Samurai – A Day in Osaka

With two stages of Samurai—Shikoku and the Kii Peninsular—starting from Kansai International Airport (KIX), we know that guests who arrive early for the tour are often interested in visiting Osaka. The airport itself is located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, about 38 kilometres (24 miles) southwest of central Osaka so you need to factor in getting to and from the city. With a train station situated in the airport, the 50-minute journey into the centre of Osaka is easy to negotiate. The purpose of this blog is to outline how you could take in some of the main sites in the city and do so in the context of travelling to and from the airport. I have tried to break it down into easy time slots.

Morning

Breakfast: Take advantage of the extensive range of Western and Japanese dishes on offer at your breakfast buffet, as that same range won’t necessarily be found in the more ‘local’ accommodations we seek out on tour. Our culinary overview of the tour sets the scene for what a more traditional breakfast entails. If eggs and bacon are your thing, we suggest you make the most of the international fare on offer in the airport hotels before we hit the road less travelled :).

Getting to Osaka Centre: Take the JR Haruka Express or Nankai Airport Line to Osaka Station (about 50 minutes).

Osaka Castle: Start your day by visiting Osaka Castle, a historic landmark with beautiful gardens. Explore the museum inside to learn about Japan’s history.

Mid-Morning

Dotonbori: Head to the vibrant Dotonbori district. Stroll along the canal, snap photos with the famous Glico running man sign, and enjoy street food. The street food throughout the city is fantastic and well worth sampling as part of your immersion into Japanese culture. Osaka’s rich culinary culture, often called “the nation’s kitchen,” features diverse, flavorful dishes like okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), and kushikatsu. Kushikatsu is a popular Japanese dish consisting of skewered and deep-fried meat, seafood, and vegetables. Originating in Osaka, each piece is coated in a light batter and then breaded with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) before being fried to a crispy golden brown. Street food thrives in Dotonbori, while Kuromon Ichiba Market showcases fresh seafood and local delicacies. The city’s food scene reflects a deep appreciation for taste and tradition.

Lunch

Kuromon Ichiba Market: Savour fresh seafood and other local delicacies at this bustling market. It’s a great spot to experience the culinary delights of Osaka. Snack your way through Dotonbori and then settle in for lunch at one of my favourite places in the city for a delectable lunch. A personal favourite of mine is the Taiyaki- fish-shaped pastries filled with sweet red bean paste or other fillings. The freshly grilled scallops and tempura options are also real standouts. You absolutely have to sample the takoyaki (octopus balls), though, if you eat nothing else.

Afternoon

After all that food, perhaps it is time to walk some of it off. Even if you are not keen on shopping, the sights in the shopping districts are still incredibly interesting. We are also big fans of the aquarium, which features an expansive and immersive design, taking visitors on a journey through various marine environments.

Shinsaibashi Shopping Street: Walk to nearby Shinsaibashi to shop or simply to take in the sights. This covered street offers a mix of high-end stores, boutiques, and traditional shops.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan: Visit one of the largest aquariums in the world, located in Tempozan Harbor Village. It’s a short train ride from the city centre.

Evening

Umeda Sky Building: Head to the Floating Garden Observatory for panoramic views of Osaka. It’s especially stunning at sunset. Umeda Sky Building is a pair of skyscrapers connected in midair built in an unusual architectural form, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks

Night

Dinner in Umeda: Enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants in the Umeda area, which offers a range of Japanese and international cuisine.

Return to Kansai Airport: Take the train back to Kansai Airport on one of the regular trains that run throughout the day and evening.

 

This itinerary combines cultural experiences, delicious food, and vibrant city life to ensure a memorable day in Osaka. Let us know in the comments if you agree with our Day in Osaka or feel we have missed anything that you would suggest could be included.



A Japanese Culinary Overview

A Culinary Overview of the Samurai Tour

Our Samurai Tour covers several regions of Japan, and one of the highlights is the range of culinary offerings. For some of our guests, the dining aspect is the highlight of the entire tour, but for others, it can be slightly discombobulating. The idea behind this overview is to give you a better sense of what to expect on the tour.

Japanese Breakfast

A Japanese breakfast typically includes steamed rice, miso soup, grilled fish, pickled vegetables, nori (seaweed), and tamagoyaki (rolled omelette). Accompaniments like tofu, natto (fermented soybeans), and green tea are common. It is fair to say it is very different to the traditional Western breakfast that most of our guests are familiar with.

