Turkey - May 4, 2001
and the Road Team
night was rather a tricky night. We were awoken at 3:00 am
from the sound of the truck alarm. We left the truck parked
in front of the hotel in Erzurum.
of our biggest concerns wherever we are is the safety of our
vehicle - we always try to park in a location that is secure
so the vehicle won't be damaged or stolen. George raced out
of bed followed closely behind by David Hamilton to check
on the vehicle.
4:00 am we were awoken to music and prayer chants from a nearby
prayer session. The alarm sounded again at 6:30 in the morning
and it was determined that curious children were leaning on,
looking in and trying the doors of the vehicle. Needless to
say, the team did not get a very good night sleep that night.
left the hotel at 10:00 am and stopped by an Internet café
to get a proper e-mail connection. Unfortunately, many of
the hotels do not have Internet connections in the rooms.
we were at the Internet café a couple of young university
guys starting calling the local media. They encouraged us
to stay a bit longer while a local journalist and tv station
arrived. A photographer crawled up a two-storey building to
get a better shot. By this time a crowd of 50-75 had gathered
in less than 20 minutes - it is amazing how quickly news travels
- this is starting to be the pattern for our travels.
at 11:30 we were on the read headed over another mountain
pass with an altitude of 2,200 meters. The roads are becoming
much narrower now with more bumps and potholes. There are
no shoulders and we have to be very careful with the tanker
truckers along the road - we have had a couple of close calls.
had anticipated the drive to the boarder to be about three
hours however it ended up closer to 6-7 hours. We pulled into
a little town called Taslacy about 100 kms from the border
looking for a place to have lunch. Unfortunately, we were
unable to find a restaurant.
continued on a back road into another smaller village of 15-20,000
people. This is the heart of rural Turkey - very backwards,
no paved roads. Everyone was extremely curious and we ended
up having a crowd of 200-300 people around us. They were fascinated
with our names, how old we were and that we were from Canada.
We enjoyed a beautiful traditional Turkish meal of chicken
we were eating the Chief of Police came to our table and said
that we are always welcome and that his assistant would be
available to provide any assistance we needed. We all felt
incredibly warm and everyone went out of their way to make
us feel welcome. Our lunch for seven cost 13 million liras
= $14 Cdn. As we were leaving, people were making donations
to our cause.
started the 100 km journey to the Iranian border. As advised
by our home team, we decided not to cross the border in the
evening. We located a place to stay in Dugubayazit and unloaded
for the night. Since we have no idea how long the boarder
crossing will take into Iran we figured the fresher we felt
the easier it would be on us and the Iranian escort team on
the other side.
are now sitting down to dinner and we have made verbal contact
the Iranian escort team and we will meet up with them tomorrow.
Turkey - May 3, 2001
thing in the morning on our departure from the hotel the Assistant
to the Canadian Ambassador greeted us. The Ambassador was
extremely busy but sent a very nice lady named Sima, who stayed
with our group for the entire day. Sima had organized a meeting
with the Ankara Rehabilitation Hospital.
the hospital the Chief Physician and the Acting Director of
the Hospital greeted us. We toured a large portion of the
hospital and saw a lot of patients working in the gym.
One patient stands out in particular - a man in his 30' s
who had only been injured for about three months was with
his mother doing some physiotherapy. We chatted briefly and
he took me back to my time in rehabilitation after my injury.
This young man struck a cord - this was a very emotional moment
for me sitting on the side of his bed.
We handed out a lot of posters to patients and staff members.
Our procession came upon a very bright and intelligent 13-year-old
girl. She had heard about my journey and came out to greet
me and took the opportunity to discuss her difficulties, her
ambition and most importantly her strong desire to live life
to the fullest.
wandered around the hospital for almost an hour and as we
made our way outside we came upon the media who had caught
wind of what we were doing - there were television cameras
and photographers - almost a 100 people had gathered with
the patients. There was a great amount of interest and we
spent nearly the entire morning chatting and fielding questions.
This was another point in the journey that reinforced to me
why I was doing this. You know it is a two way street, I in
turn feel the energy, which pushes us forward
the hospital we had a great drive on through eastern Turkey.
