and generally we just chilled.

We walked for a couple of hours in the Pink City (the paint was produced from a calcium oxide compound), where, once, long ago, everything was pink, though now it is all a bit of a mildewed brown. At a restaurant we met a couple of fellas from Albany, New York, which is where I am from, I grew up twenty miles away in Clifton Park, New York, though I left there in 1965. Narda and I taught in Albany, New York 2002 – 2007 so I did have another run at that town. We saw them again several days later in Jaisalmer and had a chatty evening with them. We are on one of the tourist treks between cities that people go to one after another, but it is still interesting to see people from one’s obscure hometown.

Below is the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds) which is really just a front – there is no building in back. The Mahal was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. Word on the street is that the Mahal was constructed to enable the Royal women of Rajput family to view the happenings in the city.

Below is the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds) which is really just a front – there is no building in back.
Jaipur Pink City

Amer Fort...

Amer Fort…

Getting around Jaipur tuk tuks

Amer Fort…It was constructed by Raja Mansingh in the year 1592.The red sandstone and marble stone construction reflect a blend of Hindu-Muslim architecture. We didn’t go inside but we got a lot of photos of the outside.The Anaraag Villa has been a real treat. The building is beautiful, 3 stories with lovely wall and ceiling frescos and marble floors. In the back a shady garden, peacocks grazing and tables and chairs where you can eat and relax. Only issue is the flute player who comes during breakfast times, playing his wooden flute to a mechanical drone. It was truly horrible. He played scales over and over again, never changing key. ….for 1 ½ hours. It drove me crazy. I actually asked for him to stop while we had our breakfast and to the credit of the staff here, they accommodated Miss Grumpy!

Jaipur has been nice. The air is much cleaner, the weather fantastic. We have slept well and done some explorations of the Pink city, a section of town with craftsmen and even visited a guru, who told us a whole lot of crap.

Yesterday we decided to go real local and took the bus across town to the World Trade Park. Enjoyed a movie “The Post”…loved it. Took our first Uber home. A nice easy ride.

World Trade Park is an amazing modern plaza for this part of the world. We have not seen anything like this yet. We saw a movie here and ate in there tripped out dinning area. The Uber ride we took cost 200 rupees ($3 USD) for a 45 minute drive.
Elephants take cargo and tourists up the mountain. Elephants take cargo and tourists up the mountain. We went up with a tuk tuk. The driver asked for 200 rupees for three hours of showing us around, we gave him 300 ($4.50 USD). We went to the various carpet shops, dress and scarf shops and worse of all an idiot guru. Our tuk tuk driver told us how he had been ill for years – some stomach thing – and he went to this famous guru who reads auras and the dude sold him some gem and then he was well. The ‘guru’ had a jewellery shop and we were parked in front of a glass case filled with silver and ‘amulets’ and the good ‘guru’ said a lot of stupid things to both of us and we left. (For example, he said I had dementia in my aura – which I ‘decided myself’ to quickly forget; of course, if I purchased some stone – it would help). We were extra upset to discover our poor tuk tuk driver who told us he had a crippled daughter plus two other children at home, his wife had died, and his elderly mother was home looking after the children. This ‘guru’ who had read his aura had sold him an amulet for 3000 rupees to heal him. The tuk tuk driver is lucky to get a couple of hundred rupees in a day. India is filled with sad stories. Everyone we meet has a list of dead people, troubled home situations and just difficult lives. People plead with us to show us things; to hire them for a couple of hours. There are so many more tuk tuk drivers than passengers. We hear stories of drivers getting no passengers for days. This is their livelihood. Then so called ‘gurus’ hustle illiterate people for all they can get from them.

Situated in the middle of Mansagar Lake is the groovy Jal Mahal. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the 18th century, as a hunting lodge and summer retreat. Not visible is the high level of pollution in the lake with lots of rubbish – I enhanced the colours a bit on my photo to give more blue and less grey and less yuck in the lake.In the evening, as we do at home (wherever that may be at any given time) we watch TV series. We have yet to figure out how to watch television, though we have tried in several cities, so we watch our Netflix series on our laptop. Currently we are finishing up the “The Good Fight” season one; which is an extension of “The Good Wife” that we loved except for the series ending, which sucked.

Narda was back to her Delhi Belly ways so we went to the local chemist and got a repeat of the pills we paid about $35 a piece for in Australia for $1.50 USD for a pack of ten. We didn’t need a script, like going to the chemist in China, if you know the name of the drug, they will sell it, no questions asked.

even with Delhi Belly shopping is good

even with Delhi Belly shopping is good

And there is always someone to ask for directions, even if everyone points a different direction.

I also do this blog at our India site which is located at http://neuage.org/india and is often more up to date than this as we are too busy exploring where we are or reading. Currently Narda is reading, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” and I am reading “Homo Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow” both by Yuval Noah Harari. I have already read the book Narda is reading. We love these books and recommend them to everyone. Any time left, which is little I post my photo textual work at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB

I post my daily thoughts at http://neuage.org/2018/

 

 

 

India2018: Agra

Travels through India with Terrell Neuage and Narda Biemond. India 2018 itinerary   Previous blog: Delhi

Wednesday 24/01/2018 Agra

We were up at five am after not sleeping well all night from waking up constantly to be sure we were awake at five am. We had our phone alarms on (my wake-up ring tone is a Dylan song ‘She belongs to me’ and Narda is enough to drown out a freight train) plus the hotel was to bang on our door but we were up before then. Still we worry.

We got a tuk tuk to the train station that even at 6:30 am was crowded with zillions of people all over.

We had a nice chat with a couple of police people while we waited. They helped us get on to the correct carriage, which in our case was first class seats for the two plus hours. See  below.

The train seats were comfortable – not Amtrak comfortable but Indian good. Our first train on this three-month trip. We got breakfast served (cornflakes, milk, coffee, and a hot meal of eggs and something which we declined as we had breakfast at the train station. An uneventful couple of hours with some reading done. Shambhu, our tuk tuk driver for the next three days greeted us with our names on a sign and we settled into Hotel Sheela near the Taj Mahal and after eating at the hotel we slept. The hotel is quite basic, we had booked the basic room for $23 USD for two nights, but apparently it was too basic for us uptown folks (no hot showers, and small) so for $53 USD we got a hot shower and a larger room for two nights. We thought the beds in India were going to be too hard, so we brought a couple of blow-up mattress and a pump which puts our luggage over weight for internal flights. The beds so far are good, thick foam, after two stays we gave them away to Shambhu.

With Delhi we were tossing out blogs a day, videos, photos galore, now we are too busy to do any such thing. Or we were, I am writing this on the night train to Jaipur, with Narda, and everyone else in our carriage asleep. When we get there I will be stuffed, but then I should sleep, Narda will be reading her Kindle for the rest of the night. The last couple of days have tested every fibre of this seventy-year old and I am sure Narda-the-younger feels exhausted also. Of course, she has been asleep for the past three hours on the berth above me. And this morning I woke her at eight am, so we could get out the door; such is the life of an old person.

We did the Taj Mahal thing Wednesday morning, a very foggy morning – barely saw it. An hour later when sun decided to shine and chase away the fog we got a couple of photos. It is somewhat impressive, the fact that it has lasted so long is a testament to something.

I have always liked cows, from living on a dairy farm in Australia to not eating them since my parents may have slipped something onto my plate in the early 1950s and throughout the early 1960s that may have had cow chunks in it, cows have been an interesting topic of observation for me. My email image of the past ten years has been with me walking alongside a cow in Goa.  In Delhi, Agra, and now Jaipur I have had many photo ops with cows. So many in fact that Narda has put me on a cow-band. I will include a couple here just to remind myself of these days.

We met our tuk tuk driver in the afternoon and went to a carpet weaving place.

Shambhu was recommended to us by Narda’s work colleague, Brother Rob. He has been using his services and those of his family for a period of about 30 years as he made frequent trips back to India. This family of tuk tuk drivers has become very special to Rob, and he has many great stories to tell.

We visited Shambhu’s village. One of our favourite visits, ‘the real India’ he said. The video below is a bit blurry, something I blame on very poor internet for uploading but it does give an idea of this village. Shambhu is getting married in a month and he explained the process to us. His brother arranged a girl from the same class; in his case the ‘shoemaker class’. They meet at McDonalds. He asked if she like him and with an affirmative she asked if he like her, and thus began their romance. They met one-another’s families and when we met Shambhu he was in the process of building his new home; an add-on room to his brother’s home. There will be no floors, outside of what the earth provides, he has the bricks and has started digging out the sandy soil for a foundation. They have a well for water for their area, provided by Brother Robert, who brings students from his school in Australia. It will cost some 50,000 rupees to build his new home; about $776 USD. Shambhu is working hard with this tuk tuk business to raise the money. If he can not build his house in the next two months he will lose his bride as her father wants her provided for. She is 19, he is 25. He is also raising funds for the marriage. I forget how much it is but it is supposed to be a three day affair with a horse and bands and lots of celebration. Travel gives us such a different view of life-styles. Narda and I met on the internet, from the day we physically met at the end of 2000 until now we have rarely been apart. My marriage proposal was one night when, in the middle of the night, not even knowing whether Narda was awake or not, I said, ‘let’s do this thing’. That was it. I could not even use the word marriage for a long time. We did the deed with family present at the end of a pier, and I called it ‘JettyDay’. At the time I didn’t have a car, I was a single-parent, a few bucks in my pocket, and I didn’t even give her a ring. What a contrast to an Indian hitch.

The class thing takes awhile to get one’s mind around, but we have heard people mention it wherever we go. People will tell us on first meeting, ‘I am of the Brahmin Class’ which I believe is a priest class and they feel they are at the top of the heap. It seems strange to identify with birth as the totality of one’s place in life. Of course, it is easy for me as a white male from a western culture (with my duel citizenship of USA and Australia) to say one can achieve whatever they wish. I sure have. I realise I need to get over myself and understand how society has limited people by race, gender, place of birth, belief systems. I always thought by now, 2018, the world would be more homogenous. Maybe religion would be replaced by doctrines of love without doctrines. We would treat each other equally. I think it is getting worse. America First as well as anyone else who proclaims themselves first is putting us back into the class systems. Everyone is to get in the back of the line. I must be careful when I think a tuk tuk driver is over-charging me 150 instead of 100 rupees ($2.33 instead of $1.55 USD). A cup of coffee in most shops in Australia is about $4 (204 rupees), a beer in a pub starts at $8 (408 rupees). Our daily budget for food in India is $20 USD (sorry about switching between USD and Australian Dollar) for the two of us which is about one meal if we are doing it on the cheap in Australia. We feel good about ourselves giving a beggar a twenty rupee note until we realise we just gave away 30-cents. India is tough on a western consciousness.

Narda even played a bit of cricket with the children.

Shambhu and his sisters made us a meal. We were concerned about getting to the train on time. He kept saying we would be there on time, and he did do it. Was I feeling uneasy being waited and eating a meal surrounded by about twenty children. I said feed them first and we were told there was plenty for them. What I saw didn’t seem like it. The meal was cooked in their kitchen, a small open fire on the ground with a few vegetables. Letting go is such a difficult thing. Perhaps this is what I will learn in three months of being in India.

We were told that the school situation was good for people with money, they could send their children to a private school. Public school was a different story. Teachers are paid a salary. They do not show up, except a couple of times a year when there is an inspection. When we were there on what should have been a school day, children were all over the place. We went up to the roof and 360 degrees around us there were children on the rooftops waving to us. We did not share a language but they were smiling and we all laughed together. Narda taught them a song – see the clip below.

Village visit =

Shambhu took us to the local market with everyone smiling and saying it was OK for me to take their photo. We didn’t buy anything, no one seemed to worry. Around historic sites it is a different story with so many people asking for money, selling tours, trinkets, pity. What would I do in their situation? I have had my hardships, tragedies, failures, and success in life but nothing compares to the stories we get and the situations we see. I feel I get beggar fatigue. But I feel somewhat good about animal life in India. I am sure I will go on about this too many times. Unlike cultures of animal-eaters (goody-two-shoes vegetarian for decades me gets a bit judgemental in this space) the animals in India receive more respect. Cows are holy. They wander everywhere. Nutritionally their life is crap as they forge for themselves among the garbage, but they get to live their lives, hangout with each other. The calf is not separated from the mother at birth so we can steal the milk, pigs and chickens are not forced to live in such totally unnatural conditions where they can barely move, let alone socialize, so we can slaughter them to get fat on.

We had no intentions on purchasing a carpet – what would we do with an expensive new rug in our home that we are trying to get rid of stuff from? We watched how rugs were handwoven, months of works, and such an array of amazing colours. Then we thought of our home back in Adelaide. A bit dated, needing new style, something different than our Chinese collections of things dotted around, then we remembered how we have no second thought of replacing a camera or computer for a thousand dollars every few years; phones, television, constant car/caravan servicing, etc. A handwoven carpet should last for a long time. We were told it also would help several families.

This is the carpet we bought. We will now need to redecorate our lounge; oh wait, the house, the next day we bought three more: two for our bedroom and one for the hall. We need new curtains, we will paint the lounge when we get home, maybe even some new furniture. It is amazing what one can do a month after saying no more spending on the house.

the two for our bedroom: handwoven months of work,

And the one for our lounge;

And the one for our hallway (in the middle)

We were told this took five months and three-months of work to make. That is about how much we had to work to make the money to pay for it (not really – but they were not Walmart rugs.

Carpet – here is a video we took of them making a carpet:

We went to a music store where we were given a sitar concert and Narda was taught how to play a sitar in a few lessons. Of course, they wanted us to buy one but we didn’t.

We went to a marble shop and saw how marble pieces were inserted into tables and things. Tuk tuk drivers get a small commission for taking tourists to places like this. There is no pressure to buy anything; we did go nuts at the carpet place, but other places we just look and make it clear for the start we are not buying. They are happy to show their wares and the tuk tuk driver gets something and we learn from everyone we meet and there is always my ever-present camera taking photos or video. I made a rather uninteresting video which can be seen here Marble factory

Agra Fort video

Agra Fort is in the city of Agra. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty till 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. Compared to the Red Fort in Delhi it is much more spectualar. The fort in Delhi was going through a reconstruction cycle but even without that the Agra one is bigger and better. It was India Tourism Day so we got to have our photo taken with some foreigners. Narda got them all to do a round of “Aussie Aussie Aussie” and them to say “oi oi oi”. I did not get my camera up in time to record it so just imagine it.

Video Clips are HERE

India2018

Travels through India with Terrell Neuage and Narda Biemond. Return to India 2018

For daily notes and photos and clips see http://www.neuage.org/India/ and follow the link to UPDATED…
Video Clips are HERE

Thursday 18, January 2018 Friday morning 10 AM India time Delhi

Narda writes in italics Terrell not

I’m writing waiting for brekkie at the Diamond Restaurant. It’s “roll out of bed and there you are” …..almost. Yesterday we went for a ride on the wild side. Bought a 3 day tourist card for the metro. The Delhi metro is really modern, fast and efficient. Women get offered seats, they line up separately for the extensive (just like the airport) security check. And the line is much much shorter. Less women travelling…it looks like it in the metro. There is even a special area on the platform marked  “Women only”.

Our first stop was Connaught  Place, a large roundabout with high end restaurants, shops and hotels. We bought a high end coffee were a little unimpressed and then tried to find the Red Fort by metro. We were unsuccessful and walked for quite a while through some pretty dodgy areas. There was a bunch of public hospitals in this area. Then we decided to do some random rides and got off at a station north of Vishwadidyalaya 😏😀. There the housing was quite different, three story buildings surrounding a park. A nice place to live and quite a contrast.

Think we slept about five, maybe six hours last night. ‘We’ll come and take a nap’, we promised ourselves when we began to rattle around our room at six am. It is now seven pm and naps never came our way today, nevertheless, we felt good and spent the day getting lost and enjoying it all. At our new found great breakfast place we spent a couple of hours on our computers/smart devices while sipping chia and eating a wonderful breakfast; eight am until past ten. Much more pleasant than our room to write and to connect with the great world out there; not that the twenty-five million (give or take a couple of dozen) people in our immediate vicinity are not enough to connect with; we do connect with them though in a bumping into a crowded type of way. Back in our room we managed to fiddle and fart around for a couple of hours with several serious attempts at trying to get out the door. Perhaps we are just old, maybe too thingy about what we want to wear (after all we have about two changes of clothes as we packed very little, other than all that we thought we would need: mosquito net, blowup mattresses because we thought the beds would be too hard (not so, so far), mesh to lock around our bags on trains, camera gear, one fifteen inch computer – must get that size and weight down, extra shoes, books, some stuff to give away, and not much to wear. Of course, that opens the door, if not the overfilled full of crap we may never use suitcases, for Narda’s new Indian clothing. Not to worry, finally out the door, tried to follow our GPS but ended up taking a tuk tuk to Connaught Place, not sure why, I think someone recommended it to us. Ended up in a rather longish conversation about Muslims with a Muslim man, the second in two days. Both from Kashmir and both with houseboats to rent. I think we may go there for a week and stay on a houseboat at the end of our trip in mid-April.

Love the fact that India the main choice is vegetarian and that meat eaters are like smokers or Trump supporters...

Love the fact that India the main choice is vegetarian

Had coffee at some alleged trendy Starbucks-like place, not a nice place, people too precious, all thinking they were trendy, we much prefer our area, which is just happy people getting through their life. We bought a three-day visitor metro pass for about eight bucks and rode around. One place we got off there was lots of college students protesting with signs and banners and surrounded by police with their guns. We finally found a sign in English, seems there were protesting about wanting another bus to come to their schools.

I think there were more police than students. After all, kids wanting another bus can get quite unruly.

We got back on the train not out of fear of police and college students but because there was a long line waiting to get onto the metro. They have airport security things to go through here (they have it our hotel too) and I show my special card as I unbutton my shirt, to show my defibrillator /pace maker, then I get to go around and get checked individually. Hey, I have been lifting weights and going to they gym for many years, maybe a bit of a vain Leo, but at 70 I can show off a bit.

That’s it. On and off at a few more shops; a great lunch; absolutely love Indian food. We try different things each time. we are looking at taking a cooking class later this week; so come to our home when we get back and we will cook great stuff for you too.

The Cow Thing

Narda, the wise, asked an intriguing question yesterday which got me to thinking about it sometime around two am when the world around us was asleep.

If I had to be a cow, would I rather be a cow in Australia living with clean air and green grass and roaming about a groovy open paddock or a cow in Delhi with the air not so good and playing bumper tag with the traffic and eating garbage?

After deep reflection using these thoughts I think I sided with the cows of India. Here is why;

The cows of Australia with their clean air, water, wide open terrain get to produce their grass-fed butter and lots of milk for humans but at what cost? Life is short and swift for an Australian cow. Luxury living, then it is off to the slaughter house for wayward cows to feed the meat eaters who enjoy chunks of karma in their stew. A cow lives only a couple of years – a cow giving birth has it worse with their calf being taken away soon after birth, so we can have their milk.

Cows in India have freedom. They may push a rider off her motor scooter and tourists get stepped on, but they do what they wish. I have seen cows in the middle of a busy street contently looking about for quite sometime as everyone finds a way past them. I have seen cows laying in the middle of the road having a bit of a rest with no one stressed. Can you imagine that in NYC? Some irate driver would shoot the cow in a road-rage moment.

There seems to be a lot of food around the place and once they find their way through Delhi perhaps they will make it to the Ganges for a bit of a bath later in life. I am sure some enlightened person would tell us how Australian cows are reincarnated souls who had worked hard in past lives but had done something not too correct, so they get luxury then death whereas Indian cows are reincarnated souls working off stuff. As I am not believing in reincarnation at the current time I don’t really have an opinion. Below is an enlightened cow giving me a bit of an eye.

Friday 19/01/18 11 AM

our video for the chai maker https://youtu.be/OOX-W7nfU1Q

Starting to figure this place out. The metro is a big bonus and on our 5th day we found a stop much closer.

Our area seems to be a neighbourhood of Kashmeri Muslims. At have met 4 in a short space of time, in completely separate incidents, all have a houseboat on the lake in Kashmir which we may rent (we will be taken care of by their family). 

It’s so interesting to hear a different take on everything, from moderate Muslims, which they all are, to the conflict over the border with India, which in their view is India being inflexible. 

So off we go to Kashmir in April, in search of truth , beauty, and a cooler climate.

And Lahore is safe. The last fellow was very definite. His brother lives there and   “the people are very friendly”.

Tried being tourist for the day, day; oh wait, we are always tourists – even back in Adelaide. As usual, we managed to have difficulty getting around on the metro and at some point we got near to where we thought we should be. Many people descended on us to sell tours and offer great discounts on rides and who knows what else. This morning one bloke, after not being able to sell me a tour, offered some ‘very good weed’ and a police car was sitting right next to us; gave that one a miss. Once you get in a tuk tuk, whether it is a motorbike or rickshaw type they just go on and on about offering to show side streets and special markets. The first rickshaw said only 20 rupees to the Red Fort “too far to walk – very dangerous, pick pockets, and criminals everywhere” then he said only $30 (I think he meant USD and not the Australian dollar) he would give us this wonderful tour. The more we said no the more he went on. After a few blocks we just got out and gave him 20 rupees and wished him well.

I am aware of all the dangers. Of course, that does not protect me from them. I do have the latest Nikon and zoom lens and our phones and whatnots that we cart around, and I don’t hesitate taking photos, asking first if I can take someone’s picture, but what is the point of having a camera and hiding it in fear of someone grabbing it? The Red Fort is amazing from the outside. There was the always present security with machine gun totting military types and the airport electronic scanners that I can’t go through. When I showed my pacemaker/ defibrillator they send me around for personal searching – a tour guide led us through and around security. Sure enough, on the way out an hour later he was there and said, ‘hi, Mr Pacemaker’ and we had a difficult time trying to get away from him with his tour selling ways.

Inside the fort several ‘guides’ offered their ‘excellent’ services and that we should not go through the place without them, but we declined and wandered about happily on our own.  The place is under re-construction with lots of repairs going on, so we did not get inside some of the buildings and the water did not flow through all the little canals and fountains but a well worth visit.

Narda made some new friends:

To get away from ‘Mr Pacemaker, the expert tour guide’ we got the next rickshaw in line to the Spice Market. Of course, he tried to sell us ‘must see’ tours all the way and we parted ways on good terms after giving him 100 rupees ($1.55 USD) instead of the 70 we originally agreed on. We do this often wherever we are; if the price is fair, and they get us to where we are going in one piece we tend to add to the fare. If they start off with some ridiculous price to begin with we go elsewhere. Tourists pay a lot more than locals as it should be. The Spice Market is very loud, congested, and smells nice but a short visit was enough for the likes of us.

We took some more metros, went to some shopping area as Narda wanted to get some local garb. Holy cow, one forgets what it is like shopping with a woman until it actually is in front of them. In Adelaide, Narda says she needs to shop, great, I spend quality time in front of the computer with my best mate, Adobe. In foreign places I just find some place to sit and look foreign. I do get caught up with my Facebook friends, world news, sports, weather, write a few blogs, take pictures, videos, say no to someone at the average of every 56 seconds and at the end of it Narda hasn’t found anything she wants. We have three months here so I am sure the correct clothing will manifest on some cosmic level and say ‘take me’.

Fact check: In Adelaide when I say I need to shop, I dash off to Aldis and spend as little time as possible on it, while his highness spends hours reading labels at Coles. That’s what really happens!

As we keep saying, the food here is absolutely amazing. On Sunday we will take a cooking class with our first person to interest us into going to Kashmir. He has his office out of our local favourite restaurant (Diamond Restaurant) and has named his travel business after the music group The Doors (I saw Jim Morison in 1969 and where he is buried in Paris in the 1980s) https://www.facebook.com/touradvisorindia/. He rents house boats on a lake in Kashmir and it all looks very tempting. We have met three more Muslim men each who has a houseboat for rent in Kashmir. Maybe this is the area where they all live. Something to think about! Everything else is all planned.

Saturday 20/01/2018 Delhi

Saturday morning we were up early, a bit before six, and off to our neighbourhood chai street vendor. For our first three days we struggled to get to the nearest metro, which we would take a tuk tuk through unbelievable heavy traffic for twenty minutes to because that was our first instructions how to get to it. The night before in some dark alley somewhere in Delhi in one of our totally lost moments we hailed a tuk tuk and it took them about 45 minutes to find their way to the alley we live in. I am sure we should have some natural alert instinct of any possible dangers, especially with cameras and other things worth more than a couple of rupees we cart about to record our moments but we don’t. So we were happy to be informed that there is a metro stop five minutes away from where we live. The रामकृष्ण आश्रम मार्ग stop (OK, the Ramakrishna Ashram Marg stop). I was a tad bit interested in the Rama Krishna Ashram which is near us, maybe we will get to it tomorrow, due to the popularity of the Krishna movement at the end of the 1960s in California. It was the hippie thing to be involved with though at that time I got involved with a different cult for a decade but I was aware of its hold on others. Those of you who are young enough to have experienced the 1960s would have seen this sect at airports and malls (even in Adelaide) around the world with devotees or pretend to be devotees chanting stuff, burning incense and handing out flowers. (The Vedanta Society of Southern California, with its headquarters in Hollywood, was founded in 1930 by Swami Prabhavananda). Incidentally, the New York Times (International Edition, which we collected in KL on the way to here) had a cover story about when the Beatles went to the TM ashram in Rishikesh and how it is being renovated. Not sure if we will get there. But back to our local subway stop. Groovy. Not far away. It is on the Blue line which we took for one stop to Rajiv Chowk, where we caught a train on the yellow line to the INA stop as we wanted to check out a hotel we had booked for when we came back through here in April. We immediately did not like the area, nothing beats our area with the narrow streets, startled looking cows, people trying to sell us tours, shops, chai carts, and the bustle of this older area. However, Narda did find a dress she liked and bought it so that was a fortunate stop in one of our worlds. Back on the yellow line we thought going to the end of the line would be good. Huda City Centre was sort of pronounceable which made it a logical destination. However, after a series of stops the train started going back and never made it to Huda. Wanting to persevere to our desired stop we crossed the track to continue our journey. It was then I spotted two signs of interest; this was of course, at the Saket stop, one sign advertised Garden of Five Senses and another a cinema. I told Narda that I wanted to go to the Garden of Five Senses, but feeling a ‘rolling of the eyes’ coming on I said and there is a cinema at this stop too and she was quite interested. Another extremely busy hustling part of Delhi where we got swarmed by tuk tuk drivers we just kept walking to who knows where? Realising our utter lostness, and seeing a park with a sign for the Garden of Five Senses we asked someone about the cinema and of course the garden. The person told us that the Garden of Five Senses was not worth the bother, pleasing all five senses of Narda, and that yes there was a cinema.

The only English movie playing was ‘The Darkest Hour’ which we have seen good reviews for and we paid the extra 25 rupees for the ‘premier’ seating (total 400 rupees for the two of us or six buck USD) believing we would get good seats. However, the seats were average and close together with little leg room, but we were in a balcony, so I suppose that was the extra we paid for. Movies in India begin with standing for the national anthem. The movie was good, however, there were several anti-smoking commercials at the start and throughout the whole movie in rather large letters at the bottom of the movie was a line about not smoking. The ironic thing was that Winston Churchill and lots of other people in the movie smoked the whole time. Half way through the movie there was an intermission that lasted about half an hour filled with ads, most of which were impossible to know what was being advertised.

And that pretty much was our day. we never made it to Huda City or the Garden of delights but getting back to our area around nine pm we had another great meal and that is it.

subway youtube of this 24 second clip

 

 

Denmark 2017

The cruise was great. Yet just part of the story. What could be better? Well we found better, or let us say same same but different in the better world of better. Six weeks in Ringkøbing. Clearly my spellcheck is going to struggle with this narrative. An o that is an ø; perhaps on the web the o will not have a line through it; like in space no one can hear you scream. It is not just the o/ø but that ae thing such as  that slightly, actually, sends my brain cells into a tizzy. The Danes manage to have 29 letters in their alphabet (since 1948, which started a year after my birth, giving me plenty of time to learn it. But I didn’t). I was going to paraphrase the Wikipedia article on this but I got confused after the first line, so I won’t. but of course, you can, see; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_and_Norwegian_alphabet.

What have I learned about the Danes? They fly their flag even more than the Yanks. Our fantastic host, Erik told us why, but I forget. Like Australia is to New Zealand (you know the jokes and thoughts of each toward the other) the Danes are to the Swedes. Again, I forget why. So, we’ll forget what I have learned so far in my first two weeks here and go on with the being here part.

In our jump into the deep end mentality we drove to our new home with just one stop to change drivers. Erik and his wife Bente collected us from the cruise ship; which we have already written extensively about and made a video of (and who wants to hear about someone else’s wonderful time on a cruise? Most likely no one), gave us the keys and drove off hoping we were on the correct side of the highway; opposite to Australia, the same as the USA, different from some other countries we were in earlier this year but not like living in China where folks drive on whichever side of the road they feel least impeded on.

We have found routine rather quickly. What we have changed about travel is to stay longer. Really quite a simple idea. After doing round-the-world trips for twelve years, going from New York to Australia at least once a year, sometimes twice and stopping in cities for three or four days so we could be back in Australia for a couple of months before returning to teaching gave little perspective on places visited. We continued our mad dash of the planet when we lived in China for three years. At least we stayed in one foreign place for an extended time but as soon as there was a school break, even just a few days, off we were. We were spending more time planning than experiencing. Narda did, I just stayed south of La La Land in my mind and threw some clothes and camera equipment into a bag and I was ready to go wherever Narda thought we should go to. Of course, she would repack my stuff. Then we started doing slightly longer stays mainly booking Airbnb places. This year was so different. We did our first house exchange this year for five weeks in Holland now in Denmark for six weeks. We have Berlin next year and chasing other places. India we are not doing house exchange because we could not find any but we are spending three months with a week or so in each place we go to.

House exchanges gives us the feeling we live there and are not just passing tourists. We spent a month in Washington D.C. at the end of last year and that was like living there, and a few weeks in Cambodia earlier this year which for some odd reason we still felt like foreigners in, even after a few weeks. So here we are at home. We don’t speak the local language or understand the signs but that is fine. We can ride our bikes into places that probably say ‘piss off’ but how would we know?

We joined the local gym. Cheaper than in Australia, about $30/month USD. The gym overlooks the local fjord which is really another word for a bit mother of a lake, some glacier caper. Well as one who always needs to learn, Google tells us; ‘A fjord is formed when a glacier retreats, after carving its typical U-shaped valley, and the sea fills the resulting valley floor. This forms a narrow, steep sided inlet (sometimes deeper than 1300 metres) connected to the sea.

Here is a map of Denmark pinched from the internet – the © credit is on the map – we just scribbled a bit on it. Jutland is the island – there are three islands that make up Denmark.

map of Jutland, Denmark

map of Jutland, Denmark

Italics below are Narda’s notes – not-italics are Terrell’s notes

August 14, Monday

Ringkøbing

We left the ship at 8.30, it was all really efficient and orderly. Picked up our suitcase, and then met Erik and Bente, who drove us around Copenhagen. Had a coffee with them at the beach, then started our long drive to Ringkøbing. It was actually quite easy. A great car, a Citroen van, easy to drive, and the roads are pretty much all freeways. We arrived there at about 3pm.

It’s an amazing house, full of lovely decoration, art and lots of room. We walked to the super market nearby and tried to negotiate finding it, and feeling pretty tired, but all was well, we had soup and a salad, and slept really well.

Gathered these flowers for Mabel’s birthday xxxxx

Driving to Ringkøbing

We love driving in foreign countries, firstly sorting out which side of the road to go on, then diving in traffic. Narda was the first driver getting us out of Copenhagen. I got to navigate and take photos and video and look bewildered; it is a challenging task but I do it well, the looking bewildered part.  We changed drivers after crossing The Great Belt Fixed link which cost 240.00 DKK ($36.40). We made a little youtube video of it https://youtu.be/_ZCyDnWiIVQ – I stuffed up with the lighting on my camera so everything turned out bluer than it actually was at the start of this trip.

The Great Belt Fixed link links between the islands of Zealand and Funen. It costs $36 USD

The Great Belt Fixed link links between the islands of Zealand and Funen. It costs $36 USD

It was exciting to drive across a whole country in only about four hours (should be three but we stop), considering how far it is across Australia. We drove up to the house on the cobblestone street and saw our host’s name, opened the door and were happy to be home for six weeks.

At the end of the street was the harbour.

As often is the case, the first shopping excursion is a challenge. I am looking for low-carb, (organic if I can get away with it) animal-free, stuff. When everything looks unfamiliar and is in a language that neither Narda nor I would ever hope to understand, we just go around appearing confused. The Super Brugsen was just a ten-minute walk and feeling good; after all we had just spent a couple of weeks lying about on a huge cruise liner, so we were far from tired, we were in a shopping mood. We had asked where was the Aldi store but got lost on the way and Brugsen seemed like a normal supermarket from the outside. Of course, after fifteen minutes of not figuring out where what we wanted was hiding, we left with a bottle of milk a sweet potato, some seeds for my breakfast, as well as what appeared to be normal soup (to me normal is vegetarian, to Narda normal is meat – in this instance we believed it was my normal, but who knows what gets sneaked in to a package with foreign script); we declared never to return to this place. Now writing this, two-months later, I can say that is not true and we shopped there often and found all that we needed. We found food in the back of our home too. Firstly, a large apple tree, pineapple apples we later found out, and oh so good, then in the greenhouse ripened cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and grapes, and in the garden zucchini for my zucchini spaghetti low-carb meals.

The apple tree produced so many apples that we were putting out five – eight bags a day for people to take – and they did. The original sign left for us to put out, in Danish, got rained on, then sort of blew down the street, no worries, Narda made a new one, in English. I suppose the word ‘free’ is understandable in all languages. There are mainly German tourists as Germany is only a bit down the road, and being a land-locked country, they liked the waters of Ringkøbing.

August 15, Tuesday

Today we spent the whole day on bikes, basically exploring all the supermarkets we could find. It was fun. Sitting in the lounge now, just about to get dinner ready, listening to the rain. Had a great day. Terrell is still feeling a bit fluey, hopefully better tomorrow.

  • Up at 6:30 about eight hours sleep
  • rode bikes to Aldi, Netto
  • home took nap half an hour still have a cold
  • rode bikes to Kvickly found tofu and to Lidl
  • watered garden
  • rain in evening

As Narda pointed out we rode bikes and went shopping. As is often the case, after watering the garden, it rained. I love shopping for food, reading labels, looking for those nasty things companies sneak into their food, but I was thwarted. I like shopping in foreign food stores and finding things not common in Australia, but not being able to read labels sucks. Nevertheless, we soldiered on to Aldi, Lidl, Netto, and what would come to be our favourite supermarket, Kvickly. Two reasons for Kvickly being our choice: we had a fifteen-minute bike ride there going through a bit of a forest if we wanted to and they had lots of stuff, sorted for fussy people like me, even a vegan section.

In the afternoon we rode around the fjord; not around it, but for half an hour one way then back to check on our shopping.

August 16, Wednesday

Today, another big bike riding day. We headed out of town, reaching the village of Velling, where we had coffee. They also had a beautiful cemetery full of hedges and little miniature gardens.

