Home is where the Heart is!

Its been about 6 weeks since we finished our cycle adventure and it already seems a lifetime ago. It’s been an experience we will never forget and always remember with a smile. Anything is possible and a few ideas are in the brain for the next big excursion. However this will most likely be our last blog in the Bear Lion European Cycle Saga  – sad times indeed.

We’ve added as many photos as we could but realise we often didn’t take enough if any at all. Below is a pictorial account of our last few months from Budapest to Portstewart.

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We reluctantly left Chubba’s in Budapest joining the Danube trail.

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Easter chicks in Bratislava.

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We stayed with Jan from warmshowers in Bratislava enjoying a tour of the city and many Slovakian treats.

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Easter bunny Bratislava.

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The not so hairy bikers on the road to Uzbekistan! Gotta love a good dose of English toilet humour!

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A brief stop in Vienna. Ate a Weiner. Tick!

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21 different beers tasted in Prague, to celebrate 21 countries visited! Cheapest round was 34p. Last beer ordered turned out to be just coke….

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Prague.

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Prague at night. Dancing home to London Grammer on the iPod speaker.

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Boiled eggs in Germany.

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Keeping our ends happy.

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Daily 4pm sugar low.

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Camping among the olive trees (and wild hogs) in Germany.

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An impromptu tent whiskey party during a thunderstorm. We lost our Mark Beaumont focus!

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Taken in by a kind family in Belgium, biscuits on bread for breakfast.

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Camping in a Belgium graveyard. Atlantic depression sets in – nearly home!

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Happy 28th birthday. A great stop over in Leuven (where Stella Artois is brewed) get your wife beater out Gerry!!

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The clock tower In Bruges!

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We reach England and meet these happy chappys who having been touring together every summer for the last 15 years!

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A welcome rest with Aunty Hazel, Uncle William and Ely in Kent.

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Mmmmm English convenience food!!

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Playing with Bran at Mayfield

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A full circle, we reach the IOW. Great to see Dizz, Jonny and Bran the dog again!

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Jammin

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Bournemouth reunion with the Cookie Monster, unfortunately had too much fun and forgot to take any photos oops! Nic joins us on the cycle to Devon very brave!

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Here we go

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Camping at Harvey’s monument

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Nice climb

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The the best signpost in the world.

 

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Camping at Millman Manor.

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Arrival in Bigbury-on-Sea, now that’s a sight for sore eyes.

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There’s no place like home.

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Reunited with Mummy Bagley in the post office.

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Christmas in June.

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Betsy starts first time after 6 months on the driveway atta girl.

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We arrive in Bristol to a massive fry- scones and all thanks James and Anna.

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Fi joins us to Cardiff.

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Weekend in Swansea, epic BBQ Marion Thankyou!

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The Brecon Beacons camping.

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What?

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South Wales highest peak!

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It’s nice here isn’t it.

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ENGAGED!!

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Arrival in Pembrokeshire! Amazing weekend with Paul G Jones, Ameena and Leila.

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Beautiful Wales.

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Leila has just spotted Rach’s icecream!

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The best birthday breakfast ever! Lowell Kerry and Baz you are legends

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Afternoon margaritas with the Devon crew.

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Caribbean food for 16.

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Hangover jelly snake.

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First camp in Ireland.

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The cliffs Moher (apparently).

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West Coast awesomeness.

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Taken on board.

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Reunited with Ma an Da.

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Bum.

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Mountains looming.

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Struggling on.

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Peat field camp.

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Relentless wind here.

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Quick wash in a fairly dirty river.

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Morning stretches.

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Randomly bump into Fergal- long lost friend from Aberdeen days.

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Last night of camping. Mackerel BBQ before hitting Buncrana festival.

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Knitted trees in Buncrana.

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Don’t really know whats happening here- late bar in Buncrana.

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Last night in the Batcave.

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Last camping spot.

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Self explanatory.

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Mussenden temple .

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HOME.  That’s it folks! Boom.

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Mission: Black Sea to North Sea

“If you stay you will be warm and comfortable, if you leave you will have something to write about”

Philosophical advice from Georgie on the 1st of March as we deliberated whether to leave the Earthship and make tracks to Istanbul with a week of bad weather forecast.

3 hours later we are cycling through Izmir in a thunderstorm when a man shouts out his car window “warm showers, warm showers” 6 hours later and we have met the president of Izmir cycle club, been taken to watch a mountain bike race and spent the evening with Emin and family who treated us to a Turkish feast and comfy bed for the night. “Warmshowers” turns out to be a website similar to couchsurfing but exclusively for people who travel by bike (how did we not know about this?!) the next evening we were 70km up the road and sleeping above a pizza restaurant Gerard couldn’t believe his luck- free pizza!

The forecast was not wrong. Freezing northerly headwinds and icy rain were endured all the way to Istanbul. Sheltering in a cow shed one night we thought to ourselves how the hell are we going to cycle back across Europe at this time of year. Enter Bill and Pip- cycling in the opposite direction we huddle together for a chat on the roadside. A retired couple from England they have sold everything and are on bikes indefinitely. Inspired and reassured that we are not the only mental people out there we powered on.

An exhilarating ride through the hectic traffic of Istanbul (a population of over 15 million!!) and we arrived at Chillout Chengo the hostel owned by our Earthship helpx host Erdem (thanks for the sweet deal). Hitting the beers and kebabs we found ourselves stuck in a bar- caught up between riot police and civilians chucking glass bottles. The police retaliated with teargas which seeped through forcing everybody coughing and spluttering up to the top floor for shelter. Not a pleasant experience but there are worse places to get held up for an evening!

The next few days we wondered the streets popping into the odd Mosque here and there and sampling many delights in the Spice Bazzar. A highlight was the Basilica Cistern watching the Koi Carp swim to the ambient music. A sad moment when we left this energetic city as we realised it was the furthest East we would travel with the bikes and the onward journey would be in the direction of home.

Feasting on Chorba (delicious Turkish soup) just outside the city we met Dincer who came over and gave us apples and bananas from his organic farm. He suggested we pass through his village on our way to Bulgaria and invited us to camp for the night. What an beautiful place! We were fed with the best Turkish breakfast so far; everything grown and handmade on the farm. We were very kindly given five cabbages and five jars of preserves upon leaving. Well worth the extra weight in the panniers but did make the tent quite smelly for the following week!

St Patricks day was upon us. Gerard made a feeble attempt at a fry on the stove and was suffering from a cold- spirits were low. Enter Cole cycling in the opposite direction on his way to Istanbul. A tree feller from the Yukon Territory and glad to find us (we were the only other cyclists he had seen on his tour from Austria) we decided to hit the nearest village and celebrate together. Drawing a crowd in the local tea shop we ended up leaving the bikes and being taken out for a meatball banquet. Pitching our tents in the park we found an abandoned bus- an excellent place to drink a few beers. The firemen came and took us to their station for more drinks and then we ended up at a closed game centre until 4am playing table football and pool. In the morning an old man came to the tents and took us out to eat breakfast. All in all a night to remember. Thankyou Turkey and to all the truly generous people we met. We will never forget the kindness you have showed to us complete strangers.

