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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Friday, 15 March 2002
Surry Hills, Sydney --> Lane Cove, Sydney, Australia

I am being corrupted, as Bronwyn let me sleep in again, and this time until 10am as she just forgot all about her time. After I had a shower and joined her for a cereal breakfast, it was time for her to go to study meetings in the city and for me to leave her place.
I knew my next host had to work until 5 o’clock, so after I had said goodbye to Bronwyn Howard and thanked her for the very pleasant and fun stays, I backpacked myself to Hyde Park in the centre of Sydney where I crashed down and bathed in the bright sunlight. Wow, ain’t life delicious.

With help from my next host Frans Wilbrink, a Dutch man, I found my way to the northern suburb Chatswood and arrived at his office, an American big software company, just after 5pm.

And as it was Friday afternoon, the time had started for the informal end-of-the-week happy hour at the office. You know, where everybody gets a beer and hangs around to celebrate the start of the weekend. So together with Frans, I enjoyed a gold beer in the company of many of his colleagues, some playing pool, others were discussing social issues as marriage, children and travelling with their friends. Listening to the women talk, it sounded like I had ended up on the set of “Ally McBeal”.

Frans had invited me on March 23 in 2001, just a few weeks after I launched this website, at his home in Sydney, after reading about me on a Dutch news site. Of course he didn’t expect me to get here in Australia that fast.

When Frans married his girlfriend Nan Brandsma a few years ago, he worked for the same company in The Netherlands. Nan actually wanted to dive into a life of world travelling before thing got too serious, but Frans was stuck to this perfect job. When Frans got the offer to work for the same company in Sydney, going Down Under was the perfect compromise for both of them. He’d still have a job and she’d be halfway around the world.

Frans now ‘works on the maintenance of test-environments for the global support centre’ as he described his function at the IT-company.

It was about 7pm when Frans managed to get a ride with the lady from personnel to drop both of us off at his home in Lane Cove, as Fran’s wife Nan had the car for today.

Nan works as a community support trainer in town and trains people with intelligent disabilities and prepares them for a job. I met her at their home as she was talking to the phone with a lady from the Netherlands, who could not believe that I was really visiting them in Australia. Well, Anoeke from Breedenhoek, I really was!

It was interesting to hear why Frans had invited me at their place. “We don’t call this a let-you-stay-for-a-day, but we call this sponsoring-Ramon-for-a-day. As real Dutch we can deduct that from the tax again!” Wow, how typically Dutch I say! Haha!

And you know how that goes when you meet people who talk your own native language when you are travelling. You talk a lot. And as we could go along very good, Nan wanted to know everything about me, thus I talked even more.

We went out for a pizza on a terrace of an Italian restaurant in the Lane Cove shopping street and I caught myself feeling I was talking really a lot. But it was fun. Maybe that was because Frans and Nan were – just like me – young and free spirits with an open mind. And as Dutchies we share that pretty well.

The night ended on their couch in the living room, talking about my travels and listening to their stories while some Dutch rock music was put on in the stereo set. It was Guus the bird who sang along.

When everybody got to bed, I settled myself in the guest room and connected my laptop with their phoneline and updated my website. I managed to place another 55 new invitations in Australia on my map, so I’d know where I can be going soon.

Tomorrow I will have a sportive morning, so good night Lane Cove!

Ramon.