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Travel with "beernut"

Email Reports - Page 2

From Greg Lemin's - 1998 World Trip

- 20 July 98 - 23 December 98

NOTE: Greg "joined" our List of ICQ "Travelin' Partners" on 27 November 97, as our 63rd "listmember" with the following "listing". Prior to leaving, he obtained an online email account from "hotmail" which would be accessible worldwide - as long as he could access the internet - and has graciously included us on his email list for reports as his travels progress.

Rick & Linda's - TRAVELIN' PARTNERS - ICQ List (Page 1) "The List"
Real Name Homepage Nickname Photo PAGE ADD Remarks Language
Greg Lemin beernut  PAGE | ADD  Am planning around the world trip on my own starting early 98. Have only been overseas once before to Austria, Germany, France, England and Ireland and loved it. Hope to get to New Zealand, USA, Canada, Europe again (especially Germany, Czech and Belgium, England and maybe Ireland) and a safari in Africa if I can manage it all. I live in Perth, Western Australia. Other interests include beer and brewing.  English, some German 

Page 1 - New Zealand, Canada, and the USA (17 Feb - 20 July 1998)

Page 2 - Europe & England (This page, 20 July - 13 November 1998)

Page 3 - Africa (This part of trip cancelled - 9 October 98)

Europe & England

Date: Mon, 20 July 1998 - Greg, Baltimore, Washington DC, New York City and ... on to Europe.....

Date: Mon, 20 July 1998 - Rick - Sorry to have not gotten to meet you - Happy Travels as you continue ...

Date: Tue, 21 July 1998 - Greg - Just so many places and so little time. Hopefully next time.

Date: Tue, 18 Aug 1998 - Rick - What's the latest from Europe ?

Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 - Greg - Re: What's the latest from Europe ?

Date: Tue, 01 Sep 1998 - Greg - A quickie

Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 - Greg - London to Belgium and Germany

Date: Fri, 09 Oct 1998 - Greg - Change of Plans (Still in Germany)

Date: Wed, 23 Dec 1998 - Greg - Home again (13 November) - The Final Chapter

Subject: From USA to Europe

Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 03:38:19 PDT

From: Greg Lemin

To: All

Hello again everyone. I have made it to Europe now after surving the USA.

In Baltimore, thanks to my friend Charlie (see previous email) I was able to ride the back of his motor bike, borrow his car, meet some of his friends, do some sightseeing, (NASA Space and Flight Centre, a Wildlife Research centre), stop off at an Australian Outback Steakhouse, visit some brewpubs and the July 4th. fireworks and celebrations. The celebrations involved music and entertainment in the parks of The Mall area and the fireworks were pretty impressive. Similar to Australia Day celebrations back home in Perth the fireworks were synchronised to music and lasted non stop for about 35 minutes. Lots and lots of people to fight your way through to get back home, so Charlie and I detoured past Brickskeller Pub (over 850 beers available) but it was disappointedly and surprisingly closed. So we headed off to Bardo brewpub instead. Next day I had to move on into Washington DC so Charlie dropped me off at a train station. Thanks for all your hospitality and help Charlie it was great.

In Washington I have a couple of friends to catch up with, Jane who I met at a hostel in Portland and Nutan who I had met on the Magic Bus in New Zealand, but hadn't heard back from either of them. Checked into the Hostel International and headed off to The Mall area where the Smitsonian Institute galleries and museums are. In Washington DC there are a lot of large museums, galleries, monuments, the White House, (all within walking distance), the Pentagon, FBI building etc. that are all free entry. You could easily spend a couple of weeks looking around. I spent the afternoon looking at about one third of the National Space Mueum before it closed. Still no word from Jane but contacted Nutan and arranged to meet up for dinner. Nutan showed me around harbour area of Arlington near her home town and shouted me dinner at the Arlington Beverage Company brewpub. We caught up on what has been happening since New Zealand, looked at photos etc. and had a great time. Nutan sys hello to our Magic Bus friends and hopes you are all doing well. Next morning I did a free guided tour of the Pentagon. Lots and lots of corridors, offices, photos, paintings and displays of the various armed forces, navy, air force, marines and army. In the afternoon I saw one of three floors of the Natural History Museum. Eventually caught up with Jane and what has been happening since Portland which was great as I thought I was going to miss seeing her. Spent the next day wandering around the quaint, older area of Georgetown and stopped at John Harvards brewpub for a quick, interesting tour and sampling of some very nice German and English beers. Checked out of hostel to meet up with Nutan for drinks with a few of her friends. Next day Nutan dropped me off to catch train to New York. Thanks Nutan for looking after me and putting me up for the night.

