#171 Ride Royal Enfield in India

Royal Enfield just….聽Looks how a bike should look like. I don’t know how to explain it better. Also, it is the Harley Davidson of India.聽First Royal Enfields were bikes used by British army to move around. They are an institution.

This is my Bucketlist item 171.

My friend Rahul rented one and went with me for a ride in Udaipur – an amazing city in Rajasthan.聽聽The cold morning air. Rajasthani sun, Indian traffic and herds of 馃惍 in the streets were all an amazing experience. Also, it was the first time I rode an actual bike with the clutch!

 

 

 

 

 

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Did I mention that I had a chance to present in Mumbai?

 

#20 Go to Legoland

Item 20 on my Bucketlist.

I was raised on Lego. My engineering skills were honed by building the infinity of stuff that can be assembled from these ingenious little blocks. I love how they are designed to be great fun for years without buying heaps of new sets.

My love for Lego is is so strong, that I travel with an assortment of Lego minifigs to capture their ventures around the globe.

Fortunately, I have great friends (adult ones!) excited by Lego as well and they together we embarked upon a sentimental journey to Legolland, Billund. (The original one).

To say that have amazing stuff there build from lego is a huge understatement. But, apart from Lego construction it’s a pretty rad theme park in its own right! There is a plenty of rides, water-related activities etc.

 

 

One trick that a friend found is that we have stayed in Lalandia聽– a closeby water park and had 2 day Legoland tickets, water park unlimited pass and a very neat skadinavian cabin/ house for the 4 of us. It was a great stay!

#164 Swim in a Cenote, Mexico

This was number 164 on my bucketlist.

I love swimming in various weird places, so swimming in a Cenote was a dream of mine ever since I swam in “Blue Hole” in Jamaica.

In Mexico, Yucatan peninsula is made of porous limestone. That means, that water just sinks through rock and all the water bodies (lakes, rivers) are underwater. It also means that sinkholes are very common there. Cenotes are just that – sinkoles filled with water.

Check out Anna’s ultimate guide to Yukatan cenotes.

And so – in the autumn of 2016 I found myself in Mexico. So I swam!

My favourite Cenotes:

  1. Cenote Samula
  2. Cenote Xkeken
  3. Cenote Ik Kil
  4. Cenote Dos Ojos
  5. Grande Cenote

 

 

Secret patterns of flavour

In March 2016, while helping to organize聽TEDxWarsaw, I had a great pleasure of working with James Briscione on his amazing talk “Secret Patterns of flavour”. This fulfilled聽my Bucketlist item #4.

James is a head of Institute of Culinary Education in New York and together with IBM created “Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson” book and app.聽He explores the science of flavour and how different chemicals come together to create a symphony of taste we all enjoy and crave. Since I call myself a Cognitive Engineer and am a foodie, Cognitive Cooking seemed like something extremely interesting and I jumped at first opportunity to help.

Finally, we have a recording to show James’s amazing work:

 

For me personally, it was an amazing journey and a great privilege. James lives on the bleeding edge of cuisine innovation and it was inspiring to meet him and see the final talk and learn a lot!

Some interesting links

 

#182 Cycle the Loire Valley

[ #182 in Bucketlist ] While choosing my bike, I wanted something good for a trip. I was asking myself

Is this something I could cycle through loire valley on?

This was few years ago and I had no concrete plan to really go and cycle in France. Only a certainty that I would get around to doing that.

And so it happened:

The amazing company I work for, Automattic in its infinite benevolence was sending me to a conference (React Europe) in Paris. Without much thought, I started looking into putting a bike on a plane.

How do you put bike on a plane?

This actually turned out to be much easier then I expected. I decided to fly with Wizzair and with them, you can fly your bike for 130 PLN ( ~32 USD ). The conditions are:

  • Bike has to be in a special bike bag
  • You have to let air聽out of tires
  • Handlebars and pedals have to be folded

Of course I used this occasion to put a bunch of my stuff with the bike. As long as you are under 32 KG, you should be fine. (I was close on the way back because of all Foie Gras I was bringing back).

People were looking at me pretty funny while I was putting my bike back together at the airport.

Places I visited

 

Chambord

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Chateau de Chambord started as a humble聽hunting lodge, but as projects often do, spiraled out of control and ended up as a huge Renaissance castle with 440 fireplaces and 84 staircases. Pretty tricked-out聽for a hunting lodge.

