A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about bike

Meeting our camper van, trips to Oak Lawn and Evanston

written by Birgit

sunny 10 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

After two days of pretty much ignoring the fact that there is a camper van sitting in the driveway that actually belongs to us, Sunday morning was the time for a first date. And the first impression was very positive. Max and I tried out the pop up roof and tested out the bed up there. Max liked it up there immediately and proclaimed that he will be sleeping up there. In parallel I was constantly thinking on how to best protect him from falling down from there while he'd be sleeping there. And while we were making ourselves comfortable, Sam started checking the technical features of the van - which seem to be all in excellent condition.

20160502_165805.jpg

Sunday afternoon was dedicated to meeting Carol, Pete and Susie with her kids in Oak Lawn. And Max was fascinated to say the least. He was greeted with a present: a new bicycle in 'Cars' design for him to use throughout our trip. And he went off right away to test it out and went into fast races with Susie's kids. And there were lots of additional presents for all of us: Carol had been collecting all basics for us during the last couple of months such that we'll be able to outfit our van with almost all we need: blankets, sheets, towels, kitchenware, BBQ utensils, a folding table and a big box filled with toys for Max... What a treat! But then we also got treated to excellent food and simply could not resist to even clean out the bowls with strawberries and the chocolate cream. And Max had so much fun with Susie's kids that after just 5 minutes in the car, he soundly fell asleep.

20160501_143519_b.jpg20160501_190115_b.jpg

Monday morning was then dedicated to sorting out what should go where in the van. At first sight, the van looks really big. At second sight, I started wondering how to fit all in though... But I guess we'll figure it out over the next couple of days and within the next two weeks, everything will have found it's place.

At noon we were invited to Janis' office in Evanston to meet her and her colleagues for lunch. What a breathtaking view they have from their office! And while having lunch, we had great conversations. The fascination about German laws in respect to getting a year of parenting time off is understandable considering that in the US in small companies women might not even be entitled to take maternity leave... Legislation can make enormous differences! And subsidies as well - hearing that we paid less than 200€ per month for Max' day care even when he was less than a year old must sound like heaven in an environment where you're not able to take maternity leave and day care will cost easily 2000US$ for an infant. Having these conversations reminded us once again how fortunate we are, being able to take time off and to go on a trip like that. Lucky us!

20160502_132240_b.jpg

We spent the remainder of the afternoon at the lake-shore of Lake Michigan at one of Evanston's nice - but windy - beaches and at a local ALDI to do some basic grocery shopping. We avoided the German white wine called 'Landshut', but rather went for German beer to complement our purchases of Romanian and German beer from two days earlier. In a global economy it's easy to get stuff that reminds you of home. And it's even nicer when the favorites from home are complementing favorite foreign foods such as the tasty Mexican food (including re-fried beans) we were treated to tonight, not to mention the incredible amounts of Matt's chocolate chip cookies I was able to eat despite actually being quite full.

20160502_171007_b.jpg

And after three days of only living off WIFI connections, today our new SIM card arrived and we're now again fully connected to the digital world!

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 20:31 Archived in USA Tagged bike evanston amper glenview Comments (1)

Getting to the Baja California

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

sunny 31 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

A first night in Mexico with the sound of the waves in the background… Nice!
Even if this is probably not doing mainland Mexico it’s justice, it is in fact only supposed to be our transit route towards the Baja California. Given that along the 1000 miles (1700 km) peninsula of the Baja California there’s mostly just one highway with asphalt, we simply wanted to avoid going down and up the same roads twice.
Our base plan was to take the ferry at Topolobampo towards the very south of the Baja in La Paz. I had checked ferry schedules and prices already a couple of times. There were regular departures, availability did not seem to be an issue and the only down side were the prices. A regular car was defined to be less than 5,40m long and it would cost 1230 mexican pesos to ferry it over. Unfortunately surfing the net, it seems like our camper van is 5,42m long. And this is without considering the aircon in the back of the camper which adds probably another 8 cm. And cars longer than 5,40m unfortunately do not just cost a bit more, but the prices suddenly raise to 5700 pesos. Still from the way we set up our journey, the ferry was the only plot that made sense, so we were still planning to do that independent of the cost.
Admittedly, after all that initial research I had not checked ferry details again and as I was not sure which length to use for the car I did not want to book tickets online anyhow, but was planning to get them on the spot. So when driving somewhere close to Hermosillo, I realized that the Topolobampo ferry that was announced to be in maintenance for the month of May was only restarting operations much later and that they first availability was only as of June 15. That did put quite a damper to my plans: while there were a couple of interesting things to see on the mainland, there was not enough that sounded interesting to keep us busy for 10 days.
There are two alternatives for ferries: we could also use the ferry to La Paz from Mazatlan. This would entail driving probably another 10 hours south on the mainland on those highways we already found quite strenuous on our first encounter. In addition the ferry would take longer and be a bit more expensive than from Topolobampo. The other option would mean to take the ferry from Guaymas to Santa Rosalía. As Santa Rosalía is just about half way on the Baja, this option would result in driving that stretch south to Cabo San Lucas and to then drive it again in the other direction on the way up.
None of the three options were ideal, but we were clear that our preferred one was the last option. The guidebook warned to be early to book tickets, specifically as the ferry from Guaymas is significantly smaller than the ones from Topolobampo or Mazatlan and as the ferry does not leave daily, but only three times a week. I tried my luck and was fortunate to hear that there would still be availability for the ferry that would be leaving in the evening. This was great news, so I made the reservations on the phone and was told to be there latest at 5:30pm and that the ferry would leave at 8pm.
Excellent – that was great news, as we were anyhow not too keen to stay much longer in hot and humid San Carlos with its loads of mosquitoes. We had another look at the sea to see how it’s like in daylight and concluded that we’d rather jump into the pool to cool off a bit. And that was very enjoyable and very relaxing. That was good since we were in dire need of a bit of relaxation anyhow.

