The final leg

Thursday, August 2, 2013

Day 200!

This blog is so different to the special blog we posted on day 100 way back in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Back then the journey was still young and it seemed like an eternity until we have to be back in the UK. Day 200 we have just planned our trip home.

Since our very first thoughts about doing a round the world trip we decided we would only plan as far as New Zealand and decide on our route home at a later date.

During our months of planning we costed up a few options 'post New Zealand' to ensure we have funds to actually get home but we wanted to leave it as flexible as possible just in case we wanted to loop back on ourselves and visit somewhere we had already visited on our travels. Although we loved many places we have visited including China and of course Thailand to name just a couple, we have now decided that we will be continuing east and coming home via America.

Our reasons for this mainly lie with Ross. Since way, way back when he was a wee nipper and used to watch Bus Man's holiday back in the 80's the mythical 'date line' has fascinated him and is something he has wanted to cross for a long time. As it is a pinnacle part of going round the world it ticks both boxes at once

Secondly and much more recently when we were stranded in Prague by the infamous Ash Cloud in 2010 Ross downloaded some programmes off the BBC iPlayer to watch on the bus journey home. Boy it was a good job he did as 28 hours on a bus makes these long train journey's look like child's play. Anyway one of the programmes he downloaded was about Mark Beaumont 'Cycling the America's' covering his epic journey from Anchorage, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina whilst climbing the tallest peaks in North and South America in the same season! After finally getting off the bus Ross decided to Google Mark and couldn't believe he had cycled round the world solo. Not to go into too much detail Mark cycled the globe in under 200 days and by doing so destroyed the previous world record. Although he is into fitness, clearly as he cycled the world he only did it to set himself a challenge as he thought the world record was achievable and he is in no way a professional cyclist. It's amazing what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. Anyway we digress, whilst reading about Mark's achievements Ross noticed that he was on a promo tour to talk about his most recent trip and he was in the area in a few days' time. On Ross's next lunch break he headed off and managed to get a couple of tickets. The evening was amazing and afterwards we bought a copy of his book about cycling the world as we never got to see the TV programme. To cut a long story short the book talks about what qualifies for a round the world trip by The Guinness Book of World Records. Obviously our trip is never going to be a record breaker but what makes a round the world trip did stick in Ross' mind. You must travel over 24,900 miles (the length of the equator) in one continuous direction and pass through approximate antipodal points of the world.

It recently dawned on us we had achieved two of those things and we thought how cool would it be to go to polar opposites of the world, so the planning commenced. Following in Mark's footsteps or peddles should we say, New Zealand is the opposite side of the world to Spain and the easy tie up is Madrid which is the opposite side to the North Island. We want to be a bit more precise than the approximate antipodal, so after a bit further planning we found that not far from our planned route to Wellington is the polar opposite to the Puerta de Alcala monument in Madrid. So to make things slightly easier with the trip and with the help of Google Street view we have found a non-descript lay-by nearby which is the polar opposite of Parque del Retiro near the monument in Madrid.

So that was it, our decision was made to come back via America and see Ross' family before turning right and heading for Spain.

Antipodal points of the world!

Well that was the plan until we struggled to find any flights at a reasonable price that fly from the East Coast of the States to Madrid direct, without flying to the middle or Eastern Europe first! Under no circumstances were we going to fly over the UK to go back to Spain just to come home by train. So after a little bit more research and getting incredibly lucky with some promo deals on flights and trains we found a route from Boston to Lisbon. Thus making the last leg of our journey 'Lisbon to London'

So after New Zealand we only have 3 flights, 12 trains and 2 bus journey's to get home. All of which are now booked!

Unfortunately during the planning we had to concede to one overland connecting flight as we deemed it to be impractical to do by land. After spending some time in Auckland and New Zealand we are collecting a car to explore the North and South islands ending up in Christchurch where we drop the car. We had hoped to do an island hop on route to the States with direct flights from Christchurch but the cost was prohibitive. Therefore we were left with either 2 killer bus journey's or driving over 1,000km back to Auckland just to drop the car off to catch the same international flight. Unfortunately the train wasn't an option as it doesn't run frequently during the winter months. Any option would have taken 2 or 3 days and been massively more expensive than the additional £10 we have paid for the connecting flight from Christchurch to Auckland. As we always said 'by land where 'reasonably practical' 2 to 3 days vs a 1½ hour flight which costs a fraction of the price is a no brainer!

Although we have been on the road for 200 days which is over 2/3rds of the trip if measured in time, we still haven't got to the bottom of the world. The next few months will be action packed as we rack up the miles by trains, planes and automobiles to get home to good old Blighty.

Ta Ta for now

Team Chip

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