Thursday, July 26, 2007

New York 26 July 2007

We are now in upstate New York awaiting the Bambino which is at present
somewhere on its way across the Atlantic Ocean.

On Monday last week we drove out of Paris and headed east into the French
Champagne country. There at the village of Cumieres we met up with Tolly
and Jasmine Neil , who come from Brisbane, and at present are relocating
an 80ft barge from the Netherlands, for the owner, an Australian friend of

The 105 year old barge has been extensively renovated and is very roomy
and comfortable. For years Lang and I have talked about buying a barge and
spending time in France on the canals, so our two days aboard were
something of a recce, and I must admit it's the type of boat and boating I
could get very used to - unlike sailing!

We were lucky enough to have beautiful sunny weather during the period on
board. Each day we did legs of only about 15 km, and had the thrill of
passing through six locks, on the canal beside the River Marne. Lang
followed along in the Fiat, stocking up on food and wine at the little
villages, then meeting us to hand it across to the boat while we rose
slowly in the filling lock. Unfortunately duty called and we then had to
part company in the very pretty town of Chalons en Champagne.

Again in the Bambino, we headed for Zeebrugge, Belgium where the car was
delivered to the dock, for shipping across the Atlantic. During this trip
we had our first flat tyre of the whole journey. The speedo has just
clicked over 15,000 km from Vladivostok so we thought it had been a pretty
good run of luck. We had to strip everything out, clean the car totally,
give away our camping equipment and then struggle onto the train to
Brussels with all our bags of gear.

We spent one night in this vibrant city, among the hordes of tourists,
enjoying the beautiful ancient buildings and the wonderful food for which
Belgium is famous.

While in Brussels, Lang managed to source some reasonable airfares, and we
booked to fly out of Brussels to Boston. For some reason it was cheaper to
fly to Boston changing planes in New York than a direct flight to NY.

This was not without a few glitches. Firstly arriving at the airport we
were told we could not enter the USA without proof that we would leave
in 90 days. After trying to argue our case we had no alternative but to
buy some on-going tickets, fortunately we were able to purchase some
refundable tickets

Next, our flight was late and it took hours to clear customs in New York
so we, along with many irate travelers missed connecting flights (not
because of security but because US Customs saw fit to only have two
officers dealing with ever increasing lines of hundreds of people as more
747's arrived). This actually suited us fine and we just tore up our
Boston tickets and walked out of the airport, with all our gear.

We will spend the time until the car arrives, doing some touring and
planning our 3000mile (we are now in miles) across the USA heading for San
Francisco. There will be week or so gap until my next report which will
describe our reunion with the 500 on the 3rd of August.