IMG_5854-1.jpg

So we did not do too much else before eventually going to the ferry terminal. As usual the Scout app on our mobile phone helped us easily to navigate our way towards the terminal. Except that close to our destination the ‘ferry’ signs subsided and there was nothing that looked even remotely like a ferry terminal. After a first tour of the harbour area, we decided to ask someone. We had gone too far. Fine, on our way back we asked three more people and eventually ended up at a gate with two small buildings to either side of it. And in fact one of them sold tickets for the ferry. The lady at the counter found the reservation for ‘Bernardo’ that included a Ford Econoline with 2 adults and one child – so I figured that this was us. She then helped me to measure the car and luckily enough she concluded that the car was not longer than the 5,40m for a regular vehicle. So I paid for our tickets and after the marines arrived at 6pm, we were admitted to drive towards the ferry.

20160607_171307.jpgIMG_5856__2_-47.jpg IMG_5862-50.jpg

After quite a while of waiting while all baggage was checked by dogs searching for drugs, all cars were searched as well: a dog entered through every door of each car – and every step of the process was thoroughly documented with a camera. Eventually I got to drive onto the boat together with another 6 cars and a small truck (we’re talking a small ferry!). Max and Sam had been waiting on the upper deck of the boat already over an hour.

IMG_5858__3_-48.jpgIMG_5859__2_-49.jpg

It took a bit of investigation to find our cabin and it was quite a disappointment: there were empty food containers and empty cans on the table, the bedding of the four bunk beds looked used and the cockroaches on the floor were not suited to change our first impression. We quickly closed the door again and concluded that travelling in the salon would be a better option. After all the roughly 100 reclining seats there were made of leather. We picked the last row that was a proper bench and looked like a better sleeping option than the recliners and were happily waiting for the ferry to take off.

20160609_060042.jpg

Well, the ferry did not take off that evening. As the captain explained to everyone a bit later, the harbour had been closed due to bad weather and the ferry would be able to leave earliest tomorrow after midnight, i.e. 28 hours later than originally planned. As the ferry was ready to take off and it was the harbour leadership taking the decision, they would not pay for hotels, but at least the tickets would still be valid tomorrow. And everyone who did not want to stay on the boat could call around noon the next day to get an update on the ferry departure.
We decided to leave and declined to experience a night on the boat in the harbour. We rather went back to the RV park we had stayed at already the last night. So another 45 min of driving in the night on Mexican roads and watching out for pot holes and unannounced speed bumps…
We did not have a lot of trust into the ferry leaving that evening, so we took it quite easy. After breakfast we took a walk (and Max his little bike) to the local Ley supermarket. And even though we were limited in our shopping as we had to carry everything back to the campervan, it was fabulous shopping. We found many things that US American stores seem not to carry, such as milk in one liter packs that does not need to be refrigerated. Given our small refrigerator we really prefer small sizes and things that will not go back also without refrigeration – so this was an excellent find! And given the low prices specifically for fruit and vegetables it was simply fun to shop again!
The bad news was that when leaving the store, we realized that Max’ little bike had two punctures in the front tire and consequently he had to push it home vs. being able to ride it. Well, if there wouldn’t have been the nice car mechanic 100 ft down the street from the supermarket who noticed us walk by and offered his help to pump up the tire. We explained that pumping it up would not do the job, as there were also punctures to be fixed and he explained that this would be an easy job for him.

