Categories
fashion food locations music people

Leitrim cycling festival

Just a small note in one of the cycling groups was enough to make the decision to adjust our plans to make it to the small village of Manorhamilton.

In the evening we went to a presentation of two travellers before retiring to our tents early.

The next day we all made our way to the castle cafe where various events were going on.

The knotted chords played and sang on and off during the the afternoon.

Tattoos were given out to the hardest amongst the group.

Part of the people gathered then went off for a small round in the hills.

One inventor brought his Scary Go-Round. It was hard work getting this thing up to speed, but it was worth the fun.

In the late afternoon we started our tour to Drumahaire past Doon Lough.

There we sat up camp again before heading to the Crossroads. An Irish tradition around the solstice. A gathering on a crossroad with music and dancing. Every brings some food and drink and a fire is lit and the dancing and singing goes on until late.

There was a Breakfast cook up the next morning. Typically Irish and heavy.

Luckily there was a pause until we hit the local demo strech of the Greenway. We used the time in between to get our bicycles and ourselves decorated for the occasion.

There were judges along that stretch, electing the most beautiful customers, a guy sitting way up a tree playing his trombone and lots of food when we arrived at a cottage at the end of the Greenway. The “Old Market Street Swing Band” was playing and mking this a most wonderful afternoon.

For two songs, Andrea was invited to sing which you can see and listen to if you follow this link:

Old Market Swing Band & Andrea Passerini

The two people without whom this event wouldn’t have been possible are Laura and Ciarán from crank & cog.

After saying goodbye, we cycled from the festival to Sligo with our attire still donned.

Our time in Ireland is drawing to an end, but with such memories, one feels having really got to know a bit the country and its people.

Categories
food locations music people

Ireland – part two

We didn’t always make it to a campsite. So we wildcamped in parts and one time just asked a local man if he knew a piece of land where we could pitch our tent for one night. Michael immediately invited us to make use of his garden and made sure we were lacking nothing.

After arriving in Doolin we toom a bus to the Cliffs of Moher before walking back. The visitor center is quiet a busy place and you might get asked to pay a fee to enter the site if coming from the coach parking. After a bit of walking the crowd thins out quickly and afterwards one is looking back and has enough space to be in awe.

The cliffs are around 150 meters at the highest. Sometimes I didn’t feel so comfortable near the cliff’s edge and also had a hard time watching Andrea finding out how far she could advance.

We cycled through a zone called “The Burren” where we stopped at the Poulnabrone Dolmen.

Stopping in Corofin for the night, we made our way to Bofey Quinn’s pub to have a pint,

and to listen to some music.

Getting into Galway was really nice. The quality of the buskers was a mixed bag. One group stood out and had also a dancer.

After Galway we cycled through Connamara which we enjoyed immensely. The photos hardly do it justice.

We are probably the luckiest tourists travelling through Ireland this millennium. In five weeks we had three days of rain and the apart from this can only praise the Irish weather.

We headed to Sligo after Connamara to attend the Leitrim cycling festival in Manorhamilton.

Categories
food travel

Wales

The morning started with a walk downhill. We had met Reja from Germany the night before. And as we were going in the same direction, we decided to continue together. The road made a huge detour to the next bridge and so we just cut across a field and made use of the vast network of bridleways and public right of way paths to get us to a footbridge over the Wye and into Wales. This turned out to be quiet an adventure because of fallen trees blocking the way and a rather steep and rocky section at the end.

On the other side of the river lies Tintern with its impressive abbey.

After Tintern we had to climb out of the Wye valley to continue our way westward. We cycled to Usk together where our short time as a trio already came to an end. Reja wanted to choose a flatter route closer to the coast, while we were heading farther North.

It was a pleasant ride through the country side. And I decided I want to become a tree designer in Wales when I grow up.

After a hefty push uphill, we cycled along the Brecon canal until we reached our destination for the day.

