Location: Melbourne, Australia
...and now the end is near, and so i face the final curtain.
Yep Frank Sinatra did it his way and so did I (well with the help of a lot of people). I'm back home and the journey ends on my European tour, I have had an eye opening experience and not sure if I have enough words to explain the entire trip.
Firstly I would like to say thank you to the following people who have let me in their homes, cooked, showed me a great night out and of course for taking me around sightseeing for some great photos and memories:
Saskia (Holland), Tommy (England), David (Ireland) & Lorena (Valencia, Spain) & Nuria (Alicante, Spain)
Save the best for last...
Chris 'Kristoffer Weisbeir' Schilling (Germany)
Well mate, this page is not long enough to tell you how much I want to say thank you for looking after me. You have showed me the different side of Europe. I agree that this was more of a 'reflection' trip for myself and you have introduced to some great people who I will never forget.
I'm looking forward to our next trip...is that South America I see in 2007???
Now that i'm back home I have missed my mates (guys & girls) and looking forward to catching up with you all.
Nelson 'El Chorizo*' Estrada
*name originates from Nick Scud who summarised my character (when we met at the Ford Graduate Program back in 2003) like a Spanich spicy chorizo. i.e lots of fire & energy in such a short person.
Location: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city), Vietnam
Arrived at 8:30am in the Airport, the day started of quite suprisingly as I was not allowed into the country as my TravelVisa was not accepted as it was stamped when I first entered the country on the 4th August. But as I showed them that I had a Vietnam Airlines Travel voucher there was no problems. Next stop Dong Khanh Hotel (3 stars by the way and quite nice) where a tourist guide was waiting for me to show me around.
Saigon - War Musuem Visit
Now the following is very serious and something that I could not show you photos of due to the nature. The museum is a colleboration of photographs, articles, poems and statistics on the Vietnam War. This is to give you an opporutnity to make your own thoughts on the war itself. The photos are very graphic and it actually made me stop and realise the pain & horror the people of Vietnam went through.
The Photo 1 - Innocent family
The photo is of an innocent rice farming family that was rounded up together (Grandma, Mum & 2 daughters) and the photo shows them strongly hugging each other with a look of 'don't hurt us, please don't hurt us'. The photographer noticed that several soldiers had raised there M16 machine guns at them and he immediately told them to stop. The photographer wanted to take a photo of them at that point... he then walked off and heard the fire of the M16's... he noticed from the corner of his eye the 4 bodies dropping... he had to continue to walk.
The Photo 2 - Older brother protecting younger brother
Picture this, a road next to the rice fields and in the distance on the side is a young boy sheltering another boy who are clearly injured after a grenade exploded near them. The photographer's story is that after the photo was taken a soldier walked up to them both, who were lying as they could not move, and shoots them both. He was ordered to do so.
Now there were several others but these really brought me back to earth and really highlighted the effects war has on us.
I'm not saying that this was a highlight or a lowlight but just a reality check in the history of this country.
Next stop: Home flight to Melbourne
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Okay gang you are not going to believe this but i lost my mobile phone last night!!!!
So no one can contact me but i have barred my SIM card so whoever gets it can not use it.
So as usual i will need your mobile numbers, if you could send it to firstname.lastname@example.org it will be much appreciated.
Lillian, plans are still on Schedule but i will call you in Vietnam (i have a hotel booked there). Can you email me your mobile asap!
Okay see you all next week.
Okay we really don't know how to sum up Barcelona because for 4 days we have had an awesome time. We stayed in a backpackers hostel in a 12 bed room and that was an experience. We met 2 lovely American girls who were staying in the room, Vanessa & Maggie, and they were lots of fun.
We visited the Nou Camp, The Sagrada de familia church & of course the wonderful beach. We were impressed with the amount of beautiful women walking on the street & sunbathing on the beach.
As for the night life let's just say throughout our 6 day adventure in Spain we did the following:
1. Wake up at 11:00am
2. Head to the beach until 4:00pm
3. Siesta between 5-6pm
4. Back to the beach until 8:00pm
5. Dinner at 9:00pm
6. Go out at 11:00pm
7. Back home at 5:30am!
We recommend that if you come to Barcelona to make sure you head out of town to really enjoy the Catalan lifestyle and culture. The main city is full of tourists but if you head out you see the different side of Barcelona that is not shown in travel shows.
Spain was the highlight of our trip and we will never forget how much fun and wonderful people we have met. Seriously it is something that we will cherish & do again in the near future....
Now back to Stuttgart for the the final 4 days before Nelson heads home.
Chris & Nelson
Location: Alicante, Spain
Alicante (El Campello)
My god what a place!!! Chirs & I look like bronzed gods here cause the sun has been great and the fun we have had is unexplainable for words. Nuria thank you once again for hosting Chris & I and we agreed that you rock!
