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Day 304 – New York, USA to Paris, France

In yesterday’s post I said goodnight after boarding my flight from JFK to Paris. It was a long day – and today has turned out rather similar.

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After a cramped and pretty cold flight I landed safely at Charles de Gaulle airport at 7am this morning. I slept for about 3 hours (I’ll take that).

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The next three days were earmarked to be at home in the UK collecting my Russian visa (which has to be done in person). Due to some slight complications, I have two full days where I could be anywhere.

So with that in mind, and having neglected my friends for long enough, plus the fact that working out of a cafe in Paris is so much better than working out of a cafe in London, I’m in Paris for a day. Win!

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The weather here has been perfect – a perfectly crisp wintery cold day with autumnal colours.

After meeting up with a few friends we wandered down the river and found a cafe. Even though it was time for friends, I did still have some admin to do – the usual emails and catching up with the team.

Despite the lack of mountains, ocean and beach, Paris has always been one of my top three favourite cities in the world – the view from Pont Neuf, the small wonky table cafes, and streets lined with the elderly puffing on cigarettes, in the most elegant of ways.

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Some dinner, a sunset, and my eyes closed without me realising. The amount of times I’ve fallen asleep fully clothed on this trip is alarming.

Day 305 – Paris, France

Today was a day of rest – oh, and a little busking on a piano, hot chocolate, beautiful food and the views of Paris. Ahhh…

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As you know I’m producing a photography book plus a written book of my entire journey. Both will cover every country in the world, all the photos (well, not all of them – I’ve taken over 200,000 so far), and my experiences throughout. In my few spare few moments I love to find a cosy spot in a cafe and get writing. And what better place than Paris to spend a day making some progress…

I am fast approaching half way – 305 days complete, 366 to go. November 11th 2019 is my estimated finish date, so just over a year remaining. Thank you so much to everyone for the support so far.

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Something I’ve been meaning to talk about is homelessness. I’ve seen such vast poverty all over the world, but homelessness seems to be everywhere. In the UK alone we have a problem – and while I am currently on a rampage to support the end of prostate cancer, my good friends Chloe and Jeff are doing something phenomenal to support the homeless (amongst many other things). CHECK THIS OUT @bigmoosecoffeeco @chloe_cardiff @bigmoose_cardiff @everestat53

The number of people sleeping rough in England has recently hit a record high – there’s been a 73% increase over the last three years. Official government data shows that on any given night in autumn 2017, 4,751 people were recorded sleeping on the streets, a figure that has more than doubled since 2010. And that’s to the backdrop of over 11,000 homes in the UK being left empty for more than 10 years. This is just ridiculous and saddening.

Jeff and his merry bunch of smiling beauties have set up a super-lovely cafe in Cardiff. They find, train and employ homeless people to run it, with profits supporting not only those they employ but also their organisation, Big Moose Coffee Co @bigmoosecoffeeco, which supports a variety of causes. I’d suggest checking them out. If you want to help, help them!

Thanks to all the team @bigmoosecoffeeco

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Day 306 – Paris, France to London, UK – Russian visa day

Only 365 days still to run!!! Please keep donating.

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Well today has been full. An early start, waking up in rainy Paris. Once again my eyes remained half-closed as I scrambled around the room with my messy bed hair. I eventually reached the airport to arrive early and end up waiting in a cold, empty terminal building for 40 minutes. But at least I haven’t missed a flight yet, although I’ve had plenty cancelled…

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From Paris I arrived in London 5 minutes after I left, due to the helpful time difference. Today was all about sorting out the important Russian visa.

Let me tell you all about Universal Visas. These guys have been my silent angels. I approached Universal Visas about two years ago and explained that I needed help to source all of the 90+ visas that were vital to achieve my goal.

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Universal Visas is a small but very slick and well-run company. Fisal and Maz are my two main points of contact. They have understood my itinerary, highlighted all the problem countries, filled out forms, sent off applications and helped build my entire schedule based around when I need to swap one passport for another. Five passports down and over 85 countries completed, these folks are now working on next year’s visas for the likes of Pakistan, Afghanistan and many more. They do all this without getting paid, and always with a smile. They wanted to help – but in reality I couldn’t do it without them. Although their labour is free, I am still required to pay the embassies and agencies, which is close to £12,000. Eek.

