The second ferry of my cycle trip takes place at a quaint Danish town called Stubbekobing to another Danish town called Bogø. This was a very small ferry route. 15 minutes from one island to another. As I reached the other side, I didn’t see much of Bogø because I got off the ferry and just pedaled on wards.

Stubbekobing HarborStubbekobing Harbor

Bogo Ferry

The Ferry. Notice the Danish flag flying proud! The Danish love their flag!

On the ferry, the wind had been insane. It was like I wasn’t wearing any clothes at all because there was no feeling of protection or warmth from even the wind cheater jacket & jersey cap I had on! Immediately I was thinking of furious ocean winds, and to feel protected in that I would need much heavier duty clothing than my normal urban stuff. Anyway I thought this was because I was on a ferry and crossing a water body. Once I was on land it should get better.

Once I reached Bogø and pedaled on, I think this disbelief in Strong Winds just kept me going. Yes there were some really strong gusts of wind which practically pushed my cycle by many centimeters. I had to keep veering back to my cycling space. Pedaling also got massively difficult. I got down once to adjust my luggage pack and tighten my wind cheater strings… and the cycle just toppled. Thankfully my stand didn’t break.

“Winds don’t really get this strong especially on land. But man, This pedaling is tough!”

So the first section from Bogø turned out to be a bridge! Crazy because again this was on a water body (more winds) and also because this bridge didn’t really have a separate cycle lane. It had a small space at the sides which we cycling folk were cycling on. And the rest of the road was for the cars. If the traffic would have been lesser then it would have been fine. But it wasn’t. School buses, trucks and smaller vehicles kept plying the road every few minutes in high speed. These minutes in between were very important. These minutes were when the wind would push me onto the road, in line of the vehicles. I would cycle back out. The vehicle would pass by. Repeat.

Bogo Bridge

One looooong bridge

 

So tiring & scary & crazy!

“Winds aren’t this strong. Maybe I am just tired and not pedaling well. Yes, that must be it. Should have had a heavier breakfast!”

Finally after the bridge got over (I thought I cycled 10 km, but the map showed just 4 km) I took a quick stop and had some chocolate behind Denmark’s important shrine kind-of-thing. The cycle of course just toppled down, it would not stay up at all.  That is fine. I just need a bit of space to eat chocolate and not have that wind whacking me in my face all the time.

Bogo Heritage Monument

Many such simple monuments and markers are kept around Denmark. They usually have a story engraved on it.

Two cyclists passed me by – a father and his daughter. They didn’t seem to be struggling so much but I went and asked them whether it was too difficult for them too. They said yes, it was too windy and the bridge was quite risky. When I look at them cycling they don’t seem to be struggling, maybe I also seemed that way from afar.

I wondered whether to take shelter in some of the barns and houses that I came across, but the empty open roads beckoned.

“Winds? What winds?”

Onwards.

Soon after the bridge, the traffic disappeared in bylanes so again there were quiet, empty countryside roads! The situation did get safer as the onslaught from the winds continued. I would cycle at the side of the road and then get pushed well into the middle of the road. There wasn’t much traffic so I would slowly cycle to the side again to be pushed again. It was constantly a struggle but a relaxed one if that makes any sense.

I had the option of taking the shortest route to the next city Stege and just buckling down for the day. But then, where is the fun and adventure in that I wondered. Considering that I had just a few days on the road before I reached Copenhagen made me treasure these moments more. I didn’t want to cut them short. So on wards.

Stubbekobing to Stege Route

The route

The Fanefjord church was 7 kms away and that is the direction I was headed. The church got my fancy, it was ancient with some interesting limestone frescoes and I would like to see it. But more and more on the road my denial was getting corroded. The winds were bizarrely strong. I was being pushed – 25 kgs of luggage and all from the side of the road to the middle of the road. This was happening all the time!

The wind was also not blowing in one direction. If that was the case then it somehow gets easier, at least I thought it would get easier, but it was moving in every direction – like a mad fury. Hence, which ever direction the road would turn I was being pushed all the time. On rare occasions the push would be in direction of my cycling and I would move forward unusually quickly, but too rare.

“This wind is not normal. I have never been pushed across the road despite pedaling in a different direction!”

But the empty roads beckon!

Fanefjord Church is Lovely

Finally I reached Fanefjord Church. Quite excited to explore it I tried to put my cycle on the stand and take a picture. The cycle toppled. Yes, a very windy day it is! Propped the cycle on the walls of the church and just scurried into this door.

Fanefjord Church Door

Safety. Quiet. Peace.

The walls were so strong. Only some one who has cycled all these (11) kms in the mad winds would appreciate these strong, old walls! I was thinking how the rural folks in ancient days with rudimentary houses would take shelter in such a church during bad storms or unsafe times. I have seen it in movies often that village people would collect at the church in times of strife but here I could feel why that would make sense. The church is so spacious, feels strong and it gives an aura that everyone belongs here. With God and with our own spirit.

Fanefjord Church

The strong walls of Fanefjord Church with ancient limestone frescoes.

After a while as I was exploring the frescoes I quite forgot the winds. It almost felt like a normal day cycling the Danish countryside. Though I think my skin especially on the face did feel a bit raw.

So the thing about the Danish countryside and specifically this route I was cycling – there were really not many supermarkets or cafes. The last cafe/market would have been in Bøgø. This is normal because it was anyway only 15 km away even though cycling it had felt like 50 km. Typically any cafe/market are scattered at least 20 – 30 km away in the countryside of these countries. Or it was possible that there was a cafe but it was not exactly on the route I was cycling and hence I wouldn’t know of it. This was one of the reasons that I decided to cut the route just a tad bit short and from Fanefjord church I didn’t head to the nearby Gronsalen which is a ‘longdolmen’ – no I have no idea what it is, but I would have liked to explore it and figure out what they actually mean by that. :)

I moved straight into Harbolle road. In hindsight I realize that I should have cycled off to Store Damme which was north from Fanefjord Church for some food. Because in case you missed it, I hadn’t eaten much since morning. I did have a bit of breakfast at Stubbekobing before packing up at the campsite but that was easily hours away. And the strain of normal cycling makes my hungry but this windy day – I could use a full meal right at this time!

Denmark Countryside

After this trip I find myself a bit more reliant on maps and planning. But during this trip I actually used the map just to mark the basic route. And spot other roads in case I needed to cut short. I didn’t really use any guide to figure out restaurants or the even interesting spots to see around the area. I just don’t like relying on technology or digital information sources for such things. Think about me as a nomadic lady who invented a bike and some advanced quality Ortlieb panniers and was just roaming around the lands :) No google, no technology. Except this bizarre and magical thing called Whatsapp to remain connected to family back home, miles and miles away. Yonder so many oceans and mountains and hordes of barbarian human race.

Okay then.

So cycling ahead.

I did come across a place with a signboard for a campsite (notice the previous picture). I don’t know whether this was an official campsite or whether it was a private farm that invited campers. I thought about stopping but then decided to move on. I really wanted to push on. When I started this day I was hoping to do 70 – 100 km. Here I would be stopping at a measly 15km!

