Tsundoku (n.) Japanese word for a pile of unread books. I'm taking next week off to make a dent in my pile, go on a cycling adventure and turn 35 (shh). Last year I was cycling around beautiful Kyoto. This was the view from my bike.
Kyoto is really flat so very easy to cycle around. You can cover a lot of ground by bike so if you are only there for a short amount of time hiring a bike is the best way to see as many sights and the amazing scenery between. Many hostels offer really cheap bike hire.
There are cycle lanes and if they aren't you are allowed to cycle slowly on the pavements. They drive on the left so if you are from the UK, you don't have to translate your cycling.
I got politely told off by a policeman who asked me to cycle on the pavement as the road I was on was a bit dangerous.
If you are planning a trip to Japan (Japlanning), read my book recommendations in Wanderlust Magazine.
The Wee Row Hostel in New Lanark, Scotland. When you are staying in hostels with a bike, they usually give you a key and point you in the direction of some form of bike storage. On my travels this has varied greatly and included scary cellars, bike sheds, underground carparks, boiler rooms, staff rooms and fully pimped up rooms with bike stands and a world of repair tools for your use. I've seen some weird behind-the-scenes stuff while stashing my bikes, including what I think was a hotel staff female fight club in Antwerp. Anyway, this was during my 2014 JOGLE ride in New Lanark, a village on the River Clyde famous for its cotton mills. You can visit the historic site of a traditional mill right next to the hostel. I just happened to ride into town during Lanark Lanimers Week so all the houses were decorated and they were rehearsing for fancy dress processions. My bike had the bike storage room (it was a room, not a shed) all to itself. Just so you know, if you are ever caught short and have to stay in a Travel Lodge, they let you take your bike up to your room. How romantic.
My sister and I on our Mexibwikes in May 2013. San Juan Chamula is a 10km cycle from San Cristobal de las Casas through the mountains of the Chiapas Highlands. Most of the journey is along a quiet track where the landscape ranges from lush to almost prehistoric looking. Chamula is home to the largest indigenous Tzotzil Mayan population and it holds autonomous status within Mexico. It has its own police force and no outside military are allowed in the village. The famous church of San Juan is full of statues holding mirrors. Some say it's to ward off evil and others say it is so you look for the saint's qualities in yourself. There are no pews but people sitting in groups on the pine needle covered floor performing healing rituals. There is fabric draped from the ceiling and so many candles providing the only light. Some weird things happen in this church. They sacrifice chickens and believe burping helps expel evil spirits. To aid this, they drink a lot of Coca-Cola. The glass bottles are everywhere. Apparently, Pepsi tried to get in on it and become the preferred carbonated drink. It's also known as the Coco-Cola church, so I guess Pepsi failed. You won't see any pictures of inside the church as photography is strictly forbidden. We were told a story about how someone had taken a few stealth pictures and when they had checked them later, they were blank. I KNOW. When we were back in San Cristobal de las Casas having dinner, my sister said, "That was a weird place to ride our bikes to."
I woke up bruised and battered from yesterday’s falls. Thankfully I only had about 50km left so I gave myself a pep talk and packed my panniers. I put on some make up because I’d been carrying it around so thought I should wear it at least once to make sure I hadn’t forgotten how to do it. I also wore the LBD that I’d packed. You know, to celebrate my last day of cycling.
I’m grouping my ride through Austria together because it was my favourite and if you do it, you should do this whole bit. I can’t recommend cycling this leg highly enough. From Passau to Vienna it is roughly 200 miles and I can honestly say it was the sweetest ride of my life (so far).