Posts Tagged With: Bike

32 candles on 32 peddles

For my birthday this year, my only request was laughter. Comedy, friends, music… Anything was acceptable as long as smiles were included! Solution? A 15 person bicycle!

Sac Brew Bike is a company located in Sacramento that provides a man powered bike that seats 15 plus a driver. The faster you peddle, the quicker you go. A professional driver (not me) takes your group to designated locations for each pit stop. Saddle up, buckle in and peddle away!

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Side note: The mustaches seen on most of us were grown within seconds using adhesive and slight pressure. More about that later.

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Leave it to me to underestimate the amount of super-friends that would show up rain or shine. With a bike that seats 15 and 18 amazing friends, I was fortunate that three of them had brought their own bikes to meet up with us. Thus, we now have a crew following the beast. I’m secretly thankful this happened as we took turns on the single bike which was just as much fun!

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Back to the staches… We were debating on superhero capes or party hats when my dear friend Liz simply helped the decision and suggested mustaches. Brilliant! You really can’t take yourself serious when rockin the fur below your nose.

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Here are some random photos taken at a few of the pubs. No captions needed…

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Dear birthday-cycle crew, you absolutely made this event most memorable and entertaining… Couldn’t have done it without you (literally, the bike wouldn’t of moved). The laughter and jokes with open minded, mustache wearing friends was exactly what I wished for. Thank you so much for trekking out in the rain and bringing your positive energy in addition. I love you all!

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Categories: Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The little boy in blue

I sit on a bench for a brief moment to look around to take it all in. My heart is racing, most likely due to the fact that I ran here, but I’d like to give a little credit to the idea that maybe at this point in time… I’m connected. I’m in Japan at a park in total peace. I am in the present.

I look to my right and just across the way is a group of 7 elderly Japanese people. 5 are looking directly at me with no expression and the other 2 seem concentrated in what appears to be a deep conversation. Next to them is a young boy in a bright blue helmet, that matches his royal blue bike. Attached are training wheels proudly boasting blue shiny wheels. Where are his parents? Probably watching him do the same tiny circular loop that Ive been observing.

My focus is broke by the sound of a chain as the gears shift on the bicycle passing. I nod with a smile at the middle aged man as he floats by. The ever so slight lift of his mouth and wrinkle next to his eye is a polite acknowledgment. I feel my smile broaden.

I watch as he rides past the baseball diamond where there’s a teenage girl practicing a fierce underarm pitch. She’s strong. Behind her is a young boy too far for me to make out an age, but I would guess no older than 12. He seems completely content with each toss of his baseball, straight up and back down to his glove, over and over again. I remember doing that as a child.

I peer back to find that now, all 7 of the older crowd is looking at me. I try to feel out their mood, I’ve got nothing.

Little boy blue is still circling round and around.

It rained this morning so the ground is wet but the sun is out now and the breeze is nice. I begin to be conscious of my body. The bench is cold and I wonder if I’ll have a wet bum when I stand up. Both feet are flat on the ground, my back is straight yet shoulders are relaxed. Although I’m gazing around, my head stays generally still. I must look awkward. No wonder the older concerned group is still staring at me.

Passing the boy in blue comes a father and daughter on foot. The oversized green bows in her hair perfectly match the dainty flowers on her white sundress. The top of her head barely reaches his waist where their hands meet. He doesn’t show much emotion as she jumps from block to block in the pathway, jerking his arm in every direction. Clearly tired of the restriction and probably a relief to dad, she lets go of his hand and continues her game of leaping squares. The bows raise and flop down with every jump.

Something catches her eye.

I follow the excitement in her vision to find a plump woman in heeled wedges holding the leash of a tiny, well groomed dog that looks as if he is attempting to prance his way to a first prize finish. I smile with entertained eyes as the woman stops, puts both feet together and stands with a strong posture… almost to match the pride exuding from her little paw baby. We make eye contact, she smiles and I nod to return the greeting.

I almost miss the adorable school aged girls passing by. I’m distracted by blue boy who is still doing laps on what you’d think is the smallest circular track around. He’s so happy.

The giggling bunch of girls skip by with knee high socks, plaid skirts, white collared shirts and cartoon backpacks. Today is Sunday, I wonder where they’re going.

My attention returns to the wind on my face and the chilly bench which I have now confirmed is most definitely going to leave me with a reminder that it rained today.