We stayed with Rachel and Luke close to Abergavenny. Rachel is a successful athlet, having just competed at the commonwealth games on the gold coast in track racing. Now they are planning their honeymoon: a bike ride from New York to Los Angeles.

They made a great BBQ cook up for us. Mushrooms with nuts and cheese, couscous with dried tomatoes and there were quiet a few more items on the buffet. For desert we tried homemade scones with marmelade and cream. Thus established to be trustworthy, we followed their advice to have a look at the “big pit” mining site at Blaenavon.

Before going underground one is equipped with the necessary items to survive in a mine.

Our guide John had worked in the mines for over twenty years. And although he still considers it a lucky day when he got a job at the mine, he feels like he was done a favor when the they finally closed down. Enabling him to give tours today in a good state of health.

It was a short cycling day after the visit underground. It started to rain and the evening was rather sad, pitching our tent on a vacant camping site with the reception already closed. Luckily the weather cleared until the morning and we had a good day of cycling, lost of climbing included.

After being on the road for five days, we found ourselves on a campground next to a little stream and a nice bench with table next to our tent. It looked like a good opportunity to take a day off. We celebrated a bit after those hills with a cider and creamy mushroom pasta and the next day with an apple pie to restore our energies.

Over the next days we’ll continue to cycle through Wales until Pembroke from where we plan to take the ferry to Ireland.

Categories
food locations music people

Bretagne

We arrived in Redon in the afternoon and passed the time, until our host Anne arrived, in the lovely cafe of the train station.

Anne works in the tourist office and was so kind to show us around town before we bought the ingredients for dinner.

We made some crepes, which we accompanied with apple cider. Both very typical for the Bretagne.

The next day we rejoined the Velodyssee, which was running along the canal between Nantes and Brest.

It had its straight stretches but had enough diversity to make it an interesting ride.

We conquered some castles along the way, but decided it would be too much work to maintain one.

Another welcome diversion were the beautiful little towns, like Josselin here.

As we arrived too late to visit the castle, we at least had a good look from the outside.

There are enough beautiful places to make a break with tables and benches. And from time to time, if one is lucky, with a small garden of spices to enhance one’s sandwich.

Typical sights are the locks, from which there are more than a hundred. Often with a nice garden and trees in front of the guardian’s house, who seem to take pride in maintaining these old premises.

The campsites were beautiful too. These were mostly smaller ones and had a more familiar atmosphere. At one of these sites next to the lake of Guerledan we tasted some local beer.

Food and drink were delicious and even on a Sunday afternoon you don’t have to despair if you are left without baguette.

Christophe from warmshowers was so kind to let us camp in his garden the next day. There were so many beautiful spots around the old water mill. In the end we set up camp below this apple tree.

In the morning we drank tea out of mugs he made himself and he told us a bit about his passion for pottery.

We were lucky to find a host in Morlaix which was a really lovely time with Catherine and Michel. In the evening we played some songs on the guitar and piano with the family. And while Andrea was singing ‘Besame mucho’, Michel was accompanying her with his pocket saxophone. They let us stay a day longer which we used to have a walk through town. Looking over Morlaix next to its famous viaduct.

And the view from below.

There are crêpes and there are galletes in France. Crêpes is what most of us know. Galettes are the version with buckwheat and is exclusively eaten with salty toppings. Catherine is a master of the arts. Especially the galettes, the dough made without eggs and only water, pose a challenge.

Here with the typical egg and cheese version which we topped with some grilled vegetables.

After Morlaix it was just a day’s ride towards Roscoff from where we would take the ferry to Plymouth in England. France turned out to be a wonderful country to cycle tour and if we’d have the chance, we wouldn’t hesitate to come back.

Categories
food locations people

Paris

Travelling with the train in France turned out to be a pleasure. Even in the TGV one can make a reservation for bicycles and enter the train without having to disassemble anything.

