Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The land of old Zeeland, to New Zealand

We arrived in The Netherlands for the second time after an easy and fast train from Paris. Trains without connectors have been so much easier to organise for ramps to get on and off the train. We didn't do much that night, but made it to the Heineken Brewery, Vondelpark, and Museumplein the next day. The Heineken Brewery was delicious, and also quite interesting. The souvenir shop turned out to be expensive even though Rachel was constantly trying to steal things. I got so caught up buying things, that I bought some Heineken Christmas ornaments. I don't know why, but I still don't regret it.

We didn't spend much more time out as I had to be careful with some skin issues. Th next day, after checking out of our final European hotel, we still had 5 hours to murder before we had to be at the airport. We went to a pub for a while and caught the first half of the All Blacks vs England game which I was stoked about. Missing the second half was tough, but the result turned out okay even with our lack of long distance encouragement.

We made it to the airport and on the plane fine, although since there weren't any seats with extra leg room still available, my legs were pressed against the seat in front of me the entire trip. Luckily they weren't too red in Korea. We arrived back in a very cold Seoul, only to find they had no accessible transport options to our hotel. We needed to do another high, awkward transfer into the hotel's free shuttle. The beds at the hotel were ridiculously hard, just so by the time we left we were very much looking forward to home.

The second leg of the flight was much better than the first. After arriving back in NZ fairly dehydrated and deslept; a big shower, drink and sleep made me feel refreshed again surprisingly quickly. After what was definitely the trip of a lifetime, I am definitely glad to be back in the land I call my home. I'm very grateful to Rob and Rachel for helping a brother and a friend out. I'll post some photos and time lapses of my travels here when I finally sort them out. This however will be my final post otherwise. Thanks for reading, it's been swell folks.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Perfect Parisian Parade

To avoid any more confusion I thought I'd clarify that for the previous title, I replaced the c's with th's, as that's how the c is pronounced in Barthelona.

We arrived in Paris without any troubles, getting to our hotel not long after dark. We saw the Arc de Triumph close up when we got off the train stop, but we had all our gear so we didn't get a close up photo. But we can do some super enhanced close up CSI: Miami type work on some far away photos, which always turns out better on TV anyway, which is pretty much real life.

After settling in, we went for our first and only 3 course meal. It was amazing, and our host/owner/chef looked after us with outstanding hospitality. It was a memorable experience.

We had the whole of the next day (yesterday) to power mish the city. Rachel had a terrible 24 hour fever which put her out of action for the day, which was obviously very bad timing. Although she did muster up the energy for dinner out, after a day of sleeping.

Rob and I made it everywhere I had planned on going, including going in Le Louvre for a couple of hours. It was so massive, but I think we saw the main stuff. We didn't have to line up, pay for tickets, or stay behind the barrier for the Mona Lisa. It was pretty badass. We also saw the Grand Palace, the Luxembourg Palace and Gardens, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and a lot of others in between. We made it back just before dark, as the temperature was dropping from a high of 11 degrees to a low of 3. With rain the day before and after, we were very lucky to have blue skies all day.

It was very successful, but I'll definitely be coming back to see the rest of Paris. We're on the first class train for 35 euro each instead of over 200, enjoying free drinks and food. We just passed through Brussels, Belgium and will be in Amsterdam in just over an hour. It's our last stop before the 2 day journey home, including a 24 hour stop in Seoul, South Korea again. Hopefully we'll make it to the Heineken brewery and Museum, although it's going to be wetter and colder than our last visit here.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Grathious Barthelona

Jeez louise, we had a tough trip here. After a 5 hour train ride and 2 and a half hour stop over, we had a delay which made us miss our second connector. That was not a ideal thing to happen. That meant we had to catch a bus to Barcelona, which meant another tough lift for Rob and a kind stranger up and down a tight staircase. It was more fun than it sounds. So we ended up getting there at 1am, but since we can't get wheelchair taxis easily or at all at certain times of the day, Rob and I had to mish 3km to our hotel and hostel while Rachel taxied with our bags.

When we arrived to the hotel at 2am we were greeted with a free fridge full of snacks and drinks that got refilled daily. Even after that was explained by the staff with good English, Rachel was still rightfully sceptical and so searched the room for prices to no avail. We taxed everything daily.

After a lackluster sleep of two hours with a body that didn't want to play ball, I was ready for a big day exploring Barcelona. We set out without Rob since he was being a fat, stupid sleepyhead. We must of rolled almost 10km throughout the day, which was an awesome effort for Rachel considering she hurt her foot decently on the way to Prague.

We went from La Rambla, to La Sagrada Familia, to Casa Mila; then we took the metro to the main train station only to get lost in the very hot subway for at least half an hour. From the train station we continued the trek far away from public transport to the University, and back down La Rambla. After a well deserved drink we went to La Rambla to finish the day with some delicious paella and churros. I was literally falling asleep in the restaurant waiting for the food, but it was worth the effort and embarrassment.