In New York City I checked into the Big Apple Hostel as more centrally located than the Hostel International and Paul and Stephanie who I met in Boston were also there. That's one benefit of hostelling compared to staying in hotels and such on your own, is the people you meet and mix with along the way. Makes a huge difference. New York City is a fast, busy, dirty, smelly, not too friendly city. Probaly the dirtiest city I have seen in the States. Tall buildings, cars, lots and lots of yellow taxis just like on TV and people everywhere. One of my beer contacts, Bruce and I played phone tag for the next few days trying to arrange meeting up. Another of my beer contacts, Toby and his wife Evelyn, were happy to meet me for food and drinks at the nearby Times Square brewpub. Toby is from New zealand, grew up in Australia and married Evelyn in California. After dinner Toby and I headed off to the Heartland Brewpub where the beer is better. Thanks guys, it was great. I enjoy meeting up with new locals as I travel around. Next day was spent with Paul and Stephanie (also Aussies) wandering along 5th. Avenue looking at expensive shops and the Trump Tower then up to central Park for the afternoon. The park is huge being about 50 blocks long, so it's easy to forget you are in a big city. Lots of grass and trees, people sun bathing, walking, jogging, cycling, rollerblading, rollerdancing, buskers, musicians, free concert on stage areas etc. I spent next morning downtown through Greenwich Village area and to an old fort, Castle Clinton, and where the ferries take the masses of people over to Ellis Island and Liberty island to see the Statue of Liberty. The afternoon was back at Central park for free Northern African music. Next day I caught up with Bruce who took me to his favourite pub (see www.andyscornerbar.com ?? link contained no data ??) in New Jersey for a beer or two and meet up with a couple of his mates. I also met Richard from Beers International (see www.beersinternational.com). Later we went back into New York to the DBA pub and meet some more friends. It was a fun night and again great to meet up with locals. Thanks Bruce, look forward to meeting up again at the Gret British Beer Festival in London (see www.camra.org.uk) in a couple of weeks.

Checked out of hostel following day and headed off to JFK airport in the afternoon to fly to Amsterdam. Plane was running a few hours late but we eventually got there. Then had to wait for gate to be vacant to park the plane. Baggage unloading problems caused a further delay, but otherwise flight went well. Two meals, a few drinks and a movie filled in the 6 hour flight and with 6 hour time difference no sleep on the plane that night. At the airport while waiting for baggage met up with Rene, a local who helped me work out the train ticketing system and getting into the centre of town to find hostel.

Welcome to a European summer - guess what - it's raining again.

Amsterdam is literally full of tourists. Everywhere there are backpackers and various foreign accents. Lots of dope smoking going on in the streets, coffee shops, bars and cafes etc. Could probably get high just walking around and breathing. Supposedly just about anything you want is available. Amsterdam is also big on sex with shops etc. all over but mainly in the red light area. The locals working in the hostels and shops etc. also seem to be rather impersonal. Not unfriendly, but not willing to do or offer more than asked for, rather blunt in their responses. Maybe due to the very large turnover of people passing through that seem to be treated as just another of the sheep. It doesn't get dark until well after 10 pm either. One of my contacts in The Netherlands, Mark, I have not heard from for quite a while (nor some of my Belgian contacts) so will probaly not be able to meet up with him and Rian, who I met on the Magic Bus in New Zealand (yes, another one) I also haven't heard from, but I left a phone message for him to let him know I was here. Spent some time waiting for rain to stop then wandered around town for a while. So many people, and things are expensive. 35 guilders for the hostel room, but it includes breakfast. No kitchen however to make your own meals, and take away is very expensive in Europe. Looks like a lot of hostels don't have kitchens in Europe so making cheap meals could be a problem. That night Rian rang me so I arranged to travel down and meet him the next day. As I pass through Amsterdam 3 more times before I leave Europe for African safari I can see more of it later.

Caught the train and a bus then walked about 1.25 hours (some rain and wind) to get to where Rian lives as it's out in the countryside. He is renting a house that's part of a farm property. It's very green, cow and pig country (smells like it too) and crops of corn, potatoes etc. so its very open and quiet around here. Much, much better than in the city area. Rian took me out to dinner to a local town. As the small towns are fairly close together in Europe is doesn't take long to travel from place to place. We stopped off at a small carnival on the way home. As it is summer holiday time starting here there are a number of carnivals around the place. The next day Rian and I went out to the small airport where he does his skydiving. Weather was not looking too good so he was worried he might not get to jump today. It turned out he could, but from only 6,00 feet instead of 12,000. He's such a daredevil - this is only his 97th. jump. He will pass 100 next weekend on a trip to Belgium. That night we went to another nearby town to check out a larger carnival. We went on a ride that spins around and throws you around with negative and zero g forces. I felt a little queazy after it. Then we spotted an even more twisty, turny ride. I passed, but the daredevil couldn't refuse. After the ride and look around we joined the mobs to squeeze through for a few (not very good) beers. On the way out I had to sample a local snack of raw fish and onions. Not too bad, but strange texture. At home caught up on photos, videos of Rians bungy jump, parachuting etc. Had a few beers and chatted to mid morning. Needless to say a late start the next day. Rian took me out to see my first windmill. Yes, it's very, very flat around here. Lots and lots of canals and dykes. Countless numbers of cyclists of all ages and sizes. It really seems to be the way to travel around here. Maybe I should look into it for getting around once in the various cities and towns I visit. Then we went to visit where Rian currently works in another town at a company making bells. From small to very large, several tonnes. They even made the American Liberty Bell here. On the way home we stopped near the Bavaria Brewery for a drink as it's getting warmer now (well, any excuse will do). A quiet night at home with take away food and a video as Rian has to work tomorrow.

Now I need to plan getting around Europe and where/when I'll be. The next 10 days I plan to travel around Belgium, Luxemburg and back to Amsterdam. Then off to London (via Paris) for the Great British Beer festival and a reunion with friends from the Magic Bus (more of them!!), then back to Europe to travel through Amsterdam (again), Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany (again), Switzerland, Paris (again), Belgium (again) and Amsterdam (yet again) before heading off to Africa. I hope to be able to catch up with as many of my contacts as possible as I travel through your area. I'll be in touch as I get closer.

