Category Archives: Blog in english

What we enjoy

After three very enjoyable rest days at the wonderful Synchronicity Farm we manage to leave at the late hour of 10am. Cycling along the Summerland Way is nice, there is not much traffic and and the hills are easy enough with our well rested muscles. Josh and Tomoko even made us a care package out of grilled vegetables and salad to go – an awesome change to our usual bread with cheese or jam.

p1110339Aside from breaks for eating there is not much to stop for and so we find a free camp in a beautiful clearing in the woods. It seems to be made for our tent!

p1110341All in all it is a wonderful day: I enjoy cycling, the hills, the scenery and I feel capable.

Same same but different

The next day is kind of the same but feels entirely different. We are still on the beautiful Summerland Way which leads us over a lot of hills…

p1110343_v1… we find cool mail boxes…

p1110344… and nice country roads.

p1110351But somehow every hill fells exhausting and we would have quite a long day to reach our host for the night. And my muscles are still tired from yesterday. So I’m having a hard time doing basically exactly the same as yesterday but not feeling the same excitement and not feeling very capable as well. Somehow we finally reach Lismore, go shopping for some food and cycle towards our host Rod’s house. And I can’t believe that we have to cycle up two ridiculously steep hills to his house. I feel like I can’t do it any more, I don’t want to, I just want to stop. Of course sleeping on the side of a road in a town is not the best option, so after some cursing and waiting around I manage to push up the hills and we finally find Rod’s house. Once we’re there he and his wife Jean welcome us warmly and Rod offers us beers and with the drinks we relax and talk. He travelled a lot and has so many interesting stories to share! And I forget how hard it was, once again.

The next day I want to take it easy and that means not too much cycling but long breaks. And so we end up in Nimbin, a town with lots of history in protests against deforestation of rain forests and today known for another sort of green plant (‘wink’). On our way we also see lots of these signs:

p1110361People are protesting against coal mining and especially fracking which is an environmentally extremely questionable mining technique.

Our break with some coffee is amazing and I actually get to read a book (in the evenings I’m mostly too tired). Our next road leads us deep into Mebbin National Park which is so so beautiful:

p1110367p1110378But steep hills on gravel roads make for tiring cycling and even with a stop for a muesli bar I’m exhausted and barely make it to the camp site. Once we’re there, I almost finish our bag of nuts and realize that I’m just ravenously hungry! There really seems to be a huge difference in cycling hilly or flat roads regarding the amount of food you need!

p1110390On the next day – after stopping at that creative roadside stall for bananas – we make some adjustments in our planning – at the moment I’m just not fit enough to do an 1000m incline in a day. And I don’t feel like pushing myself that hard either. For me it’s more about enjoying myself and cycling is a way of travelling. I know that it’s going to be exhausting at times but I rather go slowly and see and enjoy things in between that just pushing forward. And the last days were quite challenging.

So I write a rather spontaneous warmshowers request for the same night to Robyn and Kevin and they invite us to stay for the night. I am very grateful to them as a real bed and nice company is just what I need. On our way we see some artwork…

p1110399and I just love those colours…

p1110401With an ice cream stop on the way we cycle towards the Coast once again and buy stuff to make a curry in the evening. Later we exchange many stories about cycle touring and some tips about future plans. And then we rest in the more than perfect guest room only to wake up and enjoy breakfast with a view over a tiny harbour out the window.

p1110408Before we leave Kevin even fixes my bike stand which has bent due to the large load on our bikes. Thank you both so much!

My need to take it slow is still overwhelmingly strong and so Torsten found another host yesterday who lives just about 40k away. This makes for an easy day of cycling along the Gold Coast which can look like this…

p1110411_v1or like this – depends in which direction you look ;):

p1110414We even take a break at a library and get some work done. And then we reach Dan and Phoebe’s house and feel instantly at home. Dan welcomes us super enthusiastically and as they repeatedly tell us to relax and spoil ourselves a little we can’t resist and stay for two nights ;). When they are at work the next day we thoroughly enjoy having some time for ourselves and I don’t do much. Some bike maintenance but mostly I read, have coffee and relax. And it is just wonderful.

