Chapter 6: Jungle, Highway ‘n madness until Vila Nova De Santo Andrè

DAY 6


Here Comes The Sun!

In the previous chapter we didn’t tell you that before having that marvelous breakfast we went to the beach to admire our first ever sunrise on the ocean. Could we ever miss a similar spectacle the first time we saw the ocean? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
After this great good morning we shared the breakfast with other cyclo tourist from Switzerland and New Zealand!
We spent the first our of the day talking about paths in Portugal and route to follow in other countries. To share point of view and tips it’s always a pleasure when you find such open minded people.

After breakfast we packed our things in order to start our day buuut not before a beer! We don’t know why Bruno had this amazing idea before to start pedaling but ok!
Not very healty but after all we ate it was mandatory to drink a beer! Do you agree? Yes, we know you agree! 🙂 That was what we needed! 🙂

We were leaving Casa do Adro when Idalia, the owner of the guesthouse, called and gave us a tasteful piece of chocolate cake. A little gift for our ride! Some people are just amazing!
Sometimes are the small gestures to enlight your day, and we will never forget about this. Thank you Nonna Idalia!


Next Destination: Paradise!

A quick look at the village, some photos of us and we were back on our bikes! We splitted the route in two parts: the first one from Vilanova to Porto Covo and the second one, the thoughest, from Porto Covo to Santo Andres.
The first part was quite easy, a little bit of wind but nothing really improving.
When we reached Porto Covo we thought we were in paradise. A little village and the ocean, the ocean and his amazing power. One of most magnific blue we have ever seen.
Blue and powerful. We stayed there for one hour watching the big waves and the 50 shades of blue. It was a very happy moment and the best way the take this moment to the next level
was to eat the piece of chocolate cake that Nonna Idalia gave us before our departure while we were watching this spectacle:


Next Destination: Unknown!

The second part of our day was the most incredible, the most risky, the most crazy of all the trip! First of all you have to know to know that from Sintra to Santo Andres there are no more cyclable streets. Yes, there is anything for the bikes. Yes, or rather there was a cycle path. What a pity it is not viable. At a certain point the only thing you can do is to decide if to take the highway or a dirty road. Bikes can’t go on a highway, right? Of course we decided for the dirty road. At the beginning. But let’s go for step. We were at the crossroad and the highway was cyclable once upon a time. When we arrived there was a big red prohibition for bikes sign. Ok, we had the other choice and so we did. At the beginning. After 500 metres we found ourselves in a jungle! Look at the picture below:

It was a freaking jungle with the vegetation folded on itself. We dismounted from the bikes and we tried to walk but after 100 metres we had to run away from a million of hornets. It was very scary!
The result? First of all we came back at the beginning of the dirty road, we saw an house and we knocked at the door to get some info. The only thing we had were an old couple that told us to use the highway because it was the only way to reach santo andre (10 kms far).
Ok, we tried to ask for a ride, we were hoping that a person with a truck would load us and take us to our destination, but that didn’t happen. So, after 30 minutes waiting in vain we decided to take the higway! It was the very best freacking crazy thing we did. Luckily, once upon a time, it was possible to cycle in that highway and the road was large enough for the bikes! We have never pedaled so fast and so desperate. We were seeing ourselves in jail or in a very very bad situation. We pedaled for 4 km when our navy told us to exit and to take a cycleble path just along the highway. Incredible. When we took the cycle path we met other cyclist and cyclo traveller that did our same thing. We were all asking each other how is possible to do something like this, to ban the bikes from a road that was used to be cyclable and don’t give any other alternative to the people who want to move with a bike.
We continued the rest of the trip on the cyclepath and they lived happily ever after.


Welcome To Santo Andre: Hotel Vila Park!

What to say? For sure, if you decide to pass from Santo Andre this is definitely a place where you have to stay for the night. We think is one of the best here for services and reception. We have been welcomed very well and they permitted us to leave the bikes at safe behind the reception in a locked room that only the receptionists can open! The hall was very big, there was a restaurant, a bar, a snooker table and a big swimming pool on the outside. Our room was very cozy and clean. Once arrived we soon decided what to do. We alternately took a looooong relaxing bath before to go eat something at the restaurant. We don’t know what there is on the nearby but we found the restaurant and its cakes very good!


We were really tired and the day after would be the last long ride of the trip! We decided to go to sleep early and after a good drink we were already sleeping and dreaming Dreaming of the huge amount of jam we would eat the next morning.
Night, the moment when you think about how your day has been.
We did something crazy, we were happy. It was a good day.

Thanks for reading us.
Stay tuned for the next chapter and keep pedal!
Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 3: Old Friends Reunited!

DAY 3


Are You Afraid Of Heights?

Not so many kms that day but we had fun and relax all day long!
We left the three fortified city in order to Reach Sliema passing throug La Valletta. 
These pics were taken at the moment of our arrival, on the top of a rock on the port. If you are afraid of heights we really do not reccomend it. 
If it’s not a problem you will find a beautiful view!
La Valletta is the Capital of Malta and it’s very particular for its style. It has been built in a Baroque style with some elements of Mannerist, Neo classical and modern Architecture.
A kind of style you can find in all the island but especially here. The city is also knowed as “La superbissima” in Italian that means “the most proud” due to its magnificent baroque palces, gardens and churches. 
In 1980 has been recognized as World Heritage City by Unesco.