In the meantime everyone take care and have fun.

Cheers, Greg....Where ever you go, there you are.

Blind copies to all to maintain privacy. Let me know if you don't want to get regular updates. Special thanks to those who are passing on my messages to others.

Here is a link to a web page of my trip reports kindly compiled and provided by Rick and Lins travellers ICQ pages. https://members.tripod.com/~RickinBham/RLicqList.htm#beernut

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Subject: Re: From USA to Europe

Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 11:43:44 -0500

From: Rick Langdon

To: Greg Lemin

Greg Lemin wrote:

> Hello again everyone. I have made it to Europe now after surving the USA.


It has been great hearing about your travels and "exploits". Had really hoped that you might have made it down to Birmingham - but after reading this last note - we certainly understand that you've been busy since the 4th and your flight out to Amsterdam on the 15th.

It sounds like you are having just a fabulous trip!!! Can't quite imagine how you're managing ... but think it's GREAT that you are.

Sounds too, like you have a good plans in place for Europe. From our trip over there last year - I just have one suggestion - DO NOT miss out on a day or two in Brugge (see our trip diary page or Photo Page) about 1 1/2 hours West of Brussels by train, and you might also want to try to make contact with our friend Paul De Meyer (see his listing for ICQ contact) who lives just south of Brugge - I'm sure that he'd be happy to join you for a sampling of some of that fine Belgian Brew :-).

(The published version of this will contain a few "hot links".)

We Look forward to receiving, and publishing, your continuing "trip reports" as you travel thru Europe and on to Africa. Going to start some new pages for these reports....

Happy Travels,

Rick & Linda

P.S. You might want to change your "signature file" link to your trip reports directly to "your" page (it's back-linked to our ICQ list) but would be faster loading as it isn't "quite" as large a file.


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Subject: Re. Re. From USA to Europe

Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 04:39:57 PDT

From: Greg Lemin

To: Rick Langdon

G'day Rick and Lin,

Yes, it's a pity things didn't quite work out. Just so many places and so little time. Hopefully next time. You bet it's fun. I'm surviving, so far. But Europe could be too expensive. I'll have to wait and see.

Brugge and Brussels are definitely on the itinerary. I am taking the Eurobus (www.eurobus.uk.com) Northern Loop after London, which stops there. So for now I'll skip them although they are so close. Off to Antwerp tonight..

He's (our friend in Brugge - Paul) on my contact list but I haven't heard from him at all. ((fwd'd this reply to Paul))

Thanks guys. Stay tuned for more updates.


Done. (revised closing link)

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Subject: What's the latest from Europe ?

Date: Tue, 18 Aug 1998 10:59:12 -0500

From: Rick Langdon

To: Greg Lemin

Hello Greg,

Long time - no hear. We're experiencing "trip report" withdrawal pains :-) .... know that you've most likely been busy busy busy. Hope that you haven't tried to sample all the different types of beers available over there. Heck - they say that there are more than 800 different brews in Belgium alone!!

Hope that the British Beer festival went well .. and we're really looking forward to your next trip update.


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Subject: Re: What's the latest from Europe ?

Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 06:27:31 PDT

From: Greg Lemin

To: Rick Langdon

G'day Rick and Lin, I haven't been able to get free internet access while in London so no reports just yet. The Great British beer Festival was just that, great. But lots of long hours. I leave London on Thursday for Belgium again to try some more of their few beers. Hopefully I can get out another report soon.

Cheers, Greg.

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Subject: A quickie

Date: Tue, 01 Sep 1998 00:43:22 PDT

From: Greg Lemin

To: Rick Langdon

Just a quick note to let you all know I am still on the go ( I have not had any free access for a while to put out an update). I am in Belgium again and off to Brussells today, then Germany in a few days. All is going well but have used up all my own money now and am using credit card ( which I had hoped to avoid) so money is even tighter now.

Must go as costing money, cheers, Greg.

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Subject: London to Belgium and Germany

Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 13:43:51 PDT

From: Greg Lemin

To: All

G'day gang. I finally have access to a computer and internet again so time for an update of what I have been up to. I have had a few comments on the lengths of my messages, :-b so I'll try and condense things a bit. But so much has happened it won´t be easy. Also if replying to me please delete my own message from your response as my hotmail account is running out of space. Ta :-)

Where was I last?? I'm not really sure but I think my last update was from Steves place in London after being to Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Let me know if not right, otherwise a chapter has been lost.

Firstly thanks to Steve (who I also met on Magic Bus in New Zealand) and gang in Romford, Essex for putting me up, looking after me and showing me salsa dancing. (Definitely needs lessons).

