Browsing 2020 Europe Roadtrip

End of our 2020 European road trip :)


We had a great trip :).

We got back on August 6th to Valencia Spain so a good 36 days out in nature. We did two long days of driving to get back a little early as France was about to get hit by a heatwave and we were struggling to find places to stay. August in Europe is a big vacation month and we didn’t plan that far ahead :).

Notes for next time:

  • Book a minimum of 7 days in each place. We found it much more chill and easy if we stayed at least 7 days in a place. It gave us the space to get settled, do some day trips, and relax. We did a few 5-day stays and it was too short. We really enjoy longer stays too we’ve found.
  • Plan ahead if in the midst of summer :). We had good reason not too because we wanted to stay flexible in the face of Covid and uncertainty there.
  • We did pretty well, but making sure we plan activities for Calico is key. Whether that is the playground, swimming, hiking, but something for him is important.
  • We spent ~$125 USD a night on average. That is pretty good for summer and some of the last-minute bookings we made. It does remind us why we like the offseason though as it is quite a bit cheaper than peak summer.

Some of my fav family pics :)

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Salzburg Austria and Freiburg Germany


We spent a little less than a week in both Salzburg and Freiburg. I went on some amazing bike rides and I was blown away by the biking infrastructure in Austria. I am pretty sure I could bike to Vienna on purely bike path.

We had a short visit with Salzburg on our trip with Lindsey’s mom in 2015. It was great to see more of it, especially in summer and when we were able to bike. Very fun time at a gorgeous lake too.

I spent the month of August in Freiburg in 2013 and it was really cool to spend 5 days here again. We also managed a short visit from Strasbourg via train when Calico was 6 months old. It is a beautiful city in the black forest.

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We’ve been in Ljubljana Slovenia for a week and it is an amazing country. It is so beautiful and we’ve had a great time! I didn’t find many bike rides that were not on roads, but still got a few rides in (more altitude than i am used too!). I hope they build more cycle paths out into the country as the city is amazing for bicyclists.

The people we’ve met are super nice and it feels semi-normal here. Very low COVID rates. That said we take all the same precautions here and everyone here is wearing masks inside and following the rules (that we saw).

And, a wet fun bike ride this Saturday morning :)

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Lombardy Italy…


Driving in Italy is crazy. Sometimes stereotypes seem accurate. My new nickname for Italian drivers is “blindspot”. They also don’t believe in turn signals, staying in the lines, consistent speeds, etc. Riveting few days of driving :).

We drove from the French Riviera to a small town outside of Milan to stay one night before driving onward to Slovenia. We were really careful in this area despite the low COVID numbers. The hotel scheduled dinner and breakfast for us in the room and the entire stay felt weird. The hotel was deserted and the town felt dead. They had strict protocols for check-in, nobody in lobbies, no use of the elevator, masks at all times in common areas, etc. It was great to see compliance and the ways they are changing to keep this in check. Everyone was super friendly.

I had a beautiful 40km ride the morning before we headed out. They had a beautiful path along the river in Parco Regionale del Serio.

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Ligure & Bike Ride Along Coast (Parco Costiero del Ponente Ligure)


We are staying in this area for 3 days to cool off and enjoy a stay in the woods near the coast. Calico is overjoyed as they have a trampoline!

Today we drove down to the coast and I did a 45km bike ride while Lindsey and Calico had some breakfast and played in the sea. The bike ride was amazing. It was a converted rail track and really well done (in Italy?!? WHAT!?). It went right along the ocean and through some tunnels and was super relaxing. Otherwise, we are enjoying some Italian wine, food, and gelato :). Masks are in high use here, which is good to see. Tourism seems like it is low.

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Avignon and Provence


We were set to stay longer in Avignon but it was hot and our place was a bust. So we left early to get a jump on our long drive over to Slovenia. So, we are in Italy on the Riveria staying on a beautiful little farm area in the mountains and about 10 min from the beach. It is much cooler here and we have more space for Calico. We felt like he didn’t have anywhere to play in Avignon, we couldn’t find a park and our place was really hot. And, it was so full of old weird furniture you could barely breathe. Oh well, live and learn on picking a place :).

Calico has done so well in the car. Our longest day was one 8 hour day on our first day. And, since then I think only 4 hour days that we try to time with his nap. He is a happy little kid :). And, Lindsey packed him a ton of things to play with.

