New pages added recently:
Signs of Intelligent Life
Our Antarctica trip.
Appeal to rebuild the Regnum Marianum Church - Budapest -
Hungary - Blown up by the communists.
On these pages I will deal with two of my hobbies and passions.
I like to travel and I like to take pictures and visiting all
those places, I see many visiting people doing just the same
things, travelling, visiting and taking photographs or movies.
I already have a travel page, listing most of the places my family
and I have visited, but on these following pages I will
try to list them in a more chronological order.
I have many photographs and I have visited many, many other
places that I can't at this stage anyway, categorise.
Come, enjoy our journeys.
This year with the kind Blessing of Our Lord, we did have some
awesome trips and experiences.
In January, 2008 I was diagnosed with very advanced Prostate
Cancer M2, meaning the cancer metastasised into my bones, but
more about this on some another pages.
However all our traveling etc have to planned around visits
to clinics, check-ups, etc.
Early in the year we, Hui Chin, Endre and I have taken a
couple weeks touring our country north of
(in alpha order)
Big Kauri Tree,
Kawakawa - Hundertwasser toilets,
Kawakawa Vintage Railway,
Okiato-Opua Car Ferry,
Whangarei Catholic Church
A few weeks later we managed to realise one of
our long outstanding dreams to visit
Antarctica, but let me begin in Auckland and the hassle
trying to find, how will we get there.
When we found one, "Quark" that worked out of
Auckland our trouble really begin.
Firstly, because on of my "Pre-existing Medical Condition"
(As I have mentioned on other pages before, early 2008
I was diagnosed with very advanced Prostate
Cancer M2 - a Prostate Cancer that is spread to most of
my bones - and no Travel Insurers want to know about me.)
and leaving our booking a bit late on
one of the last sailings for the season we had to pay real
premium price and we have also received a very nasty email
threatening us with last minute cancellation
without any refund, or something like that.
Well, well, as we all very well know, Antarctica is only a
"hop, skip and a jump" away from the Moon, oh, oh or is it
the other way around.
Well it is well beyond the average holiday destination,
aspirations or budgets.
Hui Chin & I were privileged enough to have an awesome
experience to sail to Antarctica and few other very
interesting places and to meet some very interesting,
kind hearted, helpful, caring and understanding people,
as the 'expedition team', crew and passengers of the M.V.
Polar Star, (Ice breaker), in the end.
A very big (A huge) thanks to you all good people.
More of this and my unspoken end of the voyage
thank you - later on this page.
Hui Chin and I are seasoned travelers and we like to
go to places where we have never been before and I can
swear to you, neither of us have ever been
to Antarctica before.
We were planning to sign up for one of those few 'seasonal'
excursions, that a few ships make annually, but put it
in the "hard basket" year after year,
until towards the end of 2008, when it became obvious, that
due to my "Pre-existing Medical Condition" (A term travel
insurance firms use in the last few years, for unfortunate
people such as me, - well I have only noticed it in the
last few years, anyway. I will elaborate on this on one
of these Antarctica pages.)
After days and weeks of research, we came up with one,
Quark Expeditions, that was going, where we wanted to
go and doing what we wanted to do, set foot
on a few hard to visit places.
These 'seasonal' trips or 'expeditions' as they call
them, only operate from November to late February and
there are only a very few opportunities really.
We missed the November sailings due to my "Pre-existing
Medical Condition" check up.
We did make a 'test the water' booking for the late
February sailing and we did get our 'booking' approved,
the price and the conditions, like the strict
conditions for "Pre-existing Medical Condition" and a
$US 100,000.00 emergency evacuation coverage.
Excerpts from the "Quark" Terms & Conditions.
"(Reservations and Payment
A deposit of $2,000 per person is required to confirm a reservation
on Kapitan Khlebnikov. To confirm reservations on Clipper Adventurer,
Lyubov Orlova, Akademik Shokalskiy, Ocean Nova, Akademik Ioffe, and
Akademik Sergey Vavilov, a deposit of $1,000 per person is required
for all 11 to 15-day expeditions, and a deposit of $1,500 per person
is required for 20-day expeditions.
