Europe · 32 Days · 39 Moments · July 2017

andrew's travels

15 August 2017

People I've met, post #9 Meet: Si-dog Lives in: Hong Kong Place of meet: Budapest Profession: Traveller, teaches english a bit too Coming from: Croatia So I bumped into this guy and we got stuck into some local beers and pizza. It seems as if we were from the same country,from the same town in fact..and then I found out we went to the same schools..and then bizarrely that our families knew each other and that even more bizarrely that they had worked together and we had actually lived not more than 100m of each other growing up! Crazy world this travelling It was great catching up with Si and it seems that if I wanted to meet up with such an esteemed world traveller that I would have to become one myself, and travel to Budapest to see him! Si was spending 3 weeks of his 6 week holiday in Croatia and then Budapest, after having spent some time at home in Zim. He was fresh off a 3 day party at Sziget, a popular island festival in Budapest, and heading back to HK the next day.

14 August 2017

Budapest, mike drop, out So I arrived in Budapest and unfortunately had only one night before I was set to catch a plane to Nice for my flight back home. It seems as if you are not allowed to catch the second part of your connecting flight, which was my original plan on cycling to Istanbul, as I was flying Turkish Airlines. I've decided to bring my back with me too. At the beginning of my journey, with my cycling group, I remember them asking if I was going to take it back and I said possibly but that it might be easier just to sell it. They looked at me apprehensively and said that you will become attached to it and not want to part with it. And they were right. 'It' soon became a 'her' and after the 3 weeks of cycling it wasn't even on the cards to part with her. It seems as if Turkish Airlines don't charge to carry a bike too so it's working out well so far. Although it wouldn't even have mattered really :)

12 August 2017

Sneaky day today Sneaky in a few ways. I had seen that it was a 140km cycle to Budapest which was my goal for the day and so I planned accordingly. I had researched that there was a safer route diverting back into the Slovakian side and following the Danube into Budapest from that side rather. What I hadn't expected though was that this route would actually go back before it went forward, making my trip a couple of hours longer. This diversion led me into the incredibly beautiful town of Esztergom which I otherwise wouldn't have passed through. This town was host to the Basilica of Esztergom- a Hungarian Cathedral. With Budapest now having to wait till tomorrow with the added time on today's journey, I had to look for plan B which again got me to a sneakily nice campsite in Nagymaros, about 60kms outside Budapest, which has great food, beer and sleeping bungalows at very affordable rates

11 August 2017

People I've met, post #8 Meet: Lisa From: Calgary, Canada Place of meet: Bratislava Reason for travel: Holiday Method of travel: Flying, bussing, staying with friends, hostels, camping Coming from: Slovenia, Croatia Still to go: Hungary-Budapest Profession: Student, about to start her masters in Occupational Therapy Enjoys: Hiking, travelling, beer Interest: Does part time work in a beer brewery I met Lisa in a hostel in Bratislava but only upon waking up as she had come in at 4am after a bit of a nightmare with transport, and her bus being delayed in the previous nights storm. She joyfully announced as well that it was her birthday and I felt it a privilege that I was able to share this day with her. Lisa was on her way to watch a music festival in Slovakia later that day and had made a special effort to divert her trip slightly to watch one of her favourite artists Aurora. She told me how 2 weeks ago she had climbed Mount Triglav in Slovenia, about 3000m, which had took 10 hours!

10 August 2017

Bratislava by night and then onto Hungary I think I enjoyed Bratislava more than I did Vienna. It was alot less busy and and it had quite a special feel arriving at night. Both capitals were part of the same empire back in the day apparently, and they have similar histories, with Bratislava considered a smaller Vienna. Pictured is Michael's Gate, the last surviving entrance into the old town, the quirky statues which give the city it's character and St. Martin's Cathedral. It was then onto Hungary in the morning although incidently, it was only after having cycled for about 20km and then referring to Google maps for some directions, did I actually realise that I was in Hungary! It's nice cycling at the moment with the Eurovelo route 6 clearly sign posted, and as a result, I have had to refer very little to Google maps to confirm where I am and where I'm going Barring any major complication, I should be in Budapest by tonight

9 August 2017

Out of Austria and into Slovakia Or more accurately out of the capital of Austria, Vienna, and into the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. Although it was only 63km and from what I've told are the 2 closest capitals in the world. I may also have stayed in Vienna a little longer than expected. This had nothing to do with the comfort of the hostel and being able to catch up on game of thrones in the Internet lounge, or the fact that when I did try leave one evening I found that I was helmetless and then had to make a trip to Sports Direct before I could cycle safely again. What about the cycling you say? Well I did to some of that, I first went to the Schönbrunn Summer Palace and then onto the famous Prater Park and it's Ferris wheel, which offered a great view of Vienna and an interesting history of how it continued through the various eras of the city.