Denmark Forest

Through the forest, some calm from the wind storm.

After a while I came to a small forested patch, this was amazing because in the forest the winds did not penetrate through. A few calm moments amongst the green canopy. :) This was again a place where I could stop and cook a bit of food. However, the foods I had did not interest me much. I made a mistake in the vessels I chose for this trip. I went for full aluminium cooking pots. So it was very light in weight, but the aluminium really mixed with the food cooked in it. So the food wouldn’t taste good, it tasted all metallic like I was eating aluminium.

So no food for me. I did have some snacks which I kept munching. Finished a couple of chocolate bars like the dementors were out to get me. 😉

I passed many houses where I considered asking for some bread and cheese or even water, but I never really saw a human outside. I would have to go a-knocking on doors. Finally when I saw a lady outside a house, I quickly took the opportunity to ask for some water. Ice? No thanks. I would like it hot with turmeric in it, but normal tap water would do, thanks.

So that’s the human interaction until a bit further on.

“There must be some higher purpose to this struggle I am taking on. I could just stop but I am not. Why?”

At this point I started wondering why I kept continuing. Why? Almost as an answer, the roads opened up to the North Sea ahead of me. Beautiful. Pure energy! The blue ocean exuded a sense of raw power and awesomeness. Exhausted I dropped my bike and ran off down the tiny road that led to the sea beach. It was amazing. The strong winds and water roaring away to glory. I was beginning to understand why the fairy tales I had read of these regions always personified the winds and weather. It can be so harsh and enigmatic at the same time. It almost felt like live energy crackling away.

Hjelm Bukt, Helm Bay, Denmark

This photograph does not do justice to the colours – it was beautiful the contrast of lush green with the sparkling blue of the sea. The lovely doll houses dotting the landscape just added to the beauty.

Hjelm Bukt, Helm Bay, Baltic Sea, Denmark

I thought this was the North Sea but it is actually the Hjelm Bukt or Helm Bay in the Baltic Sea. :)

Baltic Sea, Denmark

More Helm…;)

There were another two ladies enjoying the weather on the beach. I was thinking how much better it would be to not be utterly exhausted at this point. But then I thought that my experience was completely unique, and it is experiences like these that allows a person to build intimate bonds with nature. And this is the one thing I truly felt today – cycling makes you vulnerable to every natural change. It creates a bond and an understanding with nature. It makes me keep an eye out on the weather, understand implications, adapt. In our urban jungles we live like nature doesn’t matter. Oh ho – come out here cycling and you will know how every little natural matter affects you! :)

Elemental.

“Despite all the exhaustion I was definitely loving this at some level, otherwise I would not keep going.”

While I was standing and enjoying the whole situation, a German girl came along. And I guess curious as to what I was doing in that remote corner of Denmark, started chatting. It was fun, she was amazed at my struggles of the day and curious to know more. There was a guest house nearby, a place for yoga and other holistic activities. Right down my alley. She invited me to stay there for a couple days, until the wind died down. The place was owned by some learned yoga professionals while this girl was volunteering and staying here. Staying here would allow me to just enjoy these winds a bit more because we both felt and loved the high energy that the place was exuding. The winds had picked up just that day. The previous day it was all calm and docile as usual.

I headed to this guest house while chatting with her on the road. Used the wash room and felt a bit more human. And chatted for some more while having some water. The owners weren’t there, they would be back later. There was another Romanian girl who was also staying here. While both of them suggested that I should just stay there (and exchange stories and chill), I was not too inclined. I would love to go back to this place – because it is amazing, no doubt about that. The guest house (here is it’s website) gives you a direct view of the ocean. And all in all it is a brilliant place. It is also very close to the Danish island of Møn – which I have been told is worth exploring and a tad bit more scenic.

There were couple of reasons I actually didn’t take this opportunity to stay here but just pushed on after a while,

Firstly, my yoga activities tend to be a lot more hard core and at a much deeper level than a lot of  people at such yoga retreat places and so very often I don’t find talking / doing yoga in such places very useful. Also I am not too interested in learning new techniques, I already have a path which I prefer getting deeper into. So staying at this retreat place would as of now be umm, Easy.

Secondly, my struggle of the entire day to just go on was a journey into self discovery and it was turning out to be hard core in itself. Again just stopping here would be…. Easy.

So let’s not opt for Easy now. So finally saying goodbyes to the two girls, I was on my way. I felt a bit rested as I was indoors for a while, out of the wind but still too exhausted. I also didn’t really eat anything yet.

Just 7 more km to go to Stege. And I thought I could do it.

Onwards.

“What if I just collapsed here in the countryside…. “

Struggle… struggle.

I think after a few kms it did get a bit easier. Some stored energy within the system took over and the progress got smoother.

I spent the time thinking of Wind Gods. Pawan dev Hanuman in India and these North wind gods – no idea what they may be called. I wondered if I need to tell the Indian gods to talk with these Norse gods and strike a friendship. Take care of this Indian girl…..

These last few kms just demanded more of me. To a lot of Indian people reading this it may seem so difficult and like madness. But you need to realize that, I was totally safe! If things got too much then I could collapse on to the side of the road and nothing major would really happen as it was a safe place. I didn’t have to worry about someone attacking me while I was so vulnerable. So for me this was like a sand box situation where one can go to extremes but with adequate safety.

And people who are wondering – Why?

Why should we push ourselves to the extreme?

For self discovery more than anything. For yourself. To know who you are. To understand what keeps you going in the tough times. To just keep going because nothing great ever got done when someone just quit midway when things got tough! I may do more such cycling adventures and I need to get the handle on this!

Also part of me felt that the reason this was so difficult for me was because I was just shocked at the natural barrage. Because as most of us Indians, we just don’t live outdoor lives. So this level of interaction with the natural elements was probably more an unusual shock than anything else. It just made me feel – that I cannot go on, while in reality I was strong enough to do this. And this was one big reason I had taken on the cycle trip. Over time I have been realizing that mentally we think we are weak even when we are not. It is easy for us to think ‘Oh, I cannot do this – I am a weak human’. But the reality is that we can do that and a HELL LOT MORE!

This was validated when I finally reached Stege.

Stege, Denmark

Welcome scene!

Stege, Denmark

The information office just as I entered Stege

This was probably the most welcome sight I had in the entire trip. Town! First building I came across was the very welcome volunteer office which was closed as usual (these people work just a few hours in the day). They had put up various notices outside including one with the wi-fi password. Woohoo. So I just sat here for a while browsing the internet and feeling ‘Calm & Quietly Proud’ of all things. I could make out some cafes just a bit ahead so that is where I needed to head. It was surprisingly easy to head to the cafe, the extreme exhaustion had ebbed. I knew I was really tired but I was also surprisingly Ok. As I said earlier, it is what I suspected. I was physically quite capable of this whole ride, but mentally it was a really big challenge because I just thought I wasn’t!

So all things said and done…..

Pizza!

Even the arugula leaves did not stop me from savoring every bite!

Vegetarian Pizza, Denmark

Vegetarian Pizza with Arugula Leaves and some hot tea! delishious! :)

A day that ends in Pizza is after all a glorious day.