Terrell’s bike was hard going, but after visiting the bike shop and filling the tyres we realised that this was the problem. Last night the town criers (we were later told they were not ‘criers’ but ‘night watchmen’) came by again this time accompanied by a trail of tourists. Terrell had quite an extensive conversation with them. (see our youtube video @ https://youtu.be/vzaPX1oC6cY)

Narda started posting on her Facebook page ‘Why Denmark is the happiest country’. Sorry but you will need to read to the end of this to read that.

August 17, Thursday

Quiet day, a bike ride this morning, discovered a large interesting industrial complex called Vesta, where they make some strange looking things; parts of wind turbines. Also went into town and found a nice pair of sandals for India. Rieka Stress free. So far comfy. Paid About $70USD. August 18, Friday

A marathon bike ride today to Sondervig. It was a great ride, we followed the highway north/west, and arrived at this little town, a beach town with lots of outlet stores. Also has some beautiful old places with thatched rooves and many holiday houses.

We took a little walk through the supermarket, as we do in every new place. Gotta first check out the groceries! I resisted buying a GIANT chocolate meringue, but I keep thinking about it, so I might have to return sometime and eat it. Otherwise it will become an obsession. Like an unrequited sugar craving.

We returned by heading down the coast a little way, and then crossing the Bagges Daemning (the a and the e are joined) which is a little pedestrian bridge across the Ringkøbing Fjord, and a short cut back to Ringkøbing.

This was one of the recommended trips from our Danes; they said about 1 ½ hours, we took from 9.45 until 1.30. Oh well!

We saw a very spectacular display of wind surfing with kites. There seemed to be a festival of some kind, about 50 people in the water, sailing/surfing.

See our 2:36 (that is two minutes and thirty six seconds) clip of this at https://youtu.be/ZC7NbrTXHcA

August 19, Saturday

Today we saw a nice band playing some Beatles and other stuff in the town square. Lots of tourists, it’s a popular town.

We also checked out a suitcase which we might buy to replace Terrell’s. A bit bigger, but lightweight. Make these long trip a bit more flexible in packing….especially packing for going home. And Terrell bought his first ever watch, pretty groovy one.

In the evenings we’ve started watching The Mentalist, which is good. Finally figured out the TV thing, just plugged the computer into the HDMI port. We can use the hard drive now, or directly use Netflix.

We carry our HDMI cable on every trip, it didn’t work on the cruise ship so we did not watch TV except for the one channel that showed where we were – usually just a view of water. In Cambodia, Holland, The States earlier this year the cable worked each place and we would unwind from our day of exploring watching some gruesome series on Netflix. I would double dip my time by dabbling in Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects, and other mind-numbing practices. And of course, I would check social media to see if any of my five followers on Twitter etc. liked something I had tossed up. HDMI also assisted with our watching YouTube to see what The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was doing to get our daily fix on the States politically. We did get CNN and BBC news but nothing locally or on Denmark so for six-weeks we had no idea of anything happening around us; kind of a nice way to live in la la land, and the news we saw, usually something stupid going on in the States, was far removed from us. Maybe this will be in Narda’s top reasons why the Danes are so happy, they don’t pay attention to the news. Though I am sure it is just us wandering folks who land upon their shores and have no idea what the papers or TV shows are saying.

August 20, Sunday

Another day of exploring the areas around here. This time we took the car, and drove north. First to Struer, where we found a caravan sales place. Of course, we had to look. We found the prices were much lower than in Australia. For the same money as we spent we could buy a nearly new caravan here, with toilet shower, weighing a lot less, about the same size for 80,000 DKK which is $15,000 AUD (about $12,600 USD)

This one, with toilet/shower; 39,990 DKK , about $8,000 AUD

We drove on to Humlum. That’s a place you need to have coffee in, just because of the name! Actually, we went all out and had lunch. Blew our budget for the day, but right now we’re pretty ahead with it. I had a beef patty garnished with beetroot, capers, and raw egg yoke. Yum!

On the road again, we followed some sidies, getting a little lost, and then headed southwards along the coastal road between Nussum Bedning, another fjord, and the North Sea. Reminded us a bit of Coorong country (South Australia). We stopped at a place; to our right were really high sand dunes, actually one gigantic long one, like a dyke. When we got to the top we were nearly blown over by the gale.

near the town of Torsminde

near the town of Torsminde

Watching our little clip at https://youtu.be/vzaPX1oC6cY shows some of this trip along the coast.

August 21-24, Monday-Thursday

Had a few quiet days. The weather has been pleasant, though some days really windy. Yesterday (Wednesday) was warm and sunny, no wind, all day. We’ve been bike riding each day. Often in the morning , we spend some computer time, blogging and making a movie about the cruise. And some reading. Then we ride to various stores to get stuff for dinner. Either Aldi, Netto, Kvickly (I think our favourite) and Lidl. We bought a few useful things, a cool little clock with projection onto the ceiling, and a key security box where we can put a key to let the next house sitters in, back in Adelaide.

The bike rides are the best. I have Bente’s bike, it’s a strong step through, nice to ride, gears and a hand brake and foot brake. Sometimes we take some sandwiches. One time on the way home from Kvickly we were so hungry we both felt a bit ill, so we stopped (to get out of the strong wind) at the petrol station on our way home and found a table at the back, meant for gamblers (horse racing and lotto stuff) and ate our sandwich. We did buy their machine coffee which was crap, but it did the trick. Then we headed back to Kvickly to spend more money.

Our budget, so far has been way under, even with these purchases. We are averaging $30 USD for food per day. (Which I must note is less than we spend in Adelaide)

And I will add I am doing well with my low-carb vegetarian diet.

Near the Ringkøbing Harbour is this statue;

Justice Statue

Justice Statue

[The 3.5-metre-tall bronze sculpture was made in 2002 and depicts a huge fat woman from the west, sitting on the shoulders of a starved African boy. The woman is holding a pair of scales as a symbol of justice, but her eyes are closed to show that justice is degenerating into self-righteousness and unwillingness to see the obvious injustice.
The sculpture intended to send out a message to the rich part of the world, and seems to create focus on our obesity due to over consumption while people in the third world are dying of hunger. Due to the imbalanced distribution of the resources in the world, the most people in the western countries are living comfortably, they are oppressing the poor people by means of an unjust world trade. The rich countries are by means of tariff barriers and subsidies keeping the poor countries out of the markets of the West.
On the sculpture there is an inscription, which states: “I’m sitting on the back of a man. He is sinking under the burden. I would do anything to help him. Except stepping down from his back.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survival_of_the_Fattest_(sculpture)]

Friday Aug 25, 2017

Today we decided to leave Ringkøbing and explore some towns to the south of us. We headed to Ribe, stopping at a road house on the way for some lunch. We actually did not go through Ribe, but continued on to the island of Mando, which is a world heritage sanctuary for migrating birds. Since access to the island depends on the tides, we thought it might be fun to take the giant tractor style tourist bus through the receding tide, but we missed it. So hopefully we’ll return.

Then off again to the next island, Romo. This time we were successful. The causeway across to the island is ‘tide proof’ so we headed off to the next island, Sylt (Queen of the North Sea). This one has a waterproof causeway. We found ourselves in a little harbour town, Havnby, and low and behold, a large ferry was about to leave. It does not take us much go off script, so we bought tickets and were on our way……to Germany! It took a few clues….they wanted Euros, and they spoke German…..for us to figure this out. https://www.syltfaehre.de/home/ (BTW we did not pay the full price as we got pension discount, and nicely so, the woman at the counter didn’t believe I was 70, so I should my driver’s license – aren’t people nice?)

So, there we were. There was a large blue bus leaving the harbour in Sylt, so we boarded it and went on a random bus ride to Kampen. Very nice….a sandy walk to the top of the dunes and we could see the whole island. Then coffee, and back to the harbour to catch the next ferry back to Romo. Lovely trip! On the way back we ate pizza and pasta at Mamma Mia, a nice little local joint, in Ribe.

The drive back was late, bit dark, way past our bedtime.

This is our way of having a coffee break along the highway, note our groovy car:

We put together a short slideshow of Romo and Sylt HERE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMm6aDG4KfE

Sat, August 26, 2017

A local day. At lunch time we wandered over to the town square, had a nice lunch at the hotel, outdoors, and watched the Ringkøbing Big Band. Reminded me of my Big Band days, which I miss from time to time. There was also a really cool Flamenco band with a dancer. Fun!

Their music is the background to much of our video – actually a couple of videos as it was that good and I am trying to stay away from copyright music https://youtu.be/vzaPX1oC6cY

Sun, August 27, 2017

We rode to No. A beautiful bike path, took us about an hour. The weather was perfect, the scenery was perfect and we loved it.  Terrell made an entertaining little video about it, which sort of went viral in Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, and some other place. Over 10,000 plays. Huh. Who knew?

10,133 views to be exact with the largest numbers from (YouTube Analytics) – and this was all done in one night. There have been no views since. Usually I get 3 to a dozen views though years ago before everyone jumped onto YouTube I would get a lot.

No (two minute video)  – https://youtu.be/YAjNZ4QxPpk

Mon, Aug 28, 2017

Rang Helena for her b’day in the morning. We discovered the gym. I have developed a sore back, low back, so I’m hoping that building some core strength again will help it.

Best gym ever. That is Narda riding out to sea above. We used it for 26 of 30 mornings for September. A healthy routine, we would make a pot of coffee, eat an apple as we rode our bikes, then a good workout and coffee at the table where we sat and watched a family of swans. We watched a YouTube video to learn more about swans; they do the family thing together, couple of adults and four kids. We were told they have been in the fjord in front of the gym for the past two years. At the beginning the babies rode around on their mother’s back, now the cygnets are almost as big as the parents yet still brown while the parents are white. A woman we met at the gym, Bente Jensen, gave us photos of ‘our swans’, there is a fourth but he/she was probably over at the gym looking for Narda and me. Bente came to the railroad station to see us off at the end of our trip, 30 September, and told us the four cygnets and their parents were flying back and forth in front of the gym. I believe it was their first big flying lessons. We had planned to go to the gym on our last day but packing and cleaning took longer than we had imagined so we missed this.

Back here in Adelaide we do gym twice a week and there are no swans, though on our morning walks we do see kangaroos and koalas but we miss our swans.

Tues, Aug 29, 2017

Gym again in the morning, then a nice drive north via Sondervig to Hvide Sande. We discovered a little harbour there with large fishing boats, and sat on the back of the car with the back door up and had our little picnic. Also bought Terrell a nice jacket for India. Checked out the beach where kids were learning to water ski with a frame of pulleys instead of a ski boat. Also lots of kite surfing and wind surfing. Nice to watch.

Wed, Aug 30, 2017

Today a home day, sorted RAA for Erik and Bente, rang Stu, rang Janie, read lots. Went to the gym. My back is definitely getting better. No pain pills today.

Thurs, Aug 31, 2017

Day at home, bit of rain. Went to the gym in the morning (day4)

Below is a view out of our lounge window, so cool.

The Ringkobing museum is well worth the visit

Ringkøbing city is an idyllic royal borough from the 14th century with charming, narrow streets, beautiful old town houses and merchant's houses that all together tell captivating stories from the past. You can experience the exciting exhibition at Ringkøbing Museum and visit the homely museum shop with retro articles and French land style.

Ringkøbing city is an idyllic royal borough from the 14th century with charming, narrow streets, beautiful old town houses and merchant’s houses that all together tell captivating stories from the past. You can experience the exciting exhibition at Ringkøbing Museum and visit the homely museum shop with retro articles and French land style.

September 09

Drove to Ribe for the day. The oldest something, town I think, in Denmark. We made a bit of a clip and threw it up over at https://youtu.be/G_jW2pt1QFk. We had a great lunch sitting along the main street that is like 500-hundred years old, we didn’t feel quite so old in comparison. There are a lot of images in the clip so we will not post anymore here.

We saw this nest in Ribe, apparently a European white stork is one of the historic inhabitants of the town, choosing to build nests atop chimneys. Certain times of the year the street is full of people starring up at this when the stork is doing a one-act play or whatever it is storks do up there.

Sep 13, 2017

Today we visited the Viking museum at the bottom end of the Ringkøbing Fjord. By the way, fjord means ‘created by a glacier’. It was rainy the whole time but we got an English-speaking guide, we were the only ones on the tour, and it was really very interesting. He told us that the ‘Viking’ period began in the 700’s. They had their gods, some of which were the source of the days of the week names…Friday and Thursday.

This was groovy. See our clip on this @ https://youtu.be/CzHENrtLy_A. It was a rainy day, one of the few in this travel cycle, none on our two-week cruise, and maybe two or three the whole in Denmark. This was one of them. Our guide gave us an hour and a half tour. This was all part of a one-hundred-krone ($16 USD) museum pass we had for the week. We did get to about six museums out of ten or so (some closed at the end of August). The Viking museum was our favourite. We learned heaps of stuff, like that people would get the choice of becoming a Christian when the Vikings invaded a town. If they agreed they would get baptised then killed, so they won’t sin again and could get into heaven. Makes sense I guess. Watch our clip to become hip to the Viking trip.

Bork Harbour

In the Viking Age, Ringkøbing Fjord was a lagune. Therefore the vikings were able to sail their ships in shelter from the wind behind a headland at Bork Havn with easy access to the seven world seas.

In the Viking Age, Ringkøbing Fjord was a lagune. Therefore the vikings were able to sail their ships in shelter from the wind behind a headland at Bork Havn with easy access to the seven world seas.

After that we had a coffee in a small harbour, and found this in the gift shop window, which I might try to copy!!?

What Narda means with ‘to copy’ is to do it in a wood cut out in our shed back in Adelaide.

Below – self driving lawn mower. We love this idea, just toss it in the yard and go to the patio and have a beer while it does the job. Of course, to get one that will rake up after itself would be our ultimate one. We saw these quite often. I believe the Danes have the biggest lawns. We saw large lawns in the States, especially in the south, but lawns in Jutland (the island we are on – see map at top) are larger. These things just go until they run out of petrol or someone pushes a button somewhere. They jig zag so the lawn doesn’t have that nice tidy orderly row after row of straight lines but who cares. They have a sensor that tells them when they are near an obstacle, like a road, shipping lane, airport runway, beer cans, a human laying in the gutter…

Sept 14

Today a very pleasant bike ride to the forest out west, where we found a nice ‘camping’. Sat in the little tourist lounge, had our coffee, and then continued on through the forest trails.

At two locations, your family can try out this area's rope-pulled ferries and thereby cross the river by hand so to speak. On the rope-pulled ferries, there is room for wheelchairs, bicycles, and strollers. In the old days, local farmers used these rope-pulled ferries to bring cattle across the river.

At two locations, your family can try out this area’s rope-pulled ferries and thereby cross the river by hand so to speak. On the rope-pulled ferries, there is room for wheelchairs, bicycles, and strollers. In the old days, local farmers used these rope-pulled ferries to bring cattle across the river.

We found some lovely wetlands, and this hand operated punt. A bunch of school kids and their teacher. The wetlands near Skjern are really nice, lots of bird watchers, and photo ops.

Sept 15

Another drive out to museums, we have to use up the pass. They were all closed, but we enjoyed the drive.

This was a small harbour going into Stadil Fjord or Vest Stadil Fjord, these fjords sometimes look similar to us foreigners. We talked to a bloke, who used to fish here, but he seemed close to a hundred, and doesn’t do it anymore. Of course others look old to us and we look old to others. For example, on my 70th birthday Narda’s grand daughter at age 5 said I was almost a hundred, so there you go. Here is a bit of a more localized map to show where we are. We rode to places like Søndervig, No, Hee and anywhere else within 10 kilometres or a bit more which of course to most bike riders is a pathetic effort but we are elderly (according to the news ‘an elderly person in their sixties…’) and to our credit there is sometimes a very strong wind so one way is fine but the other is a struggle.

Sept 16

A home day, but we ventured out to check up on some activity near the library. It turned out to be an exhibition/promotion of all electric cars. We talked to a friendly fellow about it all. He said that the cars have a range of approx. 300km, which makes them suitable for a 2nd car. He offered to let us drive one….but we declined. He said that Denmark uses no fossil fuel, all clean energy. The cars could be recharged off peak at night, using the wind generated energy. Pretty nice.

Dad died 3 years ago today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sept 17

Went to another museum commemoration the life of a priest, quite famous at the time, who was murdered by the Nazis because of his outspoken anti-Nazi views.

Kaj Munks Præstegård The place was originally built in 1330. Kaj Munk started living here in 1924 and in 1944 the Nazis killed him. It is well worth the visit and though not in English a lot can be understood by looking at photos and even making up your own story – we did.

Below is a Google translate from the Danish page – http://www.levendehistorie.dk/Forside-10

“The priest yard formed the frame of Kaj Munk's most active year. This was where Kaj Munk's pen filled the paper with plays, poems, letters, sermons and articles.

This was where he was finally picked up by his robbers a dark January 1944 because he had spoken the truth to a regime hidden under lies and terror.

Today, Kaj Munk’s versatile life is communicated and works in the beautiful frames that the priesthood and nature make up. The priest yard is also a gathering place for various cultural activities.“

Sept 18

Quiet day ending in a memorable sunset!!!!

While we were there, we chatted to some locals, Nils, who works for Nestas (the wind turbine company), and Rita and Stij, our neighbours and friends of Bente and Erik. Nice chat in a glorious place!

There are a lot of differences about whether windmills are good or bad. Their first windmills were built in the 1970s. “Denmark is now the leading country in the world for wind power. In the year 2014, Denmark set a world record for windmill production. The country now enjoys around 40 percent of its total electricity from this one clean energy source, alone” https://www.alternet.org/environment/5-countries-leading-way-fossil-fuel-free-future. But… locals are upset with so many windmills in their view. Some whom we spoke with said they were quite unhappy with them. Apparently, many windmills will be shoved into the North Sea not far from the coast and will ‘ruin the view’ and if they are too close they can be heard. Narda and I felt good about seeing windmills, they give hope for the future but not living near any or having them block our view our opinions are not valid perhaps. We see them in South Australia, large windmill farms, though they are in the country and we surely do not see them around Adelaide or along the beaches which I suppose would be a bummer.

Sept 19

Today we went on our train adventure. We bought a pass for the day last week, and took the train from Ringkøbing station. Our first mistake was that we misread the timetable and missed the train we thought we’d be on. Not to worry, so rather than waiting, which we are both notoriously bad at, we caught the next train to reconnect back to our Holstebro original itinerary to Aarhus. (I think that is a sentence?) We chatted with a friendly Dane, who was studying occupational therapy (said that the Aussies where ahead in this field), and who mapped out the next bit of our trip using his computer, (and who was actually from Slovenia, and who we also met again later as we left Ringkøbing, and who we found out rides penny farthing bikes!) So off we got in Holstebro (which means Holste bridge)…and according to our source, is  sometimes called Holstebronx by some young ones.

“The town arose at a ford by the creek, and later a bridge was erected. The name probably derives from holdested ved broen (lit, “a resting place by the bridge”).

Holstebro was first mentioned in a letter from Bishop Thyge of Ribe in 1274. A large fire in 1552 destroyed many of the town’s old buildings.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holstebro

Copenhagen bound, but OK. Well….NOT OK. We met our first unfriendly Dane. The ticket collector scolded us that we could not use our day pass, as the benefits did not extend to this particular train service.  We tried to look dumb, cute and helpless, (I tried to look old and was quite successful at it) but this did not work. She said we would have to pay 700 DKK!!!!!! I told her politely that this was not going to happen, and she said she would see what she could do. She returned and said that 140 DKK would be alright. Hmmm. Not sure what happened there. Anyway after pleading poverty and trying it on we gave up and paid up. Then came another drama. She walked through the doorway where there were 3 middle eastern guys who clearly had no tickets. She actually started to shout at them, telling them they should leave Denmark. Another kindly Danish girl tried to intervene, and also got shouted at. Blimey. She gave them each a fine, and they screwed them up and threw them on the ground. A bit of excitement on the Copenhagen train.

Arriva is the largest bus operator in Denmark and was the first, and only, private company to be awarded a rail contract in the country.

Arriva is the largest bus operator in Denmark and was the first, and only, private company to be awarded a rail contract in the country.

We arrived in Aarhus, it’s a nice city. We ate a pretty good buffet lunch, served by a Danish girl with a Queensland accent, and she had only lived there 6 months. Ha. Nice person. Then we walked a long way to what we thought was going to be the old town, but was really an open air museum. It was raining by then, so gave the museum a pass, and had some expensive coffee instead, riding the local bus back to the train station. On the way home we got off in Silkkeborg, a real shopping town where we bought Helena a clock with the ceiling projection. …for her birthday.

On the way back Terrell got ‘befriended‘ by some drunk long haired guys, who were intent on proving that their hair was longer then his. Not sure who won that one; I walked on ahead.

Nice day.

Sept 20-25

Last days in Ringkøbing

We still diligently went to the gym each morning, always bringing our coffee in the thermos for after our exercise when we would sit by the window and watch the swans. Who we discovered has a family, 2 white adults and 4 brown cygnets, almost the size of their parents. Fun to watch them each day.

We also spent mornings planning our trip to India, so far we have the hotels booked until Pune. No trains yet. On Thursday we drove to Herning to see the camera history museum, quite interesting; after we returned to Sham Pizza place and bought a take away pizza.

On Sunday night we were invited to Rita’s place for dinner with her and Stij. Nice couple, great food. They are friends of Bente and Erik. She has a lovely house, all organic with thick timber beams. She writes children’s stories and gave me one of her books.  The illustrations are amazing.

We washed the car, and cleaned the house and then on the Monday Bente, a woman whom we met at the gym came by. She brought a yummy apple crumble and some examples of her great photography. Peter, our next door neighbour, drove us to the train. On the last day Bente also saw us off the on the train. A very friendly person.

The train ride to Copenhagen was pleasant. We sat with a woman from Lithuania who seemed lost so we took her under our wing a bit; she got a bit weepy; not sure what her story was, we only had a few words of German in common.

Sept 27

After our arrival in Copenhagen train station, we had a nice Indian buffet meal, then caught the 2A bus to the apartment. I slept well, Terrell a bit restless, and in the morning we rented 2 bikes and rode into the city.

We spent a very enjoyable day exploring the area called Christiania, which was a ‘free town’ back in the 70’s where hippies settled, living in derelict buildings and building their own cottages and trailers, in their own way. Also growing their own whatever. It is still settled that way, though it has become a tourist destination. They openly sell marijuana; and the authorities seem to turn a blind eye, as it is illegal in Denmark. Interesting place. Folks trying to buy property there now, simply cannot. Not so long ago, a friendly lady told us that they tried to evict people, but the residents got together and bought the whole property for 65,000,000 Kroner, which is a bargain. So they can stay.

Riding through the outer areas of Christiania

Why You Need To Visit Denmark’s Hippie Commune Before You Die

The self-governing town of Christiania has seen its share of ups and downs, but it’s still a place unlike any other in the world.

Its 84 acres sit on an abandoned military base, and it was founded in 1971 by squatters and artists as a "social experiment."

Its 84 acres sit on an abandoned military base, and it was founded in 1971 by squatters and artists as a “social experiment.”

Groovy pink bike, a rental.

OK so I did the 60’s in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco – lived in communes, grew my hair to my waist – did all the things that young people did in such a place…. but Christiania is cool too.

We spent a day going around on the yellow boat taxi - great way to see the city

We spent a day going around on the yellow boat taxi – great way to see the city

Picnic lunch on the harbour

This guy was from Serbia, gave us his card in case we make it to Belgrade.

still in Christiania

still in Christiania

first date - feeling a bit shy (especially since my wife is taking the photo)

first date – feeling a bit shy (especially since my wife is taking the photo)

We did a lot in three days. One day we did a day pass on the metro, bus and taxi boat. We went and saw the mermaid trip from Hans Christian Andersen’s book, and we had coffee at McDonalds where he used to live upstairs from and wrote in a shop below where we now drink coffee. The boat was good, up and down the river, and we took some random buses as we do wherever we go. We climbed to the top of a tower, went to museums, took pictures, and basically hung out in this cool city.

We did not want to leave Denmark but here we are back in Adelaide trying to sort out the trains in India. What a mess, not the house, but the trains! Three days trying to book trains as it is recommended to book three months in advance. We will be there from Mid-January until mid-April. It is good being back home amongst all my crap. Someday I will declutter but for now I am enjoying being surrounded by 70-years of stuff. Next month we will pack the caravan and go off to Sydney then Melbourne to see my son. We are happy to be seeing the grandchildren. Life is good. If we didn’t see you on this trip or the one before or before that we’ll catch up with you soon. Cheers.

Thanks for waiting – or wading (?) through this so here is what you have been waiting for – Narda’s ‘

Ringkøbing, the happiest town in the happiest country.

Every day, or every day I feel like it, I will list another reason. This is my plan in Ringkøbing, Denmark.

  • #1. The Town Criers came by every evening to check on our well being and safety
  • #2. The lawns are mowed by robots.
  • #3. There is always somewhere to sit and rest.’
me on couch at tthrift shop after shopping for presents for our loved ones

me on couch at thrift shop after shopping for presents for our loved ones

  • #4. Vodka, wine and other good stuff is randomly mixed with groceries
  • #5. Folks, especially those in our age group, smile and nod at you.
  • #6. Water, water everywhere.
  • #7. People don’t double lock their bikes.
  • #8. It is soooo tidy.
  • #9. It is soooo quiet.
  • #10. The garbos neatly re-line your garbage bin when they’ve taken the garbage.
  • #11. There are many, many wind farms
  • #12. You don’t HAVE to wear bike helmets.

  • #13. Danish Blue is one of the cheapest cheeses.
  • #14. It looks like Holland.
  • #15. Everything is so well designed.
  • #16. Every three days there’s a concert in the church.
  • #17. Everyone trusts everyone. This is part of the culture. It is assumed that you are doing the right thing and have the best of intentions. How lovely.
  • # 18. There is much more, for example free, single tier medical, the same for all, and free education; again the same opportunity for all.. This takes out the huge gap between rich and poor. The well-to-do may pay some more tax, not that much more really, and you get to have a good standard of living. Everyone.

Our YouTube the clips for this trip are at http://youtube.com/neuage09 are more specifically below:

I have used a lot of photos from this trip in my writing as background and they can be viewed at: Google +  https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB or Twitter https://twitter.com/neuage, Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/neuage/picture-poems-by-terrell-neuage/, Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/neuage,  Tumblr http://neuage.tumblr.com/ Instagram https://www.instagram.com/tneuage/  and various other trendy places

And of course, I add to them often. My e-books are at http://neuage.org/e-books/

Our next ‘big’ trip overseas is three months in India

before then we will be in our caravan bopping around Australia

cruise

Cruise

Norwegian Getaway 70th birthday cruise

the video for this blog is at  (https://youtu.be/ZdShBQ21o20)

coming into Copenhagen

coming into Copenhagen

If you want a clear concise reading, read what is written in italics – which is from Narda’s blogs; if you want to sludge through my verbiage then read the rest too.
Day One 05 August Copenhagen

I have always been restless. We have always been restless. I can speak for Narda too. After twelve years living away from Australia and traveling a lot during that period we could have easily settled once back in Adelaide. Our first year back, 2015, we tried to nest, working on our new house in a trendy eco-friendly village but after having renovating three houses in the States each a hundred years old we realised new was not us and so we moved to Vista, half an hour further out from downtown, into an older place. We spent months gutting and re-doing our house and creating a home. We still were focused on going elsewhere. We got a caravan and did some exploring but that was not enough. Early 2016 we were back doing international stuff; Cambodia and Thailand, and by the end we were on a four-month trip, November 2016 – April 2017: the States, Holland, Cambodia. We got back to Adelaide and a few weeks later went out with the caravan and planning next trips. Now we are on this one past the mid-point of  2017 doing a cruise around the Baltic then six weeks in Ringkøbing, Denmark where we will live like a local though we no doubt will do trips within trips as we explore this part of our life. For me, this part of our life is me becoming a seventy-year-old. It seems just a few years ago I was wandering the States from age 16 – to my mid-thirties when I became an Australian-bound single parent and except for a few trips back to New York with my children in tow I did little travel. Then I met Narda and we have just been going, except for 2015, and going.

So, we got to Copenhagen in an alternative state. Not the type of alternative state that I existed in while traveling on many different levels back in the late 1960s and early 1970s but in the alternative state to being awake and feeling alive. After a few hours in Dubai wandering like zombies through the airport after little sleep on the fifteen-hour flight. The flight from Dubai to Copenhagen was better, we were on one of those new double decker setups and got a seat in the first row. It was originally for business class but now that the whole plane is economy there is no business section but the seats are more spread out and more comfortable. Our wonderful host, Erik and Bi Bi, met us at the airport, they had a sign with an Australian and a Denmark flag on it, but we were easily spotted and they got us to their flat in downtown Copenhagen which is our home at the start of our trip and for four days at the end. After our cruise, we have their home in Ringkøbing for six weeks and they have our home in Adelaide during that time.

August 4, Friday from Narda’s blog

Arrived in Dubai at 5.15am. Slept a few hours, maybe 4 or 5, which helped to break up the trip. The next plane we boarded was amazing. A double decker Airbus. We had 2 seats together on the upper level, seats 34a and B. They were really roomy and so we slept a bit more. The transit stop in Dubai was pretty difficult. We were really wiped out, and the airport was so crowed; we could hardly find seats anywhere.

We got into Copenhagen at 1pm and were met by Erik and his daughter Bibi. They were great. First we took the metro with them to their apartment, where we left our stuff. They showed us the iconic harbour of Copenhagen and we had a nice chat, walk and some drinks.

They left and we set out for dinner. We found a nice place nearby, near the sea, and waited for 45 minutes for a bowl of soup. The soup, when it finally came was yummy, but we were so tired by then, it was difficult. Still we hit the bed and slept. Both had a good night.

Leaving our stuff in our new flat Eric and Bi Bi gave us a tour of Copenhagen and then we found our way back via the metro to our flat by ourselves, becoming lost only a couple of times.

 

Amazing to us we were still upright at nine pm, having gone for a couple of days with a few hours of uncomfortable sleep somewhere between Adelaide and Copenhagen. That was our extended Friday which had more than thirty hours in it; such is international travel.

I often take photos of airlines I have never heard of and the first plane at Copenhagen Airport we saw was WOW airline, https://wowair.com/, Air Iceland – sounds like our kind of airline

We were up at 5:30. We have lost the ability to sleep. We dragged ourselves, muttering incoherently, to the nearest metro station and off at another station where we wandered aimlessly for way too long in search of Bus # 25 to get our sorry asses to the cruise port. We walked and walked, dragging all our crap with us. No one seemed to know where Bus # 25 did its thing. We even stopped a city bus and asked the driver who did not know. Of course, because we are now on our boat it is obvious we found someone to guide us to Bus #25. Not having done this cruise capper before we were amazed by the size of this boat, which we have been told not to call a boat because it is a ship. People are so thingy about stuff, aren’t they?

Seeing the ship for the first time was so amazing. Getting on was more amazing. In the Copenhagen Harbour, I took a zillion plus photos and images – see our video clip about this cruise – video here – https://youtu.be/ZdShBQ21o20

Check in time we were told was between noon and three with departure at five. We were checked in by 11:30 in our acting like little children just shaking with excitement. Our room was not ready so we ate and ate and then ate some more. Holy guacamole! I, we, have never seen such a large spread of so much good food. Like a city block worth of food. This was the Garden Buffet Café or some such name. Exercise is good. We walk around the buffet. We did go to the gym too and stretched and lifted a bit then went and ate some more. There were hundreds of dishes to choose from – and we did; except for meat stuff I tried it all, Narda tried the meats and reported back, yum.

We went to a life-boat/what happens if we sink, type of drill at six pm. There were lots of announcements in lots of languages and when the alarms sounded we slowly made our way to where our section of 3500+ passengers were lounging about. People were not too serious, of course the crew were – and they were a bit annoyed at us for not paying attention. Several children, and being school holidays – the place had an infestation of them, were chatting and laughing and rolling about as children do; but our mindful Narda went over to them and in her best school-teacher fashion brought them to heel. A couple gave her a bit of a stink eye but at the end she went over to them and thanked them for behaving. Once a teacher – is there a continuation of that line?

We attended the evening’s orientation which highlighted various performances for the next nine days. We figured maybe we would see one, two at the most. By the end of the trip we had seen them all. Then we went back to the buffet and ate heaps more and managed to get back our room about ten-pm. We love our room with a balcony, sofa, desk, bathroom and of course a comfy bed.

August 5, Saturday

Woke up early, but feeling pretty good. We managed to put together a breakfast, continental style, a couple of rolls, some yogurt, and a glass of Berocca. Then we headed for the local grocery and marvelled at the stuff….all good. Our credit card was not accepted, luckily we had some Euros which they took.

Then off to the cruise terminal. Again our credit card was declined; annoying. Still we got ourselves from the metro, then onto bus number 25, and arrived at the port.  Beautiful ship. The Norwegian Getaway. Fantastic. We have spent a lot of time today at the buffet, the food is amazing. And our room is lovely too. I think we won’t want to leave here!!!!! Bloody nice life!

Day Two. Sunday, 06 August, Warnemunde, Germany

Day Two. Sunday, 06 August, Warnemunde, Germany

Warnemunde

Warnemunde

August 6, Sunday

OK, talk about a weird day. We woke at 5.30, at least Terrell woke and woke me up. Daylight of course, as we are in the higher latitudes. So we are sitting on the balcony taking photos (he is) of dark seas, misty horizons and the occasional ferry. The we had breakfast number 1. Bacon and eggs for me. Then back to the cabin for a shower, watched our ship come into Rostock, Germany.

It was very interesting watching the manoeuvres of two other cruise ships who came after us. They had to go right into the port to find room to make a 360 turn, and then head back to park. They all seem to be equipped with side parking thrusts. (been handy in a car).

Then back to the Garden Buffet for breakfast number 2. This time some bread and cheese and salmon mousse. It’s exhausting, all this eating, so we went back to the cabin for a nap. I slept 3 hours. Bit jet lagged I guess. Another meal and now I’m writing this.

Narda pointing the way to our room on the fourteenth floor. We are now on the 15th floor where the Garden Cafe Buffet is.

Narda pointing the way to our room on the fourteenth floor. We are now on the 15th floor where the Garden Cafe Buffet is.

I think I can become addicted to cruising. Wasn’t sure, but now I am. It’s a lovely life. Last night we watched the ‘Duelling pianos” Two guys singing all the songs everyone knows. Really well done. Both guys played really well and one especially had an amazing voice. The average age of the audience was about 72+ but an enthusiastic group.

We were up early, probably about 5:30 am and went on to the balcony. It was a bright sunny day already. Our room has blackout curtains making sleep easy unless one is too excited to sleep. We were soon at the buffet; our go to place for incredible comfort. Then back to our room for a lay down so we could wake up in real time. Today is a ‘sea day’ meaning there is no port stop from when we left Copenhagen last night until we get to our next port, Germany, tomorrow.

Wow, Narda is snoring, three hours after laying down for a mid-morning nap, she must have been tired.