Cheverny

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Chateau de Cheverny is considered the “best proportioned” castle of the whole Loire valley (whatever that means). It was inspiration for the castle in the adventures of TinTin, but honestly it does not meet my standards for a castle, which require a military function.

Chaumont sur Loire

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Well, THAT is a proper castle! Pointy聽towers, positioned on the cliff overlooking the Loire and hard to attack! Whats interesting is that now it serves as an art gallery and pretty interesting one. I found it very charming!

Amboise & Clos-Luce

Clos-Luce is the last residence of Leonardo da Vinci. It was gifted to him by king Francis I, who had a special relationship with the Maestro. Leonardo was buried in the courtyard of castle and his remains were later transferred to the crypt.

His grave is unusually humble and not-crowded, contrary to Mona Lisa in Louvre, which is hard to see between legions of tourists and their tablets.

In the last 3 years of Leonardo’s life, Francis paid him a steady salary just for the opportunity of listening to his conversations and having a chats with da Vinci. I would gladly pay everything I have for the same privilege.

Chanonceaux

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Now, THAT’s a castle! Properly situated across the river, it looks straight out of Tarrantino movie and has a history to match! (Hear me Quentin? You can have this idea pretty cheap):

  • It’s called “The castle of 7 ladies”, because 7 prominent dames where in charge of its construction during the years
  • It was THE place for the parties and balls. The galleries that stretch across the river were huge ballrooms
  • During I World War it served as a military hospital funded by a chocolate magnate (Such a Willy-Wonkanesque story!)
  • During II World War the river was a a demarcation zone and castle served as a Nazi art gallery. The gallery currator was聽helping the Jews escape from Nazi-occupied side to france.

I highly recommend strolling on the other side, where you can get for free by using the bridge nearby.

Chinon

Fortress of Chinon is another proper castle. Important for me because of my obsession with Knights Templar, was the place where the last Templar grand master, Jacob the Mollay was imprisoned with his advisors. You can see a graffiti they made in the stones of the tower.

Paris

You may have heard of this one. It’s ridiculously beautiful and crowded.

Biking tips

  • Alongside the whole bank of Loire river, there is a bike route, “Loire a Velo”.
  • The free app is pretty helpful
  • Cycling-Loire is a great website devoted to the topic
  • Generally, it’s pretty easy to bike everywhere
  • You can bring your bike on any TER train. I recommend checking your train plans with voyages-sncf website
  • Remember that a lot of businesses are closing 12-14 for lunch and some restaurants are open only then. French people know how to live.
  • There are some wicked awesome campgrounds that have treehouses and other pimped-out accomodation. The French are big on camping
  • Don’t forget to sample French food. It’s known for a reason.
  • In Decathlon you can buy a tent for 20 euro. Just sayin’.

 

 

 

#181 Giants causeway

This fulfills my Bucketlist item 181

A long time ago, I stumbled upon photos of this incredible phenomenon in the vastness of interwebz. In Northern Ireland, there’s collection of these weird hexagonal bazalt pillars.聽As you can imagine, there are competing explanations for this incredible natural phenomenon.

One includes a Giant, Finn McCool聽(name almost as good as McLovin’) building a bridge to scotland, to fight another giant.

Another, completely bonkers explanation suggests that while basalt was cooling, cracks formed at the top and then penetrated lower and lower while the mass was cooling.

To me, one with the giant sounds more believable.

 

 

Getting there

Its pretty easy – and totally worth it to get there from Belfast. For 12 pounds you can get on route 252 from Belfast to Bushmills and then you can walk or take a city bus to “Giants Causeway – The nook” stop. That stop is right beside the causeway. You can consult schedule on Translink site.

Alternatively, there’s plenty of tours going there from almost any part of Ireland.

A nice walk

This is a stunning place with a 聽lot to offer. I highly recommend taking the Causeway Coast walking trail which is part if the “Ulster Way” . Its about 5 hour walk and its definitely worth the effort. On the way you can see:

  • Giants causeway on your own, without bus full of people getting in your photos
  • Majestic cliffs
  • Balintoy Harbor, where they filmed Game of thrones
  • Carrick-A-Rede bridge, phenomenal rope bridge to a fishing island
  • Sheep everywhere
  • Bushmills whiskey distillery