Traveling hands


Traveling hands

When there’s nowhere to go, there’s travel.

Working life was about to take a back seat when we conspired this.

Prompted by a move within our own country for a bit of career exploration, versus the vision of living elsewhere, makes us take that punt.

Spain. We’d been hit by the bug in 2017. All those 'lessons' listening to Radio Tres online, making turn by turn mapometer or google maps routes on the cycle legs, a vision of being stationed in an historic town where bikes and pedestrians rule, and an always-career-inspiring chance to attend another World Congress, will shape this lengthy stay.

Asia » Japan » Hokkaido January 17th 2020

Keeping an eye on our recoveries, Furano became a point of relative convalescence interspersed with light snow hiking. P2 felt underdone energy wise, so there would be unfinished snow business after the trip. The last time we were here the temperatures were in the mid thirties, the sun rising at 3:30am. Contrasting it to January, it was crusty snow underfoot and minus 13 to 15 Celsius in the morning. Our bodies were certainly under different stressors. The landscape transforms completely and it’s very relaxing to simply look at in the wintery state. We thought our colds had improved enough to meet 2018’s trip feature, Shingo-san, a café owner, cycle guide, and jack of all trades, as is common in the Hokkaido community. Luckily, the dress code of the cool days had been a covered nose and ... read more
Biei shrine, a power spot with many heart symbols

Asia » Japan » Hokkaido January 14th 2020

We had four full days to play with in Sapporo. Whilst P2 remained under the weather I got my leave pass to head back to the known snow shoe site of the Hokkaido memorial at Nopporo, a safer option to a mountain traverse. Trains to Shinrin-kooen are frequent and rapidly filled up that morning with locals, young and older. Now being an expert at knowing the park entry points, I had the snow shoes on ready to hike Nopporo within fifteen minutes of alighting. Yesterday’s cross country skier tracks (the tracks owners were an older Japanese couple whom I’d met) remained, as well as our messy frozen contribution. Snow was in the forecast though that day, which would likely coat everything. Gaining elevation from the city made a difference to snow depth in Nopporo. After trekking ... read more

Asia » Japan » Yamagata January 5th 2020

Crowds rapidly gathered at the Yohashira shrine near Nawate street as midnight and 2020 approached in Matsumoto. The general hubbub made for an exciting atmosphere, many of those folks stepping up to the gong, right beside the stalls selling a lucky daruma. We’d lazed away a few hours that evening, sorting out our packs after the snow adventures before going the next day, followed by enjoying a buckwheat ramen, Dormy Inns complimentary signature meal for that special evening. The subzero night wouldn’t be complete without a hot soak, and soon I’d be missing the apples bobbing in the onsen that were placed in the tub each morning. Minus 7C and fine weather made for a beautiful start to 2020. Taking the train with the least changes just after 9am, we went first through part of the ... read more
Riverside, Oku-nikkawa
Above Omoshiroyama-kogen
Who's tracks?

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto December 31st 2019

With snow shoes in hand, and poles acquired with pre Christmas sales, we were set. Decathlon Spain set us free from needing to rely on gear hire locations for any winter hiking. The snow shoeing bug hit us after two previous winter trips together here, and my natural aversion to skiing/ snow boarding (with its injury risk) plus P2s passion for photo taking lends itself to ‘snow the slow way’. Comparable to such trip costs in NZ, we have come again for a fairly economical holiday ‘fix’! Trawling the snow forecasts across a few sources had informed where we would choose to go. Fast forward to December 2019 post-Christmas, and barely a flake had fallen in parts of Nagano prefecture, where we’d begin. Air NZ again took us to Narita, and the flight, seat choice, and ... read more
Matsumoto castle
Nagano alps from castle
Matsumoto castle at zero degrees

Europe » Belgium » Antwerp Province October 30th 2019

Waking up to a golden 9C morning at 6:30 was unusually easy, and waiting out the drop off time for the bike at no sooner than 8.30 meant I could head over to Donau island, ten minutes away. With a few detached accessories in the front of the bike (after the fall), it luckily still worked. By 7 the sun was well up, fisherman installed at their spots, and joggers were plodding the canals. Not a breath of wind. The walk to Traisengasse from Jans Airbnb was as quiet as arriving, residential Vienna still at rest. I had pre-planned my actions for the cheapest airport commuting, so as not to have unexpected hassles with station machines on the day. Unfortunately an older lady forcing her credit card into the euros slot significantly held up the works, ... read more
Veldstraat Swembad
Onzde Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral

Europe » Austria » Vienna October 26th 2019

When time is plentiful, there’s so much to do! Stepping out onto Klosterneuberg Straße behind the Augarten I’d be mistaken for thinking I was in Palmerston North. More hairdressers and beauty clinics than expected, this was barber street(s). Shave, cut, colour, foils, the works, in increments of euros. After passing one that morning with the failed swim, I motioned I’d return that afternoon although the morning quiet was deceptive. Come 4pm when I returned, I stood a good fifteen min at the front door before being acknowledged, at which point I asked could I perhaps sit and wait?. The one hour wait was suggested, so as various others came and went, I stayed. Perfect blog writing time, and around 6:15 I was taken for my hair to be wet then cut. It’s these moments I wished ... read more
Descent from Tulbinger kogel to Vienna

Europe » Austria » Lower Austria October 23rd 2019

Like always, departing NZ bound for Europe is lengthy. In line with a major event on the professional development calendar late in October, I just had to go. Without P2 this time. Just under 18 hours can pass surprisingly quickly when half of it is asleep. Qatar Airways direct to Doha from Auckland has the longest flight in the world, slightly more than the other Middle Eastern countries and on par nearly with some AirNZ to the America’s. And yet the cabin crew retain that unflappable appearance. Passengers, as myself, look more rugged! Hamad airport was buzzing at midnight, everyone on hasty short or taking-their-time long layovers. Fortunately this aircraft parking spot delivered us (via buses) right to the landmark of the giant teddy bear, lounges, and the much appreciated, Vitality Spa. If I needed a ... read more
Vineyards near Vienna Woods
Looking east to the Donau

Europe » Austria » Vienna May 29th 2019

Arriving into Emmersdorf was so very welcomed when the general distance measure had exceeded 100 kilometres. ‘Are you tired’ said our Hungarian host, Henriette. Affirmative. Those laden saddle bags saved us from a dry and simple dinner. Out came the tea, miniature wine, beer, nibbles, and vegetables we’d stocked up on, knowing now that the smaller spots were minimally serviced and usually very quiet. Someone somewhere over the river however was having a blindingly good night by the sounds of it, changing this backwater to that with a thumping background bass. To 5am. We were too tired to notice and with sun up early it roused us to appreciate a gorgeous and warm morning. Heat of the high 20s was ahead. That good advice of the Persenbeug café owner stuck with me, that I went off ... read more
Wachau Valley
Cooling off

Europe » Austria May 26th 2019

The Bohinj community captivated us. Seeking somewhere away from the crowds of popular Bled led us there, and it fulfilled in spades the chance to be outdoors, as Úrsula put it, “if the weather’s good!” A generous offer to leave our gear there until the afternoon meant we’d be freely able to get to Bled. A decade or so before, I explored the area on the shoestring budget restrictions every twenty-something from NZ usually does. Those travellers still sat in the park, eating a picnic lunch from Mercator. Bled was misty grey, much like Bohinj, which I’d done a muddy circuit on foot of that morning. The young campers were again spotted, Slovenian cubs and brownies, gathering for perhaps the next physical challenge at an outdoors camp. We say Dobra dan, and they say ‘helloo, I’m ... read more

Europe » Switzerland » South-West May 17th 2019

Geneva sits on a slip of land at the west of its lake. Flying in to clear blue water beneath us, after a delayed and just tolerable Easy jet flight, we’re so pleased to arrive. The most French of Swiss cities, it took an effort to get out of the now freely thought habit of speaking español. Channeling the high school French lessons for P2 helped with the basics. Such as, we said hello to a dog, Le chien. I’ve since been encouraged to consult google translate, not him. Our Airbnb was on the fourth floor of an early 1900s building, serviced by a lift as small as a fridge, in a wired cage, and that you may have to wait some time for. We figured out the floor buttons didn’t properly register after squeezing ourselves ... read more

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