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Posts tagged “island of malta

British Cycling Expedition – 1st Google Map Adventure

In the summer after college had finished, I as most students do, had far too much spare time. I found myself spending hours on google maps, looking at all the incredible places in the world. I found patterns  which are so alien to anything we see in the UK, that they inspire a new way of thinking about travel (take a look at the area around the Kara Sea). One which addresses modern age technology, and seeks to use it as a inspirational tool . This lead me onto another set of adventures, the Google Map Adventures, In which I would look for a natural point where a journey was at the B part of A to B, and go there.

For this trip, I looked at the southern tip of Italy, Reggio di Calabria. I left it at the back of my mind while I travelled around some of the rest of the world (much of which is documented earlier in LongTimeSpent). But last summer, this idea came into fruition. Laura, whom I met at University, had a family home in Malta, and so I decided to extend the trip onto Sicily and then across the Mediterranean  to little island of Malta.

So in the olympic summer of 2012, one of my best friends, Louis, and I went on a cycling trip. Naturally I took my camera along for the ride, and Louis, brought a guitar… which he strapped on the back of his bicycle. We aimed to only spend money on food, and drink, and vowed NEVER to push our bikes. (this resulted me walking probably less than a kilometre that month, most of which was around supermarkets.)

Initially we aimed to cover 100 miles per day (the London to Brighton bike ride is 56 miles) but we probably averaged 90 miles, and only reached 100 a few.

Our route would take us through France, Germany , Switzerland, Liechtenstein (if we’re counting), back into Switzerland, Italy (the Vatican City…again if we’re counting), Sicily, and then Malta

I’ve posted a few of the photos below, and will write a little description below each. This is a pretty long post, with lots of photos, so please bear with it and let them load, I hope it’ll be worth the wait.

Relaxing After Day One on the bikesStopping off in a (seemingly) ghost town, for dinner from a pizza van after day one of riding. We almost got as far as Paris, and were very proud of ourselves.

libertie egalitie fraternity

We passed through so many idyllic french villages, which you don’t get to see when travelling any other way, and its a real pleasure. “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”

Enjoying the view in Zurich

a bit of a skip in the Journey here, this is the bridge in Zurich, Switzerland. In northern France, around the Alsasce region however, there were some beautiful golden evenings sunshine which I will never forget. The way the sunlight reflected off the corn was surreally enchanting.
Having a much needed wash in Lake Walensee

The stunning Lake Walensee, we followed a line of lakes down from Zurich while approaching the Alps, these proved a good spot for taking much needed washes, and the icy water would sooth our muscles

Sunset over Lake Walensee, Switzerland

A well earned sunset

Morning Lake Walensee

This was our camp spot, free of course, and incredibly peaceful.

Why not go to Liechtenstein?

Liechtenstein, a pointless goal in the trip, and a kind of mental halfway point, even though it was less than a third of the way!

Cunter

Just about to start our highest climb of the trip, and it was clearly going to be a ….

Camping Halfway up the Alps

Another free camping spot, halfway up the Alps. We hadn’t carried any food with up except 5 biscuits, and Louis had ‘accidentally’ eaten 3, leaving me with a mountain to cycle up and only 2 biscuits for fuel. But it rained and the wind blew like a hurricane that night, repeatedly pulling the pegs out of our tent and blowing our things away, which Louis fetched, and so redeemed himself.

Alpine Dam

Clouds looming

Top of the Julier Pass

At the top of the Julier Pass (about 50km from bottom to top, and reaching 12%), feeling very smug as the only cyclists amongst a bunch of lazy motorcycle tourists… Until a man pulling his kid in a cart behind his bicycle reached the top.
It's all downhill from here

If you’re lucky enough to have ever felt that feeling where you know everything is going to be easy, and ‘downhill from here’. That is the precise feeling I had when I began rolling down this road. literally hours of freewheeling followed.
Goodbye Switzerland

some nice Swiss scenes

Into Italy

and the border to Italy… still not the end of the freewheeling yet, got a good hour or so of that left.Lake Como

and finally at Lake Como, just in time to watch the sun go down, and pull open a bottle of red. The next day took us through some of Nothern Italy’s flatland which was dull, but we powered through it and achieved our longest distance day.

Passo Della RaticosaAnd over the Apennine mountains which run the length of Italy, these actually seemed harder to ride over than the Alps, there was a heatwave with temperatures over 41 celsius, thats 105 fahrenheit. But the pleasures of a sunny Tuscany would soon follow.

IMG_6411Little compares to cycling in Tuscany.

IMG_6416Getting some shade and looking for a route at a petrol station. (no need for refueling)

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My Stallion, the Mercian, this was a bike hand built for my Dad, he had cycled it to Venice, and around Sri Lanka.
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One of the best camp spots of the trip, just off a sheltered holiday community beach south of Naples. After a party, at which we hadn’t yet worked out that everyone knew everyone (apart from us) we became quite notorious.
IMG_6446Mozzarella and Salami Shop

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Stopping for a rest on the Amalfi coast, which has to be one of the most pleasurable, and toughest coasts to cycle.

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I had been here a few times on holiday before, but this time It felt the best.
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Louis finally managed to get the Guitar out. While cooking up dinner (half a kilo of pasta and tomato sauce…again!) on the promenade we managed to confuse an Italian policewoman to turn a blind eye to us cooking there. A compromise of moving our pans slightly to the left was drawn up, and she left.

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Torrential rain is never welcome when you have very little places to keep dry.

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With nowhere to pitch up for the night, and it being in complete darkness, we found a lime grove to set up in. Mud would be an understatement. If ‘Stuck-in-the-Mud’ was to be played in real mud, rather than a school playground, this is the mud they would use. We spent 2 hours in the morning cleaning it off everything.
IMG_6603Avola Antica mountain goat.

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Avola Antica, the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Sicily.
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Noto, the whole town was buildings like this, nothing modern, and it was incredible.

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In the sea on the last day before catching the ferry to Malta! We had about 10km to cycle, very little indeed. So we ended up falling asleep on the beach. We had both burnt in some very distinct tan lines, and so I fell asleep naked in an effort to even them up… much to the dismay of an Italian family.

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Cliff Jumping in MaltaIMG_6732

Relaxing on the yacht. A photo which always makes me feel fat now.
IMG_6750Louis and I took the dinghy out, and it ran out of petrol, so we had to paddle the whole way back… possibly the only upper body exercise we got that month…

I hope you enjoy the photos, and thanks for getting all the way to the bottom! If you have any questions please do ask!

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