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.
ReportsTuesday, 10 June 2003
Burlington --> London, Ontario, Canada In case you are wondering what happened with yesterday's Monday report, let me assure you that it is not there. After Sunday's visit to the Niagara Falls, Doug told me I could stay another day at his place, before taking off again. I really needed that.
Not only I still had to update this website with all reports and photos of the last week (Toronto is fun, but I didn't have much time to get everything online that easily), but with the expected National Post report I wanted the site to look good and up-to-date for all new visitors to this site. Believe me, there were a lot of new people logging in to this site today.
So on Monday Doug went to his work and I set down behind my laptop spending hours and hours of writing, editing photos and uploading everything for your free delight. And as it was summer hot outside, inside I was sweating Niagara Falls and drinking bottles of water!
This Tuesday morning Doug woke me up while he was waving the National Post in my face. What? Front page? The National Post put a photo of me on the front page! Over its own title! Oh. My. God.
Then I really woke up, I hoped.
But it was true. The national newspaper of Canada opened up with my face and a half page story on page 3 (!), covering my website and travel reports. I think it was a very good article.
Of course then my website was slowly getting more and more traffic. It was fun to see: east coast users were already online and when three hour later it was finally morning at the west coast, it got really busy on the server. Everything of course was going a bit slower too
And I got loads of emails! Only two of them were negative. One Japanese guy wrote me that he had never seen such a boring website. "Mundane and mundane all over. Are all Dutch people that boring?" and somebody else criticized me for being egocentric as I was not helping out by travelling for a charity foundation or something and I should be visiting South America to write about what free trade is doing to these people.
I did not reply to that Japanese fellow, as he can easily go and search for a more entertaining sites on the web. The critic is welcome to call me selfish for doing something I want to do for myself. I just don't want to be too lazy/cheap/easy to get media attention because I have a special purpose too. I am the purpose and it seems to work out fine. I referred her to travelogues where the travellers only got their sponsors because they travel for a good cause. Bleh!
Back to today. I was going on the road again and Doug kindly offered to drop me off along the highway up west at 7.30 am as he had to go to work. But thankfully (you know I like to sleep in a bit) I had received an email from a lady that offered to give me a ride from Anywhere near Toronto to Anywhere nearby. So I gave her a call last night and told her about my next destination. "I'll have to work until 2 pm, then I can come over to Burlington and give you a ride. Not a problem!" she said.
With that all arranged Doug indeed let me catch a few more hours of sleep. He bought me that National Post copy, wished me safe travels and took off to work after I thanked him for all his support. "Dont worry, my mom (who lives nearby) will lock the door later today."
Now this is an interest side fact: Doug's mom is in her 70s but Doug had her figure out how the Internet works and she's now a full addict of this website too! I think that is a real remarkable thing!
As Doug went off to work I could hang around his apartment for another while until that lady would pick me up. That lady is Heather VanGrootheest and she has been following my travels and offered a hand with transport.
She arrived at the condominiums in Burlington after 4 pm, so most of the day had already passed, but that was okay: I had time enough to process hundreds of emails.
Heather arrived together with her sister Angela who came along to keep her company on this long drive. It wasn't going to be a long drive for me, but it was already for her as she came all the way from Guelph, which is in way in 'the country' west of Toronto and not exactly down the road.
When I settled myself in the car and asked her why the heck she would come all the way from Guelph to pick me up in Burlington to take me to London, she said: "I have travelled through Australia and I have been helped by so many people down there, that I feel obliged to help out a fellow traveller in my own home country." And that sounded pretty good to me!
The drive from Burlington west to London took almost two hours. Heather didn't immediately take the highway, but we first drove on a scenic route through the countryside of southern Ontario. With green acres of farmland surrounding us we drove past towns as Brantford, Princeton, Paris, Woodbury, Gobles and Creditville. We were through these towns before I could spell these names out.
From a town called Woodstock Heather got on the highway, which she called one of the most dangerous highways in Canada. "It's called highway hypnosis; that's when people fall asleep behind the wheel as this route was really boring." She was right about that, we even got a coffee and a pastry at a Tim Hortons along the road to keep focused.
Then around 7 pm we arrived in London. You should imagine London as this widespread city in the country, where the main roads to the centre consist of eight (!) lanes which sides all piled up with strips of long stretch of malls, theatres, Toys 'r Usses, Mc Donald's, Burger Kings, gas stations, KFC's, Tim Hortons at every four corners, motel chains, 24 hour shops, and etcetera.
I almost started to wonder where the heck London would really be.
The city of London owns its existence to the governor of Upper Canada, as this part of Canada was called before Confederation, John Graves Simcoe, who arrived in 1792 determined to develop the wilderness north of Lake Ontario. Because of its river connections to the west and south, he chose the site of London as his new colonial capital and promptly named its river The Thames. How original, huh?
Heather and her sister dropped me off straight in front of the house where I would stay the coming two days. My new hostess welcomed me to London after I said a gracious thank you to Heather and Angela.
I am staying here with the 27-year-old Kelly Anderson. She is a supervisor at the General Motors of Canada factory in London ("I am in control of all the men," she laughed) and recently bought this 90-years-old house she lives in.
"It's all being reconstructed," she apologized, however the first floor looked perfectly fine and I was amazed by her shiny modern kitchen. I would be sleeping in the bedroom in the second floor and as I saw that all the other rooms were pretty much empty under reconstruction I had to ask where Kelly sleeps herself. "I will sleep on the couch tonight," she said with a big smile. "You have slept on enough couches so far, haven't you?" Thank you!
It was past 7 o'clock and she was already preparing dinner. Her good friend Millie was visiting over for dinner too. She is also a supervisor at General Motors and has to work a night shift this coming night. "Yeah Ramon, don't worry, but tomorrow I will have to be at work at 6.30 am," Kelly told me. "If I sleep on the couch I won't have to wake you up that early." Now I understood!
Kelly had read about me in the FYI London newspaper, a weekly free distributed newspaper containing the latest local news on Toronto, and immediately extended her invitation.
"Unfortunately I gave away my computer with internet to a friend of mine. She met up with this American guy and now has an internet love affair. Sorry about that." That was okay, I explained. As long as I could use a phone line I would not have a problem keeping my website updated.
During dinner (chicken stir fry with rice and salad) with Kelly and Millie, more ladies came over for a visit. "Tonight is our night to watch smut TV," Kelly explained to me. "It's when we watch all these cheesy reality-tv shows and series as Sex and the City. I hope you won't mind that."
An hour later I joined four ladies gossiping around about characters on television, being amazed on what they saw in a way only young women can. And I was lying on their laps. Of course very shortly, for the photo, but you can understand I felt very comfortable in this situation.
When all the guests left later this evening as they all have a full time job in the morning, Kelly suggested to rent a DVD. We drove to a nearby Blockbusters and picked About Schmidt and The Recruit.
I had heard about About Schmidt when I was back home last year, but never had a chance to see it. It's not a popcorn blockbuster, more a cult movie with a dark edge. I already was fascinated by its summary on the DVD-cover as it is about Smith, played by Jack Nicholson, who retires from his job at 65 and discovers how empty and unimpressive his life is. "Suddenly I wake up every night to wonder who that lady is that is sleeping next to me." I thought that was very dark but comical and I enjoyed the dialogues in the movie. It made me really feel the pain of this old guy! (curious? watch the online trailer here)
It was around midnight when Kelly announced that she was heading to bed, so I headed to my bedroom and had a good night snooze on a big soft mattress.
Good night London!