Royal Enfield just…. Looks how a bike should look like. I don’t know how to explain it better. Also, it is the Harley Davidson of India. First Royal Enfields were bikes used by British army to move around. They are an institution.
My friend Rahul rented one and went with me for a ride in Udaipur – an amazing city in Rajasthan. The cold morning air. Rajasthani sun, Indian traffic and herds of 🐮 in the streets were all an amazing experience. Also, it was the first time I rode an actual bike with the clutch!
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.
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 – 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!
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.
In March 2016, while helping to organize TEDxWarsaw, I had a great pleasure of working with James Briscione on his amazing talk “Secret Patterns of flavour”. This fulfilled 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. 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!
[ #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 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
Chateau de Chambord started as a humble 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 for a hunting lodge.
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
Well, THAT is a proper castle! Pointy 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.
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 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.
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.
You may have heard of this one. It’s ridiculously beautiful and crowded.
Alongside the whole bank of Loire river, there is a bike route, “Loire a Velo”.
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. As you can imagine, there are competing explanations for this incredible natural phenomenon.
One includes a Giant, Finn McCool (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.
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 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
Balintoy Harbor, where they filmed Game of thrones
Carrick-A-Rede bridge, phenomenal rope bridge to a fishing island