I finally caught up with CAMRA, the organisers of the Great British Beer Festival and arranged helping out and my accomodation in a college dorm near Albert Hall. Refer to CAMRA homepage www.camra.org.uk for info and details. The festival was just great, but lots and lots of very long hours, tiring and very hard on my feet. I helped with setting up of hand pumps under guidance from Digby and brother Martin, worked on a bar a few times pulling beers (even one for Michael Jackson and some of his mates), in the foyer and as a steward. The foyer was the most fun as I was handing out programmes for free which made everyone happy. Then there were several days of packing it all up again. I was pretty run down when all done. Other people worked much longer and harder than I did (nothing new) and all on a voluntary basis. Met lots of new people at the festival as well as Bruce and his wife who I had met recently while in New York. (Did not catch up with Ken who used to brew at the Sail and Anchor in Fremantle and now works in a Firkin brewpub in Dundee, Scotland). Lots and lots of interesting real ales for me to try out, though too many at times. Due to the long hours and distances involved I was not able to spend as much time as I had hoped for the reunion of some people I had met while on the Magic Bus in New Zealand. A pity as we were all looking forward to it, I think, and they had come from USA, (Nutan), Holland (Rian) and Sweden (Thomas) as well as England (Patsy and Annelise). Sorry gang. Had also hoped to meet up with a number of others I had met in New Zealand and Canada but unfortunately didn't work out due to times and distances.

After the festival I was able to catch up with Warner, who had worked at the same company back home in Perth. I stayed at the house he was sharing with friends in Essex - a long way from London. It was a good chance to wind down and relax. Thanks Warner, Lindsey, Gary, Paul and Animal (the pup). Essex has quite a number of very attractive women though. As I was a long way from London I did not travel back in from Essex for sightseeing. So later I was able to stay at Marks place (who I had met at the beer festival) off Old Kent Road. From here I was able to do a pub crawl around Oxford, (one pub was over 750 years old), visit The London Bridge, The Tower of London (1066 and all that, Crown Jewels, Beefeaters) and The London Dungeon (torture, death, Jack the Ripper and stuff) in between bouts of rain and some sun, fish and chips, Indian curry, pizza, some English ales and yummy Belgian ales. All sounds rather British. Thanks Mark and Eliza (have fun in Borneo) for squeezing me in. London works out to be very expensive for Aussies due to the high currency exchange rate, but lots and lots of Aussies live and work there.

Then it was back on the Eurobus (see their page at www.eurobus.uk.com) and off to Paris again. Unfortunately it seems like a lot of hostels in Europe do not have kitchens for hostellers to use. This makes eating a lot more expensive. A one night stop over (as very expensive) and on to Brugge in Belgium (again) on the Eurobus.

Belgium = Beer heaven (and chocolates and waffles and frits and mussels and lace). Brugge is a very, very pretty and old town. No need to say Europe is so different to back home where nothing is much more than 200 years old. Naturally more rain so camping was out of the question - again. Hope I get to reuse it sometime. Only 2 breweries left in Brugge these days (was over 50 and more than 450 registered homebrewers - the only safe drink as water was not very good) and did tour of the Straffe Hendrik Brewery on the first day. Later headed off to Brugge 't Beertje where they have over 300 beers available. If only I had the time and money to try them all. Could only manage about 1%. The bar prices are similar to the bottle shop prices back home but the supermarket prices are only one third, so not expensive to drink excellent beers. Yum, yum, burp. Went on a guided "Quasimodo Triple Treat" tour around the area which included some history from Roman times and during the world wars, castles, medieval ruins, canals, windmills, churches, waffles, chocolates and tour of the other brewery, De Gouden Boom (makes Brugges beer range). Was an excellent, fun and informative day. Was also able to catch up with another internet contact, Paul, who lives in Zedelgem, a town not far away. We went for a few beers at his local pub and also tried some Jenever (distilled from wheat I think) so don't remember much of what happened and hopefully didn't embarass Paul, but thanks for meeting up, looking after me and the day out. I'll say it again that it's the people that make the difference if you can meet up with a local.

Then Eurobussed off to Brussels. Bigger and not as pretty as Brugges and a bit more expensive. After wandering around looking at some of the buildings in town square, Mannekin Pis statue, church, royal palace etc. I was able to contact Dirk (brother of Herman a friend in Perth). Arranged to meet at cafe Mort Subite for a classic Belgian beer. Dirk lives in Temse, a fair way from Brussels, but came in to meet me anyway and to arrange picking me up for some sightseeing around Brussels and his home town tomorrow. That was a great day, some local sights, getting out of the city area again, meeting his mum and daughter, a classic Belgian dish of Mussels and Frits (superb) for lunch, some beers and Jeanneken Pis (a female version of Mannekin Pis) statue. Thanks Dirk and family, I really enjoyed it. Next day I was out of city again on a train to a nearby town to meet Guy, another internet contact. Spent the day checking out churches and other buildings around his home town of Mechelen, his house at Hombeek, dodging lots of rain, some Belgian frits and fried food, some beers, his mum and vegie garden and admiring his renovations of his house. He dropped me back at hostel as well. Thanks muchly Guy. Hope your travels to Indonesia soon go well and perhaps catch you in Australia next year. Called in at Cantillon Brewery, which is family run and makes Lambic (spontaneously fermented) beers the traditional way, to do the self guide tour. Was great to see the equipment they use and the dust and cobwebs etc. As they brew only from October to April not much was happening, but they have an open brewing day in November. The two beer samples were excellent, but you have to like the tartiness.