We started a fairly tricky drive into a mountainous region
but we made great time. We completed our drive into Sivas
around 9:00 pm and took the recommendation of our Canadian
Consulate on a hotel, unfortunately, the hotel was not accessible
and we had to search out alternative accommodations for the
luck would have it, David Hamilton had gone into an earlier
hotel asking for directions, which we returned to and discovered
it was fully accessible and available. We were offered a suite
for the night at off-season rates and moved in for the night.
A restaurant was found close by for dinner and the group settled
in before the crowds arrived. A vivacious lady treated us
to a traditional Turkish dance. Everyone enjoyed themselves
with the music and food and retired back to the hotel around
the cameramen and myself started Thursday with a Turkish shave
and trim. The Turkish shave involves a face massage, lather
- the whole nine yards - I even took advantage of this opportunity
to have a little taken off the top. By 11:30 we were on the
road. The roads were very much up and down again and we hit
an altitude of 2,200 meters.
is now 6:40 PM and we are about to pull over for the night
in Erzurum. George never gives me the benefit of doubt on
our anticipated arrival time.
Canada, the police only pulled us over once for going too
slow. However in the space of an hour we were pulled over
twice in Turkey. The first time, a cop waived us over for
going too fast and was prepared to give us a ticket. He saw
the newspaper clippings on the seat from a Turkish paper and
softened slightly. I offered him two Canadian flags while
he was handing me back my driver's license and he graciously
waived us through.
half an hour later, we were again waived over by another police
car. This time I could not understand it, we had not broken
any law that I was aware of. The officer in perfect English
said he had seen us on CNN Turkey and Star TV and he only
wanted to shake my hand. I handed him some Canadian flags
and was waived on again.
is a beautiful mountain city and as David Hamilton pointed
out the highest city in Turkey (elevation 1,853). It would
appear that there are ski resorts in the area as I see glacier
mountains - who would have imagined you could ski year round
is the earliest we have arrived in the last week and everyone
is looking forward to an early dinner. Tomorrow will be a
major day of transitions as we approach the Iranian boarder.
We will meet up with our Iranian escort team just beyond the
border crossing and hope that the border does not bring too
Turkey - May 2, 2001
flies. Our merry crew is currently cruising on the way to
Sivas in Eastern Turkey. So much has happened in the past
few days or so with various team members arriving and departing,
vehicle repair issues and keeping the show on the road
than recount events of the past little while I feel it crucial
to address the issue of why this adventure is a challenge
and not a mere leisure cruise across the globe.
and foremost: driving is difficult. Driving across every possible
landscape, weather and road condition imaginable is difficult.
Driving this environment for 8 hrs a day 6 days a week is
difficult. Then factor in the fact that our driver is a quadriplegic.
The issues increase tenfold.
spasticity due to lactic acid buildup, a greater concentration
requirement due to more sensitive controls, balance issues,
no possibility of shoulder checks or scratching an itch
pace of the itinerary has been extremely rigorous to date,
so much so that we are working on slowing things down somewhat.
The long hours of driving are interspersed with countless
media interviews and visits to rehabilitation centers, vehicle
repairs, communication, documentary shooting and logistics.
to this schedule the four to five hrs daily required for Mike's
morning and evening personal care routines and the picture
becomes somewhat clearer. There have been several consecutive
21 hour days. Getting 4 hrs sleep is nice, 6 hrs bliss
recommended 7-8 hrs daily is an abstract concept.
about the personal and psychological issues? Almost everyday
we wake up exhausted in a different bed, environment, culture
and city. As the road monkey I am with Mike most hours of
the day, 7 days a week for over 5 months personal
space and general sanity become issues. Clearing the mind
and savoring those precious few moments of down time squeezed
in among the chaos is indispensable.
what of accessibility? Negotiating curbs and doorways in a
wheelchair is challenge in the west that gets significantly
magnified as we head on east through Asia.
lifting and swiveling 200 pounds of wheelchair plus 150 pounds
of Mike up 5 cobblestoned steps in Venice
in motion! While life on the road is not easy, we do the best
we can to make a "home" in the seats of "The
Beast" as we circumnavigate the globe. We are all tough,
focused and determined individuals and will prevail! Until
next time, may peace be with you!
