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!
[ #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”.