Cycling towards the other side of the world

In December of 2018 Mick van Zadelhoff and Bob Rekelhof, decided they wanted to do something that’s bigger than themselves. Inspired by movies like ‘Into the Wild’, they wanted to cycle from The Netherlands to India and go on a journey in which they would connect with their inner selves and other people from all around the world. This is their story.

It sounded as a great idea: cycling from the Netherlands to India. We would show everyone that it’s possible to do the impossible. So, without training and without a plan we bought some bicycles and started our journey. That’s why we came up with the idea of cycling to the spiritual land called India. We bought a bike, some warm clothes and a backpack. Within just two weeks we would be cycling towards the other side of the world.


Mick and Bob leaving on an adventure

Sleeping in a tent during the winter
We started off cycling around 60 to 80 kilometers per day. A lot, in our opinion, but Germany turned out so big that it took two weeks to pass through the country. Sleeping in hostels, hotels or Airbnbs would be too expensive. That’s why we tried to sleep in tents as much as we could. The first night in Germany we pitched the tent. We had good hopes with our tent and sleeping bag, but got disappointed very quickly. It was mid-winter and extremely cold. Our 25 euro sleeping bags just couldn’t handle that. We tried everything to stay warm at night: eating a late night snack, sleeping with clothes on and exercising before bed. Nothing helped. The weather only got worse and we still had to cycle over the Alps…

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The image how we imagined sleeping in a tent. The reality was a little different..

After the first week we had in mind that we would at least be used to sleeping in a tent with temperatures below zero. That was not the case. We slept terrible and our bodies became weaker. We wanted it to be this journey of connection, but it was hard to connect with people feeling this way. We needed a warm place and a good night rest. We decided to try Couchsurfing. This way we can connect with someone and have a warm couch/bed. This way we met a mother of two children, who took us out to have some drinks with friends. It was truly an amazing time we spent there. She just invited us to her night out and then into her house, where we eventually had breakfast with her and her two children. We used Couchsurfing some more times, which was always a great way to connect with people. There was only one downside: you constantly fall in some social event where you usually have some drinks and sleep late at night. We still use the platform, but not every day. Sometimes you need some goodnights rest.

cycling road

A reality check
After two weeks we finally approached the Alps. Our last stop before climbing the steep mountains would be an Airbnb not so far from Kempten. Our plan was to sleep well and approach the mountains with fresh energy. But then… my bike broke. One part of the gear had broken off. That was the last thing we’ve expected to happen.Thank god for those tie-wraps we brought! Problem solved? Nope, when we headed towards our Airbnb, another situation occurred. I got myself a flat tire. That, we couldn’t fix at night.

That was the part we were really scared off

Because of the whole situation, we could not get to our Airbnb. Unfortunately Kempten was too packed with snow to pitch a tent. We decided to sleep in a parking garage. With sunglasses on and earbuds in, we laid to rest on the top-floor of the parking garage staircase. Not that comfortable and, also, not that warm. After some breakfast we still had to get ready for our trip over the Alps. That was the part we were really scared off. Climbing 1.000 meter high mountains with a bike in cold weather didn’t sounded that great. But we had to. Because of all the problems we already encountered, we just wanted it to be over with. We began cycling..

cycling to India

Cycling over the Alps
It’s a miracle! The sun was shining, the roads were not so steep and the sight was beautiful. The first day in the Alps seemed really easy. We sat down at a coffee place and relaxed. We only had to bike another 30 kilometers and we would arrive in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where a fresh Airbnb was waiting for us. In a state of ecstasy we drove towards the little Tiroler town. We drove up the mountain, when Mick suddenly stopped. “We missed a turn at the last exit”, he said. We drove back another 5km to find the correct exit. Because of the snow, we had to walk through it. We walked for around 30/45 minutes and then things started to take a turn. The bicycle lane suddenly stopped. The rest of the road was hidden underneath a 1,5 meter thick layer of snow. We really felt miserable. We had to walk back all the way, bike up again the same route and take the motor way for another 40 kilometers.

There were so many moments where we just wanted to stop

Night had fallen. The temperature had dropped to 15 degrees below zeroo but we were still cycling through the Alps. The day that seemed so easy to start with, had become another day of hell. We were cycling uphill for another 10 to 20 km, which turned into a freezing cold experience when we had to cycle downhill. My beard had even frozen. It was filled with little chunks of ice. However, we had to continue cycling. There were so many moments where we just wanted to stop. It was not healthy going through so much misery. But you can’t stop. There is nothing there, except for mountains and trees. You are forced to continue. Then, at one point, this survival instinct kicks in. It starts to feel like a matter of life or death. We decided to just turn up the tempo and start cycling as fast as we could. Within forty minutes we finished the last 15 kilometers. We arrived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where we finally had a bed, a shower and a warm cup of coffee.

