It started out cloudy today and by the time I was about 100k out of Toulouse the sky became blue. Temp high was 21d but it started at 10dC. For most of the 690k that I drove today I probably was not out of sight of a grape vine at any stage. That is one lot of grapes! Finally I found a computer in a Aire that I could work and checked all of my emails and only one needed answering immediately, could have used the hotel I am at tonight but I do not have the French plug, I almost bought the set in the States, but thought there has to be a limit on what you carry, bad choice Ivan! Will see if I can find a plug tomorrow.
To date I was able to get onto the internet to collect my email, 79 letters with about 50 junk mail, I will be glad to get home with all of the filters I have built into what I receive.
It has been good this driving I have thought up several new concepts and when, I should say if (because I do not know when) I will see if there is any practical merit in any of them.
It was quite a change to walk thro many bookshops so far in Europe without buying a single book, they are all written in a foreign language you know!
Have decided to drive to see Hank Buyck in Holland then may wander up to the top of Denmark and cross the bridge to Sweden!
Last night I stay at a el-cheep-o hotel at Macron and while at least I could down load the email it was not worth it for the discomfort. Tonight I am paying 56 which will take a lot of NZ Pesos to pay for that every night! Must do another spreadsheet on viability of a RV of some sort again!
day, fine driving, nothing to report, apart from the fact
for the first time on this trip since leaving the States
I have heard the news in English, it is pleasing to note
the world is still there and nothing much has changed!
Interesting news about the May Day protests thro Europe
I started off today to drive thro Luxembourg for the first
time since I have been driving in Europe and started off
fine heading the way that I thought was correct, yes I
said that it where I am going I said when I saw the Dijon
sign, then passed a turnoff on the right that indicated
Metz, that is funny I thought I was sure I was going thro
weather started off overcast and moved from black clouds
to bright blue sky to heavy rain all day, at the moment
it is 16d at 6pm with light overcast, just in case you
was very little traffic on all the roads I was on today,
very little traffic in the towns, in fact I wondered where
everyone went on a holiday. May 1st must be the first
day of Summer, their Labour day etc. every town had people
sitting at small picnic tables selling little bunched
of flowers at 2 a bunch. Seem to be doing a bit
of trade. While the towns were quite the McDonalds was
not, all the staff were working at top speed, I thought
what a difference to the speed with which they "worked"
am always impressed with the volume of agriculture in
France, you pass by field after field, without fences,
stretching to each horizon without a break, all cultivated,
with good looking crops growing, they make our efforts
in NZ seem as small as they are. It is the NO fences that
the restaurant at the hotel is closed because of May Day,
all the service stations in town are closed all of the
other shops are closed except two Chinese take a ways,
and two Turkish fast foods, almost as bad at NZ in the
showed me thro his area and what the Konica Digital mini
labs were able to do and it made me think it was a pity
they were not better represented in NZ.
Spent an enjoyable four days with the Buyck's as usual,
with their very generous hospitality.
we went for a drive to Apeldoorn to look at some motor
homes they had some interesting ones, a lot from Germany
where they say they are cheaper, which is something to
keep in mind if one sets out to buy one, It will be interesting
to travel by car and B&B or hotels and see what it
is like for travel and how much extra it will cost etc.
I may have to review my thoughts on RV's!
was a wonderful illustration of these points. I headed
out of Venlo thinking I will head I did not know where
so I got onto a interesting little road, passed thro all
sorts in interesting villages and ended up in Maastricht,
so I thought I will go the back roads to Aachen and that
was easier said than done, but I ended up over the Dutch
border in Germany, had lunch, thought I will go to France,
there was just one little thing stopping me they called
it Belgium, but that was not a problem for long.
it was thro Liege, Namur, Charleroi, Mons to Valenciennes,
deciding on each as the names appeared on the road signs.
Then looked for accommodation as it was getting close
to 5pm. Could not find any, anywhere. Of course I did
not try the cowards way out of stopping the car and asking
someone, I am made of stronger stuff than that.
From bottom left
Wednesday, May 08
I proved even if you think you know where you are going
sometimes you may have problems in finding the right road!
I stopped for breakfast at Spy, I did not feel like paying 8 for a European breakfast of two bread rolls, so I had that at the Aire and with a bottle of Coke it only cost 3.45. I am in good training for Scotland later in the trip!
