Spurins Geriatric Gap Year

Spurins

Spurins Geriatric Gap Year

Taken early retirement to see some of the world. Next trip South America...



Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków May 20th 2019

It’s an early start this morning in order to reach Auschwitz before the 10 am compulsory, yet non-existent, tour guide cut off time. We make it with minutes to spare, although it means skipping breakfast. It feels inappropriate to complain about being hungry in a place like Auschwitz. I fail to gain entry at the first attempt as I have left my passport in the car. Then there is an issue with the spelling of my name on the ticket. Finally, on the third attempt (fourth if you count yesterday), I am admitted. The camp consists of around 30 blocks, most now form a museum detailing the history of Auschwitz. Some blocks deal with the history of the camp in general, while others recount the plight of specific nationalities of prisoners. The general blocks contain a ... read more
Arbeit macht frei
Auschwitz
Auschwitz

Europe » Slovakia » Presov Region » Zdiar May 19th 2019

Today we have a 5 hour drive to Slovakia for no particular reason other than so the old man can check Slovakia off his list of countries visited. It’s actually only 200 miles, but involves crossing the Tatra Mountains. We plan to stop en route at Oswiecim to visit the concentration camps of Auschwitz. A visit to a concentration camp turns out to be surprisingly expensive. By the time you’ve added parking, entry fees and a trip to the toilet, it’s over £30. In any event, you’re not allowed in without a guide and the next English tour is in 3 hours time. So we depart for Slovakia instead. We stop for brunch in a pizzeria too far off the tourist trail for English menus to be an option, so it’s a case of pizza Russian ... read more
Slovakian border
Slovakian border
Tatras

Europe » Poland » Lower Silesian » Wroclaw May 18th 2019

It’s Saturday, AKA parkrun day, and today’s parkrun is Pieschener Allee. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the hotel so we don’t even have to get up too early. In the UK, going to a different parkrun involves knowing roughly where to go then following the crowds. Parkrun hasn’t really taken off in Germany; last week there were only 23 runners at Pieschener Allee, so I have carefully studied the map to ensure we know where to go. We manage to find the start without problem. There are a total of 26 runners, mostly ex pats. Everyone is really friendly. The course is a pleasant out and back run on a footpath along the River Elbe. It’s also very flat, so I run my 3rd fastest ever 5k time. And coming 24th sounds quite good ... read more
Pieschener Allee parkrun
Pieschener Allee parkrun
Rynek

Europe » Germany » Saxony » Dresden May 17th 2019

It’s my last day of visiting old haunts. I have enjoyed my trip down memory lane. There is still a distinct difference between east and west Germany; here it’s more laid back and the people are friendlier. Other ways they remain linked to the past; the WiFi is rubbish, there’s still a Woolworths and a C&A, even the odd Trabant. We start the day with a different car and a tour of the Glaserne Manufaktur (the transparent factory) where they manufacture the VW E-Golf. The building, made entirely of glass, sitting in the corner of a park, is quite a sight. We opt to walk the 2 miles to the factory because we have been told it is difficult to park there! To be honest, the factory is little more than a PR stunt. In this ... read more
VW factory
VW factory
VW factory

Europe » Germany » Saxony » Dresden May 16th 2019

Not the best start to the day. I sat on the toilet and the seat hinge snapped. This has left me in a bad mood for two reasons: (1) I am sad that my arse is so enormous that a toilet seat can’t bear its weight, and (2) the seat subsequently slipped, pinching aforementioned enormous arse, thus hurting more than just my pride. Once the toilet seat debacle is over, we check out. We had planned some more sightseeing in Berlin but the weather is hideous so we set off instead on the 115 mile drive south to Dresden. Before we leave, I attempt to buy some postcards. I enter the shop, spend a not inconsiderable amount of time selecting my postcards, then approach the cashier. She tells me she doesn’t open for another 15 minutes. ... read more
Yenidze
Semper 2
Semper