To get my Russian visa sorted, I waited at the visa application centre for a while where I had to complete my biometrics in person. There are about 20 countries that require these ‘extras’. In five days’ time my parents will drop the passport off in person in Luxembourg, and take my other passport back for more visa processing for next year.

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I am so tired today, but I still managed to squeeze in some time to see my old school friend Sammy and the brilliant Gen for some pizza and a chinwag.

 

 

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It’s now 2am, the pizza has disappeared, and it’s time for bed.

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Day 307 – London to Cranborne and back to London again

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Home sweet home – for 6 hours and 45 minutes. Nothing like your mum’s home cooking and a delicious roast dinner with all the trimmings.

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Today was about gearing up for my last six weeks on the road before the New Year. Waking up in London I said bye to Gen and jumped on a train to Cranborne, the tiny village in Dorset where I grew up amongst the fields of… well, cow shit generally. As I get older I love the peace of the countryside even more (hence the potential plan to move abroad and have a life on the road for a little longer after the trip… perhaps… we’ll see).

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At 7.20am the alarm went off, at 10am I was on the train, and by 12.20pm I had arrived in Salisbury where my parents picked me up. A big thank you to my brilliant mum and dad for supporting with this trip more than I could have imagined. We have a brilliant team of 19 lovely people behind this journey – but it’s my mum and dad who hold the team together and indeed, put up with me.

My tasks began by packing new clothes, gathering new warm gear, charging all my gadgets, collecting some currency, and then I found my other diary. I can use this to write more of the book.

At 6pm I tucked into a tasty dinner – thanks, Mum! I then played with the dog for a while, sat down with Dad to talk logistics for next year, and picked up my train tickets for the remainder of my Interrail leg of Eastern Europe. Oh, and I saw my long-haired monster of a brother too.

At 8.30pm I caught the coach back north to Stansted Airport. My next marathon is in Switzerland the day after tomorrow – just enough time to see my friends in Toulouse for the day (even if I can’t keep my eyes open).

I arrived into Stansted at midnight after a change at Victoria. I now have 7 hours before I can check in. Time to get my head down. I’ve learned to bring my sleeping bag everywhere – especially for these moments. Mmmm sleep – hello my friend.

Day 308 – London, UK to Toulouse, France

Following on from my late arrival into Stansted last night, today started with four cold and uncomfortable hours on the floor of the poorly organised Departures area of the airport. Rant coming – warning ⚠

Having spoken to a few security guards I ascertained that between the hours of 11pm and 4am the Departures area is closed. Not because of cleaning or anything useful, but because the transport links to the airport were leading to hundreds of passengers arriving too early and sprawling across the airport.

Rather than supporting passengers, the airport simply shut the Departures area and pushed all the passengers to a tiny area with less than 100 seats. When I arrived there were at least 500 people. The number grew substantially the closer 4am came.

Not only this, but passengers weren’t allowed to lie down. Why? It made everyone very uncomfortable and irritated. Apparently this happens every day. Stansted was one of my worst experiences of an airport to date, which includes Africa – just saying. Sort it out.

I was only popping over to Toulouse for the day and one night, so I left my luggage in the storage area – brilliant price of £12.50 for 24 hours. Shame about the extremely rude gentleman who served me.

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So after my unacceptable lack of sleep in the airport till 7am, I jumped on the plane at 9am and landed in Toulouse at 11am.

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A quick BBC interview, some time with friends, great food, a nap, and I met with Candice, a fellow runner. Candice then went for a run while I rested – this felt very odd! I didn’t have my gear with me and to be honest, I really needed to sleep. I slept like a baby.

I’m certainly running on empty at the moment – perfect for another 12 countries and as many marathons this year.

By the time the New Year comes around I will have run 100 marathons in 100 different countries. I’ll start next year with less than half to complete – just 96 to go.

A fantastic dinner, and then early to bed.

Please keep donating @Justgiving

A reminder – I am speaking at the National Running Show @nationalrunningshow in January 2019 (19th and 20th), so please come along.

