BootsnAll Travel Network

So you want some more, do you?

July 30th, 2006

Well you’re in luck!

As of this writing (July 30, 2006) I’m just about to head out on another extended period of travel. I’ll be spending the first year or so in New Zealand and then perhaps spending another year on the road, taking the long, slow route home.

Check out my brand spankin’ new ‘blog Further Wanderings to learn more!


Coming Home!

November 8th, 2005

My trip from Delft to Schiphol Airport was about as eventful an airport run as I had in my entire trip. I woke early, early in the morning and wrote a quick thank you note for Eric and Diane before departing.

I’d tried to book a treintaxi ticket the previous night, but had left my call too late. (The treintaxis are a wonderful component of the Dutch rail system: discount rate taxis that provide direct service from anywhere in the city to the train station.) As I had lots of time and few Euros left, I decided to retrace my steps and walk back to the station. With all of the bags I had it was actually a far from easy walk, but the beautiful sunrise over Delft and the city coming to life all around me made it a little easier to take.
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One Final Weekend: Beach Rugby in the Netherlands

October 6th, 2005

I can’t believe this is my final entry! It’s probably going to be a pretty short one too, because A. I didn’t make notes for this portion of the trip, B. My memories of this weekend are pretty hazy and C. I’m writing it almost three months after the fact. Anyway, as fun as it was for me, you don’t want to spend THAT long reading about me playing rugby and drinking beer in the Netherlands, do you? It couldn’t possibly be THAT interesting, at least not without more pictures than I have to go with it…
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Istanbul (or, as I kept thinking of it, Constantinople)

August 14th, 2005

I arrived in Istanbul tired on a dreary grey morning. And while this made my first day there a bit blah, the remainder of my stay was anything but.

The bus from Gallipoli arrived at 05:30 and despite the fact that I was the only passenger headed to the tourist centre of Sultanamhet, the free “servis” shuttle still made its appointed trip. On my arrival at 06:00 Sultanamhet was astonishingly quiet, especially in comparison with its previous appearance the day after the Champion’s League final.

My second arrival in Istanbul was a bit simpler, as I’d already found a hostel. This allowed me to head straight there and, almost immediately upon arriving, fall asleep.

By the time I woke, it was past noon, and though much of the day was gone I was keen to get something interesting, or at least useful, done that day.
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5000 Years of History: The Aegean Coast

July 6th, 2005

With more known Greek ruins than Greece and more Roman ruins than Italy, it’s unsurprising that Turkey’s Aegean coast is a history buff’s dream come true. And the region’s history isn’t all just ancient, having played host to significant events in the First World War, and the subsequent Turkish war of independence. A map of the region shows such famous names as Pergamum, Troy, Ephesus and Gallipoli whose historic significance span over 7000 years, from the beginning of civilization until modern times.

I began my visit with a trip to Selchuk, the modern town near the ancient Greek and Roman city of Ephesus. With a history dating back over 5000 years, Ephesus is home to the most spectacular ruins in the entire country.
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Heading for the Hills: Cappadocia and Turkey’s Lake District

July 5th, 2005

Despite the very comfortable Turkish night bus, the trip from Ankara to Cappadocia wasn’t everything I’d dreamt of in the rest department, mostly because I arrived in the town of Neveshehir at 05:45 after a 0:00 departure.

Upon arriving I was greeted by a young man who explained that he worked for the tourist information office. I must admit that I was pretty impressed that they’d got someone out of bed at that time for a single backpacker arriving from Ankara. That said, the guy could have used some work on selling his region. When I explained that I planned to spend five to seven days in Cappadocia he replied, “oh no, that is too much. You can see everything in three days.”

After a couple of minutes talking with the lad, I picked up my 20 minute connecting bus ride to the town of Goereme, the tourist heart of Cappadocia.

When I arrived, it didn’t seem as though much was up. The only people who seemed to be awake were the ones up in hot air ballons who had woken before dawn to make their sunrise trip. I did find one other fellow, who worked at a tour company, but who seemed genuinely interested in helping me find a good place to stay. I chatted with him for a bit, then headed to one of the guesthouses (or Pansiyons as inexpensive hotels were called in Turkey) that he reccomended.

