I prefer slow, immersive travel experiences. In the Summer of 2015 I went on my first trip to Europe, and tried out solo cycle touring. It was amazing and I found it very well suited for my tastes. Since then I have been on more cycling adventures in other countries and within India too. Writing details about these trips is time consuming and it typically happens only after the trip is over. Sometimes I get caught up with other stuff then it doesn’t happen at all. So, I have created this post to quickly jot down notes. As and when I write detailed blog posts I will link back here, so this becomes one big repository of my cycling experiences.
Also added articles on cycling gear, other logistical stuff and interviews with cyclists, they have been listed right at the end. All trips are solo unless otherwise stated. Continue reading
I went on a cycling trip to Australia in Spring 2016. I was to land in Melbourne and had tentatively thought of doing a Melbourne to Adelaide Cycling circuit. One obvious route between these two cities is the coastal one including the great ocean road. I plotted another more northern route which I thought would give me a taste of the Outback without making it too serious because I was still a newbie in bike touring. Continue reading
Australia is amazing! So much unique flora, fauna, wildlife and also to a certain extent the people culture. The scenic beauty especially the Great Ocean Road (pic above) was so good. And the country/continent is so huge that I have barely explored a bit so there is much room for it to get better. Here is a not-so-quick overview of my time biking Australia,
Cycle distance covered: 300 km
Time spent: 1.5 months (1st Sept – 15th Oct, 2016)
I ended up cycling (& camping) a lot less than I would have wanted and anticipated, I will share the reasons for this in the ensuing post. The upside however was that I ended up staying in AirBnb a lot more. This meant meeting more people, having conversations and making friends. 🙂
(This was my Original Plan)
September is the start of Spring season in Australia, so while I had anticipated colder weeks in the beginning I expected it to get warm by mid Sept when I would start cycling. However, it never really got warm in Victoria. Moreover, it rained like crazy and every week there was severe weather warnings released by the MET department.
In 1 and half month I had only 3 days when temperatures were over 15C. Nights were almost always below 10C and a lot of times as low as 3C. There were chances of it dipping to 0C. Too cold for someone from Mumbai who is used to 28C to 36C temperatures. Along with this it would often be windy and rainy.
So basically cold, wind and wet!
Too much. Continue reading
So yes this big trip happened. *Pinches myself to wake up* ;D
After planning on paper and speaking to select, relevant people to get insights and tips I was off to make this trip happen. I was concerned that there maybe a gap between all my research and what was needed on ground, but it went of fairly well. Of course last minute adaptations were needed, but managed.
There were many moments where I questioned whether I was taking up too much and can I do this?
But well, just keep plodding on – that I have realised is the secret to many things in life.
GERMANY – the country of choice because it is well cheaper, very cycle friendly and fairly flat – great combination for a first trip.
Berlin was where my base would be. I spent the first 12 days here to get my gear. Very hectic with a bit of city exploration added. 15 days would have been better.
I considered different routes,
– north coastal France, Netherlands & Belgium
– Berlin, Dresden to Prague
France didn’t seem to have adequate campsites in that region. Czech wasn’t that cycle friendly. And overall none were feeling right.
Came across the Berlin – Copenhagen route, felt right. Fits in with my plan to keep Berlin as base of this trip. It would take me to Denmark & I totally wanted to cycle in Scandinavian countries. I would also love to visit Copenhahagen! So Berlin to Copenhagen it is!
Transport back from Copenhagen wasn’t the easiest and there were many other difficulties bit I think any route would have some difficulties and so I went ahead researching it more.
Bikeway Berlin – Copenhagen is an official international travel route:
They have identified three sections,
Brandenburg – Germany
Mecklenburg – Germany
Eastern coast of Denmark
You can of course find lot of info on the website… They split each section into day wise trips ranging from 35 km to 70 km. For most avid cyclists in Europe this distance is fine.
However, I chose to do a cycling trip as a slow traveler – I love cycling but am not really an avid cyclist. I planned to cycle just abt 30 – 40km a day. So the stops I took and daily coverage was lot different. I often stopped at a place for many days, just absorbing the camping experience and cycling around in the nearby town.
The daily stops would also depend on the accommodation.
Accommodations can be managed with,
Campsites – in which case you need camping gear but on the upside you can be entirely impromptu
AirBnB/Couchsurfing – this can be budget but needs planning on the road
Hostels/Hotels – this may not be budget as the route touches many small towns. Also you would need to book in advance to get better deals.
