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Wednesday 15 May 2024

Polar opposites. Travel from the inside looking out

Enjoy travelling vicariously with some quirky companions?  

How about a journey from New Zealand to Spain undertaken almost entirely by train? 

Meet amusingly eccentric French horn player Gregory Hill and his German violinist wife Anne. 

Gregory somehow came up with the idea of travelling from one point on the globe - his home in Wellington - to its exact upside, or antipodes, which turns out to be somewhere between near Salamanca in Spain. 

He remembers doing a similar exercise with an old school atlas. Now he decides to try it real life, which turns into a 38,000 kilometre trip in 78 days, with 31,000 of those kilometres covered by rail. 

On the right tracks, so to speak. The trip from Saigon to Spain was conducted entirely on steel tracks. 

So 33 trains, 19 countries and a whole lot of interesting, sometimes amusing, encounters, fortunately completed before Covid made a trip of this nature impossible.

The trip takes us from New Zealand’s Northern Explorer to the Eurostar and a wide range of trains with stops Xi'an and a hilarious experience with Chinese bureaucracy, and possible drug dealers in Siberia.

Well illustrated with maps and photos, this is a fun armchair journey with Gregory and Anne with musical interludes including the Bolshoi Ballet and the Paris Opera. 

The Antipodean Express is published today in Australia by Exisle Publishing. $44.99. 

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