I’m in the process of getting the hang of things, of finding out what I enjoy regarding to bicycle touring. And it’s not about distances or challenges but more about scenery, people, stopping and appreciating what’s around me. I want to have time and energy to take pictures, to enjoy breaks and then have some time to do something else entirely. In one of our talks, Joshua from Synchronicity Farm said: “In the end we gotta enjoy what we’re doing otherwise it just doesn’t make sense.”

So true.




Just what we need at Synchronicity Farm

p1110300Getting moving and especially keeping going after that 100k day is seriously hard. My muscles feel really weak and every hill is a struggle. We stop frequently for short breaks and for one longer one in Coffs Harbour. We still need to buy another gas cartridge and even more some coffee as our camp stove isn’t working. So we treat ourselves to coffee at a restaurant which we rarely do and luckily right on that day some guys sing and play guitar right next to us.
Unfortunately it wasn’t getting earlier and so we hop on the bikes once more. We had decided the day before that we would go inland along the Summerland Way to avoid the highway once more. This means a few more hills but that is fine with us in exchange for less traffic. Usually. Today I’m just tired.

p1110314So when we see a sign for fresh farm vegetables we stop happily and inquire to buy something for dinner. As soon as I see the farm I’m intrigued. There’s lots of signs saying things like forest garden which I recognize from a book about permaculture. There is sheep and chicken and guinea fowls running around and it all looks very interesting. Unfortunately there’s no one around so we hang around for a bit wondering whether to knock at the door. We want to know more, want to know the people who built this, are curious. So after some consideration we do knock and eventually find a smiling Tomoko greeting us from the side of the house. We immediately get to talk and she tells us a little about Synchronicity Farm: They have lots of projects going on with permaculture being one of them, three kids being another and a huge stone pizza oven being the latest!

And even better, they could use some help over the next few days and we soon agree that this is perfect for all of us: We get some much needed rest from cycling and they get some relief from pizza prep. So we pitch our tent in their beautiful garden and soon sit down to dinner with the whole family where we also get to know Josh and the kids.

p1110318 p1110320I find our life quite fascinating at the moment: One day we cycle a 100k and end up tired and cold without a much needed hot drink and the next day we enjoy an awesome dinner with freshly fermented food (Kimchi and Sauerkraut) – yum! – and just about everything else I can imagine. One day we can’t make coffee and the next day we get coffee made with freshly ground coffee beans out of a fancy machine. One day we’re alone at a quiet beach enjoying the evening light and the next day we’re inside surrounded by a whirlwind of activity sharing stories and ideas. This is awesome!

p1110335 p1110331The next days are spent in the kitchen cutting vegetables and preparing meat and finally making pizza in the awesome oven. And I couldn’t enjoy it more: This is just what I need. Some time off the bike, sitting on a chair and still doing something and talking about life with great people. Tomoko and Joshua are so inspiring in their ideas about that piece of land which is Sychronicity farm: about connecting people, about knowing food and spreading that knowledge and especially about enjoying what they are doing. Thank you both so much for sharing that with us for a few days – it was just what we needed!!


Building up energy

Two days later I feel all better and we’re able to move on. In the morning we meet our first fellow touring cyclists – two women who are on their way from Sydney to Cairns as well! It’s nice talking to them but unfortunately we never meet again. Our speeds must be too different.

Ever trying to avoid the highway we take some back roads and come across a nice swampy river…

p1110227beautiful green bushland…

p1110231stunning beaches with nice rock formations…

p1110233and an easily found perfect free camping spot in time for sunset!


Exchanging stories and getting inspired

In Port Macquarie we decide to stay one more day as we found some hosts on couchsurfing: Sanne and Marc just came back from their 4 year round the world motorcycle tour and are now settling into life in Port Macquarie. It’s so interesting to meet them and somewhat funny to be in such different stages of travelling through life. They actually took a break during their tour and came back to Australia to earn some money in between – something I couldn’t quite imagine at first but who knows what might happen. Torsten and I keep getting inspired by people and their stories and by all the places to discover in between Australia and home. And all that inspiration seems to be adding up to a lot of possible outcomes :).