Turkey - May 1, 2001
the best news today - Iranian Visas received - this was not
an easy process. We found out that a French cyclist was also
attempting to drive through Iran and had been waiting for
his Visa for two weeks. Our timing was perfect, we arrived
to pick up our Visas at 10:00 am and were on our way to Ankara
by 4:30 PM
is now 11:30 PM and we have just arrived in Ankara. It felt
great to leave Istanbul after three days and it was especially
nice to have people honking and waiving as we made our way
out of the city. We received fabulous publicity in Istanbul
- a spot on CNN Turkey; an 8-9 minute profile on STAR TV;
an article on page 3 of the national Turkish magazine, The
Republican (where a great photo of Christine and I was used);
as well as a piece in the magazine Tempo.
feel that we are leaving a trail of awareness of the difficulties
facing the disabled behind us and that a wave of interest
is pushing us forward. Tomorrow, we are going to visit the
largest Rehabilitation Centre in Turkey with the Canadian
Consulate and the Turkish Paraplegic Association. We will
be generating wonderful goodwill at the Centre before we head
off on our journey eastwards towards Sivas.
truck is performing well and we are only one day behind our
Turkey - April 29, 2001
now Sunday afternoon, April 29th and day 41 of the 'Round
the World Challenge. We have finally made it into Istanbul,
Turkey late last night and I am typing this entry from the
11th floor of our hotel overlooking the famous Bosporus Strait
which is significant as the setting for the battle portrayed
in the WWII feature film, "The Guns of Naverone".
I've mentioned before, I can't get over how quickly the days
and weeks go by and how many significant events have taken
place. When I last submitted my journal I mentioned how lucky
we had been and the serendipity we had encountered on the
way. Well, in Rome it seemed like our lucky streak had come
to an end and we have been through some of the most challenging
times I could possibly have imagined.
Sunday, I received the news via e-mail that Garry Sowerby
- our Technical Advisor and team member on Leg I (Eastern
Canada) was unable to participate in leg II (Middle East and
the Indian Subcontinent) part of the "Challenge".
Garry sighted that he had been feeling incredibly stretched
recently having just completed the launch of the new GMC "Avalanche"
truck and torn between his commitment to our project and his
family in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was a very disappointing
blow to the team as Garry had brought his vast past experience
and resources to the project having successfully driven around
the world twice and being the current holder of the Guinness
world speed record for circumnavigating the globe by a gas
powered vehicle. We quickly convened a series of team meetings
to discuss our options and who would take Garry's place on
the same day we received the news from Garry Sowerby we received
good news in the form of a long awaited rendezvous with the
Canadian and International "cavalry" who would be
escorting us in their van and Audi sports car from Rome to
Istanbul. The new team members included: Roger Greenberg (Businessman/Community
Leader) David Hamilton (Businessman/Film Producer), Gerard
Dolan (Cameraman) Barbel Helmet (Camera Assistant), Karl-Heinz
(Businessman) and Archana (Publicist), Peter Stewart (Musician)
and Lee Greenberg (Journalist). It would be momentarily before
we realized how timely our latest team members' presence would
be needed to help out.
the risk of slowing down our aggressive itinerary, we decided
to do the smart thing by getting the vehicle into the garage
in Europe in preparation for the most difficult phase of the
challenge which would begin in Turkey. The work to the vehicle
included: front end and brake inspection; regular oil change
and replacement of the seals on the steering box. After considerable
research and phone calls, we located the only GM garage in
all of Rome which was appropriately named "American Car
Company" and promptly made arrangements to drive my truck
to their garage some 40 kilometres south of Rome. Since Rome
and for that matter, most other cities around the world, are
not served by accessible transportation for people with disabilities,
Peter (van driver) and George Swinimer (teammate) drove in
convoy to the garage so I could transfer into their vehicle
in order to return to the hotel and thus, leave my truck overnight
with the repair shop.
a very friendly and knowledgeable mechanic named Roberto (Proprietor
of American Car Company) and his son, David had lived and
worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and consequently spoke
fluent English. The good news was that the work appeared relatively
standard and I should have had my vehicle back later that
evening or at the latest, the following day.
the phone rang later that night, I was anticipating good news
that my truck was ready only to learn that I would likely
have it back by 12 noon the following day. The following Monday
morning we elected to pack the van and the car in addition
to a taxi (carrying our mountain of gear) and head to the
garage. It would then be on the road to work our way into
the south of Italy to catch a ferry over to Greece ... so
we thought! We agreed that Christine and Lee would jump in
the car with Karl-Heinz and Arcana in order to leave for the
south of Italy ahead of us and scout out the route and an
arrival at the garage, I was pleasantly surprised to find
out that the repairs to my truck would be completed momentarily
and we would soon be on the road again. Much to my dismay,
I learned that Roberto unilaterally decided to replace the
steering box as the seals that were sent for installation
were the wrong part and not compatible with my part. Unfortunately,
Robert did not realize that my steering box had been modified
internally to allow me to steer with very little effort. As
I was about to embark on a test drive I could barely turn
the wheel and it was apparent even before leaving the parking
lot that my original steering box would need to be reinstalled.