:)

“Daijob desu. I am fine.”

With a satiated belly, I was half tempted to explore the town and even ride further, but I just settled for finding the campsite and heading there.

Stege Denmark

Stege


After couple of weeks on the road – cycling & camping I found myself getting used to the lifestyle and loving it. Hence, it was a really grievous matter that I had totally only 17 days on the road, which meant just 2-3 more days to go before I head to Copenhagen (either reach it by bike or take a train or such quicker transport).

Faxe Ladeplads was one of the many quaint and charming coastal towns I passed through in Denmark and it was one of the last such towns on my cycling trip. I was on my way to Rodvig (or even Koge if I could manage a longer ride that day. Koge being 40 km or so from Copenhagen). However, it turned out that my distaste of buying water bottles from supermarkets bit me in my back. I ended up being dehydrated as I didn’t have enough water the previous day and got leg cramps. I had never got such leg cramps before so for a while I was really concerned but then a friendly German guy biking with his family came to my rescue. He lent me some water and told me that cramps are okay, you just have to drink more water and it should be ok. :)

So typically I may have cycled through Faxe Ladeplads except that I was cramping like hell and also hungry. So I entered the town walking, towing my cycle along.

As I entered the town, I was even struggling to walk because of the cramps, but when I spotted the coastal promenade ahead I was excited. I love sitting at promenades by the sea and watching waves rolling in. The first time I spotted the sea I thought there was something odd. The water was differently coloured, I wondered whether it was the sky? But it took me some time to realize that the water was actually Glowing! I was amazed. I had never seen such a thing, what does it mean that the beach water is flourescent, electrical, bright, glowing!? And the beach itself was strewn with a lot of sea weeds typically red in colour. I wondered if that caused the glow?

BioLuminescence at the Faxe Ladeplads Beach

faxe ladeplads

Bio Luminescence @ Faxe Ladeplads, Zealand, Denmark

faxe Ladeplads

I think this is one of my top pics from the trip :)

This phenomenon I later found out is called Bio Luminescence. (I googled it later). Caused by some chemical reactions when the water comes in contact with oxygen. Typically bright bio luminescence happens at the beach front where the water is splashing around and coming into contact with oxygen. It also happens when ships mid-ocean disturb the water and it starts splashing and glowing as it interacts with oxygen.

Now that I am writing this I think that I should have stayed back at this town. There was a campsite just nearby and should have come in the night to watch this bio luminescence. In the night it would have been even more brilliant. :)

Faxe Ladeplads Promenade MapTaking a look at the map at the Faxe Ladeplads promenade.

Faxe ladeplads

The coastal road had lovely bungalow type buildings lining it. A wide promenade. Not much traffic.

faxe ladeplads house

Read ‘the cow got onto the roof’ in a story or poem? I remember reading it when I was a kid and kept wondering How is that possible!! Here, it is! :)

In the distance I could see a marina with a cafe. I was hoping for pizza (or anything else that is vegetarian) but as I grew closer I figured that marinas usually imply Sea Meats. As anticipated, not much vegetarian was available there, the lady did offer to give me bread with cheese and vegetables but I would rather have a full meal. I asked her if I would get pizza anywhere.

Typically in India I wouldn’t ask one restaurant about another restaurant because it means they lose business and they may not be so helpful. However, in Germany & Denmark I found that everyone is pretty much looking to help. In fact when I ask for vegetarian food and they have to say ‘No’, they really feel sad. Especially considering that I am a solo woman cyclist, they would love to be nice and friendly to me. So when I ask them if there is any other place I can go, they are too happy to help, because they realize that I will at least get to eat and won’t starve out on the road. 😀

It is amazing that I have met these people and had these interactions. Most of these restaurateurs didn’t know English but so much is gauged by overall body language and expressions!

So the marina cafe lady directed me to a pizza place a little ahead. So hoping to get my belly filled…. I went on wards cycling gingerly. Enroute, I came to the town church, an interesting architecture.

Hylleholt Church, Faxe Ladeplads

They cal this Hylleholt Church. In fact Hylleholt was the name of this town earlier, it was then changed to Faxe Ladeplads.

Finally saw the pizza place and it was Open! #phew

It was owned by a non-European guy so while he recognized I was Indian (most people did, I don’t know how!) I had a hard time placing him. The English language exchange was really flaky and there were some cultural abruptness I feel. Maybe I made some faux paas as per his culture, but I don’t really know what. Anyway he said he was from Kurdistan. And he really looked and sounded like I would imagine a Kurd to. Tall, dark eyed, strong. The cook was a non-European too, maybe Russian who didn’t know any English at all. So when I ordered Vegetarian he started making chicken or something. It was bizarre. So I told the Kurd, just see what he is making! And the Kurd ensured the right stuff was made. I then confirmed that they were giving me everything properly vegetarian 3 times – they might not have liked that but I would rather be safe than sorry. :)

This time went for the usual Vegetarian Pizza with french fries. Despite the cramps I was still against ordering bottled water! (When in Rome, live like the Romans do! Or not.)

Faxe Ladeplads Pizza PlaceDespite the initial abrupt interactions, the food was delish as usual and up to usual standards. :)

As I was leaving, the Kurd was sitting outside with his Danish friend – an old lady who had helped him get settled here. This lady knew a bit of English.

Me: Is there an ATM nearby?

Lady: ATM … what’s that?

Me: Well, you know I want money so machine which gives money *lot’s of sign language*

Lady: Oh, sorry … there is no ATM until the next town. It is many kms from here.

Me: Ohh, alright no problem I will check the next town then as I am anyway heading there. :)

I went off getting my bike ready for riding off. While the lady seemed a bit agitated… then she came to me,

Lady: I am really sorry that there is no ATM here. You wanted money and now you can’t get it. I am so sorry about it. How will you manage?

Me: *taken aback at this profuse apology that the town didn’t have ATM* Ohh, it is okay. I have already eaten today so even if I don’t find an ATM it is ok. I have hardly any expense. Cycle, Eat & Sleep. 😀

Lady: *Smiles* Yes that is true when you have food in the tummy then no problem.

Then we had a bit of chit chat about my cramps, yoga and how she is getting old and gets leg pains. Anyway that little exchange just brings back the point I was making earlier. The people here in the European countryside are so different. Forget being helpful, when they see someone in difficulty they start apologizing for not being able to help, for the town not having the amenities and everything under the sky. Stark contrast from here in India where even for one’s own mistake, giving an apology is considered a big deal.

So with a satisfied belly, cramping legs, somewhat depleted wallet and happy heart I headed onwards.

As I finish off this post, I can’t believe I missed seeing this bio luminescence at night! At the time I didn’t think about this at all. This is why blogging is amazing. It let’s me go over my trips. And gives me more mad ideas. Can’t wait to be on the road again.  :)


One of my first Lighthouse visits was the Kaup Beach Lighthouse near Udupi in Konkan Karnataka. I took a local bus from Udupi going towards Mangalore and got down at the small town. There was this Mariamma temple opposite the bus stand,

watermarked-DSC06480

From here I took an auto to Kaup Lighthouse. (Kaup also called Kapu).