Crossing from Turkey to Bulgaria caught us off guard without any water and therefore no delicious pasta for dinner. Our heroes came in the form of a gypsy family who shared their water with us. They had a crazy energy and enthusiasm that was infectious. Sunshine and some small but sweaty ascents had left a bit of a lingering pong. It was time then to brave the Black Sea. Ten seconds later we were running for the towels, gasping for breath. Twas a wee bit chilly. Bike problems allowed for a stop over in Varna. Finding a local fish restaurant we scoffed fish in abundance. The waitress looked on disbelievingly as we endlessly consumed.

Up the road from Varna we stayed with Georgies parents. It was here that we learned an important Bulgarian custom: Salad must always be accompanied with Raki and Raki always drunk with salad. Good advice. Thank you Violet, you have a big heart. Ping went the spoke on Rachel’s bike. Whats that? No cassette removal tool? Oh yes we threw it away because we didn’t need it. Oops……….No need to worry though as we created our own spoke from a rope washing line, twisting it to create tension and fixing it in place with bits of the old spoke and duct tape. It worked remarkably well and the bike survived 100km cycle with no problems.

Our final night in Bulgaria and a little old biker lady who looked about ninety (but still grew all her own vegetables and fished in the Danube) ushered us inside to feed us and fill our arms with vegetables for the onward journey. She seemed to know what we were about and we could only guess at her story (language barrier again- aghhhhh) but she was surely a wee legend!

Bucharest must be crowned as the city with the worst drivers either of us has seen. This is quite an achievement considering our journey so far. Needless to say we tackled it head on and survived the encounter. Warm showers arranged we met up with Alex. This guy is a serial tourer and had been all over Romania on his bike with ambitions to see it all. Over a bottle of Morgans Spiced we chatted about our route and got excited. It was decided that north and into the Carpathian Mountain Range was the best way.

Onwards and into the “Transylvanian Alps” where we were whisked back in time. The horse and cart ruled the roads with trees in full blossom, gypsy villages on the river side and a fortified church in every settlement. It was a new world we were happy to be in. Rachel was particularly enamored with the puppy mountain dogs being sold by the road sides. Homemade cheese was sampled and Dracula’s Castle spied on the journey through. We noticed perhaps the proudest Bison and Turkey we will ever see. Good work Romania but it wasn’t yet done with us.

Looking lost in Alba Lulia Christania wound down her window to tell us she owned a campsite and hostel and so we followed her to RYMA (Romanian Youth Movement for Art). Situated in and around the old walls of the city this place is special. Beginning as an abandoned, crumbling and overgrown ex military base eight years of work has gone into this project and you can really feel the love and enthusiasm of everyone there. We stayed for 1 night and then 2, finally leaving on the 5th day (unofficial help ex – ended up working and staying for free). Our first decent live band of the trip was here too. “The Man with Rats” played a great gig on the Friday night to a crowd of 250 people. There was a festival feel in the air and we were “in with the band”.

We moved on but slowly. Our bodies complained for each and every km. By the 3rd day of cycling we had perhaps fully recovered from our ordeal. Reaching Hungary was easy as we descended onto the flat plains. Crossing the border we were fated to meet Dalma in Gyula. She took us home for tea and invited us to stay- we had only asked for directions. Turns out Gyula has a thermal bath and spa complex complete with water slides. It was suggested we visit and we thought “why not”! A great and thoroughly unusual day immersed in brown mineraly water was had. On return Goulash was served and a walk of the town with ice cream stop enjoyed. We felt like their Grandchildren! Thank you Sandor and Dalma.

Now we are in Budapest with Csaba (Chubba). We met in Crete (the Christmas swimmer) and he has kindly let us stay. Instead of resting we went cycling with Chubba up Galyateto, a 964m peak. It was enjoyable to see something other than the flat plains and of course fun to ride without any weight. We will never forget your retro music and astonishing collection of beer cans Chubba! Please come cycling with us in Scotland soon.

Tomorrow it looks like we will join the Danube trail through Bratislava and Vienna before pulling off to Prague to sample some Czech beers. Happy Easter chappys. Consume many chocolate eggs.

 

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At Emin’s with family and friends. A real feast.

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Camping above a pizza restaurant.

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Petrol station near Canakkale, Turkey. Ozzy lets us camp here and we are fed from the staff canteen.

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Bill and Pippa re-inspire us!

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Mackerel fishing off the bridge in Istanbul

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Basilica – Underground water cistern.

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The balancing of the Simit (Turkish Pretzel bread).

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Sampling the local cuisine.

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Turkish breakfast at Dincer’s organic farm.

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St Patricks Day drinking in the Magic Bus.

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Roadside bottle sculptures in Bulgaria.

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Quick fix spoke. Over 100km on this bad boy. The mechanics at XCS bike shop Bukarest fixed for free (maybe they were impressed with our handywork?!) thanks guys 🙂 

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At Violets house. Helping with the salad leaves. Much Raki consumed- red faces!

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Excellent dish named “Cheesy Badgered Pasta”.

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Carpathian Mountains.

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Fortified Church.

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?

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Proud Turkey.

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Proud Bison.

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Romanian Youth Movement for Art.

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Always trying to steal puppies! Stop it!

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The “Man with Rats” band. Great live gig. Playing in London in October so hope to catch these guys again.

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Hungay welcomes us with Sandor and Dalma.

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A day out on the bikes with Chubba

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Here we go.

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Nice ascent.

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Gorging on chip butty Hungarian style (added pork scratching) 

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After lunchtime beer and food stop we are confident.

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Posing above Budapest.

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A relaxing evening in Szimpla Bar Budapest, complete with Shisha pipe.

 

 

 

 

 

From Bat Cave to Earthship

The Peloponnese (or 5 fingers) Adventure:

Amazing campsites in abandoned summer beach bars equalled “luxury” wild camping. This was interspersed with two stops in the cheapest offering from booking.com at 20 euros a night. These gems mapped our route around the five fingers and usually ended up with us binging on Petzina (cheap white wine with coke) and Gyros (Greek kebab). Lovely stuff.

1. First finger- visit Ancient Olympia after a lengthy discussion over the 6 euro entry fee. Gerard for and Rachel against (Rachel content with lunch in the car park but Gerard drags her in for a truly cultural but slightly boring experience).

