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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

Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Paington (UK) --> Vienna (Austria) ***

How about a story about having lunch and dinner at an altitude of 35.000 feet today?
My mobile phone alarm woke me up at 6 o'clock this morning. The 2-personsbed was feeling really comfy, but I just had to wake up and take a shower.

Below in the dining room I got another real English Breakfast with sausages, bacon, beans, toast and coffee. I packed the most necessary things in a little shoulder bag and left my backpack at the hotel I was staying.

After breakfast I walked to the Paignton train station and got on the train to the city of Bristol. The train station there is really historic, and the nature around this city is just astonishing!

But I had a coach (bus) to catch that brought me to the Bristol International Airport where I got my prepaid tickets at the British Airways desk.

I was on my way to Vienna in Austria for a very special invitation.

At the airport I had to wait a little hour to board onto this little jet. After the plane had departed I noticed I was sitting in the First Class area of the plane and that meant a very special treatment!

"Hello Mr. Stoppelenburg, would you like to have a glass of champagne?" the stewardess asked me. Stuttering and not believing my ears I said "Oh, yes", as I was used to that at 12 o'clock.

A few minutes later I also got a hot Club Meal as you can see it on the picture (it's true if everybody said that plane meals are awful, but -hey- they fills the stomach good!).

After three hours of flying over England, the North Sea, Belgium the plane soon arrived at Munich Airport, where I had to connect to a next flight which would take me to Vienna.

But when I got out on the platforms around 3pm, I got lost and when I finally found the correct gate of my connecting flight, the technical stewards had already closed the gate.

Oops, I just missed my plane!

But I had nothing to worry, at the check-in desk of the missed plane connection (Lufthansa) I got a boarding pass for the next flight heading to Vienna, but that departed only at 6.35pm...

I already knew I would be picked up by somebody in Vienna, so I had to phone her and tell her I would come some three hours later than planned - which wasn't that big of a problem.

So I wandered around at the Munchen Lufthafen for I while and while waiting at the right gate for the time to come I laid myself on some benches and took a nice nap.

When I woke up around 5.30pm the place was fully crowded by busy talking businessmen on their way home.

Question to the Austrians: Where do you hide all the women?

At 6.20 it was boarding time which created a long cue at the gate. I walked through it and everybody got into a bus which took us all to the Austrian Airlines Fokker70-plane.

Once inside I got the same Business Class treatment as earlier today (I really have to thank my tickets providers for that!), but refused the champagne bottle this time. Just a coffee would do well.

And unexpected; they even offered a little plate with salmon, salad and some sandwiches!

Just as I finished this all, the plane already started its landing procedure and the stewardesses had to hurry to get all the empty plates back and get themselves into position for the landing.

I just followed the mass of people walking to the exit of the arriving flights when I saw this lady standing with a sign and my name on it. This was Cathi, who was supposed to pick me up.

This is the story: Cathi is an assistant-producer of the popular television talk show "VERA" on the Austrian Television, the O.R.F.. The editors of that program just wanted me to come on their show today and were willing to pay all the expenses to get here AND get back again tomorrow!

Why would I ever say NO to that?


Cathi got me from the airport to the studio complex and chased to the streets of Vienna which felt like I was in a James Bond-movie!

When we got at the big concrete complex of the ORF, we walked up various stairs, walked through hallways - man! If I was there alone, I would got lost!

She introduced me to the director of the show, who told me I had exactly ten minutes to go on, because they were already recording the show in the studio at that moment.

So as fast as the time would let me I got changed in my personal VIP-room and got placed in a chair in a make-up room. Some lady painted my cheeks brown and within a minute I got back to the studio where I got wired with a microphone.

Because it was Austrian television, the spoken language would be German and therefor they arranged me a translator who would translate all the talking of the talk show host Vera into English into a little earphone.

Backstage I had to walk up a stair and wait until Vera announced me and the big stage door opened.

WOW! I walked down onto the stage in bright spotlights and a great audience was clapping for me. Just unbelievable.

I shaked hands with Vera who took me to a little stand and she started the conversation with me. She asked her questions in German, I heard the translation in English into my ear, gave the answer in English that was translated into German again for all the viewers.

That little bit was quite frustrating for a moment. I really had to get used to the fact that every second somebody else was talking at the same time as I.

But the complete interview took a little ten minutes and it felt pretty good to me. Unfortunately I just wasn't used to the heat those spotlights produced and at a certain point the sweat was just dripping from my face - a contradictionary moment...?

After this conversation I got a big Austrian applause and was directed off the stage as the host announced her next guest. Vera is in some way the Austrian version of Jay Leno's Tonight Show in the USA, only without the comedy and very serious. Maybe that's the culture difference.

Once backstage the woman who did my make-up passed out a bunch of tissues to me to wipe off my wet face.

But what an experience was this! I mean, who am I really? Vera had just announced me as The King of the New Media and backstage everybody congratulated me with my interview and wished me good luck with my project.

It's just so strange to be in the spotlights of 'stardom' while I am not even such an artist who are known to be real big stars, like singers or actors.

The famous Eddy "Give me hope, Johanna, give me hope" Grant even shaked my hand to wish me success. He had to perform on stage with his new band, a few minutes after me, to promote his re-release of his hit single Electric Avenue. After this performance we got onto a picture together.

When the show was fully recorded, I stayed hanging around with the complete production team because one of them celebrated her birthday with cake and -again- champagne...

At 10.30pm Cathi brought me to the Wimberger Hotel where I would stay at for tonight and she even offered me to have some dinner.

But I just was too tired after this whole happening today. So she gave me a 100 Austrian Shillings so I could buy myself a good breakfast at the airport - as I will have to wake up at 5 o'clock this morning to get into the car that will drive me there.

At the reception of the hotel I got myself a card as my room key and when I got to my room it turned out to be a first class room with a king-size bed, television, minibar in the bedroom; three couches and an office desk in a lounge and a very luxurious bathroom...

And right now I am typing this report at the first floor of the hotel. The ORF had arranged this computer with Internet especially for me, cause the hotel didn't offer Internet yet.

I just heard about a sauna and a swimming pool in this hotel... What if I just stayed up all night and sleep in very well during the trip all the way back to my previous location in British Paignton?

Well no, my eyes are trying to close themselves - against my will.

Goodnight Vienna!
"I will be back!"

Ramon.


PS: The talkshow VERA will be broadcast on ORF 2-television in Austria on Thursday at 9.05pm. See detailed program info about this show here.




More media about this project:

Suite101.com (English):
"Ya' Gotta Admire The Boy..."
'Folks, hold onto your backpacks --- itís working. Ramon has crossed the channel and heís hopping around England. He has willing hosts waiting throughout most of North American and round the globe to India and Australia.'




Follow my tracks on Ludo's map! It's in Dutch, but you'll see a lot!