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On the way there were some interesting bungalows and residential places there, so I think some homestays maybe available in this region, which is so lush green and near many lovely and unknown beaches! It is potential a lovely place to stay and do some deeper Karnataka exploration. And also very close to NH7 highway where buses and transport options are umpteen. Since this place isn’t on tourist charts, it should be inexpensive too.

Kaup LightHouse

The auto dropped me a few minutes from the lighthouse. I could see the authorities had made an entrance area where people could sit and relax, but it looked incomplete. Ahead there was a very small shack that serves some food but nothing much for a vegetarian person like me.

watermarked-DSC06478

the view of the sea totally made the trip worth it, strong and fierce. I felt like I was looking into an ocean and not really a Sea. (maybe it is true) Being from Mumbai I am used to a more placid sea typical of a Bay. But here the sea was roaring and raging and so strong. I loved it.

Kaup Sea

Then stood the magnificent lighthouse – I don’t know why it is such an object of mystery and intrigue for me. Something about Lighthouses make me happy. I don’t know if it is all the pirate stories I read as a kid or just the charm of climbing all the way to the top and getting an awesome Ocean view!

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Sadly this Lighthouse was closed. It was only open from 4 to 6pm! Duh! I don’t know why they keep such a timing!

watermarked-DSC06476

Anyway I could climb up onto the Lighthouse rock. From the rock we got a view of the whole konkan stretch on both the sides.

watermarked-DSC06468

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If I had more time that day (I had to catch a bus to Mangalore and then to Bangalore) I would have explored the beaches there. They really looked uncharted…..

I could also see the backwaters going inland. So lovely, calm and green – just looking at it made me feel cooler :)

watermarked-DSC06470

Backwater cruise is possible here through some operators it seems. Fellow travellers @shadowsgalore mentioned it to me when I met them at Dandeli.

watermarked-DSC06473

As you can see in the picture there were many people there. Even though the lighthouse was closed it is a popular place for the local public. There were some youngster groups I guess from nearby colleges with many girls in it so that was good, otherwise as a solo girl traveling I would have felt weird with just men and couples sitting around. :)

Want any more information? Feel free to leave a comment or ping me, I will try and help you with it.

Places to See Around Kaup

Shakarapura: Jasmine town of Karnataka. An unique trade happens here – Jasmine flower cultivation. These flowers are flown down to Mumbai, exported to Dubai and so on. It is an interesting town I want to visit and take a look at the Jasmine farms.

Moodbidri: Ancient Jain temples.

Udupi Town: As I have written earlier Udupi town is a good place to see an ancient Krishna temple. It has a quaint ambiance with the temple area being a very different structure altogether.

Malpe Beach: The Malpe beach is close to Udupi. From here you can also go to the St Mary’s islands which has some interesting rock formations.


As I have mentioned earlier in my Berlin to Copenhagen cycle story that from Stubbekobing to Stege was the maddest day in the entire cycling trip! I wanted to cycle 70-80 km that day but managed a very hard 25 km. It was too windy! Later when I checked the weather, I figured the winds had been 45km/hr that day. This windy meant that if I put my cycle on the stand it will topple, if I am cycling at the side of the road I get pushed into the middle of the road, when going downhill I need to peddle, peddle hard!

At all times the wind was pushing at me from every direction. There are no glass windows like in a car or a strong helmet with a screen in a motorbike. It is just me and my cycle. #Phew that was one hard day but also awesome –  I had never experienced nature in all its magnanimity. :)

One respite I got that day was in the Fanefjord Church.

Cycling Berlin Copenhagen

From Stubbekobing to Fanefjord Church

I don’t know how many hours I took to get to the church…probably half the day…. but overcoming a lot of thoughts which said let’s just take the shortest route to the next campsite and just skip these places… I pushed on.

Fanefjord Church Door

No wind behind this door!

I found that in terms of the architecture it is quite similar to the other churches in that region. I think it is Gothic style, but I am not sure.

Fanefjord Church

This image clearly needs some lights! :)

 

It is the biggest church in the area and built way back in 1250 AD. The beauty of the church is in the ancient frescoes inside it. These were painted by a Danish painter called Elmelunde Master who has painted other such churches too. Apparently he had painted the lower walls too but today the frescoes can be seen only near the ceiling and upper walls. These frescoes have been ‘restored’ so the original paintings may have had a different quality.

Fanefjord Church Frescoes

Beautiful Style and Colors

Fanefjord Church Frescoes

If you are like me and are wondering what the difference between a mural and fresco is, well someone else asked that Question on Quora. :) A fresco is a really old form of painting where it becomes part of the wall paint, as opposed to a mural which is done on top of the wall paint.

These frescoes have a clear and distinctive style. All the paintings were biblical events & stories.

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There were explanations of the events these paintings depicted in laminated sheets kept nearby.

Fanefjord ChurchFanefjord Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old Church walls felt really concrete and solid against the wind storm outside. In fact within the church you could hardly hear the wind unless someone opened the outside door to enter or exit.

What I also found surprising was that there were a few visitors who had come to see the church. I don’t know if they were people who were staying nearby or maybe doing a car tour. Driving a car in the wind wouldn’t be too difficult I guess.

Fanefjord Church Garden

Garden around the church

Fanefjord Church

Cemetary in the garden, typical of most churches…

 

So that was Fanefjord Church with its frescoes (not murals) :)


If you are looking to choose your first cycle route, here is some help. There are a lot of aspects to consider when choosing the route to cycle, by and large these are some factors to keep in mind. Also, the idea here is not to make it sound difficult – it may seem that way initially. But everything gets managed on the road. You ask people for help or you just figure it out. And there are a LOT of reasons to be doing this….So read on! :)

Terrain

Depends on your preferences and capabilities. On a cycle remember – you go only as far as you peddle. So mountains, sandy stretches, off-roading takes effort. If you are looking at smooth, flat roads then you have to choose accordingly. One of the simple ways to get an idea about the terrain are topographic maps,

Terrain Map

Japan – a land of many folds

These terrain maps give you an idea of the land elevation. If you are really meticulous it would also be very helpful to figure out which exact cycle routes you would be taking and what is the elevation of those routes. There are a few sites which help with this you can search on them or you may need to buy a relevant atlas or map.

I did a very quick check about the elevation for my Berlin to Copenhagen route but I was still caught in a tizzy when the hilly bits came in Germany. Probably for seasoned cyclists it wouldn’t even seem as hilly, but I actually had never done hilly at all until now. In fact I had never even used a cycle with gears back in India. So all of a sudden I have this geared gizmo with me and I am supposed to go on hills with 25 kg luggage?! :)

But usually we can learn on the road as long as you aren’t pressed for time. If you have planned the trip on a very tight schedule then it would be very important to understand the terrain first. Also sometimes you may need equipment to deal with the terrain – like for off-roading better have a bike with suspension, for muddy patches at least have mud guards and maybe some other stuff.

Weather

Very important to understand the weather in the area you would be cycling. Storms, windy, Typhoons can really impact your speed of cycling and are also risky. Winter season would need some serious clothing & sleeping gear especially if you plan to wild camp. Dry, hot seasons needs copious amount of water sourcing.