2. Second finger- sacked it off.

3. Third finger- A rest in Ag Nik (as abbreviated by the ex pats we met on arrival) with the best visibility swim of the trip so far. Onwards and we reached the very tip hiking the last two km on foot and payed tribute to Neptune. The landscape was a reminder of Scotland (plus it was raining). The area was very remote and we found ourselves in a no food situation. A long hilly cycle in the rain to the next town ensued but we were rewarded with a big pizza and coke surprise by a warm fire.

4. Forth finger- The mountain stage. Our beloved Vango finally gives up the ghost when we wake up soaked in a rain storm. Its properties more sponge like than waterproof. At this point Gerard learns to ride his bike with no hands- Rach is lucky to have the coolest boyfriend in the world!

5. Fifth finger-  The speed stage. 100km top to bottom of the finger in 3.45 hours. The first night camping here was outside an “abandoned” nightclub. Looks can be deceiving though. The Greek dance music started up at 10:30 and finished around 5am. A well needed rest followed the next day in Nafpilo with the first hotel of trip (dont worry complete with cockroachs we havnt gone that fancy) run by madman and coffee addict Dimitri (“very welcome very welcome”).

Got the ferry from Poros to Athens to collect our new tent and made a last minute decision to go to Crete (cheapest fare and island furthest South).

Crete Adventure:

In Heraklion we hooked up with Dimitri (a friend of our Greek survey friend Aris) who recommended the best places to visit in Crete. A weeks cycle around this mountainous but very cool island we put our new tent through its paces, uming and ahhhing as we compared it to the Vango. We named it “The Bat Cave” due to its spacious rounded and sleek black inner. Making it to the south coast we swam in the Libyan sea, cycled through bannana plantations on dirt tracks and returned a good deed by helping an elderly man get his truck out of the ditch- we loaded our heavy bikes onto the back so his wheel could get a grip and he was away- he offered us a cigarette as thanks and then laughed when we refused pointing at the bikes and the hills!!

We returned to Heraklion to get our ferry to Rhodes and decided a bit of inner city wild camping would be a good idea. Fortunately we were met by a loaded bike enthusiast, Damien who invited us to stay. More luck was had at the bike shop as after a brief conversation a complete stranger bought us a new tyre and inner tube. Damien then introduced us to his cats and friends. Eating falafel in a co-op restaurant we partook in the strange yet oddly entertaining co-op board game. Damien, Francheska and Akos thank you! (N.B Neptune seems a decent and easily pleased sort of God . Make small offerings at any further shrines in order to scientifically affirm his existence).

Rhodes was the stepping stone to Turkey, where the kebab battle would commence. First though we quickly spun round this small island, round the coast and over the mountains. Thoughout Greece we have had truly epic camping sites and Rhodes provided more of note (including the garden of a health and wellness spa- lovely short kept lawn). Greece we salut you! Before leaving we feasted on our favourite tasty treats and snacks. These will forever be remembered, enshrined in our minds!

A ferry across the water from mountainous islands to mountainous Turkey. We were about to really test our legs again and in spectacular fashion. Up and down, up and down, up and down, up, up, up, up, up……up and DOWN we made it to Bodrum. This journey was a favourite. Coastal paths, gave way to cliff hugging roads and coastal bays, interspersed by tiny mountain villages each with its own fairy tale mosque tower, the sounds of the wailing Minaret calling the faithful to pray. We were really alone for most of it with 2 or 3 cars perhaps passing per day. Beautiful!

Bodrum and the surrounding area is supposed to be a great swimming spot (we heard one of the top 35 in the World but who really knows).  The area itself is busy, built up and typically touristic. However solitude and beauty can still be found here. Couch surfing with Xavier and Seda (thank you) we walked through the forest to the beaches we desired. We were lucky enough to meet Elis the Eel as she poked her head between the rocks. These guys introduced us to the concept of the Earthship (a self sufficient or off the grid home made from recycled materials) which we had previously thought was just a mad name for the house our next help ex host (Erdem) was building. The concept excited us and filled us with a desire to see this construction and work there. We sped north to Payamli near Izmir to begin, and arrived on the anniversary of our bike adventure. Rachel’s bike Jade Atalanta very nearly didn’t make it up the hill as we discovered a cracked wheel rim (maybe she is she trying to tell us something?!) We very fortunately  stumbled across “Cycling Tr ” Turkey’s triathlon team advertising company 5km further down the road who called their bike technician and took us out for lunch whilst we waited for her to be fixed up. Thanks- you legends.

Two weeks have now flown by here in our little farmhouse complete with chickens, a worm farm and a wild dog guard pack (Clara the smiling dog, Mike, No-Ears, Blackie and Make-up). The Eathship itself is nestled amongst the mountains. A great place to work: dig holes, plant trees, prune grape vines, dig holes, plaster the inner walls with clay, learn Erdems style of roofing and dig holes. Great times have been had with the four other volunteers- Carlos, Fanny, Georgie and Simon.

Carlos you have mastered the element of Fire (pro at lighting the little wood burner and keeping us toasty at night). Fanny thank you for the truly amazing cooking- all vegetarian- Gerard was impressed. Georgie if we hear you singing Santa Claus is coming to town one more time you’ll send us over the edge. Simon you can scout out cheap bars for us anytime- great night in Izmir! We will always remember: Drinking tea and playing phase 10 in the tiny village cafe, football against the local kids on the astro turf, drunken mussels in Izmir (amazing!), fresh baked bread from the ladies cooking in the street oven and trying to protect “make-up” the slightly pathetic lap dog who has adopted us. Erdem thankyou and good luck with the rest of the Earthship and all who sail in her!

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Ancient Olympia

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Abandoned summer beach bars make for great wild camps in the Peloponnese

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Third finger

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Our new favourite- 1 litre of Petzina 1.50 euro mixed with coke- delicious. Makes Uno a lot more exciting

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Best visibility swim of the trip in Ag Nik. Gerard reminded Rach of the baby from Nirvana Nevermind album cover swimming underwater with bubbles escaping from his mouth!

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We reach the tip of the third finger and make an offering to Neptune- a rasta bracelet plus 4 cent

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Hiking to the tip of the third finger

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Na na na na na na na naaaaa BAT CAVE!!

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A chilling swim in the Libyan Sea, Crete

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The Libyan Sea, not the warmest day for a dip.

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Coastal roads in Crete

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Mountain roads in Crete

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Headed through the Banana Plantations in Crete

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Hmmmmm, delicious. Another gormet meal in the tent!

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Our very own tiny island to explore off Crete. We spent two days here walking around and camping in the church garden with the goats.

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It came complete with stone table. So will it be Red Tomato or Green Pepper today Ainsley Harriott?!

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Rhode camping above a fishing harbour- this picture is for you Toady

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We say goodbye to the cheese pies before getting on the ferry to Turkey

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Not forgetting the cakes! (Pictured with mad knife wielding lunatic).

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Camping spots easy to find in Turkey.

