Location: Brisbane, Australia
Happy New Year for 2006, everybody.
In 3 weeks time I fly to the UK to pick up my new bike (a Koga-Miyata) and shortly after to Guatemala. I'll be in El Salvador for 3 months, learning Spanish and teaching English, then on down the isthmus (funny word, isthmus, especially if you've got false teeth). Then over to Cuba, back to Venezuela and on down the Andes to Chile.
At least, that's the plan. But you know life - It can place detours at your wheels.
Still haven't found a cycling buddy, so if you're interested, give me a call on 61 7 3862 4176 or 61 414 584 306 or leave me a message here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or ..... (nah, that's enough options).
If you're interested in buying a great touring bike give me a call and I'll sell you my Cannondale ST700 with head-shock, 58.5 cm "effective top tube" size, panniers, Shimano Deore gears, etc. Well-loved and maintained.
Bye for now.....Trevor
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Time moves on....and so do my plans for South America.
I've decided to go to El Salvador at the end of February 2006, learn Spanish for a month, then go to a town there called Estanzuelas to do some volunteer English teaching for 10 weeks.
From there I'll cycle down to Costa Rica, then fly or sail to Venezuela. Then I'll ride down the Andes to Santiago de Chile through Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Altogether about 12 months. Afterwards I plan to take in the Carnivale at Rio in 2007.
If anyone is interested in joining me, please contact me here or on email@example.com
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Hia ll. I'm planning my next trip - to South America, starting in March 2006. I'm looking for a cycling companion if anyone is interested in joining me. I don't have a fixed itinerary yet as the most important thing is to find a companion who is compatible first, then we can work out the details together.
I'm figuring to start from Venezuela or similar (would also like to take in Cuba) - then cycle down the Andes to Chile. We would use a mixture of camping and pensiones or similar cheap rooms.
If you're interested in talking about it, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message here on this site....ciao.
I've just got back from a brief (3 week) cycle tour of North Island, New Zealand. The weather was pretty crappy but I got some beaut photos (at least I think they're beaut). I cycled from Auckland over to the Coromandel Peninsula via the Firth of Thames coast, anti-clockwise around the peninsula via Cathedral Cove and Coromandel Town, then spent Christmas with Arnold and Jeanette at Aongatete on the Bay of Plenty. From there I went to Rotorua where I met a guy who was cycling to National Park Village to do some hiking. I did the tourist thing at Rotorua to see the Wai-o-Tapu thermal park. We cycled for 2 days together via Taupo to National Park. A group of 5 of us - who met up at National Park Backpackers - did the Tongariro Crossing in between rainy days - great views and I'm glad I did it as it was possibly the highlight of my trip.
From there I cycled against a North-Westerly to Taumarunui and caught the train to Otorohanga (train because I was sore after the 21 km Tongariro hike and it was a head-wind). Then to Raglan via Kawhia. Raglan is a lovely spot on the coast frequented by Kiwis and travellers alike.
I spent a day at Raglan and then cycled to a farm-based backpackers at Pukekawa - great views from the verandah. I met a Belgian couple there who are on a 3-year cycle trip. Then on to Auckland to finish off my trip.
Location: Brisbane, Australia
I'm back in Oz - and enjoying every minute after my catharsis (no, it's not an operation....look it up if you don't know what it means) :).
I'll soon put up some photos titled something like "Reflections of my return to Brisbane" or some other exotic, witty, erudite title. Because I can.
To all my fans who logon daily to bemoan the fact that you can't take such fantastic photos: thankyou. I've noticed that the number of site visits has exceeded all my wildest expectations (over a thousand). Is this my Aunt Edith visiting 1,000 times or is it 1,000 people visiting once I wonder.
Location: Birmingham, England
I'm still posting photos - of my stay in the UK - even though my last journal entry sounded final.
Love to hear from anyone with their comments on my trip, on me, or on life....
Location: Birmingham, England
After cycling from Paris to Saint Valery sur Somme and along the coast to Calais, I said Au revoir to France and took the ferry over to England on my last leg (legs?).
