Going Car Free

(Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration)

A few years ago, you might have heard me utter “I’m going to try and get through my life without a car” which somehow became, “I’m never getting in a car again.” Even reading that back sounds ridiculous. But it’s already been a year since I set foot in a car…and most of my friends and colleagues don’t even know or care about it. Note: I’m a reasonably normal person with a steady job and I don’t live in a tree-house. So how difficult is it for a modern-day Westerner … Continue reading

Been There, Done That

A bridge in a forest somewhere in Germany.

They both looked at the chaotic pile they had created on the floor. I would have asked them what they had packed and why they had packed so much, but I didn’t need to. All I had to do was look at the floor covering an entire section of the hostel room to see the countless possessions of theirs strewn across it. This was the ‘bare minimum‘ they could take with them. After several hours of excruciating packing and unpacking and sorting and re-sorting this is what they had whittled … Continue reading

Barcelona Pickpockets

Take extra care on the metro. Pickpockets love it here.

I had seven journeys left on my ticket but a tiny fold on the card caused it to be jammed inside the machine and the whole thing just shut down. So I pushed an *English* help button found on a nearby ticket machine but they said that they couldn’t speak any English. Perfect. Spanglish it is then. But sadly I was completely ignored; counted off as just another tourist ruining their city. It’s 2am on Sunday morning. I’m drunk, tired and want to go home, and Barcelona metro owes me … Continue reading

Cycling The Pyrenees and Andorra

Andorra la Villa, the capital city of Andorra.

A cycle through the night until 2.am. left me feeling pretty exhausted, especially because I was woken up early from the clanking of two lads trying to fix a dodgy lorry on the road next to where I was sleeping. After reluctantly packing up, I sat lazily next to the river in Quillan – the last sizeable town in the south of France before the Pyrenees take over – and alternated between coffee, sleep, and looking at the map. There was lots of cycling to do over the next few … Continue reading

The “Hardships” of Cycle Touring

That's a brake by the way.

After a hard day of cycling, I thought I would have a nice relaxing night at the top of a hill and cracked open a bottle of wine and watched a movie on my laptop. I sleepily rolled out my camping mat and sleeping bag in between the grapevines and lay down “under the stars” (clouds) before drifting off. I woke up not long after though, from little raindrops hitting off my face. I grunted and reluctantly pulled myself out of my cosy sleeping bag to get the tent off … Continue reading

From rags to riches (and back to rags)

Me, bike and beach

An old gentleman greeted us on the street. “You called”, he said, as he shook our hands and invited us in through a large wooden door on the wall. We walked through the diverse garden, past the swimming pool and Jaguar in the driveway, and into the mansion house quietly overlooking the area. We sat outside drinking unlabelled wine with him and the few other guests staying at the hotel, and told some stories. Now those that know me well, know that this isn’t my type of thing (tents are). … Continue reading

An Adventure Through the Swiss Alps

Jamie, bike and mountain

The air was soft and muggy as I left the hostel in Fribourg, heading through the light rain and crossing through the hills of the national park, Gantrisch, and onward to the popular tourist destination of Interlaken. I’d heard of Interlaken before somehow, but had no real intention of going there, except that it was the easiest way for me to get to the Alps from my current location. This once small village has turned into a bit of a tourist trap, but I can see why people like it … Continue reading

Freiburg to Fribourg

Cycling along the smooth cycle paths across Switzerland

Freiburg rests at the foot of the Black Forest in the south-west of Germany. It’s a medium sized city, founded almost 900 years ago, with cycle paths strewn all over, a high student population and is supposedly one of the warmest and sunniest parts of Germany. Of course, it was raining the whole time we were there. We met Phil again in the afternoon and despite the rain, and the possibility of a thunderstorm, we went for a walk up “Schlossberg”, a hill overlooking the city and the site of … Continue reading

The Black Forest

Thomais on the rocks of the river Murg, near Forbach

Last week, I was joined by Thomais, whom I met in Rotterdam and is cycling with me for a few days. I wasn’t sure of a good route south to Switzerland, but with some advice from the guys of “Planet Velo” (thanks) a small bicycle shop I stumbled across in Karlsruhe, Germany, we set off in search of Forbach, a small, isolated town in the middle of the Black Forest (a forest over 150km long, and incidentally, is where “black forest” cake gets its name from…mmmh). The sun was beaming … Continue reading

Rhineland, Saarland and the French German Border

Literally spoilt for choice in terms of cycle routes. You can cycle hundreds of kilometres through stunning scenery without ever being on a road.

I found myself at the start of last week stranded in the small city of Trier in West Germany for a couple of days, near Luxembourg, until the rain finally lifted. I’d pitched my tent on a scenic hill overlooking the city, just behind a hedge, next to a church. It was so well hidden that I could leave my things there for the day and wander around the city. The choice of cycle paths in this region is simply amazing. If you ask at the tourist office on any … Continue reading