So here I am writing in our dark cabin. The curtains are closed blocking out all light because Narda is asleep. She has been asleep since 9:30 this morning and it is now 12:15. I slept from 9:30 until 10:30 then I was anxious to play in Photoshop with photos we took last night. Our sleep patterns are all over the shop. Three days ago was the flight from Adelaide to Dubai. Twelve hours with Dubai arrival being at 5 am. Wow were we feeling under slept. Hey folks, I am old, I need blocks of comfortable sleep. Not to worry soon we were on a double decker plane to Copenhagen. More leg room and just a great new plane with Emirates.  The flight was only six-hours. There was confusion due to the fact I was not getting my vegetarian meals. We ordered it months ago. We have not had this happen since we left Australia in 2002 to take on the States. And I did not have this happen for the decades before. Of course, I let everyone know this and the wonderful cabin crew rushed around trying to please me. Of course, this is natural; I am a Leo, I was adopted; Narda suggested I could take it easy on one of my attention-seeking behavours but that is just nonsense. I was well served and I was assured this would not happen again as they put in for our return flights to Australia in a couple of months that I was this old, needy, special, dude. What I liked especially was their music selection which was good as we did not find any movies worth watching. They had all these albums of the 1960s and early 1970s. I fell to sleep at some point listening to Janis Joplin and got caught up with all the Dylan albums I had not heard for weeks. My friend Daniel complained once late 1970s that I was stuck in the 1960s and it was time for me to progress. I still don’t know what he meant.

Having a long morning nap and a second or was it a third? breakfast, extended our day. Like having two days in one.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the ship. We even played a game of shuffle board; Narda had never heard of it and I played once at some Bible Camp my parents would send me, kicking and screaming, to each summer when I was staggering through adolescents in the Catskills. It was an exciting game and after many attempts we each got a thingy on a seven so we decided never to play again as we had tied. There is so much to do. I did go swimming for a few minutes. The pool was good. I wanted to sit in the spa but they had a sign warning people with cardiac trips (like an implanted defibrillator/pacemaker), diabetes, and a couple of other things I share with the infirmed – Narda was strongly opposed to me going in, so I didn’t. I thought of sneaking out and going in but our overpriced insurance would not cover me if I had ‘an incident’. Stuff them all I still enjoy myself. We both went to the fitness area and tossed about some weights. I went most days but my sidekick went just this first day. There is a large casino area which we gave a miss to. It seems such a waste of time to give more money to this company, sitting in front of a pokie like an idiot waiting for a possible coin to fall when some several childish characters line up on the machine. But people do. And they have the roulette tables with more people doing that instead of eating at the buffet or looking at the world outside passing by.

By four pm we thought we should go for a walk. Not having any idea what the procedure was and not signing up for any tours today we found our way to gangplank shuffled off and to our delight discovered there was nothing to it. We could just walk out into the street. Because we had already gone through customs in Denmark, only Russia required us to go through passport control of the several cities we would stop at. I bought a fridge magnet and we walked around the town.

Warnemunde Harbour

Warnemunde Harbour

As there was a safety drill at six pm, and we had already suffered through one, we walked for a couple of hours before hunger got the best of us and we were back in the buffet line.

Warnemunde Harbour sand sculpture

Warnemunde Harbour sand sculpture

In the evening; already forgot what we did for the afternoon, this is what we call retirement, we gave the buffet a miss with the thought that eating in a restaurant environment would give us a more adventurous feeling to ourselves. The buffet is our comfort zone and they say to challenge yourself by doing something different. We went to the Tropicana where there was a Jamaica like trio of dudes doing the golden oldies routine with a few recent songs such as ‘YMCA’ tossed in. White tablecloth, waiters, the whole shebang. I got some veggie pasta thingy and Narda lasagne with dead cow. The food was not as good as the buffet and I am not used to having someone fuss over us, obviously for tips, but it is a complimentary restaurant for our cruise so outside of 18% on Narda’s overprice glass of wine it was a cheap date. What amused me was seeing a lot of children; like about 5 – 11 years old, dancing to the ‘YMCA’ song and singing along and doing the hand motions. I wondered if they knew it was a song about men picking up men in Greenwich Village, NYC, at the Y (Young Men’s Christian Association) for sex. If I see them again I suppose it is my duty to inform them so.

I also am amused at the buffet counter(s) watching children choose what to eat. I find it amazing that the common fare for adolescents, with hundreds of things to choose from is hotdog and chips. No matter the nationality. I watched in parental horror a Japanese, maybe 18 years old, alternating between a mouth full of ice cream and chips. He had an ice cream cone in one hand and every other bite was a handful of chips. Another favourite was watching a nine or so year old in front of a large cake with a lot of icing, he had already had a slice of pizza on his plate. He would set down his pizza, look around, look at the cake, then pick up his plate of pizza. Finally, he quickly ate his slice of pizza then took a rather enormous slice of cake. We figured his mother probably said he had to eat his meal before dessert. The child was already considerably over weight. No doubt someone looking at his would remark that we spend a lot of time cruising the food – and rapidly going back for more. In our defense I will say, we take small amounts each time. For me this is all quite a challenge. For two years I have been on a strict diet of low carb crap to curtail my diabetes so I can carry less medication with me as it takes up too much room in our suitcase. Then add the vegetarian caper (fifty or so years of) and I have a rather bland diet. Can you believe I even brought enough dry kale and protein powder for two months? And I brought a container of my special low-carb cookies and bread I made a few weeks ago. I need to eat some of it or I will have to give the bread and cookies the toss in a few days or they will have some white and green growth on them. (I did finally give them a toss – not over board but in the trash as they did turn green and white) Bottom line, I have ‘sampled’ the mac and cheese (in the past my favourite food in the world), the corn and cheese thingy, one slice of German fudge cake, and a few things I have stayed clear of for years; more than once. Today or early tomorrow, perhaps soon after, I will work back toward the low carb diet. Narda is fine. She will eat anything if it is dead. She can have the wine and beer too. I don’t even drink alcohol but that is due to a shot liver from too many years of too much good time and not enough constraint time.

There are ‘professional photographers’ roaming all over. Always wanting to take people’s photos in front of a green screen – hey I do that at home, and I have a new camera (Nikon D7500) so I am not interested but they sure ask a lot.  [The camera was from Narda for my birthday, oh so was the cruise – can’t wait to see what she will get me if get to 71]. However, we found machine that took a photo for free and we could Facebook or email it so this was the result. This is a real money making boat – but we managed not to spend any more than what we have for whatever free money we got for signing on to this cruise. We didn’t even have to pay the 18% tip. We had $350 to spend and we spent it on Narda’s daily wine at $10 a shot, some laundry as Narda was tired of doing ‘the smalls’ in the toilet basin; something about it not being classy. What? Saving money is classy to me. Then there was my birthday meal in a ‘specialty restaurant’, a couple of not-included for free Broadway performances and I got a fridge magnet. The only other expense was Narda’s new watch – well that put us way over budget, but hey, we are on holiday. She is very happy with her new watch so be sure to notice it when you see her.

We have been doing the free shows but are signing up for some comedy wine show where they provide wine – how embarrassing I will ask for soda water at a wine show. One free show we watched was ‘duelling pianos’. They were quite good and people put in requests. I asked for ‘She belongs to me’ by Dylan, never did hear the song. They seemed to like songs by Elton John and the like.

dueling pianos

dueling pianos

We set sail at ten pm. Heaps of people lined the shore waving and yelling so lots of people, including Narda, yelled and waved back. I am not sure whether the town was happy to see us leave or wanted everyone to return and spend money. I had bought a fridge magnet so no doubt that is what everyone on shore was so excited about.

August 7, Monday

Today we are at sea all day. This morning we took a walk around the ship for some ‘exercise’. Met some girls our age, one of them was our neighbour. They are very interested in a house exchange. Who knows! Last night we took a walk around Warnemunde. Lovely little town, the port of Berlin.

Day Three – 7 August Monday – At Sea – we think

We did our walk like we do back at home though there were no kangaroos along the way but walking around the boat is good fun. Of course, we made a few detours to the Garden Café Buffet before getting to the jogging track which with eight laps the sign says equals a mile. OK we made it to five and tomorrow we plan to walk before eating.

Lunch was some to-do at a Spanish Restaurant Buffet – which was kind of alright but not as good as our blocks of regular food buffet. Now I am at the main outdoor entertainment area where there was a soul-rock band and now some loud mouth DJ doing dance contests or some crazy thing with folks. I found a sheltered place to write, play in Photoshop, and Narda is in the midst of people cheering and stuff. She said it was a ‘hairy-leg for dudes contest’. See photo below.

It is a lively area with the swimming pool, main stage, and today being a sea day; we left last night at ten and get to Tallinn tomorrow morning, everyone is just everywhere. We spoke to our boat-neighbour who we ran into on our walk this morning about house exchanges. They are from England and I think one of them has a house in Spain so we are hoping we can get some more home exchanges on this trip. We have one for Berlin next September and need a couple more of a month each to make flying to this area worthwhile. This is what retirement is about; forgetting what happened the day before and planning for the next trip. Saying that I remember what we did yesterday afternoon, we went into Warnemünde for a wander. A nice seaside town. A lot of people had gone for a tour to Berlin and other German like towns but we wanted to immerse ourselves into the cruise experience, sleep and eat, and we did not think we could just walk off the boat whenever we wanted to. But by five pm we were a tad bit bored and wanted to go out. It was all very easy, just showed our room card and went for a couple of hours walk. There were two other large ships behind us and hoped the people aboard were not envious of our larger and newer vessel.

Day Four, Tuesday about August 8 or so, Tallinn, Estonia

Not sure what we were going to do; book a tour, take a hop-on-hop-off bus, or walk to town. After another lengthy lots of food brekkie – though I kind of did a diet compliant almost with egg over avocado over toast with a lot of hollandaise sauce – I didn’t eat the high carb toast – and fruit and some muesli. We made the decision to walk into town which we were told was only about twenty-minutes. Narda had a bit of a sore foot so we did toy with the hop-on-hop-off bus parked at the end of the pier but we didn’t. Then right away we saw the bike-rental shop and we were home and hosed. The bikes were great and not expensive; we paid nine euros each at the end for four hours.

August 8, Tuesday

Tallinn Old Town

Tallinn Old Town

Today a wonderful day in Tallinn. We rent a couple of great bikes, and headed off on our own.

All the cruise people went to the old town, but we decided to check out a residential area to the right of the old part. We found a great little local coffee shop and sat outside drinking coffee (2 cups for EU3) The we worked our way back to the Old Town, which is surrounded by a very old thick wall.

Day Four, Tuesday about August 8 or so, Tallinn, Estonia

It’s just a beautiful cobbled city. We stepped into a lovely little chapel, and then rode on to the market square. There was a funny incident there. We saw a few young lads looking for customers on the rickshaws. Then suddenly they high tailed it, at a dangerous speed out of the market square. We tut tutted them ‘how dangerous’, and the girls standing in front of one of the restaurants said they are running away from the police. And sure enough, a couple of cops in a car came cruising through the square. They didn’t see any problems and continued on their way. A few minutes later the boys reappeared and continued their soliciting. It happened twice. So funny.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

We got a map and were off, riding past all the people lined up at the buses for their tours so they could obediently follow the guide with their umbrella or sign in the air. Some were walking into town, others were lined up at the hop-on-hop-off bus. We proudly rode past them all. We decided not to go to the old town right away but went off into the burbs to live like a local. Stopping at a local wonderful café for coffee for only a euro and a half we enjoyed the beginning of a wonderful day we would be having. There was barely a cloud in the sky at about 19 degrees centigrade. The only thing that separated us from the locals was we had no idea what they were saying in their Estonia-speak and we were drawing lines on our tourist map of all the places we would go. We did not look at the map again for the day so that was a bit of waste though fun planning. Tallinn is quite flat so riding around is easy. People seemed friendly or amused by us – difficult to tell whether people are smiling because they think we are cool or because we are some daft tourists.  Nevertheless, we managed to negotiate the place and not get run over. We found our way into the walled town and like all European cities it was old and cool. Built in the 1200s.

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallinn), Tallinn was first mentioned in 1219, received city rights in 1248, but the earliest human settlements date back 5,000 years. The initial claim over the land was laid by the Danes in 1219. Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.

After taking lots of photos and looking inside (free) churches which we were figured were as trendy as the expensive tourist ones we found a fantastic café. The tofu stack in the front is mine the smoking gelato marzipan apple crumble Tallinn style is Narda’s. https://revalcafe.ee/ Reval Café.

Later we stopped at a really lovely café for ‘lunch’. Mine was apple pie and cream, (I did order what Terrell described, but this is what I got)…… but on a plate of dry ice. Smoking everywhere.

Reval Café in Tallinn

Reval Café in Tallinn

After dinner we saw a great show “Burn the floor”. A troupe of 12 dancers, a singer and to drummers  with a Latin style dance routine. High energy and really skilled. Great fun.

We got back to the boat at 3:30 pm, found the food buffet place; hard to miss, it covers a large area of the fifteenth floor, and lucky us we are on the fourteenth floor so it is not much of a journey to the food trough. We have decided to do all the shows, most of which are free, and tonight’s was ‘Burn the Floor’. It was a full Broadway dance musical. Amazing to us. The only down side was we were told not to take pics. OK I snuck in a few. There were sixteen or so dancers. Really amazing. We read their profiles after the show and everyone was some variation of a national or world champion dancer at some point. I believe they were in their twenties. How else could they have so much constant energy and be so athletic? And their skimpy outfits. Wow, where we ever like that? Back to the gym for me. Actually, I have been the gym a couple of days so far, but my body is not quite on par with twenty-year-old professional dancers. Tomorrow I will be 70, I suppose that is an excuse. That and the buffet line and other restaurants dotted around the place. See our video of the tour for their performance on the last night of the tour – toward the end of our video if you get weary watching.

“Burn the floor”

“Burn the floor”

My big goal for today was not to eat mac and cheese and not to take any more sunset pictures. I managed not to eat any mac and cheese so that was a proud moment in my low-carb struggle on a ship with so much wonderful food. I caved when it came to the sunset pictures and though I limited myself to only a few dozen I knew I was on my way to a reduction of my sunset picture obsession(s).

OK one more – of hundreds – oh and I have videos too (of sunsets) and of course time delay

Day Five, Thursday, 9th of August. One day to go to being 70; St. Petersburg, Russia – Day 1

All those times I thought I won’t make it to 70. I used to believe I would never get to thirty. I was pushing the boundaries of what my body could ingest back in the 1970s and I thought well if I make it to 30 that would be an achievement. Yesterday I had a moment in the afternoon while eating when I felt faint and I thought I was going to have a heart problem and we returned to our room. Narda was taking my pulse and saying we should go down to the emergency room but after half an hour I seemed to start feeling whatever feeling normal for an old person is.

I was up at 6 something this morning, Narda was trying the sleeping in routine but my phone alarm went off with Dylan’s ‘Tangled Up in Blue‘, at seven so we dragged our sorry asses down to brekky and off the boat by 7:30. Low and behold there was a glitch in the Russian Immigration computer system, who would believe that? Oops, no photos; that is just so unfair, me, a Yank, first time in Russia and they’re trying to say not to take pics. Well stuff them, I took heaps. Videos too. Sorry – couldn’t resist embedding us into the door. The rest is real news though and an actual photo taken in a restricted zone – whoopee.

And it took us two hours to get through to our waiting tour guide who told us she had been waiting, and that all the rest were already on the bus. She was the archetype Russian keeping us in line all day. She reminded us a few times that the most important rule was to follow the rules. We were marched through Catherine’s shack,

 

 

Palace of Catherine

Palace of Catherine

some palace park fountain thingy,

Peterhof Fountains - The most famous ensemble of fountains, the Grand Cascade, which runs from the northern facade of the Grand Palace to the Marine Canal, comprises 64 different fountains, and over 200 bronze statues, bas-reliefs, and other decorations.

Peterhof Fountains – The most famous ensemble of fountains, the Grand Cascade, which runs from the northern facade of the Grand Palace to the Marine Canal, comprises 64 different fountains, and over 200 bronze statues, bas-reliefs, and other decorations.

rushed through lunch and I have already forgotten the day, except for the metro ride which was the only non-tourist, live-like-a-local thing we did. There is a good segment of this on our video at https://youtu.be/ZdShBQ21o20

Narda tried to stage a coup – by getting several passengers together to say we wanted a longer lunch period but at the end of the day we got rushed through everything.

August 9, Wednesday

Today, St Petersburg. We left early, got stuck in a passport queue for an hour and a half (some computer malfunction!) and embarked on a fairly intense sightseeing tour of the tourist attractions of St Petersburg. First the Palace of Catherine. Lot of rooms with gold gilt, and mirrors and art.

Many tourists there, so there was quite a bit of waiting in lines, but definitely worth a look. After that we went to Peterhof, and ornate garden with fountains, canals and lovely gardens. We had lunch at this bus place, bought a couple of salads ($5 ea) and a beer ($3).  No too bad. Later in the day we rode the Metro. Beautiful subway station, lots of decoration and art. Enjoyed this very much.

Tonight we had a shower, ate a nice buffet meal, and now we’re just chillin. It’s 8pm, and I’m ready for bed. Finished “Mosquito Coast’ by Paul Theroux, last night. Hard act to follow!

We were happy to be back in the buffet. After dinner, we roamed about. This ship is so large. There is a library though usually full, lots of areas to hangout in, plus the whole upper deck, half of which is for children so we avoid that area. We did not engage in any of the many activities such as ‘movie scores music trivia’, ‘country line dancing’, ‘Latin Rhythms with their DJ’, the video concerts shown on their big screen, and many other game, dances, music stuff. It is fun just to wander about and soak up the atmosphere. Being an American ship (the Norwegian part seems to be the company or driver, not sure how that works out) it was more American than European I think though of course there were people from everywhere. This was the first time this ship had done the Baltic area, usually hanging out in Florida. The entertainment was predominantly American. We loved to sit on our balcony and watch the evening sea.

Day 6, Thursday 10th – I am 70 – St. Petersburg, Russia – Day 2

Wow! Woke up this morning in Russia, day 2. That was the backdrop. 70-years old today. So what? Heaps of people, and some animals do that. But in my little self-centred world, what a thing. The 60’s was my favourite decade – the 1960s. Amazed I survived that, never thought I would make it to 20, then 30, surely not to 40. My son, Leigh only got to 20 before ending his. Perhaps my own 60s was my best. Who knows? Bottom line; I made it thus far. Still got most of my hair and only a bit has turned grey. I have shit wrong with me but that is normal, I think (heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, stuff like that), but damn don’t I feel great. Maybe not drinking any alcohol since 2005, no drugs since the 1970s, no cigarettes, going to the gym for decades, walking heaps, getting rid of the hep C virus – thanks to the wonders of new drugs, my stents (5), implant, low carb diet for past two years (well we strayed from that on this cruise a bit), no sugar (strayed a bit from that one too), good thoughts and all, and of course the one that makes me glow and still young(ish), Narda. Have I found a way to slow down the aging progress or will it hit me next week?

When we got back after our run amok through Russia there was a birthday cupcake and a card for me. How cool is that? They were not sure what language I spoke so they listed heaps. Lucky gibberish was not on the list.

Today, we did the St. Petersburg Day Two tour crawl. Back to that in a moment because we were talking about me. I am a Leo. I was adopted. I had a bit of a rough trot for the first couple of decades, and later as a single parent but that is all so far behind – though I retained the attention behaviour one does being a Leo and being adopted. The dozen people on our tour wished me happy stuff, even sang to me in Russian, Spanish, and Chinese. And Narda’s grandchildren, age 3 and 5 sang to me on Facebook. In the evening we went out to dinner on the boat to an Italian restaurant. It was our first pay-to-eat dinner. There are several white-table-cloth waiter serviced complimentary places and of course the buffet that is so superb but we actually booked the Italian one and it cost us some sixty bucks but hey, it was my birthday. I had a card in our room signed by the captain – I believe it was a true signature and not a printed one; a birthday cupcake in my room and at dinner we were given a birthday cake and the wine too. Of course, I didn’t drink the wine but Narda did. Drinks are expensive. A beer or a small glass with a bit of wine in it is ten dollars. So we saved about twenty bucks because we didn’t pay for the dessert either. I did eat quite a big chunk and I am sure my body will forgive me in a few days. The Indian waiter offered to sing me happy birthday but I said we were OK. In the evening we saw some singer from the UK, Rob Acre-something. I guess for those into that kind of singing it was OK. He was good – did Stevie Wonder songs and rambled on about his own self a bit, kind of boring.

I made a little clip (two minutes) of the Russian tour guide singing happy birthday to me in Russian, The New Jersey family in Spanish, and a Chinese family in whatever they sing in and Narda’s grandchildren sent me a clip on Facebook which was the best of all. https://yo utu.be/odkR5yaIGBM My son, Sacha, said he made a clip too – but I haven’t seen it yet. Hey Sacha where is it?

St. Petersburg – I will grab Narda’s notes, as they will be better than mine. I was too busy turning seventy and being in awe of the fact I got this far in life.

August 10, Thursday from Narda’s blog…        

Today Terrell turns 70!!!

Second day of our tour in St Petersburg. We started the day with a canal tour for an hour.

We booked a nice meal at the Italian Restaurant in the ship. They brought us a small cake, a card form the captain, and then another cake at the end of the meal, and a free glass of wine. All very pleasant. A nice waiter from Mumbai! Then strolled on to the centre area, and watched the small band play rock and roll; we even did a little dancing!

We took a boat road during the day – there is more in the video – I forgot to put it above for today but here is a photo of that boat ride,

By this time, the Russian guide was getting pretty irritating. She talked nonstop about the 18th century history of the czars, interacted very little with us, threatened that we would lose our lunch break if we strayed from the group or caused it to run late in any way. The afternoon at the Hermitage Museum was exhausting, though incredibly beautiful.

On the trip we met a nice couple from Jersey. The guy, Alfredo, would be independent and got lost, or ran late a number of times. The Russian guide was very frustrated with him. I told her that she would always remember this tour group as the “Where is Alfredo” tour. She actually laughed.

Two hours trailing this woman was too much. Actually had to wear these head pieces, she had a microphone, so she could call us back to heal anytime. Blimey! The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is another amazing church, full of spectacular walls and art work.

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

My impressions, to be brief; would love to have spent more time here. Would have loved to have gotten away from our guide – she made me a bit funny in the head. If someone was into history and religion and art the tour would have been good. I had no idea what she was on about most of the time. She took for granted we knew stuff like she would say, ‘as you would remember about Catherine…. As you would recall about St. Paul…. As I told you earlier about Alexander… Really, she thought we knew shit. None of us did. We all just wanted to take photos and wander around and see how ordinary people lived. The palaces and cathedrals were amazing but we didn’t need to know every grubby detail about every painting, every Russian hero. She surely did not speak well of Germans – I suppose because they dropped a few bombs here and there. She was a real commie, often injecting in her own world view and telling us how much better Russia was before it fell to pieces. Narda asked her some questions about life before the fall of the Soviet Union and she said life was easier then; they all had free education and medical,  that now there is much more distance between the rich and the poor. Interesting.

And we walked and walked. Way too often, she would say, ‘you have three minutes to take pictures then we have to go, we are behind schedule’. The Jersey family really annoyed her because they would wander off and we would spend time looking for them. I have taken so many photos and so has Narda. We will try to make albums of specifics as they are worth looking at.  St. Petersburg looks like a really cool place and one to be left alone in though I believe there are a lot of steps to go through to do that.

Day 7 Friday 11th – Helsinki, Finland

Walked around

Today we are in Helsinki.

An anti-tour day! Set out with no plans. The best way. After waiting for a little time at the tram stop, we changed our minds and walked into town. We hung about at a pleasant flea market, had a coffee and then continued our walk. Bought some floor and 96c beer at the Aldi down the road, and caught the tram back to the harbour.

Upon our return we tried to take a nap, but I finished up reading for a while. Terrell went off to the gym and a swim, and then we headed to our dinner show, which was a dinner and a show, “Cirque Dreams and Steam”. The dinner was great, really good food. We sat at a table with an English couple who lived ½ year in Spain, and a young German couple. The show was great too, speccie circus stuff with unusual costuming.

This cruising suits us. It is just so relaxing and fun. We do whatever we feel like, when we feel like it. Fantastic.

As Narda mentioned above we went to see “Cirque Dreams and Steam”. A fantastic show. There is some of this performance in our video of this cruise. https://goo.gl/5V1q9i.  We were told not to take videos so I took 8 pictures per second which the Nikon D7500 we bought for this trip does. I recorded some of their music too but no one saw that so don’t tell on me.

Here are a few images of hundreds:

Cirque Dreams and Steam

Cirque Dreams and Steam

Day 8, Saturday, 12, August, Stockholm, Sweden

Here we are in Stockholm. The approach to the city is a long sail though many islands.

entrance to Stockholm

entrance to Stockholm

We arrived in Stockholm about an hour late, so tours were thrown in a bit of a tizzy. We were held in the theatre for a time, so that they could dismiss us in an orderly fashion. After waiting too long we gave up and went outside, and hopped straight onto the Hop on Hop off bus. It took us to the old town first where we got off and walked down a lovely narrow street, full of tourists.

We enjoyed a coffee and learned our first Swedish word “tuk” which means thankyou. Don’t know about the spelling J The we walked to a nice market area where there was a Korean Festival. Back on the Hop on Hop off bus, where despite assurances to the contrary, our round the city loop took 2 ½ hours! Making us latish…to get back on board. Panic. We got off the bus thinking a quicker way was in the other direction, but it was not so. Finally we boarded the green line hop on Hop off bus, the conductor was an Aussie who kindly told us “we’ll get you there”. It turned out that this double decker bus, a two story one, was making the run to the ship, with us and 3 young girls as a mercy dash. The driver, a Swede, was so sweet, and reassured us that we were going straight there, no stops. He exceeded the speed limits and actually ran a red light. We have him our remaining Kroners in gratitude. A nail biting ride. We will not do this again.

So back on board, all relaxed again, we ate a decent meal and I slept for an hour and a bit. The evening show was amazing, the best yet! It was the story, with lots of great live music, of the owner of Sun records, who is credited to be the ‘father of rock and roll’ and in the 50’s hosted Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, some other guys and Jerry Lee Lewis. They were actually in his studio recording all together. Great story and such great playing/music.

We were up and on the balcony taking photos – well I was, at six am. Then breakfast while watching the many islands going into Stockholm. We were herded into the large Gateway Theatre to find out when our hop-on-hop off bus would deliver us to a day of excitement and wonderment. OK we got into port an hour later than planned, then we had to wait for buses. The theatre was full and no one wanted to wait. Narda thought she had insider information as someone told her that the first rows would go to the first buses – I thought we should sit in the last rows as they were closest to the door. Much to our low-waiting skills they chose the back rows first to go to the hop-on-hop-off bus. After a long wait we stood up and went outside. The announcer in the front who was trying to keep us all in control said we should stay inside until our row was called as it was running outside. We were soon off the boat and the rain was actually a few drops. Lucky we did as the hop-on-hop-off bus was there and by the time it filled there was a huge line waiting for another one to arrive. As Narda often points out we should never follow the crowd and once again we were on our way looking at those who were not.

The bus, we were told, would take an hour and a half to make the run through Stockholm, which would get us back before noon, long before the four-pm departure of little boat. We got off in the old town quarters and walked a few blocks of tourist infested streets, settling in for coffee in a groovy, narrow, street. After walking a bit more we thought it was time to get back on a bus and be early back on the boat. After more than an hour, and feeling quite lost, we asked which way to get back the quickest and the non-English speaking driver indicated we should stay on the bus and in 45-minutes we would be to our home, this would get us there at about one pm – cutting our time a bit short. After more than an hour we felt we were going the wrong direction and asking one of the people collecting money on the bus how to get back quicker she said we should get off and go to another stop and get the bus. We even followed her off the bus and rushed to the stop she pointed out. We asked again at the bus stop and were told we were at the wrong stop. It was now after two and we were to be on the boat by three for a four-pm departure. Someone told us it would take two hours – which means our home would be sailing the high seas before we got there. The traffic was intense as any downtown in a major city would be in the afternoon. We tried to get a taxi and there were none. Being in a full-on panic mode we started jogging back to where we got off the bus. When we saw a hop-on-hop-off bus that was red, the same colour as ours; there are two companies in Stockholm doing this and we were told one was ours and the other a different company that we could not ride with, we ran the last two blocks – even crossing a busy road, not at a pedestrian crossing. There were only four people on the bus and we saw it was the wrong bus company but in one of those divine-heroic moments someone said we could get on that bus and it would take us to our dock. We think he sounded Australian – he told the driver in Danish to take us. By now it was 2:40, we were in the centre of town, the dock we wanted seemed forever away, and we were both sweating and quite upset. If you do not return in time for a departure cruise ships leave and it is the passenger’s responsibility to find their way to the next port, which for us was Copenhagen, meaning we would miss out on a whole day at sea. When the bus was on the way Narda went to the driver to confirm we were headed to our dock and he said not to worry we would get there in time. The four girls on the bus were also going to the same boat – OK, ship, and told us that they too were in a panic and that they tried to get onto the hop-on-hop-off bus earlier but it was full and they saw this one and could get on. To end this story, which writing this now a couple of days later, I still feel surges of panic about, the bus did not stop for anyone and drove us straight to the ship which we got to at three, we realised we had until 3:30 but still, when being stuck in the centre of a major city in a traffic jam and being told it would take two hours to get to where we needed to be in one hour is not a good feeling. By the time we got aboard, and sitting in the Garden Café, with plates full of carbs we were still a bit shaky but happy as the ship began to sail out of Stockholm Harbour with us once again stuffing our faces with food. We have not much to say that would be good about the red hop-on-hop-off bus; their WIFI did not work, they got us lost – but the green hop-on-hop-off bus saved our sorry asses for sure – and they had WIFI, which meant I could separate myself from our panic and post photos of us on several social places, giving our family and friends (all five of them) the sense that life was going great for us. The driver even had to call ahead and say we were going into the other buses spaces so to deliver us. If we had not been given this bus ride we would have to had stay in Stockholm, which most people would think was fine, and fly to Copenhagen. OK so no one would feel sorry for us. But we did.

What a great evening. Sailing – sitting on our balcony; the ability to change clothes, which we would have not had if the ship had sailed without us and with all our possessions – and of course having my laptop, the ability to sooth my shredded nerves with Photoshop, and being full and prepared to attend the evening’s performance we were signed up for; ‘The Million Dollar Quartet’.  ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ is a recording of an impromptu jam session involving Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash made on December 4, 1956, at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The person playing Jerry Lee Lewis was great and hilarious as well as musically amazing, as were the other three musicians. See https://youtu.be/vKpg3PkGlZs for the original video of this moment in history.

We sat on our balcony after that watching the sun set and feeling happy to be where we were.

Day 9, Sunday 13th @ Sea

Our last day of the course was at sea, from Stockholm to Copenhagen. We got caught up with some computer stuff, I read for a while. At 12.30 we saw “Wine lovers, the musical” where we had a nice lunch and 6 glasses of wine to taste. It was nice. I sat next to a single girl from Atlanta named Megan. In the afternoon I packed the 2 main suitcases. Dinner at the Garden Café, then watched the Finale show in the main theatre, which was great.

And there I am at a wine lovers bash and I don’t drink wine. Also, the appetizer and the main course are parts of animal carcasses. I wanted to say I am on a low-carb diet, no sugar, and could you please be sure my food is organic, but I didn’t; don’t want to sound strange. I did say no wine for me and no meat and no sugar. I am sure there was some eye-rolling going on but I didn’t look.  It was a bit of a funny and an entertaining show.

Wine lovers the musical

Wine lovers the musical

Day 10, Monday 14th and all over – Copenhagen to Ringkøbing Denmark

Ringkøbing is a town in Ringkøbing-Skjern municipality in Region Midtjylland on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula in west Denmark. It has a population of 9,717.

August 14, Monday

Ringkobing

We left the ship at 8.30, it was all really efficient and orderly. Picked up our suitcase, and were then met by Erik and Bente, who generously drove us around Copenhagen. We saw the Royal Palace and some other beautiful buildings, which we will return to at the end of the trip. Had a coffee with them at the beach, then started our long drive to Ringkobing. It was actually quite easy. A great car, a Citroen van, easy to drive, and the roads are pretty much all freeways. We arrived there at about 3pm.

More stuff: http://neuage.org/e-books/new_for_2017addphotos.htm And my textual imagery is at several sites as I do them: https://www.flickr.com/photos/neuage/ ~ https://youpic.com/photographer/neuage/ ~ https://twitter.com/neuage ~ https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB and of course on my twitter page: https://twitter.com/neuage And other stuff I do (such as video stories for children and maybe grownups) is at http://neuage.org As every breath is a creative moment, the possible start of a new universe, I only reproduce a few – the rest of my creative breathing time is filled with travel, study (always learning something), Narda, and sleep.

 

 

Coober Pedy Caravan Trip


13/06/2017 A combination of Narda’s and Terrell’s thoughts and images

My friend since 1968 was going to visit us in Australia about now. Randy and I had many adventures in our life: the 1960s in Los Angeles and San Francisco the 1970s in Hawaii and New Orleans and we even had our first child around the same time. We all lived together in Hawaii in 1980 while our wives (my first and his second) were pregnant. Soon after giving birth my lot moved to Australia. I saw Randy a few times between 1980 and 2016. Sometimes in Hawaii sometimes in Oregon – the last time we saw Randy was toward the end of December 2016. Narda and I stayed with him in Eugene, Oregon for part of a week, then with him and his friend Tony, in Portland. Five months later I was Facetiming Randy in his hospital bed on his last day of life. We remarked “we have had a good run, haven’t we?”. I won’t get into the last forty-five or so years; actually, I have a couple of books that do that: ‘Leaving Australia – Before the After’ and ‘Leaving Australia – the After’ available on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HZZON6Y) and Papertrill (http://nightstandreads.papertrell.com/id004005007/Leaving-Australia-Before-the-After). Bottom line; Randy was supposed to be doing a road-trip with us in Australia. He was going to visit in the 1980s when I was a single-parent, in the 1990s when I was doing academic stuff; and again in the 2000s in between Narda and I living around the world. He did visit us in New York City in 2010 and I went white water rafting in Oregon with him a few years later but he was going to visit us in Australia. Today we are taking a few weeks road-trip north. It may be a week or two or longer. The idea is that we will go to Coober Pedy and maybe further. This is that trip that Randy was going to go on with us. And in my mind, did.

We decided to take a trip to the ‘outback’; Coober Pedy seemed a good place to start. Peter said, ‘Pt Augusta, stop for petrol, then you’ll make it in a day’. Ha!

We spent the whole day packing, checking lists, tidying up the house and finally on the road. Our first stop was Owen. A flat little town, near Hamley Bridge, made up for a grid of about 16 squares. Only about an hour up the road. I think if we are to retire to a county town, (who knows) it has to be flat…for the bikes.

Then we realised that we had forgotten LOTS of things. Bike helmets, bike lock, all my chargers for the computer and everything else, the good torch, the HDMI cable…..OK, so the next town had to have a Kmart, to get all this stuff cheap. Which was Pt Pirie.

