Tag Archives: home

Day 324 – Hometown

First thing you see in the morning

First thing you see in the morning

Our stay in Sommerach was lovely and filled with great food. Breakfast with fresh buns and good coffee gave us an excuse to hang around, spending some more time with family.

At noon, we had to go though…another 180km to Frankfurt. Just a short ride but an important one. Finishing the trip. Throughout most of the ride, our mood was pretty triumphant. Close to Frankfurt, we decided to take a detour so that we’ll come in on the A5 which would give us a view of the skyline. Shortly before we could actually see it, the mood turned sombre. We started to realize that these are the last kilometers of our trip. We had actually done it. We were still sitting on the same bike which had left Clifton Terrace in Wellington all those months ago.

Frankfurt, eh?

Frankfurt, eh?

When Frankfurt came into view, I started crying. The mix of emotions was just too much: Happy that we had made it, sad that it was over, proud to have made it, happy to be home, missing Wellington like crazy. Just too freaking much. Also, this way I ended the journey the same way as it began: in tears. I’ve come full circle, haven’t I?

Arriving in the suburb of Okriftel where we would stay with more family, we went on a last little detour to the place where we had bought Rocinante. Unfortunately, no one who has anything to do with bikes was around. So we left again for the last couple of meters to our temporary home.

Arrived at Flo's family's place. Frankfurt needs to be added immediately

Arrived at Flo’s family’s place. Frankfurt needs to be added immediately

Just to be stopped again when we turned into the road where Flo’s family lives. An unconscious figure lay on the footpath next to a bicycle. A man and a woman were standing at the accident site, too, but it must have happened only moments before. Flo stopped and while the woman told us that she already called the ambulance, we could still offer our first aid kit as no one else seemed to have one. There was a lot of blood from a wound on her head. One of the helpers had just started cleaning the wounds and her face when she regained conscience and the ambulance arrived. Having witnessed nothing and being already the third persons to help, we cleared the road and left to finally arrive at our destination just down the road.

We’re home now. In one of our homes.

Complete trip with important city dates

Complete trip with important city dates


Day 304 – Blingdenstone

So we did get to see a balloon even if it was not in the air

So we did get to see a balloon even if it was not in the air

Alright, enough about hanging out, it was time to get back on our feet for a bit. Not enough mind you to get up at 6 am to watch the balloons go up over the valley, but enough to set out on a day trip after a good breakfast.

We decided on one of the five underground cities of the area in D@#T. It was a short ride of about 35 km away and we were there by 11 am. The entrance fee was on the hefty side, at least for our tiny remaining budget, with $25 for the two of us. The general consensus is that these underground cities were used by the christian inhabitants of the land to evade several waves of invaders and/ or ethnic cleansing from about 800 AD into the 13th century.

This is the official way...try not to get claustrophobic

This is the official way…try not to get claustrophobic

Going down past several warning sings was an eerie experience. The access tunnels were all extremely narrow and low. The one to the deepest accessible point was probably 50 m long with three separate massive round stone doors that could be used to seal the inhabitants in. The guides had to shout up the corridor when they were leading a group through, since it would have been way to confined for two groups to pass. It was an impressive experience, but we were definitively happy to see the light of day again.

It took us a bit of a longer way back to explore some of the back roads. We had a brief look at an old monastery built into the cliff-side before moving on to find a spot to have our lunch. The perfect spot appeared not soon after in form of a picnic area at a reservoir lake about 20 km from Göreme.

We popped back to the campground for a second to pick up the map of the area and hit the road one more time. We just had enough energy left to have a proper look at one of the valleys that make Cappadocia so famous. This particular one is interchangeably called fairy chimneys or love valley, for obvious reasons.

A whole fairy army must live here ...

A whole fairy army must live here …

There was even enough time left that afternoon to finish up with a bunch of chores. All in all, it feels like we have rested enough to tackle the last stretch of our journey. The closer we get to Istanbul, the harder it becomes for us to motivate ourselves to still “do it”. I must be honest, right now, a lot of the times I would rater spend an afternoon with my favorite video game or have a BBQ with friends than to get on the bike to see another ruin, beach or city. We are going through the motions, waiting on inspiration as we go … but home continues to creep up on us.

