Cycling Europe Day 58: From Atlantic to Mediterranean to Baltic

I wish I was smart enough to have come up with that myself. It just happened. I knew

Getting my feet wet for the first time in the Baltic.

Getting my feet wet for the first time in the Baltic.

when I was organizing my route that I’d be on the Atlantic in Portugal, the Mediterranean in Spain, France, and Italy, and the Baltic in Latvia and Estonia. I knew that. Then I completely forgot about the Baltic when the trip started. And I had never thought about this trip taking me from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean to the Baltic. I just hadn’t put two and two together.

I did though a few days ago. Since then, cycling towards today has been tremendously exciting. And now today has come.


It was an amazing feeling to get my first sight of the Baltic Sea and to wet my feet in its waters for the first time. I had never really thought about visiting the Baltic before. I live in a country that’s on two seas already. But now that I’m here, now that I got myself here by the sheer force of my own two legs, I am overjoyed.

We saw the Baltic for the first time midway through today’s ride. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 25: A Sob In My Belly

I have a sob in my belly that is trying to burst out.

Morning tea in Nice.

Morning tea in Nice.

I think I have experienced pure sensory overload today. I had to come back to my hotel earlier than I had planned because I was feeling too overwhelmed. I felt as if I was on the verge of a sensory meltdown.

I don’t even know where to start to explain it.

I was in Cannes yesterday. I had a wonderful spaghetti and meatball lunch while sitting on the corniche. I walked all over the city on a beautiful spring day. This morning I got on my bike and very lazily cycled off to my next destination. The whole route today was along the Mediterranean coast. I had a relatively short day today – around 50 km – so I was in no rush. I just cycled, looked at the water, marveled at the surrounding mountains, and enjoyed the day. I stopped in Nice for some tea. Actually, I really really had to pee and the whole area was full of people and buildings so I could only pee at a restaurant. I had Earl Grey tea while sitting on the corniche in Nice. Who does that?

My husband had warned me that to get to Monaco, I would have to climb a steep

This is where I want to spend the rest of my life.

This is where I want to spend the rest of my life.

mountain. I wanted to make sure I was taking the right route to Monaco. I stopped on older man on a bicycle. “Yes, yes,” he said. “You just continue straight. As long as you see the sea you will know you are in the right direction. But there is a big mountain to climb! Perhaps you should take the train?” I smiled and told him I wanted to go by bike. I thanked him and set off. To be sure, I asked two cyclists a short time later if this was the route to Monaco. “Yes,” one of them said. “But you will have to climb a mountain!” This repeated talk of mountains put fear in my heart. How bad must this mountain be? I wondered.

The road climbed marginally and I found myself looking down on the town I want to spend the rest of my life in. Villefranche-sur-Mer mesmerized me. The waters were turquoise blue, the town serene, the mountains hovered above it.

I kept waiting for the mountain. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 14: The Mediterranean, Baby!

It’s been two weeks since I started cycling from Lisbon, Portugal, on the west coast of

I figured this occasion was worthy enough of me stopping someone and asking them to take a picture of me - the first Proper one I have of myself on this trip.

I figured this occasion was worthy enough of me stopping someone and asking them to take a picture of me – the first Proper one I have of myself on this trip.

the Iberian Peninsula. I’ve had one rest day so far. In two weeks I cycled across Iberia from Lisbon in the west on the Atlantic Ocean to Vilanova i la Geltru on Spain’s east coast on the Mediterranean Sea. Unf#*%+ing believable!

I started my day in a bad mood. I was feeling lonely. I told my husband I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep this up on my own. He said to take it one day at a time. I rolled my eyes. I’m LONELY!

As I cycled on a gradual 40km-long incline, I thought to myself how there were advantages and disadvantages to this solo touring deal. (more…)

Egypt’s Tourism is Under Threat

Egypt is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I don’t say that because I’m Egyptian. I say that with the eye of a person who has traveled the world far and wide and has seen what the world – and Egypt – has to offer.

Northern Sinai

Put Cairo aside for a bit. The minute you step outside of Cairo, our country’s beautiful landscape will put you into a trance. If you travel up north, you’ll ride through our lusciously green Delta region, with the countless Nile tributaries feeding farmland as far as the eye can see. Travel further north, and you’ll reach the Mediterranean Sea and its quaint towns scattered along it. Alexandria is a jewel. It comes with centuries-worth of history and shines with its typical Mediterranean culture.

Travel south from Cairo along the Nile Valley and you’ll pass through rural southern towns known for their hospitality, strong accents, and great food. The further south you go, the bluer and the clearer the Nile waters get. Travel even further south and you will be stunned by 4000 years-worth of history and some of the most important antiquities mankind has to provide.

Travel west and you will venture into the Western Desert, with its never-ending sand dunes and scattered oases. And travel east and you will travel through the Eastern Desert to reach the Red Sea, with some of the best dive sites in the whole world.

And then there’s Cairo. Egyptians call it Masr – or simply Egypt – because it is everything that Egypt represents from history, to culture, to a gathering place of people and cultures, to chaos, to beauty and grandeur, to ugliness and pettiness.

Al-Azhar University in Old Cairo

Egyptians say that Egypt is the Mother of the World – umm addunya – and we truly believe it is. Egyptians also say that if you drink from the Nile River once, you will return to it. And definitely for most Egyptians, that’s true. Our attachment to our country is very strong no matter how strongly we criticize it. And most Egyptians who leave the country do eventually return, if even to be buried in its belly.

As a country, we have so much to offer to tourists. As a people, we’ve failed tourists miserably. (more…)