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Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  #571  
Old 12 Jun 2015
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Updated from Mar 16 2015: Riding Through The Cevennes



We're departing Carcassonne on a cold, but sunny day. At least the weather is finally co-operating. Today, the plan is to ride through the Regional Park of Haut-Languedoc and play in the mountains in nearby Cévennes National Park.


We ride through many quaint and tiny towns inside the park


Stopped for lunch at Le Caylar and spotted this neat castle (Castel Roc) overlooking the town


The rest of the afternoon was spent criss-crossing the many twisty roads in Cévennes National Park

Within the park's boundaries are several mountains and nestled in the valleys between are these amazingly twisty roads. It's the middle of the workweek and we have the roads all to ourselves. Strange that we haven't seen any bikers around though...


As we climb up one of the mountains, we see some white stuff on the ground. Uh oh.
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  #572  
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At this point, I had to put the camera away for fear I'd slide off the road!

We're getting the idea that our departure from sunny Spain might have been a bit premature. It seems most of the French bikers still have their motos in the garage. We tip-toe up the mountain and breath a sigh of relief as the descent melts the snow around us. Neda radios me and tells me the temperature has dipped to freezing at the peak of our run. *ugh*


Passing through more picturesque towns in Cévennes National Park


Every small French town has a church, which is typically the highest building




Just ouside Treves heading to the Groges du Tarn
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  #573  
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The road winds above the gorge and we duck in and out of holes blasted through the shale and granite of the area


Leaves left over from autumn last year



What a pretty part of France! I'm glad that we got to explore this region, it's actually a lot more scenic than the the Côte d'Azur. It's too bad that we are here early in the season, it must be beautiful in the summertime! Being out in the nature and tackling all the twisty roads here have visibly improved Neda's mood. Despite the freezing temperatures, I think we made the right decision to get off our asses in Spain.

We spent the night in the northern edge of the park in a small town called Balsièges and in the morning, we headed straight for Lyon about three hours to the north-east. Going to do some sightseeing tomorrow!


But first, we need some Euros. Drive-thru ATMs are very popular in the US.
We're introducing this concept to France...
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  #574  
Old 12 Jun 2015
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Hellou..it is amazing what you decide to sell everything and do this adventures..it is waw..Me and my husband we want to go around Africa.start in oktomber and the first stop is in Morocco..for us it will be a great help to give us som tips where to sleep... Thank you.
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  #575  
Old 12 Jun 2015
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I love you blogs posts, thanks for sharing.
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  #576  
Old 15 Jun 2015
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Thanks guys, really appreciate all the comments and encouragement. Glad you're enjoying traveling with us!
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  #577  
Old 15 Jun 2015
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/223.html



We are actually staying in a small suburb of Lyon called Saint-Priest because the accommodations downtown are too expensive. That's the nice part about having the bikes in Europe, we don't have to stay in the touristy areas but when we get there, parking is free!

Neda is trying out something new. She's found a volunteer organization of city guides and has organized for us a free tour of Lyon! We always like it when a local shows us around town.


This is Jean-Jacques, our guide around Lyon!

We met Jean-Jacques in one of the main squares in the centre of Lyon, Place de Terreux. He was very helpful and asked us what we'd like to see in the city. We definitely didn't want to see any more old buildings and museums, so we told him we liked photography and asked to see the uncommon things that only the locals knew about. He nodded his head knowingly and proceeded to show us the Insiders Tour of Lyon! Cool!


Government buildings at the Place de Terreux


Lyon is built at the confluence of two rivers, the Saône, Rhône. The old city is built on the shores of the Saône


One of the many bridges that cross the Saône, this one is pedestrian only


Lover's Locks on the bridge. These are commonplace everywhere in the world!
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  #578  
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Jean-Jacques shows us one of the city's official bouchons

A bouchon is a traditional Lyonnais eatery, not a fancy restaurant, but a place where you can nosh on deliciously prepared portions of meat - specifically pork. There are only about 20 official bouchons recognized by the city, and they are tucked away on side streets that many tourists would not otherwise give a second glance at. We take note of a couple of Jean-Jacques favorites.


Murals of Lyon

Lyon is also well-known for its murals painted across many of the buildings in the downtown and the old city. They're not really that old, but there are enough of them scattered all over the place that they give the city a very artistic vibe.


Some of the murals are very lifelike!


Vieux Lyon (Old town) is full of cafes and bistros lining its cobblestone streets


Wonder what's behind this door?