Unfortunately, Roberto pointed out that this was an impossibility
as my "old box" had broken internal seals and oil
was leaking out at a rapid rate ... what to do now?
8 hours of phone calls back and forward to Canada seeking
professional advice on the best course of action and Roberto
mixing and matching internal components of the two steering
boxes, I was finally ready for a road test. Fortunately, in
addition to working in the US Roberto had also worked for
the famous Italian Car maker - Ferrari. He was not phased
by my modified steering or any of the other challenges that
faced him. With baited breath, I carefully headed out to test
the steering. I sighed with relief as the steering performed
well and it felt like the old truck that I was so very used
to over the past years.
again, the team and I awoke the next morning with renewed
energy and optimism. The truck was completely packed and I
was about to get into the vehicle on my electronic/hydraulic
lift when I heard a sudden noise "pishhhh" like
a tire suddenly losing pressure to then discover that the
lift was losing pressure and didn't have enough power to lift
me and my chair into the truck. We quickly surveyed the situation
to discover that hydraulic oil was rapidly rushing out from
a hose directly under the vehicle. Again, we got on the phone
to Roberto and 1 hour later David came to the rescue. We managed
to get two jacks under the lift and with quick blasts from
my lift controller I was able to get the lift into the driver's
position and it was back to Roberto's garage. I really in
my wildest dream never imagined that we'd be back at the garage
ever again. Despite it being a national holiday Roberto was
congenial, understanding and quite willing to do whatever
it would take to get us mobile again.
I was unable to get out or into the truck using the lift,
I sat tight in the driver's seat as the vehicle was hoisted
10 feet into the air. As suspected one of the main 6' long
hydraulic lines running under the truck had split due to wear
and tear and needed replacement. Generally getting a new line
would be relatively quick and easy were it not for the fact
that it was a holiday. Finally, Roberto got a hold of the
daughter of a local guy who owned his own hydraulic repair
business. His daughter assured us that getting the repair
completed was not a problem but that her father was at the
beach relaxing and not due back until 6 PM ... it was presently
2 p.m. After waiting it out (still in the driver's seat) 5
hours, Roberto diligently replaced the hydraulic line, topped
up the fluid and gave us a spare line to boot. With the team
and I profusely thanking Roberto for helping us yet again
we were finally on the road at 9 p.m. for the Southwest coast
of Italy. Fortunately, 2 relatively uneventful days ensued
before arriving at the port town of Bari.
new road team comprising 11 people in 3 vehicles checked in
to obtain our tickets and enthusiastically made our way onto
the "Fast Ferry" on route to Igoumenitsa, Greece.
On board the humongous ship, we enjoyed a group dinner reminiscing
about the past 5 days and then settled into our cabins for
a very short sleep. Awaking at 5 a.m. we all went on deck
to enjoy a spectacular view of Igoumenitsa Harbour just as
the sun was rising.
on land in our next country, Greece - it was quickly back
to the business of driving. We very carefully worked our way
up and up and up over the coastal mountains only to drop down
to some valleys for a short reprieve and then back over yet
another and another mountain Pass. The highest and most challenging
stretch was the Katara Pass which peaked at an elevation of
approximately 2000 metres. We even stopped for a photo in
front of the "Katara Ski Area" with some patchy
areas of snow in sight! This must have been where all those
Greek Olympic and World Cup champion skiers trained!
a long 14 hour day behind the wheel we pulled into Thessalonika,
- a thriving cosmopolitan port city of approximately 1 million
inhabitants nestled on the Mediterranean. It was a welcomed
sight as we finally made in to the Electra Palace Hotel located
in the heart of the city. Christine and I enjoyed a rare dinner
alone at a nearby café and at last it was sleep sweet
Saturday, April 28th and Day 40 we enjoyed a very scenic drive
along the Mediterranean coast, painlessly crossed the border
into Turkey and arrived some 700 kilometres later in Istanbul.