Some of our accommodations will also serve coffee and some pastries, but this is more to sate the Western palate than a reflection of what is considered a normal breakfast. Wherever possible, the guides will seek to offer alternatives, but there is a rigidity to the Japanese travel experience on the road less travelled that doesn’t always make this possible. For what it is worth we suggest that everyone at least try ‘natto’ once in their life. Some of the guides actually claim to pine for it post-tour, but that is not something this author can relate to! This BBC article on natto provides a great insight into what they describe as Japan’s most polarising ‘superfood’!

Our Japanese Trip Specialist Eri Nozawa had this to say about breakfast in Japan and natto specifically – “In Japan general, I love my go-to breakfast  – Natto and raw egg on top of rice”!! This gives me great energy to get going in the morning, and tasty! It is a very acquired taste, but I love it as I have been eating since I was little. Also, I like Soba noodles, especially when eating cold ones. They have the great flavour of the buckwheat, and each Soba restaurant has a slightly different taste sauce to dip into. And they normally have great selections of Tempra to go with!”

Snacks on Tour

We aim to provide coffee and tea at our rest stops, as well as a range of fruits and sustenance, to energise you for the riding ahead. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy the delights of the traditional convenience store experience in Japan. Lawson and 7-Eleven are the main convenience chain options and are cultural phenomena in their own right. Our GM Ben Weigl, who has designed many of the Japanese itineraries, says he often searches out Machi (chewy rice) covered vanilla ice cream balls.  He says – “They have been around forever and the packaging hasn’t changed. It is best enjoyed if you can muster some patience as allowing the vanilla ice cream to get a little soft makes them even better – eaten with fingers or a tiny fork.”

Eri and Nate, on the other hand, search out a doughnut hit – “Our favourite snack chain shop is “Mister Donut”!!! Hope you have been before, they have all different kinds of donuts, and some savory things too!”.

Lunch on Samurai

This is your chance to sample a broader range of offerings, which is why we present this as an independent option. The guide team will generally point you in the direction of a favourite noodle bar or similar—and translate as required.  Personally, when I’m on the Shikoku stage, I will always try to search for soba noodles for lunch wherever I can find them! You might also prefer to get something on the run and the convenience tours mentioned above offer a really broad and eclectic range of takeaway options. I am generally bamboozled by just how many different pre-packaged food possibilities you can find in these stores. In the context of the elaborate Kaiseki meals that are a feature of many of our dinners, though, we find that guests do appreciate the option to search out more Western-themed options as a way of mixing up the culinary experience on tour.

Dinnertime

A huge highlight of the Samurai Tour is the Kaiseki cuisine, which is a feature of many of our dinners on tour. Kaiseki cuisine is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal that emphasizes seasonal ingredients, intricate presentation, and a balance of taste, texture, and appearance. It showcases the chef’s skill and creativity, offering a harmonious dining experience that blends art and flavour, often enjoyed in a serene and elegant setting. Add into the mix some high-quality sake, and it is fair to say many of our guests consider the gastronomy on this tour to rival all the other tours we run combined! We also find that many guests appreciate the opportunity to eat earlier than is generally the case on the European tours we run. As with the breakfasts, though, there is no great flexibility to change these menus beyond us communicating dietary restrictions in advance of the tour. Personally, I suggest throwing caution to the wind and embracing the range of tastes and flavours that are served as a key part of your immersive travel experience. Our guides are always at hand to explain what it actually is that you are being served.

In terms of personal highlights Eri says – “I loved the meal in Oshima Island near Sukumo. They use all the locally sourced ingredients, and my favorite dish in Shikoku “Katsuo no Tataki” was amazing! This is also called “Wara Yaki”(meaning grilled by rice stalk). This charred bonito fish brings extra flavour.”

Special mention as well to the traditional attire that is provided in your rooms that you can wear to dinner – the yukata. The yukata is a casual summer kimono made of lightweight cotton, often worn in Japan during warm months. It’s typically worn at festivals, hot springs (onsen), and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns). Yukatas are designed to be easy to put on and are secured with an obi (sash). Samurai is the tour that arguably gives you the best opportunity to travel light, given the nature of the clothing that most people wear for dinner and, indeed, for the duration of your stay in any of the ryokans we stay in.

And in this respect, I think it would be amiss not to touch on the whole post-ride experience that is a feature of these tours. On arrival at your accommodation, you’ll find vending machines that cater to all sorts of requirements. The cold, crisp Japanese beer is usually my choice. Once in your room, you generally change into your yukata and then head to the onsen, which, like the kaiseki meals, is a feature on many of the evenings on the Samurai tour. Cold beer followed by onsen followed by Kaiseki cuisine is a post-ride ritual I find hard to beat.