20160608_130619.jpg20160608_130638.jpg

And in fact within less than five minutes he had taken out the inner tube of the tire, had identified the two punctures, roughed them up and vulcanized them such that the tube was better than new. Back into the tire, pumping it up and letting us go… Just like that. He did not even want money for the quick help he had given to us and refused to take the equivalent of 2 US$ I gave to him, as this was too much. He was fine with taking half of that and we were just so pleased to have Max riding his beloved bike again and knowing how easy and fun life can be in a country like Mexico.
Another round of swimming in the pool and eventually Sam reminded me to call the ferry again, as they had advised us at noon that they’d only be able to tell us more at 4:30 in the afternoon. And when they said we should be there latest at 6pm for the ferry to leave at 8pm panic set in – at least on my part – as I had mentally written off the ferry for that evening already. So we quickly took a shower, gathered our stuff together, sorted what we wanted to take onto the ferry (knowing how it looks there helped already big time to decide what we should take) and then left for the ferry terminal. The rush was completely unnecessary, as the marines only arrived an hour late and we had to wait in the meantime. But eventually after the same procedures of checking all cars and baggage, we were admitted to the ferry and looked for a mice spot in the Salon for the night.

20160608_205141.jpg20160608_205913.jpg

It seemed that about half of the people who were on the boat the evening before had given up the idea of taking the ferry, so there was plenty of space. Good for us. Still, the ferry ride was not really pleasant. There were quite a bit of waves and the boat was rolling heavily. Lying down helped and also the fact that the main salon was located underneath the car deck and that we got a spot fairly in the middle, so close to the gravitational center of the ferry. But going to the toilets or the upper deck included being shaken around a lot. And I don’t even want to imagine how much we’d have been shaken in our cabin two decks further up and located on the side vs. in the middle of the ferry.
Contrary to his parents, Max slept through out the whole journey and it was rather hard to wake him up the next morning when the ferry arrived at 6am local time in Santa Rosalía. So we made it to the Baja California after all – and arrived even much earlier than originally anticipated.

20160609_062000.jpg90_20160609_063626.jpg

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 07:15 Archived in Mexico Tagged california santa pool baja bike ferry repair rosalia cancelled mechanic guaymas Comments (1)

Welcome to Canada

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

rain 18 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

Heading north from Whidbey Island it did not take too long to reach the Canadian border. The signs along the interstate had advised us already that the wait would be less than 5 minutes. That sounded much better vs. the more than one hour we had spent at our last border crossing from Mexico into the USA.
And it was so easy: The Canadian immigration officer had lots of sympathy for our travel plans and admitted that she had taken off a year for travelling herself already. So we were admitted without any further questioning.
A bit further the ladies at the visitor information center advised us to rather stay closer to the border vs. going all the way Vancouver as we might be stuck in traffic otherwise. So that’s what we did and soon were pleasantly surprised by the nice landscaping and gardening at Peace Arch RV Park. And despite the fact that lots of people had warned us about the high prices in Canada, it was much cheaper than expected and what we were used to.
The only downside was the weather: in the night it started raining heavily and after a bit of thinking what to do, we decided to just take it easy and to stay for another night.
Max was delighted to play LEGO, Sam used the opportunity to repair also the back door of our van which involved the de- and reinstallation of the air-conditioning unit and I finally managed to publish three long overdue blog posts. As a reward for a relaxing and still productive day, we had food delivered and enjoyed Greek food which we had not had since we had left Germany.

IMG_0331.jpg IMG_0335.jpg

Luckily enough, the next day the weather was much better. Lots of clouds, but at least no rain. So we headed into Vancouver, were a bit surprised about the heavy traffic even at midday and soon enough found ourselves at one of the many bicycle rental places.
Sam suggested renting a tandem and even though I was a bit reserved about not being able to steer nor brake in the back seat, I agreed. Admittedly, it did take a bit of getting used to in the beginning. But eventually I was able to relax and we had lots of fun doing the 10km stretch along the seawall surrounding Stanley Park.
Visiting the park on a bike was an excellent choice. We were able to stop multiple times, enjoyed nice vistas and got some exercise in the fresh air. Great!

