Enjoying life.
  • Day57

    The eagle has landed

    September 16, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    After 9 countries with 7 languages and 7 currencies in 57 days, our journey comes to an end.

    We had an awesome time in Croatia, seeing it through the eyes of Croatians. We had a hectic but fascinating couple of weeks through Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands before slowing the pace with three weeks in France. We had 3 interesting days in Switzerland to cool off after the hot, windy cycling in Provence, before returning to sweltering, sweaty Singapore.

    But we look forward now to getting back to our family, burying our suitcases, sleeping in our own beds and having good coffee. Then we have to relearn what is normal life. My email tells me it's back on the bike on Thursday.
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    Marj Dowie

    Welcome home! and to sunny spring days! I’ve enjoy your stories.

  • Day56

    Ghostrider adventure at Pulau Ubin

    September 15, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    While some Ghostriders are currently cruising down the Loire valley in France, some more exotic locations are sometimes sought.

    Pulau Ubin is a Singaporean island wedged in the Johore Strait between Singapore's main island and Malaysia. The island is more like 1960s Singapore. The island is used mostly for walking and cycling. Access is by small bumboats and bikes are usually hired on the island, just don't have high expectations on the quality. Gear changing is not as smooth as I am used to but it works more often than not. Whilst the seat rattles a bit, it's nothing to be concerned about, the raffia and wire do a reasonably good job of holding the seat in place most of the time.

    Cyclists are treated to a mix of sealed and gravel roads and off road adventures in the Ketam Mountain Bike Park. Nature lovers can explore mangrove swamps and bushland with an exotic assortment of flora and fauna.

    Monkeys great you along the road much like a Pyrenees mountain top finish in the Tour de France, though they are sometimes more interested in intimate dancing with their partner in the middle of the road rather than showing any interest in approaching cyclists.

    Wild boar sometimes hog the road. You may have to duck as hornbills fly across the path. Whilst they are carnivorous, the monitor lizards are unlikely to harm you as long as you don't run over them.

    A day on Pulau Ubin has plenty to offer, just no air conditioning to escape Singapore's relentless heat and humidity.
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  • Day53

    Singapore fling

    September 12, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Getting closer to home. For us, any trip to Europe or Asia has a mandatory stopover in Singapore for family time and to eat Singaporean food.

    Having been here about 17 times, there aren't many things to see that haven't already been seen multiple times. However, there is one new one to see - Jewel at Changi Airport.

    Jewel is a massive indoor waterfall, 5 storeys high, surrounded by major shopping and dining. The waterfall starts as an nwards facing, circular waterfall, falling into the centre of another waterfall that is water cascading down the inside of a clear perspex, circular wall that narrows as it descends, i.e. a vortex shape. This is surrounded by a vertical garden with multiple, small waterfalls. The T2-T3 Skytrain runs through it, so if you are only transiting through Singapore airport and have a little spare time, you can take the Skytrain back and forth to see it, though won't be able to get out for a closer look.

    The biggest change I noticed in Singapore was the absence of share bikes. Just a year ago, they saturated the city centre and where also in large numbers scattered around the island. There were numerous companies competing for business. But now they are all gone. The government put restrictions and taxes on them, making them unviable businesses.

    There are still eScooters zipping around though not the numbers I saw in Europe. Here, they are restricted to footpaths. My opinion remains unchanged, they are too fast making them dangerous.

    It's mooncake time on the Chinese calendar, so we were given some to join in.

    Back in the days of getting around Singapore with toddlers and pushers, we found Singapore quite unfriendly to those on wheels. They seemed to put steps in wherever they could whether they were needed or not. Things have improved over the years since. However, as we get older and some of us getting weaker knees, focus returns on unnecessary steps. One of the nearby subway stations is the deepest in Singapore, having 3 escalators just to reach the ticket level and then more, long escalators down to platform level. So why do we need to go up 10 steps from street level when we're going down so far?

    This is the time of year that forest land on Sumatra (Indonesia) gets set alight to clear land for farming. Malaysia and Singapore are innocent victims having periods of very high smoke haze with associated health issues. It is a shame that this practice continues as our planet is becoming increasingly unable to deal with the impact of mankind's destruction. Sadly, Australia is also a participant in this stupid practice, putting more money in rich people's pockets being more important than a good world for our grandchildren.
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  • Day52

    In the air tonight

    September 11, 2019 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    No, nothing to do with Phil Collins, everything to do with a night on an A380 in Premium Economy class.

    This has been my best long haul flight ever. We left Zurich at about noon, on a 12 hour flight to Singapore. With 6hrs time zone shift, we arrive about 6am. Two thirds of the trip is in darkness.

    It's been several years since I've been on an A380 and the first time in Premium Economy. Why premium? For some unknown reason, when I was booking, premium economy was cheaper than standard economy.

    Premium economy on the Singapore Airlines A380 is at the pointy end of the lower deck, well before the noisy bit. With noise reducing headphones issued, wider seats and oodles of leg and knee room, this was a very smooth and comfortable ride. You almost forget you're on a plane except for some turbulence off the east coast of India that almost spilled my drink. There's also priority check in, more choice of meals and your luggage gets out quicker at the other end.