I feel calm. My heart rate has slowed back to normal and I sense it’s time to continue my journey.

Unless there is a bizarre scene directly behind me, the lovely bunch of elderly folks are still focused in my direction. I should be going now. I stand with a grin and give a slight bow in respect to the 7 onlookers.

Leaving the park, I giggle to myself as I pass the little boy in blue.

Categories: Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eat, drink, dance and feel the love in Amsterdam!

Denise should look extremely familiar to those who have been peaking at this blog for the past 21 months as she has made many appearances. I met this magnificent lady years ago while we were studying in Alicante Spain. We reunited in Argentina for some volunteer work and more studies and have spent many of evenings dancing the night away in Amsterdam. Last year, I even lived with her family in Alphen aan den Rijn. Here is just a few pics from the years of memories that I’ve made with sweet Denise.

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Now, I return again to replenish my craving for her presence and this time, I get to introduce Mike and Hayden too! (If you’ve followed for long enough, you’d know that last year she got to meet three other of my American friends, Ian, Mike D and Marshall!).

The day starts with the introductory as we sit outside at one of the many terraces offered in Amsterdam.

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Time for a snack which leads us to a variety of options. Here in Holland, there are many typical Dutch bites to pick from. In Amsterdam however, you have a wide selection from many parts of the world. Specialty stands to Turkish, Mexican, Italian, Japanese and more. I suggest just wandering the streets until your eyes, nose or tummy decides for you. Today, I went for a home baked spelt bread cone that was filled with Salmon, sprouts and a dill spiced sauce.

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The group of us decided on trying out an extremely typical plate here in Holland which consists of herring fish, onion and pickle.

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Flashback moment! This construction site has been here every year that I’ve visited. Just for fun, we shot the first picture years ago and of course it has turned into an annual photo. Enjoy, year one, two and present!

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After a fun walk around the city, we depart from the boys to go back to her home town of Alphen aan den Rijn for dinner with my (her) family before getting ready for a night out on the town. We made a pit stop by the work place of Denise’s little sister, Manouk. Her and I connected last year when I was adopted into her family. Unfortunately this year, she is working so she won’t be able to join us out and about. Here is her “sad I can’t come with you” photo, followed by the “glad I got to see you” smile.

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A little time in the kitchen, a wonderful dinner at the table and a complete evening with one of my favorite Dutch families! Writing this page made me realize I didn’t get a photo of them… Next time.

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To get back to the city, we hop on a bus that takes us to the train that brings us to the centeral station. From there, we get her bike again and ride to find the boys.

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Along the way, Denise hinted to me that there would be a few more joining us this evening which is always great to hear… the more the merrier! News to me, it was a surprise from my dear friend Carina! All the way from Germany, she had traveled here with another sweetheart Jenni for a night out with us!

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Details about Carina and Jenni will come later. For now, here’s a peak at what a girls night out in Amsterdam can look like.

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Two fun surprises in the coat check! First we have Denise’s hairstylist that we danced with last year, always full of energy!

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Next, this wonderful woman has been taking care of the jackets and wash room here at this specific club now for 20 years! The first photo is from last year followed by this evening!

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Not feeling like a big dance party? Other evenings leave you with choices like a nice dinner on a terrace, a walk to a coffee house (not to be confused with a coffee “shop”) or one of my favorites, a picnic next to a canal. Depending on the neighborhood, time of day and weather, you can find several groups, big and small, gathering waterside. Tonight, 4 of us went to a local store, collected goodies then found a seat next to a canal for snacks and great conversation.

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Who’s the fourth in the pictures? Lets pause for a moment and reminisce of the times with Simon. He was one of the fellow travelers I met in Argentina that I reunited for the hike in Machu Picchu with. Take a look!

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Night walks can also bring unexpected surprises. On this evening, I followed the sounds of a beautiful acoustical set. These three kind girls have been playing to fund their future worldly travels. Of course I’ll donate to driven people doing something they love to support a journey they desire, well done girls! Your voices caught my attention and your attitude kept me intrigued. Keep on smiling and doing what you do!

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On Mikes last night here with us, we decided to stay low key and chat at a local pub when this woman approached our table and in the sweetest voice offered us a “reading” based on our names and birthdays. Very interesting and certainly entertaining as she called us out on some personality quirks, especially because the boys and I have known each other for so long!