We left Bordeaux late in the evening and got to Paris at 11pm. I was worried getting into a big city that late and having to figure out how to get to one’s destination. In the end we just cycled the last kilometers through Paris, which took us past the Notre Dame, and we enjoyed our nightly ride immensely.

Luckily I had contacted Laure some days before and we could stay at her and her partner Sasha’s place for a couple of nights.

The first day we made a long walk through the city, first following the Canal Saint Martin and then crossing Republique and le Marais until we found ourselves on the Seine once more.

The second day we tried to change the date of our return flight. Sort of a lost day that was saved by a Chinese dinner and our resilience, which we had trained since the beginning of the trip.

The third day we made a typical tourist circuit, which took us to the Tour Eiffel, the Arc de Triomphe and finally to Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur.

There were a couple of musicians playing in front of it and we stayed almost half an hour to listen and to sing along.

Spring was finally arriving and one could see more and more flowers now even in northern Europe.

We changed location and stayed two nights at a hostel as some special surprise guests were coming to Paris for the party of the 30th birthday of Sasha.

It was nice to be invited to a party again. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities to go out within the past weeks and our last night out was in Seville. After some presents and a birthday cake, the volume was turned up and almost everybody was dancing. We got a crash course in modern French music and this was lasting until some neighbour was banging at the door, requesting that the volume should be turned down again. As it was almost three in the morning, we left soon afterwards to rest a little.

The next day we met Felipe, a friend with whom I stayed the last time when I was in Paris, just after the first big bicycle trip when I was coming back from New Zealand. As he is a father now, we stayed close to his home in a nice cafe, drank some delicious hot chocolate and later went to the park after his daughter and partner Carole had woken up from their siesta. It was a lot of fun chatting, while observing the communication going on between the children and the interaction in the play area.

The last night we made pizza which we accompanied with a bottle of Bordeaux wine and we could stay at Laure’s apartment once more.

Our last day in Paris was finally a sunny one and it was nice to see all the cafés filled with people as we were cycling back to the train station and a part of us wanted to stay and soak up the atmosphere a little more.

As we had made a good experience travelling with our bicycles by train, we once more boarded a TGV for the last chapter of mainland Europe for the time being. Next stop: Redon and la Bretagne.

Categories
food travel

Crossing into España

We crossed the river Guadiana from Vila Real to Ayamonte and stopped at playa Taray for the night. We still had some ingredients left from the last time we made pizza and decided to give it another go on the camp stove. Although the heat is more difficult to control and it burns more quickly, they turned out great again.

After the mixed experience with the ecovia, this continued on the spanish side with de vía verde del litoral. This time it was at least foreseeable as mentioned on their webpage that the cyclepath would be in disrepair. After the weather turned wet and wetter, sometimes it was enough to cruise around the puddles of water,

but in some places the path was so muddy or a bridge was closed, that any advancement was almost impossible.

We arrived in Huelva and spontaneously decided to board a train to Sevilla. For one, because of the weather forecast and to advance a little after more rest days then planned because of the rain.

Categories
food people travel

Algarve

In Carrapateira we stayed two days without leaving the guesthouse much. The one time we left with courage after seeing some rays of sunlight as well as bits of blue sky lasted about half an hour in which we got to see some of the rugged coastline.

In Lagos we had to overcome some inundation from all the rain along the path to the cliffs.

And then walked almost as far as the lighthouse to have a view of the coastline towards Lagos.

On the farthest point of our walk we stopped a while to watch the change in light and pattern on the breaking waves.

Our next stop was Faro where we first strolled through the historic centre while messing around,

and then went on to see peacocks in the park of Alameda.