The deposit may be paid by bank wire transfer, check, money order or
major credit card. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure.
Final payment may be paid by bank wire transfer or check.
We do not accept credit cards for final payments.
All prices and payments are in US dollars and no other currencies
can be accepted.
Mandatory Travel Insurance
Passengers traveling with Quark Expeditions are required to be covered
by a travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation
We travel to remote regions of the world and we recommend
that the policy's emergency evacuation benefit be higher
N.B. Due to my "Pre-existing Medical Condition" I would had
to take out a minimum $US 100,000, emergency
Cancellations and Refunds
All requests for cancellations must be received in writing.
Cancellations received up to 150 days prior to departure are refunded
less an administrative fee of $500 per person. If cancellation is received
between 149 and 90 days prior to departure, the deposit is forfeited.
Please note that for cancellations received within 89 days prior to
departure, all deposits and tariffs are forfeited. If cancellation occurs
within the 89 -day period and full payment has not yet been received,
the full penalty will still apply and unpaid monies are due immediately.
For these and other reasons mentioned below, you are strongly encouraged
to obtain trip cancellation insurance. Prices quoted are based on group
participation and no refunds will be made for any part of the program in
which you choose not to participate, including any helicopter flying time
(if applicable and which, at the discretion of the Captain and Expedition
Leader, may or may not be utilized).
It is understood that refunds cannot be made to passengers who do not
complete the tour for any reason whatsoever.
The itinerary described is subject to change at the discretion of the ship's
master and Quark Expeditions' Expedition Leader. This is an expedition to a
remote part of the world, and we reserve the right to change the itinerary
due to weather conditions, availability of anchorages, political conditions
and other factors beyond our control without consulting the passengers.
It is understood that such decisions will be made in the best interests of
all passengers aboard and with regard to the safety of the vessel.
Passengers have no right to any refund or other considerations in the event
of these inevitable itinerary changes. Nothing in this brochure is meant to
signify the use of any specific design or model of helicopter.
The images featured in this brochure are inspirational in character and do
not necessarily depict the exact people, animals, and places encountered
Passengers traveling with Quark Expeditions are required to be covered by
a travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage.
We travel to remote regions of the world and we recommend that the policy's
emergency evacuation benefit be higher than minimum.
We missed the December sailings due to Hui Chin's work commitments.
We missed the January sailings, because we couldn't get back in time
to my February "Pre-existing Medical Condition" check up.
That left us with only the last sailings of the 'season' at
the 22nd of February.
During early January, Hui Chin and I got a bit restless, whether we
can catch that last boat, but soon as we left our Travel Agent, we
regretted our hasty action, making our bookings before we received
the signals, from my
'specialists' about my "Pre-existing Medical Condition".
Early next day I rang our Travel Agent and explained to him fully my
reason to do so and I told him, that due to the price of our tickets
$US 44,000 for the 2 of us, the general economic conditions and the
big decline in travel bookings I told him I felt quiet confident that
our previous bookings still will be there, regardless their usual
booking conditions, like three month ahead etc. etc., and I told him,
that on the way home from my specialist on the 17th of February, we
will visit him to book the boat trip and another four weeks of South
American trip to mop up some 'unfinished business' we have missed
on our 2002 trip of the Americas.
As we promised our travel agent we went and booked our flights, etc.
on the 17th of February, when I found a lot of problems with our Quark
bookings, although as we expected they would still except our bookings
if we paid up fully immediately, with no money refunds, no certainty
of getting on board, due to my "pre existing medical condition" and no
insurance would approve or cover my "pre existing medical condition".
I and Hui Chin practically in unison told him to cancel the Quark
bookings, but leave all the rest in place as they are, including
our flights to
Ushuaia and back to Buenos Aires.
