Buenos Aires – Warm and welcoming

Arrive at Buenos Aires airport. Discover that Argentines are on strike due to proposed tax hikes. Join the line that extends from customs to the luggage collection. Wipe sleep from tired eyes, and try to recalibrate body clocks. Luggage is X-rayed and passes. Hola, Buenos Aires.

We are dog tired. We stand out like the dogs proverbials, tall pale Gringos. Our luggage on the trolley we try to work out the best way to get into town. Obviously if we go to the taxi rank we will pay an extortionate Gringo price, and the local bus is either not running due to strikes, or requires coins that we have not yet acquired. After some tired deliberation we head to the internal taxi stand and book a taxi. One that then speeds like a rally car down the bumpy freeway, dodging and overtaking as much as possible. I hope Argentina produces good rally drivers, this guy was definitely up there.

Eventually we arrive, and are greeted by a warm smile from one of the hostel workers. We check into a small room which will be ours for the next few days. I immediately change into shorts and a t-shirt, and walk outside to feel the heat of the sun beating down on me. Such a strong contrast with the icy-cold tail of Winter that we left behind in Germany. We spend the next few days adjusting to the jet lag, and the sunshine helps us.

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The hostel is warm and inviting on the inside, painted colourfully outside. We have breakfast near the stove daily, making the most of the free coffee. We pass on the staple white bread and dulce de leche (delicious but not nutritionally satisfying), and opt for bought cereal, fruit and yoghurt.

While there we make a foray into the heart of Buenos Aires, in order to change some money on the black market. Or blue market? The Argentinian government has placed restrictions on the flow of currency into the country, which means that a thriving market for foreign currency exists. We have a bit of euro that we change over after walking up and down Florida Calle, the street for moneychangers. ‘Cambio Cambio Cambio!!!’ the crys of the vendors ring out when we walk past. We find someone who offers a price we accept, and then says ‘Come into my office’ and we follow them into a small green kiosk on the road. There is a money counting machine in the tiny space, and the transaction for pesos is quick and effortless. We then make tracks back to the hostel, not keen to be carrying substantial wads of cash.

After a few days at the hostel, where the operator smoothly makes clients pay in the Blue Dolar rate, we decide it is time for somewhere with better cooking facilities and no dodgy practices regarding payment. We try AirBnB for the first time and find an excellent apartment for the week very close to the parkland around Lagos de Regatos. We spend the next while getting back outdoors everyday, running and walking and enjoying the climate. Running through the park we come across Eucalypts, which are a reminder of home. The lake in the closest park is beautiful, especially at sunset.

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Every day that we are outside we see people walking dogs, usually 15 at a time. Dogs of all shapes and sizes, snuffling and scratching and panting and wagging and be guided by their walkers through the streets and around the parks. The owners obviously don’t walk the dogs themselves, and we are glad to see the dogs getting some quality time outside. It looks like an enjoyable job, but I guess the novelty wears off. One time I try to say hello to the dogs and the walker barks at me to keep away. I guess I understand that it would be frustrating to have people pat the dogs. Once they finish walking the dogs they take them to a section of the park where they tie them up around trees for a break. There is incessant barking and yipping of a hundred dogs, with multiple walkers all seeking reprieve from the heat in the shade.

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We spend Easter weekend in this part of Buenos Aires, and try as we might cannot find any chocolate eggs on sale. The local super market we head to is called Jumbo – and boy it is! We observe them cooking up a paella inside, in what would not look out of place as a spa! We find the Argentinian steak to be high quality and quite cheap compared to Australia, although the price of most everyday items is the same or dearer than back home.

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We enjoy a dinner out and opt for a more Americanised meal rather than the mixed barbecued meat that Argentina is famous for. We still get the high quality steak, but skip all the various sausages that normally come with a mixed grill meal.

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We catch the local metro train a few times into the city. The service is good, and it is air conditioned inside the train. It is also extremely packed every time of the day that we catch the train. So much so that when we line up to head out of town one day, we are in one of a multitude of lines back up to where the doors of the train will be when it arrive, each line growing to some 40m long over the half hour wait before the train arrives. Every waits patiently, and there is no pushing or shoving. The doors on the opposite side open and allow passengers off before we board.

Our final experience is waiting at the Bus terminal before our departure to Mendoza overnight. The bus station is a hive of activity, and the armed guards motion to us several times to keep a very close eye on our packs. Once we are on board it will be a 16 hour journey across Argentina.

