Cycling Europe Days 20 to 23: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Today was my 20th cycling day and it was absolutely miserable – albeit with some

Place de la Comedie, Montpellier, France

Place de la Comedie, Montpellier, France

really great views.

I was due “miserable”. I just had three absolutely perfect days with my husband. Colin arrived by plane into Montpellier on Saturday morning – I had arrived by bike the previous evening. When I cycled into Montpellier on Friday, I was rather taken aback by how crowded and dirty it appeared to me. Th crowds in Place de la Comedie in the city’s historic center were so dense and noisy that I looked for a restaurant where I could eat inside, just to get some relative quiet. I promised myself to reserve judgement on the city until Colin came and we had some time to see it properly together.

My verdict: Montpellier is a beautiful town and everything looks better when I’m able

Cycling with my husband on one of the few easy days I've had on this trip. He no longer believes it's been challenging.

Cycling with my husband on one of the few easy days I’ve had on this trip. He no longer believes it’s been challenging.

to share it with my husband. It’s that simple. We spent Saturday walking around Montpellier, Sunday cycling to the beach and lazing about, and Monday we cycled 70km together to my next destination, Arles. Every single day was perfect. Every place we visited was beautiful. The cycling was easy and tremendously enjoyable.

This has given me the chance to see solo-cycling for a family woman like myself in a different light. A very large part of the challenge for me is not in doing this generally; it’s in doing this alone. I have always been able to enjoy my own company and to go places on my own. But solo-cycling for weeks on end, being solely responsible for everything, not being able to depend on anyone but oneself or complete strangers when necessary, having no one to talk to or to share the experience with: I’m finding that very very difficult. I think it has resulted in me seeing and experiencing things in a very different way than if I were to have done this with my husband or with a group of people. Yet at the same time doing it alone has its rewards. The sense of accomplishment is fulfilling. And then I’ve promised myself not to hold back on my dreams when I’m able to achieve them simply because I don’t have a chaperone to accompany me on them.

Arles, France is a must-see.

Arles, France is a must-see.

So I had three perfect days with my husband. And we parted ways this morning: he set off to the train station to go back to Montpellier to catch his flight home to the UK and I cycled off into the sunrise to Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume. Lots of tears and snot were involved. The first 70km of today’s journey were not bad. The road was gradually ascending but barely enough for me to notice. My first problem occurred when I suddenly found myself cycling onto a motorway. I have absolutely no idea how it happened. One second I was on a quiet country road and the next I was on a crazy French motorway. It freaked the heck out of me. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 19: El-Awady Galactica

Every day it’s pretty much same ol’ same ol’. There’s hardly any point telling the story

It was an especially beautiful morning in the galaxy today.

It was an especially beautiful morning in the galaxy today.

anymore. It’s getting old.

Captain Nadia El-Awady, now the elder of the El-Awady clan after their father passed away (ألف رحمة ونور عليه) and thus the captain, quickly downs her breakfast before she begins her work for the day. She takes her seat at the helm of El-Awady Galactica, a small ship that in no way properly represents the greatness of the El-Awadys. It does, on the other hand, reflect their sense of humility.

As Captain Nadia steers her way through the galaxy – as one does – she receives a red alert from Little Man In My Head, her constant companion (one of a multitude).

“Warning! Warning! Meteor shower approaches from the northwest!” shouts Little Man with his very big voice.

The meteor shower threatens to push the Galactica off course. It is severe today and we are heading right towards it.