Cro Magnon – A Day in Lyon

Lyon is the starting point for our Cro Magnon tour and is within easy driving distance of our base next to Mont Ventoux. We always enjoy a trip to Lyon as it provides a fantastic contrast to the rural life we normally lead. Famed for its live music and gastronomy, it is a great spot for a weekend away. On that basis, we recommend an early arrival to explore it before we head off. A ‘Day in Lyon’ promises a delightful journey through history, gastronomy, and culture.

Begin your Lyon exploration in Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon), a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its Renaissance architecture, cobblestone streets, and ‘traboules’ (hidden passageways). Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste and marvel at its stunning Gothic architecture and astronomical clock. Note that on the first day of our tour, we have a guided tour of the traboules on the agenda, but a sneak visit beforehand would set the scene.

Wander through the colourful ‘traboules’ of Vieux Lyon, discovering hidden courtyards, artisan workshops, and quaint boutiques selling local crafts. If you are partial to a good cocktail, we can recommend the Bar Le Florian. We had a team meet-up in Lyon last year, and this place was a lovely place to hang out.  Next, cross the Saône River to Presqu’île, Lyon’s bustling peninsula between the Rhône and Saône rivers. Explore Place Bellecour, one of Europe’s largest squares, and admire the equestrian statue of Louis XIV.

Indulge in a gastronomic adventure at Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse, a renowned covered food market where you can sample gourmet delights, cheeses, charcuterie, and pastries from local artisans. Lyon is lauded for its gastronomic heritage and this place embodies the essence of why that is the case.

After lunch, stroll along the banks of the Rhône River or take a leisurely cruise to admire Lyon’s picturesque waterfront, including the iconic Fourvière Hill and Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, which are perched above the city.

Climb aboard the funicular or hike up Fourvière Hill for panoramic views of Lyon, its historic rooftops, and the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. The hike up is strenuous, but consider it a good way of using muscles that might be ignored with 2 weeks of cycling ahead. Explore the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, known for its ornate interiors and breathtaking mosaics.

Descend back to Presqu’île and visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, housed in a former Benedictine convent. Admire masterpieces by European artists, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Monet. As evening approaches, venture to Lyon’s Croix-Rousse district, known for its silk industry heritage and bohemian atmosphere. Explore traboules, street art, and boutique shops showcasing local designers’ creations.

Indulge in Lyonnaise cuisine for dinner at a traditional ‘bouchon’, savoring specialties like quenelles, coq au vin, and cervelle de canut (a creamy cheese spread).

End your day with a leisurely walk along the illuminated banks of the Rhône or Saône, enjoying the city’s enchanting lights reflecting on the water. Lyon’s blend of history, culinary excellence, and artistic charm ensures a memorable day in this vibrant French city.

 

 

 



Strzelecki – A Day in Hobart

If you have time at the end of the tour, we suggest staying for a day or two in the charming city of Hobart. In recent years, the city has carved itself out a reputation as a bonafide foodie destination, and the establishment of the MONA gallery has added a cultural element that has become a real must-see. I personally can’t think of many other museums that can capture the imagination in the way that MONA does. Added to this, it is fair to say that the pace of life in Hobart and the friendliness of the locals has a lovely Aussie charm to it. And if any of you are looking for extra riding in Hobart, do let us know as we have a group of fideli there who would be happy to show you their local area by bike.

Fideli tip – Doug Bruce wrote our Tassie Soul Ride and is incredibly passionate about his adopted city. He says, “Something that is also worth mentioning is the Cascades Female Factory in South Hobart. If someone were to catch a bus from town up to the Cascade Brewery they could have a lovely walk from there down the Rivulet Track (the link has a map showing the location of the Female Factory) – which goes right past the Female Factory – back into town.”

In our opinion Hobart promises a delightful blend of history, culture, nature, and culinary delights. Like any other Australian city, you should start your day with a great Australian breakfast. Perhaps in the case of Hobart, you could incorporate some of the amazing seafood that the island is famed for. Anyone for oysters for breakfast?

After breakfast head to Salamanca Place, a historic waterfront precinct lined with 19th-century sandstone warehouses. If you visit on a Saturday, explore the Salamanca Market, where you can browse local crafts, gourmet food, and fresh produce.

Next, wander along Hobart’s picturesque waterfront at Sullivans Cove. Admire the iconic silhouette of kunanyi/Mt. Wellington towers over the city and takes a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, soaking in views of historic buildings and boats bobbing in the harbour.