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Reinventing the journey

Our initial plan for the journey this year was to travel around the world for a year, with a six month stopover in the middle to work in the UK. The basic plan was to travel through South East Asia, then head to Europe, the UK, possibly Scandinavia and then off to South America after.

As we were preparing to head off overseas the support from our friends, family and workplaces was invaluable. They backed us, believed in us and wished us all the best with taking this chance to explore and learn about the world and ourselves. This encouragement is something that makes us feel extremely privileged , even more so than having the opportunity to actually travel.

We have our working visas and had spent a good amount of time preparing everything to enable a seamless transition to work overseas, whilst back in Melbourne. Documents were readied, identities were proven, ability to work was demonstrated. We were lucky to have a friend of friend working as a recruiter, who had come from the UK and was working in Sydney, assist us with everything.

Then in Vietnam, we began to change our itinerary, deciding that South East Asia was not for us at that stage. We redefined what we wanted. One of the things that was strongly pressing on us was missing the connections of home. Of family and of friends. Of our puppy. Of our meaningful jobs. Of our regular physical activities and healthy habits. Travel was showing us a lot of things about the way life works in this part of the world, but having both traveled prior, it was not any sort of a revelation. If anything it just reconfirmed how lucky we are to come from Australia. We felt an ethical conflict; we were wealthy and priveleged enough to take time of work and to travel to this place, and whilst immersed in it, realised it was not at all what we wanted at this time.

What we missed from home was the meaning that is created by having regular family contact and expectations, juggling the social aspects of maintaining our friendships, working in communities of other passionate people who prioritise learning and growth. There was the pull of family ties that we felt, the worry for sick and injured family members. There was a desire to be at home for significant family and friends events – weddings, first birthdays, events which cannot be repeated.

We headed to Europe earlier than planned, and as a result got to experience the end of a European winter. We experienced an immediate increase in the quality of life. People had more freedom, more space and more health. We were exposed to a history that had been venerated for many years, retold and modified, but also protected and celebrated. It felt like this had not been happening in the same way throughout Vietnam.

We spent some two months soaking up what Europe had to offer. Throughout this time we enjoyed the history and culture we were exposed to, the language, the cuisine, the social expectations and values that varied from home. At the same time, the overwhelming privilege of being a traveller began to weary us. Every day is a feast at the smorgasbord of opportunities that await the traveller. We strongly felt an absence of purpose, of meaning, of being involved with what we are passionate about.

We also realised that despite picking up short term work teaching in the UK, it was not going to match what we do at home. We would be in between different schools with no local understanding of the situation. Whilst this may develop over time we did not see how it would work for us.

What became strongly apparent was that we have a sense of balance at home. While we like to enjoy time off work, to explore different experiences and make adventures, doing this for months on end was not quite what it was cracked up to be. There is a feeling like a lack of agency, an impotence in being a constant consumer and not contributing. This is starkly contrasted to home where support and are in turn supported by family, friends and colleagues. These networks make meaning for us.

Initially we struggled with the idea of changing our plans. It was confusing and frustrating to think that we had sacrificed and made of a lot of changes to get overseas and then so quickly found that it was not what it was meant to be. We struggled to name the feelings and to deal with the need to justify what we were thinking.

Eventually it became clearer. We were going to head home to Australia earlier than expected, without working in the UK. Allowing ourselves to feel this and to acknowledge this was a weight off our shoulders. Once we had realised and admitted it we needed to start some changes including letting our recruitment friend know that we were no longer planning on working in the UK. We also needed to work out what we would be doing for the rest of our now abridged version of round the world travel.

Our decision was to spend quite a bit of this time traveling through Europe to visit places we felt strongly drawn too, particularly Italy, Spain and Germany. We knew we were also flying to Buenos Aires and out of Santiago so would need to factor this part of the trip into our revised plans.

Where it currently stands we will travel for just over four months, experiencing fourteen different countries. We will go back home, humbled at having learned more about ourselves and about the world we live in. We will go back home speaking more German, eating more like Spaniards and Italians. We will go home feeling awfully lucky to live in the lucky country and to be privileged enough to be a traveler. We will go home thankful for the warmth of friendship and hospitality provided by many along the way. We will go home hungry to spend time with family and with our puppy. We will go home to be home. And I can’t wait!

