Making our way to Marrakech with Mighty.

 Time for our first adventure on the road with the  Mighty Mia. Two and a half years has flown by and we have very itchy feet! We were undecided weather to take the bikes, and in the end we chose a taster of backpacking with a toddler!! With short and cheap easy jet  flights we decided on flying into Gibratar and out of Marrakech.  We have often met people travelling with young children on our travels, but when it came to our own trip we were surprised how nervous we felt about a simple two week break, but flights booked and bags packed we were on our way to Morocco.

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An easy flight and we arrived in Gibraltar, we were not sure how quick it would be to cross the border into spain, but a short walk and we were over the border and at the bus station, waiting for a bus to Algeciras.

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 Ted safe in the backpack, we were on the Ferry to Tangier, It was easy to buy a ticket when we got to the port in Algeciras and luckily a delayed ferry was leaving at a good time for us.

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 Africa.

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 Tangier, beyond the Green tiles of the  Grand Mosque, the view from our room, so an early wake up call from the Muezzin.

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 First things first, mint tea in the Cafe de Paris, once a favourite spot for secret agents and more recently as a setting in The Bourne Ultimatum.

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  Just around the corner, so a happy Mia.

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The tiled floors of the kasbah.

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Patterns in the kasbah museum. From floors to walls and doors.

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 We really enjoyed Tangier, it was easy wandering in the medina and with plenty of cafes and places to escape the heat. We could see why people have so often been drawn here, and you can still feel how it may have been in the days of the Beats.

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Tangier.

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 After a couple of days in Tangier we took the bus to Chefchaouen.

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A couple of hours on the bus and although a bit hot a good time for a nap!!

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We had read that Chefchaouen was a blue town and it really was!

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Blue blue doors of Chefchaouen!

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With no traffic at all in the medina this was a perfect place for exploring, and we had a really friendly welcome, while playing on these steps the doors opened with very friendly faces, although Mia was a little nervous of the beckoning hennaed hands she was very happy with the cake she was given!!

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Opening her cake, the first of many presents, including lots of sweets, a rose, a postcard and rather randomly a sweaty wrist band!

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other medina residents!

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Some colour amongst the blue.

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not so sure about the animal print ones!

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more colours below the blue walls.

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trying to get a “good price”!

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Chefchaouen, trapped in a fold in the mountains, once very anti-european and autonomous, now a welcoming and laid back town.

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At the top! Just in time to hear the Call of Prayer echoing off the mountains.

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Back down in the blue alleys.

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Quiet streets. Morocco is slow to wake up in the morning, but with Mia as an early riser it was a good time to be out exploring.

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too much exploring!

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Holidays!

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Much to Mia’s delight cats rule the streets.

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Waiting for food scraps!

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flower power!

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It was really easy going here and a great place to waste days wandering, drinking tea and getting the feel for Morocco. But we had to make our way to Marrakech, so onwards to Fez………

The new trailer!!

Two years have flown by and although we have no real plans yet for a big trip, we have lots of dreams, and with our new chariot trailer have had some good bike rides!

 

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                         Luckily Mighty Mia seems pleased with her new trailer!!

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She is keen to help out too, hopefully we will have her pitching a tent soon!!

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For now it is just day trips and hopefully when the summer finally comes a few weekend trips. So we will keep posting on any new adventures!

 

Homeward bound……

Cycling the last stage of our trip, both a happy and sad feeling, we are excited about seeing old friends and families again and the start of a new adventure, but we know we will miss the freedom of the bikes and our life outdoors.

We had a very relaxing time with my Mum, but it felt good to back on the bikes and the sunshine stayed with us!

A good view from the tent, the Chateau at Falaise.

The cobbled streets of Falaise.

Field after field of sunflowers.

Normandy is known for its wet weather, but on a sunny summers evening it is really idyllic.

The ferry home, and luckily a nice calm day!

England! Shame we didn’t bring the sunshine with us!

Russ and his Dad, who came to meet us and ride the last two days back to Bath with us and check we were on the correct side of the road!

We followed the sustrans cycle route for most of the way, which took us on some lovely back roads and cycle paths, however sometimes the signs would suddenly disappear which lead to bit of back tracking!