Wow, everyone (almost) speaks my language over here. It makes it easier, doesn't it? My thoughts on France: almost all friendly people, in spite of some peoples' perceptions I'd heard previously; some great food earlier on but it got ordinary as I headed north (maybe I didn't eat at the right restaurants?); scrumptious cakes; and bike-friendly drivers. The scenery was best in the south - the centre is pretty humdrum north of the Massif Central to the coast. Mind you, I was starting to look forward to finishing.
After only 24 hours in the UK, as Geoff (my brother) was down in London anyway, I decided to get a lift with him from Gillingham to Birmingham and call it a day.
After 4,735 kms, I hung up my bike shoes and had a few drinks to celebrate a fantastic trip. So many highs with a few lows. The hardest part was being alone for so long. My fondest memories are of Spain, though I know there are many more parts of France very worthwhile exploring.
The red flowers kept me company all the way from Portugal to England - I have a great photo of them, taken in France.
Thanks to all the people who left me messages - I enjoyed reading them along the way. I hope you enjoyed this journal and especially the photos. I enjoyed compiling it. Also, thanks very much to Planetranger for hosting the journal.
Bye for now,
Location: Paris, France
Have been in Paris 3 days. Some amazing sights I've seen include the City Hall, Notre Dame cathedral and le Tour Eiffel at night time. Tonight I'm going to the top of the Eiffel to take a look at Paris after nightfall from ahigh. I leave here tomorrow, heading for the Atlantic coast and aim to take the ferry over to the "old country" (the UK) on Friday, reaching Birmingham, my birth place, a few days later.
I'm up to 4,200 kms now.
Location: Gien, France
From Mazamet I cycled through St Sernin and Rodez and on to Murat on the mountain range called the Massif Central. The countryside was beautiful. The weather continued to be calm and sunny until I reached the Massif. Then as I climbed up to 1,200 metres, it grew colder and rained.
Location: Mazamet, France
I visited the Dali musuem in Figueres and in the afternoon cycled over the border to France. Dali was a little mad I think - great to see his museum. I was sad to say "hasta luego" to Spain, though excited to say "bon jours" to France.
I was in Spain for 8 weeks and loved it. The people are friendly, open and generous, the drivers bike-friendly, and I loved the architecture and the scenery (except for the coastal development).
My first impression of France is also good: very friendly people so far, delicious food (the cakes.....mmmmm), and again bike-friendly drivers. The weather really warmed up during this week - in the high 20's.
I've done 3,300 kms in Europe now.
You may have noticed I changed my mind about stopping at Barcelona, and I'm continuing on through France to the UK.
Location: Figueres, Catalunya, Spain
Barcelona: the dirtiest and most eclectic city in Spain I´ve seen. I spent a few days here accompanied by my brother who flew out from the UK. Though it rained a lot, we enjoyed the street entertainment and intensity of the city that saw 3 million drunken people on the streets when Franco died in 1974. The graffiti seem to me to attest to Barcelona´s socialist tendencies - which met with my approval. Beggars abounded.
The bustle of Barcelona was replaced by the calm of the Costa Brava as I travelled north; the noise of voices and traffic by the sounds of seagulls; the smell of sewage by the scent of sea air. Both are fun to me: pampering to different parts of my personality.
In Catalunya I discovered the beauty of the Emporda region - Dali´s stomping ground. He holidayed in Cadaques as a child and built his home in nearby Port Lligat. I reached Cadaques on the day they celebrated his centenary, and there was music, dancing and fireworks. The scenery of this area is fantastic - the best I´ve seen in Spain. Heady stuff. I decided to visit another point of the Dali triangle: Figueres, where his famous museum is situated.
So, here I am in Figueres where tomorrow I´ll visit the museum.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
From Benidorm I rode to Valencia in 2 days. I felt lonely again after mixing with English-speaking people for a week. From Benidorm I rode over the Coll de Rates (660 metres) and on up to the coast South of Velencia. I camped for the first time in Europe, given that I´d picked up my camping gear at Benidorm where I´d sent it from Portugal.