 

Ravensburg and Friedrichshafen – Delightfully quaint

Our short trip to Munich ended with a bus ride to Friedrichshafen, a ride that took just under four hours across the cold, dark and wet Bavarian landscape. The bus was sparsely occupied, and we found ourselves drifting off to sleep in the warm environment inside. Eventually we arrived at Friedrichshafen Bahnhof, some 15 minutes earlier than expected and walked across the train terminal to get out of the cold night. We were meeting our friend Ana, our short Portugese friend with a huge heart of gold and a gorgeous smile to boot! And there she was! Big hugs and kisses were shared and she packed us into her car and took us to her apartment in nearby Ravensburg where we would stay for the weekend.

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We had met Ana on a previous journey overseas, in the Amazon jungle in the north of Brazil. We were there for five days, on an eco-tour that showed us some of the huge range of flora and fauna of the Amazon, and how the local people lived in this wild place. Five days was long enough to cement a good friendship and we promised to visit if we ever came to Portugal. Fast forward to 2015 and Ana is working as Doctor in Germany and we were in the country!

Huge kudos to her – living in Germany and speaking a new language, while practicing medicine as an early career doctor! She is an inspiring, generous individual, and having her as a host and guide in Germany made our trip more memorable and developed our appreciation of the German culture. wpid-20150327_135021.jpg

 

She had a packed itinerary for us – this despite having a virus that had decimated her workplace – and she was insistent on joining us for just about all of it.

After a gentle start to the first day and a run through the local woods, we visited the town of Friedrichshafen, climbing the lookout tower that oversees that lake joining Austria, Germany and Switzerland. We also visited the local museum of Zeppelins, this is the area of the the world that they developed in. We were able to climb inside a real Zeppelin that was built into the museum, and there were some excellent physics demonstrations that explained the concepts underlying the construction of the Zeppelins and how they achieved flight. Looking at the scale of the Hindenburg was incredible – it was so much larger than any current aircraft at some 245 metres.

Scale

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Our second day there we visited Schloss Neuschwanstein, a modern castle commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The weather made for a gorgeous day trip, even when the autobahn there was reduced to a traffic jam and everyone got out of their cars to stretch their legs whilst we waited for it to clear up.

Climbing the hill up to visit the castle you can see why King Ludwig II chose this area – it has stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The castle itself is impressive, and you might recognise it as the Disney castle, being the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle. The castle is modern, being opened in 1886 to the public after King Ludwig’s early death and some of the design features would not be out of place in current buildings! Hot waste air from the kitchen was piped around the castle to provide ducted heating. The kitchen is impressive, with huge array of copper cooking apparatus. Water was piped into the castle under pressure from a local spring, allowing taps even on the higher floors. There were telephones as well.

The inside is decorated with scenes from Wagner’s operas, one of Ludwig’s contemporaries. Rumour has it they were particularly close, and looking at how much effort Ludwig went into to replicate the scenes from Wagner’s operas, suggest that something more than a passing interest was driving this! We were not allowed to photograph anything inside, but the exterior is just as impressive to view.

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Our third day was going to be a trip to Zurich, Switzerland. We headed into Friedrichshafen and were ready to board our bus a few minutes before it departed. Until we realised that we had left our passports at home. Apparently Switzerland is not part of the EU and therefore we would need them to cross the border. It was unfortunate to say the least! Claire asked if we needed anything else when we packing, I assumed that Switzerland was EU and Ana assumed that Aussies were smart enough to always carry passports.

We ended up going out for a slow lunch in Ravensburg instead, and then for a walk through some woods in the afternoon.

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This statue of a bus is located out the front of the psychiatric hospital that Ana is working at. It is a memorial for the many thousands of patients at such hospitals that were taken away by bus by the Nazi regime. It reads ‘where are you taking us?’.

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A cute part of Friedrichshafen.
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I did not take many photos of Ravensburg. It is a quaint town, one that missed the bombing runs during the great wars and still has the old fashioned cottages of a precious era. We were extremely privileged to have Ana as our host for our time there and to experience a smaller, quieter part of German life while we were there. Thanks Ana!

Dachau Concentration Camp

Having both read biographies and historical recounts about the Holocaust and life in the concentration camps, we wanted to see a camp in person. It was a chance to put together some facts and details and attempt comprehension. Initially we had wanted to see Auschwitz but since it is actually in Poland (not Germany as we initially assumed), this was the next best option.

We spent a few hours reflecting on the atrocities committed at camps like this, and the sheer scale of it all.