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Hotel facilities. This is usually how we wash when on the road.

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Offered our own shed at a family run petrol station to sleep for the night.

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Building at the Earthship.

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Erdem (left) and Georgie (right) at the Earthship.

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Fanny making the bottle wall smooth and pretty.

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Carlos fire master extraordinaire watched in admiration.

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Chapati pizza lunch. Amazing!

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Payamli astro (with probably the greatest view of any pitch in the world!). Warming up before the match with the local kids (may have lost ever so slightly………)

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Rachel learns vegetarian skills in the kitchen. Homemade falafel feast.

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Fanny and Carlos say a last goodbye to the Make-up dog.

Aside

Cheese Pies

The boat to Naples decided it was too windy to sail so we had a bonus night in Palermo. A trip to the Catacombs of Capuchin monks was therefore in order. A scary looking bunch of decrepid embambed corpses dating from 1599.

Jumping on the ferry the next day we were excited about the upcoming adventure. While sleeping Rachel had her top of the range €15 Casio Illuminator watch stolen from under her nose. A disaster! A few seats over Gerard was dismayed to find his yogurt had also been snatched in the night. He has never come to terms with this loss.

Arrival in Naples and a 30km teeth rattling, brain juddering cycle though the cobbeled streets of coastal Italy. That same day saw us in Pompeii and with some sneaky manouvering through closed-off gates we were running around the small and empty Colosseum pretending to be gladiators! Although interesting we were a little disappointed to find all the relics had been stripped from the ruin site and taken to the museums. The next day attempt one at summit Vesuvius. In the pissing rain we start cycling the winding road up but make it only so far before we are halted by gamekeepers informing us the national park is closed due to bad weather. After drying out back at the campsite we visit Herculaneum (by train), smaller and much better preserved than Pompeii we really enjoyed this site. Rachel declares herself ‘ruined’ out and proposes attempt two at summit Vesuvius for the following morning. Paying too much money for a minibus to the national park gate we reach it in a hail storm only to find it closed once again. After a small argument between Gerard and the bus driver and a shouting match between a couple from California we jump the fence saving ourselves the €16 fee and lead a group of four Indian students and the husband out of the American couple (no longer speaking) up to the top. The weather cleared and we were able to run around the crater in extreme winds taking the views all for ourselves. Success at last.

After 5 days of camping in storms we were beginning to think our decision to head North after Sicily may not have been our best… The sun popped out to say hello for a few days and accompanied us on our way to Monte Cassino. Temperatures plummeted overnight and we were back to wearing all our layers and icy tent starts. Brrrrrr. This was not our vision of a Mediterranean winter! Before moving on we hiked to the monastery on the summit (voted it number one Holy site of our trip so far), listened to Monks singing mass and visited the Polish war grave. A chilling place.

We were determined to reach Rome but the weather was against us. We opted for the Coastal route in hope of  some warm sun and it was beautiful.  Here we were met by Charlotte and Clare. Brilliant to see these girls again and amid the hugs and smiles was two big boxes of tea 🙂 Two days packed with sightseeing, eating and drinking were to follow. The Colloseum and the Popes house were two favourites but the best was feeding time-  Pizza Pasta and Ice Cream! When in Rome eh! Bar San Calistro is highly recommended for cheap beer with locals and away from the tourist ipads!

Retracing our steps in a hurry to get South we made a beeline for Brindisi ferry port where we hopped on a ferry to Corfu. These 10 days were a journey in themselves. We met Michel at the petrol station, an Italian poet who only wrote in bad english,  Gerard succumbed to a cold (Rachel thinks man flu) and we got caught up in some unemployment riots on the east coast. Ciao for now Italia.

We had arranged to do some flat sitting over the holidays via help ex. However upon arrival our plan did not bear fruit. Greeted by Magda warning bells sounded as we were told gypsies had taken up resisdence beside the flats and that we were to come work for her instead. That same evening saw Rachel with a pile of ironing and Gerard giving Magda a back rub…funny!! 150 help ex volunteers arrive here every year at the “Pink Palace” (a run down 600 man 18-30 year olds summer binge drinking holiday destination all painted pink) and rather than the usual help ex symbiotic relationship this had more of a boss and slave atmosphere. However there was a beautiful beach and we enjoyed the company of Sasha (the other volunteer), kayaking, swimming and running for the week.

Christmas was spent further north (Paleokastritsa) in a family run apartmnent. We went all out on food and booze (thanks for the presents families), attanded a strange Greek Orthodox mass, had a traditional Christmas swim forcing our Hungarian neighbour Chubba to join us and drunk a bottle of Morgans Spiced Rum Yum.

With accummulated excess energy we decided it necessary to cycle on for New Year. 150 km ride down the rugged coast we rented a flat for 2 nights in Perveza (this seems the cheapest option in the depths of winter). Happy in the flat we watched “The Worlds End” (Hillarious), ate sausage mash and washed it all down with beer. The night out was brilliant if hazy towards the end. Greek company, dancing, crepes and an assortment of Greek foods was all partaken of. We recieved alot of free drinks mainly of a home distilled nature.

The 1st January 2014 was one of those perfect days and went a bit like this. Woke up. Laughed about the night before. Watched crap on the tablet. Went swimming in the sea. Made burgers and cooked them on a beach fire. Skyped with the family. Ate cake. Slept.

We have made it to the peloponnese and tomorrow we head for Ancient Olympia. Let the games begin!

N.B. Bakeries: Those in Greece produce strong contenders for number one on the highly competitive list of bearlion tasty treats. Delicacies include cheese pies and honey cake.

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Catacombs of Capuchin monks

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Pompeii with Vesuvius backdrop

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Vesuvius Crater

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Wet trip to Rome, we find a handy shed to dry our clothes

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Reunited with C+C at the Colloseum in Rome

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Vatican City- we meet Pope Gerard I

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Michel and family hosted us for a night and entertained us with poetry and accordion

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We are kindly offered a disused bar for the night on our way to Brindisi

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Christmas eating begins- Panetone for lunch

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Beer run at the Pink Palace. Good luck to Sasha starting his new life in Greece, aspiring to sell hand crafted wooden sunglasses out of his gypsy caravan.

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Kyak Agios Gordios (beach near the Pink Palace)

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It’s Christmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!!!

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Stockings!

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Big Kid

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We discover the Pink Palace booze cruiser further up the coast!

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Happy New Year. Our first meal of 2014

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Homemade burgers with a blue cheese center and roasted potatoes. A nice change from pasta on the camp stove!

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Invited to stay with Christof and Andreas in the Peloponnese. They ordered us pizza and fed us whiskey. Limited conversation in French for an evening. Rachel steals a puppy.

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Our tent this morning in a municipal campsite (free in winter apparently…as long as nobody sees you!) Sunshine again tomorrow we are told.

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Where is the Rave?