After visiting 13 countries over the past 41 days we have
clocked 8,229 kilometres ... just over three and a half months,
8 more countries and 31,771 kilometres further to go!
Airport - April 30, 2001
is 10:15 am on Monday, April 30th and I am sitting in the
Frankfurt airport in Germany enroute back to home base in
Ottawa. As I write this final entry describing my recent involvement
in the "Round The World Challenge", it is hard for
me to find the right words to describe my feelings on what
I've experienced in the last ten days. To say that I've been
overwhelmed by what Mike Nemesvary is attempting to achieve
is a mild understatement. But more on that later.
has really amazed me is the intensity of warm feelings that
I've developed for the other nine team members who participated
in this leg of the Challenge. First, there is Christine. She
has been travelling since the launch from Ottawa on March
20th and is returning to see her two children for a couple
of months before rejoining Mike on the final leg of the Challenge
in July. Then there is Mike's personal assistant George -
a man of patience and internal fortitude, if ever there was
one, with a fascinating personal history. The two-person camera
team - Gerard and Bearbel and their driver Peter - did so
much more than just filming for a documentary. They helped
whenever they could. Then there was the team that I brought
along with me - the so-called "cavalry". My cousin
Lee (son of Lawrence) the journalist, David Hamilton, the
Chairman of our sister companies Bradson Technology Professionals
and Spherion together with two of his friends from Germany
- Karl Heinz and Archana. All were amazing.
our ten days together, these disparate personalities came
together as a family, united in their desire to help Mike
achieve his remarkable goal. As we sat together last night
in a restaurant on the Bosporus in Istanbul watching the big
ships pass in front of us, we all remarked on the incredible
closeness that had unexpectedly developed. Perhaps all the
adversity we had faced in the last few days brought us together.
more likely explanation, though, was the realization that
we were participating in something much bigger than just driving
from one place to another. We were participating in what will
hopefully become something historic for Canada, comparable
to Terry Fox's run across Canada and Rick Hanson's "Man
In Motion" tour. In my eyes, Mike is a true hero as he
attempts to raise people's awareness to the problem's faced
by the world's disabled, the power of technology to inspire
their lives and to raise money for spinal cord research and
rehabilitation. In his own quiet unassuming way, Mike Nemesvary
is the most inspirational person I have ever met.
we finished dinner and I began saying goodbye to my new friends,
I must admit that a big part of me regretted not being able
to continue with the team as they embark on what will undoubtedly
be the most difficult part of the Challenge - traveling through
Iran, Pakistan and India. However, after discussions with
Mike, I realized that there is much that I can do to help
Mike from Canada. And help him I will! I wish the whole team
the best of luck and wish Mike a safe return to Ottawa at
the end of August.
Turkey - April 29, 2001
am leaving this message at 11:15 PM The team experienced a
very lengthy day. We departed Thessaloniki at 9:30 am. Lunch
was enjoyed at a quaint restaurant along the roadside. After
lunch, we started a very long flat drive towards Istanbul.
The lead group of David Hamilton, Karl Heinz, Lee Greenberg
and myself jumped ahead of Mikes vehicle on approach
We were totally astounded by the size and magnitude of Istanbul.
Istanbul has a population of 12 million people the
size blew us away. We had great difficulty locating a local
map of the area and called the hotel to provide directions
to their location, they advised us to go to the airport and
request the assistance of a policeman. Istanbul is much like
Toronto, lots of activity and traffic even on a Saturday night.
team was a little frazzled and testy by the time the hotel
was located and we were settled in. Mike was feeling the effects
of the very long drive and the strain of moving around on
unfamiliar roads. It was too late to get a proper meal at
the hotel and everyone disbursed into their sleep quarters
not long afterwards.
awoke the next day to a beautiful, sunny day. Several people
from the team left the hotel in search of a restaurant to
have our last meal together. Mike took care of his personal
needs in the morning while others spent time doing their own
thing. I hung around the hotel and prepared for a video interview
at 4:30 in the afternoon by the GAPC team members.
had a very sentimental last dinner at a restaurant along the
water this would be the last time the eleven of us
would be together as group. We relaxed and enjoyed each others
company while watching huge boats and tankers at the docks.