Your gear, clothing, sustenance everything gets impacted by the weather.

Safety

I guess this is more relevant to women but I have seen stories on cycling groups of men being mugged too. So some check regards safety would be good. I actually don’t know where this can be done. I chose to cycle in Europe and considering it was Germany & Denmark I put the matter of safety out of my mind. Scandinavian countries are the safest countries afaik.

Once I was on the road I appreciated how remote some of the stretches were. If a particular town was racist or didn’t like outsiders or some such bizarre story… I wouldn’t really know. I am not even clear where I would need to ask to find these things out. Riding an international cycling route like I was riding the Berlin-Copenhagen route would be fine as the authorities & other cyclists would have checked it out… but to go free cycling, any direction you want to – which I would love to do, then I guess some kind of safety check would be needed.

However we also need to just take what comes on the road, because the whole idea of adventure is the Unknown!

Facilities

This includes places to eat (especially for vegetarians like me), ATM availability, supermarkets for simple odds and ends, night stay, water & toilets enroute. These needs are basic and in urban areas we take them for granted, but it all changes depending on the route and how interior you have gone.

European Pizza

My typical meal in Denmark & Germany. One big meal a day and rest of the day on small bites.

Very often in Denmark I would get a good place to have a full meal just once a day. In Germany I would come across a good cafe twice a day. Supermarkets are not so common outside urban areas. The lack of public toilets and water places were really hard for me, as I didn’t like buying bottled water due to environmental concerns. Toilets are found in cafes – and since there weren’t too many of these it was a concern. Though everything got managed, but it was hard & I was very often thirsty with my bottles empty.

Night Stay

This is another important aspect which lets you choose your route.

Wild camping is what a lot of cyclists do – this means you cycle however much you want and then scout a good place to camp. Typically you can ask permission from the relevant people – like asking if you can camp in someones backyard. This also includes finding an isolated spot and camping there, hopefully no one catches you.

Campgrounds – in European countries there are camping grounds every 30 km on average. So it is quite possible to find a campground to camp in every night. Most of these grounds are equipped with toilets, showers, even small kitchenettes. It is also a place to meet other people.

Denmark Camping

Camping in a camping ground. Denmark. Cost about 1000 INR a night for one person-one tent-cycle.

Indoors: If you want to be indoors at night, then things get tricky, because I don’t know how one can book accommodations in such remote places at a reasonable cost. Options like AirBnb do give some choice, but that location may 30-40 kms off your cycling route. So this won’t make much sense every night!

If you are ok to shell out loads of money then of course just go with some company who can arrange the entire cycling tour for you.

Personal Interest

Choose a route based on personal interest. Museums, natural parks, historic sites, lakes… take a pick as per your interests. One of the reasons I chose Berlin to Copenhagen was because I really wanted to spend some time in Scandinavian countries & because Berlin was the best base to start my trip. Copenhagen also really excited me.

Budget

Depending on the country, budgets will largely vary. Typically though if you plan to wild camp or use campsites the costs tend to be reasonable. If you want to stay indoors at nights then the costs change. You also want to keep in mind that you may need to repair your cycle so always factor in unexpected expenses.

There would also be other factors that get you excited and make you want to do mad adventures. So figure out what works for you. Choose your country, area, route accordingly. Especially if this is your first ride just plan as much as you feel the need to. Don’t over plan because you don’t know enough of your cycling style… it would take you some time to understand your preferences.

The best thing to carry with you on the road is an open mind, some faith in the world and a smile. :)


It is odd that this blog of mine hardly has anything about Mysore, considering that it was my favourite city to visit for years… so it is only fitting to write about it now in my Unexpectedly Awesome place series. In the first post I wrote about the Western Ghats and here I will write about the Mysore Lakes – the two most unexpectedly awesome spots in Mysore.

Everyone has heard of Mysore, so I am sure you would have too. :)

Usually people talk about visiting the Mysore Palace or the Vrindavan Gardens.

The Palace is okay – it has some charm and it would be really nice if we could roam around in it unchecked. But they have guards everywhere who keep ushering you ahead… I can’t even just sit quietly in a room and look around. One has to keep walking ahead on a specified path and there are lot of crowds.

Vrindavan gardens was not that impressive. It is great to go with a fun group and have a good time but I didn’t find it the awesome place that it is traditionally considered. At the time when it was made, it maybe a wonder for the Indian public, but if you have visited any international location it probably had way huger and aesthetically better gardens. I found the same thing when I visited the Botanical garden of Ooty. Very popular in my parents times, in fact they went for their honey moon there, but I found it too small and too ‘maintained’. Everything was spruced and primed….. huge expanses of green with minimal maintenance, natural hang outs are my style of garden. :)

Coming back to, why has this city been one of my favourites in the earlier travel years?

The two amazing lakes within the city (& the Zoo & Chamundi Hills),

Kukurahalli Lake

Kukurahalli lake is a lovely spot to spend some quiet time with nature or have a nice conversation with someone dear to you. There is a walking track that goes all around the lake shore. This track is part of a lush green lake eco-system. When you walk a little around the lake, you won’t feel like you are in an urban environment at all. The trees are dense so the sunlight filters in through the leaves creating a green haze around you and nearby in the lakes, the water birds are merrily splashing about. Watching the ducks swim in the placid waters is truly a serene experience. Take the time to go around this entire lake track– the greenery, birds and solitude can be a lovely experience.

Mysore Lakes

Kukurahalli lake. During Mysore dasara celebrations there was a flower show here. Doesn’t it look picturesque!

Mysore Lakes

Another view Kukurahally Lake…. it is a very interesting biosphere – water birds, flora, fauna…

Karanji Lake

The other lake is Karanji lake and it is an utter delight. After seeing the Kukurahalli lake I decided I must see the other lake too. Maybe it would be as good. I was in for a surprise because this lake is even more fascinating. It is a fairly large lake with small islands where huge flocks of Pelicans and other birds have nested. It is like a mini bird sanctuary. It is really surprising that hardly anyone talks about it.

There is even a boating facility here which is very enjoyable. They have a bunch of simple row boats and boatsmen for a few hours in the day and it is worth taking a boating excursion into the lake.

Mysore Lake

Trying my hands at row boating. Pooooof it is quite tough.

Mysore Lake

Sitting by the lake, Love this ambiance!

 

As far as I remember they don’t really take the boat near the bird colonies as it would disturb the birds, but there are couple of watch towers which can be climbed to see them better. These watch towers are in the lush green park that surrounds the Karanji lake. This park is great for most people – old, friends, couples and also schools/parents who come with kids. There is ample place for games and frolicking. It is usually big enough for people to find a secluded spot or even a lakeside bench.

Mysore Lakes

Water birds at Karanji Lake

That’s not all, this place has a small caged bird area, walk inside to find yourself amidst peacocks, peahens, pelicans, water birds, hens and the like… They are fluttering and doing their stuff right nearby you! The caged area is not that big but considering the size they have quite an eclectic variety of birds in it. In fact I had seen a peacock doing the rain-dance with a fully open tail here (even thought it was not raining).