Immerse yourself in Tasmania’s rich maritime history with a visit to the Maritime Museum of Tasmania or step aboard the replica of the famous Lady Nelson for a harbour cruise.

For lunch, head to Battery Point, a charming neighbourhood known for its historic cottages, boutique shops, and eateries. Enjoy a meal at one of the quaint cafes or restaurants offering fresh Tasmanian produce and seafood.

After lunch, visit the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) to delve into Tasmania’s natural and cultural heritage. Discover exhibits on local flora and fauna, Aboriginal history, and contemporary art (pictured below).

Take a scenic drive or bus tour to Mount Nelson Signal Station for panoramic views of Hobart, the Derwent River, and surrounding landscapes. Alternatively, venture to the nearby Cascade Brewery for a tour and tasting of Australia’s oldest operating brewery.

In the afternoon, explore the vibrant art scene at the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), located along the Derwent River. Take a ferry from the city centre for a unique approach to this world-renowned museum showcasing contemporary art and provocative installations. This place is amazing!

As evening descends, return to Hobart for a memorable dinner experience. Choose from waterfront restaurants offering fresh seafood, modern Australian cuisine, or cozy eateries serving Tasmanian specialties.

End your day with a twilight stroll along Constitution Dock. Watch fishing boats return with their catch and enjoy the city lights reflecting on the water. Reflect on the day’s adventures while soaking in the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that defines Hobart, Tasmania.

 



A Taste of the 3 Islands

The charming Enrico Casini is our Trip Specialist for the 3 Islands Tour – Corsica, Sardinia & Sicily. Below he talks about some of the gastronomic highlights on the tour that resonate with him. He also covers some of his favourite tipples as well.

Enrico says, “Gastronomy plays a significant role when travelling, even more so when the traveller is pedalling substantial miles each day through the main islands of the Western Mediterranean. This entails sitting at the table truly hungry and facing a variety of specialties crafted with delicious, fresh, and local ingredients. It will be challenging, so it’s best to be prepared.”

CORSICA

“Corsica can essentially be described as a mountain rising from the sea. It has a genuine rural identity, and this aspect also characterizes its gastronomy. The recipes evoke the memory of regional Italian cuisine, while the winemaking is decidedly influenced by French tradition”

Corsican Charcuterie: Corsican charcuterie is renowned for its quality and flavor thanx to the long experience in farming the Porcu Nustrale, a pork variety selected and farmed in Corsica. Some of the products are prisuttu (cured ham), lonzu (pork loin), and figatellu (a type of liver sausage). These are often enjoyed sliced and served as appetizers or incorporated into various dishes.
Suitable Wine: Sciaccarello (rosè DOC Ajaccio, Corsica)

Aubergines (eggplants) a la Bonifacenne: Vegetables are an important element in Corsica cuisine. Cultivated locally, and proudly organic, they are the basis of many tasty recipes. The Aubergines in La Bonifacenne are baked in the oven, with different types of local cheese, basil, garlic and extra virgin olive oil derive from the Genoese tradition and can be enjoyed throughout the island.
Suitable Wine: Clos Finidori, (red, AOP Figari, Corsica)

Both dishes can be excellently accompanied by the typical Corsican beer, Pietra, which is brewed with a blend of selected malts and Corsican chestnut flour.

SARDINIA

“Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean by surface area and features a highly diverse geography. This variety is reflected in its typical cuisine: a rich selection of products derived from cereals combined with dishes from the traditional agro-pastoral cuisine. The history of recent centuries, with its many external influences, has led to the development of a high-level seafood cuisine in the coastal areas.”

Pane Frattau : (“fractured bread” in Sardinian language). This simple and delightful traditional dish is composed of layers of thin Sardinian flatbread called “pane carasau” (also known as carta di musica) soaked in broth, seasoned with tomato sauce, and topped with poached eggs and grated pecorino cheese.
Suitable wine: “Terre Brune” Carignano del Sulcis (red, DOC Sulcis, Sardinia)


Fregula con arselle (“fregula with clams”): Traditional Sardinian dish featuring small balls of toasted semolina pasta (fregola) cooked with fresh clams (arselle) in a flavorful broth. It is a delightful seafood pasta dish that showcases the fresh taste of the clams alongside the hearty texture of the toasted fregola pasta. Fregule can be also prepared with vegetables, as for example with artichokes, or with meat. The recipes combinations can vary according with the main local specialties.
Suitable wine: “Ruinas” Vermentino di Gallura (white, DOCG, Gallura, Sardinia)

SICILY

“The Sicilian gastronomic tradition is certainly among the most important and rich in Italy, as the result of influences of all the cultures that have been established in Sicily over the millennia. Reducing the choice to a pair of recipes is truly an arduous task, the following examples are therefore among the most symbolic among the huge variety offered by Sicily.”

