A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about biking

Cycling in Italy

By Abby

sunny 28 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

The weather these past few days has been extremely hot, as you know, and according to the weather forecast, today was not going to be any cooler. We got up early this morning in order to start our bike ride as we wanted to start off during the cooler part of the day. When we did get out of the house, however, we were greeted with four bikes in very rough shape. It took about twenty minutes to get the seats to the right height and the tires pumped up, and even then, we left with both of my dad’s tires in pretty flat condition. We found our path easily, thanks to the questions we’d asked and research we’d done the night before. Our plan was to ride next to the river and into a near town for some drinks and refreshments before returning home. We took a few wrong turns but in the end we got to the town in one piece, but we were all very, very hot. We locked up our bikes and stopped in at a little cafe we found. My mom and I ordered soft drinks, while Hannah and my dad went for coffee, Hannah’s cold and my dad’s hot. Hannah didn’t end up liking hers, so I was able to drink it and she ordered a San Pellegrino like my mom. But we didn’t stay long, and soon we were back on our bikes and down the trail again. The way back took half the time as we were able to stay to the right paths. The weather wasn’t nearly as hot as the day before and there was a cool breeze included, so we all enjoyed ourselves a lot. Going back down the roads into our town, we found one stretch closed off to a street market. We decided that we would go home and clean up a little before returning though, as we were all pretty sweaty.

At the market Hannah and I set off together to look at the clothes and my parents checked out the food stalls and a nearby grocery store. Most of the vendors who were selling clothes had trucks with changing stalls made of sheets set up for people who wanted to try on clothes. Hannah and I wandered around the stalls for a while, and in the end I picked up a formal and a casual dress, while Hannah opted for one that doubled as a skirt.

We met two hot and tired parents by a fountain nearby and we made one last trip into the grocery store to get some lunch and ice cream. After we ate and showered, both my mom and my dad settled down for some naps, while Hannah and I did some relaxing of our own (reading, researching and “internet-ing”). In the afternoon we played a game of Dutch Blitz (I won, Mom came last), and I made dinner while the other three battled it out in a highly intense game of cribbage (my dad slaughtered both of them...but my mom still came last). After hamburgers we all went off into our separate corners to do various tasks such as uploading pictures, writing blogs, and planning for the days to come.

Posted by KZFamily 00:59 Archived in Italy Tagged italy hot biking Comments (3)

Dam Bikes!

BY ABBY

sunny 18 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Each bike needs two locks

Each bike needs two locks

Today our plan was to go to Amsterdam and spend time in the city, so that we wouldn't feel like we missed out on the actual city when we went to see some museums later in the week. Getting there was relatively easy, and the tram and metro were pretty uncomplicated. We went to rent bikes so that we could get around the city, but not have to worry about parking. Amsterdam streets are very busy, with both bikes and cars, but we were glad that there were bike lanes on almost every street. In Holland it is very common for people to use their bikes as a main mode of transportation, and we really saw this in Amsterdam. We decided to start off in Vondelpark, a very popular park for people to bike, and to bring their dogs and small children. The park itself was beautiful, and there are green trees everywhere. So far in Europe we have noticed that most parks and gardens aren't as well kept as we are used to back at home, but this one was definitely an exception. We stopped for a while in the park to have a picnic lunch, as it was really nice out. The sun hasn't been shining much this trip, if you don't count our month in Kas, so we are trying to take advantage of the nice days that we've got.

After we had gotten used to the bikes in the park, we decided to head out into the city. Our first stop was Museum Square, where we found the "I amsterdam" sign and a variety of museums. We locked up our bikes and walked around for a little, taking pictures in front of the sign and of the buildings nearby. After this quick stop we biked to Dam Square to see the Royal Palace, losing my mother on the way.

Biking in such a large, busy city was definitely an experience, and even though we had a couple of mishaps (two crashes, two people lost and many wrong turns) it was still fun in the end. You can tell who the locals are, just by seeing how they deal with the number of people in cars, bikes and on foot. We saw people texting and talking on the phone as they rode down the street, barely looking up as they went. But we aren't the only ones who see the busyness of it all, as I heard one English tourist exclaim, "Bikes.. everywhere!" as we passed.

It was about three o'clock when we returned our bikes, and walked back to Museum Square where we bought some juice and Magnum bars to enjoy in the sun. When we were finished we went to the Van Gogh Museum for a little change of pace.

Van Gogh: Self Portrait

Van Gogh: Self Portrait

I found the museum quite interesting, even if I didn't like all of the work that was displayed. Most of the dark pieces weren't to my liking, and some of the bright pieces, like "Sunflowers" weren't either. One whole floor was dedicated to colour, and how they were discovering how the paint had faded since the time they were painted. Another section was on how Van Gogh used his canvases, as x-rays show that he would reuse canvases he had already painted on, when he didn't need the picture anymore. It was common for him to use the front and backs of canvases, so there were some pictures showcasing both sides. Just a few days ago we bought a cartoon book about Van Gogh's time in Paris, so I'm excited to learn more about him. My favourite paintings of Van Gogh's are "Almond Blossom", "The Potato Eaters", and "Starry Night" (which, unfortunately, wasn't displayed here).