Mysore Lakes

White fowl…

Mysore Lakes

Not raining but the Peacock was fanning its tail :)

Mysore Lakes

Peacock blue!

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Small yellow bird… don’t know which one..

Mysore Lake

Fowl Alert!

Mysore Lake

White Peacock

 

The park is quite big with a long, walking path meandering through it. Walking right till the end of the path you will come to a butterfly garden. You can simply walk into the butterfly garden patch and it does have a few interesting butterflies and moths flitting around. A nice experience. The whole park and boating is very tastefully maintained. Oh and if you are a foreigner you have to pay some high amount but for Indians it is 35/- or something.

The price for boating is very reasonable, maybe 40/- per person or something, I don’t exactly remember. There are a number of row boats. You can hire the boat to go around the lake for a while. A boats-man will come with you to row the boat – they can be interesting to talk to. If you are keen on boating then check the timings because it is not open all day.

Apart from the Lakes you will find India’s best Zoo here in Mysore. This Zoo is quite close to Karanji lake so you can visit it together if you want. Chamundi hills can also be an interesting visit. If you want to go to the outskirts … you can go to Gomatgiri and Venugopalswamy temple behind Vrindavan garden. More on all that in another post. :)

Mysore Zoo

Mysore Zoo has Giraffes FTW :)

Do you have any questions about Mysore? Shoot me here I will try and answer. :)


I had just finished my first long distance cycling trip. Solo cycling & camping from Berlin to Copenhagen, 550 kms in 17 days. 17 days in the European countryside, a dreamy solitude. I was to now spend a week with my parents in the country they really wanted to visit – Switzerland.

Having enjoyed and cherished my solo cycling travels to the maximum I really wondered how I would find a similar joy and thrill in the Swiss Mountains. I usually prefer going for offbeat more quaint and unknown type of places rather than most tourist-popular Switzerland – so I was not sure how touristy this country would be. I was already unpleasantly aware of how expensive it was – having found all accommodation already booked or 3 times more expensive than most other places in Europe.

As it happened, our trip planning played out right and the Switzerland leg of the trip was really enjoyable and unique as well. Just remember it is important to choose your trip the way it makes sense for you, as per your interests! These are some of the things that we loved there,

Bernese Oberland

I criss-crossed the Swiss country couple of times in train and I suspect that the Bernese Oberland region is one of the the BEST scenic places in the country, and with low-lying & mountainous villages. Maybe the higher altitude mountain villages might be interesting places to stay as well, but for low lying areas Bernese Oberland villages takes the cake – with the quaint little villages, beautiful lakes and nearby mountains to gaze upon. So if you are planning a trip to Switz I suggest you plan your stay in this area.

Switzerland

Cantonment Map of Switzerland

Picture Source: By Marco Zanoli (sidonius 19:14, 3 May 2007 (UTC)) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Countryside Swiss Chalet

The accommodation choice makes a lot of difference for us family. As we love to relax in a wonderful place – wake up late sometimes or just take a holiday from roaming around and spend a quiet day near about.

Aeschi, Switzerland

View from our window…. the view from every window was a treat :)

Switzerland

Just outside the house on a cloudy day…

 

On Lake Thun there is a town called Spiez. This is also a really good place to stay if you get good accommodations. Go for a place with a view!

We stayed in a countryside chalet in a small village 10 mins from Spiez called Aeschi. Located in the super scenic Bernese Oberland region and near the Lake Thun – fifth biggest lake in Switzerland, this was truly a world class place. From every window of the house we could see stunning landscapes. I would have expected to get such an experience in a mountain cabin devoid of any facilities but this house was completely equipped – from a full kitchen to continuous hot water to a cable TV connection. I will never forget staying in this house and strolling outside to see cows grazing in lush green, immaculately mowed lawns. Walking up to a nearby bench for the view of a perfect blue lake Thun in the distance and mountains all around me. As my dad said, “Every side you turn, the view is stunning!”

With 43 5-star reviews I was pretty sure this AirBnb experience would be good, but it was awesome! :)

(This is the place we stayed)

Switzerland

With our lovely hostess Christine :)

Walking Trails

As a family we love nature. So when I was searching things to do in Switz, walking trails made the most sense. I didn’t realize however that they are so common everywhere. As we were exploring the Aeschi village, we came across a walking sign.

Excited my parents and me followed this trail.

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Wander in the wanderweg ;)

 

We came to a small animal farm with geese wandering about, a donkey tethered to a pole and sheep. A boisterous cat came by and freaked my mom out by its antics.

Switzerland

The Cat :)

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Small garden as we were walking.. Not sure but I guess the tiny tents are for the plant or crop?

 

A little way up the trail, the scenery kept evolving, entrancing us. Behind some local houses we came by a local community event called the AlpenTheatre. A social gathering for the village folk – we tried out a local (vegetarian) delicacy called ‘Kaas Bratel’. A piece of bread topped with a lot of melted cheese. We also looked around at the many stalls selling local ware. Having explored this local gathering we continued on the trail to amazing views higher up the hill.

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Making me some Kaas Bratel :)

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A piece of bread with lotsa melted cheese on it and a couple of gherkins and masala powder. Yumm.

Lake Ferry

We had Swiss rail passes for all of us so we could choose pretty much any transport. Our first choice after seeing the vast blue lake Thun was the ferry!

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Two ferries movie across the Lake Thun in clockwise and anti-clockwise direction – so both are going the opposite way around. There are quaint towns by the lakeside, so each ferry will stop at each of those towns. In total I think 8 or so stops are there. Depending on which town you wish to go you can take the ferry moving in that direction.

Lake Thun is connected to another Lake Brienz. These two lakes intersect each other – this intersection is where the popular town Interlaken is located. We have to get down from the Lake Thun ferry at Interlaken West. And then walk 5-10 min to Interlaken Ost stop for the ferry on Lake Brienz.

Interlaken

Jungfraujoch peak view from Interlaken town

 

As Lake Thun is bigger than Lake Brienz the ferry ride on it is longer I guess about 2 hours. While the one on Brienz is about 1.5 hours. The view from both ferries as you can imagine is stunning. The quaint little villages where it stops are all very picturesque. You will get timings and other information for the ferry rides quite easily at any information kiosk in the area or many online resources too.

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Picturesque views

Switzerland

Ferry on Le Man, Lake Geneva

 

These ferry rides happen on other Lakes too so if you are near any other lake, do ask about the ferry. It tends to be a bit time consuming, but it is a lovely experience.

Quaint Villages

The best thing about these ferry rides – and also if you take train rides in Switzerland is to get down at completely random stations and explore random villages. This is what we did at Meiringen and it turned out to be so interesting. Even though I have read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, it didn’t strike me that this was Meiringen – Sherlock town! This is where Sherlock goes during the final battle between Moriarty, his arch enemy! It is only when I came across the Sherlock Holmes museum here and then saw all the Sherlock Holmes theme cafes that I got into the grove of the story. In fact the Reichenbach Falls where Sherlock & Moriarty fall to death is located 15 minutes from here! (Sherlock Holmes was later resurrected by the writer due to popular demand)

Meiringen

Elementary my dear Watson!