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Leaving Amsterdam before us, after two weeks in Europe, Mike departs back to the states. I watch him walk away feeling gratitude for his company and happy for his experience. Mike, I truly value our deep conversations and friendly debates that not only stimulate new thoughts, but keep me on my toes. Cheers till next time my friend!

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My favorite picture of the boys this trip!

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A few more days in Holland and then you’ll find me bouncing my way through Germany. Get ready for curry wurst, live music and roller coasters!

Categories: Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Foot, wheels, trams and boats, lets take a look at Amsterdam!

I’m so thankful for all of my travels to The Netherlands and the years of personal accommodations from dear friends that I’ve met abroad. This round, we get the keys to our friends empty apartment to come and go as we please! I would say “priceless”, but if you’ve ever done research, its definitely not priceless to stay the night in this popular city. So, a very big thank you to sweet Ioni for her open door and gracious hospitality.

Now, let me show you the magnetic energy that keeps me returning to the wonder world of Amsterdam!

Care for a stroll? So does most of the other people here! If you’re not feeling up for a walk, there’s also plenty of options with wheels to get you around.

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Need to pick up the pace? Add a motor to the wheels! For those who don’t want to be in the drivers seat, you can always hop on a tram for only 2.80€ one way. (It’s the blue and white train looking object in a few of the shots below).

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Yep, it’s for real.

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For a guided excursion there’s a walking tour, or a comfy seat in the brightly covered busses with a knowledgable person behind a microphone. Love water? You can always coast throughout the canals of the city with a friendly captain explaining the sights that surround you.

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Now since we’ve covered some options of how you might get around, lets take a look at what you may see as you explore the daytime streets of Amsterdam.

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The “Hot Yoga Studio” made me giggle simply because I grew up in North America in which “40 degrees” is nearly freezing.

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This sign stopped us in our tracks with a bit of confusion. What is it? A preventive new design that allows authorities to track thieves by a synthetic DNA code.

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This is a lost and found station. If you find an item on the street or in a nearby cafe, you simply clip it up here with hopes that the rightful owner will come collect it. It also seems to be used as an easy way to advertise personal business or upcoming events. Today, I donated a sticker from the talented band Heritage. Side note, it was gone when I returned from a 30 minute walk… I’m thinking it was this happy fella who claimed to be lost and found!

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Handstand shot!

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Here are some creative pictures taken in this unique city using effects from my camera.

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The next post will include but not be limited to food, friends and a smidge of the the nightlife!

Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I-Love-Budapest

Due to our small delay on the border, we arrive a bit late but that is nothing to stop sweet Niki greeting us with a huge smile and warm hug.

Here’s the dollhouse view from Niki’s adorable place. I personally love the men at work making there sandwiches on the job site.

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Our day in the city of Budapest was complimented with amazing weather, perfect for a bike ride!
Tempting… But we went solo this ride.

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Here are a few photos on the way to the local market.

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Market time! We locked up the bikes and went for a walk.

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This is not my favorite part of the market, but I’ll add a few pics to give you an idea. Imagine the smell of this isle… I’ll stick to the fresh fruit!

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Next is a quick walk to stop for lunch.

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No need to debate if we were up for the challenge to visit the Citadel, a 19th century fortress that sits on top of Gellert Hill. This trek is generally done by foot at a nice pace or in a bus creeping up the windy slopes. A bus? No way! We’ere hauling our bikes to the top of this thing if it takes all day! We don’t even let a slipped chain slow us down…Marshall to the rescue!

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Marshall caught me cracking up at the fact that my camera wasn’t even on for the first few pictures (not seen here) that he took on the bridge.

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This is where there are supposed to be a bunch of photos of us riding through beautiful greenery, and dirt paths, pushing up stairs and carrying our bikes up rock filled hills. Well, I was too busy doing all of those things so let’s just jump to the pictures at the top!

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Of course this was the prime choice for the handstand shot!
“Buda” on the left and “Pest” on the right.

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As if the artillery side wasn’t interesting enough, this young girl hidden away stopped me in my tracks. Not necessarily her amazing art piece, but just the entire energy that surrounded her and the painting in front of her.

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What’s this? Don’t mind if I do! I must give huge credit to my amazing photographer Marshall, I had no idea he captured so many cool shots. Thanks pal!

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After dominating the climb and enjoying the view we headed down to cross the famous chain bridge. Some photos along the way…

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Brake… Hey look, it’s a Vegas sign! (For those of you just joining us, that’s where Marshall and I met).