Too much sand

The next day – after much consideration – we decide to take a quiet road next to the beach. Research and talking to people tells us that this road might not be the best and have sandy patches in between. But as people keep dismissing beautiful roads which are perfect for cycling we end up not believing them this time and go ahead. At first it’s nice going on hard sand and we even pass a road works crew who are just redoing the road.

p1110260But after about 5k the road keeps getting worse and worse. The hard sand vanishes and we soon give up trying to cycle through the patches of soft sand.  This car apparently didn’t make it at all:

p1110263_v1In the end it is so bad that we have to push – that’s when Torsten proposes to try pushing on the beach instead as the sand might be harder there. Well, it is anything but. We are now pushing our heavily loaded touring bikes through the finest sand ever and sink in deeply with every step. I have to stop about every 20 meters because it is just too damn exhausting. I curse and scream and cry but there is no one there to listen but the endless waves and the blistering sun. It really truly sucks. I wish we would have listened to the advice we got but turning around doesn’t seem like a good option either. So we keep on pushing: Torsten just gets on with it and I curse a little more. And then just when I think I cannot possibly do this for 5 more k (that’s when the road will get better again) a pick up truck passes and the driver asks me if I want a ride. YES, YES and neverhaveIbeensosureofanythinginmylifeYES!!! To my explanation that taking that road was a pretty stupid decision, Tim (the driver) just comments that we all make stupid decisions from time to time. So we chuck the bikes and all the luggage on the truck and enjoy the ride like nothing else. The ride and especially the honest offer to help which was in no way condescending was another little but in that moment very very big part of the magic of cycle touring. Thank you Tim!

p1110268Later that day after giving our bikes a thorough wash we see our first kangaroos and have to look twice to confirm that that’s what it is. Unfortunately it’s quite hard to sneak pictures as they usually hop away when we stop. And then we finally arrive at our host Eileen’s house and get to stay in her comfy camper van and rest.

Built up energy

In the next morning we enjoy a relaxed breakfast with Eileen and get to know her a bit. It’s really nice of her to take as in as she had lots of guests in the last weeks – so thank you!

And thus the roads take us north and it’s mostly boring highway-cycling today. But as it’s not too hilly we make some progress and together with the fact that the search for a free camp is not too successful at first we end up making our first 100k-day! It is truly exhausting but I’m exhilarated as well: Often I still feel slow and too tired at the end of each day, but my muscles are getting stronger it seems!

So we’re ready to celebrate at our beach side camp with a hot drink and lots of food. Unfortunately the gas cartridge we bought earlier doesn’t fit our camp stove which is a bit disappointing as I really need some comfort after that much physical exertion. But oh well, we have leftover (cold) rice and vegetables in the beautiful evening light on the beach and then our warm sleeping bags – it’s freezing at night! Sleep well!







On patience and surprises

Getting moving the next morning is quite hard, especially after Maria introduces us to Crumpets with butter and drenched in Honey – heavenly! But, full of discipline as we are, we’re on our way not too long after breakfast and make our way towards Newcastle.

Newcastle on the ocean

Those first days of touring are mostly spent cycling or finding a nice place to eat or rest for a bit. We don’t really stop much to wander around in the cities or even take pictures as our focus seems to be on cycle touring and what that entails: cycling, eating, route finding and planning and sleeping a lot. Unfortunately I also fight with a cold since the beginning which makes everything just a little bit more exhausting that it would usually be.

Ferry ride to Hawks Nest

So on day 4 the novelty of cycle touring seems to wear of a bit and I really start feeling the hills and my exhaustion. My muscles hurt, my nose is running and it’s tough going at times. We have to hurry a bit as we want to make the last ferry over to Hawks Nest. It is a beautiful ride in the golden evening light.

My bike on top of the ferry

At Hawks Nest we spend some time looking for a place to camp and end up cycling about 10 k further out of town to a Campsite. Not after someone tells us that we can’t possibly make that now as it’s just too far and it would take her about 20 minutes by car. The estimations about distances that we get are quite  funny sometimes!

Once we arrive I ask some people in a camper van where we can pitch our tent and the guy later ends up bringing us some leftover fried rice and a bible the next morning. As I’m exhausted and tired I’m very very grateful for not having to cook dinner and go to sleep happily. When I get up the next morning I hear a swoosh-noise coming from the river next to our tent and what do you know – it’s a dolphin swimming up the river! Wow!