Arancini: the Arancino is a cone or a sphere of stuffed rice, breaded and fried. Classic tastes are at meat ragout or butter, but there are numerous variations such as “alla Norma” (with tomato, fried aubergines, savory ricotta and basil) and even chocolate. The various cities of the island compete for its paternity; However, Arancino, everywhere in Sicily, is an indispensable delicacy to be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Suitable wine: “Carthago”, Nero d’Avola (red, DOC, Settesoli- Menfi, Sicily)

Cannolo: Considered the king of Sicilian pastry, the cannolo boasts many centuries of history and consists of a rushed and filled fried pod of fried pasta. Depending on the area, the outdoor filling can be enriched with candied orange zest, pistachio grains, or chocolate chips. Alternatively, it can contain chocolate cream instead of ricotta.
The freshness of the ingredients is the secret of this delicacy. Sicilians warn: a good cannolo must be stuffed on the moment!
Suitable wine: “Na’Jm” Malvasia delle Lipari Passito (white liqueur wine, DOC, Lipari Islands, Sicily).



Mont Ventoux Cycling Adventures

Cycling Adventures up and around Mont Ventoux

The Ride and Seek operations base is in Provence in the shadow of the iconic Mont Ventoux. It’s no secret that Provence offers awesome cycling across all disciplines from road cycling, gravel, enduro and mountain biking. It’s also a beautiful part of the world, from the mountains to the sea, through lavender fields, gorges and vineyards. So it was a natural choice to base the Ride and Seek Headquarters here when we moved to Europe 7 years ago.

The Mont Ventoux Cycling Club (MVCC) is situated in the village of Mormoiron in the shadow of Mont Ventoux. It serves as the base for Ride and Seek Bike Tours and doubles up as a cafe, workshop and shop. As a club, it is also from here that we run a series of curated tours that capture the mystique of our local surroundings. In June, we have a range of offerings that embrace the amazing cycling opportunities. We think it is a winning combination combining the local knowledge of MVCC with the tour template that garnered multiple awards for Ride and Seek.

FREE MEMBERSHIP OF MVCC


Tour Overviews

 

Mont Ventoux Weekend

Embark on an exhilarating weekend cycling adventure. Day 1 introduces our soul ride – a time trial up the breathtaking Gorges de la Nesque. Day 2 is dedicated to conquering Mont Ventoux, offering the challenge of ascending one, two, or all three sides of our local iconic hill. On Day 3, enjoy a more leisurely social ride through the scenic Dentelles. Choose from three packages – a simple ride fee, standard accommodation, or indulge in a luxury option.

Provence Gravel Explore

This immersive experience involves circumnavigating and ascending the iconic mountain, revealing its diverse terrain. Along the journey, discover the distinctive charm of Bedoin, Sault, and Buis-les-Baronnies with stays at three of our favourite local hotels. In Bedoin, indulge in comfort amid the vibrant local atmosphere. S

ault offers a tranquil retreat amidst lavender fields, while Buis-les-Baronnies provides a rustic haven. Each hotel promises a blend of local hospitality and cycling enthusiasts’ needs, enhancing your Mont Ventoux gravel adventure with unparalleled comfort and regional authenticity.

Mont Ventoux to Alpe d’Huez Loop

A legendary loop ride that unfolds in two mesmerizing parts or as one unforgettable epic journey. This historic adv

enture traces Hannibal’s trail from Mont Ventoux to Alpe d’Huez, immersing riders in a narrative of ancient conquests. Revel in the challenge of two iconic cycling landmarks. As the route winds through Alpe d’Huez, soak in the triumphs of cycling legends before tracing the Route Napoleon back to Mont Ventoux. This ride of historic proportions seamlessly blends the tales of ancient warriors with the modern glory of cycling, offering an unparalleled and epic cycling experience.