It's now 3pm on the train to Paris. After another early start, we should arrive in half an hour. The scenery has been okay. Once again I'm looking forward to the sights and food; including the experience of snails and frogs legs, hopefully lathered up to buggery with garlic and butter.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


The train ride from Rome to Nice was both beautiful and tiring. It was a 9 hour trip with two stops, but we followed the Mediterranean Coast almost all of the way which was stunning.

When we arrived at the hotel, there was an awesome sunset, which was even better with our three window view of the sea from the 4th floor. You can get some amazing hotel deals by booking ahead on the Internet! See photo.

After a day relaxing and shopping yesterday, and some sun today, we are ready to support the All Blacks vs France at a pub tonight. They are playing in Paris only three days before we get there, but at least we're in France to see us win.

After a trip to Monaco didn't work out, Rachel and I went to the Museum of Nice, just down the road. The building was built during Napoleon's first reign, and donated to the public as a museum in 1921.

Tomorrow will be another long day to get to Barcelona, but hopefully with more nice scenery.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Rome wasn't seen in a day

The train ride from Florence to Rome was short and uneventful. Italy has been the best country for disabled services on the train thus far. They even upgrade myself and a carer to first class for free. And Rob too, although they weren't obliged to.

We got to Rome at 3 and had an early pizza dinner. Today we started with a really good free breakfast at the hotel, and ended with a spaghetti alla carbonarra and gelato for desert, with a little in between.

After breakfast, the three of us went on a 4 hour trek around some old as crap buildings; including the colleseum and roman forum. It was a bit challenging to get close to either though.

Rachel and I then decided to pop over to another country and high five the Pope. We booked tickets to Vatican City ourselves, as Robert had been on his last trip to Europe. He kindly sussed our trains for tomorrow while we were there. After we called out our cabbie for trying to add on a 10 euro tourist charge, we arrived with 2 hours or so to look around.

It was pretty incredible, especially when thinking of the history of the place, and artifacts inside. We looked around the Vatican museum, and outside of Saint Peter's Basilica. We didn't get inside the Basilica as it was too late; or the Sistine Chapel as it wasn't accessible. Unfortunately there weren't any Saints in to perform a miracle and levetate me up the staircase. I guess I was foolish to assume they could.

We have just been chilling since dinner, getting ready for a big day tomorrow. Our 9 hour train leaves at 7am in the morning. Fun times!

Goodbye friends.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Our Italian Odyssey

After a busy train and confusing 30 minute stop in Milan, we took a 300km/h journey to Florence. After a wee scare with a misplaced wallet, we had dropped our stuff at our hotel and made it to a delicious pizzeria. The hotel is 20 metres from the Saint Marie Cathedral in the heart of the city. See photo from the hotel room. The pizzeria was directly across the road. It was so bloody good. I'm glad it had more cheese on it than friends had lead me to believe. Not as much as NZ, but enough . I got a sausage and soft cheese pizza. We have also tried tortellini, spag bol, and spaghetti alla carbonarra*.

We didn't see all the sites I wanted because the museums were closed and it was pretty rainy, but we still saw heaps. Pushing around to see everything is achievable within a few hours, but the cobbles are actually ridiculous at times. With the bumps, and my spasms exacerbating the jolts, I look like I'm sitting on a hot plate most of the day. The markets have been awesome too, I've bought some cool stuff.

In 2 mins we're off to Rome. Ciao for now!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Zurich out yo.

Another successful day has been completed. While Rachel and Robert were achieving increased independence, so was I. I went for an hour push around Zurich scoping out time lapse spots, ready for some functional hands to help a brother out, after I insisted I'd be ok to both concerned parties. It was so much fun for me. When they were ready, I got 3 good shots.

After a rendezvous at the hotel, Rob and I went on a semi planned mish. We totally nailed it and ended up where we wanted to be, even though we didn't realise it would be on top of an epic vantage point, with a view of the city, harbour and alps. It was amazing! After some phat skids down a really steep downhill path, Rob and I split for the day.

The rest of the day involved chillin', killin', and maybe a little alcohol, but who knows for sure.
(drops microphone)

Friday, 1 November 2013

It's too late to come up with a good title. Switzerland!

I don't know if you've heard (that the bird is the word), but European cities have a theme of being quite pretty. With too many bags, a slightly crippled carer (after a tumble at the train station), no wheelchair taxis, and a fair distance; we decided to send Rachel with the bags to the hotel, while Rob and I power-rolled 30+ mins through Zurich at 9.30 pm. I actually quite enjoyed it.