7 August 2017

Vienna!! What a beautiful place. There's so much going on here it's overwhelming. There's too many sites, too much history and so many things to do. My first mission was to get to my hostel which was tricky when my battery died. It took me 40 minutes from first entering Vienna as the city is so big. It didn't help that I kept getting distracted by 'must take picture' moments. So after my first sleep in a bed in a fortnight, it was time to put on my cultural shoes and join the masses. I subsequently found that I had a flat tyre when I tried to cycle into town so I had to do a bit of maintenance for the first part of the morning. Vienna seems to be cycling central and the prices reflected this, so I resolved to do the maintenance myself, something I can picture my dad saying and doing. I then attended a walking tour and learnt a fair bit about St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Graben Plague Column and the Kaerntner shopping street.
People I've met, post #7 Meet: Lukas (centre) and friends From: Vienna, Austria Place of meet: Grein, Austria Reason for travel: Cycle for change Destination: Heinland Climate Camp, Germany Method of travel: Bike and tent Profession: student, PHD at Unitech Vienna, renewable energy Background: Lukas and his friends were cycling from Vienna to Heinland in Germany to protest the mining of Lignite there. It is the biggest source of CO2 due from the machinery and diggers. The camp and workshop run from the 24th to the 29th and they plan to protest to shut down operations of the mine over that time. Last year, he said, they were able to make the mine run at only 10% for 2 days due to their protesting. He plans to meet up with 6000 other campaigners, and his group Cycle for Change ( cycle from all parts of Europe to join. The cycling is the key point he says to the campaign, as they look for solutions to the emissions.

6 August 2017

Day 2 Tour de Austria I was officially greeted into Austria with a long line of stalls, I presume for the cyclists. It showed how popular this part of the Danube Cycle was. There were info stalls, beer stalls, jam stalls, even hat stalls! The cycling tracks in Vienna are a breeze and the easiest I've been on so far. There are 2 you can follow, either side of the river, and both tarred and well sign posted. There was a ferry which I had to catch for €2 when the track ended for a bit on the one side. The conditions of the day were horrendous though, I think the cycling gods were having a go at me for saying that I was happy on the bike no matter what in my post earlier yesterday morning. I am determined to make Vienna in 2 days though, so I pushed on through the rain and wind and made it to the halfway mark, Grein, a little after nightfall. I'm on track today, leaving a little than expected, but write this post from the town of Melk overlooked by the Melk Abbey.
"That Forrest Gump lifestyle, and those Walter Mitty moments" So I sit here in a Shell garage (continuing my sampling of cheesecakes and coffees), and it's after getting completely drenched last night in my tent and having to sleep in a wet sleeping bag. Couple this with my ongoing problems as posted in my idiot abroad post and you would think that I'm having a real average time here. But it's a funny one and it's something I was chatting to my mate Andy Wassung about. As soon as I get on the bike it all just doesn't matter and it becomes real simple, a Forrest Gump lifestyle- if you are hungry then eat and if you are tired then sleep. And those Walter Mitty moments where he's skateboarding down the mountain side and he feels free or they're looking at a snow Leopard and sometimes he captures the image or he doesn't (for the record I have tried to capture most of those moments in my pics). But I think there's something about the simplicity of life when you cycle.