There is a hidden city within Lyon. There exist these mysterious passageways known only to locals that go through the ground floor of some of the buildings in the old city. There are many streets that run parallel to the river, but not many that run perpendicular. These passageways called Traboules allow pedestrians a shortcut to get between the parallel streets without having to go around the building to the next block. Kind of like entering the lobby of a building from the south on 1st Street and then exiting on the north door to get out on 2nd Street. Except much cooler... because these are secret!
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  #579  
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Exiting a Traboule to get out onto the next street


Beautiful architecture that reach up the height of the buildings inside the narrow enclosed courtyards of the Traboules

Traboules were initially built in the 4th century and allowed the inhabitants to get from the river to the hill more easily. The doors are not marked at all and unless you live here, you need some kind of map or guide to show you where all the Traboules are. This played a huge role in WWII when the local resistance fighters would evade the invading Nazis forces and prevent them from completely taking over the city


All are welcome to use the Traboules, but they need to be quiet and respect the residents who live above them


Traboule entrances also double as the entrances to the buildings themselves


Jean-Jacques shows us more cool architecture inside another Traboule
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  #580  
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The interior world of the Traboules really reminded me of the movie Dark City
with the claustrophobic buildings that changed configuration every night!


Lyon is world-renowned within the silk and textile industry. Long before WWII, these traboules were used by workers to transport their goods from the mills and workshops at the top of the hill to the merchants near the river. In fact, Jean-Jacques was in the textile business before he retired. As we walked around the old town, he weaved together stories of the history of Lyon with his own life story of growing up in this city. It made it so much more personal.

We're not sure what we want to do when our trip ends, but being a tour guide sure seems like a lot of fun!


Back out in the old city, a cruiser roars past us on the cobblestone roads


Saint-Jean Cathedral


Hanging out at Place Bellecour with Louis XIV looking down upon us


Another local secret

Jean-Jacques also pointed out on the map this great viewpoint that is in a little park hidden away on one of the hills overlooking the city. There's a plaque up there that informed us that Lyon is the sister city to Montreal! A Canadian connection!

We had done a lot hiking today, so we took a nap on one of the benches and woke up to a great view of the city.
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  #581  
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Statue by the foot of the river


During WWII, this building was hit by a bomb that didn't explode, but left a scar on its face instead


Palais de Justice, right on the river bank


Lyon also has an amphitheatre! Of course, Neda has to investigate and report her findings back to the city officials in Pula.

Lyon is a really picturesque city. We are getting a much different impression of France than the one we got when we skirted the French Riviera last winter. It also helps that we've got a local to help guide and organize what we are seeing. I think part of our travel-fatigue stems from the effort needed to research all the things we want to see and do.


Brilliant, bright blue day above the old buildings of Lyon

We picked an amazing day for sightseeing! Yesterday's ride and today's weather gave us a bit of a boost to our travel-weary spirits. I'm wary that our moods do seem to be on a bit of a roller-coaster, but perhaps the warm season ahead in comfortable surroundings will give us a bit of an even keel.
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  #582  
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/224.html



Aaaand we're tired again.

We rode further north underneath grey skies, typical of early spring in France. Branches are bare, the air is cold and the boring straight roads dump our weary bikes onto the outskirts of Dijon. We're staying at another AirBnB and our host Alain greets us at the apartment. Alain speaks only a bit of English - unfortunately about as much French as I do, but when he sees our bikes, I can sense that he really wants to ask us questions about our trip, but discussing anything above and beyond logistics just devolves into pantomimes and hapless, confused shrugs.

I really wished I had paid more attention in French classes at school. This is turning out to be the biggest regret of this trip - that I had the opportunity not just to learn another language, but to do it at an age when my brain was way more malleable such that new languages would come easier later on in life, like the way it does with Neda.


This church looked interesting, so we stopped for a break


Neda is Shocked to discover her bike can't use these charging stations.

We've actually chosen to stay in Dijon because we're meeting a couple of Internet friends here! Colleen and Dan are American ex-pats living in nearby Switzerland just a couple of hours away and when I mentioned to them our planned route, they volunteered to meet us along the way. Colleen is very active on the forums and has written up several of her motorcycle trips, but since she used to live on the west coast, I've never actually met her. But that didn't stop her from greeting us at our apartment with a big smile and a hug! Funny how you can feel like you know someone without ever having seen them in person!