Day 296 – The bear necessities

It was cold. Even with a real roof over our heads, the night was cold. Given that the temperature in Kars was shown as 9 degrees last evening, it might well have been below zero in the night. Without heating, that’s cold even in a house.

much better weather this morning

much better weather this morning

So we took our time in the morning, hoping for things to warm up a little before we left. Our hotel didn’t include breakfast so we ate bread with all sorts of remaining things (cream cheese, honey) in our room. The plan was to ride to Ani, the former Armenian capital, about 45km from Kars before heading further north and towards the Black Sea.

Kars, however, had charm when we stepped outside in the sunny morning. What looked grey and dreary in the rain and cold last night, now looked friendly and busy. Flo decided to fix our problem with mobile data right here and then so we searched for a Turkcel shop. Driving up and down one of the main roads, many honey and cheese (real cheese!) shops caught our eye. We just finished our pot of honey this morning and when was the last time we had real cheese? Not cream cheese, not feta, but the real thing? I sent Flo in one of the bigger shops where he purchased a 500g jar of honey and two different cheeses for all of NZ$10. He jumped out once to give me some cheese to try which was very nice and then suddenly, the owner looked out of the door, beckoned to me and said “çay!”. Again, we were invited to a glass of tea after a successful transaction. Slightly odd for the taste, we got more slices of cheese to try with our tea. Buying a fresh loaf of bread at the store on the opposite side, we were all set for a great lunch at Ani today. Continue reading

Day 263 – Last weekend at “home”

Demo shot - we did not bring the camera when we had a swim ;)

Demo shot – we did not bring the camera when we had a swim 😉

We already collected two real homes each. Maybe we should not be too liberal with adding new ones, but Michael and Lina were such amazing hosts and we felt so comfortable here, it is hard to call it by a different name. Come Sunday, it will be time to leave once more (the Omani weekend is Friday and Saturday).

Regarding today, there was really nothing on our agenda. Gladly, we are all the kind of people who can enjoy a cozy day at home. Thus the day was gently going by with us watching videos, listening to music and a whole lot of good conversation.

We did break the rut once in the afternoon for a splash in the both enormous and refreshing pool of Lina and Michael’s condo complex. Simple times!

Day 236 – Jim Thompson House

One bike's flight worth of Thai baht

One bike’s flight worth of Thai baht

We were alternating: One day of tourist attractions, one day of doing blissful nothing, back to a bad conscience and tourist attractions. With that goal in mind, time flew by. Saturday was our last proper day in Bangkok so we better had to get out there to see something. However, we were detained until almost lunch time by the fact that we needed to wait for our shipping agent to show up at the guest house to for the bike’s shipping in cash.

The Lonely Planet recommended the Jim Thompson house quite warmly and we kind of felt like another museum type thing. Getting there was a bit of a mission as you are just cattle for the taxi drivers who refuse to turn on the meter on a regular basis. Or ask for a 100 baht tip in advance. All in all, taxi drivers in Thailand are no fun and you always have to keep an eye out. But you can’t completely control things. So we were sitting in the cab with the meter running while the taxi driver just drove so slowly that he would get his 100 baht in the end even with the meter. *sigh*

Thanks for disappearing, your house makes a nice attraction

Thanks for disappearing, your house makes a nice attraction

We got out at one of the consume temples aka big malls before we realized that food there is really rather expensive. So we left again, wandered the streets until we came to a vegetarian restaurant with okay prices. From here, we walked the rest of the way back to the Jim Thompson House.

Jim Thompson was an American who settled in Thailand after the second World War. He single-handedly revived the interest in hand-woven silks and traditional Thai patterns. His house which is mostly a museum by now is formed by combining six traditional mahogany Thai houses, moved to Bangkok and reassembled in a way to create a large living space. Thai houses only have one room so by combining six of them, he got quite the estate. Then he went on to collect art in all forms which now, you can look at in the original setting.

fresh cocoons, cooked ones and ready spun thread

fresh cocoons, cooked ones and ready spun thread

The place itself is beautiful, set in a lush garden and full of tourists. About every 10min, a guided tour through the house starts. Naturally, we had picked the English tour which was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because the tour was really quite good and you got a lot of information but a curse as we had to suffer through the culturally inappropriate behaviour of an older couple from Oregon. First of all, they were really outspoken, as in they just asked all the questions that popped up in their minds. Learning is a good thing. But when it came to “yeah, but where were those muslim people originally from? They were not Thai, were they?”, it started to go down into a bit of a rabbit hole and ended with the lady correcting the poor guide’s English (it was good for f***’s sake). At the end, when our guide bowed with the hands in front of her, the gesture was repeated by the American lady who then went on to clutch the guide’s hand (such a no go…Thai don’t even shake hands) and continued her English lesson.