As the La General Naria we agreed that you run the show but Lorena may not be happy with that????
Geez we have had fun there & the girls were great and George was awesome to have a drink with! Isabel, Coral & Adelina thank you for an awesome time and hope that one day we can all can catch up soon... hopefully close to Australia as we are in the middle of nowhere!
Seriously if anyone gets a chance to go to Spain please get to Alicante first and then work your way North to Barcelona as it was an experience that Chris & I are still talking about.... ;)
Okay gang next stop Barcelona for a relaxing weekend!!!!
PS. Chris painted his toenails blue due to peer group pressure (the girls) and i´m telling you it actually works for conversation starters!!!!
(Chris says it looks good and we have pitctures)
Chris & Nelson... whooo whooo Barcelona!!!!!
Location: Valencia, Spain
After getting up at 4:00am in Stuttgart to leave for Spain let me tell you that it was worth it. We had to do a stop over in Zurich, Switzerland, and we flew over the Alps...what a view! I have pics that i will download when i get back to Stuttgart next week. (We have taken so many photos)
We knew we were flying over Spain when the clouds suddenly disappeared and before you knew it we arrive in Barcelona in 37 degree heat...absolutely perfect!
We took a train at 11:00am but we had to take 1st Class (yes we took advantage of the service) or else we had to wait until 3:00pm (the 12:00am train was sold out) and we would be late for Chris´s friend Lorena who was waiting for us in Valencia (3hr Train ride by the way)
We arrived early and had 1hr up our sleeve and so Chris & I went looking for lockable lockers and Chris in his usual ways starts to undress so he can get shorts & a singlet on but the Security Guard quickly put an end to that, it was hilarious because normally it is okay in Australia but somehow it is not the usual behaviour in Spain!
Well what a host she was the most funniest chick we have met so far in the Trip. We named her ´La Capatina´cause she has that attractive Spanish look and fiery attitude (you know this is true Lorena) and if you upset her it was ´Que dije que NO!´ (you has to be in Valencia to understand)
Thank you for looking after us and we appreciate your hospitality and don´t forget to pay for the fuel next time you fill up!
Next stop is Alicante where Chris´s & Lorena´s friend Nuria has a holiday house. We will be there for 3 days and give you more updates.
Nelson & Chris
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Belfast & Dublin
What can i say about Ireland...this place is absolutely beautiful. The scenery is spectacular and i have had 4 wonderful days travelling from Bushmills (Northern Ireland) down the coast towards Dublin (Ireland).
It is true what they say about Ireland - it is made up of rolling hills, small towns and Leprachauns (wait, maybe not) but i'm still looking for them.
Just note that as Belfast is part of the UK they use the pound but once you enter Ireland then you are dealing with Euros...as you could imagine trying to convert is always a challenge.
Armagh (NW of Dublin)
This is David's hometown where he grew up, just like you see in Postcards & Documentary's it is the perfect example of a classic Irish settlement. His parents have been the most wonderful people and I thank you for having me in your home. Mama Nicholl made a great Irish dinner and i slept like a baby.
We have been drowing in this stuff since i arrived, let me tell you that we are been ripped off back in OZ cause the taste here is absolutely silky smooth. We stayed in a backapacker's hostel right next to heaven's gate - St. James Gate the home of Guinness Brewery. I have literally tried everey brew here and i still have Spain & possibly Croatia or Sweden to go.
David, thank you for looking after me and for showing me a great time in the land of 4 leaf clover's & Guinness!!!
Note: I left Australia weighing 67Kg...i checked the scales this morning and now down to 64Kg!!!!! I don't get it i should have been at least 70Kg with all the beer i have been drinking but it has the opposite effect. Bless those German, English & Irish brewmasters for they have looked after me :)
Okay next stop is SPAIN!!!!!! for some major tanning and um ....sightseeing! (yeah right)
Location: London, UK
Finally in London Town and staying in the famous Notting Hill District at Tommy's Place. The place is a real buzz and i have so much to tell but as i'm in an internet cafe i have not much time.
I think the photos sum up the 3 fun days i have had with Thomas "Tommy Umaga or Mr Monaco" Patrick.
Just about to jump on a plane for the land of the Irish to meet up with Senor David Nicholl. I will update you all then.
Tommy once again thank you for a great 3 days mate...really apreciate looking after the little chorizo and hope to see you back in Australia soon...
PS: Keep me posted on Ms. Sweden ;)
Location: Porsche Musuem, Germany
My little run in with the Porsche Security Personnel
Okay here i am going to the Porsche Musuem all by myself and thinking what will be on display. Well once the tour was over I purchased some goodies and exited by turning right through a gate and started walking casually.