We're planning on taking it fairly easy here, after a busy couple of cities and transits. Today was about as awkward as it gets in terms of transfers. Rob and the bus driver had to carry me like a rag doll up 5 large and very steep stairs, through a narrow corridor up to the top of a raised bus, to get to my seat. That is the first and last intercity bus I'll be taking in Europe. Unfortunately it was necessary to get back from Prague.

Zurich is crazy expensive, especially compared to Prague. At the bar downstairs, we were treated to one mozzarella stick and one salmon mix on bread; each for about $5NZD each! Not to mention the bottle of water which was about the same. That's ludicrizzle if you ask me.

More updates to follow... Let's see if having a Swiss friend benefits me at all. I'm guessing not.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Prague-ticily living the dream.

After a good 4 hour roll around Frankfurt, the 3 of us caught up with Marie (a Dr who I met in Burwood) and her wheelie friend Stefan, for dinner. It was so delicious and such a fun night. Although after a few German beers, even being German is probably fun. Hence all the beer I'm guessing.

Tonight we arrived by train in Prague. Turning up in Eastern Europe at night was not on my bucket list to be honest, but with Robs directions everything turned out dandy. Luckily I was treated to a VIP seat on the train because all of the available space, see photo. Even after my friend Leith's sister's dog's recommendation, I am pleasantly surprised by Prague! It's stunning! Loving them commy dictators work.

I'm definitely looking forward to witnessing some sights tomorrow. The whole city looks great, and most youngsters speak English, which is a pleasant bonus.

Off to downstairs for a free all day breakfast before bed. A sneaky wine might make an appearance too!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Hail Frankfurters!

After a fairly uneventful last day in Amsterdam, caused by bad weather, we made it to Frankfurt after a couple of hiccups with our train tickets. The scenery on the train was great, and the houses were really interesting. Germany has one of the highest uses of solar panels in the world, even though sun levels aren't as good as New Zealand.

I don't know if you are familiar with the second world war, but after Hitler was voted off Celebrity Treasure Island, the world rejoiced. Then to say sorry, the German people invented Hamburgers, Frankfurters, and Schnitzel. And they were immediately forgiven. I'm really learning a lot on this trip.

We had schnitzel last night, and we are planning on having frankfurters for lunch, before going out for dinner with a friend tonight. Otherwise we'll probably look for some museums or other interesting things to do in town for the day. No doubt I'll be hoping enough people spreken zee English (I can't spell German).

Saturday, 26 October 2013

What's the Amsterdamage?

We arrived in Amsterdam at 7pm local time after another 12 hour flight. The food was absolute shyt, but we were treated to a 3 hour sunset since we were travelling with the sun.

It was slightly stressful finding our hotel, but we were quickly relaxed when we saw how flash the hotel was, and even more so when the concierge presented us each with a cookie!

Although there is definitely something up with the coffee shops, all the food we have had so far has been delicious. I have had omelette, lasagne, and pizza. I love European food!

Today after a slightly late start, we went to the zoo and planetarium, and then to a brewery on the map. I was hoping it was the Heineken brewery, but it turned out to be a large windmill. We wondered the streets for a while and got lots of photos, but none were on my phone so I can't share.

My wheels ran out of battery, so we're just recharging them before an eventful Saturday night out.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Leaving Seoul on a jet plane.

Although I do know when I'll be back again, I'm not looking forward to it if we have the same problems with our luggage. They tried connecting our bags with all my supplies even after we told them specifically not to. Apparently  'medical' is the magic word to get your stuff back, so we got what I needed.

We slept inside the terminal last night. Well, inside the hotel in the terminal anyway. The photo is from our room.

On another note, the food we've had so far is so bland. I feel like I'm in North Korea with the lack of flavour. Looking forward to chips and mayo in the Netherlands! We all know that's my jam.

The Korean War - day 12745

Today was intense. We arrived in Seoul amongst a rife war. We got lost in the smog and wandered into the DMZ. Rachel defected to North Korea and is now dead to me.

Disclaimer: I may be over tired.

It was bitter sweet saying goodbye to the olds. Mum wrote me a great card with a poem this morning when she couldn't sleep. It went as follows: 
Wishing u the best trip ever,
one which you'll forget never,
many stories, some not to be told,
over the years, may however unfold!

Also Alison Pugh from Breakfast and One News was on our flight. We talked to her for a few minutes after. I call her Ally for short, and sometimes Ally Cat as a cute nickname. We're getting married next November. Don't tell her.

Love Tim

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

To whom it may concern,

If you would like to be updated about my month long trip to Europe, feel free to follow here. It kicks off tomorrow at 9.45am from Auckland airport! Rachel, Robert and I will spend 24 hours in South Korea before a second 12 hour flight to Amsterdam. Looking forward to getting on the plane!

Auf Wiedersehen!