The place had a friendly owner, a kitchen that I could use to cook for myself and a great view of the town. Sold. After checking in, I managed to stay awake just long enough to eat a quick breakfast before collapsing into bed and catching up on a bit of the sleep I’d missed the night before.
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Touching Down In Turkey: Istanbul and Ankara

June 7th, 2005

I’d had some difficult with my flight to Istanbul on the Bruxelles end, and unfortunately it didn’t end there. The flight touched down not at Istanbul’s main, Ataturk airport, but at Sabhia Gocken, a different one some 50km east of the city, which catered mostly to package tours and which was newer than my guidebook (this is what you get when you try to find an English-language guidebook to Turkey in Brussels in two hours.) I’d expected this might be the case, but having expected it didn’t help me to deal with the eventuality.

I’d arrived in the middle of nowhere, at an airport where most arrivals are whisked away to hotels on pre-booked buses, and with no idea of how to get into the city.

Thankfully a group of young people (two Turks and a Bosnian who lived in Istanbul) saw me doing my lost puppy dog impression and explained that while there was an infrequent airport bus, it would cost only slightly more to be the fourth person in their taxi to the centre of Istanbul. Done.
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Bill and Llew’s Excellent Adventure: Maastricht and Bruxelles

June 3rd, 2005

I’ll begin by apologizing for the title. But I just couldn’t resist.

When we last left our heroes, they were standing on the platform at Delft station waiting for a train that would take them in the direction of Maastricht.

Eric had printed out a nice routing guide for us that listed which trains to take, where to make connections, the times of the trains, and even gave several different options for how to get there. It all looked so easy. LOOKED.

I don’t even know if I have the energy to write about the trip to Maastricht… It took us about seven hours (as opposed to the four it was supposed to.) We took… I think six different trains. Due to scheduling problems, un-announced track maintenance work and general confusion (not least stemming from Dutch announcements on board) we visited the same station three times before finally getting to our destination. On the whole, it was fortunate that we had plenty of beer and stroopwaffels. They almost made the trip tolerable, but at one brief, terrible moment (when the near empty train stopped ten minutes out of the station in the middle of nowhere then reversed directions and returned to the station) we had to resort to the genever.
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So. You Want to Read About a Wedding In Holland…

June 2nd, 2005

Just in case you’re wondering, the title of this entry comes from the invitation to my friends Eric and Diane’s wedding, which was the prime reason for my stop in Holland.

My longest air trip since crossing the Pacific in August had got off to a wonderful start. I’d made friends with a Lufthansa gate agent and got myself upgraded to business class for the eight-hour flight to Frankfurt from where I’d be heading on to Amsterdam. Despite leaving at 02:25, I still managed to stay awake for almost all of the flight to fully enjoy the fruits of my upgrad seat. The wide selection of movies were all pretty poor, but the Gin! and tonics flowed freely and it ended up being an okay trip.

After a confusing time (and I swear, it was confusing because of the odd location of the departure gate and the weird immigration setup, not the Gin! and tonics) navigating Frankfurt airport I got myself aboard my second, much shorter flight.

I’d been asleep for the approach to Frankfurt, but was awake for this one. Seeing Holland’s flat, bright green farm fields and its busy motorways came as something of a shock after six months in the brown-coloured chaos that was pre-monsoon Asia.

I disembarked, found my bag and set out to tackle the unfamiliar jungle of an urban area in the developed world.
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A Last Taste of the Subcontinent: Amritsar and Delhi

May 28th, 2005

My return to India snapped me right back into the differences between that country and Pakistan. I had to bargain for several minutes for the rickshaw ride back to the bus stop, and fend off several taxi drivers at the same time.

I caught the bus back into Amritsar and headed to the train station to try and book a ticket to Delhi that night. (My extra night in Peshawar had meant that I needed to cut out a day somewhere, and I decided that it had to be Amritsar, since I needed to get my plane tickets replaced and didn’t want to limit the available time to do that in Delhi.) After waiting in line for the better part of an hour, I learned that the trains were all jam-packed-full and my chances of getting a ticket were poor.

From that point on, however, things took a big positive turn. I managed to book a seat on an overnight bus with little difficulty, and even got a good enough feel from the booking agent that I was willing to leave my pack in his shop while I made my quick tour of Amritsar.

My previous visit to Amritsar had been confined to a single night, and some of you may remember that the only photo I included of it was of a garbage pile near the railway station. I’ll attempt to redress that here.

Amritsar is the largest city in the Indian state of Punjab, and the holiest city for the Sikh religion. This is due to the presence of the Golden Temple, which is the centre of the Sikh faith and reputed to be one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the world. The Golden Temple was to be my first stop.
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