As I was leaving and walking back to the car I saw the fattest, opps vertically challenged, person I have ever seen on a motor bike, imagine a short person who is so fat the waddle, now put them onto a 125cc two stroke motor bike, their stomach pours over onto the petrol tank and the bottom overflows the seat and hangs all over the edge, now imagine the sound of the two stroke doing it best to keep moving, it was quite a sound and sight!
After finding my way out of that I wandered around the rest of the large complex and it was all to do with the home, some wonderful furniture stores equal to anything I have seen anywhere, now remember this is Holland I am in!
I had always been told that because the homes were so small in Europe that large photographs could not be sold like NZ or the States. Well the furniture arrangement did not spell this out to me nor the size of the lounge suites or dining tables. So I spoke to the assistant who said "yes" the average and under were small but the average and over were buying this furniture. This was rather obvious to me that they were as with all of the shops and all of the room arrangements all spelt out, large houses. And they all spelt out Large Photographs, for the person who does not believe that people will not display large photos. OK the correct formula needs to be found, but the opportunity is there for all of Europe.
Then it was time for lunch and I saw a American chain called Applebee's, a restaurant I last dined in with Rick after the Monterey classic car races in the San Francisco area. It was full of American memorabilia, over done as only a American restaurant chain can do! But the food was OK, no instant cup of coffee or bottomless coke glass, but the rest was there, and it was interesting to see how they can drop in into Holland and only change the language on the menu!
the assistant did say that two had closed in Germany so
it does not always work!
Yes they had a car garage, yes they that a room, and NO I did not want a 8 breakfast.
So it was leave the suitcases in the room and head for the center of town just down the hill. NO I did not ask for a map, NO I would not get lost, so down for a interesting walk all around the center, very interesting, start back, yes I have passed that, and that on the way down, and that, but wait a minute that looks strange, and so does that, and that, NO I am NOT lost, because I can see the other Ibis hotel across the road, and I need to go there to go to the WC. Yes they do have another hotel and it is just up that road over there and here is a map. OF course I was not lost!
The photographers I have seen and called on seem to be in the business of producing a few 14x11's but lots of very small photos for all sorts of ID's, the only really large photo I have seen was today in a Photo shop where they had a Epson 9000 and has a 30" square print hanging above it. Quite a few seem to be a photographer and photo store combined. All so far have at least been in town and on the ground floor so they must be doing something right.
the same breath I have also noticed a lot of other trades
people, fruit shops, butchers shop and the like still
in the center of town, in a side street but they are there.
Yes the do have the large supermarkets, larger than some
other countries, but I put this feature of the butcher
etc down to the fact that in Europe people live in the
center of town, where the large hypermarkets are on the
edge of town, quite a trip, so by default they are still
needed on a daily basis and will be probably for some
It has been a little bit of a quite day partially since all of the shops were closed, I believe for a Religious holiday. That is the second national holiday I have stuck since I have been in Europe. However I see on the news last night that Japan now has 50 national holidays, so I would have more complaints there!
When we went to the WC years ago we used to talk of spending a penny, because that was the coin you used to get into the cubical. In Europe it cost 0.30 to the attendant, shows how times change and the corrosion of the value of money everywhere.
on to Petersburg a hotel up on a large hill, that important
people stay at with a wonderful view of the countryside,
a enjoyable fish dinner then back to the house to repack
my suitcases after two weeks of travel with half of my
It is always interesting having something that has been made for you fail in a new town or in a strange country, I have had two plastic parts on my glasses fall off in Christchurch, my new shopping town and both opticians charged me $10 to replace the plastic bits, they are of course off my list when I need a new pair of glasses, I Koln the optician replaced the plastic bit for nothing saying it was part of his service, I will remember him as much as I remember the other two so will the person I was with who wears glasses.
If you are in business what is your policy on the equivalent, or are your customers different! Oh yeah!
Mileage traveled from Frankfurt to Frankfurt 5568km not bad just to fill in the 19 days. Will show you the route on a map later,
wandered the airport looking at the shops, bought three
English books as I was unlikely to find anything to read
where I was going, and there was a Newsweek on the real
Russian economy so I thought I should read that.
Well this is the last newsletter before I fly to the edge of Siberia, fortunately with Lufthansa, there I will meet Vladimir, who is, I think, a part-time photographer, he has arranged a apartment for me, and will show me around Ekaterinburg, I hope he turns up to the Airport and the Apartment is not one of the Gulag's the Siberian area is famous for, Oh well if he is not at the Airport to meet me, I will get by, I usually do, fortunately he has motivation to turn up, as he as only received a fraction of the full fee.
If you hear of a major disturbance in the Siberian region do not worry it will only be the writer.
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