Tag Archives: cycling

First stop, Surry Hills

Copyright: Louise Creely

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Sydney to try out a tandem touring bike (as you do), to catch up with family and, the unplanned bit, to fall in love with Surry Hills.

Located on the city fringe, adjacent to notorious Kings Cross and right near Central Station, Surry Hills was once a bit of a slum area.

Today, it’s a melting pot of cultures, with a delicious retro, arty, entrepreneurial flavour – a happening place that has a village feel and a real sense of community.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Sunday breakfast in Surry Hills

Wander along its tree-lined streets window-shopping, then stop for a coffee (or vino) to watch the world go by.

It’s the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon – and you’re likely to be served by switched-on wait staff, who are easy going and up for a chat.

If you’re keen to see some great parts of Sydney on foot (I’m with EB, so keen or not…) take a stroll past the Domain to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, then walk along the foreshores of Farm Cove to the Opera House, and back through the city to Surry Hills.

Of course, you can always take the civilised option and jump on a train to Circular Quay to catch a ferry around the harbour… but this 1.5 hour easy walk is worth every step.

The ‘civilised’ option comes later at one of our favourite restaurants, Longrain. It’s just down the road from our hotel and a perfectly delicious way to end a great stay in Surry Hills.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Fort Denison is a former penal colony and defensive facility

Copyright: Louise Creely

A swim with a view – a battle ship docked at the Garden Island Defense Base


Road trip – first stop Trial Bay

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Some of the most surprising places we’ve discovered lately are actually places one of us has been to in another life, another time.

I haven’t visited Trial Bay on the NSW coast for at least 30 years. And I don’t remember it being quite this stunning.

When you’re a kid, you’re into surf, scenery and wildlife. Just not the same kind of scenery and wildlife as now…

This was once my parents’ stomping ground. Their place in the world.

Copyright: Louise Creely

 

For the first time, I understand why they loved it – with its rugged coastline, wild-flowering coastal heathlands and secluded coves, it is one of the true gems in the North Coast region of NSW.

We are in awe as we take the coastal walk from Trial Bay Gaol to Little Bay.

It’s been the first non-travelling day of our holiday and EB has me up at the crack of dawn, breakfast eaten, and cycling into South West Rocks for espresso.

 

 

A short respite and we’re cycling back for a swim, before walking to Little Bay.

Yep, my usually desk-bound butt is feeling it! Perhaps calling this a ‘holiday’ was stretching the point…?

Copyright: Louise Creely

The best thing about road trips, apart from discovering new and amazing places in Australia, is that I always sleep well at night.

But the day is only half done, the tide is rising in the bay and… it’s time for another swim perhaps?

Common Fringed Lily and a scribbly gum...

Common Fringed Lily and a scribbly gum…


Go wild, in a civilised way:

Camping at Arakoon Conservation Area is a great choice if you love nature, coastal walks, pristine beaches and bays, and history – and you like to be a bit civilised too, with showers, toilets and cooking facilities.


Africa dreaming…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Watching the sunset from our back deck in Australia…dreaming of the wild night life on the African savanna.

I bumped into a colleague last week at a conference, as you do. She’d just returned from South Africa, and was literally bouncing after self-driving around Kruger National Park and staying in various camps along the way. Jealous? Of course.

My mother is South African. I’ve wanted to go there as much as she’s vehemently wanted me not to. With apartheid in full swing by the mid-1950s, she’d left with her new husband (my dad) without a backward glance.

But all our ‘Aussie’ South African friends tell us it’s a stunning place to visit…

I’m pretty sure Kruger National Park would send my crazy wildlife lovin’ brain into overdrive.

I hear the south of Kruger is the game-rich area, with Skukuza, Satara and Lower Sabie the best camps to stay in. In the north, Oliphants is another favourite camp for travellers and a great area to see oliphants… I mean, elephants.

Right now, spring is coming to an end, so it’s a great time to visit (I wish). In November and December it’s the rainy season but this is when all those cute babies are making their delightful entrance into the world.

You can find out more about Kruger here, and all about the seasons here.

I did have a giggle at this wildlife-petrol station connection on the very useful Kruger Park Self-Drive Guide site:

“… the landscape is a fabric in which all the birds, plants and wildlife are like interwoven threads. Look for the points of connection. There are petrol stations at all the major camps and workshop facilities at Skukuza, Letaba and Shingwedzi.”

Um, okay.

The World Expedition cycling tour along Route 62, west from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, has also always intrigued us.

I’m told the wineries are something else too. According to the Wine Anorak, the wines are “often nicely poised between the new world and old world styles”. Can’t say I really know what that means, but I’m willing to find out!

Copyright: Louise RalphFor now though, we’ll have to content ourselves with gazing at the sun setting from our back deck in Australia.

It looks a little like an African Savanna (if you squint)… except the roaring in our ears comes from passing passenger planes, not lions. And down in the valley, there are golf carts, not elephants.