I passed through the ugliest town I´d seen: Cullera. In Valencia I found a very cheap hostal: Hostal Rincon for 10 Euros. After staying 2 nights in Valencia I left in the rain and headed for the mountains. This was my worst day as it rained all day and my Goretex jacket didn´t keep me dry. I got depressed and decided to stop cycling at Barcelona and catch the train to the UK.
Next morning I awoke with an abysmal headache as I hadn´t drunk enough water the day before. This has happened a few times. This morning was so-so, but the afternoon turned out very well: I had "lunch" (3pm) at Villafames, sitting on the castle wall eating beautiful bread and cheese. The scenery after San Pau was great and I stayed at a lovely pension in Cati with the late-afternoon sun streaming through the windows. They cooked a beautiful meal for me.
From Cati I rode 130 kms to Mora D´Debre - a very hard day with mixed weather. At one point I was planning to turn left further into the mountains but as the wind was blowing strongly from that direction I turned right - with the wind and downhill. I cycled alongside the River Ebre for some kms and was surprised at its strength, after cycling through very arid countryside for so long.
Mora D'Ebre to Arboli was 60 kms with some stiff climbs. The road at one point was closed to cars because of a minor landslide, but I took off the panniers and carried my bike over a few rocks. I took a wrong turn to end up at Arboli, a tiny pueblo...as it was getting late and I was tired I called it a day. I stayed in a "refuge" for mountain-climbers.
Another windy day dawned, though sunny. I continued through the Montsant mountains. Fortunately the wind was behind me. I stopped, very tired, at Santes Creus. Another lovely dinner and breakfast at the Hostalet there. Santes Creus is home to a huge and significant monastery. This area is important for its vineyards.
From Santes Creus I continued for my rendezvous with my brother in Barcelona. Still a cold tail-wind accompanied me. I caught the train for the last 50 kms into Barcelona to miss the traffic and because I was tired.
Location: Benidorm, Spain
I spent 3 nights in Alicante which, though very touristy, is still very Spanish. I had my bike serviced and needed a new rear wheel. I did a little sunbathing for the first time in Europe.
Then on to Benidorm where my cousin Albert and his partner Dot live. What to say about Benidorm....there are many Spanish still there of course, but at times their numbers seem overwhemed by package-holiday British. Lots of "English Pubs". Little bits of charm but overall an ugly place. And they're still building.
I stayed longer than anticipated as I caught a throat infection - and it was east to do so as Albert and Dot spoilt me.
Location: Alicante, Spain
I thought I´d give you more details for a week or so - from my diary I keep.
Sat 3 April. Sevilla to Maron. 50 kms
A bit tired after a late night and my cycling muscles are not in shape, so got very tired after only 40kms. Getting out of Sevilkla a bit of a pain - had to ride along the freeway. Terrain boring and a cross-wind all day.
Sun 4 April. Maron to Ronda. 82 kms.
Today very different to yesterday: no wind and far more interesting scenery. A couple of long, steady climbs. Pueblos perched atop mountains, or cascading into ravines. Ronda was a surprise: VERY busy with tourists and bigger than I´d anticipated. I got a room with the smallest bathroom I´ve ever seen. When you´re in the shower and close the curtains, you can´t turn around. So you leave the curtains open and the bathroom floods.
Mon 5 April. Ronda. Rest day.
I enjoyed the spectacular beauty of Ronda which spans a deep gorge and peers over the side of the cliffs. I walked to the base of the cliffs and along the valley. Very beautiful with perfect weather (windless and sunny).
Tues 6 April. Ronda to Alora. 72 kms.
What a spectacular ride! The best parts were Ronda-El Burgo anmd Ardales-El Chorro. Granite rock thrown up at different angles. When I got down to the valley at El Chorro the temperature was in the high 20s. I thought El Chorro was over-rated by my guide (Cadogan´s Guide to Spain) as it was blighted with power lines and a substation. The room I had in ALora was great: very large. A truly lovely day - what cycling is all about.