5 August 2017

People I've met, post #6 Meet: Jamie From: Tring, Hartfordshire, UK Travelling to: Vienna Profession: In the transition from student to an engineering job in the marine industry Method of travel: Bike, tents, hostels and 'couchsurfing with hot German girls' Reason for travel: To surprise his mom in Vienna who is going on holiday there Likes: Cycling up hills So I met Jamie at Bad Abbach and it was good to speak English with someone after a bit. Jamie had 4 weeks since graduating from the University of Newcastle to starting an engineering job in Plymouth. He decided to jump on his his bike and start cycling, and I mentioned how this was similar to my story. His fondness for sampling various German beers was also something we had in common. His brother was taking his mom on a holiday, but it was a surprise that it was Vienna and Jamie planned to meet up with them in Vienna to add to the surprise. We joined forces for the next 100km down the Danube.
Germany, that's a wrap So i've completed my tour of Germany with a 150km cycle from Bad Abbach to Passau, which is the last German city on the Austrian border. It's marching onto Austria I therefore go in the morning! I met up with a a fellow cyclist, Jamie, travelling along the same route to Vienna. We teamed up and explored and coffeed the city of Regensburg and had a look at its famous Stone Bridge which was unfortunately under renovation and then the cathedral. I did some calculations at this point and was determined to get to Deggendorf, an 80km cycle away, by 4 o'clock in time for the Superrugby Final between Lions and Crusaders. I had seen that Sky Sports were showing it so found an Irish pub - probably one of the only Irish pubs along the Danube. I made it in time but was forced to stream it as it was not being aired in Germany. Great game and an unfortunate loss for the Lions. Then 3 hours to Passau and just in time to catch some epic shots of the river in the evening.

4 August 2017

People I've met, post #4 2 separate families, from left to right Cecile and Christian, and Helene and Elizabeth Cecile and Christian From: Bloise France, Loire Valley Profession: Diesel Engine Manufacture, Refugees for Asylum Going to: Passau Reason for travelling: Cycling Holiday Method: They parked their car at the start of the Danube and will return by train after cycling to Passau Helene and Elibabeth From: Normandy Going to: As far as they can go before returning to work on the 14th Profession: Preparing prisoners for freedom, student Reason for travelling: 3rd Mother and daughter cycling trip Conversation The families invited me for a pasta dinner and after that we got into some card games. Christian explained the need for safety and do I chatted to Cecile about her work with Refugees and the increased figures over the past few years, although not to much in France she said. Helene warned me that cycling in Romania, my last leg down the Danube, could be hard with my roadbike.

3 August 2017

Into Neuburg on der Donau last night, and Bad Abbach tonight My planned schedule got cut short last night, excuse the pun, with my little incident and trip to the hospital. But it turned out great as 2 sets of families at the camp site I went to offered me some dinner with them (I think after seeing my bandages and sorry state of affairs) and then some card games late into the night. A quick stop to oil my chain and then it was onto Bad Abbach, which was very ironic considering how much hurt my back has taken so far this trip. I was told by the same set of campers about a ferry trip along the days route, and it was awesome. It started from an abbey which is the oldest beer house in Germany and went through the gorges of Kelheim. The on board announcer said facts about rock and landscape we passed, mentioning how pirates had used the caves back in the day, and the markings along rocks showing the great floods over certain years in Germany.
People I've met #3 Name: Dr. Diaz Profession: Doctor Interests: Helping people, especially after accidentally slicing themselves with a knife From: Neuburg on der Donau I accidentally cut myself while stopping for a dinner break last night. I was slicing bread and, without a table, my army knife slipped and nipped my leg! Blood just started spraying and oozing out, and I panicked a bit as I had never had this happen to me or seen blood come out of me before. Luckily there was a doctor eating at a restaurant close by and he assured me it would be ok and that the blood was good to get rid of any infection, and that I should consider going to the hospital if I was worried. So not taking any chances, it was off to the hospital to meet Dr.Diaz who gave me 2 stitches and some bandaging. He also said that cycling will be ok although it does feel very uncomfortable at the moment. It's onto Ingolstadt now and then I'm hoping to catch a gorge ferry ride which I heard about this morning.