The broken bike turned out to be a bigger issue than anticipated. From the date of the crash we had to wait a whole week due to parts having to be ordered from Monacco. Help was at hand however as our favourite German family saved the day. We went to stay at Steffi’s parents, Alfred and Lizz in Ellwangen near Ulm. Treated like long lost grand children we were fed until bursting, enjoyed the best beer of the trip so far (Marias help – provided by Steffi’s sister, Luitgard) and had a great day out in Dinglesbury (Dinkelsbuhl)- a medieval and picturesque walled town.

From Ulm we headed east joining the Via Julia cycle path towards Munich. On the 3rd rainy day and running on a unachievable schdule (meeting friends and family in Dubrovnik) we jumped on the train and covered the length of Austria in just four hours rather than four days or more……. The Alpe Adria cycle route from the Austrian/Italian border was brilliant. 60km downhill along a an old railway line. Did feel a bit like cheating but two weeks later and almost at Dubrovnik the train was a distant memory.

Solvenia was short but sweet. Despite the constant drizzle we met some friendly people including Sandy a pub owner. He let us camp in his back garden and fed us pulled pork, bread and apples. Hitting Crotia we found the Sun, celebrated too early and got rewarded with a soaking the following three days. One of the best cycles so far we followed the winding, rocky coastal road (luckily quiet in winter) south. We stopped off in Omis for a meal of Squid (ink and all) and met Ivan and Abram in a small pub along with their friends. After 7 hours of acquatiance we were given a sofa for the night. The rain stopped but the wind picked up and one night on an exposed cliff top we woke at 4am to find the tent collapsed around us. Thanks Gus for bringing out the spare tent poles! The following day we met Michael, a bearded tourer and kindred spirit. We joined forces in the final push to Dubrovnik. Not without incident the border police in Bosnia decided we looked dodgey but after ensuring our panniers and our pants were not full of cocaine let us pass.

The search for the rave began as we reached Dubrovnik and rescued the Devon crew from the cruisers (a reference to those who holiday on cruise ships). After sacking off the city walls and an Austen Power style 3 point turn in the car park (we were warned by Carinas mum that driving in Dubrovnik would be a nightmare!!) we made the trip to Zabljak in Montenegro, where we had two wholesome days of hiking in Durmitor National Park with spectacular views and amazing geology. Highlights included a skinny dip in a glacial lake and an evening of drinking games in Titsmagee bar.

Meanwhile Gerard met up with youngest brother Fergus (now known as the bottomless pit for his impressive eating skills) for their own wild night out in Dubrovnik in search of the cave party….but where is the Hostel….? Reunited in Kotor on the coast of Montenegro everybody was nursing sore heads but after a day of recovery and many a fish on the BBQ we recovered enough to take a speed boat ride out to the Blue Caves. The Irish outdid the English in a spectacular tombstone jump display and Sven (the Big Dog) cranked up the BSD (Bose Speaker Dock) for the cave rave. Banging! Great to see you kids again, thanks for all the laughs.

Reunited with the bicycles (thanks random apartment owners for keeping them safe) we got on an overnight ferry to Bari in Italy and slept off the remains of our hangovers under the table in the bar area. Our plan to head south down the coast of Italy was quickly revised when we noticed the landscape was a bit grim. Escaping into the Pollino National Park was much more pleasant although hilly and we spent four days zigzagging up and down mountains from the small towns at the top to the river running along the valley. Reaching Maratea on the West coast we flew south on the much flatter and straighter coastal roads.  Torrential rain again and we found ourselves knocking on the door of what we had thought was an abandoned house, to ask if we could pitch the tent in the garden. It turned out to be the home of seven seperate Bulgarian families who have moved over to Italy to work as fruit pickers. Extremely kind people they welcomed us into their home insisting we sleep inside and shared what they had with us. They loved Kerry the travandolin but weren’t so keen on our offering of 5 euro Italian strawberry liquor which we’d been carrying in the paniers for a special occasion!

Ferry across to Sicily on the 7th November we had a relaxed weeks cycle along the north coast road to meet Rach’s Mum, Toad and Grandma, along the way spending a whole day with bike mechanic Sante (popular Mafia name meaning Saint) who did a great job of fixing some niggling issues with Rachel’s bike Jade Atalanta. Happy family reunion in Porticello we have been treated to a luxury week out of the tent and staying in a lovely villa right by the sea. Swimming everyday, Tunafish on the BBQ, homemade pizza in the woodfire oven (a partial success!), washing and fixing ALL of our stuff, hiking the volcano Mt Etna and walking the rim of the crater puffing with steam and rumbling from deep within. Great memories, we have been totally spoilt and Grandma even made us sticky toffee pudding 🙂 thankyou so much for a wonderful holiday.

A ferry to Naples is booked for tomorrow evening, we hope to visit Pompeii, Vesuvius and Herculaneum before cycling north to Rome. Until next time adios amigos.

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Thankyou Lizz and Alfred for helping us in our time of need, we had a wonderful time with you and your family in Ellwagen

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German beer- by far the best tasted on the trip so far

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Arrival into North Italy from the border of Austria- second aim of the trip ticked off 🙂

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The Alpe Adria cycle trail highly recomended- 60km of downhill along a disused railway track!

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Just for you Lena- cooking German dumplings on the stove!

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Dodging the rain in Slovenia, we found a bus shelter full of conkers for our lunch stop

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Arrival in Croatia and we find the sun happy days

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It didn’t last long!

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A dinner of squid, ink and all

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Cruising the Croatian coastal road heading south, stunning views all the way to Dubrovnik

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Our bearded touring companion Michael. Safe trip home buddy it was great cycling with you.

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Here they are! A week of inappropriate behaviour and brutal wind-up to follow!

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Hostel hat rave with the BSD (Bose Speaker Dock)

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Amazing hiking in Durmitor national park Montenegro

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Durmitor National Park, we didn’t see any other walkers in two days but there was sighting of a wild cat (the household variety)

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Fergus arrives. Walking the city walls in Dubrovnik to the theme tune of Game of Thrones

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Scary cat woman!

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Speed boat trip in Kotor on the coast of Montenegro

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Swimming off the boat inside the Blue Caves

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Chaple island in the bay of Kotor

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BBQ fish before Carinas big birthday bonzanna night out

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Italian foraging- Prickly Pears- nice but full of seedsImmagine 307

Pollino National Park Italy- fish eye camera effect!

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Puncture repair again

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Padre Pio prayer candles for 50 cents- light up our tent during the dark winter months

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All the cycling has made Rach very strong….

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6pm. Damn that hour change!! Bed by 7pm each night now!

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We celebrated our five year anniversay (aww) with our first Italian pizza and were offered a free campground and use of a bathroom in a grotty little seaside apartment, how romantic!