Our thinking was, that there may be other vessels doing similar
trips, but we couldn't find any link to Ushuaia or those other
shipping firms from Auckland.
In a worth case scenario we thought of hiring a fishing boat or
helicopter for that $US44,000 to take us to
The next day I received the following email from our agent:
From: Xxxxxx Xxxxx (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Wednesday, 18 February 2009 2:16:27 a.m.
RE: XXXXX XXXXXXXXX
Quark have told me that they will keep a register of these passengers
names and notes that one of them has a pre-existing medical condition.
If the clients try to book on the ship once they get to Ushuaia, Quark
will still require all the necessary forms to be completed and for
them to show proof of travel insurance. Once the clients have completed
the paperwork Quark will still need to get clearance for the pre-existing
medical condition before they accept the booking. The trouble will be
that once the clients are in Ushuaia there may not be enough time to
get the medical clearance which is handled by Quark's medical advisor
at their head office in the US.
On the other hand if the clients complete the forms now and give us all
the info we will be able to pass that to Quark now and we will know by
tomorrow if they have accepted him or not. Quark have said that if they
do ok the booking, which more than likely they will, they are more than
happy to put something in writing to the client confirming that they
accept him and his medical condition on their cruise and that he will
not be denied boarding.
Basically he starts the process now there is a very good chance they
will get on the Quark cruise, but if they don't there is very little
chance they will get on.
The other spanner in the works is that one of Quark's other ships,
the Ocean Nova has run aground off the Antarctic coast. All passengers
and crew are still aboard and the boat is fine at the moment. They are
attempting to re-float the ship and once it is afloat they will be able
to inspect for possible damage. The ship may well be fine, but if there
is any damage to that boat, Quark will cancel the coming departures of
the cruise and shift all existing bookings onto the Clipper and various
other Antarctic vessels. If that happens any space that was available
for Antarctic cruise departures over the next week could disappear
overnight. This is a very real possibility. We should know within
the next 24 hours if Ocean Nova is ok or not.
Please make sure the client is aware of all these factors and that
the best chance he has of getting on a cruise is to pre-organise it.
If he still says no then at least I know we've given him all the
Africa and South America Sales
Adventure World New Zealand
101 Great South Road, PO Box 74-008
Auckland 1543, New Zealand
Ph: +649 524 5118
Fx: +649 520 6629
Reading this email I found it very insulting and threatening, so I
rang our agent and expressed my disgust with the email, and told
him I will not deal with Quark in any form or condition
at all anymore.
So we decided on the whole trip, with a few extra days stitched in
for bookings, delays etc.
Booked all flights and in due time, well, 2 days later that is we
were on our way to
and the rest of our Antarctica and South America expedition.
The day we arrived to Ushuaia, we met a nice man from Austria, who
was working as a chef on another boat doing a similar trip and was
able to promise us a free ride for helping in the kitchen.
Next day we called at a travel agent, who had tickets available on
the Polar Star, doing exactly the same trip we were trying to get
on for slightly more than half the cost of Quark (Just over $NZ
22,000 as against $NZ 44,000.)
The travel agent took us to the ship's agent, who taken our bookings
and told us to come back at midday on Monday for the confirmation
and to finalising our bookings.
On Monday, at the arranged time, with many apologies the lady
explained, she didn't have an answer
yet for us as they were waiting for the on-board doctor's answer,
and asked us to come back half-a-hour later for the
(By the way, the 'on-board doctor' was a Kiwi, with her cup half full.)
We met 'Doctor Suzy' later in Cusco with her husband, when all of
our journeys to Lake Titikaka were interrupted by a strike.
I hope you good folks managed to get there in the end.
Sorry I was a little 'down in the dumps that time'.
Hope you read this and we will be lucky enough to meet again.
Thanks a million again.
We did get our booking confirmed, we paid our fare and
sailed the next day.
On Tuesday a Taxi picked us up from our hotel and we were taken
to the Polar Star.