The advantage of camping or keeping accommodation impromptu is that it allows you to be flexible. When cycling, your plans change. Depending on the weather or your health or some other factor you may not be able to cycle the planned distance.
I camped almost all the days as it let’s me be impromptu and budget.
So here is how I covered the entire route and some brief notes,
Ride 2: Oranienburg to Zehdenick/Zielegar Nature Park (~45km)
Lovely route by river Havel. Towns Liebenwalde and Zehdenick – really picturesque.
Ride 3: Zielegar Nature park to Furstenberg Havel (~45km)
This is when the route gets really scenic! I think this was one of best routes in the German section in terms of scenic and flatness… The later parts get a bit hilly.
Explored Furstenberg Havel (10km)
Shocked an Italian restaurenteer and got free drink. 😉
Ride 4: Furstenberg Havel to Wesenberg (~35km)
Route got hilly. Not much for experienced people – but I am not experienced!! In fact I didn’t know how to use gears on hilly. ;D
Spent two days at Wesenberg campsite & figured out.
Ride 5: Wesenberg to Waren (~65km)
Managed the hilly. On verge of enjoying. Took a “detour” which turned out to be a pot-holed mud path. The second maddest ride in the trip.
Explored Waren (10km)
Ride 6: Waren to Krakow am See (~50km)
Krakow am See again a lovely town. Had dinner at a lake facing restaurant 🙂
Ride 7: Krakow am See to Gustrow & Rostock (~20km)
Cycled to Gustrow. Enroute met some lovely and somewhat eccentric people including an almost-round-the-world cyclist. Spent some time here… So then decided to take a train from Gustrow to Rostock.
Explored Gustrow: 10km
& reached Denmark by ferry!
Ride 8: Gedser to Marielyst Strand ( ~20km)
A crazy ride from 7pm to 9.15pm on a windy night!
Ride 9: Marielyst strand to Nykobing Falsing (~20km)
Explored marielyst strand – award winning Denmark beach. Realised that here in Denmark I can have conversations with locals because they know English.. Unlike in Germany. Though this wasn’t true later as the area got more rural.
Ride 10: Nykobing Falster to Stubbekobing (~45km)
Great fun riding. Wind was picking up. I didn’t know what was in store for next day. So amazing scenery, can’t even say. But the best was yet to come! Oh yea n I didn’t get any food.
Rodvig to Store Hedding (~15km)
& a train back to Copenhagen
Ending the trip was really difficult, but there were many practical considerations. I had to sell the cycle and camping gear because I couldn’t transport it back to India. The cycle was really good and I am still wondering whether I should have somehow got it back to India.
Camping gear I anyway did not want, I would like to buy better quality, if and when I am doing this again.
What a mad trip though, I absolutely enjoyed it.
I will be writing about the budget for this trip later, to give people an idea. I managed to sell my stuff later so the overall costs were really decent.
And here are some of the best trip pics, watch full screen! 🙂
Media Mentions: 🙂
Gujarati newspaper Janmabhoomi
Marathi newspaper Navakaal
*I am not sure of exact km cycled. It was about 500 to 550 km. My cycle computer stopped working and I didn’t track it via any GPS app. Just calculated roughly on basis of the kms given on the route site and using Google maps.
Dandeli. Yes I know, if you are from Mumbai and other northern areas of the country you don’t know what I am talking about. If you are from Bangalore its been a family trip weekend destination forever! It is namma Dandeli for you. I went Mumbai – Dandeli – Bangalore – Mumbai and I have been shuttling between these two expressions from everyone I am talking to! It’s amazing considering Dandeli is bang in the middle on the Mumbai – Bangalore route! It’s a stones throw from Goa.
Being from Mumbai, I was not sure what to expect in Dandeli. I typically don’t research about the place before landing up there. Dandeli was a surprise. Its a lot wilder than I expected & wild isn’t exactly what I expected it to be either.
Quote me! 🙂
I was staying at a quaint, cozy jungle camp called Pradhani. Just outside was the home of a bear. He has been staying there for years and never caused much trouble but of course we humans need to step lightly and cautiously.
Inside the camp was interesting. Here are some pics from my mobile camera (S3) which I am quite proud of,
They are pretty big, these Malabar squirrels with a lovely, striking reddish color!
This Malabar squirrel found itself in the Monkey colony tree shown below. There were many territorial issues, but this squirrel is big enough for any of these monkeys! Yet it felt pestered as there were too many of the primate kind. As it was making its way to another tree I caught the clear shot above. Then another squirrel came from somewhere…
This tree was a super Monkey colony – families and lone rangers dangling, jumping around!
