sponsors always were:
During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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 & Partners; Austria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western Hotels; South 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.
ReportsDuring my travels, my compensation for free accommodation for one night, was for me to write a daily travel diary. Of how I got to my next location, the people who would host me, the food I was offered and everything else. Below you find the archives of the highly extensive reports. Know that English is not my native language and most reports were written at high speed around midnight. Enjoy.
Wednesday, 14 August 2002
Braybrook --> Langwarrin, Melbourne, Australia Today I had a very unusual rendezvous. At the Grand Hyatt Hotel in the city centre of Melbourne. Breakfast. That meant I had to leave Melissa’s place early in the morning, to be at this upmarket hotel.
But it was no problem for Melissa, she had told me. Even though she had to be at her work around 11am. When I was ready and packed to go, she even made me coffee for in the car.
We drove from foggy Braybrook through the multicultural suburb of Footscray and ended up in the city around 8am. It sure must have seen funny to see how Melissa’s humble old yellow Mazda drove onto the driveway and stopped exactly in front of the hotel.
A man with a high hat (haha, Hy-att) wanted to get my luggage, expecting me to be a guest at the hotel. When he saw my heavy backpack in the booth, he knew something wasn’t right. Backpackers don’t really stay at the Hyatt. (Yet!)
“He has a meeting with a guest here,” Melissa quickly explained to the confused old man. He suddenly didn’t bother helping us anymore, and backed off. I said goodbye to Melissa and thanked her for her helping hands.
The person I was going to meet had contacted me by email some month ago. He introduced himself as Richard and he is a representative of a big Australian publisher. And he proposed a meeting, so we could communicate a bit better than through email or by telephone. Over a month ago he told me the he would be in Melbourne around the 15th. “It would be nice to meet up if you would be there too,” he wrote. Well, here I was, exactly on the 15th and Richard was in town.
However he was fully booked with pre-scheduled meetings, he told me: “Come and have breakfast, at the Hyatt, at 8.”
So there I walked into the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne, with my backpack on my back, cap on my head, in an environment where copper, marble and fancy waterfalls ruled the character.
With a public phone on a desk I called the room service and asked if they could put me through with my contact person. Richard was somewhere above me in a room. “Hold on, I’ll be there in one minute.”
A few minutes later I was sitting with him at a table in the breakfast area of the hotel. Huge marbles pilar go up to the ten metre high ceiling and everything shines bright.
Evidently we were here to talk business. Or to be more exact: books. Richard is an accurate admirer of my online reports and was wondering if I had any plans in having anything published. Well, of course I have. But while travelling I spent most of my time being a guest, getting to my next spot and writing my reports. Writing a book is not really possible during my travels.
The entire writing-a-book-thing is fun to say, but I would only have time to actually work on it when I am finished travelling. Richard could understand that.
Meanwhile we were already enjoying our breakfast. Starting off with some dairy products with fresh fruits, I moved on to scrambled eggs, sausages, baked tomatoes, mushrooms, and etcetera. Lot of the warm food was hidden under these fancy silver covers. I was crunching away and enjoying every second of it.
For me this breakfast meeting was a subtle introduction to the world of book publishing. And frankly, I was quite honoured too! The fact that Richard had come up to me was already a big pat on my shoulder. I guess I am now recognised as a serious travel writer. (easy: I still have my shoes on!)
You know, my life dream was always to travel and write. See the world and write interesting stories about that. Today I encountered somebody who offered to help me on this road towards actual publishing anything in a real life form.
We talked and ate our brekkie for about two hours, before Richard had to get going to his first official meeting for today. I would meet up my next host at noon, so I decided to go for a comfortable walk down the streets towards the commercial centre of the city.
Today, once again, I suffered from a terrible pain in my back again. When it occurs I don’t really feel happy, because it can obstruct everything I do, now and in the future. I get nasty thoughts when my back hurts.
I decided to chunk down my luggage at the Reader’s Feast Bookstore and sat around in the soft chairs while browsing through the interesting book collection. This bookstore visit has nothing to do with the meeting this morning. Bookstore and music shops always attract me. You have to drag me away if I’d pass it.
Just before twelve I got back to the Hyatt. This was my meeting point with my next host for today. It was David who came all the way from the south-eastern suburb Langwarrin to pick me up in the city. It was no problem at all. “I just don’t like the city that much,” he said. “Just look around you, too many people in suits. All dressed in black.” He himself walked around in a funky almost-Hawaiian blouse. I had to agree with him, I would feel comfortable at all wearing the same dark stuff with a tie every working day.
But before immediately leaving the city centre, David first offered me to see a bit more of the place than I have yet seen. We went up to the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers, where I was offered this amazing panoramic view onto this enormous city. Up here, where people down there on the streets are small, the city looks at its biggest. And the weather was great! Clear views, blue skies. Wow! I walked around and around and around that place!
At this time it was already getting lunchtime too. I wasn’t really hungry after that big breakfast I had at the Hyatt, but David took me along to a sandwich house and treated me on a big healthy sandwich with fries and a coke.
David runs a lawn mowing company together with some other friends of him. “At the moment it is very quiet, because of the winter. That’s why I can do what I want at the moment. With spring coming up soon, we hope to do some good business this year.”
David is married with Sue and with their four kids they live in the quiet suburb Langwarrin, 50km off the city centre and on the outskirts of the metropolis, but still part of Melbourne.
After arriving at the house in Langwarrin I soon met up with the four kids in the house and I quickly tried to remember their names: Todd (9), Jarrod (6), Bailey (6) and Joshua (4). The first three were very intrigued to hear stories from their visitor who came all the way from the other side of the globe. Meanwhile Joshua had dressed up as Spiderman and was covering that same globe with imaginary spiderwebs!
When Sue was preparing dinner I was invited in a game with Harry Potter cards. Boy these kids must be so intelligent, because I could not figure out how to play that game. Every card I pulled from the stack or every car I put down on the table made them say: “Yeah, you lost again,” followed by rules that still were unknown to me. Or were they pulling my leg there?
After dinner with the family the kids went to bed around 8ish and while I connected my laptop to the web, David and Sue wanted to know a lot about life in the Netherlands. I might have told them a bit too much, Sue is now thinking about moving there when the kids are out of the house. Sorry, Dave!
In the evening some friends of David showed up and we enjoyed a few beers while playing darts in the kitchen and listening to U2.
I was actually going to stay another day in Langwarrin, but this night I was remembered to the fact that I had a plane to catch tomorrow. I am going to Tasmania!
Good night Langwarrin!