Happy Old Friends! 🙂

After relaxing in La valletta, eating some healty food in a local restaurant we headed towards our final destination Sliema and St Jullian.
Before to arrive in Sliema Bruno called one of his friend that we discovered was living in Malta and that he didn’t see in years!
Life is strange, you don’t see a person in years and then you meet him/her in a foreign country!
We met Luca in Sliema and we decided to have dinner all togheter in a Italian Restaurant in Sliema! No wait stop! We are not the classic italian people who eat pasta and pizza in every place we go! Ahah jocking, yes we are. 
But we try other food too. But that night pizza. Pizza a heart lefted. One of us left it’s heart to the waitress.. but this is another story.
St Jullian is well knowed for its nightlife and even if it was barely spring there was a lot of movida. We had a little bit of relax in a Narghilè Bar telling stories of the things happened in the past during our trips and our lives, just like people who don’t see for years do 🙂
Thanks Luca for the company! 🙂 


Time To Say Goodbye, Malta!

Here we are at the end of our trip. We slept in St Jullian and the morning after we had to come back to Italy.
We woke up early, we had to give the bikes back and reach the airport.
We want to thanks The Cyclist Malta for giving us the opportunity to try their services and for supporting us. 
The bikes were impeccable!
They also allowed us to try an e-bike. We never tried it and we have to say that is really exciting!
Maybe we will try them for an entire trip.. who knows!? 🙂


It has been a very beautiful experience in a place that we didn’t expect to be as beautiful as it is. 
Thanks to all Maltese people who helped us during the trip giving us information and thanks to us for reading us! Especially THANK YOU for putting up with our bad left-hand drive! 😛

See you on the road, have nice & safe travels.
Bruno & Arthur – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 2: BoatPhilosophy Time!

DAY 2


Country Roooad, Taake Mee…

Country roads take me hoomee cama cama cama cameleonBeginning of the day and end of the day.
Our days has been like this, dirty roads for breakfast and dirty roads for dinner, but.. we couldn’t ask anything better then this.

The first pic was taken when we were on our way to Blue Grotto, the other two on our way to Kalkara before visiting Marsa Scirocco and Marsa Scala.
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN THE TITLE? Easy, during our off road we sang this two famous song Take Me HomeKarma Chameleon mashed up convinced that was only a song.. all OK! 😀


The Blue Grotto!

Really close to Wied iż-Żurrieq port you can find Blue Grotto, that refers to a number of sea caverns.
Some of these caverns mirror the phosporescent colour of the underwater flora.
It is something you can’t miss. The spectacle is due to the position of the caves and the direction of the sunlight that hit the cavern walls and the sea.
In the first photo you can see an happy Arthur jumping from a table (why?) while in the other photos you can see the faboulous colour of the caves and the little oat we took to see them.

ISLA BORMLA AND BIRGU!

These three fortified city are very beautiful and is possible to visit them in one day.
There are narrow street that reminds you old times. It is really a pleasure to take a walk or a ride there.
These are the most historically rich, fascinating and characteristic areas of Malta.
For this reason they are inclused in the list of candidates for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 
Unfortunately these cities are visited only by 1 tourist in 10.
Why this happen? Probably due to the industry of mass tourism that concentrate everything in some places in order to maximize the profits.Guys and girls, these placese really deserve to be visited. Trust us, and if you won’t be satisfied Bruno will pay for your next trip everywhere! 🙂


Bruno or Tutankamon?!

How to end this day?
This is how Bruno sleeps. He is really out of mind (and this cause to Arthur a lot of problem when he try to understand him)
Another sign that he’s out of mind:
In the video you can see Bruno testing the depth of another bathroom thanks to a precise measuring instrument: his shoe!

That’s enough for today!
Thanks,
Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 1: Popeye, The Sailor Man!

DAY 1


Let’s Start!

This is the second photo we took on this trip.We had barely pick up the bikes from the bike rental TheCyclist Malta when we found the first secondary road of the trip.We were really happy, we were in Malta, survived the bus that kidnapped us (we just asked for info to the driver and then we found us staggering in a bus launched at crazy speed.To start a trip is always a moment of pure Joy, you just can’t wait to reach the first place you putted on the map when you planned it! 🙂 


First city reached: Bugibba!

The first place we reached was Bugibba, just look at the colour of the sea and the perfect weather. Very beautiful, isn’t it? No, i’m not talking about Bruno, he’s ugly and crazy as hell 😛 Bugibba, with Qawra e Xemxija forms St. Paul’s Bay (San Pawl il-Baħar). This place owes its name to the legend of the shipwreck of St Paul on the small island in front of this cove.At the beginning it was a little fisherman’s bay, now one of the renowed touristic place of the island.


Leave Us There!

On our way to Mellieha we shooted this photo while resting a bit after we have discovered to have taken the wrong road.And sometimes wrong road doesn’t mean it’s all wrong, we just get lost and discovered this little corner of peace with a good view :)What about details? Look at the blue door: doesn’t that make you want to rest on it?


