People That Cannot Even Empty The Bucket - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

November 20, 2013

People That Cannot Even Empty The Bucket

A young guy with a few day's growth of beard and wearing wet stroke cold weather cycling clothes come into the hostel dining-room this morning. He return from the breakfast-counter with a bowl of tea and wafer biscuits and sits across from me. He periodically glances over in my direction, while consulting his smart-phone and dunking a biscuit in the tea. Minutes later, he gets up and come over and opens with "You har cycling too"

He asks to see my map, as his is a Michelin Italia with western Croatian along the right side, ending along the border with Bosnia, where he's for next.

I am Swiss, he tells me. I humour him saying, I can tell by your choice of breakfast and accent, you're from the French speaking part. He smiles and adds that he's cycling to Greece to visit his father. He arrived late the afternoon before, in the dark and the rain. And so I'm surprised, thinking he's having an easy rest day here in Zagreb; he's up late; it's after ten and it's wet and miserable out, but he takes from a bag, a pair of heavy duty over-shoes and starts pulling them on over his cycling-shoes and up round his ankles, commenting, they don't keep my feet dry, but they keep the wind out and my feet warm. You're not leaving today, I exclaim, and add, it is now after ten; you need to be on the road early this time of year and besides, it's raining. He replies, I really don't like cities. I will get out to this place, pointing to a circle on the map about forty kilometres south of Zagreb. "I ave rode over a pass in Switzerland with this much snow on the road" he tells me, holding his hands a hand-width apart to indicate the depth of snow. Later in the day, when I venture out, it is raining heavier than the day I arrived. And I feel for him slogging it in the rain.

The hostel is a surprise, just like life is a surprise.

In the living area, a young Canadian woman sat beside me, from Prince Edward Island in the East. When I tell her about my cycle-tour, she tells me her parents would be envious, as they're cycle-tourers too. They can read about my cycle-tour, I tell her; so, I give her the title of this journal and she messages them with it. I don't know whether they'll like my journal, but if they do, it'll be nice to know I've two new readers.

One evening I got talking to a hostel-staff-member, Serge from Toulouse in south western France. He's in his mid-twenties and has been travelling for a while, which he funds partly through working in hostels and says, he gets by on spending four Euros a day of his own money.

Not good at remembering names, but sitting at the same table was a young German I'll call Steffan; his real name is somewhat unusual which makes it harder to recall. Steffan's from Berlin, but prefers the countryside to the big-city. He's big into hiking in the hills and, has a special effection for Slovakia. He talked with enthusiasm of the locals in a village where he stays. And the Blueberry cake they make. The Blueberries he claims grow in such abundance on the hillsides, they have a special tool for plucking the berries, a kind of combination of a comb and shovel, which comb, separating the berries from the low-growing scrub, lifting and shovelling them into buckets. And, he talked about the young woman he'll marry because of the wonderful Blueberry cake she bakes.

All three of us are camping enthusiasts; so, we talked much on the merits of certain tents. The theme opened with Serge telling about the special relationship he has with his backpack. Its contents are nothing which he doesn't need. Packed only with necessaries. He demonstated the way he holds onto it, like a child in arm, in crowded places like bus and railway stations for fear of thief.

We use different stoves. Serge uses gas. Steffan swears by his multi-fuel. His main selling point is the easy availability of inexpensive fuel anywhere in the world, saying he fills his fuel-bottle for fifty Euro cents at the gas station. Something we all could see the merits of, as gas and alcohol are expensive. And we all like the swoosh it makes in use. It's simple and easy to maintain, Steffan adds which I disagree with, saying, when I used one, I'd to dismantle it weekly to clean. A dirty job which left my hands black. He claims he never cleans his. That the shaker-needle in the fuel-jet is enough to clear any blockage. The needle in my stove only cleared the blockage for a while. Now I use an alcohol stove which works no matter what. He was not to see my point of view. It is in his words simply engineered, and should last his life-time. He has a certain German quality of thoroughness, which come to the fore when we talk about those inflatable mats. I tell him, I'd a cheap one, which after a few months developed a leak, a slow leak, whereupon I'd wake in the middle of the night lying on the hard ground, disappointing after going to sleep on an aircushion. It is simple to patch a hole, Steffan says, and adds, like finding a hole in a tube on your bicycle, you inflate it to a high-pressure and submerge it in water and the leaking air will bubble. But the hole in my mat was too small to bubble and it was perhaps not a punchure hole, more like inferior manufacture. And I've read and heard of others who have had the same problem, I add. "Ah so, these people" He retorts "people that cannot even empty the bucket"

My unmade dorm-bed; stylist beds which have won awards, according to the receptionist. Indeed, they're extremely comfortable.
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Quote on corridor wall by unknown author.
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Standby for more photos.

Exposed brickwork.
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Rushhour in Zagreb on a bright November morning.
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Advent. Christmas is coming.
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The sun behind the towers.
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I liked this. The combination of graffiti, mural and advertising.
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Nice sky today.
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At the technical museum.
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Outside a car showroom. This new Mini Cooper is either rapped up as a Christmas present, or, oversized luggage. There wasn't a box big enough at the LBS.
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The National Theatre. Now this is a perfect picture. Just look at that sky. And the crossings as foreground interest.
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A NEW TOY for Graham Finch.
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