So what can you do in Dandeli? What is it all about?
One of the first activities I went on was the Jungle Safari. The Dandeli jungle is a wild expanse with fairly new Tiger Reserve status in 2007. There are chances of spotting tigers, leopards and black panthers. This jungle is un-fenced hence the chances of spottings are less. It is also a relatively new jungle safari zone, so the animals are not used to the road and vehicles so they may stay away from it. The ride inside was still quite impressive as the forest comes across as wild!
I totally enjoyed the safari. We saw spotted deers and heard the barking deers. The wild boar hadstepped onto the road for a bit, if he got pissed and charged on us it would be risky but that didn’t happen. 😉 The wild boar wasn’t really that big…. somewhat more sturdy looking than the average city boar but with tusks and temper. The great Indian Hornbills are really Great with their typical 60 inch wing span. They are so much bigger than I had imagined. We also saw some wild hens, peacocks, pea hen, pea kids and very camouflaged turtles.
Way into the jungle we came to a sunset point. A lot of such points are created only for tourist purposes, the view is not better than other views. This point however was brilliant! For the first time I have seen the Western Ghats in all their glory. It was so perfect for the panorama shot,
Steps to Sunset point… no wild animals in sight.. lets take the plunge! 😉
Interesting landscape, I think this was a quarry at some point in time…
It seems I have conquered some peaks 😉
On our way back to the jungle camp, the road which was hitherto lackluster was all colorful – the gypsies had come! Read more about them in the next upcoming post as I am running low on time and some hype is mandatory at this juncture 🙂 [Next post: The gypsies are coming!]
Disclaimer: Thanks to the folks at dandeli.com for a lovely visit. They planned and organized the trip really well!
(All the thoughts and melo drama in this post are very much mine) 😉
What do you think of Lighthouses? Do they transport you to some mystical, adventurous & raucous age-old ship voyage with sailors swearing at each other but with a die-hard exploration spirit blooming in their hearts? Ships, wrecks, explorers, discovery of new lands, exotic stuff, tribals, talking parrots or have I just read too many books which fantasize sea voyages? Currently reading the Moby Dick so quite possibly that is the influence!
My favorite beach in Goa is the Miramar. Yea, hardly anyone ever mentions it as their favorite. Bang in the middle of the city, I love the hustle bustle on it. Making the beach even more magical – the far off lighthouse one can see, its beam of light moving to and fro across the dark blue expanse of the ocean!
I went to the Kapu lighthouse earlier this year. An offbeat little place near Udupi in Karnataka. It was amazing! I couldn’t go up the lighthouse as it was closed then but I was wondering why I hadn’t been to more lighthouses in my life! 🙂
So here is me, wishing a Lighthouse Tour across India – going to remote places of the country just to see the lighthouse! And what all will I see while on my journey there! 🙂
The lighthouse at Indira Point, the southern most tip of India. It’s actually about a days sea travel from Port Blair – this would be an interesting journey with amazing flora and fauna on the way!
Just came to know about this island lighthouse from another traveler. The surrounding area is a Marine National Park! Imagine that. Sounds exciting!
Fort Aguada, Goa
So I guess the lighthouse I see from the Miramar beach would be the Aguada Fort Lighthouse. Looks like an interesting spot, located within a fort – would be great to go there know about the history. What battles were fought at these forts, which side versus whom? Would definitely like to visit sometime!
Closer to home there is a lighthouse that can be seen from one of the extremities of Girgaum, Chowpatty beach in Mumbai. Considering I live right nearby I actually spotted it only a month or so back, when I was at the right place, at the right time to see the bright beam start up! Its located close to Navy Nagar area, though I doubt we would be allowed to visit. I read about plans to open up many more across Mumbai for visitors – would be great to see them all! 🙂
Still lots more to see, I just found a whole list on Wikipedia – did someone say the world is small? Cause there is just too much for me to cover!! Maybe one of the next long trips I head off to will try and see some more of these enchanting lighthouses!
Have you been to or plan to go on a lighthouse visit? In fact do you even find lighthouses enchanting? Tell me!
Leaving you with a pic of the Kapu Lighthouse, Karnataka,
Was good also because I had gone with very less planning. Just confirmed couple of stay places in Madikeri, Isha Yatra and Coimbatore. Rest of the trip was pretty much impromptu. Lot of surprises and experiences! 🙂