 

So that was a unique experience for us and I would totally recommend you do all such random exploring. In fact stay in such random towns, even better. Lake-side, random towns 😉

It was an enchanting experience, one that my parents and me will not forget. Switzerland is now a favourite location on our travel bucketlist but to be explored in this unique way. Live like the locals, absorb the natural beauty and walk the mountain trails!

We did go to some touristy locations like Jungfraujoch but that is a story for another time. You can plan for such places but first do the relevant research – make sure you are doing things that truly resonate with you deeply rather than just checking off places on a sightseeing list.

Oh ya, don’t go with tour groups.

😉

That’s all for now folks!

Share with me your Switzerland thoughts.


Quite a while and I haven’t written much about my Europe trip. Lot of posts need to be written, a lot of people want to know about my expenses and budget and all that. Today I am more in the mood for prose, so writing about Day 1….

This was the day I was slated to leave my Berlin AirBnB homestay and cycle away! 😉

My home stay hostess was away traveling so I had the place to myself, we hadn’t fixed any time to leave, I wanted to be away as soon as I could, but I knew it will not be so easy. Because the 12 days I had in Berlin to buy all my gear and stuff were a bit less. So much so that, I had bought my camping gear just couple of days earlier and just the night before I had fixed the front pannier rack all by myself (beejesus!)

Cycle fixing

Ehhh the cycle needs to be turned upside down! First time in my life doing this… and ended up misaligning front wheel brakes, so fixed that also.   It is not very difficult but just the fact that I have never done that….. some silly mistakes can have tragic consequences so I checked with my cycle experts on FB and they told me to check all the nuts and bolts. So I double checked. All was good. #phew

Cycle fixing the front rack

Very awkward and unsure at first… but I can like this… a lot! :)

cycle fixing

Aaha… who is the proud girl now!

When I woke up, I started off with my yoga because well, that is the best thing to do 😀 Yoga is why I practically never had an early start. By the time other cyclists were leaving the campsite I would just get started with my yoga and it would take about an hour or so. So Day 1 wasn’t any different, once I did some yoga and quickly made some hot drink to drink enroute, came the big task. I realized that I had not done a test run of loading all the stuff on the cycle. I had done test runs with the two panniers, but I didn’t load everything – camping gear and all. So I would now be doing that for the first time. Aila!

There were all sorts of questions like, whether I should take my cycle out of the house and load everything there or load everything and then take it outside. Finally chose the first option because taking the cycle out of the building door would be tough with all the luggage on it. So you see, since I had never done this small Questions took a time to figure out. But I just used simple common sense and experiments. Like to put all the luggage on the racks I first tried duct tapes but they didn’t seem very reliable. So I fortified it with some ropes too. Later on the road I realized that the ropes tended to stretch a bit and loosen over time so I had to tie the ropes a lot tighter. Duct tapes weren’t very useful.

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Eee excited!

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Spot the duct tapes ;)

 

This first loading of the cycle took QUITE some time! Maybe an hour even. There came the big shock of my life….

The stand broke. Unh… yea the STAND BROKE! For a while I wondered whether I had packed just way too much?! But then it was just two rear panniers and my camping stuff – It was not that heavy! Anyway thank god I had a good Lebara sim card (I bought it earlier for 10 euros only) I called my bike shop and spoke to them. They told me to come there right away, they will try and fix it. This bike shop was just 10 mins cycling from where I was staying, so not much trouble.

Off I zoomed to Bike Piraten

They got working on it immediately – the German sense of efficiency and all. :) Thankfully 1 out of the 3 stands they had in the shop fitted very well with my cycle and it was strong enough to take the weight!

 

long distance cycling

Can’t stand right now.. The first time packing luggage on cycle… what a duct tape and rope mess at the back :D

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Stephan fixing my stand. They had only 3 bike stands in the shop and thankfully the third one was just right :)

The learning is that you need a stronger stand than usual for long distance trips, because it needs to bear not just the cycle but also the luggage weight. So anyway I was so flustered and keen to get on with my trip that from the cycle shop I just started cycling off towards Oranienberg – my first destination.

In case you noticed, I hadn’t eaten a single bite. Err yea…. it was 3pm in the afternoon (I had also spent some time cleaning the apartment to return to my host) and I was hungry but I needed to reach the campsite on time. So peddle, peddle away! :)

So, with such an eventful start, it was only after I reached the outskirts of Berlin that I reflected on the fact that, I didn’t have a stable accommodation for the next so many days. I also wondered whether I was mad for the nth time, but I have learnt well to simply ignore such thoughts especially when deep down there is such a strong current of excitement bubbling. :)

cycling europe

Standing proud… :)

berlin to oranienberg

enroute… an interesting flowering tree…

 

So on and on I went… finally around 5.30pm I took a stop at a Netto supermarket and had some delish vegetarian sandwich and coffee. Also by this time my Mom was insisting that I eat something (via whatsapp). Oh yea I had so many people following my journey live via the whatsapp group. Hehe. I didn’t update too often, just enough to let them know I was safe and really enjoying 😉

Anyway with quite an interesting ride and happy thoughts I reached my first campsite, the beautiful heritage site, Oraniengberg Schloss. :)

Schloss means a manor in German. From what I understand Oranienberg Schloss is a heritage manor with a huge garden around it. There is a small harbor behind this garden where there are many boats on the river Havel. It was overall a very serene place with the clear waters of Havel, lots of boats and caravans all around. Silence and solitude. Lovely place for a first campsite!

Oranienberg Schloss

Oranienberg Schloss

Oranienberg Schloss

Huge garden around the Oranienberg Schloss

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Notice the reflections in the water…

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I passed a lot of caravans and boats, I was looking out for the tent-camper area, when I came by a place with tents but there was a locked door barricading it.  I needed to get a digital card or something to get through into the tent campsite where there were other tenters and caravans too.

One more adventure for the day, The harbor master had left and I had to self-sign-in via a machine like an ATM. I had to pay and get my campsite pass. This was fine, because I can grasp such things quick enough (even though I had never used such a machine before…) but the problem was that the machine was malfunctioning. I chose the right option and put in the money but didn’t get the card. Another cyclist couple came there and tried it too, but it didn’t work for them either. They then decided to head off to some other camp site, but I was pretty tired and I was also solo and new at this.

So I was stuck outside the campsite with a malfunctioning machine! The place was beautiful though and some Polish folks were so impressed to see a solo cyclist girl from India that they took photos and invited me to Warsaw. They also asked me “How many miles” and I just blushed and said First day… 😀

Oranienberg Sunset

A beautiful sunset as I looked around wondering where to camp. I was relaxed actually and happy because I managed the 30 odd km ride from Berlin to Oranienberg without any major struggle. Except a bit of luggage loosening up issues ;)

 

Anyway, my plan was to just camp near this machine for the night because it all looked really serene and safe. There were lot of boats moored nearby and people were staying in the boats and in nearby caravans. Just the tent campsite was behind a locked door. While I was wondering what to do, I saw an old lady nearby and instinctively went and asked her for help. She called in her husband who understood the problem and then he used his camp card to get me into the camping site. He said that we could talk to the harbormaster the next day :)

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With other tent-campers :)

camping

Didn’t bother with the rain cover on the first day at all… was good weather and the next few days were heat wave or thuderstorms so figured better to make the best of it :)

So that’s how the first day went. 8.30pm. Fair weather. First day of cycling accomplished. I didn’t even put the rain proof tent cover and I could see stars from the netted windows in my tent.