Quiet roads in Myall Lake National Park

The next day is spent cycling peacefully through Myall Lake National Park and we only meet the occasional camper van or 4-Wheel-Drive. We enjoy a beautiful break on the beach and get introduced to a funny bird called Willy Wagtail.

Willy Wagtail

A little later we take the advice of a ferryman and cycle along a walking / cycling track that has only recently been rebuilt. It is beautiful bushland with red hard sand under our tyres. But as the day progresses I feel my cold returning and long for flat sealed roads. Which ours are not.

In the bush

In the end I’m very much exhausted and just don’t feel like cycling any more. We barely make it to the National Park Campground and I feel a little better as it lies on a lakeshore which means water to wash and drink. And beautiful  birds around!

Myall Lake

So we wash ourselves in the lake and still end up feeling a little sticky but don’t think much of it. I hit the sack only a little later and am still tired in the morning. So Torsten prepares some black tea for an energy boost and as we are running low on water he uses lake water. It looks clear enough and we are going to boil it anyway. Said and done but hm… the tea tastes a little… no very strange! Almost… salty! Oh well, so Myall Lake is a saltwater lake after all :). How are we to know that? Of course that also explains the dolphin in Myall River on the day before…

After that surprise we get cycling but I only manage about 30 k. My cold finally gets to me and I feel hot and cold and even just cycling on a flat road is seriously exhausting. So we decide to have a rest day in The Ruins Campsite in Booti Booti National Park. Resting and not going forward is really hard for me at the moment as we’ve only just started and I hate being forced to stop. Additionally, being sick on the road is not all that enjoyable either. I want my own room and being able to boil a kettle for tea without assembling our camp stove every time. I want to lie in bed and watch a lot of bad TV shows. Instead I drink water and read as my laptop battery decides not to work today and feel a little sorry for myself. Oh well. Of course there is still a beautiful beach next to our campsite and the campsite even has a shower. And of course a little rest is just what I need right now. So hopefully tomorrow is better.

Beach in Booti Booti NP – not all bad being here!


Hills and Hospitality: Getting used to the Ups and Downs of Cycle Touring

Day 2

Slowly we’re making our way north and all in all it’s going quite well. There are a LOT of hills on the Old Pacific Highway but apart from that it’s a nice road. In the distance we can always hear the new busy highway but we mostly share the road  with motorbikes. I’m still utterly consumed by the novelty of bike touring  although I’ve done it before but this seems just so much bigger. We really do have mostly everything we need on our bicycles and I deeply appreciate this way of travelling. So in the first days nothing can phase me: not the many many hills nor the drivers overtaking with too little space.

On our lunch break we write to Rod and Deb, two warmshowers hosts, if they can host us this evening. About 5 minutes later we’re on the phone with them and confirm our plans. The rest of the day is a constant up and down (literally not emotionally) and I have to stop quite often to give my tired muscles a break. On one of our breaks we meet Graham, a long distance walker, who very spontaneously  invites us to his home for the next day. How nice!

It gets dark before we arrive at Rod and Deb’s place and I’m utterly exhausted and almost don’t make it up the final hill to their house. But as soon as we step into the house all the hardships are forgotten: Rod and Deb are two of the most welcoming people ever and make us feel at home immediately. We share home brewed beer, laugh and tell stories, have wonderful food, the best showers and even still manage to talk to our parents. What. A. Day.

Our very comfortable beds for the night


Day 3

Rod and Deb invite us to stay another night but we feel that we didn’t really cycle enough to have a rest day yet. So we get moving after making use of Rod’s bicycle workshop: a little more air does wonders for our tyres and Rod even gives me one of his old saddles (mine is falling apart)! So then we make our way towards Lake Macquarie to Graham’s house. Originally we would have taken another more quiet route but we agree that meeting people is always more important.

Beautiful bikepath

After another day of many many hills which really tire me quite a bit, we take a break at Aldi to resupply. I guard the bikes while Torsten goes shopping and  must have looked quite defeated sitting on the floor next to our fully loaded bikes near the  Aldi entrance . Several people talk to me and one very nice lady even invites us into her house to stay and rest for the night! Unfortunately we already have a place to stay. So we make our way to the lake to have some juice and food before the final 20k to Graham’s house. Right then a friend of mine calls from Germany to tell me, that she is pregnant! I’m torn between wanting to talk to her forever and having to get moving as daylight is starting to fade.