Now there is lot of construction going on as the new Porsche Musuem is been built for 2007 so it was hard to see where the exit was...well I'm minding my own business when i see a 2006 Porsche Cayman S Coupe which is abosolutely gorgeous so like any tourist with a camera i start taking photos. Then to my left i see all these brand new 911 Turbo's, Carrera's & Boxters and of course i take photos. (you can imagine my excitement)
Now the camera started playing up and I couldn't get it to display the 'preview' shots then, I shit you not, this large German guy taps me on the shoulder and starts speaking German.
(If you remember the TV show Hogan's Heroes with Col. Klink & his assistant Schulz! This guy was a dead ringer for Schulz)
I say that i'm looking for the exit but I can not find it, his response "ya you come with me okay" so i follow him thinking that he's helping me out. Well we walk into the building and we get to the exit and instead of allowing me to leave he says "No, you must come with me in here, ya". Seriously, i thought i'm in deep shit here cause I start to understand that he thinks that i'm a spy and I was taking photos of the Facilities & Future Models which as an offence (trust me we have it at Ford) and just my luck I actually had ended up at their testing facility by accident! (I promise i did not take photos of this only the cars parked outside, this is for legal purposes)
Well I quickly start to delete the photos as he's walking in front of me, then i'm introduced to 2 x Security Guards.
Security: 'Halo, you show us photos from camera'.
Me: 'Look I turned right as there was no exit to the left after I finished at the museum and i didn't know that i was in a restricted area.'
Security: 'That's impossible that gate only accessed by employees so how you get in?'
Me: 'Well i'm serious that gate was left open cause i assumed it was the exit.' (At this point they see that all i have on the camera was the Cayman photos & the musuem photos)
Security: 'Delete the Cayman photos please' (He makes a phone call)
Security: 'Ya, something in German, Nein, Nein, long discussion in German, Okay."
He looks at me, shakes my hand and says 'Okay you can leave now, have a nice day sir.'
Schulz also shakes my hand: 'Thank you for your co-operation young man'
as i walk 5m down I couldn't help myself but yell out 'SSSSCCCHHHUUUULLLTTTZZZZZZ!!!!"
Location: Amsterdam & Utrech, Netherlands
The city of Amsterdam
This is one big city and i'll tell you that you would need at least 3 days to really see everything. At the moment they are celebrating Rembrandt's 400 years since his birth all over town. With special advertising all over the city been displayed higlighting the event. On Friday night Saskia took us out into the city and we walked the main strip (similar to Swanston Street) and saw the Royal Family's Palace...let me tell you that it is massive. Then we had indian food and yep walked past the Red Light district.
The bicycle usage here is amazing, i mean everyone here rides a bike. The whole town is full of them and no space is wasted to park them. There are special lanes dedicated to the bikes and yep they have the right of way. Also the 2006 Gay & Lesbian Festival on the water was on and so we took a ferry that showed us around Amsterdam and the actual parade.
There was so many canals and each one is unique as all the houses have their own indivdual style and of course to own one you will need 'the sky is the limit' budget.
During the day we spent walking through the famous Red Light district and there was no window shopping to do but what was on display was very graphic. Did i mention that all this walking makes you thristy? yep Chris, Saskia & I drowned a few Bavaria's Wheat Beir and a good ol Dutch Burger to match... al fresco of course...while watching the world go by in front of the city square (absolute bliss)
The city of Utrech
Saskia's hometown was amazing it's like the Dutch pictures you see on Postcards only that Chris & I were there live!
Again the bicycle scene is stronger than ever and it is the means of transport due to the flexibility but also the costs of running a car are quite high here (We are very lucky in Australia to have use of the car). Saskia showed us around the city and what a beautiful city it is, i strongly recommned that if you visit Netherlands that you see Utrech, it is very multicultural and everyone is so friendly. We stopped for some famous Dutch apple pie (absolutely delicious) and visited the church of Utrech. Mum will be happy that i went to the Church and inside there was a peaciful garden which was good to just sit and reflect on life.
We then had to see the newly built FC Utrech stadium which we decided to play soccer on the main entrance (which we know you can not do at the MCG or Telstra Dome back home). For the record Saskia beat Chris, I beat Saskia & then Chris beat me...so everyone was a winner!
Oh must make mention that Chris & I did not touch a drop of beir on the Sunday, for some reason we just didn't think about it which was strange...don't worry we made sure we made up for lost time the moment we got back to Stuttgart....aaahhh for a hard earned thirst there's nothing like the delicious taste of Malteser of Stuttgart!
okay next stop is Munchen (Munich) for a wild weekend of partying before heading to London.
Bye for now
Nelson & Chris