Everyone agreed that the last ten days had been an incredible
journey (or should I say challenge!).
Greece - April 28, 2001
the team awoke on a ferry at 6:00 am entering the port of
Igoumenitsa to make the difficult mountain top crossover to
the northern part of Greece. Enjoyed lunch at a roadside restaurant
around midday. After lunch traveled between Larisa to Thessaloniki.
experienced a severe allergic reaction while driving and team
had to pull over. Mikes face had swollen up and he had
difficulty breathing. The Team sat on the roadside for about
a ½ hour allowing Mike to cool down which restored
we drove into Thessaloniki (population approximately 1 million
people), the size, vibrancy and excitement of the city stunned
us. The roads were jammed with people and traffic and the
sense of light and beauty of the city at 8:30 PM assaulted
us. After locating our hotel, we enjoyed dinner at a small
enjoyed a great night sleep and we met for breakfast at 8:00
am the next morning before heading out to Turkey.
Greece - April 26, 2001
I told friends that this was a Round The World Challenge
and not a Round the World Vacation, I had no idea how prophetic
those words were about to become.
vehicle was soon crippled by two major mechanical failures.
on Tuesday morning, four members of the team left Rome to
scout out the location and time of ferries that would take
us from Italy to Greece. The remaining seven team members,
including Mike, piled into the second vehicle and two taxis
to make our way to the garage where Mike had left his vehicle
the day before for what we thought was relatively routine
our dismay, we discovered that the steering box on Mikes
vehicle was broken and had to be replaced. On a normal vehicle
in Canada this would be an uncomplicated repair but
for Mikes heavily modified vehicle, in Rome, nothing
could be further from the truth.
team members anxiously waiting, Super Repairman Roberto
worked feverishly until 10:00 p.m. to complete the repairs.
By this time, it was too late to try and catch the ferry,
so we made our way as far as Anzio where we stayed the night.
awoke to a spectacular day on Wednesday and after breakfast,
we piled into our vehicles, anxious to join our other four
team members already in Bari, Italy.
Mikes hydraulic system was lifting his wheelchair into
his Blazer, fluid suddenly began spitting out from underneath
the lift and the hydraulics quickly lost all power. Unfortunately
for us, Wednesday, April 25 is a national holiday in Italy
and all stores, including garages, were closed. As luck would
have it, we were able to track down Super Repairman
Roberto once more who in turn had a friend make a new
hydraulic hose to replace the one that split.
were not able to get underway until 7:00 p.m. and we were
now two days behind. But at least we were finally on the road!
We drove for about 5-1/2 hours until we joined up with our
four teammates who had backtracked from Bari to our location.
At least we were now a complete team.
Thursday, we awoke to a cloudy overcast day and made our way
onward to Bari (or back for some team members) to take the
overnight ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece. We landed at 5:00
a.m. to begin our journey through Greece to where I am now,
things stand out in my experiences of the last five days:
courage that one single, disabled human being can exhibit
despite tremendous personal challenges - but more on that
incredible kindness and generosity, not from just team
members, but from everyone who has learned about or come
in contact with Mike and his dream.
Italy, 25 April, 2001
so were am I now?
. Craziness. I'm stuck in da
Beast, lifted up in a platform at the American Car garage
outside of Roma
Mike is next to me Santana's Oye
Como Va on the box
had many vehicle issues since the "arrival of the cavalry',
evidently one of them is carrying a curse of sorts but we
have yet to figure out whom. I'm inside to operate the manual
overide of the lift system which has started giving us serious
trouble since this morning
gushing Dexdran 3 Transmission
fluid in front of our hotel on the Mediterranean. Roberto,
who helped us out yesterday by fixing (at least temporarily)
issues with the power steering system
day in a garage yesterday
wrong parts, issues,
grinding noises, classic moments where absolutely everything
seems to be going wrong but you end up cracking up in the
end because for a split second it feels like you truly recognize
the ironic absurdity of life, the universe and everything
Independence Day in Italy now
although the people
I ask don't seem to know from whom the independence was obtained.
"Biga daya like the fourth of July in the
USA!" something along those lines. We were supposed to
have the vehicle all set and ready to go yesterday but the
effortless power steering wasn't quite so there you go....
yet another late night with the wonders of sleep appreciated
babbling and tired at the moment, so bear with me as I drop
down details as they pop to mind. "The Cavalry"
are an interesting crew, making us a road team of eleven as
opposed to three, completely changing the dynamics, politics
and general situation. The personalities are all strong and
unique including professional experience from the business,
sports, music, film, journalism to international bumming fields.