Self Guided Provence

Timeless adventures with our non-date-specific self-guided tours, meticulously crafted to showcase the best of our region. The Tour of Mont Ventoux spans 7 days, allowing cyclists to conquer the iconic mountain at their pace. Immerse yourself in a 5-day culinary adventure, savouring local flavours and culinary delights. Alternatively, our 4-day Lavender Route unveils the picturesque landscapes of lavender fields, providing a sensory journey through colour and fragrance. Each tour offers flexibility, enabling you to choose when to experience the beauty of Mont Ventoux, indulge in gastronomic delights, or wander through lavender-scented vistas at your leisure.

If any of these itineraries spark your interest, please click below to express your interest. We’d love to host you at the Mont Ventoux Cycling Club in 2024.

SELF-GUIDED EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST


The Club

Established in 2022, the Mont Ventoux Cycling Club, nestled in the village of Mormoiron, serves as a dynamic hub for cycling enthusiasts worldwide. Beyond a retail space and workshop, it encompasses a bike rental hub, a cozy cafe, and a global cycling club. Proudly hosting the European base for Ride and Seek Bike Tours, it offers weekly club rides and curated bike tour options. This vibrant community space welcomes riders eager to explore the beauty of Mont Ventoux and its surroundings, fostering a sense of camaraderie among those passionate about the exhilarating world of cycling.

Join us for a coffee, and let the aroma of freshly brewed beans accompany a generous exchange of local riding tips. Our friendly community of cyclists is eager

to share insights on conquering the iconic local hill and exploring the myriad of breathtaking riding options our region boasts. Whether you seek the thrill of ascents or scenic routes, our cafe is a welcoming haven for riders passionate about discovering the best of our cycling haven.

Located a mere 6 km from Bedoin, the Mont Ventoux Cycling Club in Mormoiron is perfectly situated to tackle Mont Ventoux and embark on our favourite soul ride through the Gorges de la Nesque. For those seeking a more tranquil atmosphere away from Bedoin’s hustle and bustle, Mormoiron provides a relaxed base. Join us here to unwind, plan your adventures, and experience the joy of cycling in a serene and welcoming setting.

 

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Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage

In Search of Japan’s Spiritual Origins

What is the Kumano Kodo?

The Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes in the Kii Peninsula of Japan, leading to the sacred Kumano Sanzan shrines – Hongu Taisha, Nachi Taisha, and Hayatama Taisha. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Kumano Kodo has been a spiritual journey for over a millennium, offering a profound connection with nature and the divine.

The pilgrimage routes wind through dense forests, across mountains, and along scenic coastlines, presenting pilgrims with a variety of landscapes. The trails are not just a means of reaching the sacred sites; they are an integral part of the spiritual experience. The Kumano Kodo is more than a physical journey; it is a mental and emotional exploration, fostering introspection and self-discovery.

Pilgrims can choose from several routes, each varying in length and difficulty. The Nakahechi route, starting from Tanabe City, is the most popular and historically significant. Along the way, walkers encounter Oji shrines, traditional ryokans, and onsens, immersing themselves in the local culture.

The Kumano Kodo reflects the synthesis of Shinto and Buddhist beliefs, blending spirituality with nature worship. It encapsulates the Japanese concept of “shintai,” where natural elements like rocks and trees are considered sacred manifestations of divinity. The Grand Shrine of Kumano Hongu Taisha, nestled in a pristine forest, embodies this harmony, inviting pilgrims to experience a profound connection with the sacred.

As modernity encroaches upon tradition, the Kumano Kodo remains a timeless pilgrimage, preserving Japan’s cultural and spiritual heritage. It beckons those seeking a physical journey and a transformative odyssey through the heart of Japan’s spiritual essence.

Our cycling itinerary in the Kii Peninsular embraces the essence of the Kumano Kodo with our route intersecting the pilgrimage route on many occasions. The Kumano Kodo is integral to our travel experience in this stunning area. Below is a map showing the different routes that make up the Kumano Kodo. Our cycling itinerary crosses paths with a number of these routes and temples along the way as we cycle from Wakayama to Ise.

 

 

 



Norsemen – A Day in Bergen

We end the Norsemen tour in the enchanting town of Bergen. Our ‘Day in Bergen’ blog is designed to offer you suggestions for staying on for a few days at the end of the tour. Bergen offers a charming mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Start your morning with a traditional Norwegian breakfast at a local café, enjoying open-faced sandwiches (smørbrød), cheeses, smoked salmon, and freshly brewed coffee.

Locals Tip: Our favourite breakfast hangout is the Kaffemisjonen Cafe, which is a 7-minute walk from our final hotel in Bergen, Thon Hotel Bergen. It is a great place for coffee connoisseurs, and we particularly rate their range of filter coffee options. Accompany your coffee with a range of stuffed croissants, or indulge in their amazing cinnamon buns.