Dear Randy…

Tent Hill Camping Area South Australia

Tent Hill Camping Area South Australia

Here we are all together finally doing that road-trip, just a short one, in Australia, that I said we would do one day. Narda and I sleeping in the caravan and you sleeping in our truck. That may not sound very groovy but with half of the back seat down we had planned to put a mattress in the back and it would be comfortable. I know we are in winter and we could end up in the outback where the nights are getting cold but we are used to free-camping and just rugging up. Tonight, we have hot water bottles being the wussies that we are. Last year when we camped in the snowy mountains it did get to zero with forecast of snow and we just put on more layers and we were fine. Then again, we may buy a tent. I once lived in a tent behind Randy’s house in Hawaii in 1980 for a month.

We said we would leave Wednesday but here we are already settled in by Tuesday night at our first stop. This has happened a few times in the past. Once we decide to do something off we go, why wait? People tell us they make it to Cooper Pedy in a day, like driving to Melbourne, only a thousand Ks away. We are planning to take a week. For example, this morning we said at seven am we should be on our way well before noon, perhaps as early as ten am. We drove out at 3:30. Not sure what took us so long; we just fiddle and fart around too much. Then when we did get to here, embarrassingly an hour and a half from home, we realised we have forgotten things: our bike helmets along with the bike lock and lights. Narda’s Mighty Bright light she reads with every night, year after year. We forgot several other basics too. We have become old space cases but not too worry. Here we are. Of course, I remembered to download several videos to become familiar with our new camera, Nikon D7500 – which is ideal for us though some have complained it has only one card slot and is not much different than the D7200 but of course it is, with the same inner workings as the top camera, D500. The video is the important part and this is tops for that recording in 4K. We were lucky to even get this camera before we left as the release date for Australia was the end of June and the local shop rang two days ago and said it had arrived. Whoopee. And we discovered that the USB cord for the camera also fits Narda’s phone and my monitor that sends information back to the doctor every day about my implanted defibrillator/pace maker. I had left that plugged in next to my bed at home. So we are all charged up and ready to sally forth.

We have been using a free-camping book for the past couple of years. On this side road to a back road of a country road is this town called Owen. I wanted to get off a/any main roads as soon as possible. I know there are a lot of country roads in the States but this is different. Tonight, I was thinking of how there are so many people in the world, so many with so many issues/difficulties but here there is no one. Here at the Owen Oval – free camping place. It is a bit spooky, being so dark, so quiet, and we just watched an episode of ‘Fargo’ (# 8, season three) which was a bit off-centre. Narda thought she heard some sounds outside – but after investigating we realised it was just the telly and some wind outside sounds.

Owen is a bit small. Sixteen blocks square is the whole town; four streets in each direction. And being of this size makes Owen one of the larger towns in this part of the Adelaide Plains area. We are surrounded by the towns of Stockyard Creek, Salter Springs, Giles Corner and Hamley Bridge. This area made the world news two years ago when bush fires wiped out huge areas and people died; Pinery is only 10 Ks away and the fires became known as the Pinery fire (at least 86,000 hectares (210,000 acres) of scrub and farmland were burned. I personally was teaching at a school in the area that day and our school was surrounded by fire. A scary day). There are seven churches from the 1800s in the area so when the folks were not doing bush stuff I supposed they hung out at churches; though there are several pubs too so the folks could stagger from one extreme to the other. The town of Owen had two churches in the 1800s which combined in the 1980s.

Like so many towns, Owen grew due to the railway. See our blog about Tarlee (https://neuage.me/2017/04/05/terowie/) for the low down of a larger rail town. 1880 was when the train chuffed up to the local newly built station. Because of different track sizes (Adelaide had a broad gauge 5’ 3” and the system in these paddocks was narrow gauge 3’ 6” – obviously engineers had a communicational issue, they should have used 3D printing and made all the tracks the same.) there had to be a central place where the two tracks would meet and Owen got the guernsey. A nice little town to stay in…

Owen free camping…

What a quiet place. We easily found the oval which was listed in our free camp guide, off the highway onto Railway Terrace and down a dirt road behind the grain silos

Owen, South Australia

Owen, South Australia

– there was no one else camping/caravanning so we could run amok, ever what that means. There was a toilet block and a large rain water tank so why pay for a campsite that would have children, noise (those two go together) and charge $40? We didn’t need the electricity as we are getting more self-sufficient with the ability to charge our laptops on the car battery our phones on the caravan battery along with watching telly and for a backup we have solar panels. The only thing that will push us into a paid site will because it is too cold and we want to plug in and have heat and electric blankets and I could use my vitamiser (I made four days of blended gook before we left so I can go four days at a time without going into super-smoothie withdraws).

Owen free camping

Owen free camping

14/06 Wednesday

The next day – this morning, we rode the length and breadth of Owen, all four streets. We took a chance because we had left our bike helmets at home and there are steep fines in South Australia for riding without a helmet (there are steep fines for everything in this nanny state) but as there were few folks in sight the chance of a police patrol driving through Owen was extremely remote.

We did get on the road by 11 and did the long drive to Port Pirie almost an hour and half north. So far we have taken three days to put one-hundred kilometres behind us. This is what retirement is about; we are where we are and we are not in a hurry to get to where we are not yet. I have come up with a new line; not sure where or when we can use it, ‘DON’T JOIN THE CIRCUS, BE THE CIRCUS’. I will work on it. (you kidding me? You’ve done that ever since I’ve known you) Maybe that will the title of my next novel, well, my first novel.

Port Pirie

It has a bit of a bad reputation, with all the lead pollution and concerns about children with high levels of lead in the blood. So we were surprised that it is actually a nice little port town. Great bike riding, flat. We found a bridge that took us over to an island surrounded by mangroves, with a great view of the smelter works. We also discovered the one free camping place at an oval. A nice spot, very quiet. The came the footballers for their Wednesday night training. We were kinda glad that we had not parked behind the goal posts. It was fine, they did not bother us and we slept well.

We had a little minor crisis where we needed the internet, so we nipped out to MacDonalds for brekkie. I had thought about ringing Jane, who had move to Gladstone some years back, and was planning to swing by for a coffee. But I had no phone number. So here I was, lining up at Makkas, in Pt Pirie, for my free seniors coffee, and there she was, standing right next to me. She joined us for breakfast and we had a nice chat about family, old times, and moving to the country. What are the odds!!!!

Watched the first episode of “the Leftovers”. Not sure yet.

We stopped here once many years ago when we were on the way to Port Augusta to see about a teaching job at the School of the Air; going to remote stations and checking on students around the Outback. The job involved a lot of 4-wheel driving in remote areas that would take a day at a time to get to. We wanted the job but I think they thought we were too old. In reality, it was probably for the best as we get lost quite easily and we have no remote outback driving survival skills. Also, due to not getting jobs as outback station teachers we applied for international teaching and spent three years in Dalian, China which was so much better than living and teaching in Australia.

Port Pirie is a smelter town – not sure what that means but it is heavy industry and there are issues with lead and there has been for a long time. We did learn at our stay here on our return trip that iron ore comes from Broken Hill by train and is smelted (not sure if that is the word, no internet where we are now). Four photos below show the city from the water side:

Port Pirie

Port Pirie

The first thing we did was go to K-Mart and get new bike helmets for $7 each and a five-bucks lock and chain.

We stayed at the local footy oval – listed in our free campsites guide, ‘Camps Australian Wide 8th edition’. Being unsure whether there would be footy practice with hordes of young men yelling and kicking balls, we went to a far corner amongst some bushes of the property. Narda having raised three footy playing sons thought there would be practice because it was on a Wednesday. Sure enough after dark – flood lights on – they were there and I was happy that I had a footy mum with me as I wanted to park next to the toilet block in back of the club rooms which would have been a nuisance.

Port Pirie, Globe Oval

15 June Thursday

Now we have made some progress, still only just up the road. We drove through Pt Augusta and then stopped at the roadside place called “Tent Hill” or something like that. Real outback style, red dirt, salt bush and we need to do a little 4 wheel driving to find a nice site. Knocked over a few shrubs to make our way.

Tent Hill Rest Area -32.241672, 137.545887 Stuart Highway Barndioota

Tent Hill Rest Area -32.241672, 137.545887 Stuart Highway Barndioota

Tent Hill

Tent Hill Rest Area -32.241672, 137.545887 Stuart Highway Barndioota

‘The Wallerberdina station near Barndioota in the Flinders Ranges has been picked as the possible site for the nation’s first nuclear waste dump.’

We loved Tent Hill. So dark with galaxies and stars we rarely see due to city lights. It was quiet too, with a few road-trains throughout the night and three or four trains. I wanted to go for a night walk following a trail but then we thought what happens if the batteries of our torch (flashlight) fails, it was that dark, so we stayed inside our van and watched some horror flick to scare the poop out of us.

In South Australia, road trains up to 53.5 metres (176 ft) are only permitted on the Stuart Highway and Olympic Dam Highway in the Far North.

In South Australia, road trains up to 53.5 metres (176 ft) are only permitted on the Stuart Highway and Olympic Dam Highway in the Far North.

No, it’s not three trucks! They call them road trains and they thunder along pretty fast.

Don’t worry, he’ll feel the train vibrations in his buttocks!

16 June Friday

Overnight along the way – put up solar panels and Narda did laundry.

Fast becoming our favourite meal; frozen peas and carrots, fried Vienna sausages, and a yummy salad with spinach leaves and lots of blue cheese. Terrell has some vegetarian concoction there!

evening meal; vegetarian on the left, roadkill on the right

evening meal; vegetarian on the left, roadkill on the right

Drove couple of hours. We did one of the many roadside truck stops.

Narda found the best way to wash our ‘smalls’ was by filling a bucket, adding detergent, then let it bounce about in the caravan. By the time we got to our stop for the afternoon – night – next day, things were clean and hung out to dry. We used this method a few times though we did use a proper laundry machine once along the way for sheets, towels, pants, jumpers and life was good. And clean.

Next day we headed off at around 9; I did not sleep that well as we were worried about being completely cut off. No internet, no Vodaphone. I even though perhaps we should turn back and go to Eyre Peninsula instead. Well by the light of day, things look normal again, still no connections but it no longer mattered, and we continued on our way.

The next day (Friday, 16th June) we made quite decent progress. We stopped at Pimba; pulled into Spud’s Roadhouse, ate a meat pie and some potato flap things. There were so many caravaners there. Blimey, every grey nomad had hit the road. 

17 June Saturday

Woomera

Then we pulled into Woomera, which is still a town, and not dead. It has a school, functioning, a swimming pool, and a sort of museum and some lived in, normal houses.

Woomera township is part of an Australian Defence Force base (RAAF Base Woomera) which, along with the Woomera Test Range (WTR), forms the larger entity known as the "Woomera Range Complex" (WRC). The Range was first established in support of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project. This cold-war project focussed on the development of long-range weapons systems, principally to counter the growing intercontinental ballistic missile threat from the former Soviet Union.

Woomera township is part of an Australian Defence Force base (RAAF Base Woomera) which, along with the Woomera Test Range (WTR), forms the larger entity known as the “Woomera Range Complex” (WRC). The Range was first established in support of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project. This cold-war project focussed on the development of long-range weapons systems, principally to counter the growing intercontinental ballistic missile threat from the former Soviet Union.

Drove about three hours or less

Between Woomera and Coober Pedy

The next stop was supposed to be a couple of hundred Ks short of Coober Pedy. We had a site in mind, but it took a while to find it. In the end we used the latitude/longitude coordinates successfully.

So here we are, another roadside stop, pretty littered. Some people are so revolting. The first thing I did was don some rubber gloves and clean up a bit, at least around were we were sitting. There is much less traffic now; the caravaners have ‘pitched their tents’ for the night, and the trucks have taken the turn off to Roxby Downs.

Coober Pedy

Overnight Coober Pedy Opal Caravan Park

A favourite pastime in caravan parks is to sit with drink in hand in the afternoon and watch folks come in and park. OK, not everyone is good at it like Narda, we all know I never attempt it; but holy guacamole – seeing people do five, six, maybe a dozen tries at getting their caravan straight, it is such entertainment. You would think after being on the road for a while they would be good at it. Granted some are quite large – 25, 28 feet or more without the towbar, but why bring it to a caravan park until, well, one knows how to do it? I practice when we are in the bush with no one around but I have a long way to go. Granted I am young, only 69, 70 in August, but backing up with a trailer has never been my speciality; of course, we are still searching for what is. If you were with us Randy, I wonder if you would like a shot of backing up this thing we live in, into a tight spot. Our caravan is only 18 feet, 24 with the tow bar and a couple of tonnes. Narda gets it into a small area in our driveway at home something I may never attempt. Saying that, I can drive on a dirt track all day – unfortunately we got scratches on the side of our van from going too deep on the track back at Tent Hill Rest Area and we aren’t too pleased with that, but that is life in the fast lane.

Went to the Umoona Opal Mine and museum. Really worth the visit; it was free and had a lot of information. There was once an inland sea which covered vast areas in the centre of Australia – due to an ice age or some other reason – faulty mind and all – it all dried up. There are fossils and lot of photos and explanations about this, which I obviously do not remember but nevertheless it was all very cool. Next to the museum is the hotel, all of which is underground. There is a backpacker’s abode too so it is all very inexpensive. Except for the opals, some of which were in the $6 and $7 thousand-dollar range. I know little about opals though we have lots or a bag full of them at home. A collection from Narda’s father over the years. We all had something made with one of his opals; I had a tie clip, Narda some earrings and sisters and daughter-in-laws and sons all some thing or the other made with an opal. We once had a dude come and look at them but we have no idea whether he was a hustler or what so we kept them. They are mostly of the white kind which I gather are not worth as much as ones with colour.

There are about 3500 folks in Coober Pedy currently not counting all us caravan folks. There are a lot of caravans here; everywhere, it seems to be the main population that we saw, so the 3500 residents must for the most part be in their underground homes or at mines looking for opals. The dugouts that they live in have a constant temperature around 23C, which, considering it is in the mid to upper 40s in the summer (well over a hundred F), is lovely. A sign informs us that ’73 opal fields extend for a distance of 40 kilometres north and 15 Ks south of the township. 80% of the world’s opal is found in Coober Pedy – “the Opal Capital of the World”’. The pipes going up through the ground in the photo below are air vents for underground homes.

Finally on to Coober Pedy. It was a good, easy drive, only 200 Kms left to go. We pulled into the first caravan park, which also gave us a 10% discount as we have membership. So $31.50 per night. That’s OK, showers were hot, the place is dusty, and you have to buy water, but this is a desert. Bright sunny days, no clouds, and really cold nights. But tonight we have electric blankets!! Very nice.

Coober Pedy

This town is the weirdest place. Ramshackle, dusty, full of discarded trucks, and machinery. Also many lost looking Aboriginal people wandering around, some have a glass jar of opals, which they try to sell to tourists. I have yet to witness a sale. They look poor; sad sight.

But there is lots to see. Its very weirdness makes it interesting. Some of it looks like the set of Mad Max; actually I think it was. Today we did some tourist things, visited an underground house, called “Faye’s House”. This is a dugout built almost entirely by Faye herself, with the help of some friends. It’s quite big. She did eventually strike some great opal, as she dug deeper. In the 60’s , folks were using pick axes, not jack hammers. Hard to imagine doing that.

We also wandered through a very interesting museum/opal shop/ hotel/mine called Umoona. It was really beautiful; also no admission charge, which was a surprise.

18 June Sunday

Faye’s Underground Home – We did the tour, rated as #5 of top things to do in all of Australia. The basic story as I hopefully remembered correctly is that Faye came to Coober Pedy – forget why – and got a job as a cook and in the meantime started digging for opals. She was the first female to do so. After a while she started digging out her home by hand – back in the 1960s, and after ten-years she was finished. She did have help from two other women and the home was dug out more to have a couple of extra bedrooms. Apparently, they were party women – well they worked hard but also liked to party – and there is a wine cellar and an entertainment area. There is also a swimming pool attached outside – thus the windows. Of course, I have not explained this well but it is worth the tour.

Faye’s Underground House

We’ve been riding through the town on our bikes. Coober Pedy is built on the only hill in thousands of square Kms, and we chose this one to do our bike riding. Oh well, got some decent exercise. We also had lasagna at the local roadhouse. Their pasta night, $12, not bad at all.

Faye's Underground Home

Faye’s Underground Home

Having eaten our evening meals and breakfast in the caravan for the past six days we chose to venture out. What seemed most reasonable was the Outback Bar and Grill (not to be mistaken with the Outback Steak House chain in the States) which was next door to our caravan park, The Opal Motel and Caravan Park. Being Sunday there was a $12 pasta night on the menu , a vegetarian and a dead animal lasagne. Both were quite good and included a salad. I know that it is against my low-carb diet but a break from it occasionally keeps me from rebelling against the whole bloody thing. As we have not eaten anywhere else since leaving home, except for Spuds back near Woomera (that was dreadful; for lunch, a few days back Narda had some sort of animal pie and I had two fried-dried potato things) we cannot compare it to any other eating hole, but we were content.

After dining out we thought we would really tie-one-on and have an evening at the casino and throw caution to the wind. We had seven dollars in change in the glovebox of our truck and we decided to spend it all, knowing we would not get any of it back. Our last gambling spree was in Las Vegas in 2005 when we lost all four-dollars we put into the slot machine and we have not gambled since. Not at casinos anyway, we bought houses in the States and Australia and kind of broke even but not at casinos. To make a long story short, we went to the Desert Cave Hotel complex in the centre of town. It looked quite fancy and we did not bring any fancy clothes (well we don’t own fancy clothes full-stop because we are now retired). And in fact, looked a bit daggy/not feral but maybe close/bogins) so we cautiously went in. This is the best place we have seen in this town for information and exhibits. Everything seems to be underground. Long tunnels – signs telling lots of stuff. We didn’t go into any of the shops, probably because they were closed but we wandered until the museum closed at 8 PM. We would recommend this as the place to visit; especially all the way down to the lowest level. There is a restaurant, Umbertos, where people looked better dressed than us eating in a much fancier place than we would have chosen. Nevertheless, there is no charge to see the exhibits and to wander through the tunnels and learn about the opal trip. BTW, there is a ‘casino’ which is really a gaming room, which has five or six pokies in it. By closing time of the museum/exhibits/tunnels we felt like going home and never did spend our gaming cash.

Desert Cave Hotel

Desert Cave Hotel

19 June Monday

Back on the road again. This time we covered a bit more ground and drove about 250 Ks, heading for Lake Hart. It’s amazing, a large salt lake, completely still and devoid of birds. The ‘beach’ is actually a crust of salt, so I’m guessing the water is pretty shallow and very salty. But it’s beautiful!

Terrell has taken some amazing photos here; the salt, the incredible sunsets and our great camping position with the million dollar view! So far we have been left alone here, and there are lots of other  good possies….but none as good as ours. So we decided to stay 2 nights. Today we went cycling around the track, occasionally getting bogged in thick soft red sand. That’s when we had to get off to walk. There is also a railway line running past us, along the lake. I think about 4 goods trains a day pass us, with lots of carriages.  Something like 40, though we haven’t counted them.

The drive here was easy, with so many caravans on the road. The majority, by far…3 to one, are cars towing caravans. All the grey nomads heading north for the winter.

We shopped at the local and only supermarket to have enough supplies for four – six days of free camping. At the IGA market, which BTW has everything we could want; even all the healthy, organic, vegan/vegetarian stuff we (or at least me) crave and use to keep the physical shell plodding forward. But that was not what took me to the next level of consciousness; for the first time ever, in any supermarket anywhere I heard a Dylan song – ‘Positively Fourth Street’ – that just floated my boat. I have always related to that song and in actual fact was living in Greenwich Village and hanging out on Fourth Street in 1965 when this was released. My whole life just mellowed in front of me. Even Narda was singing it. It was akin to Paul on the road to Damascus – I saw the light. Not sure which aisle I was transfixed in but I do believe it was the health food one.

Needless to say, and Randy of course understands, after that metaphysical experience it was time to merge back with the mass-mind, the rest of society so to speak, we found the nearby dump point (I will not explain what that is – caravan people would know), got petrol, water (we had to pay for it, a dollar for 40 litres and spent a couple of bucks filling up the caravan, because of the shortage of water in this part of Australia), and by 10:30 am we were on the Stuart Highway headed back to Adelaide. We are planning our real trip which will be to Darwin and we will take a month for that then maybe go over to Western Australia, Perth, and back to Adelaide taking another month or two. The best time for this is between June and August as it is too hot other times. So that is our plan for next year. After three months in India from January to April. This year we may do another trip of a month in October when we get back from overseas. I think we are getting prepared for a more intense trip. Of course I will be 70, getting close to 71 next June… and being a mature person I will be making mature decisions, like let’s go way off the highway and wing it.

We arrived at Lake Hart @ 3:30, after changing drivers every hour as well as getting petrol half way. And taking photos of ourselves in restricted zones; Woomera is a missile testing space run years ago by the Yanks so it should be alright for me to be here.

OK, so we went less than 200 Ks and we took more than three hours but we are here now. Watching the sunset. Lake Hart is so cool. A lake in the middle of this part of the outback and salt. We found a rather secluded parking spot and rode our bikes to the lake. Between the railroad track and the lake is salt – layers of it. We have never walked on salt before and it is just groovy. Of course, we had to taste it and sure enough it tasted salty. As we learned back in Coober Pedy there was a huge inland lake hundreds of millions of years ago and there are still a few pockets of it today; this being one of them.

Lake Hart, South Australia

Lake Hart, South Australia

 

20 June Tuesday

Day at Lake Hart

Oh and one other thing. Three times there has been an explosion on the horizon! The Americans at Woomera rocket range testing something. Bit of a mystery though.  We will investigate. Watch this spot!

So far today there have been three large explosions. The largest was this morning @ about 11. Our camera was inside and I took too long to get the zoom lens out but I got these at 300 mm. There were two more with a few hours interval between booms and each was smaller than the one before. We rode bikes around the tracks for an hour and that was the excitement for today; well, except for, Narda deciding she didn’t like the carpet in the caravan anymore and ripped it up and carted it outside then made a bit of a fire to vanquish past growing microbes which created quite a smell in our peaceful fresh-air space of the Outback. Not to worry, we now have bare wood but no microbes good or bad colonizing on the floor. Not agreeing or disagreeing to the redecoration of our home I quietly sat and played/worked/created stuff in Photoshop and AfterEffects and Premiere and learned more about our new Nikon D7500.

Woomera morning test

Woomera morning test

21 June Wednesday

We left Lake Hart at 9 am, stopping for our first coffee break at ‘Rangers View Rest Area’, 220 Ks along the way. This rest area has toilets and a great view. From the signs about the habitat we learned that some of these bushes go for decades without water, there are trees more than a thousand-years old (makes us feel a bit bad for driving over any of this stuff when we do off-road camping).

Rangers View Rest Area

Rangers View Rest Area

stopped at Port Augusta for lunch, Flinders Ranges in background – saving that for another trip.

Bird Lake, Port Augusta

Bird Lake, Port Augusta

To Port Pirie Globe Oval to camp by three pm. Here again. Did this place on the way north, exactly a week ago. We had planned to spend a couple to three weeks but it looks like we will be about ten-days. The weather has been great, no rain, sunny warm days about 20 degrees Celsius and cold nights at about 4 – 6 degrees (close to freezing in Fahrenheit reading). We find ourselves getting up on the late side of seven in the morning, once we have the gas burner on to have coffee and a bit of a bath the van warms a tad. We have hot water bottles that still are warm in the morning, which is about 8 – 10 hours of keeping us warm buried under blankets and a quilt. We sometimes watch a video in bed and other times wrapped in a blanket but by 9:30pm we are either asleep or close to it. We did not set up for TV as there is so little worth watching. We have some of the latest movies we collected at our last stay in Cambodia couple of months ago, but for the most part we watch TV series. We were able to download this week’s episodes of ‘Better call Saul’, ‘’Veep’, and of course ‘Fargo’ with the park’s free WIFI, which made staying at the caravan park worth the money; along with heating our van, having electric blankets all night, showers; the little comforts in life. Lately we are watching ‘The Leftovers’ which is a bit ridiculous, though we have now started season two and read that season three was filmed in Melbourne so we will stick with it. For the most part, it is dark and quiet at night, even here in Port Pirie. Here now at the oval at 5:30 there is footy practice – 5:30 and the sun has already set. Today is the shortest day of the year, probably the longest in the north. Imagine watching something like the ‘Leftovers’ and it is dark and quiet outside. Once in a while Narda will say, ‘what is that sound?’ so being the protective husband I put on my robe (to cover up my PJs covered with monkeys –  have to look a bit macho in the face of a threat) and go outside making a loop around the van and saying ‘I think it was just the wind dear’ or ‘perhaps an animal’. It was worse when we were watching ‘The Walking Dead’ and camping in remote areas – especially near train tracks. That was spooky. ‘The Leftovers’ is just dumb. It is by the same dude that wrote ‘Lost’. We were a bit addicted to that one.

Once in India we were staying at a resort and after four days of watching for hours a day someone checked on us as we had been in our room so long, seeing if we were OK. We are not so bad anymore usually not watching more than two of an episode in the evening. Still, camping in remote areas or as now at the local footy oval in perhaps a not-too-good part of town; it can get creepy. Not as bad as a few days ago, when there was no phone coverage or radio as we spent three days too far from any town. Often where we camp there will be no one else within sight so if some cannibals or thieves or Republicans realise we do not have healthcare insurance decide to do the bad on us we are a bit stranded.

To finish off with our daily life on the road, we start dinner early. The easiest is sweet potato and spinach boiled and mashed, (Dutch stampot!) a salad, mushrooms or some veggie burger, schnitzel, or other happy-animal-not-being-eaten product and Narda has road-kill or something similar. We eat well; I have my low-carb grainy/nutty bread I made back in Adelaide, and low-carb – sugar-free cookies, and my low-carb seeds and nuts breakfast with a smoothie of yogurt, kale (I use powder on the road as my smoothie is really a shake as we don’t have electricity), protein powder, coconut drink, spirulina, and whatever else I can shake in the mix. Narda has more of what she refers to as a normal diet (and I always thought mine was the normal diet). Randy of course would be eating road-kill or whatever else was fished out of the meat section, but it would have to be grass fed and organic. Our solar panels give enough to keep our laptops and TV charged and our gas stove takes care of the cooking and if we are too cold, it does warm the place up a bit. Life is good.

22 June Thursday

Pt Pirie

Next morning, back on the road after two nice quiet days at the salt lake. We are now camped in Pt Pirie at the free site on the oval, and yes it has been a week, and the footballers are training again. They probably think we never left. Just chatted on the phone ( WhatsApp…who knew) with Bren who is currently in Pai, Northern Thailand, enjoying his summer break.

We put up our shower tent today as we decided to stay here at the oval for another night. Having hot showers is not too difficult. We have a ten-litre tank we put on the stove and get the water to about 40C and it has a shower hose and that’s it. Clean hair and bodies. Taking a shower while people play outside. Feels kind of strange to be naked in a tent and hear people kicking a footy nearby but the result is good. This is the first time we set up our tent on this trip, now I think we will more often.

 

Port Pierie Globe Oval

Port Pierie Globe Oval

We had breakfast out this morning. Something we rarely do, but a break from my seeds and grains is OK once I suppose. And we have saved money and our budget line is looking good so I thought ‘what the heck, I will take the Mrs out for breaky’. So we rode our bike to McDonalds where I had an egg and cheese muffin for $3.60 and the free senior’s coffee (they don’t do that in the States, but in Australia if one purchases a three dollar item they get a free coffee; if a senior. And surprise, surprise they never ask me for ID to see how old I am. Some places give a large cappuccino but here it is just a regular, which is still a $3.50 value) and Narda got the deluxe breakfast; a muffin with meat and a piece of lettuce (and yummy tomato chutney) and an egg for $6 and a free senior’s coffee.

So, Randy. I am happy you came on this trip with us. Last night I laid awake for quite some time thinking how everyone from my past is dead or I can’t find. I mean people I have had experiences with outside of Narda’s family (who, by the way,  I have really enjoyed for the past seventeen years). I have contact with two people that I knew long ago (Marta, my brother’s girlfriend and who wrote a book about him, who I knew from her visits to my brother in about 1963 and Kathleen who I knew from about 1964 and who could have been my first girlfriend – she remembers me as that, so it could be correct. I saw both a few months back when we were in New York) and I am friends on Facebook with a friend from New Orleans in 1973 but I find it frustrating I cannot connect with anyone else and say ‘remember when…’? So, it is amazing Randy, though dead, has decided to come on this trip. I wanted to bring a few other dead people (my son, Leigh, my brother, my other best friend after Randy, who died in Guatemala a few years ago, couple of people I was in a cult order with in the 1970s, some tripping friends from the 1960s and a few others I have had some in-depth experiences with) but no one would join me, so it is just Narda and Randy and me here exploring the Outback.

23 June Friday

Then 2 more nights at the ‘free’ camping ground in Pt Pirie. As we were about to leave, we discovered two things; 1. Our battery was completely flat and 2. We were not supposed to camp here. So for the battery we rang the RAA, who were there in ½ an hour, pretty good. As we were waiting for him, a council guy came by and informed us that we should not be camping here. He said some neighbours had complained. He was very nice about it though. I guess when the locals saw our shower tent, and all the washing hanging on a line strung between 2 trees, they might have thought that we had moved there permanently.  Oh well. We did get 3 good nights there.

We are bright and early, make that cold and early. Six AM, could not sleep more, stayed rugged up for another half-hour, then decided to go to wherever the next place is. Looking through our free camping guide another place looks fine and less than an hour away so by 8:30 we are fed, washed, and ready to drive off. As usual we check to see if all is ready and as Narda is driving first today I stand in back waiting for the blinker and break lights check. Narda is soon outside the truck saying the battery was flat. How could that be? Oops. We left the van plugged into the car and while blissfully watching the next two episodes of ‘The Leftovers’ (still think it is a bit lame though season two may be a tad bit better than season one, though can’t say why, perhaps the actors have had a season to practice working together and are more chilled. Spoiler Alert: now half way through season three, we love it, like ‘Lost’ more and more, and filmed in Australia; how good is that?) and charging the laptop and phones and having lights on drained the car battery. After an hour, the RAA dude showed up and got us fired up.

Fortunately, perhaps, we were packed up and ready to go as a council person stopped by to say we were not supposed to be camping where we are. The place to stop was along the roadside in front of the oval, not in back amongst the trees. He said a resident on the street behind us complained. What? Why would someone complain that we are camping? Surely, we were not bringing the tone of the neighbourhood down, it is a bit on the feral side already. Maybe it was our string of laundry between trees with socks and undies they didn’t like, or was it me showing Randy around and telling him about South Australia. Bunch of losers worried about our lot out there. Nevertheless, we said we were waiting for the RAA and the council dude said there was a good place to camp alongside a lake ten kilometres out of town so we will go there next time.

Blyth Football Club

Blyth

If this had happened a few days ago when we were at Lake Hart, out of reach of phone coverage we would have been in a bit of a bother. We will change our carrier when back in Adelaide. We have been with Virgin on the Optus Network for the past three years, and not being so far from towns has been fine. I pay $30/month for two gigs of data making it quite reasonable, but if it does not work in the Outback what good is it? Asking others who had full coverage in the Outback with internet and phone and they had Telstra. One lady, older than me, who was trekking past where we camped (in the image at the top of this scribble – on the dirt path) taking photos of plants and bugs said she uploaded her photos from her Canon to Facebook as she took them. Damn, I am behind the curve. I bought this Nikon D7500 because of SnapBridge “to have a permanent WIFI on the camera to upload as you go anywhere in the world” they said, “even without being on a mobile plan”. I cannot get the bloody thing to work and will be hanging out at “Diamonds Camera” in Adelaide where I bought it a few days before we left on this trip, until they have me online. I am sure I will be OK in Denmark in a few months, but we are planning to spend three maybe four months wandering India at the beginning of 2018 and I must be an absolute pro with this camera and be able to upload on the go by then.

Because the battery was so flat we drove a couple of hours to Blythe and are now set up at the footy oval in town for another night of free camping. This is our fifth night in a row without connecting to power or paying to stay so that is a record beating our two four night stays before going to a powered site. The solar panel is out but a cloudy day is not going to give us much but we should have enough for TV tonight. As we got here before noon we have a day to ride our bikes around town. As many other towns we have driven through, Blyth has houses for sale on every block. There are two churches: one is a private home the other an art gallery. A small one room library where we bought a new book which is a story about the Outback for later reading and there is a small deli where we bought milk and a finger bun (for non-Australians, a finger bun is a roll with raisins and icing, I rarely eat even a bit due to my low-carb, non-sugar, boring-to-a-fit diet, but I split one with Narda putting butter on it instead of peanut butter; which is typically what a Yank does with any bread like substance – but Narda says, ‘you’re not putting peanut butter on it are you?’ so I didn’t, putting my American tastes into a box for future reference). There is also a hotel which we visited in hopes of a good meal this evening but their prices were quite high so we are back to the van for sweet potato/spinach mash and my veggie burger and Narda’s who knows what sausage like sculpture desperately attempting to pass itself off as food and a salad. I am sure Randy would eat that kind of stuff, he is Polish/French and even in the 1970s as I was perfecting my vegetarianism he was eating more meat than he had on his body. A common line from me was, ‘you’re not going to eat that are you?’ and a common line from him was, ‘you’re not going to eat that are you?’ and to think that I was once a tofu and tofu products manufacturer for eight years here in South Australia, and now I avoid soy as much as possible. Who knows? Maybe one day after fifty years or so not eating meat I will wake up and just eat nothing else. After all I am not doing it for religious reasons, I think I just have always been like this. I like animals and believe for the most part they are smarter than me so that could be why. And for fish, after living in China for three years it is obvious why I won’t eat fish. There was a slight disagreement between Randy and me back in December (2016) when we were living together and I took over cooking as I usually do, not trusting others cooking so much, and he said he would stop smoking if I started eating meat. Narda says I agreed, but I don’t remember doing so. Randy needed to stop smoking, he was quite ill with cancer and several other things and I wanted him to stay alive; at least so he could do this trip we are now on in his body and not by spirit alone, but me to stop eating meat?  – not sure about that. Of course, now if that was really the choice I would have. He did stop smoking then died a couple of months later. I am still a vegetarian and I am sitting outside writing this.

The last time he drove us was along the coast of Oregon last December from Eugene up to Portland. He was puffing on his vaporizer pipe (legal these days in Oregon) and driving 70 miles-per-hour in the rain and fog. We were too terrified to say anything so we didn’t.

Now we’re almost back in civilization. This area is called the mid-North, full of rolling low hills and farmland. Originally settled by the Germans, just as they settled the wine country in the Barossa and Clare Valley. So we found another free spot at the Blyth oval. We’re the only ones here so we’ll stay for a bit. Terrell’s asleep now; lazy Friday afternoon.

I sent a message to my higher Self but my higher Self said ‘refer to lower self’.

We are sitting here reading the owner manual to our caravan. OK, so we have had it for more than a year and here we are, after running out of power, and other minor annoyances, finding out stuff.