C’est la vie.

You can’t have everything. But a little armchair travel is good for the spirit, don’t you think?


Bringing the baby (bromptons) home

Our new toys have arrived, and they make every bike ride feel like a holiday. I’m even tempted to buy a baguette and a bunch of flowers for the ‘basket’.

Introducing our new Baby Bs. That’s B for Bromptons, the fabulous folding bikes we ordered before we went to France.

How fabulous? [Cue nursery rhyme music].

Copyright: Louise Ralph

This is the way we fold the Bs, fold the Bs…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

…fold the Bs. La la la

Let’s just say, we draw a crowd whenever we fold them up. Or maybe that’s because we now have that certain ‘weird’ factor.

Oh well, nothing like being windswept and interesting!

Besides, they’re super responsive and a bit like riding a BMX bike – so we’re having heaps of fun zipping around the place.

But wait, there’s more. They fit in the back of my Mini and in the Douglas Albert. We can use them for touring and (my favourite bit) we can easily jump on buses and trains with them. Perfect.

Mais maintenant, it’s time for me and EB to zip out to lunch. On our Bromptons of course. A plus tard…

EB’s Baby B. Nice.


The big chill – from St Boil to Cluny

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Day 3 dawns. Almost. Autumn’s chilly fingers extend across the landscape and smart people stay indoors, cranking up the central heating.

Cream-coloured beef cattle huddle in frost-powdered fields, watching with characteristic bovine disinterest as two crazy, blue-lipped cyclists pass by.

It doesn’t take much convincing to take a detour for a guided tour through the Chateau de Cormatin, a magnificently restored castle in Bourg.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Afterwards, we stop for a quick bite in the town, disturbing the grumpy old woman taking a ciggy-break behind the bar. She serves us with nicotine-stained fingers and a bad attitude.

We don’t hang around long – which is probably the intention.

As we begin the second half our our journey, the sun bursts through the hazy clouds. It’s one o’clock.

Who let the dogs out…?

We’re happy to arrive in Cluny, to stretch our legs, give our butts a rest…and gape at the lion-esque dogs that are out in force.

There’s a Leonberger club meet here this weekend and they are everywhere.

Yes, even at dinner in our posh hotel restaurant.

And it’s not like you can sneak these pooches through the door in your handbag.

I’m wishing they’d been here in time to share the first course of our ‘gastronomique toure de Bourgogne’. I’ve decided to live dangerously (for a vegetarian)…

In the candlelight, the dish looks harmless enough. Like something coated in neopolitan sauce. EB could have mentioned that shaved beef is actually raw beef – except he wouldn’t get the last laugh.

But in the absence of a Leonberger dinner companion, he has to eat mine so we don’t offend the chef. Ha! Who’s laughing now?

Raw victuals aside, the meal and the service are superb. Flawless presentation is one of the many things the French do so well.

So impressive. Which will be us tomorrow, cycling the last and longest chilly, hilly stage of our trip… Now, where’s that nurofen?

à demain


Along the voie verte…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Day 1: We’re up before the sun today. Not a huge feat in France, I’ll admit. The sun only makes a rather lackluster appearance sometime around eight o’clock.

We soon leave Beaune behind, as we peddle along the Vélor Route through mist-shrouded vineyards and villages.

Every village smells of freshly-crushed pinot grapes and the wine caves are awash with the post-pressing cleanup.

Copyright: Louise RalphTractors are being tucked away and even the horses, which are still used in the vineyards today, get a break from their hard labour.

This pair (pictured below) wait for their owner to pick up his baguette…

It’s impossible to capture the sensational landscape we cycle through, so I give up on the photography thing and revel in the pure bliss of it.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

…on the baguette run

Then we hit the hills – those deadly endless slopes that rise slowly but surely, along with the burning in my thighs…

EB is riding rings around me. Literally.

We finally arrive in Chassay-la-Camp, and find our delightfully-retro hotel…and there are those pampered pooches again.

Guests are allowed to keep their dogs in their rooms – and bring them to the dining room.

One lady had her pug-faced dog with her for dinner and breakfast. And yes, dogs and their owners do look the same.

I desperately wanted to take a photo, but I was scared she might bite me. The lady, not the dog.

Day 2: We spend a lot of time trying to decipher directions, and even more time stopping for wine tasting and having a very long lunch in Mercurey.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

The long lunch wasn’t really our intention.

But, at the suggestion of the lovely wine-tasting guy, we soon found ourselves (in our bike duds) having a delicious silver-service, five-course lunch at the Hôtellerie du Val d’Or across the road.

For just €22 each! Incroyable…

I won’t go into the gruesome details of the remaining 40 or so kilometres we had yet to cycle (with our overfed bellies). Or the hills.

Let’s just say, I was seriously considering mainlining nurofen about 15 km into it…

Are we ready for Day 3? Bien sur.

But right now, we’re crashing. Bon nuit.