20160901_144344__2_.jpg
20160901_142840__2_.jpg 20160901_144048__2_.jpg 20160901_143401__2_.jpg 20160901_144933__2_.jpg 20160901_145032__2_.jpg 20160901_151235__2_.jpg 20160901_151849__2_.jpg

Leaving Vancouver during rush hour was quicker than expected and we easily reached the Eagle Wind RV Park, where I had made a reservation for the night. We had spotted the RV park in one of the camping brochures we had picked up at the information center. And while we could have also gone to multiple other places, this one had mentioned in the text that it was close to a drive-in theater. It seems there are only three such drive-ins remaining in British Columbia, so we keen to use this opportunity.
The Twilight Drive-In in Langley was just a couple of minutes away from camp and our plan worked perfectly: while we were enjoying ‘Pete’s Dragon’ and a bit later ‘The BFG’, Max was sleeping deeply in the back of the van. Still, Sam and I were quite amazed to see in the intermission between the two movies how many (young) kids were still up and had obviously watched the movie. We preferred Max sleeping in the back vs. us having to explain to him why things are happening and what each scene really means. Especially the BFG I could not have seen him watching at all. That would have been a guarantee for lots of bad dreams. Still, it was an excellent idea of Sam’s to go to the movies.
As we had gotten home to our RV park long after midnight, we did take it easy the next morning before heading east. We wanted to stop at the Chilliwack Walmart in an attempt to stock up on groceries again. Unfortunately, we were turned away due to a bomb threat. And quite frankly, with lots of police around and the employees all standing in the parking lot, it felt better to leave and shop at Safeway instead.
As we headed on towards the mountains, it started raining more and more heavily. In retrospect we could have saved ourselves the scenic but longer drive through Manning Provincial Park and taken the larger highway instead. After all, there was no real view to enjoy anyhow and it certainly would not have made any sense to make the detour to the Cascades viewpoint in the downpour we were in.
Admittedly, after passing Manning Park, we did have a stretch of road without rain and did get to see the enormous Copper Mountain. But soon enough we got into the next rain shower that lasted until our next campground at the South Shore of Penticton and long into the night.
Luckily enough, most of the clouds were gone by the next morning and we got to see a bit of our surroundings driving up along the lakes of the Okanagan Valley. The area is said to resemble a bit the Garda Lake region in Italy. And with the hilly surroundings, the vineries and orchards around we really liked it there.
Max liked it as well: he could have spent hours in the Kelowna skate park. At the same time, we enjoyed watching him and hoped that he’d wear himself out enough such that he’d be fine with us going for wine tasting – which is clearly not the most fun activity for kids. What should I say: specifically, as now the sun was out as well, so far all of us were quite happy to be in Canada.

IMG_0364.jpgIMG_0374.jpg

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 21:55 Archived in Canada Tagged rain valley bike movie lego seawall tandem drivein Comments (0)

Taking it easy in laid back Huahine

Fare, Huahine

semi-overcast 29 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

The sun was just setting when we reached Huahine airport. What an atmosphere: no clouds and a golden glow with the silhouettes of Raiatea, Taha’a and Bora Bora in the distance.

20161017_1..ne_HDR___2_.jpg

We were picked up at the airport by Jocelyne. After a quick stop at the local supermarket, she had lots of recommendations for us on where to eat and what to do. As we turned into the private unpaved road leading to their house, she listed the uncles, cousins and other relatives living in the houses along the road as we went by.
We stayed at Franky’s Fare, a small house right next to their house. Jocelyne’s husband Smith greeted us and both showed us around. We had a kitchen, living room, bathroom and under the roof a nice and cozy bedroom. In addition, there was the large fenced yard with a table, the hammock and an outside shower. What a nice place!

IMG_2070.jpg

For quick dinner – as it was already quite late – we simply stayed inside. But the next morning, we went outside for having breakfast. That way we could also see what happened along the road: cars and bikes passing by, the mailman on his scooter dressed in a muscle shirt featuring the logo of the local postal service and the garbage truck.
Once we had packed our picnic for lunch, we headed off towards the beach with the bikes we were allowed to use. Max sat behind Sam, holding on tightly to his seat.

GOPR6077__2_.jpg

After a stroll along the beach we got into the water to snorkel and let the current take us back to where we started. We saw lots of fish. There schools of a couple of hundred yellow fish, schools of fifty or more grey fish and smaller groups of fish of lots of different kinds: tiny blue ones, trumpet fish various kinds of butterfly fish and many more. In addition, there were lots of different corals, a sea horse, green blue and purple clams and sea cucumbers. A nice snorkeling experience, also for Max who took advantage of having a body board to lay on without having to worry about staying above the water.

vlcsnap-error667__2_.jpg vlcsnap-error016__2_.jpg
vlcsnap-error168__2_.jpg

After almost an hour in the water, it was time to relax and eat. Even though all of the beaches seem to be public, we did not to stay directly at the beach of the hotel, but preferred to have a spot for our own a bit further looking out to the water and observing life at the beach.