I did about 1.5 hours on the Rhone EuroVelo 17 route by Avignon. It wasn’t too bad, and I’d love to do it one day. The ride I did was next to a highway though but still pretty parts. I was pretty worn out with the heat and the place we were staying. On a little baby ride around Avignon, I got another flat, 3rd one of the trip and I am guessing it was glass or a thorn.

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300 Year Old Village, Gers, and Roman Villa


Lindsey found a cool 300-year-old village nearby, and we stopped at it the day before we left Landes. You take a 10 min train ride into the village and then just walk around. It was pretty chill and had some amazing bread.

And, we stopped at some Roman ruins on the way which had amazing mosaics. And, we got Calico something fun :)

And, we went through 3 towns in Gers which were beautiful. We want to plan a trip back :). We had an amazing lunch in there with some of the best lamb I’ve had in a while.

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Stop 2: Carcassonne and Mazamet


We are staying in a weird little town called Mazamet. It is pretty lifeless, but we are glad we checked it out though. Great bike ride nearby and pretty countryside.

We are close to Carcassonne castle, and we took Calico to visit the castle. It was great :). Not many tourists in the morning, and way less than normal IMO. They do well on masks, shortened the times you can go in, and I think they cut a lot of the inside tour. This is my 3rd time to visit Carcassonne, my first trip was in 05/06, with Lindsey on our road trip in 2017, and now with Lindsey and my son. Pretty cool :)

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PassaPaïs Cycle Route + 145km Ride


The PassaPaïs Cycle Route is this amazing greenway that is ~75km one way and covers an old railway line. That means no cars, beautiful greenery, mountains, cows, and vineyards. It goes from Mazamet to Bédarieux. You can even go further from Bédarieux to Beziers and the canal down there if you so wanted.

I decided to do the full thing the day before we left and it was a blast. It was 1km shy of hitting my record for the longest ride that I did about 4 days ago. I did 145km in 7 hours 8 minutes, an average speed of around 21kmph, and about 1,000m of elevation gain.

They have some nasty thorns in Mazamet as in 3 days of riding I’ve had a flat 2 of the days. I changed my first tire on this bike and got some good practice. The first one took 40 min and the second 30 min. The hardest part is getting the tire off/on (and this isn’t even a road bike).

A blurb on the route:

A track cutting right through the Languedoc Mountains, it presents two distinct sides of southern France. At the border between the counties of the Tarn and Hérault, you reach a major watershed – to the west, the rivers head for the Atlantic, to the east to the Mediterranean. In fact, this route takes its name from the Occitan expression “PassaPaïs” (meaning passing from one land to another).

There is a really cool part where you go through a LONG tunnel and go from the rainy side to the dryer/sunnier side. Fun times. I def needed to pack more water and stopped for a coke and water refill at some point.

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Stop 1: South West France


We grabbed a big van, loaded up my bike and Calico’s bike, a bunch of gear, and took off on July 1st! We drove from Valencia to South West France and took a really beautiful route through the Pyrenees. The number of tunnels was crazy, it went from dry and sunny on the Spanish side to 25 degrees cooler and fog on the French side.

What have we been doing?

  • Chilling, it is nice to be in the quiet woods.
  • Went to the Atlantic Ocean a few times. The water was really really rough, so I swam but Calico just played in the surf a little with me holding him and then tide ponds.
  • Went to a beautiful lake to swim and hang out.
  • Went to a wonderful market in Dax and had a fun day.
  • Eating and drinking some delicious foods.
  • I’ve been going on some morning bike rides.

We are being very careful as we travel, we are only staying in AirBNB’s 99% of the time, only eating outside, wearing a mask if we pop in somewhere, and otherwise staying away from the Covid risks. We are looking forward to enjoying some outdoor time on this trip.

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Longest bike ride, new record!


146km in 6 hours 42 minutes (~91 miles). Average speed a little under 22kph and 600 to 960m elevation gain (maps differ in estimate).

It was a beautiful ride near the Atlantic coast in South West France. I was on the EV1 route and I hope to do it one day as the cycle path was fantastic. I planned it with Komoot and apart from a weird hour on a semi-busy road it was great (they make it easy to export to Garmin gear). The last hour was HARD, and the last 30 minutes even harder.

My previous record was 117km in 5 hours 28 minutes that I did on a bike tour in France in 2018 (fully loaded bags).

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This is bwb’s personal blog, so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up to, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean (although mostly at sunset, as I’m a ginger). I love to travel, eat exotic food, do long bike rides, read, and use my imagination. At some point, I decided it was better to be a pirate captain than an admiral. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).