Then Eurobussed through Amsterdam (my third pass) and overnight to Berlin. Very difficult to sleep on the bus for me. Left my baggage at the hostel and went into town to check some rail options and times to possibly meet up with contacts around Germany. Then joined in a guided walking tour of Berlin. Was great at only 10 DM, very interesting and informative, lasted about 4 hours, lots of history (not just the wars), buildings, zoo, gardens and parks, towers, churches, museums (all from the outside only), section of Berlin Wall (almost all gone), lots and lots and lots of construction and renovation work etc. Later contacted Henry in Köln, (also met in New Zealand) and arranged to travel by overnight train for a visit. I'll be back in Berlin later to reunite with Eurobus and continue on to Czech Republic after Eurailing around Germany a while catching up with friends. Also an overnight train saves paying for a hostel, but the night train requires a supplement. 45 DM for a sleeper or 15 DM for a seat. I opted for the seat so again a very unsettled night travelling to Köln. Before leaving Berlin I had to try a Berliner Weiss beer, a very sour beer often sweeetened with a red or green syrup. Eventually found a pub with one on its menu. It was bottled and served up in a normal glass instead of its traditional bowl shaped and sized glass - disappointing. I asked for no syrup to see how sour it is. Pretty sour, but not too bad after trying tart Lambics.

In Köln (must try their Kölsch beer while I'm here) Henry picked me up at station and took me home. I met Henry in Auckland New Zealand before I started on the Magic Bus. Henry hired a car and I'd hope to catch up at some point and travel together a while. Unfortunately didn't work out. Henry also has some friends in London and was over there at end of August about same time as me. Again, we did not meet up. Now, finally we meet and can catch up on what has been happening. It's great and I've been looking forward to meeting up ever since Auckland. Henry is working night shift (a nurse in a hospital) this week so haven't been able to spend a lot of time together as needing to sleep during the day. But we did get out of town for a nice relaxing walk near the Rhein river without getting too much rain (again) on us. Later while Henry slept, I went out to walk through parks and Botanical Gardens, this was great and helped balance out the city walk of Berlin. Today I went for a walk (dodging lots of rain) around the old town area of Köln, cathedral, roman and medieval buildings, towers and ruins, Römanisch and Germanische Musuem closed today so hopefully see tomorrow, Rhein river, malls and lots of people etc. It was actually sunny and quite warm when I got back home - for only a couple of hours though. Caught up with Henry for a while as off to work again tonight but off in a couple of days so plan some hiking and catching up which I look forward to. Yes, I quite like Henry but don't panic everyone - Henry is Henriette and female.

Well that brings everyone up to date for now. Plan to catch up with more friends in Willich (near Bochum) on the weekend, then off to Wiesbaden and Mainz (both near Frankfurt) and Tübingen (near Stuttgart) and Erlangen (near Nürnberg) before heading back to Berlin if all goes to (a sort of) plan. If only there was more time.... Then it's Czech Republic for a while (more excellent beers) and Austria before Munich Octoberfest.

Take care all and have fun

Cheers, Greg....Where ever you go, there you are.

Blind copies to all to maintain privacy. Let me know if you don't want to get regular updates. Special thanks to those who are passing on my messages to others.

Here is a link to a web page of my trip reports kindly compiled and provided by Rick and Lins travellers ICQ pages. https://members.tripod.com/~RickinBham/4beernut.htm

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Subject: Change of plans

Date: Fri, 09 Oct 1998 05:54:50 PDT

From: Greg Lemin

To: Rick Langdon

Hi everyone, just a quick note to let you know what's happening as I'm paying for this access time. Not sure when next long update will be, possibly after I get back home.

I'm still in Germany instead of heading to Africa in a couple of days for my safari tour. As it's such a late change I can not postpone and will need to cancel and lose all the money. Still it's my choice.

Instead, I am spending time with Isabelle (a German friend of Martin and Andrea I met travelling in New Zealand) to see what happens. It's a big step and we are both scared and unsure of what may or may not happened, but I'm willing to take the risk, though I may be wanting more than Isabelle does. It's also difficult to communicate properly with the language etc differences.

In any case I will need to be back home in November due to finances etc. and work out what happens later.

In the meantime after Köln, I have been further around Germany catching up with friends (makes all the difference), the Czech Republic, cheap, great beers, but very difficult to communicate (also a visa problem), Vienna, Salzburg, camping, Berchtesgaden, Ice Caves, Kirchdorf, Munich (again well loked after by friends), Oktoberfest (so big) and now back near Stuttgart for a while.....

Pity about Africa, but it will still be there later. In the meantime, confused, excited, scared and other mixed emotions but mainly happy...

I intend to keep everyone up to date on my travels etc. and maybe while I'm still in Europe have another chance to catch some of the people I have missed or see some others again.

Cheers for now, Greg.

Cheers, Greg....Where ever you go, there you are.

Blind copies to all to maintain privacy. Let me know if you don't want to get regular updates. Special thanks to those who are passing on my messages to others.

Here is a link to a web page of my trip reports kindly compiled and provided by Rick and Lins travellers ICQ pages. https://members.tripod.com/~RickinBham/4beernut.htm

Still 20% for now...

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Subject: Home Again - the Final Chapter

Date: Wed, 23 Dec 1998 14:42:27 +0800

From: Greg Lemin

To: Rick Langdon

Hi everyone. Well finally I get to sit down and update you on the last sector of my trip.

I flew home on Friday 13th. of November. Just as well I'm not superstitious. A total of about 36 hours to fly from Stuttgart to Amsterdam, wait a few hours, then to Johannesburg, another ten hour wait then home to Perth. Was I tired when I got home??!! It took a while to get my computer back from a friend and then quite a long time to sort out a (hardware) problem with my internet connection. I have been busy registering for unemployment benefits, looking for a job, catching up on a mountain of mail and email, sorting out finances and taxes (still going on), catching up with people etc. etc. etc. There's not enough time to get it all done and it's taking me much longer to settle back in again than I expected.