2 August 2017

100 miler done, from Sigmaringen through Ulm and into Dillingen It's something I've been targeting and glad I was able to accomplish it. I did get help I think with the route, it did feel as if it was a constant slight downhill and I was getting places quicker. So at Ulm, with 45km still needed to complete 100 miles I decided to go for it and chose a campsite roughly 50km away. Battling the dark are the end, I came in at 105 miles. It's something I might have to do more of because at the moment my flight from Turkey is booked for the 17th of this month which gives me 2 and a half weeks to do the whole Danube. I spoke to my cycling mates, Thierry and Dave, about it at the beginning of my trip and they raised their eyebrows and said it could be tough. Challenge accepted The other pics here are some more of Ulm, a really stunning and bustling city
I've gotten into Ulm and I write this after just visiting the Ulmer Münster- the Cathedral of Ulm. I phoned home last night and after telling my folks about my adventures so far my mom remarked "won't it be easier just to bus or train across europe". She was concerned that I was riding too far. And I'm determined to do it properly. Take for example yesterday, there was a time when it would've been easier to town hop as the Danube River did a U bend, and cut 52 mins off my journey. But I knew I could not do this as I then could not claim that I had cycled the Danube. However the Eurovelo route, along with the GPS now have come to let me down often so far with tar roads becoming dirt roads- roads I can't use with my road bike. It's times like these I come to understand why my dad dislikes the GPS so much in that you put so much faith in it and then it let's you down - and after many hours riding it's the last thing you want.
An idiot abroad, post #1 The 1 and a half hours so far have been a limp in and it's good to get my first cup of coffee at the moment at a cafe in Donauwörth. My body has been pretty tender after my big ride yesterday and it's why I want to write this post, similar to the theme of Karl Pilkingtons show, an Idiot Abroad, where he takes an alternative, perhaps, negative view of his travels. All he's doing is looking at the funny side which people don't tell you about travelling, and I think it's important as its not always rainbows and butterflies and I dislike the way somethings are always portrayed as being 'great'. So like I said my body is pretty sore, and then it rained last night and my sleeping bag seems to be constantly wet. I'm a bit worried about putsies! I think with all the cycling catching up to me I wasn't able to sleep much last night. Pictured above is me outside a supermarket a bit too tired to look for a spot to eat my food so it was easier to just take a seat there!

1 August 2017

Start of the Danube: Donaueschingen to Sigmaringen I was expecting a bit more of an official start to the much heralded Danube Cycle Path, but a few arrows with bikes on was all I got. So with this I decided that the towns famous Donauquelle, the fountain pond, could mark my official start. It was plain sailing for the most part with the guided signs letting me know where to go. Unfortunately these did let me down for a little of the section as again it led me onto dirt roads. In these cases I look for the nearest tar road and then zoom out of my map on my phone and follow the mapped blue line as best I can to the final destination. I've just gotten off to another day and took in the sight of the Sigmaringen castle before before leaving, which wasn't a bad way to start the day.
People I've met #2 Meet: Phillipe, Camille and Eugenie Nationality: French Occupation: Nursery School Teacher (ex nature reserve guide), students Hobbies: Hiking, nature Reason for travel: School holidays and would like his children to learn German culture Method of Travel: Car and tent Place of meet: Campsite just outside Donaueschingen Conversation After again looking at my tent and trying to sum up that initial energy to pack it all up..again and start cycling..again, Phillipe next door offered me some French Press Coffee ( the French just call it coffee) and jam on bread. #1 He told me that there was a town in the Vosges mountains range which I had just cycled through, where it rains so much that the people who live there are jokingly rumoured to have frog feet #2 he said how the Germans don't seem to be as hospitable and friendly as the French, and I agreed, after all I was in Germany being offered coffee and bread by a travelling french family!

31 July 2017

I've made Donaueschingen, which is the official start of the Danube Cycle Track. But it wasn't easy! The German mountains were tough, I should've known as in that one snapshot I posted yesterday said 1100m up and only 500m down, essentially meaning that all I did was hit a plateau and carry on cycling - and no real downhill on the other side. There was one really busy road which I was forced to cycle on as well after my route just ended (see pic). I wasn't quite too sure what to do with this info halfway up the mountain! It was definitely the most uncomfortable I've been cycling so far, but the road did go into 2 lanes and the motorists are good to cyclists in Germany. After an hour cycling this morning I've officially reached the Danube River - Europe's second longest river and the start of the Danube Cycle Track. From here I follow the Eurovelo 6 cycling route through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and finally Romania till I get to the black sea.
It's like a whole nother n country here!! My 2 hour trip so far into Germany has been so easy to ride, they have these tarred cycle tracks next to the main roads and so many of them linking all the small towns. These are all the green routes in the photo and there seems to be so many of them. I had time to relax by the pool this morning at the campsite, which are getting more expensive the more I head east..this last one was €12 compared to €6 in the middle of France when I first headed off. I passed an 'honesty' flower garden which I thought was interesting and something my mom would like, a do it yourself and leave the money kind of thing. But it's no time to rest on my laurels I've found as I seem to be at the foot of another mountain range which separates me from Donaueschingen and the start of the Danube Cycle Path. I wasn't expecting this and it looks as if the climbing will be double as hard as yesterday!! See you on the other side :)