The ecovia, part of the Eurovelo cycle network, east of Faro is mostly a disaster, especially after rain. The parts inbetween Luz de Tavira and Tavira as well as Conceição and Vila Real de Santo Antonio are good. East of Tavira as well as east of Faro are closed bridges, marches or other obstacles that make it sometimes impossible to continue. We stayed at the campsite in Fuseta in lovely company. Mostly retired people that escaped the cold weather father north in Europe. Malcolm was an outstanding example. He let us cook and weather the rain in the vestibule of his second camper that was usually reserved for family visiting. Being protected from the rain and having a camp kitchen at our disposal made our plan to make pizza easier. It is still a hassle making the base in a pan and then get everything cooked well and the cheese melting before the underside gets burnt but it turned out oh so well.

The smell of pine trees has been a good companion on many days in Portugal like here on our last kilometers to Monte Gordo.

From here we took a quick walk to the beach before setting up camp.

We made good use of the empty terrace of the closed restaurant in the campground to cook and stayed the next day in our tent for the first half of the day and in a small cafe in town for the second half as it continued to rain outside. And we started to wonder if we had formed an idea of cycling in southern Portugal and Spain that had more sun and warmth in it than reality could offer.

Categories
food locations music people

rosario

Buenos Aires was just a stopover. My singing coach who is living there part of the year, was still in Berlin. And another girl from the capital i met during my time in Colombia, was still travelling in Mexico. So i had no real reason to stay, especially since Maggie and Bryan would be coming to Rosario for a visit. I spent only a day before taking a bus to Rosario where i met Andrea on the terminal. We had a day to ourselves before the Canadians rolled into town. It was quite exciting when the door bell rang and we put two more bikes first in the lift and then on the balcony, where mine was already leaning next to Andrea’s. The next day we all went to the river where there’s usually a refreshing breeze and enjoyed once more being together and leaving the bicycles on the balcony for a while.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Taking a bus first and then hiring a boat, we went to one of the island in front of Rosario. We brought the guitar as well as hot water to prepare Mate and spent the day at the beach.

P1070009

We had already met Soledad, Agustín and Patricio, a cycling trio, when we stayed in Cafayate. For our reunion they organized an Asado next to the river. This is our lovely group.

p2asado

Asado is a big thing in Argentina. Almost a form of art to some, the procedure takes time until the coal breaks into tiny pieces and can be spread out to get an even and constant source of heat. One could argue if all this is necessary for a get-together but the social aspect is integral part of it. Leaving enough time for the asador to socialize and tend to his drink, which here in Argentina is usually a Fernet mixed with Cola.

P1070021

A lot of people we met are musicians and so music was also an integral part of our days here. Once they were a duo playing the clubs in Rosario. Now for another time Andrea & Nieves were singing in the living room.

P1070028

Food was abundant these days and we made something special out of each meal. Fruit and Bryan’s pancakes for breakfast, or Maggie’s Chili for dinner, there was always an idea ready when we were getting hungry and we enjoyed preparing and sharing our meals.

P1070031

It was a sad day when Maggie and Bryan were finally leaving after staying an extra three days, but as we all know: goodbyes are a part of travelling. And there is always a part in you that knows that you are left that much richer then you were before, which outbalances the sadness. They would be going to Gualeguaychu for its famous Carnival celebrations. You can read about it here and their account of Rosario here.

Categories
food people travel

lago carrera

After taking the turnoff to Puerto Ibañez, it was mostly downhill towards Lago Carrera and a tailwind was pushing me swiftly along. And then one last look back…

P1060749

A common view in Patagonia, a body of water with snow capped mountains looming in the background. This was my goodbye to this wonderful place.

P1060753

Then the Lago Carrera came into view and in the evening i took a ferry across it together with two other cyclists from germany.

P1060800

The wind was blowing strong but i still preferred to spend the crossing on deck. I camped in Chile Chico and tried one of the homebrewed cervezas, the son of the familie running the campground made himself. The next day it was only some kilometers to the border before crossing into argentinian territory again. One could see the road for miles ahead and besides the changing colours of the lake…

P1060870

…not much was to be seen besides some armadillos.