You can then begin your exploration by visiting Bryggen, the iconic Hanseatic wharf and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander through the colourful wooden buildings dating back to the 14th century, now housing shops, galleries, and museums showcasing Bergen’s maritime heritage.

Explore the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene to learn about Bergen’s Hanseatic past, merchant life, and trade history in the region. Admire artifacts, reconstructed interiors, and views of Bryggen from historical buildings.

Cross the Vågen harbour on the Fløibanen funicular to Mount Fløyen for panoramic views of Bergen, surrounding fjords, and coastal landscapes. Enjoy hiking trails, a zipline adventure, or simply relax at the mountain’s café while taking in the scenery.

Descend back to Bryggen and explore Bergenhus Fortress, a medieval fortress with historic buildings, museums, and the iconic Rosenkrantz Tower. Visit the Haakon’s Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower for insights into Bergen’s royal and military history.

For lunch, savour traditional Norwegian cuisine at a waterfront restaurant or seafood market. Sample dishes like fish soup, Bergen fish cakes, or fresh seafood platters showcasing local catches from the North Sea.

Locals Tip: If you have had your fill of traditional Norwegian cuisine and are looking for an alternative, we are happy to recommend the Siam Ratree Thai Restaurant for lunch or dinner. This place is not great on the frills, but from our experience, it certainly gets in right with the quality of the food it serves, which is tasty and authentic. We tried the Tom Yun soup and Pad Thai and were not disappointed. If you are keen to eat there in the evening, it would be best to book in advance. Pop your head in to book, as it is just 2 minutes around the corner from your hotel.

After lunch, visit the KODE Art Museums of Bergen, which comprises several buildings showcasing Norwegian and international art collections. Explore paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the Middle Ages to contemporary works.

Take a leisurely walk along Bryggen’s waterfront and explore nearby attractions such as the Fish Market (Fisketorget), known for its seafood stalls, local delicacies, and bustling atmosphere. Browse for souvenirs, crafts, and regional specialties.

Embark on a fjord cruise or boat tour from Bergen harbour to explore nearby fjords such as the Hardangerfjord or Osterfjord. Enjoy scenic views of waterfalls, cliffs, and picturesque villages nestled along the fjord shores.

Return to Bergen for a delightful evening at a cozy restaurant or brewery, enjoying Norwegian beers, aquavit, and gourmet Nordic cuisine. Indulge in dishes like reindeer stew, grilled salmon, or cloudberries with cream for dessert.

End your day with a stroll along Bryggen’s illuminated alleys, admiring the historic buildings bathed in soft light. Bergen’s blend of history, art, culinary delights, and fjord landscapes ensures a memorable day in Norway’s picturesque coastal city.

 

 



Norsemen – A Day in Tromsø

 

The Norsemen tour starts in Tromsø, which is located in northern Norway above the Arctic Circle and offers a unique blend of Arctic experiences, culture, and natural beauty. Our ‘Day in Tromsø’ blog is designed to give you some ideas if you come in early.

Start your exploration by visiting the Arctic Cathedral (Ishavskatedralen), a striking modernist church with a distinctive triangular shape and breathtaking views of Tromsø Sound. Explore the interior with its beautiful stained glass windows and serene atmosphere.

Next, head to the Tromsø Cable Car (Fjellheisen) for a scenic ride up Mount Storsteinen. Enjoy panoramic views of Tromsø, surrounding islands, and snow-capped mountains. Take a short hike at the top for even more stunning vistas and photo opportunities.

After descending, visit the Polaria Arctic Aquarium and experience Arctic marine life up close. Highlights include playful seals, Arctic fish, and interactive exhibits showcasing the region’s unique ecosystems.

For lunch, why not sample some of the local cuisine? Dishes like bacalao (dried and salted cod stew) or reindeer meat don’t get much more ‘local’.

In the afternoon, delve into Tromsø’s cultural heritage at the Tromsø Museum, focusing on Sami culture, Arctic exploration, and natural history. Don’t miss the Northern Lights Planetarium for immersive experiences of the Aurora Borealis.

Explore Tromsø’s charming city centre with its colourful wooden houses, lively markets, and boutique shops. Visit the Tromsø Domkirke (Tromsø Cathedral), a beautiful neo-Gothic church dating back to the 19th century.

As evening approaches, indulge in a delicious seafood dinner at one of Tromsø’s waterfront restaurants, featuring fresh fish, king crab, and local delicacies. Toast your day with a glass of Aquavit or Norwegian beer.