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This was the first concentration camp built and the only one which remained during the entire Nazi regime (12 years). It was a prison to 200,000 people and where 40,000 were murdered. This is but a small fraction of the victims who were held in concentration camps or who died as a result of this during the second world war. The survivors of the Dachau camp were liberated by American troops in April, 1945.

 

The first thing we did was go into the museum where there was a comprehensive collection of artifacts, images and information. Some things were ones we’d seen in Berlin, and many images were horrible and graphic. After an hour it was too much to take in, we felt fatigued and “numb.”

So we left the confines of the museum (the building prisoners were first brought to for processing) and walked the grounds.

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It was chilling and strange, but the feeling of comprehension never came.

Perhaps it was the dozens of school groups being marched around, spoken at (while most students barely listened) and walked through the gas chamber like it was just another thing to tick off.

Or maybe it was the information overload, the exposure to numerous Jewish memorial sites before this one and the bright, sunny day.
Whatever it was, our minds and feelings seemed disconnected.

Note: there are images below that may be confronting.

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Crematorium flanked by “body storage rooms”

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The Gas chamber

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Barracks – the only one left standing

 

Zagreb – Nice but not enough

Zagreb is, well… nice?

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Nice but also a touch forgettable if sandwiched between Belgrade and Ljubljana which are in turn gritty and breathtaking. Zagreb by contrast is neither. It shows the hallmark Balkan architecture, old Austrian-Hungarian style influences on the buildings and impressive government or religious buildings. It is tidy and clean for the most part. There are good services and things to do. Good places to eat and drink. A quirky museum (more later). But remarkably forgettable…

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When we arrived at the station Claire went to the tourist information desk to ask for instructions to the tram. The person providing the instructions was curt and said “outside”. Not the most helpful response and stating the obvious you’d think. Maybe they were sick of tourists and travellers?

Once out of the station and waiting for the tram we were accosted by a man who helpfully providing some instructions on catching the tram. When I asked for clarification and then had to switch sides he obviously decided we needed more help. Following us on the tram like a bad smell he began sharing his life story. An ex engineer he was made redundant recently and was looking into tourism as his next source of income giving that this is taking off in Croatia. However his people skills clearly had been neglected whilst working on engineering projects and he peppered us with helpful yet unwanted information. Mostly we wanted him to leave but I’m polite to the point of accommodating annoying strangers, so we stayed. Once at our station I tried to wrap it up quickly but only after he had given me his phone number in case we needed a guide the next day.

Not off to the best start are we?

Our hostel was fine. Non-descript, but definitely a backpackers vibe unlike some of the other hostels we have stayed in. We went for a walk to find dinner and found a vegan restaurant which would be a welcome relief after the meatiness of cevapcici in Belgrade.

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Exploring through the city centre the next morning, we eventually found some places to get some coffee to start the day. As per usual, the cafe was full of cigarette smoke, and we could only endure for so long. We walked through the rain exploring the city until it was time to go for lunch. Claire tried the sarma, to compare it to what we had tried in Belgrade. But it did not measure up by a long shot. After lunch I had my second haircut whilst overseas, and I like to think they did a decent job!

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We were now in the historical centre of the city, and we climbed up the streets through some arcades until we reached the Cathedral at the centre. We wandered around observing the well signposted historical attractions. Eventually we came across a The Museum of Broken Relationships – full of artifacts and curios from relationships that had ended. It was cheap to enter, and relatively small, but the human stories behind each exhibit were well worth reading.

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Afterwards we found a small bar to sit in and share some wine and avoid the cold grey weather. It was remarkable comfortable and smoke free inside, a pleasant change. Dinner was at restaurant that was empty of all patrons except for us, and the meal was filling, meat dominated, fried, and mostly non-descript. The owner was very keen for us to write a positive review on TripAdvisor.

The whole experience was fine, but nothing more.

Our very Tour de Catalunya


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Claire and I had decided that before we reached Barcelona we would like to get outdoors for a few days and away from the cities that were beginning, despite their charms, to blend into one another.

We researched some options for running, hiking and/or riding. Running and hiking would of course be much easier as they require minimal equipment that we had in our packs, namely shoes and clothes (no we would not consider naked trail running! – apparently this is a thing!).

Some promising options appeared including gorgeous BnBs throughout the south of France in the Pyrenees. One in particular was run by some ex athletes and had promising reviews dotted across the internet. I enquired by email more than a month prior but they were already booked at the time. Part of their appeal was their insider knowledge to the best single track around and the gourmet local produce… sadly this was not to be! They suggested another local BnB but this too was booked over the time we had hoped, so it was back to the drawing board.