The World is YOURS!

To travel is to discover,is to discover new places, old places, to discover yourself. We shoot these photos at the arrival in Mellieha: Bruno entering a gate of the Santuary of our Lady, the sanctuary, a beautiful window on the sea and Bruno fronting his fear for heights.


Hello Popeye!

The Popeye village is one of the most beautiful attractions of the island. Located a few kilometers from Mellieha rises in Anchor’s bay, a beautiful bay with crystal water. This village was built in 1980 specifically for a musical film produced by Paramount and Disney in which starred a young Robin Williams.Today is a touristic attraction for families with their children or just for people who never feel to old for beautiful things :)In the last photo you can see an Arthur facing deth after a killer climb!
THIS IS A PLACE THAT YOU CAN’T MISS WHEN YOU VISIT MALTA!
Of course we will remember Malta for its climb and crazy descents!
It was a though day, we got up early, took bus, pick up the bikes and started the trip. We have decided that our mental healt is perfectly describable with this video in which Bruno tests the widht of the shower.Buut, what is madness? 😛 

Thank you for reading, see you in the next post!

Keep pedal,
Arthur and Bruno – BikesPhilosophy


The Malta Tour


Hello dears!
In this post we will talk about our little long weekend in Malta by bike!
Malta is a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, only 80 kms from Sicily and it is the smallest but most populated states in the world.
The capital of Malta is La Valletta, a fortified city that is UNESCO word heritage: a must see!


Why We Choose Malta:

Basically we choose Malta for 2 reasons: the weather and the the possibility to visit many place in few days.The island is small and the short distance between the points of interest allows you to visit it in a short time.For what concern temperature it is perfect 365 days a year, in fact it hardly ever drops below 10 degrees.


To Cycle In Malta:

What to say? We think that the very best way to explore Malta by bike is with a mountain bike. It is the best way because there are a lot of climb and possibility to follow offroad path and enjoy the wilderness of this place. If you are not trained, another possibility, is to rent an E-bike. We had the possibility to test one for the first time at the rental shop and we really liked it.It is a good way to approach the world of bike tourism and to respect the environnement. For what concern the roads you must know that Malta was an English colony and they drive on the left. It could be a little bit tricky at first but after a day it becomes normal.
Car drivers and bus driver are crazy, they go very fast but at least they respect cyclists 🙂


The Cyclist Malta

For this trip we really would like to thanks THE CYCLIST MALTA who decided to sponsor us lending us two bikes to explore Malta.The shop is located in San Jullian and is easily reachble from La Valletta by taxi or bus. They are really prepared and willing to help for any problem or necessity. 
Take a look at the shop: www.thecyclistmalta.com

Many thanks!! 🙂


HOW WE PLANNED OUR TRIP:

DAY 1 – From St.Julians to Zebbugi (Via Bugibba, Mellieha and The Popeye Village);
DAY 2 – From Zebbugi to Kalkara (Via Blue Grotto, Marsca Scala and Marsa Scirocco);
DAY 3 – From Kalkara to Paceville (Via Vittoriosa, Senglea, Cospicua, La Valletta, Sliema and St. Julians).

Have a nice bike day!
Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 4: The great descent to Odeceixe!

DAY 4


All Ready To Climb!

This has been the most difficult day of the trip: No flat roads but 50 kms completely on the hills!
We woke up at 9 o’clock and after breakfast and stop at the local supermarket to buy some chocolate and some bananas, we started our day with a little climb (just to start the day with smiles on our faces) followed by a fabolous descent until Bordeira.

We knew that after the descent there would be a long ride upwind on the hills and that’s why we bought chocolate and bananas. 😀

that climb had a name: Monte Ruvio.

This stretch of road was very tough and we really suggest you to be prepared if you are going to follow this route.
We are not professional cyclists, but by training twice a week we were able to face this challenge without too many difficulty.
At the top of the hill, we decided to leave the road to do a little offroad to reach the very top of the mount. Once there we realized that wasn’t the very top but we were still happy.
Months of efforts really paid us with that beautiful view!

We started our descent to Aljezur sure of the fact that troubles were finished.


Aljezur: maybe it’s better wear a raincot? Or maybe not?

WE WERE WRONG!
Aljezur is a small village considered the paradise for windsurfing and that’s why you will see a lot of Van full of surfer.
We stopped here just to have lunch and here is where the troubles began.
Just a second before our departure it started raining cats ‘n dogs! It wasn’t really a problem because we were equipped with k-ways.
we changed our clothes and under the heavy rain we started pedal; of course the road wasn’t flat and the second part of the climb started here.
After 5 minutes struggling facing the hills, it stopped raining and we had to stop again to change our clothes because we were boiling.

C’mon rain, you hitted us just for 5 minutes?

Not even the time to change our outfit! 😀
Never never never stop in the middle of a climb or you will regret it for the further half ‘n hour because it really breaks your legs.
Despite everything we managed to survive once again and we reached the pictoresque Rogil, a little town on the way to Odeceixe with some beautiful windmills and houses adorned with azulejos.