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Made it to the base of the bridge to find more stairs. We love stairs!

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I forgot that I had left my camera on a this stormy effect. Glad I did, nice pics Marshall!

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I would have been totally satisfied just seeing this beautiful city during the day, but energetic Niki was determined to get us out during sun down. The first evening we got to meet one of her good friends Balasz, one of the nicest, most knowledgeable tour guides I’ve come across so far.

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Then we got to reunite with our buddy Jay! He was from the “Salzburg” post as one of the Irish Pub guests that helped us keep it going!

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Here are the only night shots I snagged from two fantastic evening out. Entertainment full of unique clubs, Irish Pubs and outdoor lounges.

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Check out the ladies room I found at one of the clubs… I feel sorry for the girls who had high heels.

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Hungry on the walk home? Forget the slice-o-pizza, it’s a hummus bar!

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Fun is up in Budapest as it’s time to make our way to Czech Republic. With the signs ahead, we have our stickers ready just in case Mr. Patrol man is doing his job (please see previous post).

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Next stop, Prague!

Categories: Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vienna to the border patrol in Hungary

After the 8 minute hike from the last post, we buckled up and headed farther east to our next destination of Vienna. A place I’ve heard beautiful things about and also the location of my next reunion!

We kept looking for “Vienna” signs…turns out they spell it “Wien”.

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Like responsible travelers we are, we take it easy our night in Vienna looking forward to the early rise bike ride. Since we only have half a day before we drive to Budapest, we thought a set of wheels would be our best bet. This decision was agreed upon with our new friend Michael. He’s another smiling, easy to talk to, ready for action traveler from New Zealand.

The bike ride was a little bitter-sweet for me. It was so nice to see everything, however with limited time there wasn’t much room for photos, cafe breaks or small street exploring. I dare not complain though, it’s a gorgeous place with many massive buildings holding rich character. A few pics from the ride.

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This is our first stop, the famous Schönbrunn Palace!
(click here for the details of this magnificent Palace) .
Although the grounds stretch beyond our exploration, the gardens we did see were amazing!

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Handstand pic!

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More through the city on our way to reunite with my friend.

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Last February I was lucky to have met this spirited one named Gypsy. He was one of my haircut clients in the hostel we were staying at. After great conversation, we spoke of meeting again somewhere, someday in the near future. The first pic was in New Zealand with a group of travelers and the following photo is us here in Vienna! So glad I got to see your smile in person, cheers till next time!

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On our path back to the car, we make time to check out the local market. Although we’re in the middle of Austria, it was what seemed like to be a Turkish market. Again with the non complaining as it was still nice to wander through fresh fruit, herbs, spices, clothes, bags and more. The boys didn’t pass up the oppurtunutiy to start off with a doner kabob!

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We got back to the car in time to say farewell to Michael and head on our way to Budapest!

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This is when I would usually end the post and cheers to our next adventure. Not this time.
So were cruising along, jammin to some Beastie Boys…

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…when we come to the border leaving Austria entering Hungary. The patrol officer was just waving everyone through with ease until we approach… His arm holding a wand of authority slams down as he points us to the side of the road. I can only assume he’s not pulling us over to complement our dance moves.

Turns out you need to stop prior to the line we crossed and get a fancy little sticker that says you’ve payed to drive on their highway. It usually runs 12-20 Euros. Well that’s easy:

Marshall- “Sorry sir, we didn’t know. Where can we get a sticker?”
Officer- “Well there are signs everywhere telling you the rules”. (As he points to a bunch of letters smeared on a sign).
Marshall- “Oh, I don’t read German that well. So may we pay back there?”
Officer- “You pay me 120 Euros.”
Marshall- “Uhh, there’s no way to go back and pay?”
Officer- “How long are you staying in Hungary?”
Marshall- “Only 2 nights”.
Officer- “You’ve got two options” (this is when a slight sense of relief comes, I like options!)
Officer continues- “You can pay me 120 Euros in cash or with a card, your choice”.

Here’s our view during this whole conversation.

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All said and done, 120 Euros later and a sense of slight highway robbery we continue on our way.
I will say Marshall and I are fantastic at destroying negative energy with a positive attitude and blasting more road trip tunes! There’s now a different level excitement in the car knowing that we get to reunite with Niki, the adorable girl we connected with in Salzburg. Friends in Hungary, here we come!

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