Blyth Football Club

Blyth Football Club

24 June Saturday

We were bundled up watching ‘The Leftovers’ and again in the middle of a bit of a scary scene the TV went off. Everything did. We had no power left. I had thought the two-hour drive from yesterday would have charged up the van’s battery but it must just have charged up only the truck’s battery. As yesterday was our first cloudy day in ten-days we did not get much solar. End result, no power. Wow this would have really sucked in a more remote area. We still had gas so we went to bed with hot water bottles. This morning I put the solar panel out first thing as it was a sunny day. We also discovered that there were no footy games today here at the Blyth Oval where we were camped. We asked someone yesterday and they were off playing Clare meaning no one at the club house. I found several outdoor power points and now have my laptop charging, Narda’s phone, my phone, and my defibrillator/ pace maker will get charged. There is also a nice large sofa and a carpet in this enclosed area I am getting powered up in. Thanks to the Blyth Footy Club for keeping us going. As it is ten am there is still a chance people will show up and use the clubrooms but hopefully by the time they do everything will be charged up. There is activity around the place, kids on bikes, motor scooters and it looks like in the next paddock area over they are setting up for lawn bowls but no one has come into my little covered area in front of the footy club. There is a dump point, rain water, and a toilet so we can preserve the integrity of our own.

So life is good. Life is free. The fact that we are now only an hour and half from home shouldn’t matter. I feel like when I was a kid in Clifton Park, New York and I would camp in the back of our farm amongst the pine trees. I knew I was, at least within eye sight, out in the wilderness, but in fact I was only a run to home if a bear or whatever animals they have in Upstate New York began ripping my tent in the middle of the night. I guess I am really only a bit removed from being a television-surfing-the-discovery-channel-explorer. Maybe after next month when I turn seventy I will become tougher and more risk taking. We don’t really take risks now. We just do dumb stuff, like charge the van’s battery with the car battery and have it go flat, or drive into a place we can barely get out of, or leave our cables and things we need at home.

After a family meeting, realising the choice was going home or staying another night of free-camping without electricity and not enough sun for the solar panels to help which would mean no TV watching and with darkness surrounding us by 5:30, we made the big decision of going half an hour down the road to a powered site. Here we are in Snowtown, twenty bucks for power, hot shower, and as we are train lovers we watched three long trains go by behind us in the past hour. We are the only ones camped here, we are about the only ones in town. Saturday afternoon, riding our bikes around the five or six square block town and nothing was open and there were no people around. For history buffs Snowtown became famous for their bodies-in-barrels caper – there is even a movie about it (2011 available). Bottom line is that there were 12 victims between 1992 – 1999, with about four being involved. The trial was one of the longest and most publicised in Australian legal history. We were told by a dude working in a garden in the park we are in that there is a good feed at the footy club a few feet away from us (we are camped at the footy oval) on Saturday nights so we are off to find something different than our usual mashed sweet potatoes and spinach. No doubt I will be lucky to find something to eat but Narda and Randy will luck out. We’ll tell all when we get back.

Snowtown

Snowtown

Our final night on the road. Snowtown is known to Australians as the place where a mass murder occurred. The Snowtown murders were a series of 12 murders committed by 3 men between August 1992 and May 1999. The bodies were found hidden in barrels.

Hard for a town to shake this off.

We found a nice powered site in the Community Gardens, and joined a whole groups of locals for a teas in the hall, catered by volunteers, probably raising money for something. A nice warm night in the caravan because of the power (we used our electric blankets) , then home th next day, only another 1 ½ hours of driving.

So, there we were, a good feed for sure. Dot’s Kitchen every Saturday night @ the Snowtown Footy Club. As expected I had the salad bar which was better than some pub’s salad bar but nothing spectacular except for seven-bucks I can’t complain. Narda had a meat thingy for nine dollars and we were filled and had a good evening out. Eighty-seven percent of the people, or more, were older than us. It reminded me of church social meals I got dragged off to at the Clifton Park Methodist Church when I was too young to fight my way out and find food elsewhere. We shared a table with a couple who were on the road too and they had many interesting stories.

It is the Community Club House. Looking on the wall at all the trophies for everything from darts to footy to lawn bowls and plaques and photos that date back to the 1920s, I am intrigued and write down some of the awards. For example, there is a photo of the ‘Champions of Champions, regional B Lower North Snowtown Bowling Club, 1934’ with a happy group of chaps proudly holding their trophy. Does anyone remember them? Was this the highlight of their life? Do their grandchildren tell other grandchildren that back in 1934 a family member, or perhaps a friend of a friend of a family member once was on the Snowtown Champion of Champions team? How important are our achievements?

Dot’s Kitchen every Saturday night @ the Snowtown Footy Club

Dot’s Kitchen every Saturday night @ the Snowtown Footy Club

 

25 June Sunday

We left Snowtown at 10 am and got home about 12:30, put the caravan through a car wash, and that is it. We had told folks we would be away for about three weeks, then decided to make it two. Once we were on the road we got home twelve days later. We live in the moment and the moment got us to this moment and it was all good.

When we got home the rain began. It was a great trip.

The idea was that we were going to take Randy to Melbourne to see my son Sacha then to Sydney and put him on a plane back to Eugene. Sorry that this is not going to happen. Sacha and I have our surname because of Randy. Back in 1980, living with Randy and others in Hawaii I was changing my name for reasons that are in my e-book and Randy said, ‘you think you are such new age people, change to that’. I replied that it sounded tacky, Terrell NewAge but after a study of numerology and doing an astrological chart of his suggestion I found that by replacing the ‘w’ with a ‘u’ I would have a much better time of it so I became Terrell Neuage. What I discovered quite quickly was that I definitely was not a new age person so coming close to that term was a mistake. I spent the next twenty-years rather miserable, so numerology for surnames sucks to say the least. Of course, the past seventeen years since being with Narda have been great but I doubt that was due to being Neuage.

We have five weeks before we are off again. Next time we write here will be in August when we go on a Baltic Cruise, spending my seventh birthday in St. Petersburg, Russia, then six weeks in Denmark. We are planning to go camping again in November for five or six weeks, maybe heading toward Western Australia.

No matter where I go, Randy, I will miss you. Yes, the person all the way to the right is Randy; a combination of a hippie, individual, non-conformist, a metaphysical dude of the first order. A new age person who completely lived life on his own terms.

Randy, Terrell, Narda

Randy, Terrell, Narda

THE VIDEO FOR THIS IS AT https://youtu.be/le0kERcvp38

Arcoona Station

Arcoona Station

outback sunsets

outback sunsets

“Coburg’s Earthmoving is serving Yabbies”

 30 April –  2017 somewhere in Australia

Monday morning, we had the big breakfast with eight family members and my two mentors; Maggie and Mabel. As is usually the case the eight family members sat around at the table talking and Maggie and Mabel and I went outside to play. When those adults came outside Maggie and Mabel complained that they were not paying them attention as they raced up and down our miniature racecourse then eventually one adult (not counting whatever I am) watched. Maggie yelled out ‘everyone look!’ so she managed to get a larger but not complete audience, though their father was inside, probably watching footy or whatever young Aussie males do.

When we got tired of the adult non-attention and outside we did the usual thing, computers. Maggie at age five likes the games but I am trying to steer her toward programming and Photoshop. Mabel is starting to use Photoshop, a few months ago, in Washington D.C., Liam, age eighteen months, give or take a month, had his first lesson in Photoshop… so bottom line, who wants to hang out with adults who no doubt are talking about politics when they can hang out with younger humans who want to play?We told everyone that we were leaving Tuesday but by Monday afternoon we started packing the caravan to drive to Melbourne. We had booked in a caravan park for Friday – Sunday in Melbourne giving us five days to get there. Five days for 1000 kilometres should be a couple hundred a day. That is about two or three hours driving. We don’t go very fast with Narda liking to stay around 90 Ks an hour and getting anxious with me comfortable at 100-110, so to maintain equilibrium in marriage I try to stay around 90. Not sure why but we took a long time packing and did not leave until after four pm. About an hour away we got to Truro Roadside stop. Roadside stops are fine and there are many listed in our free-camping book, “Camps 8”. The only problem is that on a main road, it is noisy from trucks all night, which was the case with the Truro Roadside stop.

Looking up Truro we find that it is known for a spate of killings; about eight in a few weeks a few years back and of course that is always what you want to read about when camping in a dark place alongside a highway outside of a small town. We watched the movie ‘Selma’ and I didn’t think about the serial killings again; until I awoke at two in the morning. We drove on the road that Martin Luther King and his mates walked to Selma which was the basis of the movie a few years ago, giving us the feeling that we were part of something that had happened some time ago that changed the southern mindset for a while.

As we approached the Victorian border we saw the ominous sign, “no fruit or vegetables in the Riverland or an on the spot fine of $350 applies”. We had a large bucket full in the van. Damn. So being thrifty and conscious retirees, we pulled over into the next parking bay, turned the gas on, and boiled the tomatoes (yummy tomato soup), the sweet potatoes, broccoli and something else green (yummy stampot….it’s a Dutch thing) and the apples (yummy appelmoes…another Dutch thing). So congratulating ourselves and feeling very smug, we drove past the sign and the bin where we should put our precious produce (an American thing), and happily ate for free for the next 3 days; leaving money in the budget for more Crispy Crème Donuts.

We were up bright and early (and not killed by anyone, which was pleasing to us) and continued our epic journey to Melbourne. Perhaps it is not epic mileage-wise as we recently did a round-the-world, four-month, trip, but epic in the sense that every moment is epic or could be… or possibly part of an epic-experience that we call our life.

Coburg, another dying town. Terrell and I have decided that what Australia needs is to spend lots of money on trains, and revive all these lovely country towns. Fill the country with a maze of trains. Some could be high speed, connecting small towns with cities and employment. Terrell decided that he will be the mayor of one of these towns, and I can be the post mistress. Hmm. And Coburg can open up a dedicated yabbie store instead of leaving it to the earthmoving store. There were 3 general stores in the past we discovered on our exploration using our bikes, each with their own speciality: pizza, petrol and other general goods. Two of them now boarded up.

And yet there was a beautiful riverside park in Coburg, welcoming ‘grey nomads’ to park there for ‘a small donation’. There were many caravans and RVs there.  The park was great alongside the Murray River, with some amazing scenery, wildlife, old gum trees, tracks for cycling and grassy areas for camping.

A source of happiness for me is waving to the other drivers with caravans on the back.  When they wave back, I smile. It’s complicated though. You have to be careful not to be offended if they don’t wave back. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes the driver is too young and too trendy. Or perhaps their rig is just so much superior to ours. Or perhaps they are concentrating on their driving, with a huge Mac truck tail-gating them. So there it is, small things in our life.

Our next night was at Kings Billabong camping area 8 km south-east of Mildura. Mallee Country outside of Mildura. For our friends, not familiar with Aussie stuff, a billabong is an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end. Wikipedia. Mallee Country is an informally defined region of north-western Victoria with Mallee trees like in the picture below.

We buy Mallee roots for our fireplace as it is slow burning. If Mallee roots are really your thing, there is a contest every year for the world’s largest. See; ‘Guinness World Record officials have put a little town in north-west Victoria on the map — thanks to a very big root’ (of course to Australians ‘root’ has a different meaning so if you’re here from overseas be careful with some terms: Root (verb and noun): synonym for f*ck in nearly all its senses: “I feel rooted”; “this washing machine is rooted”; “(s)he’s a good root”. A very useful word in fairly polite company. http://www.koalanet.com.au/australian-slang.html). The town staved off a challenge from the nearby community of Tooleybuc to take out the top honour’. Who knew? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-27/mallee-root-festival-sees-ouyen-take-out-big-record/8389516

We camped at Psyche Bend which is part of Kings Billabong Park campsite. The road becomes corrugated  soon into the park which rattles our truck, caravan, and us to smithereens. Being new at driving off-road we have always gone slow over them and put up with our bones clinking against each other. However, asking folks lately, it seems we should be driving much faster, like 60 – 80 Ks instead of 15 – 20 Ks, and deflating our tyres which we have never done which of course means having to pump them back up which means buying a pump of some sort. We have a lot to learn before doing the loop (driving around Australia, taking six-months to do which will involve lots of off-road, outback driving). We’re planning to use the upcoming month of June to get in some real outback driving by going to Coober Pedy (opal capital of the world) and getting off road north of there. Watch for out blog of that trip sometime in June, probably toward the end of June. Needless to say, we did not drive very far but took the first camping spot we saw along the billabong. Below is the road leading to our campsite.

The place was ideal for tent camping and not our 20-foot thing we pull behind our truck but Narda, being the great backer-upper that she is, got us out of an almost impossible spot the next morning. We rode our bikes over to Psyche Bend as the sunset to see the waterbirds (pelicans, swans, herons and ducks) on the large billabong. There were several other caravan campers there making the spot we chose ideal. We could turn up our TV or radio and not test how far from the caravan we could go before still hearing us. We started watching the classic movie ‘Manchurian Candidate’ but being so quiet and dark and a bit chilly we got under covers and were asleep probably about 8 pm. Early, with the sunrise, the cockatoos, galahs, rosellas, parrots, and honeyeaters all let us know we were in their area and seemingly were having conferences with the usual loud mouths and disagreements one hears at a conference.

Photos below are where we camped at Kings Billabong Park on the right and the photos on the left where we camped along the Murray the next night in Nyah.

Taking our time getting to Melbourne, not that I was putting off seeing Sacha who we get to see about twice a year, but that we just want to travel slow, we managed to drive almost three hours before our next stop which was at Nyah Recreation Reserve Camping Area, alongside the harness racing track and alongside the river. Not only is it free camping, though there is a contribution box which we added to but one can stay for seven-days unless there are horses running amok on the track. We found great bike riding areas there too. The town of Nyah is quieter (deader) than our last exploration of Terowie, South Australia, see: https://neuage.me/2017/04/05/terowie/. There is only one shop to purchase milk etc. open anymore and all the other once-were-shops are boarded up. Our bikes, not the cool racing bikes others have, but bikes we bought our first month of our three-year stay in China working at Dalian American International School and sent to Adelaide, take us to many off-beat places.

After four-nights/days of free-camping we stayed at the Golden Nugget caravan park in Bendigo. We bought solar panels so we could get power for longer but we ran out of water which is something we need to work on before taking our next trip. I got a power inverter so we could keep our computers going; I’m good with roughing it as long as I have my Nikon and laptop and smartphone charged and at the ready. We could probably go without watching a video or one of our Netflix series but a computer and camera are a must on every trip. I could even do without a phone for a day or two seeing that we do not use it as a phone, Sacha is the only one who ever rings me, but we get 3G/4G all the time and it makes me feel secure knowing I could see if WW III has started or not. I suppose we would just hide among the gum trees and camp for the next few years. For the most part we avoid the news when we camp except to troll the headlines every few days.

Along the way, passing vineyards in Victoria we saw most of them covered with plastic. If someone could tell us why that would be beaut as we could not figure it out.

Today in Melbourne, we are back in a trailer park (for those Aussies who don’t know what that is, watch an episode on Trailer Park Boys on Netflix). The community is amazing, everyone talks to everyone. And you don’t have to be cool or wealthy or intelligent or good looking. There’s the lady across the road from us who has 9 brothers. She came from Malta but will never go back “26 hours on the plane, are you kidding me, it’s too bloody far”. She has a grandchild I don’t think she has met yet. There’s the guy who is waiting for his son to pick him up. He doesn’t drive anymore because he had a stroke, He told his son it would be fine to drive “but just in the country” but his son is fine with picking him up.

Narda, the social one in our family of two travellers, manages to strike up conversations with folks quite easily. Me, I am happy talking to a tree or a magpie. Humans kind of confuse me. I tend to be the one making a meal, playing with some Adobe update, or taking photos of something I can use for my picture-textual-thingies that I have done since the mid-1960s.  (see https://plus.google.com/collection/E_6JaB, https://youpic.com/photographer/Neuage, or possibly https://www.flickr.com/photos/neuage/ for some I have done recently). Narda, seems to collect the misfits in life (that is why she married me) and gathers interesting stories from them. I think she should start a series of ‘tales along the way’ or some such narrative title.

Below is the ever-growing Melbourne apartment buildings, these to have 96 stories. Apparently, they are throwing together another one soon (The project consists of a 317-metre-tall (1,040 ft) apartment building with 1,105 apartments over 100 floors) that will be bigger yet. Already, they have the tallest building (Eureka Tower – 297.3-metre, 975 feet), an apartment building, in the southern hemisphere.

We stayed at a caravan park in Melbourne (Springvale) for three days/nights; Sundowner Caravan Park http://sundownercp.com/ as that is the closest to Sacha’s home. Melbourne is lacking in caravan parks and there definitely is no free-camping anywhere near. Sundowner was not as good as some places ($33/night which is cheap for Melbourne) that we have paid for in that there was no Wi-Fi but the hot showers are nice compared to a cold wash-up in our caravan. Also, plugging into electricity is good as our 12V caravan will not run my 1000W smoothie maker but does charge the computer, lights, fridge (though the fridge runs colder when on gas) and TV and radio. When plugged in we can also put on the heater making camping a luxury on a cold night. I made four-days of smoothies when we started and again I made that much to get us home. Being on a low-carb diet my kale, hemp seed, almond milk (yes, I soak my almonds then take off their skins to make my own milk), protein powder (pea protein), fruit, sprouts, yogurt, (we make our own yogurt every day too) and whatever else is laying about is my main nutritional intake. I make my own low-carb cookies and bread too which is fine because we have a gas oven. Along with vinegar (the one with ‘the mother’) and olive leaf oil extract every day, and of course no meat, I seem to keep my body going though Narda thinks I’m a bit high maintenance.

Three days with Sacha as always is good. For those who know him (he is not on Facebook or I believe he is but he won’t tell me what name he is using in fear I will embarrass him which of course is what parents have children for) he is doing well; thinking of starting a family with his partner of the past fifteen-years, still doing music stuff with a room full of recording stuff, and working for Melbourne Council with troubled youth and he is very happy. What more could a parent want? Oh, and he has a new car that he bought a week earlier, very sporty and fast, so he took us up into the hills outside of Melbourne for a tour.

We left Melbourne and stayed at Lake Bolac in a rain storm. We found a place away from others (there were three others camping in the area) and settled in early. Even with the rain we were quite happy with where we were. It was the darkest and quietest place we had been in. With a break in the weather we went for a bike ride. During the stormy night we watched the movie, ‘Hereafter’ with Matt Damon playing the role of a psyche who could communicate with dead people, directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood. I liked this movie as it is never far from my mind this sort of thing because of my son, Leigh – http://neuage.org/leigh.html

Lake Bolac, one of the stops on the way back was a surprise. In the middle of farming country, this substantial lake. The weather forecast was rather grim; strong wind warnings with the possibility of large hailstones. We discussed the possibility of finding shelter in a local hay shed. Well it turned out to be fine. The darkness was complete, with thick cloud cover, and though we did get some rain, the tarp we had added to the roof (we sprang a small leak) did the job nicely.

Wannon Falls Needing some waterfalls for a new series I am working on (video poetry) we stopped at Nigretta Falls then past Hamilton on B 160. See the clip below…

Along the way we stopped for sheep to wander off to a new paddock – see clip below…

On this trip we listened to ‘Lake Wobegon, A Prairie Home Companion’, with Garrison Keillor. Narda took me to one of his shows at The Town Hall, New York City, for my birthday years ago and she bought me a two-cd set of his shows for a birthday about five-years ago and finally with time to listen we had a great vision of all those Lutherans up at Lake Wobegon.

Our next trip will be to the Northern Territory for the month of June. We may or may not do a blog before then. Cheers. Narda and Terrell

Terowie

5 April 2017
Terowie, South Australia

Terowie, South Australia

Terowie, South Australia

Robert said he heard his mate calling him from mid-north SA. So he and his wife packed up, and moved there. They bought a house for $90,000 opposite Robert’s mate’s garage. He told us about the murders in Terowie.

“Just like Snowtown”, he said, “Maybe worse. These victims were buried in a wall.” (any American reading this may like to Google “Snowtown murders, South Australia…chilling reading)

It was a warm Saturday night, around 8 o’clock when all the young ones are out partying, or having expensive dinners. Not in Terowie. There was one young one. We saw her sitting on the swing in the local, nicely kept, playground. This was in the afternoon, on the Saturday. We returned later and she was still there, swinging.

But the boys were out, with cans of West End, sitting on upturned buckets and some old car furniture, shooting the breeze with Robert’s mate. This was where and when we found them. We had just set up camp on the nearby railway siding. We were feeling quite pleased with ourselves, with our shady little spot, free, and our new bike rack.

Then we discovered one major puncture in one of our bikes. Bugger. We remembered passing this servo on the way in, so we walked along the main street till we found it. And there they were. Action in Main Street. Having nothing to lose we asked the mechanic (Robert’s mate) if he might have time to fix the hole.

He said, “No worries”.

Nice bloke. He was the only one working, among the boys and their West End cans. We returned later and joined the friendly banter. That’s when we learned of Robert’s life story, his mortgage, the murder and many other things. In the end the mechanic refused to charge us. Blimey. We felt a little humbled.

That is Terowie. A little town at the end of its life. In its hey-day there were 2000 folks living there; a town of lovely stone buildings, a bustling railway town, where broad gauge trains have to unload their passengers, their animals and their goods, and reload them onto narrow gauge trains, heading north.  Now the town is sad. A few buildings; the blacksmith, the old post office, and the old general store have been converted into museums, but there’s no-one there.

And yet, it keeps on. A big “RV friendly town” sign welcomes you as you drive in. The toilets in the main street are kept clean by an unknown person, for the convenience of Grey Nomads, who camp at the railway siding for free. The mechanic, who is also the owner of the large Victorian hotel, used to offer counter meals. He recently decided to stop, because “the pub in the next town is also struggling, and there are not enough customers for us both”.

Why is this? There is a giant wind farm only 20 minutes south, with millions of dollars invested in hundreds of giant wind mills. Why is this not bringing some wealth into the area? Robert, who knows such things, told us that the money goes to NSW, and we don’t get any benefit as a state, certainly none as a town.

Hallett 2 Wind Farm Mount Bryan

Hallett 2 Wind Farm Mount Bryan

 

So there it is. We spent three days there; but it made quite an impression. The town has treasures, like absolute silence; what an unusual gift, and clear black skies where you see the colours of planets. It is enough. And if you’re wondering about the bodies in those walls, ask Robert. We have no idea.

ask Robert

ask Robert

Our Video – with kangaroos and real outback footage and heaps more – for first time internet users click on the white arrow in the image below – everyone else do the same.

Our first stop, real stop, not counting Elizabeth twenty-minutes from home was in Saddleworth, in the Gilbert Valley, approximately 100 kilometres north of Adelaide.

Wanting to be accurate I looked up Krispy Kreme store-locator. I am sure it is Elizabeth but I wanted to be sure. Perhaps their IT department needs to work on their location finder. It said the nearest one was in Missouri and Google provided a map to there which was most helpful.

Krispy Kreme location finder

Krispy Kreme location finder

 

Saddleworth is definitely a town that looked worth exploring. There is a caravan park there but we did not see a free site so we kept going.

saddleworth

Saddleworth

We were having a bit of a bother with our Pajero which had an engine light warning. We had it looked at and some minor repair but ‘Billy’, our Pajero (our caravan is “Holiday”) was feeling a bit under the weather and the further we went the worst he felt. By the time the trip was over we could barely make it up a small hill even in first gear. Currently Billy is booked in for surgery next week and Holiday is at the caravan shop getting a review of her situation with some add-ons such as solar panel so we can go further afield and do more free camping. We did limp into Terowie, a town we had passed through several years earlier. I even bought a fridge magnet there. This time the town was very quiet and though the entrance sign boasted 150 residents, most of those have since gone and places are for sale at bargain prices. We looked at the post office that was for sale for $105,000 with land, four bedrooms, all modernized with beautiful floors – I want to be the mayor of Terowie and being a Leo is really all the qualifications I need to succeed and Narda could be the post master.

We were alone at the free-camping along the rail-line the first night and the second night there were four others. The area was so large that everyone was very spread out and we did not have any contact which is fine with me but Narda likes to meet people and get stories such as above. I just want to be in a quiet place to write a novel or another version of my memoirs. (you can read my  original version of ‘Leaving Australia’ @ http://neuage.org/e-books/

We chose this town in part due to the flatness of it. After six-weeks recently in Holland and riding every day – even in the snow (this was January – February 2017) we were up for riding more. Our house in Adelaide is in a bit of a hilly area so we rode heaps – though there was not far to go; one end of town to the other – well there is five-minutes of our life gone. We did ride around the ‘suburbs’ which took another fifteen-minutes. This is a photographer’s dream place. I did not get anywhere near the amount of photos a ‘real’ photographer would have gotten. There are four or five old churches on one street, not Main Street, a couple old pubs and lots of buildings.

This was an important train stop between Adelaide and the North. One of their main claims to fame here is that General Douglas MacArthur paid a visit here with his family after WW II. For Australians MacArthur was some military dude for the USA, a five-star general – which is a lot, who was quite important during the time he was important.

General Douglas MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur

We decided to go to a place called ‘World’s End Reserve halfway back to Adelaide. Due to a combination of not getting internet where we were and our GPS, which hates us (I have spoken of this in a previous blog) we got hopelessly lost on a gravel road and never did find the place.

World's End Reserve

World’s End Reserve

We got to Eudunda, found some free camping spot: changed gas bottles, started cooking, smelt gas, panicked, drove home, got home two-hours later, and realised how good life is, once again.

Cambodia

Cambodia 2017

colourful Phnom Penh

colourful Phnom Penh

3 March Friday DAY 98 of trip

Friday, another big travel day. The Lotus Hotel provided an airport shuttle (200B = $5.65US) and we took an Air Asia flight to Phnom Penh, via Bangkok. Blimey those seats are tight. Oh well, it’s what you pay for. It was all on time, even the driver at the end was there sporting a sign. We bought a phone card and then headed out to the burbs of Phnom Penh.

We have had mixed experiences with buying phone cards with one expensive one; JFK airport, never purchase one at that airport. We got the ‘cheap’ one for $75 which turned out to have one half the data plan we were told it was. We needed a phone card to track our baggage that was delayed, by days, which by the way resulted in the airlines paying for more than $350US worth of clothing as we had on our Hawaii gear landing in New York City in December with our winter clothes in our suitcase. Thailand, we paid about $15 for a month of unlimited data and phone calls in Thailand. In Cambodia, we paid six dollars for six-gigs of data and two dollars more for phone calls in Cambodia. Compare this to our $85 plan in Australia which has much slower internet than Cambodia or Thailand and it is easier to see which countries it is cheaper to retire in. A phone plan in Australia with six-gigs would be about seventy-dollars a month. I upload one of my videos in Australia and a five-minute video would take maybe an hour, Cambodia about fifteen-minutes. For our three or four blog readers our YouTube videos of the past seven years are at https://www.youtube.com/user/neuage09 for seven to ten years before they are at https://www.youtube.com/user/tneuage there are about four-hundred videos of our travels to watch on a snowy/rainy/fluey day when the Travel Channel is seeming too slick and you want to watch some real down and dirty homemade clips of the back alleys of the world.

A fancy place, a hotel really, with maybe a dozen apartments, mostly lived in by permanent residents. Brendan came by on his motorbike, about 10 minutes from his place, and we had a nice meal in the hotel restaurant. I had the best Chicken Parmy for $6. A good start.

I had vegertaian amok – the traditional Cambodian meal is fish amok which is a sweet curry thing. I bought amok spices in Kampot last year and took several packs back to Australia to continue my love of amok dishes. Unable to find the spices this year I will need to make up my own: Chilli, turmeric (Madras & Alleppey), garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin, coriander seed, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, kenchur, black pepper, lemon myrtle leaf; then I will add them to coconut milk and yummy.

La Belle Residence suits our needs. Two-bedrooms in case one of us is having a restless night or one of our travelling mates decides to pop in for a visit or for Narda’s son to spend the night or a place to dump our suitcase as we have been using it for. I use the gym on the rooftop everyday with views of the city – more spectualar at night.

La Belle Residence gym

La Belle Residence gym

http://www.labelleresidence.com/

We spent the first couple of days taking images; both still and moving. Here are a few of our first hundred images. Photos that have been archieved through the various Google apps for the past decade for us is at https://get.google.com/albumarchive/114860736952666194539

Our video of our first few days at Phnom Penh is at Click Video

4 March Saturday DAY 99 of trip

Saturday, we started the day with a walk to the local shops to get some groceries. Pretty difficult walk, near our place it’s great, easy ressie area, wide roads and clean, but as we tried to cross a majorish road to get to the shopping centre, we found it quite hard to cross, and the traffic is amazing…we have to get our ‘Phnom Penh legs’ again.

Lucky Supermarket was quite expensive, after Thailand; at least this was our first impression, which later proved wrong. We took a tuk tuk to Bren’s to check out his digs. He lives in a nice bustling local street, and we walked with him to the Russian Market, not too far, though it was hot. To get there you have to follow the poo river, (or was it shit creek) named for it’s lovely smell. There we had some lunch, platters of Lebanese food, quite good. Later in the day we explored out own area, and found a great little cluster of local shops very nearby. Bought a bundle of veggies, and made some pretty decent soup for tea, with a little crusty bread.

The local ‘river’ is a smelly sewage filled waterway – the camera provides a different narrative. A peaceful, romantic, colourful, South East Asian scene. Our little river, ever so polluted with an oily surface and almost unbearable smell, ‘flows’ into the Mekong River. There are a few solid built houses but as we walked along the path next to the stream, river, whatever it is, we saw mainly houses built from rusting old pieces of tin with rotting wood holding them up. I did not take any photos because they are people’s homes and we are so obviously out of place walking in this area as it is. Perhaps we should be cautious. We wander around with our expensive Nikon taking pictures, putting on the 300mm zoom lens to close in on other’s lives with no fears of someone robbing us. Between our camera, phone, cash, we would easily pay for a year’s living of someone. If they grabbed our laptop that would give them another year of living well. There would be no point in kidnapping us because our children have no money to ransom us with.

Boeung Tompun Lake

Boeung Tompun Lake

5 March Sunday DAY 100 of trip

Today, Sunday, a slow start. We slept well, they fixed the aircon, so it was a nice cool night. I went and had my hair washed; OK, but she was a bit rough. We tried the hotel bikes, it’s a good area for riding around where we are, but you can’t go too far, or you’re back in the chaos.

6 March Monday DAY 101 of trip

Monday, took a tuk tuk ($6) to the train station to buy a ticket for our trip to Sihanoukville on Friday. Then we walked around the area where we were this time last year. The shopping centre (Sorya) is being renovated, so not much to see there. We decided to try the bus route to go home, caught No 1 bus ($0.75 for 2) down to Mao Tse Tung Blvd. The idea was to catch the next bus there, No 2. We waited in the heat for about 40 minutes (in the meantime about 4 buses went the other way…???) then gave up and tuk tukked it home.

Bren came after work, had a nice meal downstairs (the Chicken Parmy again) and watched “An Idiot Abroad: India) Pretty funny.

7 March Tuesday DAY 102 of trip

Tuesday was a nice local walk! Turned right at the end of our street and basically kept going through all the narrow streets. It’s quite a poor area, many smiles from locals and we certainly never felt unsafe. We stopped at one little stall to try what looked like oliebollen, but it was a savoury thing, potatoes and spring onions, deep fried, so yummy. When we finally reached another main road we sat and had a coffee; sweetened condensed milk and STRONG coffee, Vietnamese style. Actually really like it; tastes like a coffee lolly. The place where we sat had an incredible view of local life and traffic, see video below. This to me is Phnom Penh, not the fancy temples and pagodas, but the crazy, high energy tuk tuk drivers, moto drivers and traffic; no one gets upset, I never saw any road rage, just smiles.

See Terrell’s great traffic video   Click Video

in case you missed our clip of Phnom Penh traffic from March 2016, last year… Click Video

 

Next door to our ‘coffeeshop’ we heard the sound of kids chanting, very loudly, something. It turned out to be times tables, judging from their little fingers holding up numbers. Then they went on to sing “happy and you know it”, with a very strong Khmer accent, so that the English, if you didn’t already know the words, was indistinguishable. Terrell asked the teachers if we could go into the school and take pictures, and they let us. To any western teacher friends reading this; no comment!!!!!! On the return walk we found a large second hand store, where we browsed happily for a while.

8 March Wednesday DAY 103 of trip

Wednesday was another visit to the Russian Market, to meet Bren, who had the day off, for a coffee. We actually walked it this time, took about 30 minutes. Coffee turned into lunch and I had Scotch eggs, as you do in Cambodia. Then home for the mandatory nap, and stir fry at home with Bren joining us for tea.

9 March Thursday DAY 104 of trip

Thursday we decided to be tourists. So we took a tuk tuk to the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. This is on all the lists. Actually we were a little ho hum about it. They were nice buildings, lots of tour groups walking around, but I get much more excited sitting in a daggy café watching traffic and locals, than seeing all this overpriced stuff.

Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda

Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda

We wandered over to the river side after wards, and had a pretty average lunch. Then the worst thing was the Naga World Casino nearby. Talk about ruining an amazing place with high end, airport style shopping and casino where no one, except wealthy Chines businessmen , can afford to be. The place would have redeemed itself in my view, if they’d at least had a movie theatre, but no.

Bren had tea at ours again, this time omelettes and salad with some tomato soup, which turned out nice. We watched a few more episodes of the Killing, which is getting more interesting.

10 March Friday DAY 105 of trip

Friday, an interesting train ride. We decided to take the very local train to Sihanoukville for a long weekend. Found a great hotel (listed 1 onTripadvsior) The Deluxx Boutique Hotel, which turned out to be amazing. The room is so lovely, a soft sofa area, an amazing bed, so amazing in fact , that we have decided to upgrade our set up at home. We need a bed just like this one!

Just returning to the train; it was 7 hours of chugging; you could have walked faster…no not really, in a train with seats that don’t go high, and face each other…… toooo close. We were lucky, we didn’t have to make a foursome, but I felt very sorry for those who did, knees interlocking with strangers. Blimey. Still the views were gorgeous, and it’s worth doing.  We arrived a little sore and weary, but with that amazing bed, we slept like logs.

train to Sihanoukville

train to Sihanoukville

11 March Saturday DAY 106 of trip

Saturday; the room in this hotel is certainly worth hanging out in. We had brekkie at the hotel and then a swim in the pool, feeling like we had earned it after the train. Some sore bits to attend to. The we wandered off to the tourist part of town, first a windy, narrow, dodgy road, then tourist central. We ate lunch at a Lebanese joint, as you do in Sihanoukville (or Shitsville, Brendan’s version). A nap in the afternoon, this is becoming our pattern (blimey I’m turning into my mother). Dinner at Mike and Craig’s. We were hussled in at first; the place looked empty, but it become our favourite place, food absolutely scrummy. And cheap. After dinner, to the beach, Serendipity Beach, where we had a foot massage.

Serendipity Beach

Serendipity Beach

Last year about this time we were in the nearby towns of Kampot and Kep. Kampot is where Narda’s motor scooter fell on her and she received 3rd degree burns which now a year later is all fine; at the time, except for our insurance company flying us home business class, it was all painful and scary. We looked at spending a year or less or more in this area and think Kep would be good as it is quiet but Silhanoukville is also a good choice. So many places to live a year in and so few years to do so left – even if we had a hundred years left that would not be enough.