Not sure if this is the right way, but it’s very pretty!

Down to the ferry landing to get a little boat across the Humble, we just managed to get the three bikes on the tiny bright pink ferry that came across.

Seashore decorations!

Even so close to home, we still rode through little villages and hamlets we never knew were here.

The back roads!!

Back in Somerset.

Home! Back at Russ’ parents house.

We have had such a great time and we can’t say a big enough thankyou to all the people who have made it such a good experience, all the hospitality and kindness we have been shown. Also the lovely company of the people we have ridden with. Hopefully this blog has shown something of a great journey, thanks to everyone who has followed us and shown interest in our travels.

Rolling along the Loire

Riding along the Loire has had all the best bits of cycle touring, perfect picnic spots, trails through the vineyards and beautiful chateaux. The weather has stayed sunny for us and it has felt like a really good end to the trip, a chance for us to enjoy the summer and get ready for going home, which is both a very exciting thought and also a little scary!

Wild flowers along the Loire.

 Bicycle graffiti along the route, this is a very popular ride for cycle tourers and for day-trippers. With great roads, either quiet secondary  or cycle paths, making very pleasant riding.

There is always a chance for some off-road as well….

With some great swimming spots!

The fairytale Chateau at Ussé.

 

Good when you going down, not so fun to ride up!

Waterlilys in the gardens at Chaumont.

Saumur.

Our only problem along the Loire, after over 10 000 miles this tyre had enough, and made an impressive bang when it burst! Luckily we weren’t flying down the hill!

A side trip from the Loire to La Vienne at Chinon.

We didn’t make to the vineyards of South America this time but we are definitley in wine-growing country here. 

One more chateau picture! They are just too picturesque. Chaumont sur Loire.

Inside the Chateau at Chenonceux.

Lovely copper pots in the kitchen…

 ..and a selection of knives not needed by a vegetarian! 

We are now taking a lovely few weeks off in the Cave (Lorely’s mum’s troglodyte home) in Luynes.

 Helping out with a few summer time jobs.

Happy painting windows!

The Loire. 

 

 

 

La Route en Vélo……..

We have arrived in France, a cyclists dream with miles and miles of cycle paths, campsites everywhere, some with a discount for people arriving on bicycle, and you can’t beat the bread and cheese picnics. After a few rainy days in Spain,  crossing the border we have had day after day of  sunshine. So we have really enjoyed a good few weeks of very laid back cycling!

Cycling past field after field of sunflowers, even with a head wind it makes you smile.

Our last day in Spain, we arrived in the small town of Hondarribia to find ourselves in the middle of a medieval fair!

 Everywhere was in full Medieval style.

Watching the surf in Biarritz.

Cycling the coastal bike route , you can ride the whole coast on trails, which is fantastic. However, we did find ourselves needing days on the roads as well due to the  monotony of miles of pine trees!!

Rows and rows of pine trees and piles and piles of wood!

We have really enjoyed the long evenings,  after so many months of early sunsets.

Dune du Pilat, near to Arcachon, the highest sand dune in Europe and good fun to run and slide down.

One of the many oyster huts at Arcachon, we stayed near here with a lovely family who stopped by us on the side of the road and invited us to stay for the night and for dinner. The whole trip it has been amazing the kindness people have shown towards us.

Waiting for the ferry over to Cap Ferret.

Some of the bike paths a little bit narrow!

We still enjoy the fresh fruit and veg at the markets and we were lucky to pass a lot of farmers markets in different towns.

Fresh herbs.

Even when we left the cycle tracks the roads were quiet and lovely for riding.

Map reading but a good photo chance! The little villages and towns in France are lovely for cycling, passed beautiful old farmhouses and barns.

The Transporter bridge into Rochefort, built-in 1898 and now used by cyclists and walkers to cross the Charente river. It is a movable bridge with a gondola slung from a huge metal frame,  fewer than two dozen have been made and now only twelve of these bridges are still in use.

The harbour entrance of La Rochelle.

La Rochelle, we were lucky to be here on the summer solstice which in France is celebrated with live music in the streets.

La Rochelle.

Birthday boy, 30 years young!

Le Velo.

a spanner in the spokes….

