Bologna 1/2/15 12:55 GMT+1
Total flight hours: 0
Total transit hours: 2:10
Here we go again, the last weeks of resting were not even meant to happen, let alone lasting this long. I was quite disappointed in myself for what I saw as a surrender but then, and in very brief succession, the number of security related stories coming out of Africa, Europe and even Australia sort of vindicated my decision to take a step back.
Coming to Italy was good for my family, or so they tell me, I, on the other hand, managed to get a cold, a chest infection and regain, by my reckoning, two thirds of the weight I had lost on the way to Morocco. I also was here to witness the delivery of health news to my dad that was as bad as it was unexpected. He seems alright though, and taking this new challenge in his stride. In a way part of my setting off again is also a desire to give all of them back a bit of normality, a normality that for the last twenty plus years has not included me in the near vicinity.
So I’m leaving the Modena swamp, where pollution, humidity and fog condemn most families to the ownership of an inhalator machine, and trading it for the glorious New Zealand where the thousands of miles of pleasant land will get me back on track with both mental and physical fitness, or so I hope. Naturally, given my luck this will probably prove to be the wettest summer New Zealand will have had since record begun, but I will leave the winging for later and just spend quality time dreaming of dry camping on the antipodean beaches.
London 1/2/15 14:15 GMT
Total flight hours: 2:20
Total transit hours: 2:10
One leg gone, two, or perhaps three yet to go. Yes this is a bit of a surprise for me too, but the Sydney flight is marked as “Sydney via Dubai”, not sure if this means a short stopover in the gulf.
It is great to be back in the UK, even though Heathrow Terminal 3 is very much just the DMZ and there are probably less Brits here than in Tuscany. I think I feel this small island much more home than I ever realised. I have always shied away from defining myself in relation to geographical categories, but I sense that if I had to do so, and I had to be completely honest, I’d have to say I’m much more British than anything else. Mind you I’d be Scottish first and British second.
If there is a thing that I have learned in the last month or so in Italy is that I’m not any longer Italian. I might have been at one point, I don’t know that for sure, and I can still speak the language much better than many of them, but for sure I now know there is a great big gulf between what my way and their way of seeing life. Back in the world now and on the brink of cheating nature by enjoying summer in February while good old Europe is resting under a blanket of snow.
Dubai 2/2/15 08:50 GMT+4
Total flight hours: 9:20
Total transit hours: 9:10
The stop that did not exist, existed indeed. Thanks to my aisle position, to sitting next to the wing and the fact that I had not yet waken up to the existence of the SkyCam, I did not see “the world”, “the palm” or any of the other landmarks of the gulf city. I was half asleep anyway as this leg of the journey is the one in which I managed to sleep the most.
The stopover was on the whole quite a waste of time. I was not in the mood for any shopping, I managed to inflict a terminal rip in my trousers and got generally bored. On the up side I stepped on Asia soil with my hiking boots taking them from the rank of intercontinental boots to the one of multi continental boots. I was mildly disappointed in not finding free WiFi in the airport and this contributed to my already developing belief that I will spend as little time as humanly possible in this part of the world in years to come.
Sydney 3/2/15 06:50 GMT+10
Total flight hours: 22:35
Total transit hours: 10:40
WOW, I forgot it was this long to come down under. Landing in Sydney was a bit bumpy and, with the benefit of watching it on SkyCam, completely sideways. It is remarkable to see how inelegant and yet completely effective are these massive beasts at touching down.
Having to simply transit I have no papers to fill and don’t have to deal with the dreaded biohazard unit, that gives me time to hook up to the WiFi and touch base both with Italy and New Zealand. I am in a bit of a bind, I’m getting to Auckland around 15:00 and I could feasibly ride the bike to Adam’s place. The problem is that, by the time I land, I will have spent more than a day in the air, a day and a half including transit, and I’ll have to reassemble the bike before the wheels do a single revolution. Alternatively I could land and get a taxi. I guess I’ll just have to postpone that decision to later and see how I feel.
Auckland 3/2/15 GMT+13
Total flight hours: 25:45
Total transit hours: 12:10
I’ve done it, with 15 minutes to spare. The flight was a bit early and that was just fine considering that it took forever and a bit to get past custom. I had to open the bike’s box and surrender the tent for inspection. The chap that looked at the bike was rather excited by the prospect of me cycling both islands, and that sort of surprised me as I would have expected him meeting quite a few travellers like me. Anyways all bits passed the inspection and after realising that what I thought was a 37 Km ride was in facts a 56+ Km ride, due to the fact that the bridge over the bay is not accessible to bicycles, I opted for calling a cab.
Having time in the airport also solved my phone problem and in less time that it takes to say cat in a hat I was operational on Vodafone NZ with a generous 3Gb of data allowance. The taxi is taking a little time to come, but the good weather means that I can wait outside and write the blog resting on the trolley loaded with bike and bags.
After the cab ride it was down to a lovely evening with the Neasmith. I will tell you more about them in posts to come but the only mention I want to make here is to their tolerance of my snoring, poor people, I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow and apart from the tail end of my chest infection and a little headache, I’m now as good as new.
Today I’ll assemble the bike and start making plans for the ride, I might not leave here for a few days but, as you all know, failing to prepare…..