Cycling through the snow

It made you realize how strong you are as a person

It makes you a stronger person
Some of you might be reading this and think: “Why would you do this to yourself? I would never put myself through so much misery”. We understand. To be honest, if we knew what this journey would bring, I would’ve probably not even started. After all, I’m happy with every moment, every emotion and every thought this trip have brought me so far. It made me realize how strong I am as a person. Most of the situations we’ve been through sounded as something impossible, not humanly possible to do. Now I found out that I am able to do this. First I worried about school, about a career, about my friends, about my looks. Now, that has all vanished, because… if you can ride 115 km through the Alps during mid-winter, then what else can possibly break you?

Mick

Mick and Bob are currently cycling though Italy, follow their journey on YouTube!

The Best of Brabant

We’re going for a ride. No fast cars, touring buses or cute Volkswagen vans (I desperately want one though). This time we’re doing it the Dutch way, by bicycle. A ride that will take you from the industrial hotspots to picturesque villages. From Mondriaan to Dutch Design. All in the art heart of Brabant. So hop on the bike with me and I’ll show you the must-visit places of this pop-up cycle route, temporarily on from 2 until 24 September.

Did you know Brabant is the most hospitable province of the Netherlands?

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Did you know Brabant is the most hospitable province of the Netherlands? It is well-known for it’s friendly, warm hearthed people who know the best way to enjoy the good things life has to offer. Brabant is also easily accessible by bus or train from Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels or Cologne because of its central location. Enough reasons to experience the famous Brabant hospitality yourself.

Hotspot 1: Werkwarenhuis
In the creative center of ‘s-Hertogenbosch you’ll find the mini-society, Werkwarenhuis. This initiative from Social able shows you design is much more than creating beautiful (and mostly extremely expansive) products. Design has the power to spread a message, connect people, pull them out of their comfort zone and motivate them. Werkwarenhuis is an inspiring, workplace were people who don’t participate that easily will find themselves connected. And that, that’s the true power of design: a strong social value that can’t be expressed in money.

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The best part it, you can buy the products that they create and the location is gorgeous as well. At least, if you like pink as much as I do. Cause literally everything is pink at the Werkwarenhuis, everything. So, hello cute Instagram photo’s!

Hotspot 2: Heusden
After a 40 minute bicycle ride from ‘s-Hertogenbosch you will arrive at Heusden, a romantic surprise you didn’t expect. Imagine small houses, mills, wooden bridges and narrow streets. If feels like we stepped back in time, in the best way. You won’t see any neon signs or commercial chains: the village breathes authenticity. With its many studios and galleries, the charming fortified city Heusden is a great destination for lovers of art and culture. You will find many traditional crafts, like a couturier, hatter and perfume maker. A perfect gift for your travel partner if you want to add a little spark to the romance. Tip » Brabant even provides you with your very own tour guide! He follows you every step and you don’t even have to be social with him. O btw, I’m talking about an app guide, not about one from flesh and blood. The ‘Routes in Brabant‘ app gives you the ideal guidance during the most beautiful cycling routes they have put together for you. It doesn’t only inform you about cultural history facts and landscape features, also restaurants and cozy cafes are included.

Heusden, Brabant
Heusden

Hotspot 3: Oisterwijk
The nickname of Oisterwijk, (yes, the letter i is no typo), Pearl In The Green, is well deserved. The village is surrounded by green and forest. The Burgundian lifestyle is well represented by the many nice restaurants, sunny terraces and luxurious shops. This creates a perfect getaway with a spark of flamboyance. Enjoy the forest, laid back with a glass of wine or go shopping. Everything is possible.

Oisterwijk Brabant
Sundaymorning@ekwc

Hungry for some more design? You can’t miss out on Sundaymorning@ekwc, an international workplace where artists, designers and architects whom explore the technical and artistic possibilities of ceramics. Taste a freshly roasted cup of coffee from Rozema&VanSchijndel while enjoying the beautiful, ceramic art projects that decorate the industrial building.

Coffee in Brabant
Coffee at Rozema&VanSchijndel

It’s time to put my bike back in the barn, but you can still enjoy the pop-up route till the 24th of September. It’s also possible to split the route in multiply days, so enjoy everything at your own pace. If you are looking for a place to stay the night I would recommend Huizebergen.nl. A monumental Villa from 1916, hidden in a beautiful park with ancient trees.  Scared for the rain or simply not in the mood for cycling? Everything on the route is easy accessible by car and public transport.

Get inspired by nature, design and charming cities while enjoying the Brabant hospitality. And for now, as they say in Brabant, allé tot in den drooij!

Love,

Eva

Do you want to take the same route as Eva, check the website!

Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

More of The Netherlands? What about a getaway/glamping holiday on Terschelling

Terschelling glamping

Berlin City Guide 2016

When I visited Berlin for the first time in 2005 for the closing parties of the old Tresor club. I immediately fell in love with the vibe of this  amazing city. The never-ending parties at vibrant locations swept me off my feet. Though I am a bit older now and 24-hour party marathons will cost me weeks to recover ;-), Berlin still manages to make me fall in love again every time we meet. The traces of the Berlin wall, its city parks and the alternative and relaxed people. The big old brick buildings, the historical feeling in general and the thriving club scene. It’s museums, shops and great restaurants. And last but not least: how everything is still quite affordable and cheap. This combined makes Berlin an interesting place for everyone. Enjoy this Berlin city guide 2016!