Sihanoukville has had a colourful and rough history and as other countries in the region it is become infested with tourists which is both good and bad. Sihanoukville gained independence from the French in 1954. [In the 1950s and 1960s control of the Mekong Delta by Vietnam required a solution to gain unrestricted access to the seas. Plans were made to construct an entirely new deep-water port. Kompong Saom (Kampong Som) was selected for water depth and ease of access. In August 1955, a French/Cambodian construction team cut a base camp into the unoccupied jungle in the area that is now known as Hawaii Beach. Funds for construction of the port came from France and the road was financed by the United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sihanoukville_Province]. Of course, as history shows us, the Yanks are incapable of leaving things alone. During the ‘American War’/‘Resistance War Against America’ (called the ‘Vietnam War’, or the ‘Second Indochina War’, in the States) the Americans bombed everything in sight then put Pol Pot into power to finish off decimating the country. But eventually places change. Sihanoukville has been rapidly become a tourist destination with a lot of building of new hotels the past decade. One wonders if someday Syria and other countries in the middle east will become tourist destinations once again. In the 1970s it was. Then we would be wandering around like we now do in Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam and Laos. Laying on beaches, shopping, hanging out with locals or at least eating with them and smiling and sharing moments even though the only common language was that we were humans.

12 March Sunday DAY 107 of trip

Click Video Train to Sihanoukville

It’s funny, I’ve been reading stuff about Sihanoukville, over the years, as a possible place to spend retirement time. We hear mixed things, my son calls it Shitsville, says it’s pretty sleazy, especially later at night. Our impression from these few days was positive. It’s got some ugly areas, and the tourism is a big part of it, but it’s also got some gorgeous beaches, lovely hills and great food, friendly folks, and plenty to do. I would like to try it maybe for 3 months or so, then give y’all a better review.

Anyway, today was a similar day, our first walk to downtown, saw some pretty intense markets, both local and tourist focussed. We took the tuk tuk to Sokha Beach, a resort area, to view the sunset, which was lovely. The whole beach is worth a visit. You can only access it though the resort. The our decadent evening, at least for me, where I experienced Nirvana: foot massage by two women, a cold beer, pepperoni pizza, all on the beach in the evening…all at once. Hard to beat.

13 March Monday DAY 108 of trip

Checked out at 11am then went back to Mike and Craig’s for fruit, and beef lasagne, (my favourite there) until 1.30 when we had a horrible ride back to PP on Giant Ibis. Seats too small, bus too fast; arrived a bit shaken up after 5 hours, but oh well. I watched 5 episodes of Walking Dead. It helped.

I stopped watching Walking Dead a season or so ago, but Narda likes it and keeps watching. I can imagine that watching the show and driving through Cambodia would coincide at some level. For me I spent the five hours or so in Photoshop and Premiere making a video of our time in Sihanoukville. I know I have said it before, but my little videos take a lot of time. I reckon I spend about one-hour per one-minute of video. If I include doing some stuff in Photoshop or After Effects it is longer. Maybe it is just me, I am slow and thick of mind – though I used to spend more time when I was doing our news show back at Dalian International school when the 6-8 minute clips done twice a week would take more than a dozen hours each and that is with my student’s helping (somewhat). I should do like others and just do live in Facebook and be happy with that. Instead I will take hours of video clicks and boil those down to a few minutes and try to get backgrounds and music/sounds involved. Not complaining just saying these little clips are quite involved which of course is my choice and I love doing it. Really! Which is more fun, watching Walking Dead or making a clip of some random videos or trying to find a handful of photos of hundreds to share?

Then a tuktuk to the Mexican Restaurant, ‘Cocina Cartel’ http://cambodiacartel.com/main/ with Bren, where I had pulled pork. So all is good.

14 March Tuesday DAY 109 of trip

Rang Chris this morning, it’s a bit tough for him because Jess is away; hard on Jess too, missing little Liam. This morning we went for another one walking our local area, which we really enjoy. It’s so interesting to see up close the lives of the people here; so, friendly, open, smiling, and yet living in really poor conditions. We had our morning local coffee at a little shop, the usual very strong coffee and lots of sweetened condensed milk (a coffee lolly). The mother made it (after some difficulty explaining we wanted it hot, not cold with lots of ice) and then left on her motorbike with a big bag of something. Three little children were left behind, one a toddler, and the other two little girls; in charge. When it was time to pay, we weren’t sure whether to wait until the mother returned, but then one of the little girls (no English at all) showed us some Riels for the amount we should pay, and took care of it all like an adult. Really amazing actually. She might have been 5 or 6 years old. She charged about 50c too much, so also enterprising!

Then the usual nap, and Brendan for tea.

15 March Wednesday DAY 110 of trip

On our walk this morning we followed the streets near the river to Boeng Tumpun Lake, which seems to be under threat from developers. It’s a really poor area, people living in humpies and huts.

In the evening we went to Open Mic Night at ShowBox, where Bren played bass. It was fun, we got to meet a bunch of his friends (Gary, Hannah, Justin, Tom, Nandi and others).

I liked Showbox. It was that sort of raw performance spaces one would expect to see decades ago. The pub was a throwback too; people smoking in a pub, sofas and comfy chairs, interesting old-school paintings. The only thing that has changed is that Narda and I were twice the average age; except for Brendan turning 40, I am only 30 years older than him; shit!

Open Mic Night at ShowBox

Open Mic Night at ShowBox

Click Video Brendan at Showbox

Narda and Brendan

Narda and Brendan

16 March Thursday DAY 111 of trip

Every day is special when one is retired but saying that I am not sure what we did this day. No doubt we went for a long walk in the morning, got lost, got a tuk-tuk home, had a nap, I did some gym stuff, Brendan came over for dinner, then we watched the series we are watching now, ‘The Killing’, and forgot to write notes for what we did for this or the next few days.

17 March Friday DAY 112 of trip

Friday, a big highlight of the trip. 40 years ago I had my first child at the age of 22. Here is is. We are celebrating this amazing person today. The dates of our 4 months away where planned so that we could end the trip in time for this celebration. Brendan had booked a dinner for friends and family at Long After Dark, a nice bar/restaurant near the Russian Market.  We organised a cake from a place nearby called “Crumbs”. Chocolate with traces of ginger, yum.

Peter and Stuart’s flight came on time , so on the video you can see their arrival; they stayed for the next few days. We managed to Facetime Chris and Liam from Washington DC for the happy birthday rendition. Some of Bren’s friends from Hanoi also made the trip (including a 10 hour bus ride, bless ‘em!! Good friends indeed!) The whole evening was fun, very gezellig. Us olds left at about 10.30; need to get that beauty sleep, but the show went on.

Click Video Brendan’s dinner party

Below, Brendan’s 40th birthday dinner @ Long After Dark http://longafterdarkcambodia.com/

Brendan's birthday at Long After Dark

Brendan’s birthday at Long After Dark

Ok, that photo in the bottom left is a bit fake (kind of a DC thing) with Baby Liam popping in (from DC) for a visit via Photoshop. Brendan’s father, Pete, and brother Stuart came up from Adelaide, arriving in the evening to their hotel then tuk-tuk to ‘Long After Dark’ so they were tired but persevered for a few hours. Brendan had friends down from Hanoi and co-workers, us, flown-in-family, and others who could have been friends or could have been passing traffic, and of course, via Facetime, Baby Liam and Chris from Washington DC. Overall, I think it was all quite the success. Of course, the bell was unique.

The bell started off as a purchase in the Russian Market a couple of days earlier when we were thinking ‘what are we going to buy for a 40-year-old who has everything’ (that’s not really true but it sounds good) when we were wandering around the market and saw the bell. That was the easy part. We then thought of engraving on it ‘Mr. Brendan’, which is what his students call him. (actually we thought that, but it turns out that the kids call him Teacher Brendan) That was the difficult part. We were unable to find anyone to do it in the Russian Market area so asking at our hotel we were directed to go with a tuk-tuk driver the next day and he would take us to someone who could do the deed. We thought of course it would be near where we lived; an hour later we got to an area where folks were engraving on things, over by the river, the other side of Phnom Penh, on a hot-smoggy-busy-day – oh, every day is like that. We were told it would take a day, and they charged much more than we expected but of course in Australia it would have been very cheap but being on a budget and in southeast Asia the whole process cost much more than it should have. Nevertheless, we returned the next day with our tuk-tuk driver, collected the bloody thing and had it for Brendan’s birthday dinner, which I am sure you saw when you watched the video.

18 March Saturday DAY 113 of trip

We wandered around Phnom Penh with Pete and Stu and Brendan, ate somewhere as people do, bought some of the latest movies on DVD for a buck, talked about going on a river cruise – we talked about that for a couple of days but never got to it.

In the evening we went to Brendan’s party at a pub, ‘Tusks’ https://www.tuskhouse.com/

This was the real party party, DJed by Vaughn, of Hanoi fame. It was also a great venue, lots of finger foods and delicious Sangria. I was waiting for someone to end up in the pool, but I didn’t see that; or we left early again, and there was lots I have not been told!!! 😊

We had a wonderful time over this very special weekend; many great memories, family time, meals together  and getting to know Brendan’s world a bit better.

We made a little clip of a couple of minutes showing the venue with all the players above shown Click Video to see Brendan’s party @ Tusks

19 March Sunday DAY 114 of trip

We took a tuk-tuk to Pete and Stu’s hotel, Aquarius Hotel, had our free breakfast (as Stu and Pete each had their own room and had two vouchers each we couldn’t let a good meal go to waste) then went to the riverside to see about a river cruise but we ended up going back to the hotel and swimming in the rooftop pool.

Swimming – Click Video

Aquarius Hotel rooftop pool

Aquarius Hotel rooftop pool

20 March Monday DAY 115 of trip

 

21 March Tuesday DAY 117 of trip

Left our flat at 6:30 am and unwilling to brave the morning traffic and air in a tuk tuk we got a taxi (ten bucks US) to the airport. It was a good choice as the usual morning movements were in full mode and we amazingly weaved in and out of traffic to get to the airport in about 45 minutes.

At Bangkok Airport we found an area – all the way over by the hotel/day-room area, that had few people in it and settled onto a couple of sofas and plugged into power, got some free airport WIFI and spent a leisurely four hours.

lounge at Bangkok Airport

lounge at Bangkok Airport

Our last flight, Sydney to Adelaide, seventeen flights all together. Starting with Adelaide > Melbourne then to Hawaii for a week, to Los Angeles > JFK. Took a bus down to DC to stay with Narda’s son, Chris and his family. After a few weeks in DC we went to Eugene, Oregon and caught up with my friend Randy from the 1960s and his friend Tony in Portland for a few days. After flying back to DC and a few weeks there we went to NYC for Christmas Day and on up to upstate New York to see my sister and her family and Kathleen a childhood friend. Narda had lunch with colleagues from our teaching days ten years earlier. We caught up with Marta who I have known since mi-1960s, she co-wrote a book about my brother. A few weeks back in DC staying with Chris and family and a visit with a colleague from Dalian, China, then a flight to JFK and a flight to Helsinki then to Amsterdam and six weeks in Utrecht, Narda’s birthplace. with lots of visits with Narda’s family, with a week holiday within our holiday to Belgium and Germany visiting Narda’s long-time friend, Mau (with an umlaut), in Hamburg. A flight back to Helsinki > Bangkok > Chiang Mai and a week there with a few days over to Chiang Rai to visit Tim and Agnes and back to Bangkok > Phnom Penh for three weeks and Brendan’s 40th birthday > Bangkok > Sydney > Adelaide, and that was this four-month trip. Of course, during this trip, we planned our next big trip. We’ll be writing about that in August and September.

So some last words from me too. This was a fantastic trip, our first (hopefully of many) real retirement trip. A mixture of seeing good friends, catching up with their lives, seeing precious family in Holland and reconnecting with them. In the case of Tante Willy, saying goodbye, (though I didn’t know it at the time) she passed away only a month or so later. Special highlights were, staying with Chris and Jess for an extended period, and getting to know Liam our gorgeous grandson, better. And then staying near Brendan in Phnom Penh, meeting his friends, seeing his new place and just enjoying his company. Another highlight was a couple of great days with some lifetime friends from DAIS, in Chiang Rai…..and sadly infecting them with our nasty cold virus, and leaving them sick. I still feel so bad about that. Also getting to know Sue, Terrell’s sister and her lovely family a little better in Oneonta, NY. And then there was Randy, Terrell’s lifelong friend, a special guy, a gracious host, and someone I have become very fond of.

I could keep on about all the hugs I got from friends at St Lukes, Albany Academy for Girls and DAIS. Unfortunately we could not see everyone; one couple from DAIS, now in Sedona, we simply couldn’t do the flights on our tight budget…..but this for next time.

In total we met/saw more than nineteen people from our past (in five countries: USA, Holland, Germany, Thailand, and Cambodia) and almost that number of Narda’s relatives in Holland.

So I am learning that TIME IS WEALTH!!! I read that in a book by Paul Theroux, from whence comes my best life tips.

And my little world of medical and diets. Good golly! There were seven times I had to make a fuss about scans at an airport. Because of my defibrillator/pacemaker, I need to avoid those scanning things. Never had an issue. In the States, I got patted down with a bit too much touchy/feely going on and in southeast Asia they barely touched me for a search. My diet though was a challenge. Doing a low-carb diet as a vegetarian is a bit needy I think. In the States and Europe I had my smoothies and low-carb meals but Asia; I think I blew it. I still had my smoothies, using a great vitamiser I bought in Holland but too much white rice and some pasta slipped too often into my diet. And of course, airlines don’t have a clue. Last year on our trip tromping around southeast Asia I put in for a low-carb vegetarian diet and got a plate of raw vegetables And of course being an old fart with lots of medical stuff I had to keep track of pills morning and night which is easy when staying in the same time-zone but on this trip days and nights merged and sometimes datelines just slipped out of the time/space continuum. What helped with the pills is having my pharmacy put them in little day (night/day) packs on a roll. We started off with four large rolls and now I am down to this week’s. it sure is easier than taking bottles.  I am off to my doctor in a week and I just hope she doesn’t put me back on more pills for diabetes because I stuffed up my diet part of this trip. As is the case with us old farts I have a series of scans and appointments with various doctors coming up just to get myself all on solid ground to keep on travelling.

I suppose what I am saying is that don’t let physical ailments get in the way of travel. I won’t start on my list of things; OK, I did a few, but there are more… there is little excuse not to travel. Flights are cheaper than ever. We did the four-month round-the-world flight for about $2500 Australian, each; food we managed to keep below an average of $40/day for four-months, not much more than it costs in Australia and that is with taking folks out to dinner a few times, an 80 Euro meal in Utrecht, but we ate a lot at home both for money saving and my diet peculiarities. Chris put us up for six weeks in DC, and loaned us a car, Randy and Tony for a week in Oregon, my sister in upstate New York, six-week house exchange in Holland with car. We did Airbnb in Cambodia and we went over our budget with about ten-extra hotels that we had not planned on but we took mini-holidays and this is an area we need to work on. From Australia flights to southeast Asia are only a few hundred dollars; Stuart was saying the other day that there was a four-hundred-dollar flight for four people ($100 each, Australian) to Bali advertised recently. Go to google/travel and choose cheap times to fly. Come visit us. We surely enjoyed visiting you. Do a house exchange; we use ‘seniors home exchange’ then all there is to pay for is the flight. Unfortunately, not many want to exchange with South Australia, though we are excited about a six-week exchange with Denmark later this year.

Bottom line; don’t let anything stop you from travel. See the world. Enjoy life and the many variations people live it throughout the world. I personally don’t want to go to the States until they get a proper government. The thought of being detained at customs for hours is awful. For the next few years, it will be the rest of the world and nowhere else.

TIP: For the young ones just turning 70 or maybe past here is a goody we discovered back in Bangkok. Narda noticed a separate priority line with no one in it so of course Narda directed us there. One of the reasons on their list was if one was over 70 they could do the priority line. I am not 70, yet, but Narda pointed out that I almost was. The fact that I was born in 1947, 70-years ago, was good enough, even though the actual date for 70 for me is sometime during the Leo cycle and I will be in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the day…more of that in August.

Back in Australia our first trip with our caravan will be to see my son, Sacha, in Melbourne. I usually bring him some tokens from my travels but this time I did not do well. Everything from anywhere is available at the Melbourne Markets and he basically doesn’t want more stuff. I did get him Kampot pepper which I hope isn’t taken at customs,

So, our last long flight for four months. I managed to get two hours sleep. Everyone else is asleep, even Narda. I am writing this and listening to my music with the fear that my headphones will pull out of my iPhone and I will suddenly awaken everyone around me with Janis Joplin, Jimi, Dylan or some other noisy singer from the 1960s blaring loudly into my ears.

Cheers

Some random photos from Phnom Penh out of several hundred. I will be using them in my ‘picture-poems’ some of which I post @ https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB sometimes I post them over at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/114899256523151949859 and/or https://www.behance.net/neuage

Thanks for reading ~ for some videos of past eight-years travel: https://www.youtube.com/user/neuage09 and before then, https://www.youtube.com/user/tneuage

short video slideshow of some photos we liked that did not make it into our blog click on the image below – oh and with music – sounds of Cambodia

Our blog from a year ago – January 2016 of Cambodia is here https://neuage.me/2016/01/21/cambodia-again/

The next four months any blogging we do will be about our caravan trips in Australia. Our next overseas trip will be August – September when we do an house exchange for six-weeks in Denmark and go for a couple of weeks cruise for my 70th birthday with St. Petersburg, Russia, being a stop on my birthday then out to sea in the evening, as I have been for the first 70-years of my life.

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

Thailand 2017

Thailand 2017

19 February Sunday DAY 86 of trip

19 February Sunday DAY 86 of trip

I love travel days. Always have. There is probably not a lot of difference between the family dog and me when it comes to the start of a journey. Thinking of when my two sons and our dog, ‘puppy’ (he never seemed to act like an older dog even after he was eight years old so we always called him puppy and never capitalized his name either), would go out to our car, he with great joy would leap in. Expectations? How are we to know what is in a dog’s mind or what they think will happen? Perhaps when we got to the vets his tail would quickly go down between his legs, or when we got to the beach there would be excitement galore in his pant and tail wagging, but at the start of the journey it was just go go go. That is how I am. I have somewhat of an image of where we are headed; depending on whether we have been there before or not but the actual journey, I am just open for it all. Narda does most of the planning details. I just get involved with the big picture; ‘let’s go to Holland, or be in St. Petersburg, Russia for my 70th birthday, visit where my son, Sacha, was born, in Hawaii, visit my mate from the 1960s, Randy, in Oregon. Narda spends days figuring out the flights and where to stay, including a lot of work in getting us a house exchange for a month or more. I am more hands on when we get to a place then I start learning about it if it is a new destination. I am a human embodiment of puppy, always ready to jump in the car, plane, boat, or just start peddling away on a bike. For example, just last week, in Woerden, in the east of the Green Heart (Groene Hart) of the Netherlands, the green zone surrounded by the Randstad, we would get all bundled up and excitingly get on our bikes and head toward Montfoort; but as would start in that direction we would think it was too windy and wow, six kilometres away and it is close to freezing so we would go the other direction with the wind pushing us toward Papekop which was four kilometres. Of course, coming back home facing the breeze was no picnic but getting there was a hoot. We made a video of it at https://youtu.be/OqdDvI2lLNY.

I am an airport person. I could live in an airport; well, not Albany International, New York (international because they fly the hour flight up to Montreal) and definitely not Dalian International, China which we transited 16 times in the three years of living there or any other reginal airport. Singapore or Amsterdam airport I could live in.

Like in The Terminal, Tom Hanks becomes trapped in John F. Kennedy Airport terminal when he is denied entry into the United States (wow, sounds like 2017 in the USA) and at the same time cannot return to his native country due to a military coup. The film is partially inspired by the 18-year stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Paris, from 1988 to 2006. OK, I could live in JFK or Charles de Gaulle airports too. I did live in the San Francisco International Airport for three days back in December, 1969  – long story – read my eBook ‘Leaving Australia’ (http://www.neuage.org/e-books) and yes, it is available through Amazon and Papertrell; eventually we got some money and went to Hawaii.

I love arriving in a new airport especially when I have no idea what anyone is saying and they are all dressed like they are at a Halloween costume party which probably is their national or religious attire. Airplanes are a bit predictable. We got to Amsterdam International, one of the best in the world, after a good night’s sleep at Hyatt Place (they had a special for 70 Euros for a great hotel near the airport and a buffet breakfast that was as good as top hotels in Singapore or Hong Kong) we spent a few hours at the airport having tomato soup and watching the traffic of people and planes.

Our first flight was to Helsinki. Narda, ever the social person, had a good chat with her neighbour, who turned out to be a Dutch ship’s captain. Never met one before. Enjoyed his stories about captaining a freight ship all over the world. He was currently on his way to the next trip, starting in northern Finland, and going all the way past Spain. What an interesting life. He told us about pirates near Somali and how they are really just poor kids, under the control of mafia type crime bosses; these boys risk their lives to commandeer the ships. We talked about social issues and he told us of a book he’d read where the suggestion was made to pay everyone a ‘living amount’, 1000 Euros per month. The unemployed and dispossessed young people would be so much better off, with the pressure to earn money, or look for jobs, gone; they would become more creative, perhaps study more, happier and some of the social problems facing communities would be solved. Apparently, this is being trialed in a region of Holland. An interesting and compassionate man.

In Helsinki, we had a couple of hours so not enough time to explore as we did on the way to the Netherlands when we spent a day wandering in the below freezing cold and snow. On the way back to the airport from downtown we fell to sleep and missed our stop and had to wait in the freezing weather for a train back to the airport but it all turned out well and here we are, off in another place already.

We each had an aisle seat in the nine-hour trip. Narda usually takes the window as it is easier to curl up to but this was a full flight so we had no choice. We were on Finnair’s new Airbus A350-900. There are only 67 in service so far in the world, with a two-year track record. Finnair has for their slogan for this craft, ‘experience the next generation of flying’. Not sure how that equated to us, still little room for us in peasant class. They say it is quieter, which Narda commented on, then there is some spiel about good petrol mileage, which really, who cares when you are a passenger?  And what this some bragging about their food? Good golly I hope not. Narda liked her dead animal fixings but for a vegetarian; wow, a scoop of mashed potatoes with a kernel of corn and a pea or two, really folks I would love to show you how to cook a decent vegetarian meal. And would I dare say I am on a low-carb diet too? I did that a year ago, on a flight from Australia to Thailand and got a plate of raw vegetables.

I had a yummy meal of pork meat loaf, with mashed spud and a salad mad of sauerkraut and something nutty. The other thing about the new aircraft is that the air is completely replaced every 10 minutes; or so I was told by my Finn companions, who were on their way to learn Thai boxing in Hua Hin!!

Their web site for this shows how wonderful it is to fly business and first class, https://www.finnair.com/lt/gb/a350 of course any moron will tell how wonderful business and first class is. We have only done it three times, all given to us: Seoul to Singapore – a flight cancelation and Narda pushed hard to get us business on the next flight because of our stress of waiting a few hours, Bangalore to Hamburg – got because we gave up our seat on a flight for an overbooked flight, and last year Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Adelaide because of Narda’s injury from falling off her motorbike. Here is their ad for economy. OK, time for fact-checking: all planes now come with 11-inch touch screens, all have lots of movie choices, most have Wi-Fi and it is expensive, and of course if you pay a lot more you can get Economy Comfort seats – most planes have this; and of course, my complaint, improved Economy Class meals. What? I would hate to think of what a vegetarian meal looked like before. Maybe just a carrot. Saying all this, Finnair was a good experience. The people were all really good, service was good, and I would recommend them. However, if you have a ‘special’ diet take your own food. There was no more leg room than any other economy flight.

Our Video to Bangkok Airbus A350-900 https://youtu.be/ByAcY3JP6tA

20 February Monday DAY 87 of trip

Arrived to Bangkok 7.30 am stood in line two hours for customs. Blimey, that was a bit hard after a long flight. Still, chatting to some Indians in the line, who understood very little English, and copying their head waggles, helped pass the time. We got organised, bought a local sim card ($17) and took the shuttle to U Tiny Boutique Hotel. http://www.utinybangkok.com/

A great little place, with a swimming pool, pretty comfy  beds, large rooms and a real family feel. We met up with a Dutch couple…..they are EVERYWHERE…..had some nice chats in the pool, and over a meal or two.

It is easy to spot the Dutch. They make us look short.

U-Tiny Boutique Home , Suvarnabhumi , Bangkok

U-Tiny Boutique Home , Suvarnabhumi , Bangkok

21 February Tuesday DAY 88 of trip

To Chiang Mai – Sunny Suites arrived four pm Off to Chiang Mai. A shuttle back to the airport, said goodbye to our new Dutch friends who’s names we never did get, took and airport taxi (150 Baht, plus 50 B tip….nice bloke) and checked into Sunny Suites…again, same as last year. We both slept very badly, oh well, no harm done. http://sunnysuiteschiangmai.com/

Sunny Suites Chiang Mai

Sunny Suites Chiang Mai

22 February Wednesday DAY 89 of trip

Terrell slept in until 9:20 me until 10:30. Rang Agnes re. going to Chiang Rai Saturday. Went shopping at Mall booked Sunny Suites for when back from Chiang Rai and to able to leave suitcases here. I bought some groovy red thongs (flips flops for you Americans) to replace the plastic white thongs I have been wearing for 5 ½ years, since buying them in Dalian on one of our first shopping trips with Sean and Jean and Kay and Frank.

I was not too well. Coughing heaps, then I had pain in my chest and coughed up some blood. So we went back to the RAM Hospital on the north western corner of the old town; same hospital that changed my dressings daily on our trip last year when I burned my leg on the motorbike. My Blood pressure was  139/69 and the  doctor gave me anti-biotics and cough pills for Bronchitis. I went to be early, at 8.30 and slept like a baby until 7.30 the next morning. Terrell stayed up writing until 11.30. The coughing, I think, is exacerbated by the high level of smoke in the air caused by the seasonal burning off of crops. We saw this in a documentary sent to us by Tim and Agnes, the pollution is extremely high at this time of year; the effect on people is the equivalent of smoking 2 cigarettes per day.

We ate at a street mall. Only a few blocks away, a very busy place. I got some stir fried stuff that no doubt was picked up in the local park or perhaps in a field along the way. I think it was morning glory but it was too spicy so I gave it away to a girl sitting at our table. On the spot socialization with passing folks is always good to write about because they will never see what I wrote. So here we go… the girl, a bit of a loud mouth from San Francisco is teaching English in a local high school. Teaching English is a back-packer special. She was loud, oh I said that, she had lots of opinions about useless to know things. Narda and I reckon we are smarter than young people not because we have better brain structures (most know that I did everything I could to erase every part of my brain in the 1960s and 1970s) but we believe we are smart from wisdom. We know shit because we have been on this planet for so long. Just an example, Narda mentioned that her son teaches in Cambodia and the girl’s response was ‘they don’t need any degree to teach in Cambodia’, not the fact-checking statement to shine in Narda’s perceptions of one. Especially after knowing all the years Brendan worked to get degrees including his teaching degree and that he is at an actual certified school teaching third grade with an American curriculum; ok, not quite Finland with their best in the world learning models but still he did a lot to get to where he is going.  So, we bristle a bit at this idea that foreigners go to Southeast Asia and we ain’t got no learnin’ to pass on to the locals. Anyway, to break up the boisterous California cool chick we had another one join our table. He went to sit down and missed the stool and landed on the floor. A good start to the socialization process. Someone brought him a proper chair and he settled in looking as stoned or drunk or a combination of the two as one could be. He informed us that he was 66. So what? I am 69 and I can at least get my sorry ass into a chair. He repeated his same stories about four times, as if he forgot that he had just told us he was from ‘way up north of New England’, that he had gone on a road trip and left his car in Florida, and that he had flown to London to visit his daughter and just ended up in Bangkok last week. He wasn’t too sure of what was going on though he had been in Chiang Rai the day before and tomorrow he was taking a bus north into the countryside but he wasn’t quite sure where. He told about some LSD trips he had taken, then the loud-mouth girl told about LSD she had recently taken; incidentally, I kept quiet – perhaps, with some difficulty. Narda is not feeling well and I am starting to get a scratchy throat so we went home and left the weirdos behind who probably said to one another that we were weirdos.

23 February Thursday DAY 90 of trip

Finally posted our blog from Holland. Took longer than we thought to do it. Actually these things take a large amount of time which we have not allocated for in our let’s-just-chill-and-see-the-world mindset. And the videos? Wow! Maybe it is just me being old and slow and lacking a few brain cells that I traded in for a good time back in 1966 – 1978 or was it longer? But I take a long time to do a video in Adobe Premier. A two-minute video can take me a few hours and a couple of the 5 – 7 minute videos I have spent many more hours. I reckon I spend about one-hour per minute of video. Images? If I get into a real photoshop mindset I can spend a long time fussing with a photo too. And of course we have no idea if anyone reads these either. They are mainly for our future reference for when we get older and MORE forgetful (help) to recall what we did when we were not at home babysitting or planning our next trip.

We went to our dentist, it is well worth it, about one-fourth the cost of Australian dentistry. Last year I had heaps done and Narda had a crown – Queen Narda – and the savings helped us pay for our ticket from Australia to this part of the world. Last year we cooked some meals at home but this year we are only eating out.

We found a nice dinner place last time, call it the ‘Green Door”. Our Dalian friends will appreciate that reference; thanks Sherry! Then we went next door and had nice foot massages. This massage place is a charity run for ex-prisoners.

24 February Friday DAY 91 of trip

Terrell had a filling done today; pretty good considering how much work we both had done last year. I guess that means they’re not over servicing? We enjoyed a movie, Hidden Figures, at the MAYA Lifestyle Shopping Center.  http://www.mayashoppingcenter.com/ Great movie, about a bunch of African American women who used to work for NASA as “computers”. These women where under-recognised, brilliant mathematicians and engineers and it’s a great story of hope and celebration. A very timely movie, given the current dark political climate.

25 February Saturday DAY 92 of trip

I was feeling better – we packed up and left our suitcases at Sunny Suites took — to bus station at 10 am with Agnes and Tim. Great to see them again, just fell easily into our friendship of years ago, when we spent some happy years together in Dalian.  Went to the local market; a really colourful place, and enjoyed dinner, which Agnes cooked, with our friends.

26 February Sunday DAY 93 of trip

Terrell was feeling very poorly today, raised temperature. I went down the road with Agnes and had my hair washed….nice! I’ve been on a course of antibiotics, so gradually getting over my bronchitis. Got 11 hours of sleep, blimey! Went to the local hot springs, a government run establishment; good sulphur laden hot water to cure us. The a great lunch at Pizza Jazz. We watched an episode of Black Mirror….eek….very violent, poor Agnes made herself scarce.

The house Agnes and Tim have is really nice, large open areas, light filled, with a great peaceful view over the rice fields. I can easily imagine living here. Bed also very comfortable.

27 February Monday DAY 94 of trip

Tim organised a driver for the day and he took us to the Giant Buddha, Wat Huai Plakang. It’s a pretty remarkable structure, 25 stories high. We got into Buddha’s head, taking the elevator up 25 floors. They are still working on it as our video shows. The view through the Third Eye shows the countryside. We were the only ones who went into the head. Perhaps because they charge about four bucks to go up and the non-European tourists don’t want to pay such high fees, or perhaps they are afraid of heights or maybe they don’t want to be inside of Buddha.

Wat Huai Plakang

Wat Huai Plakang

Then we met Ann Boey at Plaza and she introduced us to the new Bethany Children’s home. They have started on a new property, some 40 mins drive out of Chiang Rai. It’s an improvement, with room for veggie growing, also a dam which can be fished and more room for volunteers to come and stay. They were expecting a bunch of American teenagers ;  12 volunteers, to come for some weeks of working on the property. The accommodation was a bit rough, just a room full of mattresses on the floor, but I guess they’ll have a good time in a group like that.

That evening Tim and Agnes got quite ill and went to be early. Unfortunately I think we infected them with our bugs, which we seemed to have been carrying around from quite a while.

28 February Tuesday DAY 95 of trip

Feeling better, got up at 7 and  took nap 10- 11. Tim and Agnes still feeling pretty ill.

This morning we stayed home, everyone feeling a bit poorly. Tim told us about his research into micro-organisms and how they make up 70% of our existence. Really interesting stuff; we’re planning on watching some Ted Talks, and reading more. This is a whole new field apparently, and a really important new understanding of how we live and stay healthy.These microbes can be charted to show each individual’s makeup; Tim showed us his chart.

At around 1pm we got a driver to take us into Chiang Rai, had a bit of lunch at the Bakery again (BaanChivit Mai Foundation)  http://www.childfriend.com/baanchivitmai and then walked to the bus station. The trip to Chiang Mai was easy and uneventful. Terrell worked on his blog, and I slept So sad that we had to leave our dear friends feeling so crook!

We checked back into Sunny Suites, this time room 4. Actually a better room, it is easier to walk up the stairs. We walked over the road for sandwiches and just chilled.

1 March Wednesday DAY 96 of trip

Next day I still had a bugger of a mouth sore, now the 6th day of it, so we went to Chiang Mai dentist and got some cream. On our way back we walked along the wall, which was an interesting new walk. Then we ate at the Green Door again for dinner.

To get a good taste of Chiang Mai’s Old City it is good to walk around the wall. Probably takes about an hour or two hours if with a shopper.

2 March Thursday DAY 97 of trip

Today we checked out of Sunny Suites, and took a Songtoew to our new digs at the Lotus Hotel, near the old shopping Mall. It’s a huge hotel, quite amazing actually, completely in Thai style. We had a large room with  a sitting area, overlooking the city (see above, today pretty polluted from burning off agriculture). It was a pleasant experience, we hung about in the old mall, listened to a band as we had dinner (some guys doing  Billy Joel, golden oldy music)

Then there was Elvis right there in Chiang Mai. Of all the stories in the USA media, which by the way I no longer view or read, not even on Facebook or any other media – I actually am giving the USA a miss totally until they get a proper government again. With the current clowns in office I use only my Australian passport so I have no idea what is going on there but I will begin to engage in a few years when they sort themselves out and become a proper nation again – oh, so the story not being broadcast, that I know of, as one who no longer follows the news, is real-news, Elvis is in Chiang Mai. We saw him. See above video for proof.

We also paid a visit to the Chiang Mai RAM, just for old times, to get some better mouth sore cream, which seems to have done the trick.

Our return to this hospital was not a good past memory. We were there quite frequently last year after Narda fell off of her motor-scooter in Cambodia and got third-degree burns on her leg which was all quite serious but that was last year’s story. We only went to this hospital this year twice, once due to Narda being quite ill from some possible lung infection and again for some mouth-ulcer cream We don’t plan on going to hospital again.

Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel

Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel

And that is it for now.

Off to Phnom Penh for 18 days.

Good bye Holland

Holland May you always be first and never second.

Dutch Relatives.