Lake Macquarie
Golden Hour

The last hour is manageable save for the big hill just before Graham’s house. It seems that everyone of our hosts lives on a hill! But as soon as we arrive the magic of hospitality takes over again: We are warmly welcomed, share a glass of wine and very interesting talks and enjoy an amazing shower. Really, there is nothing better than a shower and good company after a hard day of cycling!

Graham and his wife Maria spoiled us like we’ve never been spoiled before: Maria cooked an amazing dinner with strawberry cake for dessert and we are not allowed to help one little bit. Every time I try to grab a plate or glass to bring it back to the kitchen I’m ushered back to my seat and told to relax. Normally I really like helping out and feel bad to watch others do all the work but this hospitality is just so big hearted that it’s somehow very easy to accept. Thank you both so much!!

At 8pm I almost fall asleep at the dinner table but somehow manage to stay awake until 9pm. And then the body finally gets its well earned sleep.

Good night!



On Starting

Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. It’s been over 4 weeks since we started cycling out of Sydney and sooo much has happened already. Getting used to cycling with all our gear, finding out about all the hills in New South Wales, meeting awesome people along the way, crying of exhaustion and being overall happy a few moments later. Or asleep.

Initially my plan was – of course – to write a lot in the first days and weeks, even if it was just for myself in my personal diary. Then I would later be able to remember what happened, how I felt and what was enjoyable and what was not. Well, so much for that plan – my personal diary so far consists of maybe 10 pages. I was – in general – just too exhausted to write much. But I guess the most vivid and important memories ‘stick’ anyway – so here goes:

The first day

We left Matt and Hannah’s house some time in the morning – after having a big breakfast of course. We had organized all our gear the evening before but it still took some time to load up our bikes and get them ready for the first time.

Us with loaded touring bikes
Us with loaded touring bikes

Our plan for the day was to meet up with another warmshowers host for coffee and chats as he lived in the general direction we were heading to. So off we went, finding our way through busy traffic trying not to wobble to much (me) and finding out quickly that hills are so much more exhausting with a heavily loaded bike (me again). It took us quite some time to cycle the roughly 20k to Grant, but once we arrived it was really nice talking to him and hearing some of his touring stories. He also offered us some coffee and cookies which we thankfully accepted (breakfast seemed to be ancient history already). As we wanted to take a ferry over to Manly Beach (which saved us riding over the Harbour Bridge and especially carrying the bikes down the bridge) Grant kindly showed us the way to the ferry on his bike and we enjoyed the ride.

My bike on the ferry
My bike on the ferry

The weather was perfect:

Out on the sea
Out on the sea

After the ferry ride we quickly got some more food supplies and then decided which way to go. We basically had two options: One would go north and include another ferry ride and the other would go north west over the Old Pacific Highway. We opted for the north western route as we didn’t want to go for another ferry ride (beautiful but costly as well). Torsten warned me several times that our chosen route would be hillier as well but I thought I might as well get into that right now. So far I haven’t minded hills too much, I just go slowly.

In the next couple of hours we managed to ride a bit further but we were still in the suburbs when it started to get dark. As we are riding in winter it gets dark at around 5pm which cuts the days pretty short. So then our daily ritual of finding a place to sleep began. Given that we just acquired a beautiful new tent we intended on using it and tried to find a space to camp. Seeing all the posh suburbian houses around us didn’t make that too easy at first but with a little help from Google Satellite View we managed to find a pretty well hidden spot in an old quarry. We quickly pitched our tent, ate some wraps as neither of us really wanted to cook and fell into bed.

Somehow I was really aware of all the new and strange noises around me all night and didn’t really get to sleep much. I love camping but it always takes some time getting used to new sounds. During the night we had several animal visitors searching for something around our tent and as I couldn’t identify them in my half conscious state sleep was a little hard to come by. The morning was the most wonderful concert of all kinds of birds singing and laughing though and it easily made up for the lack of sleep. It was just so beautiful, waking up in a little meadow not far from the city but completely hidden and just finding out about all the different kinds of birds and other animals which we have yet to discover. What an amazing start!

