Michael's Europe 2000 Tour - Week 9


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    Mon, 25-Sep-2000

Today I woke up to a dreary day - it was actually raining outside, so I turned around and kept napping for a while. Finally I couldn't stay in bed anymore so got up and showered and stuff, then settled down to read until everybody else was ready for breakfast.

The day actually fined up, so Uli, Walli, Dad, and I headed in to Koeln for some more sight seeing and stuff. Uli and I braved the 509 or so steps up to the top of the cathedral and enjoyed the view from the top while dad and Walli had a coffee in a cafe. When we got back down we stayed for a beer or two, and then kept wandering.

On the way back I hopped off the train at a square where I was to meet with Katrin and Meike, my cousins, for a night out on the town. A friend of theirs came along as well, and our first stop was a mexican restaurant where we had our first cocktails and a couple of platefuls of wedges, something they had not eaten before. Stefan also came to meet us there - it had been a whole 2 days since I had last had a drink with him!

From there we headed down the road, ducking in at every place which just had happy hour for cocktails for one or two drinks. Since the girls had school again the next day we didn't stay out very long, but stil had a good night. We caught the bus back home and were in bed before midnight.

    Tue, 26-Sep-2000

Everybody got up a bit late again today but earlier than the last few days. Dad and I were taking Grandad and Edith out to lunch to say thank you and good bye, so we had breakfast and drove off to their place. We didn't get there with an awful lot of time to spare, so we just had a quick chat while they finished getting ready. We wanted to make it an early lunch as well since I had some things I still wanted to get done in the city.

For lunch we drove to the same place where we had lunch with them last time. I ordered Forelle Blau, a boiled fish, and got a bit of a shock when I got the whole fish on my plate - head and all. Nevertheless it was quite delicious, and despite having just had breakfast I ate it all. But I was too full to order dessert, and so apparently was dad - I had to help him with his icecream in the end.

They dropped me off in the city on the way back home, with dad saying he would pick me up in a couple of hours. I hopped onto the internet for a while and then went shopping unsuccessfully for a small backpack. I wanted a rather particular kind which appears to be moderately difficult to find. Just as I was beginning to think dad had forgotten about me - it was 7pm - and I headed to a phonebooth to give him a ring my mobile rang. He was just around the corner having just come into the city.

We did a quick bit of shopping for dinner and then returned to Uli and Walli where we had dinner. After dinner we just settled into sitting around with a couple of beers and chatting which lasted well into the night.

    Wed, 27-Sep-2000

Aarg, I can't believe time has gone by so fast, it's already my last day in Germany. I spent the morning packing and rearranging my gear ready for travelling again, then went downstairs where we had a leisurely breakfast.

We packed the car and everybody insisted they accompany me to the airport, so off we drove back to Duesseldorf where I had arrived not so long ago, although with everything I've seen in the meantime it sometimes seems like I've been travelling forever.

Getting to the right terminal was an excercise and a half - the airport is just undergoing major renovations, and we had a lot of walking and finally even a short shuttle trip before we got to the right spot. While I lined up to check in they went and found a beer garden to wait. After check in I joined them and we whiled away the early afternoon until I could board.

Finally it was time, I said good byes and headed in. I found a spare seat and waited until boarding started. And waited. And waited. Finally they started boarding - they had to shuttle the people out to the plane on a bus. It felt like a third world airport somewhere! Not interested in being part of the rush, I waited for the last busload before boarding, after all, the plane wasn't about to leave without me. Once onboard the waiting continued - it appears they miscalculated the weight of the plane and had to add extra fuel. Finally with nearly an hour delay we taxiied to the runway and soon later were winging our way off towards Canada.

Since it was mostly cloudy I kept reading my book rather than trying to watch passing scenery - as usual I had nabbed a window seat. Up above the clouds it was beautiful, and flying towards the west we followed the sun around the world. Occasionally I'd stare at the unbroken cloud cover, the hills and valleys etched in shining white.

Finally we landed at Calgary, on the east side of the Canadian Rockies. From here the land stretches off to the horizon, flat as a pancake, split into regular squares, each square a different farm or occasionally a forest. It must be dreadfully boring to live out there. 40 minutes our stay was while some people disembarked and a few others got on, then we only had a quick hop over the mountains to Vancouver.

After the usual tedium of customs and collecting baggage I hesitantly edged out of the airport. I had no idea if I would be met here and was just about to find a telephone to ring when Paul and Joanne came walking up. After introducing ourselves we headed back to their place for a bite to eat and some chatting before I finally collapsed, tired out from the flight and the long day.

    Thu, 28-Sep-2000

I woke up early. Real early. 3am early. Groan. I hate timezones. 4 hours sleep isn't enough, I rolled over and desperately clawed my way back to sleep. After quite a few restless hours of near sleep despite being very tired I gave up and finished my book. Then I got up and had a shower and breakfast. Paul had to work today and I had no idea where Joanne was so I just lazed about for a while. I had just about decided to go downtown (that's what they call the centre of a city around here) when Joanne emerged - looks like I'm not the only person that likes to sleep in!

We chatted for a while while Joanne had her breakfast, then I decided to stay home and catch up on stuff on the internet while Joanne went and visited a friend of hers. This afternoon we're going to take a look around Vancouver in the car, much better than on foot I think!