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Stormy Med on the north coast of Sicily

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We reach our destination- Portichello Sicily. Gerard celebrates with cake and beer

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Walking the crater rim Mt Etna

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Fire in the furnace!

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Gandalf the dog safely guided us to the summit and back.

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Black Forest Gateau

Switzerland is hilly! We can both testify to this but we had a great trip from Chamonix to Basel full of the usual up’s and downs. Col de Croix was a constant 3 hour uphill struggle gaining 1300m in height over 22km. A chilly but spectacular camp at the top made it all worth it and the following day saw us down the other side in around 20 minutes. At first glance Switzerland looks like a childrens fairytail with picture perfect houses and beautiful gardens, not a blade of grass out of sorts. Even the cows  look to be having a lovely life each with its own bell- the sound of which can be heard across the lands! Very different to Morocco where you can usually always hear the braying of a distressed donkey.

Along the way we were introduced to Mrs Nagali, Lilo’s manakin (with her own wardrobe). Lilo we met, whilst cooking dinner outside the library. She insisted we come and stay at her house instead of camping in the forest (we eagerly agreed). A retired actress, she was full of hospitality offering comfy beds, showers and a tasty breakfast.

Reaching Basel in under a week we were reunited with JoJo (who we met in Morocco) and warmly recieved with swiss cheese and beer. Our escapades included watching Joel in a boxing demonstation (also saw an apple kicked off a mans head- Gerard was amazed), a Ukranian house party, floating down the Rhine with an inflatable fish drybag and a BBQ with Mark (Devon school friend) by the riverside. Great to see you guys again!

Two days cycle up the Rhine and we arrived at the Waldmuller’s home and our third helpex! The three weeks in Bahlingen Germany was a very happy time. We fell in love with the childeren: Liselotte (6) Baltazar (4) and Ottilia (2) all mad and energetic kids! Ottilia’s “mea more” and “baby brm brm” always made us laugh. We were invited to Liselotte’s first day of school (in Germany a very big event) along with all the family. We made good friends in Steffi and Sebastian, who have also travelled by bike and we shared many stories over a few beers (and irish coffees!). They kindly involved us in all events including a weekend wedding party in the Black Forest, Bhalingen Hoselips festival (local wine), trips to the lake and even a day out at Sebastians school where we were the teachers for his English lesson! We went through our blog and of everything they were most amazed by the youtube video clip of Bigbury sea tractor near miss!! We hope to see you all again soon.

We sadly said goodbye last weekend, got back on those bikes and began our journey to Munich. Bit of a nightmare trip so far but some good times rolled in! The cycle paths across the Black Forest, although beautiful for the most part, were bitty and zigzagged us East making progress slow for the first two days. Brilliant camp spots along the way and great weather 🙂 Getting onto the Danube valley trail was much easier and we started to make headway. Bumping into fellow cycle tourer Christian from Austria (on his return from North Cape) we found a companion for the day. Alas disaster stuck as Gerard crashed into Christain after a sudden stop. Years of falling of skateboards as a kid meant only a few cuts and bruises. Christains bike (top of the range tourer) came off lightly but poor “Niamh” (Gerard’s bike) was not so lucky as the impact bent the fork, and smashed the pannier rack. Limping to the closest bike shop the mechanic suggested manually bending it back into place (unsuccessful). Christians fluent German secured us a camp next to an “Outlaws” motorcycle club and free use of the showers kitchen and toilets. A once in a lifetime experience we received great hospatility from these bikers. Many a beer and random shots were consumed that night and an introduction to German bagpipes was even on the cards.

We got the first train of the trip after having no sucess in the nearby bike shops. We are currently in Ulm awaiting parts and hoping the insurance will pay up!

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Lunch break halfway up first Swiss Mountain.

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We reach the top (proof).

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Wolf Rider!

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Hard times.

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Makeshift Bandage. Rachel supermans off her bike in rain over railway tracks. Gerard is a great nurse (probably the best ever).

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Labybird Love.

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Lilo, son and Mrs Nagali.

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Aproaching Basel.

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Basel.

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Old Basel Tradition: Floating down Rhine with inflatable fish.

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Riverside BBQ.

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Liselotte steals Kerry the Travandolin.

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Waldmullers (and Rachel).

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Baltazar looking cool.

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A happy looking Ottila (she loves working hard).

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Liselottes first day of school.

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Stocking like cones full of presents and sweets each kid takes to school on the first day.

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A day out in Freiburg.

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First campsite in Black Forest (on route to Munich)

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Outlaws Harley Davidson club house with Christain.

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A distressed donkey: he shares the pain of the broken bike.

A Bear and Lion Tour de France

The Tour de France was a sight to behold. An almost fairground like procession precedding the race followed by a blur of bikes lasting a maximum of about 10 seconds through the small mountain village of Axat. Brilliant atmosphere though and has inspired us both to complete and then watch a mountain stage (we heard about the after parties!)

Cycling back to the South Coast of France, we met Ed and Becca in Sorede and were treated like kings enjoying the second BBQ of the year and much wine (thanks David and Trish). Great to catch up guys and enjoy the wedding!!

After escaping the heat of Morocco we were dismayed to realise that France was also undergoing a small heat wave, with temperatures 10 degrees above average, making the week long cycle to Biarittz rather sweaty. Meeting two french cyclists along the way we were given our best touring tip yet- every French village has a cemetery and every cemetery has a water tap for the flowers. From here on in you can guarantee that at about 5pm each evening we would be washing ourselves and replenishing water in a cemetery somewhere in France! Although hot, the trip across was beautiful with the Pyrenees in view to the south and lovely mountain villages providing great picnic and camping areas. God was vengeful after we camped in a church garden sending a plague of blood sucking flies and frequent thunder storms!

Reaching our campsite in Bidart on the 15th July was a happy day. We got tipsy and fell into a pleasant slumber. Ewa (Gerard’s sister) arrived at the campsite and a good nights craic was had. Michael and Ciara (Brother and girlfriend- good luck in the move to Glasgow together) had also arrived and were camping just down the road with her family: The Cunnings (who took us in as one of their own). Sunny days lubricated with beverages and bbqs and even a beach fire made for a relaxing and entertaining holiday. An impromptu night in Biarittz allowed us all to show off our excellent dancing skills. Ewa had consistently and persistently been working on her tan. In N.Ireland it would be impressive. We discovered that although we love the Vango 3 Man Tent, for 3 people its pretty hard to live in. As Ewa has just recently got a new job (well done and good luck!), I imagine that next time she will be staying somwhere with a roof not made of canvas. Great to see the family and of course the Cunnings. Hope to see you all again soon! Come Visit.

At this point our waterproof camera is discovered to not be.