Since our last blog we have  had a rather big twist in our trip.  Back in Panama, most days I had been feeling not my normal self but put it down to long days riding in the heat, however this continued into Colombia. I eventually found out I was a couple of months pregnant! We rode to Bogota to try to get the necessary check ups. After much deliberation we decided we still wanted to cycle but Latin America was posing too many problems. So a cheapish flight to Madrid was our decision and to cycle home from there. We left Colombia a little sad but very excited about the future and hopefully one day will be back to finish the journey south.

Craving fresh fruit and veggies, we found an amazing vegetarian restaurant for our last few days in Bogota.

Puppet on a wire.

New Jeans and a new city, we are back in Europe!

The Palace in Madrid. Note the lovely blue sky which soon disappeared as we got back on the bikes.

Beautiful magnolia in the park.

As we headed out of Madrid and towards the mountains, the Colombian off road theme continued and we soon found ourselves back on gravel roads.

The scenery was totally different to what we had become used to, we road through rolling farmlands…

 Lovely towns and tiny villages all with beautiful churches and houses.

It was funny to the see similar buildings and plazas that we were so used to seeing in all the colonial towns we had travelled through.

Cycling through the poppy fields, trying to out run the storm clouds!

The national park,  Canon Del Rio Lobos.

Canon Del Rio Lobos.

We decided to take the mountain bike trail through the national park.

Concentration! Still finding rivers to cross but no worries of crocs in these ones!

Up through the beautiful Canyon.

A very wet day but a very lovely ride, through the mountains.

We thought the riding would be a little bit easier in spain, however with stong headwinds and some high mountain passes we were in for a shock, but the views have been great, lots of wild flowers and food we have been dreaming for months of eating!!

Our downhill descent into the Basque region.

Picture perfect villages.

Mutriku, back on the coast and heading towards France.

The cause of the detour! In Bogota we were lucky to stay with great warmshower host, Angelica and Claudio who helped us so much with the doctors. I was able to go for a scan and have all the necessary blood tests.

Bound for Bogota…

Back on the road and heading towards Bogota with the traffic not so bad we decided to take the regular route via Villa De Leyva. With lots of mountains and scenery and high altitude farm lands the ride into the capital was enjoyable even with a few wet days thrown in.

The steep streets of San Gil. We had a couple of days here wandering around town working our leg muscles on these hills.

Passing traffic.

Lots of road side treats for very sweet teeth but good cycling energy.

After some long hills we came across a random Swiss Cafe selling delicious Brocolli and cheese crepes, very much needed.

 On the road to Villa De Leyva we cycled through  a lovely canyon and with so much rain there were waterfalls pouring on either side of the road. However at 2500 meters high it was a little cold for swimming!

Cycling in the clouds and with the green fields we felt like we were on a day trip in the Brecon Beacons! Although it was wet it was really enjoyable cycling with very little traffic.

Looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Entering Villa De Leyva, a really lovely town in the mountains, we found it hard to leave here.  We spent four days just wandering the little cobbled streets and eating great food. We camped in the garden of the hostel Renacer which had a good backpacker feeling.

Couldn’t resist buying some of the local spun wool.

The cobbled square of Villa De Leyva.

A little bit of  bike maintenance and cleaning, luckily the sun was out!

Chiquinquira, a small town full of churches and plazas.

A new favourite second breakfast, we discovered that all the little bakerys do fried eggs with bread and a cup of Colombian coffee…ummm!

Not our favorite food option, but good for all those meat lovers.

Zipaquira, the main attraction here is the salt cathedral, an old salt mine transformed. Its a fasinating place to visit.

Going underground.

Walls of salt, we didn’t lick them though!

Salty tree of life.

Salt cathedral, Zipaquira.

Back out into the daylight, the main plaza Zipaquira.

Cycling into the capital.

La Candaleria, the historic old part of the city, full of cafes, restaurants and Museums.

It’s better by bike.

Botero’s Mona Lisa, he manages to make everything look fat. A great collection of his work in one of the many museums and galleries in the city.

Street art, Bogota

Colonial houses complete with colonial locks.

Flower power!

At first we were not sure about the city, it felt very big and dirty. However once we scratched the surface, walked the cobbled streets and found good veggie food, we discovered a great city that really grew on us.