30 July 2017

Into the mountains!! So a tough day coming up as I enter into the mountain stage of my journey. While doing some research over some very nice chocolate cake and coffee in a french batousserie, I've decided to change course and head to Mullhouse following the Mosselle river, rather than a little higher up and the slightly quicker route to Strasbourg. I felt that there was opportunity for a more enjoyable cycle as there appears to be cycle routes all the way down the river. I'm hoping that these are road bike routes as well and not just mountain bikes but I guess I'll see. The roads between the towns are good too as they are not used much with the highway close by, so there will always be a plan B. Either way I head into the Vosges Mountain range which will mean a bit of climbing. Before leaving Épinal I had the chance to visit the Place Des Vosges cathedral, the historical landmark of the town.

29 July 2017

Frustrating day from Nancy to Épinal Satisfied from watching an epic light show in Nancy the night before, I set off, but less than a couple of km's leaving the campsite I got my first flat tyre. I was determined to fix it myself after getting help for the last 2 that I've had. This took me close to an hour and a half and I achieved it although I wasn't too sure about it and walked another 2km to a bike store to have a look. A spoke on my back had also broken and I needed this checked out. After fixing both for a slightly steep fee (it was a Specialized store, pros I think) I set off only to puncture the same tyre 20mins later. I caught a bus back and they had another look and replaced the inner tape inside the tyre - i think the thing which prevents the spokes from coming through. So I cut my losses and and pushed on nonetheless to Epinal, only 4 hours away and much less than I had hoped for the day, but as my mom would say - it's better than a poke in the eye with a broken stick.

28 July 2017

A good 120kayer got me to Nancy. I've been told there's an awesome light show on the ancient building so I'm doing some research into that now and will hopefully experience it. I felt like pushing on with the last 1 and half hours of daylight still to go but I decided to exercise caution as the next camp site was 2 hours away. Today had its ups and downs (figuratively and literally). The Google maps cycle paths are a bit of a lottery as it doesn't provide for what bike you are on. My bike tyres are only for road cycling and the GPS will take me on some epic bike only tar canal paths for example but at the next turn a farm road. So today got off to a great canal path for 20km where I was loving life and then I got to a lateral road next to the highway which unfortunately was a very loose gravel road. From there I had to turn to some back roads which wasn't plain sailing but did the job. Pictured above is the St Ettiens Cathedral in Toul - it was too big for my camera!!
People I've met #1 Meet: Jean-Jacque, Annie and Corantin Occupation: Retired, engineer and art teacher From: Versailles Travelling to: On holiday with grandson Place of meet: Bar-le-Duc camp site Hobbies: cycling, flying small planes Conversation: Annie came up to meet after I think I was caught staring at an unpacked tent for too long, trying to motivate myself for another day. She invited me to join them for a bowl (note bowl not cup of coffee, a new experience for me) and some jam biscuits. Topic #1: They told me about how there is a sacred road 'la voie sacre' which leads from this town to Verdun not too far away. Verdun they say was the heart of World War 1 with the road providing the only means of ammunition and supplies to the French forces. Topic#2: Annie showed me a certain jam that was made in the region called Groseilles. It is hand made with a feather quill and is why it costs €20! Alfred Hitchcock apparently only used to eat this jam.

27 July 2017

Onward to Germany: Chalons-en-Champagne to Bar-le-Duc My usual daily routine involves getting up, packing up my tent, jumping on my bike, looking for the tallest part of the town (usually the steeple signifying the town centre), finding a cafe and asking 3 simple wifi? power source? The last 2 have become vital and without my phone I'm unable to get any directions or plan my journey and I don't usually have either at the camp sites. And as much as I'd hate to admit it, I now find myself in McDonald's in a beautiful french town - the truth is that I've found that convenience sometimes trumps - but I did hold out for about 20 mins while I looked for a better solution in and around the town square. Anyway it was a good rainy day yesterday, only hitting the road at 4pm though as I visited the caves of the town for some champagne tasting. The 80km journey got me to Bar le Duc, with the region playing a big part in the first world War, so a lot of history here.