We spent a nice evening over dinner chatting about bikes, Europe, travel - all things near and dear to our hearts. This animated discussion continued over breakfast the next day and I realized we were so engrossed in the great conversation that I hadn't taken any pictures! So as they were leaving to head back to Switzerland:


Wishing Colleen and Dan a safe trip back to Switzerland! See you again, soon!

We had been in Dijon for a few days now, just vegging in the apartment that we hadn't even made it outside to see the old city. Supposedly it was quite pretty. We're really dragging our feet to do any kind of sightseeing, but before leaving Dijon, we made a half-hearted effort to see the historic centre.


Cobble-stone roads mark our destination
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  #583  
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Rows of chimera on the Church of Notre-Dame


Inside Notre-Dame, beautiful!


And my favorite - candles.


We walk around the old city and stumble upon a merry-go-round


Buildings showing off their half-timbered frames are examples of "colombage" architecture which is very common in France


And of course, when you're Dijon, you have to try the Dijon mustard!

They say the best Dijon mustard is Edmond Fallot. We have never seen so many flavours of Dijon mustard! We visited the factory store downtown. It was a lot of fun trying all the different flavours until the store kicked us out when it was evident we weren't going to buy anything... So expensive! We're planning to pick some up in a grocery store where we know it will be cheaper than in the tourist district!
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  #584  
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Hobos 4 Life! Window shopping...


Well, that was nice. Let's go!


Leaving Dijon



Onwards to Paris!!! Well, not quite...

We're still so tired, so we've booked into another AirBnB apartment in Vauréal, a suburb just 40 minutes north-west of the city. We've waited all winter to see Northern Europe and now that we're here, we don't really feel like going out. I don't feel so bad hibernating inside because the weather has been so grey, cold and rainy.


Our little suburban hideaway

Marielle, our AirBnB host, has welcomed us into her apartment by leaving us with a bottle of wine and a tub of something called terrine, which looks and tastes like pâté. I asked what the difference was, she couldn't explain, but she said it was *definitely* not pâté! I looked it up later on the Internet and still couldn't understand the difference. It seemed to be one of those funny Parisian je-ne-sais-quoi-mais-il-n'est-pas-pâté-certainement! But terrine turned out to be one of our favorite foods, and we kept going to and from the grocery store to buy more tubs of I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Pâté....
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  #585  
Old 22 Jun 2015
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Neda has found a new hobby!

For a while now, Neda's been plagued with a lack of a hobby. Unlike the blog, which I pretend to keep updated (but actually never do), she needs something to occupy herself. She's read over a thousand books while we've been on this trip, she's on Level 9,372 on Candy Crush and she's slowly going out of her mind. While I'm content to read and write, take pictures and edit videos, my wife is more of a hands-on kind of person and needs something physical to do, which is why she likes cooking, hiking, yoga, etc.

She's found the perfect hobby in needle-point. It's keeps her hands busy, is portable enough for motorcycle travel and she really enjoys it. Neda told me it was something her mom used to as well.

I've been so worried about Neda's mood for a long time now, but already I sense a change from her previous bouts of restlessness.


Dropping Neda off at the airport. In the rain, of course...

Since we're staying in Vauréal for a while, we looked into flights to Italy so Neda could visit her sister and niece for a long weekend. I knew RyanAir flights were cheap, but I didn't know that it literally costs €19 to fly from Paris to Milan. It cost us more in gas to ride from Vaureal to the airport and back... Crazy!

So off she went! And while Neda spent time with family, I had a grand ole time not updating the blog and gorging myself on terrine!


With Neda back from Italy, our social calendar fills up in Vauréal

Marielle moved into her boyfriend's place while we stayed in her apartment and she invited us over for dinner one evening. They just lived down the street from us!


Hanging out with Marielle and Stefane

Our hosts were so friendly and gracious and although their English was not very good, it was still better than my French, and we were able to share a little bit about all of ourselves. I really like seeing how other people around the world live their everyday lives, how some things are so similar to us, and how other things may look and taste like pâté but are not.

Sorry, I can't let it go. It's pâté.


Stefane cooking us a traditional French meal from the region with cornish hen. Merveilleux!

We were introduced to Stefane's little boy, and they both encouraged him to practice his English with us. We spent the evening huddled around an iPad and an atlas sharing the pictures we had taken and pointing out where we had gone on the map. I realized that Marielle and Stefane were seizing the opportunity to demonstrate to Stefane's son how important it was to learn English.

And if things go according to plan, there'll be an additional future world traveler able to learn and converse in multiple languages wandering around this planet!
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