The nature of tourism

Rome prompted me again – as a cycle tourist you become aware of entering or exiting a tourism spot.
Cities with tourist attractions have managed tourist areas. For example Krakow in Poland is a very ugly city with a couple of inner city blocks containing beautifully maintained and reconstructed historic icons.

So tourists are herded into these areas, and they are essentially kept there because there is not much to see outside these areas. Then the tourists are relieved of their spare cash by having them pay for every move they make.

Its like the tourists are cows that are herded into a holding area where they are milked by the locals.

Sunday 31 May – we reach the Danube

Today we reached the Danube after cycling more than 1,000 km since leaving Dresden.

danube

We were concerned that the roads would become unpleasantly busy as we neared Budapest. However this didn’t eventuate and the traffic was quite manageable (travelling on Sunday may have helped). Our route was on secondary roads from Szecseny, through Balassagyarmat – Szugy – Mohara – Magyarnandor – Galgaguta – Acsa – Csovar – Penc – to Vac, which is on the Danube.

The conditions were almost perfect for cycling – not too warm or too cool and the route was more downhill than up, following a river for part of the way.

Every now and then we noticed people foraging on the side of the road for some type of (edible?) plants – often they had travelled to the roadside on bicycles. We passed a dam with lots of people sitting around it fishing with deck chairs and coolers. We saw people going to church in the small towns we passed through.

In one or two places we cycled through swarms of tiny insects, which stuck as tiny road kill to our faces and arms. Kris got it the worst as he rides in the front.

At Vac we found the Danube. There was a wonderful Sunday afternoon atmosphere on the river bank with lots of families, cyclists, people eating ice cream. We were told we could cycle into Budapest (about 30km away) all along cycle paths and decided to continue on as it was still early and such a good atmosphere on the river.

riverscene

The cycle path alternated between along the Danube banks, through forests beside the Danube and sometimes through quiet suburbs with little traffic (where it was still signposted as a cycle path).

We stopped along the way to eat ice cream and drink lemonade with chunks of fruit in it. We watched cars, motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians coming on and off a barge ferry crossing the river while we had our drinks.

ferry

Unfortunately we lost the bike path and were on unpleasantly busy roads again for the last few km into the city. We found a hotel in a district called Ujpest (New Pest), which is about 8km from the centre of Budapest. It was a three star hotel but on the busy road and not in the centre, so not expensive. We did 108km and I was very tired but Kris was still feeling energised. After washing up, we hunted around for somewhere to eat and found a nice bar and cafe near the Ujpest town square where we had burgers and beer.

Ujpest

Then we had another beer at an outdoor pub on the town square.

beerplace       beerplace2

Sunday 24 May – Pentacost and Sunday afternoon rest

Today we we chose a shorter route – 71 km on flat terrain – as we felt we needed a rest. The route took us through Sadow – Kozecin – Sosnica – Woznika – Kozeglowy – Lgota Nadwarcie – Myszkow – Zawiercie. I was still sore and slow from the previous day. Kris adjusted my handlebars however and this has made an improvement to my comfort on the bike.

It was a cold morning and we noticed the smell of coal smoke as we rode through the villages. The plains of Europe are dotted with the large German built wind turbines similar to the ones we have in Wellington. Poland is no exception. We have seen many wind turbines, even in places where there does not seem to be much wind (when we passed). We have also travelled through many beautiful oak woodlands on our journey. There is another side to this image. On colder days inhabitants fire up their coal fires, and a tarry stench greets us when we enter villages. We have also seen no effort to engineer eco-friendly transport systems.

The receptionist at Hotel Lubex had warned us that it was a public holiday (presumably for Pentacost), so we carried our food and wine with us. We also heard church bells a number of times and saw families making their way to church. The Roman Catholicism in Poland is very evident as you ride through the small towns. There are small shrines (either Jesus on the cross or Mary) on many cross roads. Pope John Paul II (who was from Southern Poland) is also venerated here and you see many references – statues, a traffic circle in Lubliniec named after him, etc.

Our accommodation in Zawiercie has the unlikely name of CMC Putex Hostel. I found it on the internet but was not sure that it would work out at all. The only other accommodation in town was an expensive (by Polish standards) spa resort, which we could afford if we were stuck.

Zawiercie turned out to be a dormitory type town, with many large worker apartment buildings. The entrance to the hostel is through a small forest of trees alongside these apartments. We pushed on however and found that the hostel is actually in a lovely old building and a wedding party was in progress in the downstairs reception rooms. We were given a large “apartment”, with a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. Also a big TV, but all the satellite TV movies are dubbed into Polish.

CMCPutex

We arrived early at our hostel and after eating our food had a indulgent afternoon sleep for a few hours. Later on we went for a walk down the road and found a bottle store and bakery open – bought some Polish beer and some biscuits.

We also had the unexpected pleasure of finding this street art, on the back of some lock up garages off the main street behind our hostel.

streetart2                               Streetart1

The secret Van der merwe bread recipe

Here is the 1kg bread that I often make.
It is rich and moist, and is made with no sugar or yeast preservatives like you would expect of a proper bread.
I estimated amounts, as i normally measure ingredients by eye.
First soak:

  • 1 cup kibbled soy or soy grits
  • 1/4 cup oil (olive or canola)
  • 1 table spoon crushed garlic (optional)
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds (or sonneblom seed)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 spoon salt
  • 2 cups water

Soak above ingredients in your bread mixer for about 2 hours or more.

Then add:

  • 3.5 cups (white) wheat flour
  • three tea spoons crushed fresh yeast, depending on whether you want the bread fluffy or solid (If the fresh yeast is very moist, kneed it into a bit of the flour)

Put on cycle for normal or french bread. You want the bread dough moist but not wet, otherwise the bread will rise too fast and collapse. For the first number of times you do this recipe, check on your bread maker after it has been mixing for 10 minutes or so – if it is too wet (sticky to a spoon or hand), add a bit of flour.

Why the NZ Green party has not grown

There has been a revival of the the political left in the last decade.

It seems like everybody, even political parties to the right of the political spectrum are stating that we should take care of our environment.

The American agenda of self-interest and the consequent destructiveness they wreak on worldwide communities has become more apparent.

We have seen increasing coverage on the agendas Global corporations. Global corporations do not have a conscience, or differently stated, their conscience is to make a profit for their shareholders. This profit motive promotes greed, consumerism and materialism. The World trade organisation has also increasingly been exposed as a lobby tool for global corporations.

Many individuals are sharing knowledge, opinions and information to an extent that have never happened before. The thriving Open Source movement is an expression of this sharing and collaboration.

One would have thought that the NZ Green party would thrive in this environment. Yet their growth has been stagnant as they have not been able to capitalise on these trends.

And here is the reason: The NZ Green party is not a true promoter of progressive ideals and as such they do not have a core support base.

On the one hand the Greens buy into the the above ideals and on other hand they buy into divisive ideologies such as bi-culturalism. For those of you not familiar with NZ politics, bi-culturalism is the belief that there are two classes of people in New Zealand (Maori and non-Maori). Bi-culturalism stems from guilt created by the destructiveness during British colonialism. To compensate for the destructiveness during that period, we have invented policies based on ethnicity. These policies have become politically correct, but true progressives are not at ease with discrimination along ethnic lines.