Onwards from Biarittz we had a full week to reach our next destination of Bergerac, this ensured a very relaxed saunter up the west coast where we enjoyed zooming and zigzagging around the cycle paths, meeting many summer tourers along the way. We conqured the massive sanddune le Pyla and then a sad moment- we said goodbye to the Atlantic ocean, realising we would not see the sea again for at least three months. Heading East and crossing the Dordogne we met the French Bear Grylls (complete with feathered bandanna and wolf head necklace) whilst camping in a wooden boat building yard. He was on his way to sharpen his machetee when he heard the soft notes of Kerry the Travandolin and came over for a chat. Rachel asked if it was good to swim in the river, he replied yes but the last time I did there was a corpse…. Rachel did not swim in the river. The other memorable moment from this campsite was the tame magpie who loved the tinfoil from our chocolate bar. A proud moment- for the first time on our trip we were actually able to help some new friends to fix up their bikes (a variety of problems including gears and breaks) we were rewarded with cold beer and a shower under the hose pipe.

At this point we would like to thank Lidl for providing many a delicious meal and variety of treats for such a reasonable price. And yes incase you were wondering it is very possibe to cook frozen fishfingers and chips on a camp stove!

We arrived in the beautiful medieval town of Bergerac decked out for the summer fete with colourful bunting strung up and down the streets. Meeting friends Peter and Liz from help exchange in Portugal, another memorable night ensued! Suffice to say bouncers in France are very liberal with Pepper spray. Chapter 3 yet to be written……..who knows what will happen.

And thus began our 700km journey to Chamonix. Thunderstorms once again battered the tent- still holding but with major signs of wear. McDonalds provided shelter on one horrendous day. Burgers and more burgers were eaten and  a human sized pile of rubbish created. Alas no photpgrahic evidence of this fantastic (if thoroughly unhealthy) feast. As if we had not eaten enough chance brought us to the Mosque for water whereupon we were informed that this was the last day of Ramadan and were laden with cakes and dates. We gorged again. How I love cycling 🙂 A purchase of 50 greatest film classics (moins cher) saw us camping in forests and fields with The Lord of the Rings theme tune and Gladiator among others. Very surreal. One evening in the cemetery, whilst taking the daily wash we discovered we had been inhabited by ticks, picked up from camping in a grassy field the night before. As you can imagine they were found in rather unfortunate areas…. The final push to Chamonix on the bikes was a steep and winding path upto Les Houches. We were close though and awed by the surrounding mountains excitment and adreline brought us to our new home for the week. Thanks Andy!

Chamonix must be visited! Yes it is touristy and yes at times too busy, but wow, the stuff you can get up to! Hiking Mount Buet was a highlight but one of the best moments ever was summiting on Aiguille du Tour at 3540m. This involved a 5am start after spending the night in a mountain refuge, crossing glaciers, jumping crevases and some exciting scrambling. Many a happy afternoon was spent in the Vagabond, planning, reminising and catching up with Gus and Andy. And here we are still. Getting ready to head ino Switzerland (The hills are alive with the sound of music) tomorrow and the 5th country of the trip. Hoping to be in Basel next weekend………..

In no particular order:

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Reunited with Ed and Becca!

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Top 5 Wild Camp, complete with river bath/washing machine.

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Jurassic Park and King Kong! FU*K!

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Sponsored by Weetabix.

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10 Seconds of Tour de France.

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Free Hats.

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Biarittz beach and Cozza and Lewis.

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La Maison.

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Happy Families.

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Bidart Square.

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La Rhune hike (with Ewa), 905m.

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Panoramic.

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Michael and Ciara visit our home.

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Marshmellows and fire.

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Beach Fire.

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Pint anyone?

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Cycling to Lidl (for millets de thon).

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Bergerac with Peter and Liz.

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Tasty?

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Pre Spray.

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Arrival at Chamonix (Andy’s place complete with hot tub and view of Mont Blanc).

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Summit of Aiguille du Tour, 3540m. Well done Gus.

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Switzerland.

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Andy in Action.

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On the glacier.

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Rarrrrrr!

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Gus and Rachel Ascent.

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Roping up pre glacier, 5am.

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Pleasant walk to Albert refuge by glacier. Continue reading

Moroc- Safi Baraka! (Good but Enough)

Its time for another blog (Horray).

Finally leaving Tafedna (sad times) at the end of May we painfully crossed the Red Mountains to Marrakesh. We definitely felt the effects of not cycling for the whole month and vowed to not stop for so long again. We shall see.

Marrakesh is full to bursting with crazy people and sights including snake charmers and chained monkies in nappies. Three nights spent here is more than enough time to drive you mad but a must experience. Meeting up with Lucy and Becca (from Cardiff) along with another chance meeting with the Green Donkey gang added to the random fun and here the idea of hiking Toubkal was planted in our heads. Alas – Gerard did his back in picking up Rachel and swinging her around the hostel (she must have put on a lot of weight). Not to worry, a relaxing week in a campsite complete with swimming pool was enjoyed by both. The back mended and we made our second attempt at mission Toubkal.

Cycling to Imlil the furthest point south and highest we have climbed with  the bikes (1,700 ish m) was tough but exciting as we journeyed into the Atlas mountains! Leaving the bikes at the campsite we hiked to Toubkal basecamp pitched our tent for 2 pounds and climbed the summit the following morning (upsetting a large tour group as we caused a landslide traversing across the scree back onto the path – ooops!).

Feeling tired with legs not working too well we feasted on kefta curry cooked on the campstove and began our trip north to Ouzoud. Recommended by Ottman (Green Milk Hostel) this place is amazing and although packed full of tourists it is easy to lose them just walking a few km down the river. We tried the local pasttime of cliff jumping, explored caves and drank many a mint tea by the riverside, all the best spots pointed out to us by Mo Mo (our new friend).

After a welcomed day off we were reasonably fresh again and started south and then north after picking the wrong road out of the valley (Damn it!). After a cool few days the heat hit as we lost altitude. Cycling in 40 C is not good for gingers. The plan to reach Chefchaouen was abandoned in favour of escaping Morocco. Booking a ferry in Meknes we then had just 2 days to reach Tanger, 220km or so we thought…….. Night cycling with the full moon was brilliant however trying to sleep in a sweaty field full of flies was not so brilliant and we were quickly fatigued from lack of sleep and long hours on the bike. We reached Tanger in good time to make our ferry. But where is Tanger Med ferry port I hear you ask. Excellent question as obviously Tanger port is not in Tanger but an extra 40km to the East over Mountains and the worst headwind to date. This is when Rachel loses the plot throwing down her helmet and bike, running into a field leaving Gerard perplexed at the side of the road. 10 minutes timeout and we start the most hideous cycle of the trip.

Rachel turns 26 on the Ferry. A duty free bottle of vodka and mars bar are purchased for celebrations. We reached Barcelona tired but happy and cooler. First bacon and cheese sandwich is consumed rapidly. We recelebrate Rachels birthday with Tapas and Sangria. Great craic.