IMG_2066.jpg

That evening we took advantage of the fact that we had a TV in our living room. We watched one of the videos Jocelyne had given to us ‘Mr. Right’. It was a funny, sometimes a bit silly comedy mixed with a few action scenes. Nice and easy.
The next day was dominated by tropical rain showers. There were several episodes of heavy downpours followed by light rain and short dry periods in between. So we stayed mostly at home, did some writing, photo editing, talked details for the Australia portion of our trip and played with Max – puzzle and dice when it rained, baseball whenever it did not rain.

IMG_2074.jpg

It rained during the night as well, but at least the next day we had some longer dry periods between the rain showers. At least Sam and Max made it dry to the supermarket and back. In the mean time I booked flights and Airbnb apartments and confirmed for Rarotonga. I had to take advantage of having wifi – we’d be without one for the next couple of days.
For lunch, we went into town with Max pedaling Sam’s bike – a funny sight!

20161020_133701__2_.jpg

And then it was already time for saying good bye to Jocelyne and Smith. What a pity, as we really enjoyed our time in their nice little house and had been so happy to have the bikes to be able to easily move around.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 03:16 Archived in French Polynesia Tagged rain house bike snorkel Comments (0)

Time to relax for a couple of days

York, Perth

sunny 34 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

From the quaint town of Wagin we got to drive through some more nice undulating fields and hills before reaching York at the banks of Swan River. York had been settled just a few years after Perth and features historical buildings bundled with a small-town ambiance. We had lunch in the park by the river before continuing the last stretch to reach Perth.

5483FAD6DD5E45B4764450C53098981F.jpg IMG_4552.jpg

We had booked a campground for five nights in a row. That is rather unusual compared to our normal style of traveling, but after eight weeks of traveling all along the coast of Western Australia, we wanted to have a couple of days to relax. For that reason, we had also booked a very well rated place at Karrinyup Waters Resort and that proved to be an excellent choice. We got a really nice spot right next to the lake and in line of sight to the nearby playground. With all the different birds around – ibis, ducks, black swans, grebes – it felt more like staying in the middle of a big zoo vs. in the Northern suburbs of Perth.

IMG_4601.jpg IMG_4595.jpg IMG_4604.jpg IMG_4586.jpg BCEAECCEE8108450E81E1C6C960DE94B.jpg IMG_4583.jpg

Over the five days we were there, we enjoyed all features the campground offered. First and foremost, the pool which could have been located in a five-star hotel just as well. But also, the bouncing pillow and the playground were getting all the attention they deserved.
One day we ventured out to take a tour of the Swan Valley. From the small town of Guildford we drove through the vineyards to one of the wineries, the Mandoon Estate which is co-located with the Homestead Craft Brewery. While Max was keen on a serve of French fries, Sam ordered the beer tasting with four different beers and a cider. While I stuck to water being the designated driver for today. I did try a zip of each of Sam’s beers and of the cider and I agreed with Sam that of the four beers we did not like a single one whereas the cider was really nice.

IMG_4565.jpg IMG_4566.jpg

We did also try the wines at winery. While two of the reds from a vineyard in Margaret River were quite nice, the whites did not meet our taste at all. After all, the Swan River Valley is more known for its scenic location close to Perth than necessarily for the quality of its wines.

IMG_4578.jpg IMG_4568.jpg IMG_4572.jpg

After the more adult oriented activities of the morning, the afternoon was dedicated to giving Max another chance to ride his Star Wars bike before we’d leave it in Western Australia. He enjoyed it a lot and was even lucky to have some older bikers to watch and copy some moves from. And in fact, it was his last real ride. Two days later we sold it to Marie from La Reunion who amused us from there on riding continuous rounds on the bike all over the campground. And knowing that we had already secured a bike for him in New Zealand, Max did not mind.
We were back at the campground just in time for Max to join the kid’s program. After all, he had been looking forward to the water slide all day and was in fact the only kid that had the energy to go on until it closed. The day after, there was bull riding organized for the kids and Max was probably the kid on the campground that went for most rounds.
And we also celebrated my birthday one of these days. I had specifically wanted just to hang out at the campground. It was a great day in fact: good food and lots of talks on the phone with friends and family. Most amusing was the fact that I was told that the new owner of my previous mobile phone number seems to have been swamped with greeting messages. But I hope most people who wanted to get in touch knew how to reach me via email or WhatsApp.
The best birthday present of all - well along with Max' painting of a bald eagle - was getting to do some more travel planning. Having agreed with Sam on a rough cut plan for the last bit of our trip in Asia, I got to research flights and tour options for our time there. And I really enjoy doing that!
Last but not least, we used the days at the campground to get our stuff sorted and the car back into a somewhat clean state. After eight weeks of spreading our things all over, it proved to be a rather tedious task to get everything packed again.
Even though we could have also opted to return our car and then take a flight out of Perth the same day, we rather went for a more relaxed option and spent two more nights in a motel downtown. And once more we were very happy with the service that Drive Beyond offered. We dropped off the car and one of their employees took us for a last ride in our car all the way to our motel in East Perth. After eight weeks of staying exclusively in our roof top tent, we were looking forward to staying in a room with a real bed again for a change.
It was a really hot day in Perth and we opted to rather take a plunge into the pool before hitting the streets and getting a first impression of the city. In the late afternoon, the temperatures were much more bearable and we had a pleasant walk along the Swan River in the last light of the day before returning via the Cathedral.