A crazy descent on a beautiful fairy village: Odeceixe

We were really close to Odeceixe, just 7 kms on a flat road before a crazy descent long 1km on a gradient of 100 meters.
The view from the top of the descent was really awesome.

This little white village deeped into a green valley with a river in the background.

We stopped here to enjoy the landscape and then we started the crazy descent screaming like crazy.

Don’t ask us why but we started screaming as if we wanted to release all the effort we’d
accumulated. REALLY LIBERATING!
A little bit awkward at the arrival…did anyone hear us?…Who cares! we are still laughing about this funny moment right now 😀
This little white town (961 inhabitants in 2011) is considered one of the most beautiful villages of Portugal. With its white houses reminds us some beautiful villages in Greece like Santorini.
It’s not very popular in winter but from spring to autumn it’s full of people that come here following the “Rota Vicentina”.
Once arrived we found an hotel for the night runned by a crazy receptionist we are used to crazy receptionist: Italian Tour: From Bologna To Florence
We only say that we rang the doorbell (it wasn’t working) and after 5 minutes of waiting the receptionist came to give us a room. Just note that the doorbell started ringing only when the receptionist restored the electric power… 😀


Eat a lot or eat so much: That is the question

We were really hungry so we decided to have a shower and find a place where to have dinner.
Once again one of the speciality of the city was fish and we ended in the best restaurant.
We started our dinner with very tasteful raw shrimps and a fish pudding.

As main dishes we have ordered octopus with sweet potatoes (really sweet and typical from aljezur) and Maccaroni with fish (we don’t know what it was exactly but the taste was good 🙂 )
How to end your day at the best? Double cheesecake for us!

It was definitely a long and hard day for us, we did a lot of stretching along the road in order to avoid issue but we were really paid by all the beauty and the nature we saw.
Big climbs, big descents, heavy rain and big smiles! We think that every situation could be easier if you set your mind in a happy mood and don’t let the fear of not succeeding catch you!

Before going to sleep we had a walk in the quiet sourroundigs and talked a lot about these days.

We were halfway and we were happy. Nothing better before going to sleep.

Don’t stop pedal,

Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy


Chapter 3: The end of the world: Sagres & Cabo De Sao Vicente

DAY 3


Going To Sagres

New Day to the south-western point of Europe!
We woke up early and after the morning exercises we came back to Lagos to took some photos of the city and its famous Dona Ana beach.
After the photos we headed toward Sagres and Cabo De Sao Vicente.
There’s not to much to say about this part of the route because we followed the N125 and the N268.
Being a main road is well maintained and pretty flat… this is one of the last flat route covered before the ups and downs, up & downs, up & downs… 😀


Sagres & Cabo De Sao Vicente: Natural beauties!

We reached Sagres that our stomaches were making the rumbles, so before to talk about Sagres we will talk about the MARVELOUS lunch that we had in front of the Spar Supermarket!
We walked in the Spar with a big smiles on our faces and we grabbed EVERYTHING: The first thing that Arthur took was a bunch of prunes while Bruno took some wafers.Fair enough.
All ok till now, not ok 2 seconds later. We bought 200 gramm of salami, 200g of raw ham, 100g of mozzarella, candies, crisps, 6 empty buns and also tuna. We don’t know why tuna, stay healthy!
After this epic meal we visited this little town well known for surfing.
There’s not to much to see in this town: the main spots are the “Fortaleza do Sagres“, a fortress on the coast from which you can enjoy a good view of the ocean and the surroundings, and “Cabo De Sao Vicente“, a lighthouse in the south western point of Europe, also known as “The end of the world“.
The road from Sagres to Cabo De Sao Vicente it’s something magic.

Have you ever played Final Fantasy? 6 kms in the middle of nowhere, only us, the road, the coast and the view of the lighthouse in the distance. WOW, that’s why we make this stretch of road listening to Final Fantasy soundtrack: Road To Zanarkand

That’s a reason why it’s called The end of the world and the reason is that’s really the end of the world, it’s really beautiful! It’s like to be in front of the infinite. There’s not a rational reason. It’s something you can’t miss when you visit the Algarve region.


 

Into the Wild: Vila Do Bispo

Vila do Bispo is situated at the crossroad between Sagres and Odeceixe. to reach Vila Do Bispo from Cabo De Sao Vicente you have 2 choices: you can follow back the route (14kms) or take a dirty road (11kms).
Guess what we choose? The shorter one, of course. The shorter one but the hardest one. Do our choice only if you have a Gravel or Mountain bike. Please.
The road was really spectacular, deep into the wild, so wild that wasn’t possible to see the main road.
You can’t imagine what a breath we took when we saw Vila do Bispo from the top of a hill 1km away! Look at it:

dav

Vila Do Bispo is a small village used only as a place for the night by the cyclists and the hikers. There’s not much to say except that we ate pizza even this time. 😀
After dinner we went to bed early to rest in view of the toughest day of the trip: From Vila Do Bispo to Odeceixe.

Thanks for your time,

Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Belgium in a Nutshell

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen!

In this post we’ll give you some info about HOW and WHY touring in Belgium.
A lot of people think that you should visit Belgium only after other principal European country, more covered.
Why the hell?
Great alleys,enchanting cities, chocolate, museum, canals, keggers and last but not
least, eeeeendless cycle paths that could bring you wherever you want!
That’s just a taste of what you can see here.


Cycling in Belgium

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Let’s start by saying that Belgium is split in two in evey sense
Politically. Culturally.
They speak two different languages:
French speaking in Wallonia, Dutch speaking in Flanders.
What about Cycle paths?
Wallonia seems not to have a well-structured cycle infrastructure, from what we heard and read.
We should ride through it for a trusted judge. We’ll surely have an occasion! 😀
Flanders have a great cycle infrastructure called Fietsroutesnetwerk“, very similar to the Dutch system.
The Fietsroutesnetwerk unknots in “Knoopunt” (Ahah did you like the words pun?!): these are road signs with a number that identifies the relative route.
Near each Knoopunt you can find a map that shows possible routes from that point.
It’s an easy way to choose a path and it could really help you!
Finally, you need to know that each route is safely and well segnalated and many of them are really scenic, as you can see from our latest posts.

How do Belgian car drivers react towards cyclist?
They are crazy as hell!
We’re joking!:D
They are truly respectful of cyclists: no one cut us off or tried to kill us, indeed they waited for us to cross and smiled.
Someone honked but it’s probably ’cause we were wrong. LOL


Getting to Belgium by plane from Europe

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If you come from Europe you shouldn’t find any problem travelling to and from Belgium.
Here are the links of the main airlines:

https://www.ryanair.com
https://www.easyjet.com
https://www.brusselsairlines.com

Flying to Belgium is really cheap ’cause is one of the most frequented hubs.
Main airports are Brussels Zaventem (really close to the city centre) and Brussels Charleroi (50km far away from the center).

Anyways, the city is also easily accessible from Charleroi. You just need to take a bus/train and you’ll reach it in 40 minutes.

SHOULD I BRING MY BIKE OR IS IT BETTER TO RENT ONE THERE? 

It’s not an easy answer.It depends on many factors.

It depends on the airline company that you choose and from the place you land.

With a low cost airline is surely cheap to travel to Belgium, but just consider that you will pay a great overprice to bring your bike on the plane,’cause it’s an extra-service

We decided to rent 2 bikes at the price of € 49 each (bags included)

Instead, the price of the airline transportation for a bike was € 120.

Consider that you have to bring your own bag for wrapping up your bike and stowing it .

If you don’t have it, the cost is around €150 to €350 for a good one.

Of course your choice will be strongly influenced by the number of days that you will stay in a country.
More days mean that you will spend more to rent a bike, while the price to charge your bike on the plane would always be the same.
Moreover, riding your own bike is better than riding another one. Don’t underestimate your feels.
So “Just” ponder which offert is better basing your choice on every factor above mentioned.

The only thing to keep in mind is that the bike rental where we rented our bikes does not provide any insurance or assistance so you’re better bringing a repair kit with you and keep your eyes on the bike because if someone stole your bike you would have to pay € 350.

The good thing is that we didn’t have to pay for the flat tire! Yay! 😀

You can check their website for further and up-to-date info:

http://www.cyclo.org/nl


Shops and Restaurant

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The shops have good opening hour: they usually open at 8.45 and close at 18:00

The kitchen of the restaurants usually close around 22/22:30

Belgian food is delicious! Try their specialities, like chocolate, beeeeeeers, waffles, belgian fries and mussels, soups and a lot of other exquisite dishes! 😛

You will not regret it, trust us!


Where to Sleep

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There are different types of accomodation for each budget:

It is possibile to stay in a camping, hostel, hotel or other kind of accomodation as AirBnb or Couchsurfing.

For those who don’t know AirBnb, this service allows you to sleep in the house of a local. It is usually cheaper compared to a hotel.

Couchsurfing is almost the same but you don’t have to pay for every night, just an entrance fee at the subscription.

The difference is that with AirBnb you can choose better the kind of accomodation, while with couchsurfing you have to spend a little time with your host and usually it is required to do something for him (cleaning, hanging out or cooking something).

They’re all good ways to make news friends from all the countries you visit.

There are a lot of similar websites but these are the most used.

Down below we list our overnight stays:

Gand: Swonnie’s – Polyglot and really friendly.
Bruges: Hotel Velotel: Really nice hotel, 2 km from the city center but very easy to reach by bike. Bike friendly hotel with a safe deposit for bikes. Rooms are clean and comfortable.
Antwerp: Bart House – House in Japanise style. We slept on a tatami! Bart is very friendly and the house is in the heart of the art district in the south of the city.
Brussels: we stayed at the home of a friend of us but Brussels is full of accomodations.


Weather conditions

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The best period to visit Belgium is from May to October. A little bit rainy sometimes but sunny and hot enough to enjoy what this country has to offer!

Spring and autumn till half October are usually the cooler seasons and the cloudiest.

Winter is cold with a minimum temperature of 3 degrees and we do not recommend a tour during this season because you won’t be able to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that you could enjoy during the other seasons with more sun and colours.


Rail Network

ZZZZZZ

Belgium has a very extended rail network on the north side that connects the main cities.

To bring your bike is quite easy, you just have to pay a little surplus on the ticket at the moment of the emission. Here you can find all the info you need: http://www.belgianrail.be

If you are considering to go from Bruges to Antwerp (100km) we suggest you to plan your itinerary. The distance could be a little bit tiring, so you can decide to take a train at a certain point.

It’s possible to go to Gand and take a train for the last 50 km or go to Loekeren for the last 30 km.

These are the main stations on this track.


 

If you want to know something more about Belgium all you have to do is select one of the following link:

 

If you have any question or tips don’t hesitate to contact us!

Keep pedaling guys!

Arthur & Bruno

Chapter 3: road to Antwerp

DAY 3


A.A.A: Looking for Waffles

Early morning, rise and shine!
Bruges is very quiet before 9 o’clock so we enjoyed the streets in search of a place where to have breakfast and eat Waffles!
FOTO MINNEWATER BELGIO
After a titanic breakfast we went to visit the Minnewater park: sourrounded by trees and and adjacent the MinnewaterPark you will find a small lake called Minnewater or Lake of Love.
A local legend says that you will experience eternal love if you walk over the lake bridge with your partner! This legend makes this spot one of the most romantic of all the city, so we really suggest to come here to enjoy a walk or a ride. Or just sitting on a bench. Just be careful of the Swans! Don’t feed them or they will follow you as your shadow! You have to know that this park is full of swans and that they are the symbol of Bruges! Another legend says that Maximilian 1 of Habsburg, after being spared by a popular uprising in which a town administrator named Peter Lanchals was taken prisoner and killed (whose name means “long neck”), punished Bruges by condemning the citizens to feed the “long necks” (the swans) forever! 
What a pity we didn’t have another day to spend in Bruges!

Time to pedal towards Antwerp

The warm morning light was inviting us to squash a nap under the trees but our goal was to reach Antwerp, 100 km away.
Antwerp can be reached in two ways that have the same mileage:
  • passing trough Zelzate
  • passing trough Ghent.
We highly recommend you to pass through Ghent if you have not already visited it. (We did it before so we decided to pass through Zelzate).
Luckily we were in favour of wind and the music box gave us the right motivation to start out hitting the ground riding! 😀
One thing we learned during this journey is that if you mentally divide the road into small stretches, fatigue decreases.
Our method is to divide the road into goals: 10 km at a time, step by step. I know it may seem weird but it really helps a lot, especially on long routes!
Just outside Bruges, we took an alternative route to N9, parallel to it . It was a cycle path completely into a forest, surrounded by trees and nature with “the birds singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true saying’ this is a message to you uh uh” 😀 Hope you get the quote of Bob Marley! 
You can easily do it with a Mountain bike or a gravel, ’cause it’s a flat but dirty road.
We did it without problem on a city bike, just pay attention if you have a road bike.
We were in perfect harmony. You know, when sunlight penetrates between trees,when you can hear sounds of nature and breath pure air,  it’s magic!
Imagine: Nature, trees, harmony and us, with our stereo box and doping songs 😀
It was surely the best route moment of all the tour.

Back on road N9, we passed trough some little town. A particular mention goes to Eeklo, where the Tour of Belgium in 2010 is started. 

After 50 km we reached Zelzate, a little town close to the Dutch border, in advance on the schedule but a a little bit tired. 
It was the first alarm bell.
How could have we been able to refresh ourselves if not with a beer? 😀
We usually use this tactic for each route stop so as not to relax the muscles too much.
Back on bikes, we did other 20 km towards Lokeren, following the N449 until it crosses the cycle path along the canal Moervaart.
This cycle path is a beauty too!
You know, we have a weakness for  watercourses and we easy fall in love with every cycle path along water, but it was truly amazing! Such great colors to see in autumn.
You don’t believe us?  Here some pics of that piece of paradise!

This path bring you directly to the entrance of Lokeren, it’s easy and gorgeous!

Try to make a tour by bike of The Netherlands, a country with a huge and perfect cycle infrastructure, you’ll always be worried about the conditions of cycling in other countries.
Anyways, we were really surprised about how good were cycle paths in Belgium!
Once in Lokeren, we realized that it was so late: we didn’t have forces for a strong and final sprint of 30km and we didn’t want to let our host wait too long.
We decided to take a train from Lokeren since there is a train station there that brings us and our bikes directly to Antwerp in less than 30 minutes.
It’s always good to consider an alternative way if you have some problems. 
That’s why we recommend to study the roads conditions, services and all what concern a bike trip in the nation you want to visit
We will go further into this discussion in the next chapter, troubles are coming!:D

Diamond Antwerp!