Bike ready to go
Bike ready to go

Waiting in Sydney

So after all our planning we are finally here! Our plane landed safely in Sydney and after rebuilding our bikes and reorganizing our luggage at the airport for only about two hours we cycled towards the house of our first warmshowers host. Eleri kindly invited us to stay with her for a week or so while we would organize our gear and wait for a package from Germany containing Torsten’s panniers and more.
Handling the mountain bike which I’ve had for half my life but was now loaded with back and front panniers and a backpack felt more than a bit wobbly in the beginning. But after a bit I managed to cycle the 8 k or so to our destination for the day quite well.

Loaded Bike

Eleri wasn’t at home when we arrived and had told as how to get into her house. So we made ourselves at home which was a bit strange with her not being there! But we met her a little while later and talked a bit before going to sleep into our wonderful bedroom with attached bathroom. That may be a luxury we’re not going to have again for quite some time!

The next days were spent exploring Sydney and organizing things for our tour. So we did end up at the opera house at some point, perused several bike stores for racks, spokes and more and went to a nice weekend market and a gallery. Luckily an artist, I had heard about a few years ago, was in town and offered a free exhibit: So on Sunday we went to the Marina Abramovich In Residence Exhibition. With noise reducing headphones we took part in an interactive body art installation which was an intense experience and I’m glad for the coincidence of her being in Sydney when we were there!


Redfern Tent Embassy
Redfern Tent Embassy

We also  talked to some people at the Redfern Tent Embassy which is an ongoing demonstration about a large building project in the middle of Sydney which neglects Aboriginal rights on that particular piece of land. It was interesting how that is still an issue today (somehow I thought that was all in the past but then again when is that ever the case with colonisation?).

So Sydney offered lots of interesting places to go and things to see, but I was antsy to get going. Unfortunately there was still no sign of our package after the first week so we decided to stay even longer. We managed to get up really early and accompany Eleri on a Saturday morning training ride to Centennial Park on which I found out that I’m quite slow but what are you gonna do with an elderly mountain bike between all the fancy racing bikes? It was fun nonetheless and I really enjoyed the coffee and almond pastry afterwards.

Centennial Park

Two weeks later there was still no sign of our package so we finally decided to get going anyway. Our visa for Australia was only for three months and we didn’t want to spend any more time waiting. So on a Saturday morning we said good bye to Matt and Hannah, our second hosts in Sydney and finally – off we went! More on that later…!


On our route planning

One of the most frequently asked questions is which route we are going to take. So here is the attempt of an answer:

Basically, the plan is to go to Germany starting in Australia. Having said that, here are some important criteria which figure in our route planning:

  • We want to travel overland as much as possible. That means cycling where possible and hopefully avoid flying. As there is water all around Australia (as many of you pointed out 😉 ) we will have to find a way to cross from Australia to Asia. The best way for us would be to find a boat which some people have done but in general is not really easy to do. There is no passenger ferry and we do not have much sailing / boating experience. So if that does not work out we would have to fly.
  • We do want to cycle as much as possible, but: As this is not a personal challenge of crossing an imaginary finish line but rather about the people we meet and experiences we encounter along the way, sometimes it might be okay to take a bus or hitch a ride.
  • We want to travel overland (again) to see things changing slowly and to get a feel of what is happening around us. This again comes with a ‘but’: Visa requirements mights change or we might not get a visa for a certain country at all. The political situation in an area might suddenly be tense and cycling through there would no longer be advisable. All in all, there is a number of reasons why our planned overland route could change. In that case we would have to consider backtracking, changing our route or even flying.
  • We want to have a rough idea where we are going but still be able to spontaneously change our plans.

Having said all that, we agreed on a rough work-in-progress route which is the following:

Cycle from Sydney to Cairns or Darwin and hopefully find a boat to East Timor or Indonesia. If not, fly there. Cycle in East Timor and Indonesia and then to Malaysia up north towards Thailand. Do some loops in South East Asia. Cross over into Myanmar to India and maybe Bangladesh. Try to get a visa for Pakistan to again try and cycle the beautiful Karakoram Highway into Kashgar, China. From there cross Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan into Iran. Make a loop through Azerbaijan, maybe Armenia and Georgia. On to Turkey and then northwards bound to Germany on some not yet defined route.