26 July 2017

Day 2 to Germany After initially struggling on moderately busy roads I eventually found some awesome canal cycle paths which were to lead me to Chalons-en-Champagne, my initial goal for the day and I would look to push on from there. This became the main goal a little later as I burst not one, but 2 tubes on the same wheel. I initially cursed myself as Thierry had explained earlier that this could happen if you do not remove the thing eg glass/thorn from the outer wheel before replacing the tube. Luckily this was not the case as the punctures were in different areas. But the reason was that yesterday my GPS had taken me down some farm roads and I had just followed- a mistake I have since learnt to avoid and which hopefully I can explain in another post. So I had to u turn at this stage and go to a cycle shop for a redo of my front tyre. The man was very kind and replaced it as well as giving me an Allan key and some tube fitters. It was then onto campsite#2
Meet the team From left to right: David (who initially chatted to me outside of London and introduced me to the group), Ben (13 years old and cycled from London to Paris), myself, Thierry (team leader extraordinaire), Phillipe (our other french host), Casey (veteran London to Paris member), Michael (aka king of the mountains) and Willie (the Scotsman and team moral man) Thierry spoke to me after initially joining the group and realizing that I didn't have much of a plan stated that I was now his guest. He then proceeded to buy me breakfast on the first day, let me stay in their hotel and bought me dinner that night, and then in invited me into his home for the next time 3 days in Paris - an incredibly kind and generous man. He is pictured giving me my final directions to get to Germany. Then if all this wasn't enough, before my departure yesterday morning, he gave my bike a once over and changed my back wheel. I can officially say that Thierry is my first cycling coach

25 July 2017

So as previously mentioned, I've decided to head east to Germany. My friend Casey told me about the Danube Cycle path which starts in Germany and runs through Austria, Slovakia and Hungary into the black sea. I bit off a large chunk to get to Germany last night cycling 120km roughly. I decided to push it late into the evening and got myself into a bit of troubles with my camping, which turned into not such a great first night camping. I had Googled a camp site to stay in only to find that it was only a campavan site, and a guy wagging his finger told me "no no no, no tents". It was late by this stage and after considering a place close to the river I decided it wasn't safe there and snuck back into the campavan site and pitched my tent. I didn't have a comforter and not only did this make it a little rough but I also found that the ground was very cold for some reason. And with a bit of a headache to boost it wasn't a great night but I can only see it getting better from here.

24 July 2017

A great day touring the city of Paris. I started with the louvre and I remember Craig saying how he had done a similar one once in Italy and has got the headphones for the accompanying tour. This was a good call and I was able to go a little more in depth into the artists and sculptures. The pics shown are La Jaconde (the Mona Lisa), the Victory of Samothcracie, Venus of Milo and a Feast of Christ - the biggest artwork in le louvre. I had gotten my confidence up bybthis stage and feeling a bit cultured I asked an assistant where I could find 'the last supper' to which he shook his head dismally and said that it was in Italy. I walked away a little sheepishly. It was then onto the L' arc de triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon's Tomb and the state house all accompanied by my trusty tour guide, a friend I had made from the cycling group- Dave, who was very clued up on his history - albeit with a bit of his British bias though as all his stories seemed to highlight Napoleon's defeats!

23 July 2017

The Tour!!! Final stage So we awoke on the Sunday very excited to see what we had cycled all the way to Paris for. The first stop was to the departure point of the cyclists, the start of the stage in Montagne, about 20km away. Thierry, our host, kindly offered to drive and we made packed some sandwiches and beers and we set off. The town had put on quite a show with stalls and posters on the shops and flags down the roads. We managed to get to the busses of the cyclists around the back just as they were arriving and I caught a glimpse of team sky and Chris Froome as well as some other cyclists from other teams. The precession then followed which involved all the sponsors vehicles forming a float type parade down the route for the day, throwing free shirts, sweets and caps into the crowd. From there we made our way by train into Paris to the Champs-de-Ellyses and watched the finish of the stage and the tour.
Day 3: Marines to Paris So a sneakily tough day, we set out initially thinking it was a 60km ride, but ended up doing 90km by the end of it. I think perhaps due to a small detour in Versailles and a trip around the Chateau de Versailles, made famous by Marie Antoinette. The surrounds were incredible and we joked that it was no wonder that there was a rebellion if the the people of France had to see this everyday. It easy then onto Antony in Paris where our host Thierry lives. He had done an amazing job along with his friend Phillipe in navigating us safely here and then treated us to beers and snacks upon arriving and then a feast of cheeses and meats and pasta for dinner. The night ended off with a few whiskies and reminiscing about the total 330km journey over the last 3 days from London to Paris