4 February Saturday DAY 71 of trip

King Dish restaurant - Indisch (Indonesian) Restaurant

King Dish restaurant – Indisch (Indonesian) Restaurant

We went to dinner with Karen and Frank, Narda’s family, to the Indisch (Indonesian) Restaurant http://www.kingsdish.nl/.  This is about the smallest restaurant I have been to. The place was filled to capacity, sixteen diners. The couple who ran the restaurant painstakingly cooked us a four-course meal. Of course, being special, I had a vegetarian meal. The restaurant even posted this fact on their Facebook:

Dutch people are so big. There was our little group (I am only six one or two and Narda 5’10”, Frank is maybe six four or five and his wife a bit shorter than Narda, but others that came in; I thought it was the Dutch Women’s Basketball team, they were taller than all of us (not put together that would be just fake news and alternative facts – but they were several inches taller than me. I am looking forward to going to Asia in a couple of weeks just so I can stop feeling so short. No wonder I am a vegetarian, I need the attention.

Actually, I enjoy blending in and that many people, strangers, look like my family.

5 February Sunday DAY 72 of trip

We met up with my cousins Hans and Jose, who took us to a wonderful chamber concert, featuring an Argentinian string quartet, the Pavadita Tango String Quartet, performing for a small group of about 15 of us in Utrecht at the Paviljoen (www.paviljoenpop.nl).  ‘Pavadita specialises in playing Argentine tango yet dislikes to be labelled’ http://pavadita.com/.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqsQVrOhFYY

After the concert we met up with their adult children and enjoyed a meal at a Persian restaurant in the old city of Utrecht.

dsc_3286

6 February Monday DAY 73 of trip

We spent the morning meeting our uncles, then wondered around Utrecht for the rest of the day. We used the bus system. As we entered we tried to explain to the driver, at some length, where we wanted to go, so that he could tell us the fare. He gave us an exasperated look and told us in Dutch to get on board. Free ride!! So that’s how you do it.

photos-series

07 February Tuesday DAY 74 of trip

This morning our task was to get rid of some of our stuff. We put our winter stuff in a box and got a quote from the post office for 58 Euros for 10 Kg. Last month we paid $250USD for 20 lbs. Blimey, big price difference! For non-EU folks that is about $65 US for 20 pounds; close to one-fourth the cost of sending from the US. For some reason, we still have too much. When we left for Hawaii last November we had our winter clothing: coats, jumpers, gloves, scarves in our luggage but with them sent back now we still have more than we started. Go figure.

After that little adventure we took a random ride through the back blocks of Woerden. Aphotos lovely town actually, lots more to see.

08 February Wednesday DAY 75 of trip

Tom and Ineke took us to the place in Utrecht where mum was born and raised, and also to the street where I was born. Here is me at 3 years old, and then the same spot 59 years later, just outside mum’s place of birth.

narda-childhood-nd-family-several-photos

On the way home, a lovely lunch at the village of Haarzuylen at ‘t Wapen van Haarzuylen http://www.wapenvanhaarzuylen.nl/

This tiny village boasts an enormous restored castle, which is quite a contract and very interesting to see. It was restored by the Rothchilds family about 100 years ago. You can see some of the conspir theories when you watch this video!

In the evening we had cheese fondue, YUM! Hosted by my cousin Tanja and her husband and son. It was a lovely evening, we also got to meet Sandra, who drove up from Breda, and Paul who drove from The Hague. Really fun evening catching up with many family stories. Our mothers, sisters, have both died very recently, so we had a chance to talk about them and reminisce. 

two-cheese-fondue-night

Driving in the Netherlands is always a hoot. Not really! The roads, not the motorway, are so narrow and of course bikes rule. On the way to our evening fondue we, well the Tom Tom (GPS), were lost. We ended up twice driving on bike lanes. How did we know? Well having bike riders shake their heads, pointing, and of course the tell-tale signs with a picture of bikes on it. This has happened several times but rarely twice (and on the same bike path) as it did on fondue night. Years ago we were had rented a car which had German plates and people were shaking their hands, heads, bodies at us as we drove along a bike lane somewhere in Holland. Having German plates though either made it OK that we didn’t know what we were doing or we were just bad people. Dutch people (the older generation especially) have a thing about Germans and the Dutch people’s bikes – residue from WW II when apparently German soldiers took their bikes and never returned them. Seven or eight years ago when we were in Holland with Narda’s parents, Narda’s father said to Narda’s German friend, Mau, ‘did you bring our bike back?’ of course, he thought he was being funny but no one else did.

I have so much enjoyed meeting all of Narda’s clan. The Dutch Nardas are all cool. And of course everyone is taller than us – even her relatives – six feet two is short in Holland. I am short. Next time I will wear elevator shoes so I can be close to eye level with others. At least adolescents.

09 February Thursday DAY 76 of trip

Today we drove to Rotterdam. This had been on our ‘to do’ list. We started off finding what was reported to be the Netherlands largest shopping mall. Not quite what we expected, but what followed was amazing. We took an 75 minute tour of the Rotterdam Harbour, which is the most amazing harbour. I never realise the scale of this place. A great tour.

Port of Rotterdam

Port of Rotterdam

We came close to Rotterdam about a decade ago when Narda.s cousin took us in his speed boat from somewhere, perhaps Utrecht, up some river to Rotterdam. We went very fast to there then very fast back with the front of the boat seemingly above the water and us wondering if we were going too fast and soon would be airborne.

10 February Friday DAY 77 of trip

Today, a nice day at home, catching up on bits and pieces, and resting. We did venture out in some snow flurries, on our bikes to Lidl. Bargains to be had there; we stocked up on chocolate and beer. I think Terrell also bought some healthy stuff for dinner, can’t remember what it was. This bike riding is great; almost getting good at it. The biggest threat to our safety is venturing out at about 2.30pm when there are packs of tall Dutch adolescents riding, three or four abreast, like the clappers. When we are going the other way , they pretty much ignore us, and leave a tiny narrow section of the bike path for us to continue. It’s only a matter of time when, either I will land in the canal, or I will take a swipe at one of those kids, and push them into the canal.

two-of-us-on-bikes

11 February Saturday DAY 78 of trip

Today it snowed, really snowed. We almost cancelled our appointment with Oom Piet to visit some relatives in Hardewijk (Tante Willy) and Ermelo (Oom Leendert). But we didn’t and had some really lovely visits. We did slip and slide a bit, negotiating the driveways and smaller roads, but by the time we hit the freeway, it was pretty good, and one our return it had seriously started to melt.

Who doesn’t love snow? We meet heaps of folks fleeing the stuff, not us. My favourite story is when we were living in upstate New York, about 2009, and our schools were closed (New York City, not a very often occurrence) one Friday because of snow (only a bit over a foot) and we heard that there was much more snow in Boston so we took the Amtrak train and spent a weekend tromping through the snow in Boston. When we lived in northern New York (Saratoga Spa) we used to take turns at being ‘hero of the dawn’ which was shovelling a path for the car and getting it warm at seven am so we could head out for work. On this trip we did not see much during our five weeks in Washington DC; just a few inches, and a bit in Boston and as we wrote earlier (https://neuage.me/2017/01/05/snow-country/) we did get stuck in snow in New York at the end of December, but we (especially me) always want more.

series-of-photos-in-snow

12 February Sunday DAY 79 of trip

The next day, 5 cms of snow fell overnight. We had planned to go to church with Rienk’s family, but phoned in the morning and caught up with them at around 12.00. Again the snow had started to melt by then which seems to be the pattern in Holland. They have had little freezing of the last 10 years or so, which is bad for the Dutch, who are a nation of very keen ice-skaters. World weather patterns are certainly changing as we continue to spew carbon into the atmosphere.

We had a great lunch, good Dutch soup (pea soup, or tomato soup, or bean soup, thick , rich , hearty and salty….the very best) Rienk’s kids, Linda and Marco, and Maartien and Aty, and their teenaged boys are so lovely, such a warm, welcoming family.

dsc_3838

13 February Monday DAY 80 of trip

Took a random bike ride to Papekop. It was pretty cold, but we set out, ‘cross country’, following the canals rather than the roads, and ended up in a tiny village near the train track. We sat down, cold and pretty tired, in a little pub and had our favourite Mostert  (Mustard) soup.

See video

We, perhaps just me, had thought we could ride to Utrecht, only an hour or two on our GPS. However, we struggled with riding four kilometres and it is a bit cold, bottom line, not this trip. Maybe in the future when we are more fit we will do it, of course we will be a bit older too so maybe they equal each other out and we are stuck with short rides.

What always amazes me, as a not Netherlands person, except by relationship, is the bike culture. Not sure when they start riding but we see children that must be four or five riding alongside their parents and the younger are propped up on a baby seat or in a wagon sort of set up.

chuildfren-in-a-basket

14 February Tuesday DAY 81 of trip

Today an experiment. Can I cook lunch to meet my uncle’s exacting Dutch standards. We picked them up (Piet and Rienk) as promised, and took them back to our little place in Woerden. We made them stamppot with spinach, gehakt balletjes and fla for dessert….and also appelmoes. All good. They said they liked it. Talk about pressure…cooking a Dutch meal for these experts.

On the way back we went to Els’s place in Vianen. Els my newly found cousin, lovely woman. She knows my family and remembered me as a small child.  nnnn

at-els-with-pete-and-rinke

I was adopted back in 1950 in upstate New York. Here again I got adopted, this time 2017 in Holland. Not sure whether I subscribe to the ‘America first but can the Netherlands be second’ routine. I like both equally.  I have enjoyed being a part of the Narda clan. I lost count around twenty folks. And of course being a Leo, I am pleased to hear from Narda that her family likes me. Some may even think I am funny at times which of course is a wonderful compliment. We love the food here and yes there is a lot little old fussy me can eat. I have my smoothies every day with kelp (so cheap here – in Australia it has become a trendy food so of course it is expensive) and protein powder, apple, orange, almond mild, coconut milk, hemp seeds (a new addition – hey this is Holland), chia, avocado and whatever else is around that looks healthy. If I am in an Oregon state of mind I look for organic crap to put into it. Food is cheaper here too. Much cheaper than Australia, cheaper than the States and especially Hawaii.

15 February Wednesday DAY 83 of trip

Today we picked up Hans and Jose for a road trip to Amersfort. It was a really enjoyable day, we had lunch together in the market square outside the old tower. The weather was sunny and quite warm.

Amersfort

Amersfort

16 February Thursday DAY 84 of trip

Nearly time to leave, Today we rode the bikes to Harmelen to return Ineke’s bike. Said goodbye to them and returned to pack and mail our box, and start cleaning.

Hans Albers, Marjam , Linda and Suzzanne came for dinner. A great evening, lots and lots of conversation and enjoyable company. Terrell cooked a killer soufflé, the best yet!

When we were in D.C. last month I would put baby Liam (age 17 months or so) on the counter in the kitchen and have him break eggs into a bowl then stir so we could have a meal of eggs in some form. We thought since we were making a meal with eggs we should video it for him which is below.

Video for Liam https://youtu.be/yop6glGzvRI

 

17 February Friday DAY 85 of trip

Off to Rienks’ this morning to return his bike, then washed the car, and cleaned and packed.

Is it us? It always takes so long to go anywhere. When it was just me things got thrown in a suitcase then out the door. Maybe a wet rag over some dishes, a bit swept up, hopefully some perishables tossed from the fridge, then magically, home got forgotten until I returned. I raised my two-children as a single parent the same way. Twice I took them from Australia to the States and once through Europe a bit; each time we just abandoned our home and went with an ‘oh dear what a mess we left’ when we returned. We moved house ten time in a ten-year period once when they were young. My life and by default, my children, too, lives were a bit chaotic.

No more; now model citizen, domestic wonder, if I were still raising my children I would be parent extraordinaire.

As always, we left the property in great condition. Our packing was perfect (well I get to clean the kitchen and Narda does the packing). It took us a day and a half. Washed and vacuumed the car. We spent weeks getting our home in Adelaide into shape before we left. This is all of course not just because we traded houses; this has happened every time we have left our home wherever it has been in the world. Narda wants to come back to an orderly and clean house. I must say I am not that fussed about a few things around the place but also I think after close to twenty-years I sort of understand fractionally the importance of leaving a tidy place and packing neatly.

Though all that time spent – I could have done a few more pieces of art, made another video, learned a new computer program, taken another selfie, done other stuff…. But not too worry. Life is good.

We did get into watching ‘Family Guy’ every morning on Netflix while eating breakfast so I felt I was still maintaining some of my core-root self.

And we did find a favourite place to shop, Jumbo. They were not in their present form as a supermarket when we were in Holland last time but they are large and everywhere now. And they have the foods we eat including what I need to maintain my low-carb-vegetarian and somewhat organic life style with. Bike riding to Jumbo became part of our ritual of the day; along with watching ‘Family Guy’ during breakfast, ‘The Blacklist’, and ‘the Killing, in the evening all on Netflix.

jumblo-trucks

18 February Thursday DAY 86 of trip

And here we are in the airport Hyatt hotel. We took the train from Woerden, arrived here early afternoon, nice room, and have been lazing about ever since. Tomorrow off to Bangkok.

Goodbye Holland, see you next time!!!!

 

seeing the world from Finnair with a bit of Amsterdam and Utrecht on the way
กำลังแสดงผลการค้นหาสำหรับ, เมืองหลวงของประเทศเนเธอร์แลนด์

Our next blog will be in a couple of weeks from Thailand

 

 

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

Two ponts and a castle

30 January Monday DAY 66 of trip

Previous to this trip videos: Riding on Rienk’s boat through the canals of Utrecht https://youtu.be/Per0jb8JszU Sep 17, 2012 / ‘Hup Holland Hup’, Narda and friend at the Dalian International School singing the song supporting the Dutch soccer team – https://youtu.be/9rrMeajC6v0 a classic not to be missed / another old Utrecht one – a minute and a half – https://youtu.be/7sGJR_jNymg that we uploaded Aug 28, 2009. We have done heaps over the years and maybe will post those later.

Netherlands > Belgium > Germany Road-trip

Video @ https://youtu.be/6AdcUP7g054

We left straight after breakfast on Monday morning to have a little foray into another country; a road trip. So ‘first thing’ was around 11am, not bad. We set the GPS to ‘no freeways’ and drove through many lovely towns and villages; almost all had a central very old church, and some surrounding cobbled stoned; old towns. We crossed rivers twice by ferry; quite a surprise. The ferries are ‘ponts’ in Dutch, in case you were wondering. The ‘castle’ loomed and surprised us completely. We’d actually become quite lost amongst the market gardens, with lit up glass houses, fascinating; no idea what was being grown, perhaps flowers, and then there it was! So we accidently found the best preserved castle in the Netherlands, built in the 1300s and restored recently. Just beautiful.

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland) http://www.kasteel-ammersoyen.nl/

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland)

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland)

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland) http://www.kasteel-ammersoyen.nl/

The castle was originally built in 1350 by Dirk van Herlaer along the river Maas. 
Ammersoyen was a unique castle as it was built using a fixed plan, 
which was unlike other castles built during this era. 
The design included four wings that were constructed around a center court. 
Each corner had its own heavy tower for extra protection. 
The castle included a gatehouse and was originally surrounded by a moat. 
At the time, it was one of the finest defensive structures in the country.

In 1386, the castle was lost to Duke of Gelderland who gave the castle 
to his illegitimate son. 
He then sold the castle in 1424 to Johan van Broekhugen, Lord of Waarenburg. 
For the next four hundred years, the castle only exchanged hands through inheritance.

 After a couple of hours, we re-joined the freeway and sped along to Maastricht. Terrell had booked an amazing hotel, which was a country estate, Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt; think “to the Manor Born” for the low season price of around 60 Eu. Really beautiful grounds and buildings. We also had a great meal at an Italian place (Il Bacaro, http://www.ilbacaro.nl/) in the city square, with some amazing old churches for a backdrop. We parked the car in the carpark underneath the plaza; all very easy. Maastricht is a beautiful city, a little different from the northern Dutch cities, perhaps more French influence here.


Getting off motorways is the way to see a country. I grew up alongside route nine in Clifton Park, New York. Throughout my youth it was a two-lane highway then it expanded to the four land road it is now. In New York, US 9 extends 324.72 miles (522.59 km) from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan to the Canada border.

route nine going through Clifton Park, New York

route nine going through Clifton Park, New York

The reason I am rabbiting on here about Route Nine is that when we do not want to drive on the freeway/motorway/turnpike/thruway/interstate/autobahn we say we will go on route nine; wherever in the world we are. Narda lived along Route Nine with me for a couple of years before we moved to Round Lake, New York then to Brooklyn then to Jersey City then to Australia and on the road again; always looking for Route Nine to get where we are going.

We found our Route Nine in the Netherlands though we do hope on the motorway lately as we have extensively explored the towns around us; mainly by bikes. See our previous blog with the clips of towns we love in the Utrecht area.

We had not booked a place to stay for the night as we wanted to figure it out along the way based on where we were when it was time to find a place to stay which in our world is early afternoon or about three to four-hour drive. As Narda mentioned above we stayed at Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt (http://www.vaeshartelt.nl/en/) in Maastricht. And yes, I do show this place in two different videos but who is counting?

31 January Tuesday DAY 67 of trip

The next morning we had a nice breakfast at the hotel (Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt), then returned to the city centre, and explored more of the lovely narrow streets and buildings. Found the worlds most amazing book store; amazing because of it’s location in an old, stately church with wonderful arches in the ceiling.

Selexyz Dominican Church in Maastricht is a real cool place – now a bookstore but dating back to the 13th century, the structure was a Dominican church until Maastricht was invaded by Napoleon in 1794 and the group was forced out of the country. https://www.libris.nl/dominicanen

The Basilica of Saint Servatius is the place to be seen at. The oldest of the old shit to see in Maastrict. Their website starts with the bells playing, well worth the visit (to the website) http://www.sintservaas.nl/ or for our two or three English readers…  http://www.sintservaas.nl/english/index.html we tried to capture the bells but instead had too many others sounds, like me complaining of the cold.

Terrell also got some more bits and pieces for his camera and I bought him a Maastricht mug for the good memories. Then we had coffee, which was served with little glasses of Baileys or Kalua, topped with whipped cream; pretty cool.

Maastricht

Maastricht

The rest of the day was frustrating as we tried to follow two GPS’s with opposing views, out of a city under renovation. We did quite a few hours of circling Maatricht before we finally sat down in a nice hotel for soup, to calm us down at Hotel In Den Hoof http://www.indenhoof.nl/.  The server there was very helpful and told us the insiders path out of town. “Just follow the letter “L” on signs, and it will take you to the road that leads to Liege.” Who knew? Good grief! Anyway it was not over. We drove for some more hours into Belgium, with a reasonably price hotel earmarked for the night. Just before Spa. Well, the two GPS’s did their thing again and got us amazingly lost…in tandem. So it took longer than we thought, but now we are happily there, in a modest, comfortable room at LE MIDI Hôtel, 4800 VERVIERS Belgium, nice and warm, and ready for dinner.

We both slept, uninterrupted, for 10 hours!

Maatricht video at 

1 February Wednesday DAY 68 of trip

Narda spoke with Mäu 8 am we decided to go to Hamburg 8.30.

Now there’s a rapid change of plans. We checked driving time, and distances and decided to do it. It took us 6 hours, and apart from getting freaked out by the fast German drivers, it was pleasant and uneventful. Easy coffee and pee stops on the highways (you pay 70 cents to pee!).


We prebooked (expedia) the Hamburg
Centrum Hotel Commerz am Bhf Hamburg Altona for 50 Euro. http://www.hotel-commerz-hamburg.de/  This turned out to be 3 minutes from Mäu’s place, a bit of luck. They provided some urban style (time garage down in a basement) for 10 extra Euros, which was a pretty good package as Hamburg can be expensive. Mäu came to meet us and we had some snacks at her place, met her Johann her 10 year old, recorded his drumming; pretty great for a kid his age, and had dinner with Mäu at ‘lorient’ restaurant a Lebanese food place  http://www.restaurant-lorient.de.

We are living in our bubble – we drive in our bubble – our bubble rolls along the highway close to the posted limit of 130 kilometres per hour (130kph= 80.77825mph) but we were often in the slow lane with the trucks. Germans have little sense of speed limits. I would see them at a distance in my rear-view mirror then there they go just their tail lights barely visible from being so far so fast away. From distant tail lights to head lights in seconds. Narda’s relative said he likes to see what his BMW will do and 190 is a good speed (190kph= 118.0605mph). Of course my question to him was ‘why not go past 200?’

I like the hotel in Altona we stayed at. The breakfast room reminded me of Faulty Towers as did the hotel but no one acted like that it was just one could imagine it being the same. The inn keepers were a couple who kept a good establishment moving forward. Breakfast was five euros which was cheaper than the 15 each we paid at the Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt or nine euros we paid the previous night at LE MIDI Hôtel, back in Verviers Belgium and it was the same European continental style spread; cheese, cold meats, yogurt, granola, coffee, and etc..

2 February Thursday DAY 69 of trip


Mäu came over to the hotel the next morning for breakfast. Actually a nice brekkie, lots of continental style choices, good breads, and ham and cheese and other spreads, yogurt, coffee, juices. It was lovely to spend time with her again, and despite not having seen one another for many years, we lapsed easily into our old long standing friendship; no awkwardness at all. This is such a great thing to have in one’s life.

Hamburg is one of my favourite cities. New Orleans, New York City, Hamburg – especially the Altona section. Nice walking distance to the river. We took the ferry to the new Elbphilharmonie centre – the new landmark for Hamburg. https://www.elbphilharmonie.de/en/

The Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter of Hamburg, Germany, on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe River. It is one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world.

Our video from 2009 of Hamburg, especially the Elbe River, Hamburg is at https://youtu.be/AZyKsEbatXI

hamburg

We left Hamburg and stayed overnight in Oldenburg, Germany – Panorama Apartment Cloppenburger Str. 282, 26133 for 60 euros. We found it through Booking.com as we drove through Oldenburg. All the hotels were more than $100 which is not much but when travelling for four months we try to save when we can. 60 euros is about $$66 US which is cheap for this part of the world. Not sure why it was so cheap as it was a two bedroom apartment with bunk beds in one room, a kitchen, master bed, large TV with some English channels, furnished kitchen and an Aldi supermarket across the street. We found the owners working on a storefront in the front of the building and as there was little understanding of English and Narda’s few German words got us a receipt and keys. They didn’t even ask our name or for id. Maybe in the future they will have this place up and running and charge more but it was a good stop.

3 February Friday DAY 70 of trip

Left Paramount Apartments nine am –Netherlands (A293 from Alexanderstraße > Take A28, A31 and A37 to Rondweg/N382 in Dalen, Nederland. Exit from N34 > A28

Lunch at Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden see their menu at http://m.deganzenhoedster.nl/en well worth it and a unique place at that.

Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden

Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden

Home at five pm watched three episodes Blacklist

Our video of our trip to Germany is at  https://youtu.be/QGdCKxunhyE  

Our next blog will be our final couple of weeks in the Netherlands and we will end this blog with a wonderful afternoon with four amazing violinist, Pavadita Tango String Quartet, performing for a small group of about 15 of us in Utrecht at the Paviljoen (www.paviljoenpop.nl) Sunday afternoon. ‘Pavadita specialises in playing Argentine tango yet dislikes to be labelled’ http://pavadita.com/

https://youtu.be/JqsQVrOhFYY is our video of this event

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

Returning Home

Finally settled into our European Holiday or for Narda returning home

See part one toward the end of our last blog @ https://neuage.me/2017/01/24/washington-dc-to-amsterdam-and-life-in-between/

22 January Sunday DAY 58 of trip

I was thinking most of 2016 that we would be in Holland for a month. However, the reality is five-weeks. Six-weeks in the States, Six here, and four in Southeast Asia. I think what I am concluding from what is going on in the States these past months is that most folks are concerned about fact-checking. It is all the rage and so it should be. We say that politicians are liars with almost everything they say. Alternative narratives are either accepted or lambasted. The narrative of life on earth is filled with alternative narratives, some seen as allegories some seen as stories for children some seen as creative twists of truth; religious stories, myths, fairy tales, what we tell our parents, children, partners  – ‘changing water to wine’, ‘I was doing homework at Johnnies house all last night’, ‘feeding five-thousand mates with a couple of fish’, ‘Santa coming down the chimney’, ‘gingerbread houses’, Cinderella, ‘a million and a half people at an inauguration’, not to mention all the Greek, Roman, Aboriginal, etc. stories. We were at the Women’s March in Amsterdam yesterday, previous blog; http://goo.gl/WQPBuE so there may be a lingering trace of an outside thought about fact-checking.

Nevertheless, here we are, a new blog. When we started this trip, and from ones we have done over the past 15 years, see http://neuage.us/BLOGS/index.html for a selection of our past one-hundred+, each one was per day. Now we are putting together groups of days. The last one covered ten-days. Bottom line is that this current blog is a blank slate.

What is exciting about today, Sunday, is that we have a whole month here, another thirty-days.

The first time in my life in Utrecht was in 2005. Narda’s first time was the day she was born, which of course, was not very long ago.

Saturday, June 18, 2005 Utrecht - The luxury of holiday. I got up at 10 AM and the 
others soon followed. A day without plans is so different. After the past six-months 
of getting up every day at six AM for work and of stressing because of all the work 
on our house it is good to have few concerns other than where should we bike ride 
Today? The only thing I ‘need’ to do today is find a charger for our video camera.
I found an adapter yesterday so I could plug the one we had in but as soon as I 
plugged it in (US 120 voltage into European 240 voltage) smoke came out and the 
thing became fried. We are driving to Belgium tomorrow for a few days and at this 
point I think we are just pointing the car we are borrowing in that direction and as 
long as we do not end up in the English Channel 
we should be fine.

As synchronicity would have it, not only where we in Utrecht a year later but we went to see the same people as we saw today (22nd January, 2017) as we did on Monday, June 19, 2006 Utrecht, The Netherlands – see http://neuage.org/trip06/June19.htm to read about our bike riding adventures eleven years earlier.

We drove into Utrecht as we have not sorted out our bikes yet. The ones left for us are not the right size; the man’s bike is way too large for me, and the woman’s bike is too small for Narda.

We visited Narda’s Uncles Pete and Rinke and cousin Hans. Pete, at age 90, has recently had his second knee reconstruction. A good indication of what health insurance is capable of when it is set out for the people. Rinke in his mid-80s is doing well. We used to ride around on his boat through the canals in past trips but this is our first winter visit and the boat is not an ice-breaker so no cruising this time. And Hans, in our age bracket, well Narda’s, I am in a bracket of my own; my sister has banned me from saying I am old so I fit somewhere between Narda and Rinke, interacts with us on Facebook so we are always a bit up-to-date with one another. We will explore more of Utrecht with him this time as he is retired now, the same as us.

Narda had a cold for four weeks in DC and now I have that cold. I managed to be up until one in the morning trying to breathe but we are troopers and colds will not thwart our explorations.

23 January Monday DAY 59 of trip

Narda rang Rinke this morning and asked if we could borrow a bike. In the past, we have often borrowed bikes from him and several times we have stayed with him. Rinke helped us get it into our rather small car so we could enjoy a month yet to go.

We spent a few hours riding around our local hood and in downtown Woerden. See https://youtu.be/TjTXv_y7zU0 = skating on thin ice in Woerden.

Woerden

Woerden

24 January Tuesday DAY 60 of trip

Left this morning on our bikes, the weather was very foggy; you couldn’t see too far.

Harmelen, Netherlands

Harmelen, Netherlands

Our plan was to visit Tom and Ineke in Harmelen, and cycle there. The GPS said 17 minutes, we took an hour. A nice effort. Had a coffee and a chat, told them about my bike which was a bit small for me. They promptly offered me Ineke’s bike which she never uses anymore. Of course I accepted their offer with glee. So now I am all set, bike wise!! After our visit we explored Harmelen, a lovely little town, never than some of the others, but certainly very liveable.

A part of the Rhine goes through Harmelen, news to us. We stopped at the local grocery store and bought some assorted goodies for lunch, cheese, a bread roll, yogurt drink, and assorted veggies for his vegetarian-lowcarb lordship!!

We a pleasant picnic table, covered in bright green moss and had a lovely picnic. It was freezing and rained a little, but we are not people to be deterred by something so insignificant as rain. The food made up for it! Got home at 4, saw lots of school kids cycling home on our way back…dangerous drivers, but so are most of the Dutch.

Harmelen picnic

Harmelen picnic

We left the bike Narda was riding and went off with Tom’s bike. It continues to fascinate me the biking in the Netherlands. Being a rather flat place it helps. There are roads just for bikes, even with lanes, traffic lights, and often there is also a walking path. Travel is unique here; train track, walking path, bicycle path, road of cars, canal with boats (not so much in winter) all side-by-side, going forward.

Still freezing we sought refuge at the only place we could find that did coffee, de kloosterhoeve, and to prove it is a real place here is their website, http://www.kloosterhoeve.nl the coffee was strong and it was good, we thawed out and headed down the road.

Narda needed some adjustments and the first bike shop we came to gladly got her into a royal position of comfort, free of charge.

25 January Wednesday DAY 61 of trip

We planned to bike to Monfoort, a mere twenty minutes away per our Google Maps. Forty-five minutes later we had gotten to the small village of Linschoten. By now we were cold, I was in pain (agony) with extremely cold toes. I thought I had frost bite (OK it was one degree above freezing, but my toes registered -20 both in Fahrenheit and in Centigrade). We went into the first restaurant we found, Café Van Eijk, http://www.cafevaneijk.nl/ which if you read Dutch there are probably some good deals. I had mustard soup which was so yummy that I looked up a recipe for it while eating. We asked the waitress if theirs was the same recipe as we found online which had leeks as a base but she said they did not use leeks so now I need to find a Dutch mustard soup recipe without leeks that is as good. Narda had some meat thingy but admitted mine was better.

We read on some sign that the Linschoten church was burnt by residents of Woerden in the 1500s. There were a lot of people cooked at the stake, mainly women that didn’t fit into the Christian ethos of what a woman should be like. Listen to our Linschoten video clip where Narda tells us about the good citizens of Woerden; which by the way is where we are living for five weeks, and their incursions into Linschoten just a fifteen-minute bike ride away, or an hour’s when slow like us.

In the evening we continued to watch our Netflix series, ‘The Blacklist’. We have now seen episodes in Adelaide, Hawaii, DC and now here. Even though it unrealistic, though in the ‘alternative’ world of facts we now live in, who knows? We like it, even more so now after living in DC for the past six-weeks. The thing is mostly filmed, or supposed to be, in DC.

Linschoten

Linschoten

Linschoten video https://youtu.be/5iJE6ErACAo

26 January Thursday DAY 62 of trip

Up at 6:30 this morning. Narda stayed in bed until 10 with the cold I had, now gone (back) to her. I worked on Photoshop and writing projects for a few hours.

Spent our first day home since arriving eight days ago, not that I am counting. A down-day that we used to incorporate with our travels so we could gather our beans to go off exploring the next day but since here, and even more since we have had bikes we have been gone all day, each day.

We baked today. Always a good thing to do when traveling with a fussy-boots (oops that would be me). Narda made her wonderful low-carb bread and I made my low-carb cookies. Our food budget is doing well in Holland with the prices here much lower than Australia and overall lower than the States. In the States we made a budget of $350 a week for food which included a couple of times a week at a restaurant but here we have been closer to the $200 mark which is great and will pay for six-nights in hotels we did in the States that we had not budgeted for. I suppose this is part of being retired, having a budget, enough to go again and again without having to go back to work.

Another great thing about being here is how close everywhere is. I just looked up Paris. It is five-hours away. “Hey Narda I want to go to Paris for a couple of days”. Hamburg where Narda’s friend lives is five-hours away. I think we will go there sometime soon. Wow! In Australia it is like ten-hours to go to Melbourne from Adelaide. In the States we went to lots of places, thanks Chris for your car.

27 January Friday DAY 63 of trip

Went to lunch with Els. Els invited us to have coffee at her place and then go to lunch in a little French restaurant in Vianen. Which we did. She lives just outside the old city, her apartment is the end of a row, and the benefit is amazing views all over the countryside with the freeway wizzing along in the distance. She has a lovely back room surrounded by glass; a great place to sit and chat. It turns out we are related. She is the daughter of Tante Nels’ brother. Who knew. So I have a second cousin. We walked to the French restaurant, Suzettes, yummy food, Terrell had a quiche with salad and I had the soup.

Vianen

Vianen

Vianen video is at https://youtu.be/Wpo7zFbzgrY

28 January Saturday DAY 64 of trip

Another lovely visit with my cousin Karin and her husband Frank. Poor guy had just got off the plane from the USA a few hours earlier, so he did really well keeping himself awake and us entertained with lots of interesting stories. They have recently moved into this lovely house in Niewegein, just south of Utrecht. A very pleasant afternoon.

20170128_143216

 

29 January Sunday DAY 65 of trip

After a lazy morning at home writing, photoshopping, video- stuff we went to IJsselstein

IJsselstein is in the province of Utrecht. IJsselstein received city rights in 1331. IJsselstein owes its name to the river Hollandse IJssel which flows through the city.

We spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my cousin Hans and his wife, Mirjam, and daughters Linda and Suzanne (see our video below). They took us for a very interesting walk through the village (town) of Ijsselstein, entertaining us with interesting stories of the history of building and events. The video below gives some snaps of this. For dinner we had the traditional gourmet, using a large heating plate, and leaving folks to cook meals for themselves, table top, to their heart’s content. Lots of fun and very gezellig. An interesting and hospitable family; a highlight for us.

IJsselstein

IJsselstein

IJsselstein video

End of this cycle – next blog starts with our trip south heading to France though we may stay in other places instead – who knows? A week or so from now you will and so will we.

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

Washington DC to Amsterdam and life in between

11 January Wednesday Tuesday DAY 47

Watch for travel tips

Morning spent completing blog for the period 1 – 10 January. See https://neuage.me/2017/01/12/more-of-not-the-same/  which took longer than expected which isn’t that always the way? To paraphrase Narda. We write these in Word but change it to html for an online blog, each photo gets re-imaged so it is easy to read on any device.

Washington DC in January

Washington DC in January

We are winding up six-weeks in the States: one week Hawaii, a week in Oregon, a week in New York and three weeks in D.C. As we write this we have five days left before we leave but I am sure we will find more than enough to keep us busy. When this gets posted we will have spent a day in Helsinki which now we wish we had booked a couple of days in, and we will be settled – hopefully, into our home for the month outside of Utrecht.

museum of national history

museum of national history

We left the house this morning with the thought of merely going to the hardware shop and getting some plywood or other cover for our two stained glass windows we made a few years ago and are trying to get to our home in Australia. At Ace Hardware, the shop that actually assists customers, unlike big box store hardware places that ignore us or if they see us heading toward asking for assistance they quickly disappear down another aisle, we were given cut offs of sheets of plexiglass for free and cardboard. From there we figured we should get a few groceries at Safeway. Then we decided to go to the Metro Shop and get SmarTrip® cards for ourselves as we have been using Chris and Jessica’s cards to explore the city and for me to get silly material for my Facebook posts. I was up for a senior half price card which is 85 cents for a subway/bus and half fare to the airport next Monday. The difficulty with driving in DC is finding parking. It is best to take public transportation but we were in our car going from street to street in search of a carpark. The one we found was in front of a very fancy building.  The National Building Museum @ 401 F Street NW http://www.nbm.org/ this seems to be the place where presidents have their inauguration balls each turn over.  In 1885, Grover Cleveland began the tradition of hosting presidential activities in the Great Hall; a tradition that lives on in present day of we won’t say who next week will be strutting their stuff

lunch time at the National Building Museum

National Building Museum

The building is quite incredible and we saw a few exhibits and got back home six hours after leaving to get some stuff to pack our stained-glass windows. We realise we would drive anyone nuts who travelled with us as we change our mind so often rarely doing what we set off to do.