Well on with the saga. For those of you not familiar or up to date with my reports there is a link at the bottom where you can find the history, or I can send direct to you. Or if anyone wants to know something in particular about the places I visited, the hostels, prices, what things are like etc. Just ask directly and I'll help where I can. I am using my home email account (beernut@ois.net.au) now rather than my hotmail account as it is much easier and faster.

I'll try to keep this a bit short, as people have commented on the length of some of my messages, but so much has happened since my last report I really don't think I'll be able to, but let's see how I go.

After having Henry look after me in Köln (Cologne) I headed off to Willich (near Düsseldorf) to visit old friends. Millo and Manfred looked after me for a few days and showed me around. Naturally there was lots and lots of heavy rain while I was there. I even left my raincoat behind when I left, but I'm sure it will get put to good use. Lots of yummy traditional German food and drink including trying Alt bier, the particular beer style for that area. I liked this more than the Kölsch beer from Köln as it was a bit darker with a spicy, hoppy initial taste but with a sweetish after taste. Millo and Manfred also introduced me to a local non alcoholic drink called "Stress". A very, very hot and spicy, gulp it down in one mouthful, makes your eyes water and your tongue hang out kind of drink - but I survived. Other activities included a trip up the TV tower in Düsseldorf which has a revolving restaurant and observation deck, a great brunch meal in a restaurant, a horse racing meeting, ballroom dancing, along with more beers and food. And rain of course! Millo, Manfred and daughter Valerie looked after me very well while I was there and proved once again it's the people I meet that make the difference and give me the best memories.

From Willich I made a quick visit to Ursula in Mainz, near Frankfurt. I met and travelled around Vancouver Island with Ursula and a couple of guys while I was there and popped in to see her and her family on the way through. Unfortunately as I was running out of time I was not able to stay as we had hoped. Still it was great to catch up with her and see how things were going. Maybe if she comes to Perth for a visit next year like she hopes I can show her around.

From Mainz it was back on the train again to Tübingen to meet up with Martin and Andrea, who I had met while we were travelling on the Magic Bus around New Zealand. The German rail system is great. They run on time, the connections work, the computer printed ticket info has all the details to figure which train to catch where etc. They really do have it all worked out. And some of the trains are better than travelling on an aeroplane for comfort and facilities. The German Rail Pass that I had previously bought really paid for itself this time (even though I didn't get to use all my travel days in the end). The distances and costs are bigger than in the Belgium/Netherland/Luxemburg area so was much more cost effective. Martin and Andrea picked me up from the station and gave me the grand tour around Tübingen. A very pretty (University) town and area along the Neckar River. In the four days I stayed there we visited castles, brewpubs, restaurants, tried some traditional Schwabish food (different, interesting and yummy), churches, watched slides of their holiday in New Zealand, toured the countryside and surrounding towns (many ending with "ingen" in their name). Martins cousin Isabelle also joined us a couple of times but she hardly spoke any English as she did not feel confident to speak it, although she understands it well, so she just "mmm", "mmed" a lot. Still I thought she was very pretty and was attracted to her straight away. Except for the second last day it was mainly cold wet and windy (surprise, surprise) while I was there. I had a really great, fun time in and around Tübingen thanks to Martin, Andrea, Isabelle, family and friends.

Next stop was Plzen (Pilsen) in the Czech Republic. I took 3 trains from Tübingen to get across the border rather than heading back up to Berlin to get back onto the Eurobus. While still in Germany some police boarded the train and inspected everyones passport. As I no longer look like my photo from 6 years ago I was asked if I had any other identification. In the end I had to reproduce my signature which he was happy with. With all my border crossings though, I never had any doubts with customs and immigrations for the whole trip. Upon arriving in Pilsen I had to find the hostel. This was not so easy, as in Pilsen it seems that not many people speak English, (mainly German and Czech), but the people I spoke to didn't even speak German. Eventually I found a street map at the train station which showed me where the city square was which my Lets Go Europe travel book told me the Tourist Info centre is. I got there just in time before closing and the young girl there spoke enough English to help me find where the Youth Hostel was. Luckily I had the Hostel International book as she wasn't aware they had one. It was a bit difficult to find as it's part of the student accommodation buildings and not well signposted. The women at the desk spoke absolutely no English or German so booking in for 3 days was done by sign language. In the end it was all OK as it got easier as each day passed and they started to recognise me, but it was confusing for all. But I ended up in a small 4 bed dorm all to myself. The Czech Republic is very cheap, even in the touristy areas. Many of the women there are very, very attractive. they have a certain look about them which I can't describe, but dress very well, often in mini skirts and they have great legs. Many are blonde, although many of these are bottled. They score very highly on my rating system. While in Pilsen I just had to visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery. This is where the original Pils beer comes from. This is a very well organised (and very popular) brewery tour and I highly recommend it, where you even get to go under the brewery into the tunnels where the original huge wooden barrels were stored. The brewery is modernised now and only does a very small batch using the traditional methods and equipment to check the new method still tastes the same as the old method. Also there are many tunnels under the old part of the town and you can go on a guided tour (English printed translation to take with you) which is also quite interesting. There is also a Beer Museum with guided tours but the English printed information is very brief so you miss out on a lot.