Wed 7 April. Alora to Colmenar. 82 kms.
Started off with a lovely breakfast at the English-owned B&B (bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, etc). Today I met 6 touring cyclists (3 couples) and chatted with 2 of the couples. The chats picked up my mood. A day of 40 kms of climbs and 40 kms of descents - very mountainous.
Thurs 8 April. Colmenar to Salobreña. 115 kms.
A 40 kms downhill ride to the coast at Velez-Malaga. A quick look at the grim beach at Torre del Mar, then a flat, boring ride to Nerja. From Nerja to Almuñecar, however, is beautiful. Thinking of staying here but the place is awful: Beaches of grey sand. Buildings so bland. Beautiful coastline rendered ugly by high-rises cheek to cheek. (getting poetic here for a second). I stayed at Salobreña instead in a great, cheap, pension (Pension San Jose). Then a big meal at the Czech/Spanish restaurant. A big day.
Friday 9 April. Salobreña. Rest day.
It rained all day so decided to stay here. Just eating and resting really. Had some great Tapas for both lunch and dinner.
Sat 10 April. Salobreña to Pampaneira. 58 kms.
Of the 58 kms, 40 were climbing quite steeply - into the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada called Las Alpuharras. One motorist, seeing me climbing the hill, virtually stpooed his car and shouted something encouraging in Spanish (at least I think it was encouraging). Pampaneira is a quaint pueblo perched on the mountain-side, full of tourists. It hailed in the evening, covering the cars and roads for a while.
Sun 11 April. Pampaneira to Ugizar. 60 kms.
It had snowed on the mountains above overnight. I climbed to Trevelez which is just below the snow-line. At the restaurant at Ugizar i met 2 German cyclists and we chatted over beers for 3 hours.
Mon 12 April. Ugizar to Almeria. 88 kms.
A lovely, though cold, morning. A bit of a hangover after the beers. In the afternoon I met 2 Spanish cyslists and we cycled together for about 35 kms to Almeria.
Tues 13 April. Almeria to San Jose. 50 kms.
Do you know the way to.....? A hard slog against a strong head-wind. The first 30 kms terrain were boring too. Stayed in a small room in a camp-ground with friendly owners.
Wed 14 April. San Jose to Sorbas. 62 kms.
A tough day. I was going to ride along the coast but the head-wind put me off, so I rode into the Sierra Alhamilla mountains. Not very inspiring and still windy. Sorbas is an interesting pueblo though, built on a ravine.
Thurs 15 April. Sorbas to Lorca. 108 kms.
Uugh! Sums up my feelings for this day. Grey skies and head-winds. Then when I got to Lorca it started raining. My first impression of Lorca (in the province of Murcia) wasn´t great. The buildings are newer and are non-descript. The staff at the Hotel Felix are friendly, though. Very tired after a hard day.
Location: Ronda, Spain
I decided not to spend the extra 2 days in Sevilla, and carried on to Maron and Ronda. Leaving Sevilla was pretty boring as the terrain is flat and I had to ride (illegally) along a freeway for an hour. Then more flat to Maron. From Maron the terrain changed: very beautiful and interesting. The town of Ronda is very busy with tourists, both Spanish and overseas. It´s a general holiday for Semana Santa and the Spanish are out and about. Ronda is stunning - an overused word in travel brochures, but worthy of Ronda. And the weather is perfect: sunny and no wind, the air very clear.
Location: Sevilla (Seville), Spain
I´ve been in Sevilla for about 10 days now. This week I´ve studied Spanish and had a great time. As well as the classes I´ve been on excursions such as a visit to a flamenco performance which was contemporary and an excellent night out.
I´ve been able to talk to other students and socialise - this has been good for me. Next Sunday is the start of the Seville Semana Santa (Holy Week) - the biggest event of the year here and renowned throughout Spain. I´ll stay and see a couple of days of it before I get back on my bike and head for Granada.
See some great photos below....