We have them for a week or so till Istanbul
we hope to enjoy the company and help while we can
of the crew including Christine are in Brindisi without their
luggage since yesterday, hoping to scope out the situation
ahead of time before the vehicle issues arose. Here there
and everywhere, but we are definitely not bored.
I seen any of Roma? No time
.too much craziness
with the exception of St. Peter's Cathedral but
this one mindblowing. Every which way, detail,
painting, sculpture jumps out at you and screams for attention.
How many years, how much time to build this wonder
such religious dedication exist today? Down the lift, I'm
no longer captive
time to stretch in the Mediterranean
Italy - April 21, 2001
driving along at a healthy clip, I was repeatedly being passed
by Porsche, Audi, Ferrari and BMW sports cars. From Verona
we headed east to our next destination, Venice, or as the
Italians say "Venezia". Cruising in at around 7:30 p.m. we
promptly located a secure parking spot on the mainland and
hopped (wheeled) onto a water-bus on route for the famous
St. Marco Square. Despite a bit of a chill in the air, it
was a magical ride through the "city-on-water" and both Christine
and George seemed enchanted by the whole experience of the
lights, the boats and the architecture. In a small restaurant
next to the Square we enjoyed a long overdue meal of fish
soup, pasta and red wine in celebration of our safe arrival
next day we were heading south through Padova and Bologna
before taking a break at one of the many roadside service
stations. Upon finishing our lunch, these three strangers
stroll up to our table and David Hamilton proceeds to say
"we found you"! David had just flown over from Canada, had
rendezvoused with two friends from Cologne, Germany and were
driving through Europe in order to join us in convoy from
Rome to Istanbul, Turkey. We all couldn't believe our luck
that we'd both pull off at the same service station, on the
same autoroute and the same time and somehow met up! The serendipitous
meeting reinforced that we are being looked out for and that,
so far, luck has been on our side.
just got back from a little sightseeing at the Vatican and
we're all looking forward to rendezvousing with the rest of
our support team in the hotel tonight as tomorrow we depart
Rome on route for the overnight ferry that will take us from
Brindisi, southeast coast of Italy across to Igoumenitsa,
southwest coast of Greece.
visiting 10 countries over the past month we have clocked
6,536 kilometres ... just less than four months, 8 more countries
and 33,464 kilometres further to go!
route to Venice, Italy - April 21, 2001
on the way to Rome where we should be staying at a hotel just
outside of St Peter's Square...I'm excited...Saturday Night
in Rome and we're not cruising anywhere tomorrow - the mischief
angel is sitting on my shoulder..
been cruising through Europe. Zurich to Munich where we arrived
late at night, I walked the streets in the rain and grabbed
some Punjabi cuisine in a combination Italian/Indian (!?!)
restaurant. Architecture..art..vibe. 'Tis a cultural city
with so much to see and explore but the show must go on, better
luck next time. To sleep at 2:30 AM, up at 6:30. The drive
the following day met us with snow, lots, flurries all around..pop
into Austria...cruise through the Brindisi pass in the mountains.
Then northern Italy - my first time..beautiful hills with
houses along the sides, churches and cathedrals absolutely
everywhere..the snow disappears as we cruise over bridges,
streams and brooks, eventually into the lowlands where we
are greeted by the Mediteranean sun.
Venice early evening. Everyone's tired a bit burnt out. I
have to get into Venice. Full Stop. Mike asks if we really
want to go. Yes, dammit!. Accessibility is a serious issue.
Rain drizzles as I run along bridges watch the waves of the
"streets" lap up against the stone pathways. Find a potential
route with a steep angled ramp. Mike parks. We get on the
local "bus", a small ferry boat that motors through the water.
The architecture and visuals absolutely blew my mind, novelty
stimulation novelty, huge spectacular cathedrals, the Venice
casino, the main square. A fine meal later we were off to
find a location with a more convenient hotel..back to reality
but those four hours were a magical dream that will forever
be imprinted in my soul.