Chris and Liam and our home Washington DC

Chris and Liam and our home on 15th street Washington DC

On the way to collecting our new senior-money-pinching-metrocard we came across the Terrell Building. Aside of the fact that it seems to have a lot of office space available to lease it caused us pause so I could Facebook myself in front of it.

Terrell Place 575 7th St NW #100, Washington, DC 20004, USA

Terrell Place 575 7th St NW #100, Washington, DC 20004, USA

12 January Thursday Tuesday DAY 48 of trip

After going through the stuff from Terrell’s father which was still stored here (by our realtor and attorney…good people, let us know if you need a reference) we decided to make a massive parcel and mail a whole lot of stuff home. ($250 postage…oops) It actually took pretty much all day to sort it all out, including our little stained glass windows, which we made when attending Stained Glass101 in upstate NY one snowy winter many years ago. I have my fingers crossed to see if the glass makes it.

We picked up Liam from day-care today, he was very pleased to see us. Little gorgeous boy. He has a fascination for trucks, especially bulldozers, which he calls “boobootrucks”, always followed by “very loud”.

narda-liam-car

Liam

I’m sure going to miss this little guy.

13 January Friday Tuesday DAY 49 of trip

Today, nearly our last day we took a bus to Georgetown. It’s always one of the bonuses in bus travel that you get to speak with the locals. I was sitting with a lady, about my age, and commented on the picture of a certain deplorable person on the front page of my newspaper. Actually I turned the paper face down and commented, “I can’t look at him”. This started a long and emotional conversation about her fears for the future and the future of her children under this looming administration. She actually started getting teary.

At the next bus stop we started talking to an older guy (the older folks are so much more amenable to conversations), who had fairly recently retired from a long career in the ‘services’, which also included the Department of Homeland Security. He was very knowledgeable; and also very concerned that we have the potential of ‘running over a cliff’ with this new government. Blimey. We saw this from a distance easily enough; the media keep us on a 24hour loop, and we all agree that we are talking about a ten year old bully running things, but when it comes from an insider, that’s worse. Over 90% of Washington DC voters voted against Trump. He has promised to overturn Obamacare, to cancel the peace agreement involving nuclear weapons with Iran, to skip NATO, and to embrace Putin. All wonderful things to look forward to and this is only a small part of it.

well now that is a surprise we no longer can do a White House tour because of some new dude living there

well now that is a surprise we no longer can do a White House tour because of some new dude living there

We went to The National Museum of American History. As always there are not enough hours so we have to be selective of what we see. This museum has a lot of areas to explore but with just an hour before we had to leave to do Liam-duty we went to the first thing we saw.

Exhibitions: FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000 (Julia Child’s home kitchen, re. fast foods etc.) http://americanhistory.si.edu/food; 1950s and earlier life – including first mobile homes which we liked especially as we are in the transitional stage of becoming grey-nomads. As of yet I have few grey hairs (probably because I won’t be seventy for another eight months, + I let Narda do all the worrying and I just take photos and happily live in la la land) but I don’t think that grey hair is the number one qualification to be a grey-nomad. Just being old and travelling heaps. This caravan from the 1930s is not much different from what we have back in Adelaide. There was a bedroom, kitchen and sitting area. Couldn’t find the loo but perhaps it was beneath something. I would rather have this one than our newish one though we have a bike rack on ours. No doubt they were better made in the 1930s. A rather cool site for caravans of this era in the UK is at http://www.period-classic-caravan-club.co.uk/1930s

1930s caravan at the Museum of Natural History, Washington DC

Having grown up in upstate New York in the 1950s – 1960s I remember these cars and going on trips every summer with my family.

We didn’t get to any of the other areas and planned to go back but other stuff filled our days and that was it. I would suggest going to their web site and having a bit of a plan of what to see. Of course, we never do that and I start planning after we get to a city then start planning after we get inside of a museum or place of interest so I am not a good tourist guide. Learning to live in the moment back in the 1960s (‘be here now’ and all those groovy sayings which has become re-packaged and trendy now as ‘mindfulness’) I have no sense of what comes next. Narda begins planning a year in advance the detail and I look for the exit door in the moment. Somehow it works and we do get to lot of places and see stuff.

National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History

14 January Saturday DAY 50 of trip

Hard to believe that we are at day 50. Didn’t we just leave Adelaide a few days ago? We are coming to the conclusion that we are should be global-grey-nomads, not just going around Australia dragging our caravan nomads. Just spend the rest of our life going and never staying for long anywhere. Not sure how the economics would work though. I don’t care what folks say that money is not important – it is – we need to get to the next place and eat and stay somewhere. We made a four-month budget which at times we come close to being close to but more would be better. And having a twelve months of travel budget that would include at least business class travel on long trips would be good.

Chris and Narda in front of Lincoln Memorial

Chris and Narda in front of Lincoln Memorial

As we were heading out of town shortly we spent the day packing and cleaning the house until early or late afternoon. Time is a matter of translation in comparison terms. To me it was late, to me-side-kick it was early. Not to worry, we got our sorry asses out the door and into the cold DC air.

So, day 50, about twenty of those in DC, and we had our fourth museum day, and as in the past we were able to squeeze in a bit of an hour or two at the Museum of Art. I like art museums. Always have. I never spend much time in them but every so often I need an art fix. Old art. Not the new throw-paint-on-canvas stuff; ‘I can do Jackson Pollock’ dribble (I used to do that as a street artist in New Orleans too, 1968 and 1971 – 1974) that people drool over now days but real art. We spent blocks of minutes looking at some of the best of Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and as we are heading to Holland the best of other Dutch artists and other old shit. There was a room full of folks attempting to make art of art they were looking at, if we had time maybe we would have joined them. Probably not. Feeling refreshed, enlightened, fulfilled as tourists of the moment we took a bus back home.

creating master pieces from old master pieces at the National Museum of Art

creating master pieces from old master pieces at the National Museum of Art

I did my first picture poem of the year and posted it to several of my photographic-art sites such as:

And of course many more. What was significant in my little world was that I finally did something creative on the road. I want to be able to travel and continue with projects such as writing e-books and doing my photographic textual work. So far on this trip we just seem to be too busy. Everything is about priorities but my priorities are travel, experiences, creativity time to do writing, photography, films, as well as read and spend time with others. I need to be on a planet with twice as many hours and twice as many days in a year.

15 January Sunday DAY 51 of trip

Last day today, spent most of the day cleaning and packing. We took Liam to the park in the morning; the weather was a little warmer, sun, shining and Liam really enjoyed playing outside. We put him to bed for his afternoon naps; he slept 3 hours! During the nap we cleaned the car too, the I took Liam to Chris’ church. Chris preached another masterful sermon on grace, and our prideful unwillingness to accept God’s grace. He always manages to hold his audience, and to find a new and interesting angle on stuff I have listened to for so many years.

I didn’t go to church, stayed home: wrote, did photoshop, listened to music (Supremes and other 1960’s stuff) and had a wonderful evening.

Packing is difficult. We have already sent a box of we had too much stuff to carry onto the next flight to add to our shed of stuff back in Australia.

16 January Monday DAY 52 of trip TO HOLLAND

Leaving America; sad. I will miss the kids. We had a long trip ahead of us, first Chris dropped us off at a Metro stop; Liam said ‘bye bye Oma, bye bye Rell’, about 3 minutes after we had left…bless him!

typical bad family shoot

typical bad family shoot

The ride to the airport was easy; Ronald Reagan Airport is so nice; old style classy, and not too big. It’s been added to our ‘favourite airports’ list, along with Portland and Schiphol. The next leg to Helsinki was fine, no hassle, but I certainly did not sleep, despite the sleeping pill. Bummer. Food with Finnair was good, hosties, all blonde and very fair-skinned, many with plaits, were friendly.

The next stage was interesting. We arrived at around 9am, and did not need to leave for Amsterdam until 4pm, so we found an airport locker (6 Euros) and took the train to downtown Helsinki (5 euros each, each way, but worth it!). A very nice city, snow covered, lots of old buildings, a harbour and some wonderful eateries, where we ate smoked cheese soup (Yum!!!) for lunch.

Travel Tip We walked to the ferry terminal and discovered that we could have taken a 2 night cruise, leaving that day to Stockholm and back for 90 Euros. A special for a quiet winter day and certainly a great idea for a future trip. There are also ferries (I mean large ships with cabins) running to Tallinn, Estonia, and St Petersburg. So a word to those considering Finnair; a stop-over in Helsinki has many interesting possibilities.

Leaving the USA Narda takes train to Helsinki

Leaving the USA Narda takes train to Helsinki

17 January Tuesday DAY 53 of trip

On the return trip to the airport we were both so tired, we slept and missed the airport stop. We managed to cross the tracks and go back with plenty of time to spare. When I got to the airport, I fell asleep sitting bolt upright; possibly with my mouth wide open and drooling, but Terrell will not tell me! [Why would I? The other passengers and I were all taking bets on who could shoot the M&M into her mouth]

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Anyway, slept all the way to Amsterdam. Met the Dutch guy, Hans, in whose house we will be living, at Schiphol. Alice had made us a delicious meal of pumpkin soup and Indonesian rice. Life is good. I slept with the aid of Chris’ American over the counter blue sleeping pills, for 12 hours straight. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.

18 January Wednesday DAY 54 of trip

Our first day in Holland.

Anyway, slept all the way to Amsterdam. Met the Dutch guy, Hans, in whose house we will be living, at Schiphol. Alice had made us a delicious meal of pumpkin soup and Indonesian rice. Life is good. I slept with the aid of Chris’ American over the counter blue sleeping pills, for 12 hours straight. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. 18 January Wednesday DAY 54 of trip Our first day in Holland.

first morning view from our window in Woerden, Netherlands

We slept until about 11 I think it was, Terrell on and off, me solid (it’s usually the other way around!) had a lovely time revelling in all the good food at the local shopping centre (amazing). I will take some photos.  Mum used to say, food is so much better in Holland, which used to vaguely irritate me as a young person, but she was right. She did stop saying it in later years. So we bought croquettes, both rund flees and vegetarian, and some salade punnets….all good.

After it started getting dark, which was pretty soon, we drove into the old town. It was not so easy, especially when bike tracks look like roads, so it was a combined effort, one driving (me) the other bossing the one around. It seemed to work well.

I managed to collect a cold somewhere between DC and Holland. Narda had a cold and sore throat for about four weeks now it is my turn. I managed to sleep about six hours and finally slept sitting up in the lounge. I dragged myself through the day. No one will feel sorry for me. We are retired travelling the world, couldn’t be better – except not to have a cold.

skating in front of our house here in Woerden

skating in front of our house here in Woerden

19 January Thursday DAY 55 of trip

You’d think I would be getting sick of travelling by now, but no, I’m just getting started. Being in different places, places I’ve never seen before excites me. I do miss family, but I also know that I will see them again soon. This is a great way to travel; we don’t do much touristy stuff, rather we try to experience it all as locally as possible.

In the evening we had a very gezellige time with Tom and Ineke who came to visit. I was able to talk with them about mum’s last weeks and they took the funeral service program and death notice card with them.

I met Narda’s uncle and his wife about a decade ago. They stayed with us in upstate New York and a memorable moment was driving to NYC for a day. We were standing in Times Square on the day Ronald Reagan died and a reporter asked them how they felt about Reagan’s death and Ineke said ‘we’re from Holland we don’t care’ and on the large screen above Times Square; there we were! How cool is that? I also remember Tom and his pacemaker/defibrillator. His parents were told at birth that he would not live past 14 or 15 years old because of his heart condition. He is now in his mid-80s and on his third pacemaker/defibrillator while I am on my first.

20 January Friday DAY 56 of trip

I managed to feel sorry for myself for the day catching a bit of sleep off and on all day because I could not breathe due to my stupid cold. By 4 pm though we were bored with my condition and sitting around the house watching me dying or close to it so we bundled up and headed to the next nearest town, Oudewater, a fifteen-minute drive away. See our YouTube clip at https://youtu.be/vinkc4CMSUE

Oudewater

Oudewater

Going to bed about eleven pm feeling fluey – maybe a fever or two I saw lots of buzz about the Women’s March against Trump. We knew about it from earlier in the week when we were in DC. A mistake we tried to rectify but were unable to was to stay in DC for the march; not the inauguration but for the march the following day. We looked up Amsterdam Women’s March and saw that there would be one tomorrow. Hoping to have a good night’s sleep we were keen to attend – tomorrow.

21 January Saturday DAY 57 of trip

Finally had a night with some sleep. We were up at six am and though I still felt ill I wanted to go to Amsterdam. We got out of the house at ten thirty being the slow moving folks we are. At our local train station we missed the first train due to the machine not taking our credit card. From these smaller towns, after twenty minutes of frustration, speaking to someone on their help line who no doubt was in Amsterdam and not ‘live’ in our local station we found we could only get on the train using coins. The girl at the local food shop in the station was really helpful and gave us coins for twenty Euros, the amount to get to Amsterdam. Train travel is expensive in The Netherlands as we just found out. The train ride was only about 20 minutes and at Centraal Station Amsterdam we were able to use our credit card for a return trip.

Travel Tip: Credit cards are not as often received in Holland. We found this at grocery stores as well at train stations and most shops. Have cash.

So there we were, in Amsterdam, at the Women’s March. We walked to the starting point which was about 45 minutes away, at a rather rapid rate. We find that we walk faster than most people, maybe being tall is part of it, but even at our age we are always passing folks. The Dutch are the tallest in the world so we are no longer taller than most around us. For example the man that collected us from the airport a couple of days ago and whose place we are staying at was much taller than me. For example, he left his bike for me, but I cannot get on it, though I will try again. When I am on it my feet do not touch the ground. Can’t wait to get back to Southeast Asia where I will be tall again.

We found a map to the Rijksmuseum where the march would go from on its way, we assumed, winding through the streets of Amsterdam and finally ending in front of the US Consulate with lots of whoop and holler and of course signs.

Anyway, we got to the march, feeling sore from walking so fast, and me going through a few packs of tissues and wondering if my head would ever stop hurting. surprising, though I do not know why, there were a lot of people when we got there, exactly to the minute of its beginning. We were hoping the march would not be too long. Perhaps we would go with them just part of the way then take the train back home.

Women's March from Rijksmuseum to US Consulate

Women’s March from Rijksmuseum to US Consulate

There were a lot of people there and finally the ‘march’ began. We walked and walked… five minutes later we were there.

Amsterdam Womens March

Amsterdam Womens March

And yes, of course, naturally, there is a YouTube video we did of this:

The march was exhila Watch this space!!!rating. We were surrounded by a huge crowd of Dutch people, all enthusiastic and hopeful. There were lots of laughing and chanting. It was so nice, after our dark experiences with the election and endless reading and dismay with the results. America is certainly not alone in its fear and depression; there is support from all over the world. The last I read was 700 marches worldwide. No violence, only joy.

Today we have bikes, the beginning of a whole new thing. Watch this space!!!! smiles

Narda looking for our bike at the Woerden train station

Narda looking for our bike at the Woerden train station

The Windhond windmill is a distinguishing and important historic feature of the city of Woerden. This round stone mill was built in 1755.

The Windhond windmill is a distinguishing and important historic feature of the city of Woerden. This round stone mill was built in 1755.

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

More of not the same

01 January Sunday DAY 37 of one-hundred fifteen of our round-the-world retirement catching up with family and friends tour and trying to do a low-carb vegetarian diet

Back in DC. Great start to the year! Kids went out for New Year’s Eve and we babysit and got to bed by 10pm. Our kind of night actually. Yesterday we left our hotel Clarion in New Castle Delaware and made it home pretty quickly, not much traffic on the road. We started by taking a secondary road, which was nice, you actually see the country that way, but by Baltimore we took the interstate home.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Washington DC Narda finds a man

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Washington DC Narda finds a man

We took Liam to the local park. It was a nice relaxed time. I had an interesting conversation with another dad watching his kid. He was from Brazil working in the Brazilian consulate. He’s also been posted in Guatemala City, where he was paid for trips home because of the danger. This is the 2nd person we’ve randomly chatted to employed at a consulate. The other one was a woman as we were boarding Best Bus from NYC to DC. She was working in the Spanish consulate. Coincidentally, the Cambodian consulate is 2 blocks from where we are living with Chris and Jess.

Church time, Chris again preaching an amazing sermon on the disconnect with who we really are, and how we act. Lots of things to think about here. Terrell and I went for a walk through the local area, gorgeous little row houses, close to Georgetown.

Chris' church

Chris’ church

Terrell and I went for a walk through the local area, gorgeous little row houses, close to Georgetown.

img_15751

Sweet potato and spinach mash for all. Again, as I have waffled on about in previous blogs – let me do the cooking then I know we will be having a low-carb meal.

02 January Monday DAY 38 of trip

Today was  Chris’ day off, so he took us to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Really great. I’m not such a museum person, but this is so well done and interesting , even to the museum-semi-literate such as me.

Lovely morning, and then lunch (pulled chicken for me) in the cafeteria. Large salad for me.

03 January Tuesday DAY 39 of trip

Purchased slide projector for $50. We had looked on Craig’s List for a projector that would hold my father’s carousel slide trays – there were 18 of them with up to 140 slides in each, and found one for sale 45 minutes away in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Gaithersburg is located to the northwest of Washington, D.C., and is considered a suburb and a primary city within the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.

A bit of a well-to-do space with large stately looking homes. Stepping into another person’s space is interesting; culture-evolution at play. This dude who was 75 said he had found the secret to success in life when he was 53; he retired and his wife kept working. This sounded quite sound to me and I took a quick look at my wife only to realise we just sort of retired a few months ago with me pushing 70 and she barely at the start of her youthful 60s. Retirement seems to have been good for him. A nice home, grand piano, well decorated for the Christmas holiday, through his kitchen I could see a pond and nature. I could live here. The slide projector was a Kodak that my father’s carousels fitted in.

Outside of the little rich-man’s-cove we found a bit of a shopping centre with our favourite shops, a Staples, an Aldi grocery store, and a Dunkin Donut where Narda found two donuts to her liking and I had coffee to go with my home-made organic low-carb cookie. (he’s such a try-hard!)

We started looking at slides soon after getting back home.

Made spinach soufflé dinner for us all. Baby Liam likes my cooking and has never complained about a meal.

04 January Wednesday DAY 40 of trip

Finished blog about New York and visits and posted at https://neuage.me/2017/01/05/snow-country/

To post office mailed book about my brother to Kathy. I discuss this book in the previous blog.

Groceries – made sweet potato and pumpkin soup for dinner

Forgot Sacha’s birthday – which was today but yesterday in Australia. {I was a single parent for about 20 years. I never forgot Sacha’s birthday in thirty-four years. My feeble excuse is that the 4th of January in Australia is the third of January in DC. Sorry Sacha. I will buy you that pony I promised you as a child next time}

05 January Thursday DAY 41 of trip

Up at 8 am out the door at noon

Counted our money and started looking at trips for 2017-2018, main idea is to get a house-swap before August or after August with a boat trip around 1 – 15 August anywhere in the world. As I will turn 70 August 10th I want to be at sea which will be some sort of symbolic representation of my life.

Back to the museums by bus which was fun. Had an interesting chat with a passenger about the state of the nation…couldn’t really figure out if she was pro or anti the president elect, whom I can no longer name (we have decided to ignore him from now on, it’s too stressful to even think about this maniac). She was keen to know about education in Australia, but pretty supportive of Australia’s tight borders. Hmmm.

The Museum of Natural History was simply amazing. We watched a film on creatures in the deep ocean, which we really enjoyed. Then we checked out the Origins of Humans display which was so interesting, especially knowing that Jess is involved with the research in this area. We should be riding buses more, you really get to experience things differently.

dsc_1539

Hmm, stuck in the back with oma

We are fascinated about our origins. I am more interested in cultural evolution than physical. No one has shown for sure how we got to where we are physically. Millions of years, thousands of years, trillions of stars and planets; perhaps even millions of universes. Too much to grasp for me and it does not really matter. I have this body and all I can do is shove in what I believe will be good to keep it going. I drink my smoothies, eat my low-carb crap, I have been a vegetarian for lots of decades for better or not, I exercise, and bop around with mostly happy thoughts. I was born white with whatever DNA stuff one has. I could have been born something else but I wasn’t. What I find fascinating is cultural evolution. How did I get these beliefs, how did society get this way, how have certain people re-invented slavery for thousands of years (now it is working for minimum wages for some)? How do religions get made up and people are controlled this way to be pawns of wealthy intuitions? How does society get shaped by fake news? Inventions? Events?

Narda of course, had to point out that one exhibit tried to claim that eating meat was important for the development of the brain and the increase of intelligence. Really? I know lots of idiots who eat meat and only cool people who are vegetarian. What more proof do we need?

Being sucked into having my face morphed into what I would have looked like 50,000 years ago (it was free) I had myself transformed. I didn’t care about the extra grey hair but whether today or 50,000 years ago would I have thought the same? Probably not, they didn’t have social media to influence us.

Saint Terrell of the cave - 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Saint Terrell of the cave – 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Saint Terrell of the cave - 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Narda reaches out to Saint Terrell of the Cave’s hand printsssssss

Made dinner for all: sweet potato chips, soup from last night, meat for them, mushrooms and salad for me.

06 January Friday DAY 42 of trip

Finished looking and separating slides of father. What to do with thousands of old slides? We took a few out of each carousel and I am taking a photo of the ones I am keeping to have a digital copy and maybe printing some. The difficulty in tossing away the past is that the past then disappears. Thus my argument against de-clutter courses and their silly ideas. The few I was dragged to (kicking and screaming – at least inside of myself) annoyed me. I have a shed back in Australia full of my crap (the shed is small only 20 foot by 40 foot) and of course our house too, but here is my problem with de-cluttering. For example, my father’s slides. When they find their way to the local land-fill here in DC for the next brothel or whatever they build on top of land-fill the memories are gone too. I no doubt am the last one with images of my father from the early 1900s and the stories associated with them. Well Narda knows some of the stories too. My father who was cactus at 102 years-old told her stories when he was in his late 90s when we hung out with him in upstate New York (2002 – 2010). He was born in 1905 and his teenage years were filled with the wonders of the first car, the first telephone, World War 1, World War next, and all the stuff of the early twentieth century that we know little of. We barely remember when there was no internet or evil GPS that get their jollies by getting us lost all over the States then laughing deep in cyberspace about how disorientated we are. By destroying images of the past the past no longer exists except on some level of consciousness that at least I am not evolved enough to replay again after I am dead.

A lot of the slides were of travels my parents did. I grew up doing road-trips. Every summer we were off exploring and camping in national parks for a few weeks then I got shipped off to Bible Camp for the rest of the summer, every summer. I did like the travel though. In later life after I left home my parents travelled even more (I left home about age sixteen, just to avoid being shipped off to Bible Camp anymore as it was affecting the structure of my adolescent brain development in a crazy way causing me to spend years in alternative therapy of my own 60’s-70s choosing to erase those harmful summers). My parent’s slides show their trips through Canada, the Western USA, Alaska – all while in their 70s. Alaska is a long drive from New York and my father took a lot of pictures. My father even came to Australia in 1992 when he was 87. Narda and I looked at the many photos of that trip when my father, my two sons, and I drove half way around Australia in a campervan (RV) for a month.

What Narda and I got out of these slides that we have spent many hours going through instead of making new memories tromping around DC this week was that we are quite keen now to go to Alaska. It might be our next trip to the States; maybe late 2017 or mid-2018. We do plan ahead. We planned this current little four-month trip a couple of years ago. 2017 is already quite full with travel and some creative projects I hope to dabble in back in Australia. 2018 we are planning our trip for three-months to India, January – March.

dads-slides2

Looking at many photos – and taking photos of the slides which does not give a good quality but does provide an essence of what is being captured we could see the slant I was raised with. Some photos are quite good and we will print from the slide to get better quality. But to give an example to my ranting above; according to my sister we could be one-eighth Indian but even without that knowledge I find the nature of this slide racist. That the lives of white settlers are emphasized over Indian lives. My father has taken a lot of slides of plaques that provide us with this sort of narrative.

indian-discrimination

Nevertheless, we completed our project and put the slide projector back up on Craig’s List, got $40 back, and we are thankful for having this opportunity to have a sticky-beak into my parent’s lives. It does explain a part of my reason for a love of travel – the other reason is that I am always trying to escape the moment before. Narda has always had a love of travel; even before her parents migrated to Australia from the Netherlands, she has a story of when she was three taking her two-year old neighbour down the street heading to the train station to see her grandmother and they apparently got a few blocks before being found by anxious parents. It sums up our life. Now we have anxious off-springs.

I don’t want to trivialize my father’s slide collection but I sort of was aware that there were a lot more photos of my brother than of me. There were more pictures of churches than me. There are more marijuana shops in Oregon (more than 400 and multiplying daily) than Starbucks and McDonald’s. So what? I am still alive and my brother and my father aren’t. I don’t need to see slides to know I exist.

Friday night was lovely. We met with Trish and Allan, and wonderful re-connection with a dear friend from Dalian days. Trish and Allan live in a lovely house, on a ½ acre in Fairfax county. Allan cooked up a delicious New Orleans style dinner and lively conversation was had by all!

Though the GPS said it was about 40 minutes down the road, we decided to leave at lunch time and explore the area. We checked out a few shopping malls (had not done that for a while). The first one, Landmark Mall, in  Alexandria, Virginia was completely derelict. Only a large Macy’s and  Sears where there, the rest was boarded up. Weird. The second one, Tysons Corner Centre in McLean, Virginia was fabulous. Book shop, nice café with tomato soup, a train station and a movie theatre. A perfect mall!

We realised when we got home that night that we had been running the car on empty for too many miles. Given the extreme cold, this could have been not-so-nice.

07 January Saturday DAY 43 of trip

Finally got a bit of snow. I want two feet of the stuff. We had a fair amount when we were driving around last week in New York – see last blog, but not like what we used to get when we lived in upstate New York (2002 – 2010). We did get about an inch and a half, enough to cover some of winter’s brown but never enough.

Narda went with Liam and Chris to Ikea to buy furniture. I stayed home and had a bit of a play in Photoshop and catching up on a writing project I have had little time to do these past six weeks, no doubt something to do with travelling and not enough down time. Took some photos of Liam’s toys in the snow for some future picture work. See http://tinyurl.com/hjt7lrf

When Chris, Narda, and Liam got back we bundled up and headed out to the snowfields – well actually down the street for a block to wade through the one and a half-inch snow.

cambodia-embassey

Looked at P&O cruises out of Sydney instead of flying to some far-flung-foreign destination and there is one during my birthday time so we may do that one. Anyone having any recommendations for a cruise let us know. If nothing else at least I will know that someone read this blog.

Made eggs with Liam in the evening

img_16028 January Sunday DAY 44 of trip

-9C off to Safeway for groceries –  Took Chris and Jessica to Slims for lunch. We have had been to Slims before over there on the corner of Upshur and Georgia Avenue. There is a limited menu but worth the effort. I tend to go for the eggs and grits and the others like meat pulled off animals. The wait time of almost an hour on a cold day was a bit budget though once settled into our booth we are all content.

We took a bus to the White House – then to Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

We froze waiting for the bloody bus and thawed by the time we got to the White House. Of course, we being lowly citizen could not get anywhere near the place.

nardawhitehousecomments

I, who sometimes lobby hard and get my way, ‘suggested’ that we climb to the top of the hill where they have that Washington Monument monument. Narda could not believe it. We had walked all around the White House looking where we could get at least one photo. We were shooed away from each street nearby and we were thinking we were getting frost bite. When we lived in China, way up north, even when we went to the Harbin Ice Festival we were OK but we were dressed for it. The warmest for today was -6, I think that is 18 Fahrenheit, add a bit of strong wind to cut through our clothes and we were almost ice cubes.

But as a loving wife who ‘understands my photographic needs’; “but honey the pictures will be fantastic look how blue the sky is…” or some such rant, side by side, wind picking up, temperature dropping we managed to finally get to the top of the hill to the entrance. I pointed out from the start that there appeared to be very few people going up to the monument, no doubt because it was so cold and we would not have to wait in line and I could guarantee that it would be warmer inside and of course going up the elevator to the top for our spectacular pictures would be warm and we would not have to wait in line.

We dragged ourselves to the entrance door,

closed

Oops…

Well how was I supposed to know that?

Narda said we were going into the first open building we got to. I was in a bit of the bad-books and could not offer any suggestions such as perhaps going to another monument.

smithsonian-national-museum-of-african-american-history-culture

Barely able to get into the door because we were so frozen the first person said “you cannot get in without a ticket”. Narda said we need to just come inside the door to get warm and a kind lady at the check-in thingy said that she had two extra tickets and we could go in. We were so grateful. The first thing we did after the toilets was to go to the ‘Sweet House Café’ – talk about pricy – we each had a small cup of coffee and a small sweet (I was so cold I thought stuff the low-carb nonsense I need sugar to get my blood moving and got a fudge thingy) for $17.05. Now I know how they funded this new building. Because the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is the newest Smithsonian museum there apparently are heaps of folks who want to get in so one needs to get a ticket. Tickets are free but they allocate a date so the place is not over crowded. Perhaps because it was cold or maybe fewer people go here on Sundays it was not too full.

For us white people this is a real eye opener. We were both amazed and the hour we spent there was far from enough. I guess what struck us both is how our current society, the Western World, is built on top of slavery. Beginning in the fifteenth century and until recent times and in some places of the world even now, it is the slaves who create the wealth of a country. The United States was not built by hardworking individuals but by slaves who worked for a minority of white men.

I remember a segregated south. When my father would take us on trips through the south in the 1960s there would be segregated toilets and areas in restaurants. I don’t think I even saw a black person, except if we were travelling (there surely were none in the area of upstate New York I grew up in) until I left home at age 16-17.

And where was the church or any other religion for those five-hundred years? Well they were making money too off slavery. I shouldn’t go into all this but suffice it to say that the National Museum of African American History and Culture is well worth the visit. Not just a place to defrost in.

Walked heaps took a bus to Chris’ church got there only half frozen.

Made zucchini spaghetti for dinner.

09 January Monday DAY 45 of trip

Home Narda working on Chris’  Ikea furniture. Chris has collected non-collectables from Ikea – you know those flat boxes that just need a nail and a screw to make them become 3-D? Narda and Chris worked all day on those cupboards and drawers and still were not done. I was as supportive as I could be – I stayed out of the way, and spent the day on this laptop. Due to luggage constraints we only brought one computer on this trip which means sharing and with my usual work-load averaging eight-hours a day on this thing I have not had too many straight forward shots of non-physical contact to exercise my digital-self. We also bought only one phone card when we got here – imagine sharing a phone with someone, but we have and it is good. We just get lost together now.

Made spaghetti squash for din din. We have not found this in Australia and it was a favourite when we lived in New Jersey and New York. Liam loved it. Actually, little Liam has liked everything I have made, even tofu, to the wonderment of the eye-rolling folks at the other end of the table. I am sure Liam would be a happy little vegetarian alongside of me given the chance.

10 January Tuesday DAY 46 of trip

Fact Check: Washington D. C. is bugged

Fact Check: Washington D. C. is bugged

Took a bus back to the Museum of Natural History. WE were just in time to see the Imax film, narrated by Robert Redford, on America’s National Parks. A really beautiful film, worth seeing. Some amazing sights. I scribbled notes for future travel. Then we checked out the Insect Zoo where I got to cuddle some critters!!! We bussed/trained it back home; stopping half way for another Panera tomato soup lunch; the best! Then it was our turn to pick up Liam from day care. He was happy to come home with us, though he did ask where daddy was. We stopped on the way home to pick up some groceries. Liam, while we waited at the checkout, was able to communicate to the old black guy riding a red scooter, also in line; that he would like one of those too!

homeless

Here are the homeless in a wealthy city where rents are sky high. I walk by, give them a couple of dollars to salve my conscience…..and feel BAD, just bad. Easy to say, why isn’t the government doing something, but much harder to actually get off my own bottom and do something myself.

loos

AND THAT IS ALL FOR THIS BLOG. Thanks for reading. We have five more days in DC then to Utrecht, The Netherlands via Helsinki for a month. No doubt we will have stuff to say in a bit too. Today, Narda is still working on assembling the Ikea stuff and I am having a bit more time on this laptop then we are off to some museum though we will have decided which one when we feel we have been on the bus long enough and say “let’s get off here”.

Our next blog will be next week after Helsinki and settling into Utrecht, The Netherlands for a month

Our next blog will be next week after Helsinki and settling into Utrecht, The Netherlands for a month

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

 

Snow country

25/12/2016 NYC ~ DAY 30 of trip

We wanted to leave early to have a day in NYC. But by the time we got laundry done, went out to dinner, and started re-packing for the week ahead it was ten pm Christmas Eve. We had gotten back to DC from Portland at six pm and we were tired from starting at 4 am as written in the previous blog, ‘Oregon – oh so legal now’.

While planning for this trip in Adelaide we thought it would be nice to spend Christmas day in NYC. It would be nice and quiet, everyone would be indoors with family having presents and dinner. And we thought, let’s book a hotel in the Wall St area, there will be no one there, everything is closed, plenty of parking on a public holiday. HOW WRONG WERE WE! Every ‘man and his dog’ was there. Millions of tourists had swarmed the city. We, also tourists, joined them like sheep. First Time Square. When we lived there we NEVER went to Time Square. “That is just for tourists”. Ha! Here we are, shoulder to shoulder with citizens from all over. Actually, after a short time, it got a bit tiresome, struggling for your spot on the pavement. We found us a nice little Indian joint at 160 E 44th St, called Minar. It looked empty, cheap, scruffy, our kind of place. We ate a delicious Indian meal, topped up with the inevitable mango lassis. Yum. We sat in front, facing the street, and watched the peering tourists reading the menu, then we gave them thumbs up and brought them inside……I recon about 8 people. We’re going back next week to collect our free meal. Just kidding. We have a soft spot for all things Indian as we plan a future trip there..soonish, hopefully.

Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree 2016

Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree 2016

Then on to the Rockefeller Centre and as you can see the crowd followed us. Taking the subway back downtown we checked out the new World Trade Centre, interesting. There is a tree which survived the whole tragedy, standing still, only metres away from the South Tower. Amazing.

The Survivor Tree

The Survivor Tree

A Callery pear tree became known as the “Survivor Tree” after enduring the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth. https://www.911memorial.org

There is even a free children’s poem eBook: http://tinyurl.com/hkldtgj

The new WTC subway stop is a strange, spectacular cross between a super modern cathedral and a high-end shopping mall. Locals complain that there are not enough escalators. We noticed that too. Back in the day when we used this stop there was a bundle of about 8 escalators, side by side taking one down to the PATH stop; now it’s just individual ones. Weird.

 

World Trade Centre subway stop

World Trade Centre subway stop

Our hotel was fine, Holiday Inn Express on Water St, though the heater was bloody noisy, and so I turned it off, and shivered all night.