Camping

Greeted by sparkling dew drops in the morning :)


westernghatsIt is fascinating to visit a place and find it unexpectedly awesome! Old thoughts, old expectations, understanding of the land, all get questioned. A new respect and appreciation for beauty grows in my heart every time I come across such a place. So here is a series of posts on the lesser known places which turned out to be one of the best places I have visited.

WESTERN GHATS

The ‘Ghats’ had always been an unpleasant word for me as it meant hours spent in a vehicle that keeps going around hilly bends in the road leading to nausea and motion sickness. Now a days that I am traveling out of passion this motion sickness has become much more bearable, as I am so excited about the place I am going to.

Yet I had not particularly noticed them – the brilliant Western Ghats. The beauty of these Ghats hit me to the core only at this secluded spot in the forest at Dandeli,

Sunset Point Panorama

Rows and rows of undulating hills could be seen in the distance. One after the other, every row becoming one shade lighter until it faded into the sky. A bright and striking sky above a huge expanse of lush forest. The scene spoke to me of untouched nature, ancient places and wilderness like nothing ever before. Since this day Western Ghats have become something sacred for me.

Now when I know that as many as 39 places in the Western Ghats have been allotted World Heritage Site Status by UNESCO I truly appreciate it, because this place is truly ancient! In fact these mountains are older than the Himalayan range and in these days of climatic imbalance, it is a very precious biosphere.

Here are some pictures of the western ghats taken from many different regions I have visited.

western ghats

In the Dandeli forest reserve….

wildpostcard2

western ghats at dandeli

Panoramic view of the Western Ghats

Chikamagaluru

western ghats

Western Ghats, enroute Chikamagaluru

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Fields…. still enroute Chikamagaluru – 4hrs in a local ST bus from Mangalore to Chikamagaluru

Matheran hill station near Mumbai

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enroute Matheran – Asia’s only vehicle free hill station!

Western Ghats, Matheran

Toy train from Neral to Matheran

Western Ghats, Charlotte Lake, Matheran

Charlotte Lake surrounded by lush forests, Matheran

So much to explore in Coorg!

Western Ghats, Coorg

Iruppu Falls, Coorg

Western Ghats, Coorg

Harvest season in Coorg. The crops have been sheared already :)

Western Ghats, Coorg

Flora & Fauna – Coorg

Nilgiriswesternghats2

It was only when I was writing this post that I realized that the Nilgiris were a part of western ghats. I always thought they were at the eastern side of the country, but then I looked up a map of Western Ghats and realized the actual placement. I have spent quite a bit of time at the foothills of the Velliangiri mountains near Coimbatore which are a part of the Nilgiri biosphere of Western Ghats and done some interesting trekking there.

It was only at one of my last Coimbatore trips in 2013 I guess, that I realised Coonoor & Ooty the popular sister hill-stations of the Nilgiris were really nearby. So I went off for a few days to Coonoor. With a quick day trip to Ooty.

Western Ghats, Nilgiris

Toy train to Ooty

Western Ghats, Nilgiris

The beautiful Nilgiris near Ooty

Western Ghats, Nilgiris

Silver bark or Eucalytpus trees I guess, Nilgiris

It is amazing how one can keep traveling and just keep realizing how little you have traveled. I am really looking forward to traveling more in this area. Do more of nature trails and wild treks in this awesome biosphere of the Western Ghats!

Have you had any Western Ghats experiences?


Finally I am sitting down to write my year end review for 2015. I love this exercise, it allows me to just sit and reminisce the years memories.

2015 is in a way a most memorable year for many happenings in my life. In the travel spectrum there was a big trip – Solo cycling Berlin to Copenhagen. Not only was the cycling and camping a first time experience but everything else – from getting a month and half long visa for Schengen as a solo traveler to planning my accommodation & flights for this international trip was a new challenge. I guess I put in about a months work into it.
In case you came in late and are wondering Why long distance cycling? This post explains it.

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Ooh yea, cycling Berlin to Copenhagen!

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On a cycle we go…. laa laa laalalalaaaa

After this cycling trip in Germany & Denmark, I spent a week in Switzerland with my parents. Yet to write about that. I also spent a few days in Budapest, Hungary. This was when the refugee situation was slowly escalating in the area. I visited the Keleti station in Budapest to get an on the ground idea of the situation. This was a really exhilarating trip for me. Seeing the ‘first world’ up close was a learning experience. I have so much to blog about this trips experience, I have no idea when I will get around to it. :)

Returning to India and settling back into this life, I made a quick 3 day trip to Nashik for the Kumbhmela. I had been wanting to visit one for a long time and was glad could make it this time. I didn’t go for any of the shahi snan (important bath) days as I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the crowds so much especially back from cycling in the European countryside. So I went on the quieter days and really enjoyed. Here are some blogs on that,

Notes for Solo Travelers to Kumbh Mela
My Travelogue
A guest post on the well maintained arrangements at the Mela

Earlier in 2015 I had been yet another time, to Matheran, a hill station near Mumbai. It is usually a family destination and so I never really explored it as a traveler. This time however I did just that… and I enjoyed it a lot more than other times.

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Want-to Twitter? 😀 A horse in Matheran patiently waiting….

Another hilly town I visited was Chikmagaluru of the South Indian coffee fame. Again a short visit with family to a coffee estate. Nice to break the routine life in Mumbai and be with nature. The journey to Chikamagaluru was fun. I took the overnight train from Mumbai to Mangalore – this is a Konkan route, in the morning it was very scenic. From Mangaluru to Chikamagaluru in local ST bus for a few hours, all for a small 3 day trip. Heh, it is good I like traveling so much. :)

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Beautiful Western Ghats – enroute Chika…

While writing this post I realised that last New Year started off with a very lovely trip to the Maharashtra backwaters with my friends @Netra and Snigdha. We were up for some exploration but the untouched beauty we found took all of us aback. The Maharashtra backwaters are beautiful and so unexplored! I didn’t get down to blogging about it yet, but have put up some pictures,

So for traveling year 2015 has been pretty great…. I am currently figuring out the right balance between work and travel for me. It is a common dilemma for a lot of us travelers because we want to travel more. And all of us have our individual ways to go about it. The thing with me is that I love my work too… and it is a large contributor towards my personal growth so I am looking at the right balancing combination which is best for my life situation.

One thing I want to highlight here is that Travel is after all towards a better life. The whole hype around travel has led to a lot of silly noise around it, which may imply that you should drop everything else and just start traveling like it is the end all of everything. No. Please look at your life situation and understand it. Travel can be a great way for growth and rejuvenation. So see how you can travel some and improve your life.

Happy New Year 2016 :)