So, this is our rough plan which will most definitely change somehow. Apart from that we concern ourselves with researching the next few days or possibly weeks (which roads to take, where to sleep, where to buy food). Everything else would just be too overwhelming.

Bike vs. Car in the Blue Mountains

While we are waiting for the rest of our gear in Sydney we decide to explore the area around us for a bit. I want to go hiking because I miss it already and our warmshowers host recommends the Blue Mountains which are just a 2-hour train ride away from Sydney. So we change our daily routine just a tiny bit and get up really early to make the most of the few hours of daylight in the mountains. We hop on our bikes, find the bike compartments in the train and are only slightly puzzled when they look just like a normal entrance area (the one before you get to the seating area). Then we notice the hanging devices in the ceiling where you can hang one bicycle per compartment – good enough!

With a coffee in our hands and home made cinnamon buns for breakfast we thoroughly enjoy the train ride. It slowly meanders through the city outskirts until it reaches the smaller villages in the Blue Mountains. It is a nice feeling finally being on a train again – something I used to do all the time in Germany. So after a while we get off and cycle to the trail head in beautiful sunny weather. Once we are there I ask a family for sunscreen – assuming that it would be a cloudy day I didn’t bring any.


After that we set off to a 3 hour hike (could have done it faster if not for the many many photo stops) on the National Pass Trail which leads over / under / along sandstone cliffs. In the morning the valley was still covered in clouds which was seriously stunning and made me stop for pictures just about every two minutes.



Apart from that the track was easy but really nice and we smelled eucalyptus trees and saw some really colourful parrots!



After returning  to conservation hut we enjoyed a coffee and then cycled on to Katoomba while making several stops along the way. Whilst the train ride was mostly on relatively flat terrain, the bike ride sure was not: Up and down we went and after hiking that sure is exhausting. So we made breaks for buying food and to do one smaller hike to explore the area a bit more. And then on to the Three Sisters which are probably the most famous sandstone formation in the Blue Mountains. They are also accessible by road which is why there are busloads of tourists.



As exhausting as the combination of hiking and cycling was, it still made me realize that I enjoyed it so much more than similar outings in New Zealand with being in a car and stopping every so often to walk between 0 and 30 minutes to look at something. With cycling between things it is the journey that is the main event and not necessarily the things you are cycling towards. On that day in the Blue Mountains I felt every hill, every bit of wind, the sun and the slight overall chill (it is winter after all). I felt my exhaustion going up a hill and the exhilaration of coasting down. I was happy to get off the bike for a while and go on exploring into the bush and then again happy to cycle on. And maybe happiest while settling down in the train towards home, eating huge amounts of food and reminiscing about a wonderful day outside. I am really looking forward to a lot more of that.

One Week…

…and slowly but steadily everything seems to be falling into place. We’re settled in Auckland at the moment, at a shared-house kind of thing and preparing for our departure to Sydney in a few days.
So we finally sold our car which is a load of my mind and heart. As much as I valued travelling around in it – I’m so glad not to have it any more right now. Selling a car in the months from April to September is a very hard thing to do here as most backpackers leave around March / April and the new ones only come in September / October. We knew about that and still, sometimes knowing doesn’t change your reality and so we went to a carmarket, wrote about a thousand online ads and posted flyers in hostels around Auckland CBD. And finally, after lots of testdrives, waiting, responding to inquiries and more waiting someone decided to buy it.
So we switched to sleeping in a tent which is way too small for the two of us. That’s why we ordered a new tent which will be waiting for us in Sydney. I’m actually very excited about that as it’s going to be our home for the next few years! In the meantime we’re organizing our stuff, getting more merino-clothes (because after all, it’s New Zealand and merino wool is kind of a thing here 😉 ) and really, the hardest part is to eat all of our leftover food! In the car we had lots of space for food supplies and we keep finding more and more in different bags and backpacks now that the car is gone. And it’s not that easy to combine couscous and peanuts and milkpowder with lime jam and marmite. Ideas, anyone? 🙂

And we’re doing some biking by the way which is when I discovered that Auckland is really hilly and that riding in big cities with no bicycle lanes is not that much fun. But actually it’s still more fun than to be stuck in a car in heavy traffic…