Next stop was Praha (Prague). I had wanted to go further south from Pilsen to Ceske Budjovice (to see the Budvar, Budweiser brewery) but was running out of time. Prague is much more touristy than Pilsen, more expensive - but still quite cheap - and they speak a lot of English here. I had planned to get back onto the Eurobus when leaving Prague so tried to check into the hostel that the bus stops at. No luck, everything was full. A few phone calls around town and the rest of the cheap places were full. A trip into the town centre with a few others that had got off the Eurobus by now to the Tourist Info centre and we could still not find cheap, hostel priced accommodation. So along with some of the others I headed off to a Caravan and Camping ground. This ended up being a bit more expensive than in the hostel for one person, but fortunately the rain held off for the 3 days I was there. Prague is also a very pretty city, but absolutely packed with tourists. Pilsen on the other hand was very quiet. But at least this time I had people I could mix and talk with in the camping park compared to being on my own in the hostel in Pilsen. This makes it much more interesting and fun. The square in the old town centre is absolutely full with tourists but still worth seeing the old town, astronomical clock, old bridge etc. The so called castle and church overlooks the old town from across the river and are also worth visiting. I particularly wanted to visit the U Fleku brewery, (they brew only one type of beer here). Here in Perth we have a German style brewery set up next to an English style pub. It is now run by a Czech guy who used to work at U Fleku, so he gave me the name of a couple of guys he used to work with. One of them still works there and I had a personal tour and was looked after very well. The brewery has tours anyway, by arrangement. I also learned about a couple of other brewpubs close by so went and checked them out as well. The Navomestsky (2,000 litre kettle size) and the Pivovarsky which is tiny (only 500 litre kettle size) where my tour was done by one of the waiters translating to me in German what the brewer said in Czech. I understood enough to get by. Later that night I joined in an organised, advertised Guided Pub Walk. While interesting and great to meet up with new people, it was enjoyable but I don't think value for money.

Leaving Prague I joined back up with the gang on the Eurobus. Before boarding the guide asked us all if we had our visas stamped and still had our white piece of paper to hand in. As I had come in on my own by train from Germany I had my visa stamped coming into the country by customs officers when they boarded the train. I still had to have it stamped when leaving and hand the paper in. Later on the bus the guide asked again if everyone had their visa stamped. At the Czech border (going into Austria) the customs officer got on the bus and checked everyones passports and visas. But after checking mine he kept it rather than giving it back. I thought he was also going to question my photo. However it was because I didn't have my visa stamped. Apparently if you stay 3 nights or more in Czech Republic then you have to have your visa stamped by the place where you stayed. ie the hostel, hotel etc. This was the first I had heard of this. It was not in my travel guide book, the Czech consulate did not tell me when I got the visa originally, the hostel staff did not tell me, the caravan park staff did not tell me and of course on the train it was not mentioned. Had I entered on the Eurobus the guide may have explained it to me. In the end I had to pay a 500 Korunas fine (about $30 Aus). Something to be aware of. The bus guide and driver were not too happy either, but there was another couple as well as me. On the other hand the following passport check going into Austria the officer got on the bus and hardly glanced at each of our passports.

Due to lots of road works and banked up traffic we arrived at the hostel in Vienna quite late, just as office was closing, but we were quickly allocated beds. In Vienna I had hoped to catch up with one of my internet beer contacts, Conrad, but he was unfortunately out of town for a few days. I had also hoped to catch up again with Don from Seattle, USA, who was also over and travelling around Pilsen, Vienna and later Munich for Octoberfest, but couldn't quite catch up to him and his wife. As I have been to Vienna before in 1992 I planned to not see many tourist sites again and to stay only a few nights. Vienna is a very nice place. As it is the first European city I ever saw it will always have strong memories for me. There is a lot to see and do in and around the old town area. Stephansdom church, the dancing horses, Schönbrunn palace, Hundertwasser buildings, etc. I was going to go into one of the operas (Figaro) by queuing up with some others from the hostel to get the very cheap, last minute, standing tickets but changed my mind in the end. Went for food and beers with a couple of others instead. Those that saw the play said it was thoroughly enjoyable. I think the buildings etc. were much cleaner this time than when I was there in '92. They seem to have spent a lot of time and money in renovations, restoration and cleaning.

Salzburg was the next stop on the Eurobus. I decided to use my tent again for the third (and final) time so set up camp with an Aussie couple and a Kiwi couple from the bus. Guess what?! It poured with rain and in the end was not cheaper for one person than for the hostel as a bus trip into town made it about the same price as a nice, warm, dry, comfortable hostel in town. The castle in Salzburg, there are so many castles and churches to see in Europe (so different to Australia), was disappointing. You pay an entry fee, (but not expensive) to get in and can only walk around the central grounds and the outsides of the buildings inside. You have to pay another fee to get inside the buildings, museum or guided tour. But the view over the town is quite good. Unfortunately the Stiegl brewery tour was not on for the two days that I stayed there, so I missed out. With Dean and Jade, also from Australia, we hired a car to take a trip out to the famous "ice caves" at Werfen. This is a huge cave way up in the mountains where the stalactites and stalagmites etc. are made from ice rather than stone like. It is freezing in there and the formations are spectacular. Going up the very steep cable car to get to the top would have been a great view except for being surrounded by rain clouds. The guided tour is in German only (but someone on the trip translated a few bits and pieces for us). Only 700 steps to go up on the inside of the cave (best sights are in the middle after about a half hour) and then another 700 steps down and out again. We then used the hire car to travel around the area to Hallstadt and Bad Ischl to enjoy the scenery but getting too dark. We had the hire car for 24 hours so had time to get out and see Berchtesgaden the next morning, but again spoiled by a lot of clouds.