We did a quick grocery shop as we left the museum, but from here it was back to the car. We spent the evening watching a few West Wings (what did you expect?) and then were off to bed. We were all pretty tired from today, both from the exercise and the stress of it all, but after everything, I can still say it was a very full and enjoyable day.

Posted by KZFamily 04:21 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam netherlands holland sunny biking van_gogh Comments (3)

Biking and Fishing in Valencia

By Abby

sunny 18 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

Today was a fun day, which I had been looking forward to ever since I heard about the wonders of Valencia. Today we got to rent bikes and go to Europe's largest aquarium. We left our apartment a little after nine this morning, and walked down to the bike rental shop and picked up a 9€ bike for each of us. They were pretty scuffed up, but they served their purpose, even though they didn't have any gears. We rode on small one-way streets and hopped on and off our bikes as we avoided pedestrians and cars. But finally we made it to the park and had a nice quick ride through it. When we came to the area of town where the aquarium was, we were surprised to see how large and modern it looked. There were many shallow, and very blue, pools of water by the buildings, which were all very oddly shaped and most of which were bright white. The walkways around the pools were made of grey, square stones and white mosaic tile. My dad said that he was surprised at how little people think about the durability and upkeep of a building and its surroundings when they build it. To this I replied that if people kept that in mind all buildings would be boring and old... he agreed. After slowly biking around the area we stopped for a little picnic of crackers, cheese and granola bars. We finished off our lunch with some chocolate, and for a couple of us some oranges. After packing up we locked our bikes at a bike rack and bought ourselves some outrageously expensive tickets to the aquarium.

Valencia Aquarium

Valencia Aquarium

The first couple exhibits we went to consisted of some small, but unusual, fish, as well as some odd and brightly coloured birds. I enjoyed seeing the different types of fish, especially a 70 metre long tunnel you could walk through while watching the fish that swam around you. The birds were also interesting, as most were species I hadn't even heard of before. In their enclosure they had ponds which had very large fish and some small turtles as well. After this we sat down for a little to enjoy the sun that had finally revealed itself. Some of the exhibits were outside, making the weather an important aspect of our day. We had planned to go see the giant turtles after this, but were disappointed to find that they had left until spring, to avoid the cold weather. But we quickly revised our schedule and went off to see the sharks. In the indoor parts of the aquarium there was always music playing, and it changed depending on what kinds of animals you were looking at. The music at the shark tank was very mysterious and a little disturbing, which I found suited the scene quite well. This part of the aquarium was one of my favourites, as there was another tunnel. Though not as long as the last one, I found that I liked it better. This was because the water was higher around the tunnel, so when a fish swam overtop, it looked as though it had gone through the glass and was just floating above us, out of water. It was a very cool effect, and we spend while admiring the underbellies of sharks, rays and other sea creatures. My favourite animals in this area were the sawfish and the sunfish, both of which are extremely odd looking creatures.

After the shark tank we went to see the belugas, which for me was a little underwhelming. Although I loved seeing their cute little faces, they never once came up to the glass and half of their tank you were unable to see. Plus, there were only two, and even though one had recently given birth they had taken the baby away and he/she was nowhere to be found. Also seals kept swimming in from the other half of their enclosure which made it very hard to concentrate on the belugas. But nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing them again.

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

From belugas we went to dolphins which were in an outside arena because of the show that was happening soon. Hannah and my dad went to sit near the front, while my mom and I chose the farthest and highest corner, which was the only place that got sun. But when the show started we made our way down to the seats they had graciously saved for us, and sat down right next to the world's cutest baby, who was sleeping away in his snowsuit. The show went on for about 20 minutes, and tied (if not beat) the sharks for my favourite part of the day. It was a spectacular performance that included synchronized flips from the dolphins, as well as their trainers being moved through the water by the dolphins pushing their feet. One time during the show two of the dolphins jumped very high in the air and, by keeping their noses on the trainer's feet, brought the trainer into a spectacular jump and dive with them. But the show unfortunately had to end, and as we had nothing else to see in the aquarium, our day there had to end as well. But since we had the bikes until 7:30, we decided to ride around the park for a little while before riding home, which went very smoothly. Along the way we picked up some dinner (pizza and a salad) and went home to enjoy a simple, tasty and warm meal. After dinner Hannah and my mom went out shopping together, and my dad was forced to go alone as I opted to stay in and relax, as I had done some shopping the previous evening.

We all hope that you are enjoying beginning of the holiday season, and we wish you good luck and success in Christmas shopping as well.

Posted by KZFamily 02:13 Archived in Spain Tagged valencia biking aquarium Comments (3)

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