Sleep in Ostkreuz Area (Because it has the best East-Berlin Feeling)
When you ask people where to stay in Berlin, the answer often will be Kreuzberg. And yes, this is a great area, but personally I like to stay a bit more in the North-East in the area between Friedrichshain and Lichtenberg, closer to Ostkreuz station. While this area might be a bit rougher, it is less touristy and embodies that typical East-Berlin feeling that I love so deeply. If you like clubbing, this area is by far the best to stay. Berghain/Panoramabar is only a 10 minute bike ride (or 5 minutes by S-train) and Kosmonaut, Salon zur wilden Renate, Chalet, Club der Visionaere, Watergate and Sisyphos are all just around the corner.

Berghain Berlin
The infamous Berghain Club (source: www.rbb-online.de)

Where to Eat?
In this area its easy to find good places to eat. Have breakfast, lunch or just a coffee at Milja & Schäfa , Zebrano, or Silo . If you like Asian food Berlin is The Place To Be. For dinner I would recommend Transit , it has delicious Asian tapas you can share with your friends. I had an amazing red duck curry at Glory Duck. Other must visits are Haubentaucher, Else (only open during summer), restaurant FAME  and Holzmarkt. The last two are from the owners of the famous Bar25 and Katerholzig. You can find them next to each other and the atmosphere is fantastic. Have a few drinks or a pizza at Holzmarkt and enjoy the view over the river Spree. If you want to have dinner at restaurant Fame its best to make a reservation.

fame Berlin
Lunch at Fame

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Enjoy a lovely breakfast at Silo. Guten Appetit! Source: Silo Coffee’s Facebook

Cycle around! 
Bikes have become more popular over the last couple of years in Berlin. And let’s be real- there is no better way to explore a city! It gives you freedom to go wherever whenever and it makes you feel a resident of the city. On my last visit, luckily my Airbnb came with its own bikes, but you can easily rent them at a bike shop – just ask your host. A rental bike will cost you around 10 euros a day. For me the number one thing to do in Berlin is cycling at Tempelhof Park. This park used to be an airport that closed in 2008. Nowadays it’s a 386-hectare park that almost feels surreal.

Tempelhof Map Berlin
Tempelhof Park

We have all been in airports but when you cycle over the airstrip, the massiveness overwhelms you. There are a few bars and in the summer you can BBQ. But mostly it is a park where people run, kite, skate, cycle, watch the sunset, picknick and take pictures. It is so much fun! This year I cycled my own little tour from Ostkreuz area to Tempelhof and managed to include two city parks – always a win! My route was: Oberbaumbrücke – Skalitzetstrasse – Görlitzer Park – Pannierstrasse – Volkspark and than Tempelhof. After my visit to Tempelhof I cycled north, up to Kreuzberg and enjoyed a great Asian lunch at restaurant Umami at the famous Bergmannstrasse. It’s easy to discover the city by yourself with a little help from Google Maps but you can also book a bike tour with a guide. Visit Berlin on A Bike for three different tours: one with the highlights of Berlin (Berlins Best), a Berlin Wall Tour or choose for the Alternative one. They all seem interesting and fun!

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Enjoy your bike ride at Tempelhof. Photo by Floksor (Flickr)

Shop! (Eat, Drink and Shop again..!)
My favorite shop in Berlin is Overkill. This sneaker shop has a men and a women store next to each other. Welcome to Sneaker Heaven! I always end up buying a new pair every time I visit. Very nearby you can find a cool boathouse on the river where you can enjoy a coffee, lunch or dinner before you hop on your bike again to continue your shopping spree. A good area to shop is the Rosa-Luxemburg Platz/Weinmeisterstrasse area. It’s not overcrowded like Alexanderplatz and not that big. There are some small boutiques with Berlin fashion labels and vintage shops (Pick ‘n Weight and Made in Berlin) but you can also find the bigger brands like American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Mango and H&M. For lunch I would recommend YamYam, this Korean restaurant is always full but it’s definitely worth the wait. I heard shopping in Kreuzberg is fun as well. You can find a huge vintage shop at the Bergmannstrasse called Colours. It is a bit hidden but when you find it you will be lost there for a few hours.

YamYam Berlin
Enjoy a Korean Bibimbap at Yam Yam

overkill Berlin
An overkill on sneakers!

Feel like going to Berlin yet? I definitely do! Enjoy und viel Spass!

Love,

Kim

*Kim Bosman is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands. This gymrat works as a digital creative and loves to travel. Other things she likes: eating, writing and photography. You can expect an article from her once a month. Go check out her Instagram

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