After retrieving the bikes form the workshop (getting de-morocco´d!) we´ll be good for tomorrows cycle. Heading to watch stage nine of the Tour de France in Bagnères-de-Bigorre  (Pyrenees mountains) we will continue west to meet Michael and Ciara in Biarittz for some beach and beer time. Can´t wait………………

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Desent through Red Mountains

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Killer Bug eating our carrot

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Red Mountains

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Fashion Victim 1

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Fashion Victim 2

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A calm moment in Marrakesh- a rariety

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Belgian couple gift us with whiskey and baileys (left outside tent). Thank you!

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Hiking Toubkal

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Summit and thirsty

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Ouzoud Waterfalls

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Birds eye view

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New hat

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Jumping! Woosh…….

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Gerard becomes attached to Christopher the gremlin kitten!

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Three grubby cycle tourists- we meet Jerry from Germany. Good luck to him heading South into the Sahara.

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Campsite view on the way to Meknes

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After our second crash of the trip (again Rach into the back of Gerry!) We are taken in by Moroccon family fed and showered!

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Midnight puncture repair- our 9th puncture in 2 days, a combination of spikey plants, crap Moroccan repair kits and pumps and extreme heat!

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Happy birthday- on the ferry to Barcelona

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A human tower outside Barcelona Cathedral

L’Ane Vert

Sallam mon amigos. Yes as you can see our linguistic skills have greatly improved. As far as cycling goes, since our last blog we,ve managed 65km from Essaouria to Tafedna. Almost a month has passed and it seems we have made a new home here at the Green Donkey an association setup by a French couple. Antoine and Elodie we love you. 

L’Ane Vert is an association setup helping access to culture in rural ares. They plan to integrate European and Morocon artistic ideas and promote culture in remote areas of Morocco. Sounds cool eh…….  Take a look: https://www.facebook.com/assoanevert?hc_location=timeline

This project is is still in its infancy but already we can see ideas and dreams coming together. We´ve been happy to have helped in the small way we could and although we haven’t left yet are already talking about coming back. Gerry has become an “electrician”, “carpenter” and general hole digger and handy man. Rach is Queen of Plumbing and has earned the nick name “Rachel Machine”. Working with at one point people from 10 different nationalities we have met some unique individuals and incredible personalities with everyone living in harmony (most of the time). 

Some of the highlights:

Feasting on tagine every lunchtime with the whole gang!

Waking up at 7am each morning for beach training with former legionair (but now almost hippy) Hungarian Maté! 

The forest mission- chosing trees to be cut for Bernard the carpenter’s epic terrace build. Bullman the Moroccan foreman dancing to Chemical Brothers in the 4×4!

Moustapha providing a constant serenade while we work. Birta adding the beautiful Icelandic backup vocals often in the form of a wild monkey. (Good dancing Manu). 

Crazy young Younes who wants to share everything with you (even things you don’t want!) “share share, half half, 50 50?” 

Tachlac- making mud pie mix and throwing it at the walls of the Berbere tent walls to spread as plaster

Abdou and Kemal cooking fresh fish and octopus in the clay oven

Saturday nights are party night (day off sunday)- much Mahia (home distilled from yeast and figs) consumed and endless rounds of singing “HamdouliLLAH”

Some of the best craic has been had in the kitchen sometimes cooking, sometimes drinking. On one occasion Lina (the German wirlwind she would like to be known as!) asked me (Gerry) “Do you eat meat”. I foolishly replied “of course” and was handed a half butchered wild hog. After roping Rachel into helping me (she is an ex butcher of course) we spent several hours finally producing BBQ ribs and Swine Stew. A messy affir to say the least. 

Elodie’s French Cuisine: Crepes, Mousse au chocolat and kefta kebabs. Nice!

Aidi (the dog in Arabic) has become a pregant bitch. Awoken on many a night by her exploits with the the four neighbouring dogs. We’re not sure as yet who the father is. We still love you Aidi, you are family. Long live the puppies. 

Frequent cries of “Au Shit” from Antoine in a very French accent. 

We had planned to leave almost 2 weeks ago however after inspecting Gerry’s bike we found the reoccuring problem with the front wheel hub. BOLLUCKS or so it seemed. After much deliberation Morroco provided a real bike shop in Marrakesh. Success. We leave tomorrow En Shalla. FULL MOON PARTY TONIGHT.

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Tafedna!

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In the kitchen with Aboulicious

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27 today. Thank you JoJo (Joel and Johanna) for the steak avec chips, tobacco onions and peppercorn sauce. Good work Rachel.  

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Rachel steals local baby goat. The man hunt is on. 

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Quick trip to the shop

(Sorry for the lack of photos. Very slow internet). 

To be continued…………

Hakuna Matata

The Land of Gib and Gibbos was magical seeing old friends reunited and included the 1st BBQ of the season- I’m sure you’ll all agree, an important event. Killer monkey’s avoided at the cost of only a loaf of bread. Perhaps the “do not feed the monkeys” sign should be adherred to……..

Contenintal crossing into Morocco on Monday the 15th of April. After getting scammed on the first day for water and oranges our haggling skills have improved. 2 days of cycling across the mountains in the north we saw mainly shepherds and sheep with a paralysing heat. The west coast provided a welcome breeze as we continued downhill (south).

Cycling through the banana plantations we sucessfully navigated (only one road anyway) through hordes of wild children mostly friendly but some hostiles. After “helping” fix a farmers unfixable bike we enjoyed our first Moroccon mint tea with dish of the day- tripe, my favourite.

We did not let our first crash detter us (Rachel into back of Gerard, with panniers everywhere= Minor woundage) as we braved Rabat and Cassablanca at full pelt. Stopping for lunch in El Jadida a fourtunate coincidence saw us metting Haykouss and an array of characters. We made and ate Tuna Tagine, drank  whiskey and beer and slept on the roof terrace.

We reached the Green Milk Hostel in Essaouira yesterday (welcomed by the resisdent ducks). An old walled city by the beach full of life. In Morocco we have learnt that anything can happen and we are constantly suprised and excited. We look forward to the next unusual event.

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Huge killer monkey in Gibraltar

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Day out in Gib!

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Morocco

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Who am I?

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Where am I?

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West coast- amazing cycling, camping and always a shepherd

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Uh Oh new wheel bearings and axle but only £1.20 out of pocket

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The school of Hay Kouss Tagine, a whole fresh tuna fish for £3.60

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El Jadida roof terrace party

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🙂

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How much would you pay for an “original” and “natural” Moroccon sheep hat Jonny Michael?

Nouvelle image music

Travandolin strings in scarse supply

pump

Puncture blues despite our new sturdy tyres- 4 in one day and a broken pump leads to an exciting new purchase from the market, but will it last……..