Polar Star was the last of about 6 boats tied up at the wharf.
With great shock we noticed, that the first boat we passed entering
the wharf was the 'Ocean Nova', the Quark boat we and many others
should have sailed 2 days ago.
27 of the 'Ocean Nova's passengers in fact sailed with us.
Hui Chin and I did get our trip (A dream trip in fact) to Antarctica
and we would like to thank God, Polar Star Booking Agents, the
'Expedition Team, Staff, Crew and passengers, Doctor Suzy especially
(I was praying all the time that I wouldn't be an embarrassment for
her decision and too much of a hassle, thank God, I wasn't - they
all showed a 'real' understanding to our problems and helped us every
way to enjoy ourselves and had a terrific trip.
By the way the amount and variety of food onboard was
A brief of my end of the voyage speech draft.
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen.
"My name is Erwin Bernhardt and I was born in Budapest, Hungary in
1937. just a few days after my 19th birthday we had a Revolution in
1956, and though we win the first round against our Soviet oppressors
and after taking for granted their promises, they came back to
brutally crush our few days of freedom. Because of my involvement I
had to escape to Austria, than to New Zealand, where I lived now for
more than fifty years.
I love New Zealand.
Before we came on this trip, the yachting boys got fedup with the
America Cup races and racers were tied up in legal battles in New York,
mainly by people with bottomless pockets and they were running a Regatta
in Auckland by Louis Vuitton Cup organisers.
One of the organisers was interviewed on Radio and asked why they
chose New Zealand as a venue, there are many other teams
from many other countries.
The man's answer was: I visited New Zealand many times before and I
found, that "In New Zealand the glass is always half full".
I would like to thank the Polar Star Management, Booking Agents,
Expedition Team, and the ship's staff and crew to help us to have
trip of our life time, they were all aware of my 'Pre Existing
Medical Condition', they understood my problem and helped me
every way they could.
Thank you very, very much.
I also like to thank all the passengers for their understanding
and tolerance, my 'Pre Existing Medical Condition' and the
medications I have to take, don't make me always the happiest
and friendliest person, I'm sorry and thanks for your
understanding and tolerance.
Now, I would like to explain my 'Pre Existing Medical Condition'
and at the same time I would like ask a very big favour from
I have P.C.M2, which is Prostate Cancer, Metastasised 2.
I haven't seen M3, I suppose that is when your, or my bones in my
case start to break in minor accidents, when they usually don't
break, or just start to break spontaneously, because of the
osteoporosis caused by mainly the medication
I have to take.
My 'Pre-existing Medical Condition', but I suspect more the
medication I have to use made me from a happy go lucky, chatty
little fellow into what sometimes I can only describe as a moron,
because their effect and the nearly constant pain
I have to endure.
For my sometimes - antisocial attitude or behaviour I would like
to apologies to everyone on the Polar Star on this trip.
Please Ladies and Gentlemen, get your men and yourselves to a G.P.
and get a simple blood test, which is not perfect, but will help
to make some decisions whether other test should be done.
Ladies, don't just get your men for a check up, get yourselves too.
Most of the medication I'm taking, also used by women with breast cancer,
which also moves to the bones as well.
I don't want anyone suffer as I have to suffer.
I was 70 years old when I was accidentally diagnosed and
I have had no symptoms at all.
I know people who lived with Prostate Cancer for over 20
years, because they had diagnosed early.
Please get checked."
Thank you all very, very much.
From the 'Leper Colony'.
N.B. Now as I write this lines with tears in my eyes - I'm
overwhelmed with the memories of this trip, which can never
ever be repeated again.
I had tears in my eyes when I left the boat at Ushuaia and
again when I have seen most of my new friends
depart at Ushuaia Airport.
Good bye, God Bless you and many thanks, all you
good people. Erwin.
My especially heartfelt thanks go to Hannah our Team Leader,
our onboard doctor, Doctor Suzy, Our Captain, Our Hotel Manager
and the very friendly and charming Ali, who all understood my
problem and helped me every little bit they could.