He build a villa for himself combining six traditional houses

He build a villa for himself combining six traditional houses

It was too much for us so we left pretty hastily to sneak back around to the guide afterwards to apologize for such a culturally inappropriate behaviour. We were not the only ones either as a black couple from New York basically did the same thing at the same time. They apologized for the rudeness of fellow Americans.

Trying to get over our “fremdschämen”, we now went to Siam Center where we had some delicious late afternoon ice cream before heading over to Siam Paragon which houses the big-ass cinema. Unfortunately, only Batman v Superman was screening so we refrained from spending money on that and went home instead.

Day 1 – NZ in winter

We left Wellington at a reasonable time around 9.30ish. Leaving Welly was hard. I cried into my helmet. Oh well, now it is baptized. I take it as a good sign: We had an amazing time in our second home and I rather cry while leaving than be glad to go.

Nina and Flo on the bike

ready to leave wellington

Wellington cried with me. At least that is my explanation for getting absolutely drenched for the next two hours going north. I remembered again why a new suit was not just a requirement for the hot and humid conditions of the tropics…it didn’t take very long and my suit capitulated to the water. Given that it was also about 15 degrees and we were doing 100kmh, I started shivering quite quickly.

We managed to get out of the rain when we hit a small town called “Bulls” in the proximity of Palmerston North. A cafe gave us refuge, allowed my hair to dry again and we had a lovely hot soup to warm up.

From there, luckily, the weather also started to get a bit better. Lovely afternoon sun helped dry us off again, except for my feet which remained drenched until we arrived at our camp spot. We stopped a couple of times to hang out in the sun and take some pictures of the NZ landscape in winter.

on route to Taihape

on route to Taihape

Taihape was our last stop to shop for breakfast food and then we were off on the road between Taihape and Napier. What a lovely road for a motorbike ride! Very enjoyable.

The DOC campsite was accessible through a horse paddack and though I did not take a picture of them, the horses in that landscape looked lovely. They just belonged there.

We were the only ones on the campsite as far as we see. Two other people were hiding on the far side but we only found them after quite a walk; also, it seemed to me as if they wanted to be left alone.

Put up the tent, changed into something dry and warm started to read. Then Flo told me that we couldn’t actually use our stove as we only had the wrong type of fuel for it with us. Tough luck, no evening tea then. Well, also no warm meal. Instead, we ate our supplies for breakfast and decided to have breakfast in Napier the next day.

Darkness dropped quickly on us and at something stupidly early like 8pm, we went to bed. It already felt quite cold so I put on an extra fleece and tugged the sleeping bag all the way around. Snug like a bug. 🙂

This morning, I get woken up by a nearly frozen Flo who had a terribly cold night and a big envy for my down sleeping bag. It had been cold. So cold in fact, that our tent froze and was covered in a tiny layer of ice. The motorbike as well. It took us way longer than on other mornings to pack everything because everything was stiff and uncooperative, including our own cold fingers.

Now we are in Napier, in the Groove Kitchen Espresso, which makes amazing coffee (Flo) and let’s us use the wifi and the power plugs. All good. 🙂

t -1d

Here we are, finally. The night before this trip starts.


me in the same pose, 3 years apart

Weird deja vu …

To calm down and remind ourselves of all the mountains (at times literal ones) we have climbed before, we had one last browse of our photo archive. Especially the ones from 2012 before coming to NZ. This also led to a kind of escheresque inception moment that we do not want to keep from you.

This is the last night in our flat. Again, there is no furniture left. One pile of boxes awaiting to be shipped to the left, the old bedroom filled with all our travel gear.

Everything is set. Goodbyes have been said, things sold, jobs quit.

Tomorrow, the road …

Never a writer …

There are many things that I personally strive for. There are many things I can see myself doing. Being a writer or enjoying the written word was and never will be one of them. Be it to write in school, technical writing at work all forbid writing for “fun”. Maybe that is why it is all to easy for me to fall out of the habit of writing for this blog, but Continue reading