IMG_4652.jpg IMG_4650.jpg BCF1B9A3D9CD35BEDBE129AFDF5DFFBF.jpg IMG_4644.jpg IMG_4638.jpg IMG_4635.jpg IMG_4633.jpg IMG_4621.jpg

Thanks to the little kitchen in our room, we were able to use up some more of our remaining food supplies and then were just looking forward to the soft bed. No wonder that we all slept really long the next morning!
Being very close to the center of town, we were able to take advantage of the free buses in Central Perth. At the square opposite of the railway station the ladies of the local netball pro team ‚West Coast Fever’ were just passing out autographs and we got the chance to talk to a couple of them while Max tried to score some baskets. Not having any clue about netball and its rules, it did help to get the quick summary of the rules. We concluded that it is sort of basketball with less body contact and rather complex rules on which areas each player is allowed to play.

IMG_4661.jpg IMG_4662.jpg

After another bus ride to the Museum of Western Australia, we were a bit disappointed to see that it is closed for renovation until 2020. At least the public library next door offered a small display to substitute for the children’s discovery center. Max found the exhibits very interesting and also we did find the presentation of the various subjects very entertaining.

IMG_4672.jpg IMG_4670.jpg

Back in the center of town we had a nice break on the main town square - very quiet and relaxing, as Max headed off into the crowd of other kids to cool off in the water features. Back at the hotel we all got a break from the heat by jumping into the pool.

IMG_4687.jpg IMG_4686.jpg

That last night, we had finally used up all of our food supplies and after his evening run Sam treated us to excellent Fish and Chips.

large_20170110_194023.jpg 20170110_194255.jpg20170110_195149.jpg 20170110_194609.jpg

As our flight only left in the late afternoon, we could take our time the next morning to get our bags packed and to check out. We had two more hours in the park next door before our taxi brought us to the airport where we checked in and soon boarded our plane to Sydney.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 16:04 Archived in Australia Tagged birds park bus museum room bed bike winery downtown brewery netball Comments (1)

Kia ora New Zealand

Christchurch

overcast 19 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

Our descent into Christchurch was very bumpy due to heavy winds despite the sunny weather. Immigration was no issue at all – we even had a chat with the officer about traveling. But customs proved to be a challenge, as already expected. Even though we had eaten all fruit and vegetables before entering New Zealand, we still had a bit of food with us and we also had our hiking boots. The customs officer wanted to inspect all of the shoes and also decided that our pack of rice needed to be inspected before we’d be able to import it. In the end a single one of the shoes had to be disinfected. After a couple of minutes of wait, we had our shoe and also the rice back. We were warned once more about a 400$ instant fine in case we had not declared something and could then proceed to the x-ray machine. All good…
At the terminal, we got within 10 minutes our most urgent needs settled: a new and instantly activated SIM card valid for the next eight week and some leaflets and brochures from the information center. With that we were just in time for our shuttle to the rental company.
Having decided rather late that we wanted to rent vs. buy a campervan in NZ, we did not have too much choice in regards to availability. We were happy to get a rather cheap deal with Lucky Rentals. We were well aware that we’d not be having a luxury camper, but were still rather unexcited upon seeing our new home for the next seven weeks.
After all, our ‘Roadie’ has already done more than 495,000 km in his lifetime. While having all the promised features like a fridge or cooker, it was cheap in many ways. Once more we realized how lucky we had been in Australia with our Drive Beyond which featured brand names for all the equipment that came with it. Here we had to deal with the really cheap version of everything. Eventually after having checked the sixth camp chair, we had three together that we deemed fit enough to survive the next seven weeks.
Still, we had been very clear that despite the fairly high price tag of camping in a campervan, that’s how we wanted to travel: being outside most of the time while still being sheltered from the NZ rain. And if that meant that we had to reduce our luxurious standards vs. our van in the US and the 4WD in Australia, so be it.