21 July 2017

Day 2: Dieppe to Marines So another epic, 130km on top of yesterday's 100km and luckily in a much more reasonable 6 hour cycle time, thanks to some friends I made. The journey started at 5 in the morning after a few hours sleep on the ferry. A cycle club let me join them and before I knew it they had let me hang on all the way to breakfast after a 4 hour 50km cycle, and an omelette and jam baguettes with French coffee at the end. A necessary break and then we were off again as far as Saint Germer de fly with my new buddies, and a nap in its famous church's gardens. Ah this stage I wasn't too sure what hurt more, my back, or my bum but I somehow made it to Marines after 130km and was very kindly invited to stay with the cyclists in their hotel free of charge. So a couple of strawberry beers later, watching the Tour in TV in a french bar, and preparing for the final 80km leg into Paris from here in time for the last stage of the Tour de France.

20 July 2017

Day 1: London to Paris Have bike, will travel So an epic 100k start from London to the ferry in Newhaven and such an awesome experience so far onboard with cheep (relatively at 3 pound) beer. The ferry heads to france which will take me 2 days from there to get to Paris in time for the final stage of the tour de france on Sunday. It was a beautiful ride through London initially as I had to get from one side to the other which took a couple of hours. And the through various towns including Croydon, East Grindstead and finally Newhaven which couldn't come sooner after 9 hours cycling!! It did include a slight detour thanks to a minor error when I attempted a shortcut on the M23..only to realise that 'M' stood for main highway. So with my brothers words of 'stay safe' ringing in my ears I decided to cut my losses and pretty much get right off the highway into nestly bush and through farmlands to find my way back on the right route.. lesson learnt! Day 1 done

16 July 2017

A nice little trip on Sunday into the Yorkshire dales with my brothers wife..;) (Personal joke) my sister in law Elana. We ended up hiking about 4 hours through the small Yorkshire towns of Grassington, Linton and Thorpe..although we were very jokingly disappointed with Thorpe as it appeared only to consist of a row of houses and not much else, hardly qualifying as a town. The trek consisted of a journey down following the river and then some navigating through the farmlands. The mountainside was very impressive and hopefully I was able to capture a bit of this in the photos. We ended off the day with a drink at Craig's work back in Leeds, a restaurant called the Stew and Oyster, overlooking the River Ayre.

14 July 2017

Men's semis at wimbledon and again headed to Henman Hill to watch the man of the moment (and all moments in tennis it seems for the last 13 years) Roger Federer. He won his semi easily over Berdych and would go onto win the final 2 days later. I met up with my Rhodes Uni friends Bryoni, Brenton and Shelley after who live in Wimbledon not far from the tennis club. We had a couple of drinks at the Garden Shed known for having 'the best beer garden in wimbledon'. It was back to my accomodation for the night in the Queen Elizabeth Backpackers in Fulham - the posh name having no similarities with the quality of the place..and then a 5:30 wake up to head to my brother and Elana I'm Leeds, via a quick stopover to meet up with another varsity mate Casey for his birthday in Derby.
So an epic first day at wimbledon watching the women's semis. I was hoping that Konta would win, but she had so much pressure on her with all the British media going crazy. She ended up getting beaten comfortable by Venus Williams. 'The queue' is a talked about thing at wimbledon with people waking up at 3 in the morning to try get tickets for centre court. I was quite happy heading to Henman Hill and joining in the atmosphere there.
I arrived in London and stayed with my mate Swifty for the night who I hadn't seen in 7 years since my 21st. I had promised him actually at that 21st that I would hang onto the string bangle from the amarula bottle that he gave me as a present. I wore it around my ankle up until last year I think so got pretty close. I then missioned to Wimbledon which has been on my sporting bucket list for a while - something that I've always wanted to do. It didn't disappoint and I really enjoyed wondering around and popping into random matches. The semi finals of the ladies tournament was on and there were no tickets left (apparently people start queuing at 3 in the morning to get whatevers left), so I watched from 'Henman Hill' or 'Murray Mound' as I think it's changed to now. It was packed as you can see from the photo so I had to settle from watching from over the hedges at the back..lucky I'm tall!