    Of course, business class or first class would be better but that will have to wait until I win lotto.
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  • Day51

    Au revoir, auf weidersehen or whatever

    September 10, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    One thing you notice as your train gets closer to Zurich is that the announcements become German instead of French. This has been doing my head in ever since. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm still in Switzerland, not Germany. I'm still using Swiss francs, not euros and certainly not Deutsch marks. I have to remember to say danke instead of merci. I finish up speaking one third French, a third German and a third English in one sentence. It's driving me crazy.

    The other things you notice anywhere in Switzerland are Swiss flags, Switzerland is way more modern/hi tech than anywhere I have seen and that everything is really expensive. Luckily, we're leaving tomorrow, we couldn't afford to stay longer.

    Over the last 7 weeks, we've been in 7 countries with 6 languages and 5 currencies. One country with another language and another currency awaits us before returning to Aus.

    So it's time to say au revoir, auf wiedersehen, dovidenja, farvel, tot aliens and adjo to Europe for 2019.
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  • Day50

    Getting to Zurich

    September 9, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Inter city train travel is quite a pleasant way to go as long as you don't have suitcases. I'm very glad we didn't bring our big one. Some trains have narrow doors and a few steep steps to test your agility and strength, both of which some days just don't work. Perhaps it's the lack of a good coffee in the morning. Once aboard, you have to find somewhere to stow them. The overhead shelves seem to be getting higher or perhaps the suitcases are getting heavier. Some trains have a small luggage space with shelves and it's usually only the top shelf that is vacant.

    This is our last intercity rail journey. Fortunately, this train had a gentle step to negotiate. We were second onto our carriage, the lady ahead used the prime bottom shelf but second shelf was adequate for both our suitcases and we easily found good seats so this was probably the easiest boarding of all. Time now to sit back and enjoy the Swiss scenery.
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  • Day49

    Geneva non-Convention

    September 8, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    This is the first time in Geneva for both of us. The third train of our journey on Saturday from Aigues Mortes arrived in Geneva about 6:30pm and we depart on our final rail trip on Monday morning giving us a full day to look around Geneva, being Dimanche (Sunday), most shops and many other things are closed.

    Hotels in Geneva provide free public transport cards for guests. We made good use of it.

    First objectives were to see the big water fountain on the lake and to take a couple of free rides across the lake with our transit cards. Nothing much to see at the end so we jumped on the next bus back to the city centre.

    Geneva some interesting sculptures scattered across the city. We saw some of them. The big broken chair looked interesting so we jumped on a tram to take a look. It doesn't matter what reason you have to go somewhere, the journey is an adventure and often brings surprises.

    After the chair and the United Nations building across the road, we jumped on an electric bus to go to the old town. Like most old towns, it has narrow streets, a Hotel de Ville (City Hall) and a Cathedral all of course on the top of a steep hill.

    We jumped on another tram to head back to the city centre but after heading towards the city, it turned to head out the other side. Oops. The return trip was not wasted, I got to see almost life sized chess games in progress in the park.

    After dinner and packing for our departure in the morning, we decided there was time to walk back down to the lake to see the water fountain lit up after dark. We took a slightly different route and were quite surprised to find that our hotel was beside a thriving red light district. About half the shops were selling bongs and I don't care what else, and the rest were selling human services. There were ladies on the street every where and in red lounges with the curtains open. The blokes standing around seemed to be pimps.

    Life is full of surprises.
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  • Day48

    Au revoir

    September 7, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    It's time to say farewell to our boat that has been our home for the last week, to my bike that has carried me through the French countryside for the last 6 days, to Aigues Mortes, a charming little town at the end of our cycling tour and to France where we've spent the last 3 weeks. We also say farewell for now to our Ghostrider companions as they continue their tour de France along the Loire River.Read more

  • Day47

    Aigues Mortes

    September 6, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    Day 6 is the longest of our rides, still only 60km with no significant hills but a strong wind made us work harder. This is also the last ride of our tour de Provence. We're on the edge of the Camargue National Park, hoping to see wild white horses, black bulls and pink flamingos and take a dip in the Mediterranean.

    No pic but we did see black bulls so tick off that one.
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  • Day46

    Arles to Aigues Mortes.

    September 5, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Day 5 was an easier day. We started with a "free tour" of the city of Arles. Although officially free, a tip of whatever you think the tour was worth is expected.

    We saw the huge bull ring. Every town in this part of France has a bull ring. Bull fighting season is in full swing so towns have festivals to go with it.

    Arles also has a Roman Theatre though not open to the public like the one in Lyon.

    Vincent Van Gough spent some time in Arles. There is a copy of his "Café Terrace at Night" displayed in front of the cafe it depicted which is now called the "Cafe de nuit" which is the title of another Van Gough painting though that one depicts the interior of a different cafe.

    Then it was back on the bikes for a short ride to Saint Gilles to catch up to the boat and then cruise to Aigues Mortes.
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