Even if you aren’t an avid cyclist, there are times when it’s just nicer to be on bike than in a car or bus. The ability to ‘stop and smell the roses’ so to speak and go at your own pace is an aspect of travel that can’t be ignored. Here are a few places we were glad to rent a bike:
1. Florence, Italy. I lived in Florence in 2004 and when it came time for high tourist season the downtown area was packed! Unfortunately that’s also when we had our visitors so we had to think of something different and fun to do that would give our visitors a sense of Italy. Fortunately we found this great Italian-American guy who was just starting bike tours. He took my roommate, her mom, aunt and I on an unforgettable journey through the Tuscan countryside through Fiesole and into Arezzo. We went through historic villages and stopped at a delicious little restaurant for lunch. Admittedly there was plenty of wine at lunch, but thankfully the road back to Florence was downhill.
2. Cappadocia, Turkey. Although we got a little lost, cycling through Cappadocia was amazing. We were able to stop and explore all the different formations, fairy chimneys and caves, and despite the fact the area is so touristy, we were alone all afternoon! We rode through farmers vegetable plots and nearly ran into a horse on a cart. It was a lovely afternoon, even though we ended up hiking a lot!
3. Berlin, Germany. We didn’t have to rent a bike in Berlin, our CS hosts had extras, but boy were we glad. It was incredibly easy to zip around the city on bike and having our own transportation meant we could hit more museums and sites in a day. We found the city really bike friendly, and no one looked at us twice when we walked into a shop holding our helmets.
4. Vang Vieng, Laos. Admittedly Vang Vieng is renown for other things besides biking, but the area has a lot more on offer than ‘Happy Menus’ and reruns of ‘Friends’. Renting a bike in Vang Vieng meant we could see the Limestone caves on our own, meaning we could go to the ones that the tour groups didn’t go to! We made it to the Blue Lagoon very late in the afternoon, just before closing. It was a special experience to be inside the cave at dusk, with light just touching the reclining Buddha statue inside. Unfortunately we also got a flat and Danny ended up riding into town on the back of a tractor.
5. Mendoza, Argentina. There had to be at least one wine region on our list didn’t there? We got off the bus in wine country and bike tour touts approached us, the first and only time that ever happened. Although we rented independent of a tour, we did get a map. Had we made it to the area earlier in the day I would have enjoyed going to some of the further away wineries where there was more of a country feel. Ultimately we ended up passing hours at a winery at the furthest end of the wine region. A good bottle of wine, a picnic lunch and our bikes, nothing could be better!