The car trip to sight-see didn't eventuate, but Paul and I did head out to pick up some bits for a computer. We drove around various malls checking out shops, and after getting various prices decided it was time for dinner, and went and got some pizza which we took back home.

I can't quite remember what else we did after dinner, but I probably went to bed not long after, still suffering horribly from jetlag.

    Fri, 29-Sep-2000

The day dawned black again - yep, I once more woke up at the crack of some ungodly hour in the morning. Snoozing and reading got me through to 8am, I finally finished the 4th book in the Wheel of Time!

After breakfast I was left alone again, and since the day wasn't too bad being merely overcast, not actually raining (this is classified as good weather here in Canada), I decided to head downtown and check out the city a bit. A bit of a walk got me to the nearest skytrain station and after a bit of reading I worked out how to drive the ticket machines and headed up to the platform. The skytrain is nifty - like a giant rollercoaster, its tracks are built up above the city on a concrete bridge and is controlled remotely - there's no driver!

Soon enoough I arrived downtown (that's what Canadians call the city centre with all the skyscrapers and shops) and started wandering around. I failed to find a tourist information centre, but did find a tower at the Harbour Centre which overlooks Vancouver. After lunch I bought a ticket and rode up to take a look around. This tower wasn't nearly as tall as the one in Toronto, with quite a few of the skyscrapers being roughly the same height, I guess at ones stage it was the tallest thing around. But I still got to see quite a few sights around Vancouver from up there, and took plenty of pics. From here I could also see Stanley Park, a large undeveloped peninsula right in the city with beautiful forest and stuff on it. And that is what I decided to look at next, leaving the rest of downtown for when I got back - have to make use of the good weather while it lasts!

So from the Tower I headed in the direction of Stanley Park through a fine drizzle - practically tanning weather - taking in Canada Place, a leftover from Expo-86, on the way. By the time I got to the park I had already walked a couple of kilometers - perhaps I should've taken a bus, but I kept going around the park. From one side of the peninsula there was a really good view of downtown across the water which I wanted to get a picture of, and did. From there I decided to try to walk all the way around, a distance of some 8km or so. In and of itself this was not a problem, walking beside the beach on one side and forests on the other - a bike and pedestrian path runs all the way around the park. But after a while the drizzle which had let up for a bit came back with a vengeance, and slowly but surely turned into rain. By this stage I had walked too far to really turn back and it wasn't so bad that I really got wet yet, so I kept going. For some reason my left knee started playing up too - it got quite painful to walk but I was in the middle of nowhere so I had little choice but to keep going. Limping along in the now pouring rain and getting drenched I was beginning to think that I should've come to the end of my 8km circumnavigation by now! I kept going until I got to a bridge at which point I was pretty certain I had somehow managed to get lost. Remembering I had a map of Vancouver with me I had a look and sure enough, I had gone quite a bit out of my way...

Initially I had entertained the notion of ringing Paul and Joanne and asking them to come downtown for dinner, but in my present state all I wanted to do was get back home. So I walked back to the skytrain station, all the way downtown, got a ride back and finally got back home, drenched and sore. But here I could have a nice hot bath and recuperate!

After the bath I did invite Paul and Joanne to dinner, and we headed to a place somewhere nearby. The food there wasn't quite what I expected from a restaurant - it was mostly burgers - but the setting was nice enough and so was the food and service.

After dinner we headed back home, and I did the usual since getting to Canada - went to bed relatively early.

    Sat, 30-Sep-2000

I actually managed to wake up not too early this morning - probably a combination of total exhaustion from yesterday and finally getting used to this timezone...

After breakfast we headed out to the airport - time for me to fly up to Terrace. Check in proceeded without a hitch and we settled down for a coffee until I could board. The flight up was in a twin-prop machine and quite smooth. I even got to see some of the snow-topped mountains as the rain had let up overnight. As a bonus I got to sit in the cockpit for a half hour or so chatting to the pilots which was really neat!

Nadine picked me up from the airport and we headed back to her place where I had another shower after the flight. The afternoon we just spent relaxing and catching up before she had to go to work, after which I got online to catch up with emails and stuff.

After a few hours I wandered off to get some dinner since the kitchen was rather bare, and ended up at Nadine's work to see if she wanted anything as well - she was right in the middle of dinner. So we compiled a bit of a shopping list, and I wandered off to do a spot of shopping. On the way back home I stopped in at KFC to grab some nash. After I got back home and had eaten I pretty much went to bed still tuckered out from the last few days.

    Sun, 1-Oct-2000

* Slept in * Went to Denny's to meet Grace for lunch * Went to Kitimat to pick up Kyrcee * Spent afternoon at Ruth & Lorne's * Home, dinner, setting up computer * Bed We slept in today and breakfast became lunch. Nadine had organised to meet up with a friend of hers, Grace, for lunch at Denny's. That's a pretty neat restaurant which servers pretty good meals - breakfast until 6pm! - at quite reasonable prices. Breakfast/lunch was quite good despite a waiter who thought he was being funny when he asked Nadine if she had tasted her food at all. So we were a bit hungry, okay?

From the restaurant it was straight off to Kitimat to pick up Kyrcee from Nadine's parents. We hadn't meant to stay longer, but ended up being there for most of the afternoon. As the afternoon drew to a close we said our good-byes and headed for home to have dinner.

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Last updated: 1-Oct-2000