Europe » Germany » Berlin » Berlin May 15th 2019

So the old man's quest to become a parkrun alphabeteer (running a parkrun beginning with each letter of the alphabet) has brought us to Poland, via Germany, with a brief foray into Slovakia. I studied north of Berlin in 1988 and was a regular visitor to the then East Berlin. I've only been back once since reunification, and it's rather a weird feeling. Not only how much a place, particularly one with such a turbulent history has changed. But also, how you can walk along a road which is so familiar, then reach a part you have never visited before, because there used to be a wall in between. We fly into Berlin ahead of schedule (an EasyJet first). Then pass through immigration. I get stopped by immigration a second time. So much for freedom of ... read more
Alexanderplatz 2019
Alexanderplatz 1988
Alexanderplatz 2019

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito » Historical Center March 20th 2019

It’s finally here, the last day of our trip. We don’t leave for the airport until 3 pm, so this morning we are visiting the Palacio de Gobierno, which I have finally managed to obtain tickets for. The tour is free but needs to be reserved by email (in Spanish) so I’m quite proud of my achievement. Time to pack one last time. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve packed and unpacked. It’s strange to think that next time I unpack it’ll be in my own bedroom, closely supervised by my cats. First, a weirdly disjointed breakfast; scrambled egg, a cheese toastie, an empanada, onion chutney, butter and jam. What are we supposed to do with the butter and jam? Dip the empanada in it? Spread it on the cheese toastie? Or maybe mix ... read more
Palacio de Gobierno
Palacio de Gobierno
Guayasamin mural

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito March 19th 2019

Today we are doing something we rarely do; taking the Hop on Hop off Bus. We start at the spectacular San Francisco church, an exercise in how much gold can be squeezed into one building. It’s apparently the biggest church in South America. (The Ecuadoreans have a creative way of measuring things to ensure their stuff is bigger and better. For example, Cotopaxi is higher than Everest if you measure from the centre of the earth, rather than sea level.) The bus heads up the Panecillo, a small hill with an aluminium statue of the Virgin Mary on top. It’s an interesting journey in a double decker, navigating the narrow, winding streets and low hanging electric cables. The Virgin, which is taller than Christ the Redeemer (obviously) sits atop a dragon on a globe. You can ... read more
Drive through Quinton old city
El Panecillo
El Panecillo

South America » Ecuador » North » Mitad del Mundo March 18th 2019

Today we are going to the equator. On the way there, it rains so heavily it’s difficult to tell if we’re driving down a road or a river. Rubbish floats past the windows when we stop at traffic lights. Luckily it eases off before we arrive. First stop is the Intiñan Museum which claims to be on the GPS equator. Here we take a guided tour which includes such activities as balancing an egg on a nail and trying to walk along the equator in a straight line, plus demonstrations in chocolate making and head shrinking. Then on to the Mitad del Mondo, a kind of equator based theme park which claims to be on the geographical equator. We only have 28 minutes here and in addition to a plethora of equator based photo ops, there ... read more
Equator
Balancing an egg at the equator
Equator

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Cotopaxi March 17th 2019

Today we are going on the Tren de los Volcanes. This tourist train follows a 50 mile route to El Boliche which, it claims, gives you the opportunity to see 15 volcanoes in good weather. There aren’t any passenger trains in Ecuador; the taxi driver doesn’t even know where the station is, and tries to drop us at the offices of Tren Ecuador. Luckily, a motor cyclist explains his error, we get back in the taxi and follow the motorcyclist to Chimbacalle station. We board our train and set off flanked by a team of motor cycle outriders to keep the tracks clear. We have only been able to book aisle seats, Ecuadorean families have booked all the window seats. But once underway, the families move to sit together (a group of 7 have booked 6 ... read more
Tren Ecuador
F2BCF9E5-FC0B-4994-B113-EB4AFBA26D65.
414BDBCB-D2AC-4233-B569-5BC1DB53CD90.




Tot: 0.057s; Tpl: 0.014s; cc: 15; qc: 66; dbt: 0.0207s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb