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    Newsletter #18 From Givet, France…(UK)

    Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

    Just a hasty update from Givet, northern France where I’ve been staying for two weeks now due to a knee injury.

    To the late-comers: I Bourges, France – beginning of January – I got some new and heavy winterboots ‘cos I couldn’t keep my feet warm on the bike. The boots have a thick 3-4 cm sole which, naturally, affects the distance from my crotch to the pedals. I was aware of this, but couldn’t be bothered doing anything about it (e.g. adjusting the saddle height accordingly). My bad.

    After a few days of cycling in hilly and cold central France my knee started feeling sore. I had the accomodation situation planned well ahead, and thus didn’t really “have time” for listening to this sudden knee soreness nor to stop and rest/find out what was wrong all of a sudden, after more than 60.000 km on the bike.

    The pain was pretty bad when I arrived here in Givet 14 days ago, knee swollen and the stairs caused me a lot of trouble etc, and further pedalling didn’t really seem like an option. Luckily, I was invited by Elodie to stay in her apartment for as long as I wanted. As I said, French hospitality never failed on me.

    It’s been a great rest here. New friends, WT-projects done, lots of Australian Open tennis from Melbourne, eating well, drinking ditto, resting, thinking…Looking back, I can’t really believe that I’ve been here for so long – actually the longest break where I’ve stayed in one single place since Sydney in March 2008.

    The pain in my knee didn’t really get any better within the first few days, so after a long research on the internet I realized that patellar tendinitis was the name of the game. Off the the pharmacy I went, and over the next 9 days I swallowed more pills than ever before (50!). The swell is gone, I’ve been doing basic exercises for my knee everyday, I’ve been on gentle rides (5 and 20 km) to check the knee, and everything seems (knock-on-wood) to be fairly all right.

    So I’ll be off very shortly. My bike’s been crying loudly lately (from the laundry room next door) for me to come back and caress it/her. Belgium is just a few kilometers down (north) the Meuse River, and it will be my country #50 in WT-time. Namur, then Zonhoven is the first stops in Belgium – the remaining route through the Netherlands and Germany hasn’t been planned yet.

    Thanks for the perpetual support, guys and girls. It (still) means everything to me.

    Thus perceived – and with love,



    Day 1.388 – Goodbye France, Hello Belgium (w/ photos)

    Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

    Givet (FR) -> Namur (B)
    Distance (km) : 55
    Time on bike : 3h 37m
    Brutto time: 12.20 – 16.40
    Avg : 15.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 27.3
    Total (km) : 61.147
    Altitude: 80 m
    Difficulty: 3

    As with all other good things in life, my stay in Givet has come to an end. 14 days with indoor comforts (incl. immense amounts of wifi and time in Camp WT), relaxation, knee exercises, Ibuprofen, chill-out time with new friends in Givet – not to mention the mild frustration about the knee situation.

    Tranquil cycling along the Meuse River...

    I leave Givet just after noon and have an easy 55 km ride to Namur in Belgium. The winter’s suddenly back in Givet, and the temperature’s minus 3 degrees Celsius. To spice things up, I’m hit by a brisk headwind all day. Not quite what I was hoping for.

    Belgique, here I come!

    The bike computer says 61.097 when, after 15 minutes, I reach the unpatrolled Belgian border along the Meuse River. WT-country #50 in 45½ months.

    Just south of Dinant, Belgium...

    Naturally, I’m careful not to push it today. My knee seems to be doing all right (after I put the saddle up some 3 cm the other day – the equivalent to the thickness of the sole of my new, trouble-making (but warm) boots), but still I somehow feel a bit fragile, a bit vulnerable, having realized how thin the line between feeling like Superman and being handicapped can be.

    Beautiful Dinant, Belgium.

    The scenery along the Meuse River is equally great on the Belgian side, with lots of impressive, vertical rock formations right on the edge of the river. Most of the day I’m on a car-free bike path, sometimes cobblestoned (no like), often paved (yes like).

    Just north of Dinant...

    Namur at sunset...

    Via Hospitalityclub.org I’ve organized a place to stay in Namur at Nicolas’ and Sophies house in the centre of the city of 110.000 inhabitants. Nicolas (professor of geography) and Sophie (graphic designer) recently moved into their beautiful 3-story apartment with Raja, the 3-months-old Bengal cat – it didn’t take long before I’d completely lost my heart to this little furry nugget.

    At "home" with Nicolas, Sophie, and Raja The Destroyer...

    Paraíso in Namur...

    There’s Belgian beer, French red, Sophie’s delicious lasagne, non-stop conversations and cosy times in the house with my new friends/hosts. The decision to take tomorrow off to do some sightseeing in Namur and to spend a little more time with Nicolas and Sophie (and to rest my knee that started feeling a little sore this evening (despite the beer, wine and Belgian whisky!)) is an easy one…

    …plus, Raja needs more cuddles! You see why, right…

    Raja, the cute Destroyer


    Day 1.387 – No Milk Today (UK)

    Monday, January 25th, 2010

    No photos today :-(

    No diary notes today :-(

    No milk today :-(

    Knee’s not too bad :-)

    Will leave tomorrow :-( / :-)

    Looking forward to Belgium :-)


    Day 1.386 – The Belgian Test Ride (UK)

    Sunday, January 24th, 2010

    After 11 days off the bike, I feel it’s time to give the not-so-good old knee a little test ride today. The Belgian border is just 4 km down the road, and because crossing borders always had a certain charm for me, I make Beauraing on the other side of the border the aim of the test ride.

    Belgian Sneak Preview...

    Uhu, and Belgium it is. Knee is doing okay on the 20 km ride, but it’s still to early to feel too confident.

    Beauraing, Belgium.


    Day 1.385 – Rivea (UK)

    Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

    I spend the afternoon with Elodie and Yannick in the great Rivea Espace Aquatique (French) a few kilometers down the road from Elodie’s apt. For hygienic reasons, shorts are not allowed in the pools. Shorts is what I’ve got in my bag. Because I’m cheap, I can’t be bothered buying a 12 Euro pair in the vending machine, so I put my underwear on, pretending it’s swimming trunks, hoping the elastic band will keep the trunks in its place.

    Rivea Aquatic Center, Givet.

    The Rivea center is water haven with water slides, jacuzzi, hammam, sauna. The rocks.


    Day 1.384 – Hibernation (UK)

    Friday, January 22nd, 2010

    Givet, France.

    My knee’s been responding quite positively to the floor exercises I’ve been doing over the last week. This is all good news. Obviously.

    Givet promenade along the Meuse River...

    It’s a rare, sunny day outside today, so the bear decides to leave the hibernation and snoop about smalltown Givet

    La Meuse River, Givet - France.

    Fort Charmont, Givet.

    Givet street scene.

    Cafe de la Place, Givet, northern France.

    Hotel de Ville (town hall) in Givet, France.

    Square in Givet town center...

    Winter street in Givet.


    African Odyssey – a new WT-documentary out now!

    Thursday, January 21st, 2010

    I’ve spent most of the last two days editing this new documentary from Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Mali, West Africa.

    It’s an interesting and laborious process making these mini-movies – even though the process of cutting down hours of footage to the final product, a mere 8 minutes, involves a lot of “kill your darlings”.

    I’m quite pleased with this movie. After all, there’s nothing like being the star of your own movie, right…

    Full-screen, HQ mode recommended. Comments welcome.

    Sit back. Enjoy a slice of West Africa.

    Nicolai (Givet, France)


    Day 1.383 – Silencio (UK)

    Thursday, January 21st, 2010

    Assembling Elo's new couch with Jean-Baptiste...

    Done deal!

    La Tour Victoire in Givet...

    Fort Charlemont in Givet, night-lit...

    A silent day, indeed…


    Day 1.382 – The Odyssey (UK)

    Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

    This is how I spend most of my days here in Givet – it’s much more interesting than it looks!

    This is how most of most days are spent here in Givet...

    Most of the last two days, I’ve been working on a WT Docu from West Africa. It’s sometimes a tedious process, yet also quite creative and all-up I do enjoy the making/editing of the movies.

    Namur, my next stop on my way home...

    Chilling with friends in Givet usually involves good beer.

    Chilling with Givet friends...


    Day 1.381 – Free-styling (UK)

    Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

    Exercising in the apartment in Givet...

    I’d be hard pushed to try and find something worth telling about today. I’ll make it quick this time.

    Training my knee free-style (above), making most of a new WT minimovie from Africa, heaps of live tennis from Australian Open, hanging out with Elodie and Jean-Baptiste is on the open agenda.

    Goat cheese salad - Elodie's masterpiece.

    It’s been one week since I arrived here in Givet, and I really like the “settling in”-feeling…It’s a welcome change from the usual, nomadic walkabouts.

    Dinner with Elodie, her boyfriend Jean-Baptiste, and I...


    Day 1.380 – The Janus Head (UK)

    Monday, January 18th, 2010

    Being forced to stay put here in Givet, northern France, is kind of a pain/pleasure, two-headed Janus situation for me.

    One the one hand, my sore knee (Patellar tendinitis) has forced me to really slow down (physically more than anything), and I can’t recall when was the last time of such immobility. But one door closes, another one opens, and this rest has given me plenty of time to do some WT-stuff that I’ve been wanting for a while now.

    On the other hand, after 5 days of indoor comforts, I’m starting to feel a little eager to get back on the road, like a caged tiger (to keep it in the cat vernacular), to get this WT-thing over with, being a mere 1.000 km from Denmark now. As one reader put it, resistance is really cranking up now, at the end of the line. So true.

    Anyway, the Ibuprofen seems to be working all right, my left knee isn’t as swollen anymore, I can move around without much trouble, and I’ve started doing a bit of exercise in order to strengthen the knees (as if that should be a problem after 61.000 km on the bike, right).

    I optimistically hope that I’ll be able to get back on the bike later this week. My knee and time will tell.



    PS. Being stuck isn’t really a big ordeal, since I’m in good hands with my friend/host Elodie + the Australian Open 2010 Tennis just started and my wifi-sucking laptop displays all the goodies.
    Don’t take pity on me, please…


    New movie from Africa out now!

    Monday, January 18th, 2010

    Here you go!


    Day 1.379 – Come Inside (UK)

    Sunday, January 17th, 2010

    Knee Status Update: The swell has decreased along with the pain. Seems like those pretty heavy doses of Ibuprofen are doing a dandy job. I’ve started doing a few exercises to strenghten the knee (and who would’ve thought that would be necessary after 61.000 km on the roads? Life’s weird sometimes)

    Running low on visuals here in Givet – because I spend most days indoor, resting my knee, eating Ibuprofen, working on my laptop, hanging out with Elodie and friends – today’s photo presentation shows my room (yes, it’s mine, and Elodie calls me her flatmate by now :-) )…

    The Naked Room...

    …and the view from my room…

    The view from my room in Givet...

    And please have a look at the latest mini-docu from WT (Northwestern Africa) in case you haven’t seen it:


    Day 1.378 – Roadtrip to Lille (UK)

    Saturday, January 16th, 2010

    Some people claim it’s always weekend in my world (which is of course bullocks), but since it’s officially also weekend time for Elodie today, we take her cute little Fiat Panda and drive to big-city Lille, some 2½ hours to the west of Givet to meet up with her uni-friend Sebastien.

    Elodie and her Fiat Panda...

    Lille city center.

    Gare de Lille Flandres...

    Ferris wheel in Lille, northern France.

    From the Ferris wheel in Lille, northern France.

    From the Ferris wheel in Lille, northern France.

    Cheers with Sebastien in Lille...

    Welch, a heavily cheese lunch in Lille.

    Heavy and good: the regional favorite (apparently), Welch – a strange but delicious mix of ham, bread, cheese, fried egg…

    Welch, a heavily cheese lunch in Lille.

    …and yes, I like pepper!

    Lille city center.

    As was the case between Xmas and NYE a few weeks ago, when Pablo and I drove to Gent for the day, this happens to be a rainy day too. Bummer, but nonetheless it’s obvious that Lille is a very pretty town with lots of French life and stimmung all around.

    Cobble-stoned street in Lille...

    Lille's magnificent cathedral...

    Macarons in Lille. Yum!

    Chilling in Givet, France.


    Day 1.377 – The Negligence (UK)

    Friday, January 15th, 2010

    Physically, I’m still in low gear due to my sore knee. This seems to be the result of my self-diagnosis.

    My bike’s been wanting to grab a shower for the last few weeks, so today I take it downstairs/outdoor from the 3rd floor apartment, and give it a good scrub and a little oily massage to make up for the negligence of lately…

    But in WT World I continue the hyper-activity of the last days…

    Raclette dinner with Elodie and Yannick. Givet, France.

    Tune of the Day: A Thousand Kisses Deep – Leonard Cohen


    New Photo Album From The USA Out Now!

    Thursday, January 14th, 2010

    Hugely delayed, here is my selected photos from my 3 months in the USA, from 07MAY09 – 01AUG09 (incl. 3 weeks in Canada).

    US Route:

    I pedaled a total of 5.071 km in the USA and went through 16 states (plus Wash., D.C), from the US/Mexican border town Brownsville, Texas through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York State, (Quebec, Canada), Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts (then plane from Boston to Accra, Ghana, West Africa).

    The USA soon turned out to be one of my absolute favorite WT-countries…I think the following photos would give you an idea why…

    See the album (270 photos, standard view) here


    Day 1.376 – Stephen Hendry (UK)

    Thursday, January 14th, 2010

    New friends means new possibilities of expanding your horizons, personally, culturally, gastronomically, musically, and Elodie introduces me to a bunch of new acts that I’d never heard about. For instance…

    Tune of the Day: When Was I Last Home – The Do

    I dont’ leave the apartment today. I’m wired all day, making a new WT-mini documentary, checking up on the world, and – more importantly – the what/why/how’s of my sad knee situation…
    The decision to stay here in Givet with Elodie for a number of days seems like the only/right thing to do.

    Poor, crippled Zülle!

    This was the product of today’s long hours at my mobile WT Lappie Office:

    At night Elo and I go out to meet some friends at the local bar/pub, and I get to see a glimpse of the town (7.000 inhabitants) beautifully situated on the Meuse River that flows north into Belgium…

    Givet downtown...

    La Meuse River in Givet, France.

    Stephen Hendry #2. ‘Nuff said. ;-)

    Stephen Hendry #2


    Day 1.375 – Carte Blanche in Givet, France (UK)

    Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

    0 km cycling.
    Ca. 100 m indoor walking.

    Dinner with Elodie in her new Givet apartment...

    Elodie just moved here a month ago for her new job as an engineer at the nuclear power plant in nearby Chooz. So she works during the day – as do I, on different WT-related project that’ve been on my mind for a while now. Elodie has given me a carte blanche and I can stay as long as I want (she told me even before we met, and how wonderfully trustful people can be).

    A big chocolate fan she is!

    I, as a private person, really appreciate Elodie’s open doors here in Givet, just a few kilometers from the Belgian border.

    I, as a sore knee, equally appreciate Elodie’s open doors (=chance to recover)…


    Sparkling New WT-Video From Spain/France out!

    Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

    (English only)

    Edited in Givet, northern France (14JAN2010) – while resting my sore knee for a little while – here is the latest WT mini-docu European Transitions, recorded in Spain and France over the last two months.

    I hope you enjoy watching it. I didn’t particularly enjoy doing it. You’ll see why…

    Comments welcome!


    Day 1.374 – Wicked Ride Along La Meuse River (UK)

    Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

    Charleville-Mezieres -> Givet
    Distance (km) : 80
    Time on bike : 4h 35m
    Brutto time: 11.50 – 17.20
    Avg : 17.4 km/h
    Max.speed: 36.4
    Total (km) : 61.067
    Altitude: 120 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    The knee is still pretty sore this morning. Instead of my new, heavy winterboots, I put on my proper cycling shoes (incl. neopren shoe cover) hoping they won’t increase the problem.

    After having had absolutely no problems at all with my knee/legs since I left Denmark in April 2006, this obviously comes as quite a surprise – and a very frustrating one. Feeling physically fragile, wounded isn’t exactly part of my standard emotional register. Merde!

    Charleville-Mezieres main square...

    Charleville-Mezieres main square...

    Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful, peaceful ride today along the Trans-Ardennes Green Track (see more info here), a 85 km car-free bike path along the tranquil Meuse River (flat, curvy and just a pure pleasure)

    Along the beautiful bike track, Voie Verte Trans-Ardenne, between Charleville-Mezieres and Givet, northern France.

    A little north of Charleville, I cross the 61.000 km marker on my bike computer. Photo session time!

    Along the beautiful bike track, Voie Verte Trans-Ardenne, between Charleville-Mezieres and Givet, northern France.

    The bike path is some 30 km longer than the direct route, but it’s (physical) money well spent! I virtually have 80 km of smoothly paved bike lanes to myself, and I can’t stop feeling very spoiled on my last proper cycling day in France. Scenery is dressed in white. Air cold and fresh.

    Along the beautiful bike track, Voie Verte Trans-Ardenne, between Charleville-Mezieres and Givet, northern France.

    Icicles blocking the road. Along the beautiful bike track, Voie Verte Trans-Ardenne, between Charleville-Mezieres and Givet, northern France.

    Along the beautiful bike track, Voie Verte Trans-Ardenne, between Charleville-Mezieres and Givet, northern France.

    After a relatively pain-free ride, my knee starts causing me trouble again 20 km before Givet. Heartbreaking, depressing. My face takes on the painful expression again. Putain! Putain! Putain!

    Along the beautiful bike track, Voie Verte Trans-Ardenne, between Charleville-Mezieres and Givet, northern France.

    Feeling rather crippled, I make it to Givet where Elodie, a 24-year-old engineer from Paris, has kindly accepted my Couchsurfing-request.

    Arriving in Givet, post-sundown.

    Chilling with new friends in Givet, France.


    WT Photos From Tibet 2006

    Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

    In Tibet (November 2006) I cycled with Rich for 5 days from Saga, Tibet to the Nepalese border. It was rough and unforgettable.

    Rich took all of these great photos that all bring back memories from the hardships of crossing the Tibetan Plateau…

    Most of these photos have never been published on WT.

    Photo Gallery From Tibet 2006…

    Thanks, Rich!


    Day 1.373 – Increasing Pain (UK)

    Monday, January 11th, 2010

    Rheims -> Charleville-Mezieres
    Distance (km) : 88
    Time on bike : 5h 07m
    Brutto time: 10.30 – 17.15
    Avg : 17.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 45.0
    Total (km) : 60.986
    Altitude: 150 m
    Difficulty: 3

    Tune of the Day: Cartwheels - The Reindeer Section

    Flat and relatively knee-friendly...

    My sore left knee gets worse today on my way to Charleville where I have another contact (via Hospitalityclub.org this time).

    Still flat...

    Having a cold cheese-and-chorizo lunch stop midway to Charleville-Mezieres…

    Lunch stop...

    Luckily, the ride is mostly flat and easy, with only a few river crossing (and subsequent ups/downs) and I’m trying not to push it at all. Cycling parallel to the E46/A34 highway, I get to see some small, quaint villages, unmistakingly French.

    Rethel town...

    The favorite sign...

    As I arrive in Charleville-Mezieres my left knee has gone really bad, and I can hardly walk up (or even worse, down) the stairs at Marie Charlotte’s apartment when I get there. Very frustrating.

    But for now, I’m happy being here, indoor and in great company with Macha (nickname), a philosphy teacher, and her two room mates Timothée, a lanscape architect and Tanguy, a journalist.

    Frozen fountain in downtown Charleville-Mezieres...

    Macha and I go out to get groceries for the dinner and we add in a bit of sightseeing, but me knee’s hurting pretty badly now, I walk like a man 3 times my age (i.e a 100 year-old), and I have to just get back and get some leg rest.

    Cheers! in Charleville...

    Despite the pain, it’s a really wonderful evening with my 3 new friends in Charleville-Mezieres.

    Dinner with Macha, Tanguy, and Timothee...


    Photo Album From Spain, December 2009.

    Sunday, January 10th, 2010

    (UK only)

    So, the visual goody bag #47 from Spain is here!

    The album contains 100 photos from my time in Spain.

    I entered Algeciras in the far south (26NOV2009) on the ferry from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar, and then mainly followed the Mediterranean coast (via Málaga, Alicante, Valéncia, Barcelona) up to the French border (12DEC2009) and the eastern Pyrenées.

    1. Watch the album (standard view) here

    2. Watch the album as a slideshow here

    Comments, questions etc welcome!

    Nicolai (Rheims, northern France)


    Day 1.372 – Couchsurfing in Rheims (photos)

    Sunday, January 10th, 2010

    0 km etc.

    (Text to come…)

    Rue de L'Universite, Rheims.

    The magnificent Cathedral in Rheims, France.

    The entrance to the cathedral in Rheims, France.

    The magnificent Cathedral in Rheims, France.

    Inside the magnificent Cathedral in Rheims, France.

    Inside the magnificent Cathedral in Rheims, France.

    Rheims city centre...

    Rheims city centre...

    The magnificent Cathedral in Rheims, France.

    Dinner in Rheims with Antoine (Couchsurfing)...

    Creature comforts. Home cinema at Antoine's place...


    Day 1.371 – Where Is My Mind/Road? (photos)

    Saturday, January 9th, 2010

    Romilly-sur-Seine -> Rheims
    Distance (km) : 98
    Time on bike : 7h 19m
    Brutto time: 10.50 – 19.30
    Avg : 13.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 31.3
    Total (km) : 60.899
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 4½

    (Text to come…)

    Breakfast with Jeffrey (left), Jean-Michel, and Lise...

    I was accompagnied out of Romilly-sur-Seine...

    White-out in northern France...

    Snowcovered and bitterly cold headwind on the backroads north of Romilly...

    Where Is My Road/Mind?

    Champagne district...

    In the Champagne district south of Epernay...

    Comfort with new friends Antoine (left), Morgan, and Anais in Rheims, northern France.

    Umm, more bubbles!


    Day 1.370 – Never-ending French Hospitality (photos)

    Friday, January 8th, 2010

    Sens -> Romilly-sur-Seine
    Distance (km) : 74
    Time on bike : 4h 46m
    Brutto time: 11.20 – 16.50
    Avg : 15.4 km/h
    Max.speed: 33.5
    Total (km) : 60.809
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    (Text to come…)

    The salt on the winter roads do no good for my chain...

    White landscape north of Sens, France.

    Village church, route D939.

    Welcome to Champagne district!

    Welcome to Champagne district!

    Jeffrey pouring a fine champagne...When in Rome...

    R & R with Lise and Jeffrey...

    Having a lovely dinner with Lise & Jeffrey in Romilly-sur-Seine...

    Having a lovely dinner with Lise & Jeffrey in Romilly-sur-Seine...

    Watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Romilly...


    Day 1.369 – Sniffy Style (UK)

    Thursday, January 7th, 2010

    Gien -> Sens
    Distance (km) : 94
    Time on bike : 5h 18m
    Brutto time: 09.20 – 17.15
    Avg : 17.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 32.5
    Total (km) : 60.736
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 3

    It’s been snowing again last night. Gien is all dressed in white, but I don’t care much about it, ‘cos I feel recharged after my great (but too short) time with Laureline, her cats and indoor comforts.

    Nicolai ready to leave the comforts of Gien...

    The surprise of the day materializes when I leave Gien behind me and realize that a little TAILwind pushes me north towards Sens, where I’ve arranged another Couchsurfer-meeting, with Pierre-Francois, a 29-year-old (secondary) school teacher.

    Too familiar by now...

    According to my experience France’s got some of the (probably THE) best and most considerate drivers in the world. Without exceptions they always give me a wide berth, don’t make any stupid, close-call overtakings, often salute me respectful as if I was Superman (and seem to express their sympathy with me cycling in this weather) – so it doesn’t really matter that most of the rural backroads I’ve been taking in France don’t have a proper shoulder for cyclists.

    All my love goes to the considerate French drivers. Exemplary!

    Frost on my forehead...

    It’s still cold, minus 2-4 degrees C, but at least I don’t have this freezing hair dryer (aka headwind) blowing in my face all day long today. I feel strong and confident today (what a perfect illusion a bit of tailwind makes, huh), and arrive in Sens early in the afternoon, head for the local McDonald’s (they all have unlimited, free wifi, hallelujah!) and make a Skype video call to my mum (dad joins too), my dear birthday girl. 07011951.

    Same dude, same cold.

    Pierre-Francois meets me downstairs at his downtown apartment, and walking straight into a strangers’ home has never felt more natural.

    Pierre-Francois in Sens...

    You are crazy, in a good way, and I admire your project, Pierre-Francois proclaims when he hears more about WT. Lots of stories are shared with him, and again I feel fortunate meeting all these wonderful and super-hospitable (French) people.

    At work in Sens...


    Day 1.368 – Kyra & Shadoz (UK)

    Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

    Bourges -> Gien
    Distance (km) : 77
    Time on bike : 4h 14m
    Brutto time: 11.00 – 16.45
    Avg : 18.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 40.1
    Total (km) : 60.642
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 3

    Morning view from my hotel in Bourges...

    There’s live tennis on my little 14″ TV screen, snow’s falling outside my window, and I can think of a dozen of reasons for not leaving my comfy nest and hitting the road. But I can’t justify the 41 euro tag (and can’t/won’t rely on kind WT readers :-) ), so I get packed and head for the local outdoor shop (long live Decathlon) where I find a great pair of Merrell winter boots, half price, size 45 with ample room for x layers of socks to keep my toes warm (along with my new socks).

    Goodbye cold feet! These boots got the message: Keep this poor lad warm and toasty.

    Goodbye cold feet!

    Goodbye dance shoes.

    Old meets new...

    Hello Bigfoot.


    My new 1.5 kg boots make all the difference. It’s a pleasure not having to worry about keeping my extremities warm and for the first time in ages, it seems, I actually enjoy the ride today. Knowing I have a place to stay in Gien on the Loire River gives me a much needed mental comfort too…

    Winter north of Bourges, France.

    Frost in my forehead...

    La Loire River in Gien...

    Through Couchsurfing.com I got into contact with Laureline, a 26-year-old psychologist that lives in Gien with her two cats, Kyra & Shadoz, in an apartment overlooking the Loire River. Laureline makes me feel at home right from the start and hanging out with her and her cats feels just great. French hospitality rules supreme (and thanks a lot for putting me up, Laureline!)

    Laureline and the quiche lorraine...

    Kyra, the chubby beauty...

    The beautiful view over La Loire from the living room.

    La Loire from the window of my host Laureline...

    Dinner with couchsurfing host Laureline in Gien, France.


    Day 1.367 – Winter Madness (UK)

    Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

    Guéret -> Bourges
    Distance (km) : 125
    Time on bike : 7h 50m
    Brutto time: 08.15 – 18.15
    Avg : 15.9 km/h
    Max.speed: 38.3
    Total (km) : 60.565
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 4½

    Sometimes it’s a good thing you don’t know what’s in the “goody bag” of the day, when you head off in the morning. Had I known that today would be such a long and cold haul, I would’ve probably stayed another night at the home for homeless. The caretaker asked me last night if I wanted to stay for 1, 2, or 3 nights.

    At 8AM I shake hands with the (other) homeless people, say goodbye, and leave Gueret. It’s still dark and I don’t feel like cycling at all.

    Genouillac, coffee break.

    I meet quite a lot of encouraging greetings and car-honks from the Frenchmen around me, who often give me this “wow, respect for cycling in this weather!” look when they greet me. I greet them back, but somehow I feel I can’t really receive that sort of respect/street credit ‘cos I’m not doing this in the classic and confident “fist-in-the-air” WT-style way, but rather I’m down in the mouth, I feel a little sorry for myself going through this, and am not enjoying this at all. Hard to explain, but being the most understanding readers around, I know that you, dear reader, will understand what I’m trying to express…

    Another cold day in France...

    I’m focused like a pitbull all day. Endless ups and downs (in the landscape and in me) make for a pretty tough ride. Minus 4 degrees Celsius. Mild headwind all day which makes my forehead and my eyeballs freeze up. Weird feeling.

    Icy cold lunch break...

    The Classic.

    Just south of Bourges the hungry wolf inside of me can’t cope with the hunger no longer, and I have to stop and stuff myself. That’s when I start getting really, really cold. Shiver and shake. Heaven or Hell. This is no fun, and I can’t think of anything but getting my body heat back which isn’t an easy task when the body is totally worn after more than 7 hours of pedaling, feeling utterly exhausted, wind blowing, clothes wet from sweating and bla-bla. I feel miserable and slightly panicky.

    Hotel Cygne, Bourges.

    Stamina brings me to the center of Bourges where I find a hotel near the train station, 41 euros for the night – the cheapest I could find, but also the most expensive accommodation in WT history.

    PS. From my wifi-equipped hotel room I put a note on my Facebook status update about the cycling day, the expensive room etc and – hocus-pocus! – 5 minutes later, one of my Danish readers (no one mentioned, no one forgotten!) take pity on me and transfer that exact amount, 41 euros, to my account. I seriously can’t believe what’s happening, feels like the guardian angels are watching me again, and it just confirms that I do have the best and most caring readers in the world. Thank you so much, Mr. GT. Will not forget.


    Day 1.366 – A Night With The Homeless (UK)

    Monday, January 4th, 2010

    Limoges -> Guéret
    Distance (km) : 87
    Time on bike : 5h 56m
    Brutto time: 09.45 – 17.15
    Avg : 14.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 46.6
    Total (km) : 60.439
    Altitude: 550 m
    Difficulty: 4

    It’s looks gloomy, white, and cold as I look out the window this morning in Will’s apartment. I have zero desire to cycle today. The weather forecast says it ain’t getting warmer anytime soon, so I can’t really come up with any reasonable excuse for not hitting the road. Will’s company would be one, and we sure have spent some wonderful time together here in Limoges, but all good things come to an end.

    Countryside outside of Limoges, central France.

    Two weeks have gone since I was on the bike last time, and this chilly morning isn’t the best of reunions. It takes some inner pep-talk to get going.

    Saint-Leonard de Noblat, France.

    The temperature hovers around minus 2-minus 3 degrees Celsius all day. The terrain is frustratingly undulating (and snowcovered), and minor ridges rise to around 600m (from the surrounding approx. 350-400m).

    Saint-Leonard de Noblat, France.

    After nearly 6 hours of winter cycling, I arrive in Gueret. The snow has started falling again. In a local supermarket my body temperature drops rapidly, and the tiny bells of panic start ringing inside of me. I cross the town and find two hotels – both totally out of my “fiscal” range at 69 and 89 Euros – and don’t really know what to do at this point. Camping is not really an option, considering my body that shakes like a dog and the fact that the ground is covered in 15 cm of snow.

    Back in town I follow some signs saying something with “jeunesse” (youth) and try my luck. The lady in the youth centre can’t help me, but asks me to go next door and talk to the guys there. So I do.
    And this was my lucky strike. In French/English I explain my situation to the two men present, and shortly after I’m told to follow one of the guys (in his car, me on the bike). I have absolutely no idea what’s going on or where I’m going, but my instincts tell me it’s going to be good.

    Winterscape east of Limoges, France.

    Near the train station we arrive at the Asile du Nuit (Night Asylum, sort of) where I get my own little (and more importantly, warm!) room. The caretaker tells me that dinner’s before 8PM and that I have to leave the room tomorrow morning before 8AM. I find that a trifle on the early side, but don’t complain as I feel I’ve just been saved from freezing my ass off. As usual, I ask for the price, hoping this Spartan room will be significantly cheaper than the 69 Euro hotel room I’d just checked out.

    Zero! says the man, grinning. You’re lucky, my friend, he says, and then goes on to explain that this is a place for homeless people, the guys begging in the streets etc. I suddenly get it! It’s another “first of” for me, sleeping in a home for homeless.

    My room at the home for homeless people in Gueret, France.

    Soon the other 5 “residents” arrive, 40% of them with dogs (one girl, four men), and I recognize the smell of alcoholism. I don’t (can’t) talk much to them as we all sit at the table having dinner (micro-waved canned stuff, the things I usually eat, basically) and coffee. Personally, it’s a very interesting evening for me, a mini-anthropological study among people you don’t often get close to.


    Day 1.365 – Back to France

    Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

    Skating rink in Brussels...

    Winter's back in Limoges...

    Winter's back in Limoges...


    Day 1.364 – Au Revoir! (UK)

    Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

    Having spent the last week here in Brussels with Pablo has been a bliss. As expected. Nothing less – and despite my untimely sick leave. So much laughter, so much fun, so much understanding, and how lucky we are to have best friends.

    Pablo leaving me and Brussels...

    It’s really made me look forward getting back to Denmark and my loved ones.

    Thanks for popping in, Pabs…


    New Year Visuals From Wonderful Morocco!

    Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

    (UK only)

    No frills. Just photos (and text) from fantastic Morocco.

    1.400 km.
    170 visuals.
    23 days.
    2 cameras.
    1 Nicolai.
    0 flat tyres.

    View photos as a standard album here

    View photos as a slideshow (recommended) here

    View all WT albums here


    Day 1.363 – 01012010 (UK)

    Friday, January 1st, 2010

    Fever’s gone when I wake up. Just like 2009. Hallelujah 2010!

    Dinner with Pablo. 01012010.


    Day 1.362 – Sick, Solo & Sober (UK)

    Thursday, December 31st, 2009

    I don’t recall having been sick at all in 2009.

    Today, on the very last day of the year, was unfortunately my time. As if the Gods of Justice just realized this, and then decided to drop this untimely flu on my back. Evidently, they didn’t want to let me go for a whole year without any sick leave, with all due respect to the millions of souls around the world who’ve been less fortunate health-wise in 2009. It’s the worst timing ever, but there’s nothing I can do. Gallons of honey-sweetened camomile tea with fresh lemon, gigantic cat naps, being warm and toasty all day…Nothing seemed to do the trick, and after such a wonderful 2009, this end is hard for me to take…

    This is how I spent most of the last day of 2009...

    Looking left from the apartment on the 4th floor, at about 00:00 01.01.2010. Brussels, Belgium.

    View from apartment at 00:00 01.01.2010. Brussels, Belgium.

    We had it all planned, Pablo and I. Private dinner party, followed by a huge NYE party downtown. My fever has been fading slowly all day, but I never recover enough for the party. I encourage Pabs to go to the party nonetheless, to party like a viking for the two of us. And my friend can do just that. :-)

    Looking right from the apartment on the 4th floor, at about 00:00 01.01.2010. Brussels, Belgium.

    View from apartment at 00:00 01.01.2010. Brussels, Belgium.

    Last year, on NYE 2008-2009, I was in Cuenca, Ecuador I had no-one around partying with, didn’t feel like partying, and went to bed before midnight and was dreaming when 2009 replaced 2008.

    This year, I just made it past midnight.

    A different way of spending NYE: Solo, sick, and sober.

    A different way of spending NYE: Solo, sick, and sober.

    Wherever you are on this wonderful Planet:


    (or – as you might prefer:

    AFRIKAANS gelukkige nuwejaar / voorspoedige nuwejaar
    ALBANIAN Gëzuar vitin e ri
    ALSATIAN e glëckliches nëies / güets nëies johr
    ARABIC عام سعيد (aam saiid) / sana saiida
    ARMENIAN shnorhavor nor tari
    AZERI yeni iliniz mubarek
    BAMBARA aw ni san’kura / bonne année
    BASQUE urte berri on
    BELARUSIAN З новым годам (Z novym hodam)
    BENGALI subho nababarsho
    BERBER asgwas amegas
    BETI mbembe mbu
    BOBO bonne année
    BOSNIAN sretna nova godina
    BRETON bloavezh mat / bloavez mad
    BULGARIAN честита нова година (chestita nova godina)
    BURMESE hnit thit ku mingalar pa
    CANTONESE sun lin fi lok / kung hé fat tsoi
    CATALAN bon any nou
    CHINESE xin nian kuai le / xin nian hao
    CORSICAN pace e salute
    CROATIAN sretna nova godina
    CZECH šťastný nový rok
    DANISH godt nytår
    DARI sale naw tabrik
    DUALA mbu mwa bwam
    DUTCH gelukkig Nieuwjaar
    ENGLISH happy new year
    ESPERANTO feliĉan novan jaron
    ESTONIAN head uut aastat
    FAROESE gott nýggjár
    FINNISH onnellista uutta vuotta
    FLEMISH gelukkig Nieuwjaar
    FRENCH bonne année
    FRISIAN lokkich neijier
    FRIULAN bon an
    GALICIAN feliz aninovo
    GEORGIAN გილოცავთ ახალ წელს (gilocavt akhal tsels)
    GERMAN ein gutes neues Jahr / prost Neujahr
    GREEK kali chronia / kali xronia
    GUJARATI sal mubarak / nootan varshabhinandan
    GUARANÍ rogüerohory año nuévo-re
    HAWAIIAN hauoli makahiki hou
    HEBREW שנה טובה (shana tova)
    HINDI nav varsh ki subhkamna
    HMONG nyob zoo xyoo tshiab
    HUNGARIAN boldog új évet
    ICELANDIC farsælt komandi ár
    INDONESIAN selamat tahun baru
    IRISH GAELIC ath bhliain faoi mhaise
    ITALIAN felice anno nuovo, buon anno
    JAVANESE sugeng warsa enggal
    JAPANESE akemashite omedetô
    KABYLIAN asseggas ameggaz
    KANNADA hosa varshada shubhaashayagalu
    KAZAKH zhana zhiliniz kutti bolsin
    KHMER sur sdei chhnam thmei
    KIRUNDI umwaka mwiza
    KOREAN seh heh bok mani bat uh seyo
    KURDE sala we ya nû pîroz be
    LAO sabai di pi mai
    LATIN felix sit annus novus
    LATVIAN laimīgu Jauno gadu
    LIGURIAN feliçe annu nœvu / feliçe anno nêuvo
    LINGALA bonana / mbula ya sika elamu na tonbeli yo
    LITHUANIAN laimingų Naujųjų Metų
    LOW SAXON gelükkig nyjaar
    LUXEMBOURGEOIS e gudd neit Joër
    MACEDONIAN Среќна Нова Година (srekna nova godina)
    MALAGASY arahaba tratry ny taona
    MALAY selamat tahun baru
    MALAYALAM nava varsha ashamshagal
    MALTESE is-sena t-tajba
    MANGAREVAN kia porotu te ano ou
    MAORI kia hari te tau hou
    MARATHI navin varshaachya hardik shubbheccha
    MOHAWK ose:rase
    MONGOLIAN shine jiliin bayariin mend hurgeye (Шинэ жилийн баярын мэнд хvргэе)
    MORÉ wênd na kô-d yuum-songo
    NDEBELE umyaka omucha omuhle
    NORWEGIAN godt nyttår
    OCCITAN bon annada
    ORIYA subha nababarsa
    PASHTO nawe kaalmo mobarak sha
    PERSIAN سال نو مبارک (sâle no mobârak)
    POLISH szczęśliwego nowego roku
    PORTUGUESE feliz ano novo
    PUNJABI ਨਵੇਂ ਸਾਲ ਦੀਆਂ ਵਧਾਈਆਂ (nave saal deeyan vadhaiyaan)
    ROMANCHE bun di bun onn
    ROMANI baxtalo nevo bersh
    ROMANIAN un an nou fericit / la mulţi ani
    RUSSIAN С Новым Годом (S novim godom)
    SAMOAN ia manuia le tausaga fou
    SANGO nzoni fini ngou
    SARDINIAN bonu annu nou
    SERBIAN srećna nova godina / Срећна нова година
    SHIMAORE mwaha mwema
    SHONA goredzva rakanaka
    SINDHI nain saal joon wadhayoon
    SINHALA suba aluth avuruddak vewa
    SLOVAK šťastný nový rok
    SLOVENIAN srečno novo leto
    SOBOTA dobir leto
    SOMALI sanad wanagsan
    SPANISH feliz año nuevo
    SRANAN wan bun nyun yari
    SWAHILI mwaka mzuri / heri ya mwaka mpya
    SWEDISH gott nytt år
    SWISS-GERMAN es guets Nöis
    TAGALOG manigong bagong taon
    TAHITIAN ia orana i te matahiti api
    TAMAZIGHT assugas amegaz
    TAMIL iniya puthandu nalVazhthukkal
    TATAR yaña yıl belän
    TELUGU నూతన సంవత్శర శుభాకాంక్షలు (nuthana samvathsara subhakankshalu)
    THAI สวัสดีปีใหม่ (sawatdii pimaï)
    TIBETAN tashi delek / losar tashi delek
    TSHILUBA tshidimu tshilenga
    TSWANA itumelele ngwaga o mosha
    TULU posa varshada shubashaya
    TURKISH yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun
    TWENTS gluk in’n tuk
    UDMURT Vyľ Aren
    UKRAINIAN Z novym rokom
    URDU naya saal mubarik
    UZBEK yangi yilingiz qutlug’ bo’lsin
    VIETNAMESE Chúc Mừng Nǎm Mới / Cung Chúc Tân Niên / Cung Chúc Tân Xuân
    WALOON bone annéye / bone annéye èt bone santéye
    WELSH blwyddyn newydd dda
    WOLOF dewenati
    YIDDISH a gut yohr)


    New Photo Album From Western Sahara…

    Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

    View photo album as a…

    a) Slideshow


    b) Normal album


    Day 1.361 – Gent – The Raincovered Jewel (photos)

    Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

    Gent, Belgium.

    Lunch in Gent with Pablo...

    Gent, Belgium.

    Gent, Belgium.

    Rain in Gent...


    Day 1.360 – St. Michael & St. Gudula (photos)

    Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

    St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

    Pabs eating Vietnamese in Brussels

    Mojitos, prepared by Pablo.

    Dinner in Brussels...


    Day 1.359 – Balletjes In Tomatensaus

    Monday, December 28th, 2009

    Brekkie with Pablo in Brussels.

    Roy d'Espagne, Grand Place. Brussels

    Manneken Pis...

    He's a popular fella', this Manneken Pis Boy...

    Grand Place, Brussels.

    Post-Xmas strolling in Brussels.

    Pablo and I eating Indian in Brussels.

    Balletjes in tomatensaus, Chef Toon Style. Delicioso!

    Balletjes in tomatensaus, Chef Toon Style. Delicioso!


    Day 1.358 – Tour de Brussels

    Sunday, December 27th, 2009


    Oysters and champagne, standing.

    Xmas sausages in Brussels

    Tiny alley in Brussels...

    The beautiful Sint Hubertusgalerijen in Brussels...

    Street musicians in Brussels.

    Brussels' magnificent town hall on Grand Place

    Night Street, Brussels

    Cheers, buddy!


    Day 1.357 – Reunited in Brussels (UK)

    Saturday, December 26th, 2009

    (Text might appear right here soonish)

    5.20AM, La Rochelle Train Station, Boxing Day 2009.

    Eurolines bus to Brussels...

    A decent start...

    Toon and Pablo in the kitchen...

    Toon, serving delicious mussels in Brussels...

    Mussels in Brussels...

    Mussels dinner with Toon, Guillemine, and Pablo...

    Ferris Wheel in Brussels

    Merry-go-round, Brussels, Xmas 2009.

    Nicolai, Pablo, Toon, and Guillemine in a Brussels bar...

    The Drunk Pirates in Brussels...

    Night time art in Brussels


    Newsletter from Paris

    Saturday, December 26th, 2009

    The landscape outside the window of my Paris-bound TGV train is still covered in the darkness of early morning while Central France invisibly whizzes past. Sitting in this much-faster-than-my-Koga train on Boxing Day 2009 gives me a moment to reflect on the fact that the WT-end is drawing near, that I’m very close to the end of the tunnel of my dream. That the idea-turned-reality project that has been my rhyme and reason, my raison d’être for the last 4 years, and that has totally encapsulated me – flesh and blood – in every move or thought I made, will all too soon be over.

    I begin to realize how much it’s meant (and still mean) to me to be able to share experiences, good and bad times, to unload all sorts of trivialities that would’ve otherwise clogged my mind. Having thousands of people from around the world standing on my mental sideline of the WT pitch – cheering faithfully when I needed it most – has made this journey so much more endurable, engaging, and yes, even fun. It’s helped me realize the proportions of the expedition, helped me realize how endlessly fortunate I’ve been (still am) being able to live my dream for so long.

    Though I know that at the end of the day the WT Juggernaut would’ve been without a driver without me, that I’m the one I need to thank, I really can’t imagine what WT would’ve been like without you, my dearest reader, for you’ve supplied me with a psychological safety net that prevented me to go mad when I was surrounded by nothing but asphalt and loneliness, that caught me when the valves of joy and happiness were pumping and life felt too good, that received all my gibberish unconditionally when I was lost in a muse and didn’t have anyone around to be a burden on.

    Cold lunch stop in Souillac, France.

    The roads that lead you, my unsung heroes, to WT might be as diverse as the ones I’ve been riding around the world for more than 60.000 km now, and you probably have no connection to other readers, but to me you are all part of the social fabric that’s kept me warm on what would’ve otherwise been an extremely long – and, at times, cold, I guess – solo ride. The scope of my gratitude for your moral, psychological, financial and otherwise support knows neither limits nor articulateness. Thanks for being with me all the way…

    Being this close to Denmark, I can now start visualizing what it’ll (maybe) be like getting back home after some 1.400 days on the road non-stop, without my friends and family around – something I didn’t dare until now afraid of getting homesick, afraid of losing momentum & wanderlust, afraid of losing touch with my dream, afraid of missing too much.

    What I do visualize is something far more colorful and exciting than the days of gray and cold that undoubtedly (and statistically) await me in Denmark; namely being back together with my mum, my dad, my sister, my friends – the people I love more than anything and who ultimately is the reason for my return.

    The thought of being back in tiny Denmark, among the precious few on this planet with whom I have a common tongue, a shared culture and history, is both exceedingly exciting and disturbingly frightening. Will I be the fish in the water, or the bull in a china shop? Only time will tell, and please wish me good luck, all right?

    No matter how it all goes, it’s a reassuring thought that thanks to all the beautiful people I’ve met over the last years, I feel quite at home anywhere in the world. I’ve traveled among Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist people, through some of the poorest and wealthiest countries on Earth, I’ve stayed with boys/girls, men/women, young/old, small/tall, white/black/brown/yellow people from all walks of life, and though, naturally, all these encounters and experiences have been (blissfully) diverse and different, to me they’re all collectively connected by the main thread called humanity.

    Thanks to that humanity I feel more connected to the world and its people than ever, it makes the world feel like my playground, and it’s an invaluable feeling that makes me feel rich and alive. Humanity is everywhere. It’s the glue that keeps the social machinery called mankind together. Take it from me, and don’t let anyone or anything convince you
    otherwise. I consider it a promise.

    Outside the daylight is starting to get a grip, and soon it’s Paris Montparnasse, where I’ll jump on a bus headed for Brussels where I’m going to meet up with lovely Belgian friends. Also arriving in Brussels today is Pablo who’s coming to spend New Year’s Eve with me. I’m absolutely stoked about this, and I’m very fond of the idea that the circle, that was sadly broken with Pablo’s WT exit back in July 2006, will (kind of) be complete again even though there won’t be any cycling this time around. Rumor has it that the reunited duo is going to shake the foundations of the Belgian capital on NYE.

    Beginning of January it’s back to Limoges, France where I’ve left my bike and gear, and then ride the final stint north through Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Tentatively, I expect to cross the Danish border around end of January 2010. So unreal.

    Thus perceived and with love,




    Day 1.356 – A Walk (UK)

    Friday, December 25th, 2009

    Willy at the local boulangerie...

    For you, my dearest WT-reader…

    Happy 2010 from St. Trojan Beach, France's Atlantic coast...

    Hotel de Ville, Bourcefranc Le Chapus, France

    Joyeux Noël 2009

    Lunch, 25.12.2009.

    Marina in Boyardville...

    Historically, the absolute highlight of the day was the sighting of the legendary Fort Boyard from the coast in Boyardville where Will and I go for a late arvo walk in the setting sunlight. Beautiful.

    Boyardville Beach

    The legendary Fort Boyard that was home to the hugely popular TV-series in the 1990s...

    Will and I on Boyardville Beach...

    Lyrics of the Day: Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,
    none but ourselves can free our minds.
    Redemption Song – Bob Marley (for Will)

    Shadows on Boyardville Beach...

    Boyardville Beach

    The neighbor’s cross-eyed little beauty was a fine-fine furry Xmas present for me this year…There’s still (almost) nothing like a little cat fix…

    The Crosseyed Cutie...


    Day 1.355 – Huîtres, Boudin & Escargots at the Xmas Table (UK)

    Thursday, December 24th, 2009

    Late afternoon, when Will’s back from work, we drive to his parent’s place in the small village of Bourcefranc Le Chapus (south of La Rochelle) on the Atlantic coast.

    Arlette, Roger, Silvie, Philippe, me, and Will in Bourcefranc Le Chapus, France.

    Awaiting us is mother-Arlette, father-Roger (aka “The King of Oysters” due to his life-long occupational flirt with the oyster business), sister-Silvie and her boyfriend-Philippe – and an unforgettable smorgasbord of French Xmas delicatessen that really expands my gastronomic horizon.

    Oysters time in France!

    This is my forth consecutive Xmas away from home. The first, in 2006 was spent with my family in southern Vietnam. The second, in
    2007 was spent with my good old friend Rhod and his family in Sorrento, VIC, Australia. The third, in 2008 I was joined by my good friend Ragnar, and this year almost feels like home thanks to Will’s wonderful family.

    Xmas dinner 2009.

    Snail time in France!

    Tune of the Day: Too Young – Phoenix

    Boudin blanc (white pudding)...Delicious.

    This year's Xmas tree in Bourcefranc Le Chapus...

    XO time!


    Day 1.354 – The Signature Pizza (UK)

    Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

    Creation of Alex...Yum!

    Despite the rain over Limoges all day, Alex and I go Xmas shopping. As matters stand, it’s quickly done for me. Scented Body Shop stuff for Will, wine for his parents who’ve invited me to come and spend Xmas eve etc. with them in Bourcefranc Le Chapus on the Atlantic south of La Rochelle, a 3-hour drive to the west.

    One of my signature dinners. Limoges 2009.

    Making dinner for 4 Frenchmen – notorious for their delicate palate and cuisine – puts a bit of anxiety pressure on the shoulders of the worldtraveller used to eating sandwiches and canned camping food, but apparently he got out of it all right. I guess…

    Dinner with Alex, Willy, Marc, and Monelle...

    Tune of the Day: Comment ça va – The Shorts

    The Kings of Cocktails...


    Milestones Updated

    Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

    Milestones 53.000 km through 60.000 km is now updated here – the latter being the last “big” birthday in WT history.

    Nicolai (Limoges, France)


    Day 1.353 – Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf (UK)

    Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

    The timing here in Limoges has turned out to be perfect. On the occasion of Alex’ birthday yesterday, her parents have invited us all out for dinner in Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf – a fab restaurant some 50 km west of Limoges. I can’t remember when I last had such a beautiful and delicious dinner.

    The Crew (1):

    (from left: Willy, Norbert, Alex, Josette, Monelle, Marc, and I)

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    Mise en bouche:

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    First course:

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    Main course:

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.


    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    The Crew (2):

    Wonderful birthday dinner (Alex) at the Restaurant Le Roc Du Boeuf in Rochechouart, France.

    The Return:

    Night vision...

    Thank you so much, Norbert & Josette, for a wonderful evening.


    Day 1.352 – Celebrations (UK)

    Monday, December 21st, 2009

    0 km etc.

    More indoor cosiness in Limoges...

    Apart from a swift run down to the local supermarché to get some breakfast stuff – it’s Alex’ birthday today (I’ve promised not to talk about women’s age ;-) ) – I don’t leave the apartment all day. WT takes up hours of “work” (nothing new under the sun here), but the rest of this day, December 21st (that also welcomed my grandma Ella (1919-2006 and may she still rest in peace) and my old travel mate T. Frank to this world, and congrats to both of you) is pure back-kicking and boy have I needed this R&R. Beautiful timing.



    Wine is French, beer’s Belgian, food’s huge shrimps, atmosphere’s international. Limoges 2009.

    French wine, Belgian beer, international atmosphere. Limoges 2009.


    Day 1.351 – Decision-making (UK)

    Sunday, December 20th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Slippery When Icy...

    The decision to let the bike rest for a little while in Will’s basement, to enjoy the company of good friends instead of rushing through as I’ve pretty much been doing lately, isn’t really a hard one, once William tells me, encouragingly, that I can stay as long as I want here. Suddenly, it doesn’t make any sense to just keep rushing north to get to Belgium to meet Pablo, Guillemine, and Toon on Boxing Day. The roads are still snowcovered here in central France and the cycling evidently wouldn’t be very charming.

    Limoges Cathedral.

    So I’ll leave the bike here in Limoges, head to Brussels on Boxing Day, celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Belgian capital (BTW, if anyone knows of a party going on in Brussels on NYE 2009/2010 that needs a few (2) upbeat Vikings (Pablo and I) to get the party started, please let me know. Legend as well as rumour has it, it won’t be boring! :-) ), and then get back to my gear beginning of Januar and continue north, towards my beloved ones.

    Inside Limoges Cathedral.

    Old rickety building in Limoges...

    Bridge from the 13th century across River Vienne...


    Crepes a'la Will et Alex. Limoges, December 2009.

    …and a last one for today. From Limoges Cathedral, to all my loyal WT-readers. Merry Xmas!

    Merry Xmas!


    Day 1.350 – WT (A Place of Contrasts) (UK)

    Saturday, December 19th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Chilling in Limoges with William...

    The contrasts between a) the snowfilled, sub-zero challenges of yesterday’s roads and b) the comfy indoor life with my beautiful friends Alex and William (the keen WT-reader will remember Will from Chiang Mai, 2007), is hard to comprehend, yet that’s one of the big charms of this, my nomadic life.

    Old part of town, Limoges. December 2009.

    My days in Limoges with Alex and Will are spent eating and drinking (all of which belongs to an entirely different level of quality than I’m used to being just me), walks in the white streets of Limoges, hanging out, listening to music, watching movies, sharing perspectives on life etc, reliving good old memories from Chiang Mai, April 2007. Wonderful stuff that I’ve been missing lately.

    Cute St. Aurelien Church in Limoges.

    Marché de Noël, Limoges.

    When in Rome…

    Time for my first foie gras!

    The Cheese Mama.

    Can you imagine the smell in here? (very cheesy)

    I’d almost forgotten how it is waking up not having to move, to pedal 100+ km every day. I’ve slipped into a wonderful cruise speed mode despite the last-minute Xmas shopping frenzy in the downtown streets outside.

    Old part of town, Limoges. December 2009.

    Arvo draught with William and Alex in Limoges.

    Here in Limoges, I’ve been thrown out of my camping rhythm (wake up at sunup, sleep just after sundown) on the road, in favor of the nocturnal life rhythm of an owl.

    Delicatessen in Limoges.