The first thing we did once we set foot in Antwerp was searching for Bart’s house to have a shower and go to explore the city.
As we did in Ghent we decided to stay in an Airbnb and also this time we had a really good experience: our airBnb was in the the south of the city which is really close to museums, bars and the historical city center.
The studio is very comfortable with a nice view on one of the city’s most fashionable streets.
Unlike the first experience in Airbnb we didn’t talk much with our host, we just exchanged some musical and literary tastes and then went on a relaxing tour through the bars and restaurants.
The beauty of Airbnb is that being someone’s guests you will find yourself in their home, in the tastes of people that reflect in the furniture. For example, our guest really liked Japanese = we slept on a tatami.
Luckily, the square near our stay was full of bar and restaurant so we decided to stop there and eat in a local place. We do not know exactly what we ate but it was good! chicken meatballs in a tomato soup. We just know that we ate meatballs because the menu was only in dutch!
we have a nice memory of this evening because right behind our restaurant there was a concert on a balcony and after eating we went to dance in the middle of the melee.
After a bit of revelry, we went home to rest and relax in order to be ready to explore a little bit of the city the day after.
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We had less then half a day to visit the city so we decided to wake up at 7.30 am.
We have to say that sleeping on a tatami has been a good experience contrary to our expectations and visiting the city on a Sunday early morning was quite relaxing.
Are you are wondering about what to do in Antwerp?  Here some tips:
The first thing we did was to visit thelocals call it and the unique wooden escalator at the entrance.

Due to the necessity to create a connection between the city’s left and right banks and after many plans failed, the locals approved the Underpass in 1931. Originally they considered to build a bridge over the river Scheldt but this plan was abandoned because this solution would have hampered maritime traffic. This tunnel is still used by pedestrian and cyclists

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Het Steen, pride of being the oldest in town!

and it really deserves to be seen! Going on the left side of the city allows you to see the beautiful skyline of the city! YOU CAN’T MISS IT!

A few hundred meters from the tunnel you will find Het Steen, a medieval fortress in the old city center of Antwerp. This fortress is also the oldest in the city and used to be the old city center.
At the entrance of this castle you will find a statue of Lange Wappers that in the Flemish folklore is a giant who used to terrorize the inhabitants of the city.

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Center route

Not so far from this zone the city center of Antwerp shines with all its beauty.
Grote Markt, the main square, is one of the most fashinating of all Europe and it is the beating heart of the city! despite the square has suffered two big fires and the structures are no longer original the center retains a great charm.
You can find everything in this part of the city: you can find the Heritage site Stadhuis, the renaissance style Karbonkelhuis (Diamond house) that owes its

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Historic center

name to the diamond-shaped decoration of the lower floor and at the center of the square the statue of the painter Rubens. There is also the Rubenhuis to visit, so if you have more time then us it really pays! 🙂
If you love shopping don’t miss MEIR, the most important shopping area in the country!

This street it is considered one of the most expensive of all Benelux and rents can easily reach €1700/square meter/year according to PRO-REAL ESTATE.BE.

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Antwerp central station!

Antwerp is very beautiful and its rail station is really a pearl. It had been constructed between 1895 and 1905 by Auguste Ambeau on a design idea of the architect Delacenserie. Considered one of the most beautiful rail station in the world it is one of the symbols of this city.
Just outside the station there is the Diamant quartier where you can admire tons of exxxxxxxxxxxtra expensive jewels! Just admire it. Or buy them if you can. And if you can, please buy us also two Specialized. We will thank you for the rest of our life! Everyday we will call you in the morning or before to go sleep and say thank you. Love u!
Time to go now, thanks for reading our blog, see you next week with the last part of our trip:
FROM ANTWERP TO BRUSSELS!
We will talk about how Arthur flat a tire 7 km before the arrival 😀
KEEP EXPLORING!
Arthur & Bruno

Chapter 2 : Road to Bruges: as beautiful as windy!

Ready for another chapter?

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Day 2


  Time to say goodbye, Ghent!

Morning.

Outside it was cold and the previous evening we returned late after a ride through the streets and breweries of the city of Ghent.
The radiators were at full capacity but getting up from bed was a leap of faith 😀
A new town was waiting for us so, after getting up we got dressed faster then a lightning, we went downstairs to have breakfast and after half an hour of talking with our hosts we were ready to go! Their kids are fantastic, the eldest son is able to speak 4 languages and he is only a kid! Unbelievable how he switches from one language to another to make his life easier, although not the life of the listeners 😀colaZIaaaaa
What to do now? First of all we went to have another breakfast at Paul Boulangerie: we saw some delicious cakes that it would have been a pity not to taste them!

So, full of energy we were really really ready to go!


We will kill you, wind!

The road to Bruges is really easy and flat, you can follow the sign to N9 till Koning Leopold Straat and then follow the canal named “Kanal Gent-Brugge”. Roads are really clean and safe so you shouldn’t have problems.

The only thing you need to be careful of is a small detour to Knesselare that you should follow otherwise you will find yourself like us and other cyclists in front of a bridge under construction with the road closed, and this will make you lengthen your trip by 4 km.
In addition, following the river you will not find any restaurant, so if you detour to Knesselare you will definitely have more opportunity to find a
restaurant or shop open!

Anyways, both the routes are beautiful and surrounded by infinite green fields, populated by cows, chickens, and weird animals that Bruno decided to call….. drumrolllllllll……. WEIRD KANGAROOS! Exactly, Ladies and Gentlemen, exactly. Weird Kangaroos! We do not have any photo of the weird kangaroos (Arthur: I think that they don’t exist, but don’t tell this to Bruno).
And cows, cows everywhere, and do you want to know something about cows?
THIS PHOTO!

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After a little discussion and some mooing Arthur sent a photo of the cow to his mother and when he got back home he found it on the wall.
A little bit disturbing btwIMG-20171113-WA0031
But you know what is funny too? Bruno while eating at the local carrefour in Knesselare! (as I said before there are no restaurants along the river so we did a detour to this little town). Look at him eating a gorgeous sandwich!
For the next trips we promise to inform ourself better about the wind! Being Bruges close to the sea and us in its direction we have found a killer wind against us for almost the entire track! Buuut as we said in the last article the best thing to do in this situation is to change your attitude into a smile! And swear. Just a little bit, it could help! 😀
After the stop in Knesselare we decided to continue riding through the little villages following the N337 and sooo we left the canal! We suggest to follow this route too because the villages are pretty and deserve to be viewed 😀
Last kilometeres sweating like children at the park we reached Bruges!

TIP:
Check the weather first. If it’s a windy day and you aren’t ready for it, don’t choose the “Kanal path”, but the “Little country path”. It’s more sheltered from wind and you shouldn’t suffer it. Just follow the N461 until Knesselare, then it will begin the N337, that reaches directly Bruges.20171013_165428

What to say? We were really lucky, apart from the wind it was a hot and sunny day and also this time we reached the city one hour before the sunset.

 


Blast from the past: Bruges

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Ghostly Belfort!

Bruges is a pearl, of course touristic but very charming!
Bruges is a blast from the past, she is romantic, it’s like to live in a painting.
Cobblestone roads that thread under beautiful brick arches, and pass through beautiful houses and wonderful
stone churches. And how not to mention the canals that cross and embrace this beautiful city?

If you are a couple don’t miss this Unesco heritage city because it is very romantic. Our girls wanted to kill us for going there without them!

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Impose yourself.

As soon as we arrived in the city we found ourselves in front of the imposing, Gothic, Sint-Salt-Salvatorskathedraal.
Breathtaking at daytime and fascinating at night when it is all illuminated. A MUST SEE!
Bruges is a city to explore by bike or by foot, especially Markt, the central square, where Belfort is located! Belfort tower is one of the symbols of the city and used to control the territory. If you want you can visit and climb it to watch one of the best landscapes of Belgium.
We visited it only from the outside due to the long queue.
The square is surrounded by historic buildings, among which there is the Historium, where you can wear magic glasses and catapult yourself in the virtual reality at 360 degrees of Bruges of the Fifteenth century.
After the visit of the city center we were a little bit tired and desirous of a bed where to lay for the rest of day so we decided to reach our hotel! Last 2 km with a pain in the ass literally but aware that the next day we would have had the wind behind us.
For this second day we chose to stay in a hotel, and for this, after much research, we found the hotel right for us: Hotel Velotel, but before leaving the sky gave us a beautiful
show: a rainbow blown up from nowhere, without it having rained, right in Markt, and a gorgeous sunset! Hey Bruges, do you love us?! 😀

The hotel is not far from the city center, just 2 km but by bike it’s very close to!
As you noticed we rarely decide to sleep in the city center and this is because we love to see the less touristic part of the city, the local’s houses, the parks and so on.
We had a really good experience in this hotel. At the arrival we had been welcomed by the front office manager Geert with a glass of juice and this made us very comfortable. He is an easy going person and a good feeling immediately!

If you are a bikewanderer like us we really recommend you this hotel because is Bike friendly indeed it has a large deposit for the bikes! 🙂

The room was pretty and clean and you can’t imagine how Bruno was happy to see the coffee machine inside!

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Coffee?!

You have to know that he is Napolitan so he doesn’t have blood in his veins but coffee. A lot of coffee.

Obviously, there are no shortages of figures!
We don’t know who is to blame, but one of us has forgotten Bruno’s bag outside the room and at the moment of taking the shower we couldn’t find it. We started looking for the bag in the wardrobe, under the bed, in the bathroom, we couldn’t find  it and at some point Bruno heard someone knocking. He asked Arthur if he had heard it but Arthur replied that he had knocked on the closet so no one knocked. Bottom line Arthur went down to the reception desk to ask if they had found the bag and here is explained  the knocking on the door! It was the cleaning agent who knocked to ask if that dead bag on the floor was ours: D

Ok. Let’s forget about it!
After the shower we were really hungry so we went back to the city center to eat something and visit the city at night!
Eating in the city center is not cheap, about 24-30 Euros for a main dish, more than a flight ticket from Milan to Brussels. LOL

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Belfort at night!

After dinner we had a walk in the city center to see Markt again. Its lights are really suggestive and the little streets is something you shouldn’t miss.

There are a lot of pubs so you can do a lot of things in the evening.
Upon returning to the hotel we met Geert who was dismantling from his shift and the receptionist so we stopped to talk about our stay in Bruges and our journey. We also took a photo with them!

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Sleeptime! Longest ride of the tour for us the day after!
Next week we will talk about how we reached Antwerp and the rail network in Belgium. We will give you some nice tips about bikes and trains 😀
Thanks for following us and keep pedaling!

Arthur and Bruno