Day 309 – Toulouse, France to London, UK

LESS THAN A YEAR TO GO!

Here we go – quick pit stop at Heathrow and I’m heading for Marathon 85 in Switzerland.

I left Toulouse at 8 this morning, made my way to the airport, arrived in Stansted, picked up my bag, and then coached it to Heathrow. From Heathrow I then taxied to a beautiful little hotel for a long night’s sleep.

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I’m staying with Jon @jonbaguley in Switzerland for four days; in that time we will be ticking off both the Swiss marathon in the mountains, and also the tiny principality of Liechtenstein too. Jon is a member of the fab ASICS @asicsfrontrunner FrontRunner running community, and is a bloody brilliant runner. I will be hosted, driven around and no doubt bested in the Swiss mountains. Bring it on. Oh, sorry legs. Oh, and advance thanks to Jon’s better half Julia – thanks for accommodating me – will be so nice to hang out with you guys.

As I write this, I’m scoffing down a yummy fish pie and greens. This little restaurant and hotel, The Swan, is not only cosy and well-run, but it’s just around the corner from the airport. A perfect stopover. Will be using this again. Thanks for the complimentary night guys. Really nice to be in a cosy pub hotel in England.

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A BIG THANK YOU: As we approach the end of the year, I want to thank everyone for the support in so many ways. From tomorrow until the end of the year I will begin to thank those individuals who have made this first year possible. Less than a year remaining.

Here’s the last few marathons this year before another 96 next year:

11 Nov SWITZERLAND Buchs

14 Nov LIECHTENSTEIN Vaduz

15 Nov LUXEMBOURG Luxembourg

17 Nov DENMARK Copenhagen

20 Nov NORWAY Oslo

23 Nov SWEDEN Stockholm

26 Nov FINLAND Helsinki

29 Nov RUSSIA St Petersburg

2 Dec ESTONIA Tallinn

5 Dec LATVIA Riga

8 Dec LITHUANIA Vilnius

11 Dec BELARUS Minsk

13 Dec UKRAINE Kiev

15 Dec MOLDOVA Chisinau

17 Dec ROMANIA Bucharest

20 Dec POLAND Warsaw

Day 310 – Heathrow, London, UK to Zürich, Switzerland

Flight, friends and fondue.

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A painless travel day, concluding with a tasty dinner with friends in country number 85. Switzerland was a brilliant way to kickstart the last leg of this year: 14 countries, 6 weeks and then Christmas. Then it’s just 1 year and 96 countries to go.

I said goodbye to the lovely little hotel just around the corner from Heathrow at about 9am. Take-off was at 11.50am, but not before a full English breakfast in the American Express lounge of Terminal 2.

At 11am everyone stood to observe the 2-minute silence while watching the London proceedings on the TV. A few people were entirely oblivious to all goings on, but the majority were respectful and stood together. It’s strange how 2 minutes can make you reflect so deeply.

An easy flight, of which I slept the entire way, which resulted in the need to be woken by a fellow passenger post landing. I was fast asleep. A quick jolt and I grabbed my things, trundled down the steps of the plane, went to collect my bags and within a few minutes I was in Zürich.

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Tonight and for the next two days I’m staying with Jon and Julia. I met these guys when I was part of the ASICS FrontRunner community in the UK a couple of years ago. Pascal, their friend, also joined us for dinner. It’s such a pleasure to be around mates, even Pascal, who I only got to know this evening, and who was such a like-minded guy. When the word ‘only’ is put before ‘a marathon’, I know I’m in good company.

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Jon and Julia made an outrageously tasty Raclette supper with all the trimmings. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the traditional Swiss (some may say French, sorry Pascal) dish, it involves heating cheese and scraping off the melted remains. (FYI ‘racler’ is French for scrape, which is the origin of the word ‘Raclette’… so it’s French! Ha!)

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Anyway, it’s late, I’m super-sleepy and I have a cheese belly, and a marathon to run tomorrow. Let’s hope for good weather. Thanks folks.

Nick Butter

British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer

Contact Details: 07754328355 | nick@nickbutter.co.uk | http://www.nickbutter.com

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