We started researching options in Barcelona and northern Spain, hoping to find some Pyrenean adventure from that angle. I stumbled across a company called Terra Diversions who offered all kinds of bicycles for hire and also various tours. One I’m particular was of interest, the BCN300; a 300km loop by  MTB out of Barcelona, through three national parks, climbing some 7000m over the trip. Wow!

Upon enquiry I found out the trail had been blocked off and damaged by wind storms which had dropped thousands of trees all through the region. Many had been cleared but not the sweet single track that we were chasing.

However they did offer a consolation of sorts. Either we could ride in another park, Caldes, also full of good singletrack and huge amounts of vertical, or we could do some sort of countryside picturesque tour. The former immediately appealed to me, but as Claire and I discussed it, we decided the countryside tour would allow us to explore more.

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And boy were we glad to choose it!

Day 1

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Postcard scenery. Everyday!
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We hired two hybrid bicycles (not my first choice, but they turned out okay!), panniers, helmets and locks. Ready to rock and roll. Catching the train out of Barcelona to Ripoll, we would begin our journey at the foothills of the Pyrenees. We were some 600m above sea level at this point, and with 20km of riding had climbed up to just over 1000m. We were pedaling along at quite a leisurely pace, enjoying the fair weather. It was already late afternoon, as we had not left Barcelona until 2pm, and arrived at 4pm in Ripoll, so we knew we had to make decent time or get stuck in the dark.

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At the Coll de Santigosa we stopped to put on some more layers for the descent, after climbing in shorts and tees. The weather looked frigid, grey clouds gathering ominously. It was starting to get foggy as well, and we knew we wouldn’t have much time before sunset. Waterproof coats on, we took off on the descent and found ourselves getting colder and colder. We stopped to put on more layers underneath the coats, and share out our one pair of gloves (both left handed! – luckily those lessons on chirality in 3rd year Chemistry taught me to turn one inside out…) and continue on. By the end of the descent we were both drenched and shivering.

We eventually arrived in Olot, and checked in to the picturesque Hotel Can Blanc. It was a quiet, peaceful place, surrounded by trees and greenery. We defrosted inside in hot showers, and then walked over the adjacent restaurant, La Deu, to try some Catalan food. They served us three course for 12.5 euros each, with generous amounts of wine and bread on the side. We tried the braised pork cheek which was very tender, and sampled the speciality of the region, the La Deu potatoes, which are basically thin slivers of potato sandwiching some meat filling, and then the whole thing fried. Satisfying!

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The view from our room in Olot

Day 2

We woke up slowly the next morning after a deep sleep, and I realised that I was coming down with a cold or something similar. Probably not helped by the icy cold descent yesterday…

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We packed up our minimal gear, showered and then headed downstairs for breakfast. A few coffees later we were ready to ride. We picked up provisions from in town and then set off on the Vies Verde (greenways – old converted train tracks converted to trails) for todays ride to Girona. Starting relatively late, and on the hybrid bikes, it was going to be a whole day expedition.

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The weather was fine, although slightly chilly. The Vies Verdes are excellent ways to see parts of Spain, and we passed through a variety of different towns and countrysides. One minute we would be riding through urban areas, with excellent signage for cyclists; the next we would be in a narrow gorge, artificially created for the steam trains of old. Everywhere we rode there was abundant greenery (thus the moniker Vies Verde) and this was a tranquil contrast to the cities. The paths eventually led us to the outskirts of city, and we made our way to our hotel. Dinner was a petite baguette.

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Day 3

We woke up quite tired on the final leg our of trip, I was still fighting a cold, and had stayed up to do some chemistry work. We peeled ourselves out of bed and packed up. Going to the windowsill to collect the yoghurts we had left there for breakfast, we were surprised to see half of them had disappeared! They hadn’t fallen off, but maybe a possum or night time visitor had pinched them. Curious!

Soon enough were on the road again, and as we pedaled out of Girona, beginning to wish we had more time to see this city, and more days to enjoy being outside as well! The colourful river views of the city quickly gave way to grass and trees, and delightful warm weather.

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For the ride thus far, we had a clear idea of where we going to each day, with a well signed map and clear route markings. This day however, once we reached the coast, we knew we would head south, until we reached the town of Blanes, where we told there would be a train to catch back to Barcelona to return our bikes. The route all the way to the coast continued as pleasantly as the rest of the riding, although the weather was vastly improved, with abundant sunshine.