Then an overnight stop with the Eurobus at the small town of Kirchdorf, Austria, and off to Munich (Octoberfest here I come) the next morning. Getting accommodation in Munich during Octoberfest is very difficult and very expensive. Fortunately I was able to stay with friends again. Jörg was able to put me up in his small apartment in the suburbs. He and his girlfriend Sabine were able to show me around, take me to see the Octoberfest one night (its is absolutely huge and overcrowded and also wet again), the pub called "House of 111 Beers", (although they were not all available while we were there - they have a policy that if you can drink all the beers in one session you can have your money back - I think the best so far was only about 17 or less), more traditional meals and beers, Neuschwanstein Castle (more rain again - I much preferred the tour of Schloss Linderhof we did in our '92 trip), some countryside, a wander around the city and the Hofbräuhaus, Andechs Kloster Bräuerei (wrong day for the tour though), watching volley ball, slides from their holiday to canary Islands etc. On Saturday morning Martin, Andrea and Isabelle came down from Tübingen to join us in going to Octoberfest as they also had not been before. It took ages and ages to finally get a seat and table (no service if not seated) outside one of the beer tents and a chance to savour a few one litre steins of beer. (Cost between 11.20 to 11.50 Deutsche Marks). This is when Isabelle and I started to get friendly and talk to each other (she was past the mmm mm stage now). There was some sort of magic between us right from the start when we had met a couple of weeks earlier. That night we all headed off to a disco/dance area, but when Isabelle, Martin and Andrea left I quickly decided I wanted to see her some more before I had to head off to Africa for my safari so arranged to come up for a visit the next day. This also meant missing Zurich, Paris, Bruges, Brussels and Amsterdam again, trying to reschedule the safari, how to get to Amsterdam to catch my flight if I still do the safari and if not how to still get home in time as originally planned and budgeted. A big gamble but I'm very glad I did it.

The next day, three trains (one of them an express, very fast, ICE trains, very comfortable) and 2.5 hours later I was in Reutlingen where Isabelle met me at the station. She is sharing a very nice, large, comfortable house with her sister Annette and (another) Sabine and a guy Uwe. All great people and happy to have me stay with them a while and see how things work out. Thanks to them all for welcoming me into their home and looking after me so well and becoming good friends. No details but many times things between Isabelle and I were great and at other times not so good. Isabelles moods changed very quickly and it was difficult for her to have me "always" there. I was not able to postpone my safari so I had to cancel and lose the money. However I was able to do and see more things in Germany and another chance to catch up with some people that I had already missed seeing and meet other new people. Isabelle and I also went to the Austrian Alps for a weekend trip (not the best weather). I also got to see places such as Freiburg, Schloss Liechtenstein, Bärenhöhlen (Bears Cave), Stuttgart beer festival (I liked this more than Munich Octoberfest, almost as big but less people, more friendly and nicer), Erlangen, Bamberg (home of smoke beer), thanks to Celine, Winifred and to Alfred for looking after me and showing me around, swimming pool/spa/waterslide (me in the water again?), Irish Pub (they're everywhere aren't they!?), local German pubs and food, parties, great country side, forests and mountains, hot chestnuts, Rothenburg and other places and people. It was great meeting lots of new people and visiting new places but I couldn't stay forever. I rearranged my flight home and Isabelle dropped me at the airport in Stuttgart. It was sad and difficult to say goodbye to her. Especially as the last few days she had been moody and things were not the best between us or as much fun as I hoped they would be, however they had improved by the time I had to leave. This brings me up to where this chapter begins. Since getting home Isabelle and I have contacted each other many times by mail, email and phone (though she finds this the hardest due to not being confident with her English speaking even though it is fine) and miss each other very much. She has already booked a flight to visit in mid March for 3 weeks and I can hardly wait for her to get here. As to what happens in the future and how we will feel after being apart and then when we are together again we will have to wait and see. I know I would like us to end up being together in the end but difficult when we live in different countries. The test of time will tell.

Sorry I've cut out lots of bits and pieces, but if anyone wants to know more or something in particular, just ask.

Since getting home I have not been too happy (but not really unhappy) and its taking a long time to settle down. Getting a job and back into a regular routine may help. In the meantime I will look into emigration and immigration requirements to see what is involved.

But Christmas is upon us so I wish all my friends, old and new and those I did not get to meet and enjoyable time and hope '99 is a fun year for you.

Here endeth my travel adventures (for now)......

PS Late breaking news, I might have an opportunity to work in a new microbrewery opening up over here. Maybe a dream come true.......


It's unpleasantly like being drunk. What's so unpleasant about being drunk? Ask a glass of water. (From the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy).

Greg Lemin beernut@ois.net.au

Perth, Western Australia

ICQ number 1382066

Also on Freetel internet phone system

Here is a link to a web page of my round the world trip reports kindly compiled and provided by Rick and Lins travellers ICQ pages.



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