IMG_4945.jpg IMG_4944.jpg

After a first stop at McDonalds to get our empty stomachs filled, we headed to our first campground for the night. And being used to Australian prices for campgrounds, we were in for quite a shock, as a comparable campground in Australia would have cost us maybe 33 AUD vs. the 58 NZD we were paying here (and AUD and NZD are almost the same in terms of exchange rate). Wow! At least food shopping seemed to be similarly priced than in Australia. In other words: still much more expensive than in Germany, but at least not much more than what we’ve gotten used to in the last couple of weeks.
In the end, the rather expensive campground was an excellent choice after all. Sam and Max met Rudi and Michi, the first Austrians travelers we got to meet since back in Sedona. They had their last night in Christchurch before leaving the next day back home to Austria. And we were the lucky ones to get everything they had left over from their three weeks of traveling: lots of food, some plastic storage containers, toilet paper, beer and cider. And best of all, they also had quite a list of recommendations for us in regards to places they liked and where to go. Thanks!
The next day was dedicated to getting some more supplies. After having checked a couple of camping stores for lights, we eventually found exactly what we needed at a hardware store. We also bought new Crocs for Max – this time in yellow such that we might be able to spot them more easily in case he’d forget them somewhere again.
As expected, central Christchurch was dominated by vast empty spaces, lots of road cones, steel supported crumbling buildings and gigantic construction sites. Even though the last big earthquake took place almost six years ago, it will still take a very long time for its destruction to disappear. Those areas of the city which have been rebuilt already were quite impressive. We marveled at some of the new architecture displaying ostentatiously the structural reinforcements intended to withstand future earthquakes, some buildings were restored seemingly without changes vs. how they looked before.

IMG_4954.jpg IMG_4952.jpg IMG_4962.jpg
IMG_4964.jpg IMG_4968.jpg IMG_4967.jpg IMG_4969.jpg

Max had been looking forward very much to that evening, as we picked up his new bike. We had already placed a bid on TradeMe – the NZ equivalent of Ebay – back in Perth and secured a used kid’s bike for Max. The bike worked well and Max was very happy to be mobile again.
On the way out of town we discovered a special deal on CamperMate and decided to stay in the luxurious Christchurch Top 10 holiday park after all. And it proved to be an excellent decision. For one, we were once again the lucky recipients of quite a couple of leftovers other campers did not need anymore. And even more importantly, Max made a new friend, 4-year old Leo. And while the two of them played blissfully, we got to talk at lengths with his mom Simone. As we soon learned, they moved from Germany to Timaru four years ago. Hearing how they like their new home country, we were looking forward even more to the coming weeks of exploring New Zealand.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 15:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged town plane bike campervan earthquake customs Comments (0)

Closing the circle - reunited with friends and family

a bit delayed - the blogging frequency reflects that we've been quite busy since our return :-) Allerheiligen im Mürztal, Kirchanschöring

sunny 24 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

In the arrivals hall of Vienna Airport, we were welcomed by Sam’s parents. They were holding a large banner for us and had even brought wreaths for us to wear. We were delighted about the special welcome, but what counted more was seeing each other again after such a long time.
Once we had loaded all of our stuff into the car and were on the way home, we were chatting away like always, just as if we had never left. That’s just how it feels being back home and with people we dearly love and know inside out. And that’s how from a minute to the other, mentally our world travel was over even though we have not reached our own house.

IMG_3217.jpg

We had intentionally planned to stay in Austria for 10 days. After all, there were many people we wanted to meet and see again after such a long time. And there were many things we planned to do.
Already on our first day we were greeted with one of our favorite foods that we did not have for a very long time: Bavarian ‘Weißwürste’ with sweet Händlmaier mustard. But also the next couple of days held lots of delicious foods in store for us. Despite several tours to stop at ‘Tödtling’s Icecream Parlor’ we are still not able to tell which of his many flavors we like best. We had Polenta, Buchteln, several variations of casseroles and used the nice weather for barbecues.

IMG_3257.jpg IMG_3254.jpg

And even though we thought this covered already most of our cravings, those ‘normal’ days were topped by the birthday parties. We celebrated Sam’s birthday with a huge pan of paella and enjoyed Sam’s favorite cakes. And upon Max’ request we celebrated a delayed birthday party for him as well.
We also got to see many members of Sam’s extended family who were invited at our welcome party and for Sam’s birthday. Max spent lots of time with his uncles and seeing how they played together, it felt like they had just seen each other the week before. We visited friends and got to catch up on what happened during the last year.

