Carl had been super keen on visiting the Pont du Gard and although it felt like we were heading back in the direction we had already come we decided to make the journey there anyway
St-Remy-de-Provence it was! The road took us over the hill where the Tour de France had ridden the day before. We took our time in packing up, perhaps a little reluctant to face the same hills and headwinds for a second time.
The beautiful Mediterranean sea was the hero of this section of our cycle tour, but otherwise the area left us a little underwhelmed and we chose to turn our bikes in the direction of Provence, where we had been wanting to go all along…
Cycling along the UNESCO listed Canal du Midi was pleasant and relaxing – perhaps a little boring even, until the pathway gave out to a rough singletrack. We decided to leave the canal and head into Cathar country in search of a “Plus Beaux” village called Lagrasse in the foothills of the Pyrenees before heading back towards the Mediterranean coast.
The Pyrenees will remain in our memory as being one of the most beautiful places we have visited. The towering, snow-capped peaks, the valleys luxuriantly green and the roads winding bravely upwards, always upwards.
Bitten out of the Bay of Biscay, glistening on the shores of La Concha Bay and tucked neatly into the foothills of the Pyrenees, San Sebastian seduces many a tourist crossing the border from France.
Cycling down the south west coast of France has given us some of our happiest times of the trip so far: the sunshiney ‘highs’ of Dune du Pyla; the cleansing smell of the endless pine forests; the light catching the squeaky-clean, green of the spring leaves on the ancient oak trees; the glinting ocean, the angry ocean, the misty ocean.
We rode through the vineyards with their glorious limestone chateaux, we arrived fairly late in the evening and the sun was liquid gold on the vines.
To our amusement, perhaps nothing unusual in France, we had to park our bikes up a flight of stairs on the first floor, through a window and onto the neighbours roof!
Brugge felt a bit like stepping into a fairytale, back in time – with swans floating effortlessly on glassy water creasing the reflections of the storybook houses above them.
Despite the wind, the rain and the cold, cycling in Holland was an incredible adventure. The cycling infrastructure and the numbered cycle route system make it a very enjoyable experience. The Dutch people were both friendly and helpful and we felt welcomed in this windy and wet country!
A favourite pastime in Amsterdam was to simply wander along the canals, imagining the lives of the people living in the lavish houses along its banks.
Well, no-one is more surprised that me to say that I am really enjoying the cycling. Carl, needless to say, is doing what he has always wanted to do.
Berlin feels like a teenager compared to the rest of Germany, perhaps the black sheep of the family too. Where the rest of Germany feels controlled, organised and regimented, Berlin is uninhibited, non-conformist and free.
Krakow is described as Warsaw’s sexy sister, and it is easy to see why. Her features are softer, the sun feels warmer – people smile more here, perhaps they have more reason to.
Dates marking their entry, dates marking their deaths, sometimes just one day in between.
Warsaw is a city with a difficult past and it shows. Signs of cold war communism still remain – the buildings are grey and utilitarian; the architecture, austere.
London is overwhelming… Along each laneway is another story, another person’s history, another national treasure.
I had always dreamt of coming to this area in springtime, when the grass was green, the daffodils were out and the lambs were frolicking in the fields.
South Africa was the first stop of our travels, and was a lovely start to our holiday, allowing us to relax and prepare for the journey ahead…