P1060868

The road kept following the lake with the only difference being that it now was called Lago Buenos Aires. And it was pleasant enough with another tailwind keeping the pedaling effort to a minimum until reaching the small town of Perito Moreno. On the nice municipal campground my neightbour had pitched the same tent as mine in the other available colour less optimized for stealth camping.

P1060888

From here it would be all buses, and hopefully a train in between, until Buenos Aires.

Categories
fashion food locations music people

cafayate

We had received a recommendation for a hostel which is quickly becoming the cyclist hangout in town: the Huayra Sanipi. It turned out to be a stroke of luck and soon all plans to reach Mendoza until christmas were forgotton.

Five kilometers from town starts a trek to a series of waterfalls along a steep valley. The idea was to visit some of them, but in the end, when we reached a pool and the sun was blazing down on us, we decided to have a swim instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once again i met fellow cyclists Maggie and Bryan, whom i met now i think for the fourth time during this trip. You can read Maggie’s account of the time during christmas here.

Cafayate is famous for its wine. Some of the bodegas are within walking distance from the hostel and so we went to some tastings.

P1050820

‘Nanny’ is one of the winegrowers who produces with strict ecological norms. Their patio, which we visited during the short tour through the premises, is one of the nicest in town.

P1050821

The hostel displays the spirit of its guests, who left all sorts of paintings and notes on the walls.

P1050856

Camping under the vines was as good as it gets. The first grapes were getting ripe during our stay, and especially bryan was lured out of his hammock from time to time to grab some.

P1050876

Goat cheese became a favourite for lunchtime in northern Argentina and when we heard about a goat farm not far from town, it was just a matter of time until we paid them a visit to taste their cheese. A small tour explained the process of making cheese and took us through their farm, before tasting some variations with different herbs and we left happily with a piece of flavoured goat cheese in our bags.

One of the best things about the Huayra was the communal dinners every evening, or rather every night, as it would hardly start anytime before ten. Especially on our first evening this was a challenge as sleepiness and hunger were battling against each other. But after a day or two it became normal. And with the adjustment to local habits, mainly taking a siesta in the afternoon, we were soon embracing this way of life (photo by Alvaro).

10941687_341176489407127_315525876_n

Here with Christian and Pepo, the two owners, who are investing heart and soul into this place. On one of these occasions, rather at the beginning of our stay, i foolheartedly agreed to prepare the next dinner. That night we were only eight people sharing the dinner table, but towards christmas, more and more people arrived, and the next evening, our number had doubled. So i was in the kitchen for four hours preparing ‘Käsespätzle’, a dish i had prepared before but never from scratch with making the dough for the ‘pasta’ myself. Luckily, a girl from south tyrol helped out with her experience without which this would have certainly ended in disaster. It turned out great, the wood fired oven in the garden adding a flavour that went well with this hearty dish, and even though it looked like you could feed a peloton of cyclists with it, there was just enough for everybody.

One evening we went out to the ‘el ombu’ restaurant, where Andrea, a talented singer from Rosario and also guest of the hostel, was playing a concert.

P1050929

We arrived with everybody from the hostel during the concert, almost doubled the number of the audience and hopefully gave some moral support.

For christmas we prepared an asado, the argentinian version of a barbeque, which is never just about the food but also a social event. In a country famous for its meat, we also put sufficient veggies on the grill.

P1050948

The atospehere was like “en casa”. The temperatures stayed pleasant throughout the night and so we had, also because there was not enough room inside as our number had grown to around thirty, the dinner on christmas eve in the garden.

P1050939

After which Pepo Clause was arriving with the gifts.

P1050953

And after so much work, he stayed a while to have a proper rest with a small bottle of christmas spirit.

P1050958

After christmas most people left town. Here a last goodbye with most members of the family.

10425445_10204571882391528_5819316819277941345_n

And we also got ourselves ready to leave that cozy place and say our goodbyes to people with whom we had shared an amazing time.