IMG_3268.jpg IMG_3272.jpg

And to our great delight we also managed to meet one of our new friends. As agreed with Davina already seven weeks earlier in Nepal, we tackled the 2277m Hochschwab, Sam’s ‘home mountain’ and a favorite hiking destination in the region. It took us over four hours to make it to the top via the ‘G’hacktes’ – a small section of via ferrata through the steepest part of the hike.

IMG_3278.jpg IMG_3282.jpg 424D0AE5D2F618C1BAA5B5C2B1E3166C.jpg 424DD8C7F91C5CE84A0DE0ABB44D9A45.jpg IMG_3295.jpg IMG_3305.jpg IMG_3290.jpg large_IMG_3297_stitch.jpg large_IMG_3307.jpg

After a lunch break at the top, we got to see several chamois, marmots and a group of twelve sizable alpine ibex on our hike down. At Häuselalm we deserved a break and enjoyed Kaspressknödel- and Strudel-soup before heading down the remaining altitude difference to the Bodenbauer, where our car was parked.

4252D3C3B11BA83CC8C9FCE41C12BBBE.jpg 42537D46C32BC479862BEF399F3B385F.jpg IMG_3312.jpg IMG_3318.jpg IMG_3321.jpg IMG_3322.jpgIMG_3325.jpg IMG_3327.jpg

While Davina, Irmi, Sam and I were hiking, Max was out with his great-grandmother. They had a great outing taking the train and bus into Bruck an der Mur. Not surprisingly, his highlight was the visit in a toy shop where he was allowed to pick a toy to take home.
From Otmar and Davina we also got back our belongings that we had asked them to take home for us from New Zealand and Nepal respectively. It was surprising to see what we had given them and indeed there’s hardly anything we had missed in the meantime. And we also found some dear items we had left in Austria before heading off: Sam was happy to see his trial bike and the trailer. Unfortunately, my car is not around anymore. Some guy had totalled it while trying to park (or was it drift?!?) his own car. While it’s good to know that his insurance company paid for the time value, we would have certainly preferred to get the car back instead of the money.
We also got to do some things we had not done for a while: Sam and Max had fun chopping wood, all of us went biking, Sam went trial biking, we walked down to the Mürz to skip and throw stones in the water, read the local newspaper, spent time relaxing in the hanging chair, etc.
We also headed to the mountains once more – this time together with Max and Otmar. After making it to the Fölz at 1472m, we treated ourselves to Fritattensuppe and Schweinsbraten at the Herzer Hütte. And on the way down, Max and Sam had to build a small dam in the river – after all, that’s what they did in almost all countries we visited.

42594687EF213CEA35F3F82488BB3FFC.jpg IMG_3334.jpg IMG_3336.jpg

We truly enjoyed our time in Austria. It was already a very different rhythm vs. the time we spent on the road. In other words: We mastered already phase one of the process of re-entry into our ‘normal’ life. Still, we consider ourselves lucky to have eight more weeks until we’ll start working again. That should hopefully be sufficient to be fully immersed in our home culture and lifestyle again.
After ten days in Austria, we headed off towards Bavaria to my family. Irmi took us all the way to Stein an der Enns, where we spent some time with friends. It was a hot day and the kids had fun playing in the pool and on the water slide.

IMG_3347.jpg IMG_3348.jpg

That's also where my parents picked us up and took us to Kirchanschöring. And that’s where we closed our circle. It had been 412 days ago (on April 27, 2016) when we had left Kirchanschöring for Munich and now we were back.
Not much had changed in the mean-time. Well, at 25 °C it was considerably warmer than the snowy days back in April. But Max and his cousins started playing with each other as if they had just seen each other the week before. It surely helped that we had talked in regular intervals via Skype or WhatsApp and that we exchanged lots of pictures. Contrary to the adults which seemed to be exactly like a year ago with their usual peculiarities and characteristics, at least the kids had clearly grown. The smaller the kid, the more pronounced the development they made in the past year. What a relief: at least there’s something that has changed.
We did not spend every day in Kirchanschöring though. It was such nice weather that we spent most of our time at lakes (Höglwörther See, Seehauser See, Waginger See), in the mountains (Harbach Alm, Teisenberg) or in the garden.

IMG_3372.jpg

Most of our time we spent with my immediate family, but we also made sure to say hello to my grandma and uncles and aunts. And I even got to catch up with one of my best friends from high school days.
There were lots of small and big things that make home ‘home’. There’s the food, the house, the view, the local customs, the card games and the peculiarities of everyone including ourselves. What a luxury being able to come back home after having seen so many other parts of the world.

IMG_3423.jpg

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 10:30 Archived in Austria Tagged food home mountain lake friends family party bike Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 7 of 7) Page [1]