The dynamics of the Round the World Challenge road team are
about to change yet again. Since the UK it has been just Mike,
Christine and yours truly. Come Rome tomorrow, we will be
joined with Roger Greenberg and three of his friends..fate
would have it that we just "bumped" into them in a restaurant
outside of Bologna..you tell me. Also some of Christine and
my filming duties will be relieved as we are joined by our
director of photography, his assistant and a driver so until
Istanbul our little threesome becomes a little tensome, just
like that. Let's see how it unfolds..one step at a time.
Route to Munich, Deutchland, April 19, 2001
Route to Munich, Deutchland. Time flies..where were we last?
Mmm cruising to France via the chunnel? Don't look for accommodation
in France during Easter weekend, a lesson we learned rather
quickly, pulling off toll highways perhaps a dozen times..finally
around 3:00AM in Dijon, we find a single tiny room...Exhausted
we squeeze in a pre teen slumber party wake up mid morning
for..tsk tsk Easter Menu a nice little taste of French cuisine,
lots of smoked salmon, fine cheese and mousse before us three
beached whales roared off to La Suisse.
hooked up with one of Mike's old skiing buddies in Basel.
Back in the day Mike Abson used to be the freestyle man on
the slopes of Ottawa..a twelve year old Mike Nemesvary began
sharpening moves and picking up tips around this time. Reorganization,
repacking, logistics, and a whole lot of chillin' to a stellar
music collection, good food.etc. Mike's wife Esther invited
me to jam at the palliative care clinic she works at, a beautiful
converted mansion, let loose for a bit on the strings while
twelve people of varying ages lay in there beds preparing
for their final exit from this world..
following day Mike and Christine went off to a rehab centre,
supposedly one of the best in Europe and had an absolutely
fabulous time. Footplate issues were taken care of, lots of
press, cash donation and spectacular reception. These two
were positively glowing when we reconvened later that evening.
Even this monkay had a great day hanging out in Zurich cruising
you can imagine the cruise into the chalet was seriously sawa
sawa, sunroof of Mike's Alpha Romeo down, fat deep house pumping
through the box as the Swiss Alps shimmered in the sun. Nice
imagery no? Big social gathering followed, fifteen freestylers
from the past and future with a fine feast, watching Mike
appear on the news every hour on the hour. Picture the situation..a
room full of gold medals, ski-masters to the extreme and then
this monkey, with his African baked brain never once brandishing
a pair of downhill skies figuring out the situation. If progressive
learning can at all be aquired through osmosis, when I eventually
hit the slopes and try out snowboarding I'm gonna fly! Aiiiiiit
navigation duties a-call as we head into Munchen. Cheers!
Switzerland, April 15, 2001
we are once again, touring down the A36 cruising along to
Basel where in about three hours we'll hopefully meet up with
Mike's good friends - the Absons. It's uncertain at this time
if they'll be around since we are about two days ahead of
schedule and they aren't expecting us until the 17th.
again, the traffic is very light and is making for a less
stressful drive for Mike. But as far as finding accommodations
this holiday weekend, that would have to be one of the challenges
we had to deal with. Every hotel we stopped in at was full
and as the night wore on we became more and more determined
to find a place to crash. There was actually one place we
went where the front desk clerk offered us the lobby with
blankets and pillows because she knew we had to at that point
drive another hour and a half before getting to the next hotel.
Finally we made our way to the town of Dijon and, voilà,
a room! At that point, we didn't care about anything but having
a bed in a quiet dark room. And at 2:30 a.m., the three of
us we tucked into the smallest room I have every slept in,
with literally enough space to walk/wheel in and crawl into
our beds which were lined up side to side, no space between.
And sleep we did indeed. Mike was the first to wake to find
that it was already 11:00 a.m. so we started the morning routine
right away and in an hour and a half we were washed, dressed,
truck packed and sitting down to our Easter meal.
little piece of France that we have experienced has been very
memorable. From the delectable cream sauces of our meal, the
romantic sound of the language to the spectacular scenery.
It's now 6:00 p.m. and from the backseat of the truck I peer
out the windshield to get my first ever glimpse of the Swiss
Alps. We are about 20 km from Basel and now in Switzerland.
I am the only team member who is on a maiden voyage from France
here on in. Both Mike and George have been to the countries
en route. Mike says that everything is perfect in Switzerland
and from what I am seeing so far I can't disagree. We are
driving along side the city tram as we weave our way along
a main street here in Basel. This is a perfect place to spend
a little time and get around and explore.