Many thanks fellas. Erwin
P.S. This trip was not only a great experience, excitement, but
also a discovery of human nature under stress and people's
willingness to befriend and help the dispriviledged, animal lovers
super charge of Antarctic and Sub Antarctic bird and
Now I move on with our itinerary:-
So we left Auckland for
and than we left for
where we spent a few exciting days exploring the township in
beautiful weather, booking our cruise, than waiting for
our dream cruise.
Antarctica (In alpha order),
Brown Bluff - Tabarin Peninsula,
Embarkation - Ushuaia
Grytviken - South Georgia,
Half Moon Bay/Island,
In Anatartic waters - A,
In Anatartic waters - B,
Onboard Polar Star,
Our personal Antarctic - Sub Antarctic - experiences,
Polar Star People,
Polar Star - Voyage Logs,
Polar Star - Voyage Maps,
Polar Star - Wild Life List,
South Orkney Islands,
South Shetland Islands,
Stanley - Falkland Islands,
Stanley - Falkland Islands A,
Stromness - South Georgia,
On our return to
- Catholic Church,
- International Airport,
- End of the World - Train,
we resumed our planned South America tour, beginning in
from where we went to
Returning and spending some more time exploring Buenos Aires,
we moved on to
Lima - A,
Catholic Church - A,
then we went to
Cusco - A,
Floating Island (Uros)
Next stop on our itinerary was
Caracas - A,
- Buses A,
- Catholic Cathedral,
because practically all flights to and from Caracas
have a stopover at Bogatá
Before returning to Buenos Aires to fly home, to Auckland.
Soon after our return from this expeditious trip, my
brother, Endre (Yeh! You are hearing right, I had a father, I
have a brother and a son called Endre.) and his wife, Éva
arrived from Budapest to visit us and New Zealand.
We all decided, that we take some time to show them the
country. (Another photo essay in in alpha order.)
Five bums in th Legnum and plenty of beer and other
essentials for a nearly 3 weeks of tour of New Zealand
south of Auckland (In alpha order).
Cook Strait Ferries,
Franz Josef Glacier,
South Island 2009 - A,
Wellington Ferry Terminal,
Our next trip was in June *14-21) to
and (in alpha order)
Alofi - A,
Avatele - A,
Catholic Church & Mission,
Liku - A,
Niue - A,
Niue International (Hannan) Airport,
Vanuatu (Aug 25 - Sept 1),
was our next destination
Bauerfield International Airport,
Port Vila - A,
Port Vila Catholic Cathedral,
Port Vila - Buses,
Vanuatu - Hand Crafts
and back to
for a day before departing back to Auckland
Wait, there's more.
During September we left Auckland for another big trip around,
although this trip was a bit different, because of my advancing
illness as you know (Prostate Cancer M2) my mobility was restricted
and I had less opportunity to take photos, so I use Wikipedia and
YouTube more often to help me through.
(My grateful thanks to you all good people. Erwin)
(Many more of my thanks go to Hui Chin, my devoted, wonderful wife,
who helped me through it all.)
So let us start in
as we did so many times before, and went on to
from where after a couple of days we flew to
for a few days, before moving on to
from where, after a few days we flew to
our next stop for another few days was
before we flew to
for a few days again before flying to
and back home to Auckland.
My condition was getting a bit worst as time goes bye, but we had
so much to do yet.
Trans-Siberian Express Experience was such a project, with my
right arm broken (pathological break, when bones break because of
the cancer, that normally wouldn't break, and I'm right handed, so
photos were out for now.)
Our experience was very exciting though. Thanks Hui Chin, thanks
By the Grace of our Lord, we managed to fit in an South East
Asia "mop up" tour of a few places we wanted to look at too.
then we flew to
Ho Chi Minh City
for a few days again before flying to
and back home through Singapore to Auckland.
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