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We eventually reached a coastal town, Sant Feliu de Guixols, and the time was around 3pm. The coastal route to Blanes was going to take us through Massis de la Cadiretes, a national park, which meant some climbing was involved. I am used to calculating times for cycling based on my road bike, and to a lesser extent, my MTB, but on a hybrid laden with panniers we were a bit slower moving.

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We headed out, up into the National Park, and began the stunning final leg of our tour. Two hours later we had only just arrived at the first town on this route… Which, looking at this map, was only halfway! We decided in Tossa de Mar to catch a bus to get us to Blanes, to catch the train… To catch Terra Diversions on time. Once we arrived at the bus stop, the next bus left at such a time that our train would arrive in Barcelona at 8:04pm. Hmmm.

We book this and then call Terra Diversions to apologise/grovel and ask what we can do. Eventually they ask us to bring the bikes in early first thing the next morning. Crisis averted.

But then the bus cannot take out bikes! It appears this coach has no provision for luggage underneath and thus won’t fit the bicycles.

Frying pan –> fire.

Par for the course with travel. We will have to wait an hour for the next bus, which are promised will hold bikes. We find a place to eat, and they make us a few mean hamburgers which are promptly demolished by this disheveled and dispirited team.

Eventually our bus comes, and drops us off at Blanes station. A train ride back to Barcelona, and we are done.

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We cannot wait for our next bicycle trip!

Budget Berlin

Berlin has a reputation as one of the most affordable and liveable cities in Europe and this is well deserved! There are so many free cultural and recent historical experiences to be enjoyed, and the food and drink is extremely cheap despite the high quality. It is a city that makes you want to throw yourself into every activity and enjoy yourself immensely.

Claire and I have found when traveling there is a sense of having to decide what you want to pay for in terms of the cultural, historic or gastronomic experiences of a place. In Berlin this is not the case – here traveling and living blend into each other. Whilst there are expensive options, and tourists traps too, we found some things that were quite worthwhile. Here are some of the things we did for free/on the cheap while traveling, in Berlin.

 

The cultural attractions:

Abundant street art – all over the East Side, there are basically no untouched art free areas, making it both gorgeous and grungy

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The East Side Open Gallery – a free gallery on part of the Wall that is still standing, running alongside the river Spree

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Visiting Museum Island – there are five excellent museums located on this island on the River Spree, and whilst you can pay for entry, just exploring the the buildings and the architecture there is worthwhile.

 

The historical attractions:

Remnants of the Berlin Wall (free) – this photo is actually located at the Topography of Terror, and right in front of this part of the wall, you can see the bunkers/cells that were part of the underground component of the wall

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The Topography of Terror (free) – a history museum about the rise of Nazism, this museum charts the entire progress of World War II, with a large amount of information about the German state at the time

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The ornate Berlin Cathedral/Berliner Dom

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The Brandenburg Gate (free) – These majestic gates are right in the middle of a fairly touristic area, and the following the road from here into the Tiergarten reveals quite a few other sites worth visiting (the Victory Column, the Soviet Memorial, the Reichstag, amongst others)

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The Victory Column (3 euro p/p) – worth the admission fee, you get an excellent view of all of the Tiergarten, and all the arterial roads around this monument. It’s a bit of a steep climb to get inside, but the views make up for it. There is a cheesy museum for monuments around the world at the base, entry included in admission.

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The Reichstag Building

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The Jewish Holocaust Memorial (free) – outside/on top there are these amazing ‘stellae’, 2771 drab grey pillars of varying heights that are quite eery to walk through. Underneath there is a museum that tells many personal, haunting stories of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust

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The outdoors and fitness attractions:

Free yoga – held at a little cafe called New Deli Yoga, the owner believes that yoga should be free (at least during the quiet off season) and it is held inside the cafe on Mondays and Tuesday in the morning and evening. We didn’t get to try this due to a nap that went too long, but the vibe there, when we had coffee, was great.

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Treptower Park – a large park that runs alongside the River Spree, and covers a fairly substantial area. We went running here on numerous occasions. It also houses an old abandoned theme park, which is quite creepy at night time. There is minimal foliage during winter, but I imagine it would look completely different once the trees regain their leaves.

Tiergarten – another large park located more centrally, there are many kilometres of trails on dirt and pavement all throughout this park in the heart of Berlin. We saw many cyclists, a few runners and only a handful of Nordic Walkers (the next big sport apparently!).

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