Wrap up your Tromsø experience with a visit to the Arctic Cathedral or one of Tromsø’s cozy pubs to enjoy live music, northern lights talks, or storytelling sessions about Sami culture and Arctic exploration.

Locals tip—Our favourite pub for a beer is the Rorbua pub, which is only a 5-minute walk from our hotel, Thon Hotel, Tromso. Apart from giving you a chance to get a photo with a stuffed polar bear, it has a good selection of beers and serves tasty pizza. Try sampling the Arctic beer if you are game to try the local tipple.

Take a twilight stroll along Tromsø’s waterfront or city streets, admiring the city lights and, if conditions are right, spotting the elusive Northern Lights. Tromsø’s blend of Arctic wonders, cultural heritage, and outdoor adventures ensures a memorable day in Norway’s far north.

Night Tromso postcard backdrop background high defenition


3 Islands – A Day in Siracusa

 

Siracusa marks the end point of the 3 Islands Epic and merits an extended stay. ‘A Day in Siracusa’ provides some tips for on how you culd spend your time Siracusa islocated on the southeastern coast of Sicily and invites you to explore ancient history, charming streets, and coastal beauty. Begin your morning with a traditional Sicilian breakfast at a local café, enjoying granita with brioche or espresso with pastries.

Start your exploration in Ortigia, the historic heart of Siracusa. Wander through narrow alleys lined with Baroque buildings, boutique shops, and artisan workshops. Visit the Piazza del Duomo to admire the stunning Cathedral of Siracusa, built on the site of an ancient Greek temple.

Explore the nearby ancient Greek ruins of the Temple of Apollo and the intriguing Fountain of Arethusa, a freshwater spring surrounded by lush vegetation and mythological legends.

Stroll along the waterfront promenade, Lungomare Alfeo, offering panoramic views of the sea and Ortigia’s picturesque coastline. Stop by the Castello Maniace, a medieval fortress overlooking the harbor, and learn about Siracusa’s maritime history.

For lunch, indulge in Sicilian cuisine at a trattoria or seafood restaurant in Ortigia. Sample local specialties such as pasta alla Norma, sarde a beccafico (stuffed sardines), and arancini (rice balls) paired with Sicilian wines.

In the afternoon, visit the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, home to impressive ancient Greek and Roman ruins. Explore the Greek Theater, where performances are still held today, the Roman Amphitheater, and the Ear of Dionysius, a limestone cave with remarkable acoustics.

Continue your historical journey with a visit to the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi, showcasing a vast collection of artifacts from Sicily’s ancient civilizations, including Greek, Roman, and Phoenician artifacts.

Take a scenic drive or bus ride to the nearby town of Noto, renowned for its stunning Baroque architecture and UNESCO World Heritage status. Explore Noto’s elegant palaces, churches, and grand piazzas adorned with intricate facades and ornate details.

Return to Siracusa for a relaxing evening along the waterfront or in Ortigia’s charming squares. Enjoy gelato or aperitivo at a seaside bar while watching the sunset over the Ionian Sea.

Dine at a traditional Sicilian restaurant, trattoria, or enoteca, savoring regional dishes like pesce spada alla siciliana (Sicilian-style swordfish), caponata (eggplant stew), and cannoli for dessert.

End your day with a leisurely passeggiata (evening stroll) through Ortigia’s enchanting streets, illuminated buildings, and lively atmosphere. Siracusa’s blend of ancient wonders, culinary delights, and coastal allure promises an unforgettable experience in Sicily.



3 Islands – A Day in Cagliari


We love Cagliari and certainly think it merits some extra time for those finishing their tour at the end of stage 2. For ‘A Day in Cagliari’, the capital of Sardinia,  we think it offers a delightful mix of history, culture, and Mediterranean charm. Begin your day with a traditional Italian breakfast at a local café, enjoying espresso and freshly baked pastries.

Start your exploration at Castello, the historic old town perched on a hill overlooking the city and sea. Wander through narrow cobblestone streets lined with medieval buildings, boutiques, and cafes. Visit the Cattedrale di Santa Maria, a stunning Romanesque cathedral with Gothic elements and panoramic views from its bell tower.

Explore the archaeological site of Nora, an ancient Roman and Phoenician city located on the coast near Cagliari. Discover well-preserved ruins, including a theatre, baths, and mosaics, offering insights into Sardinia’s ancient history.

After immersing yourself in history, head to Poetto Beach, Cagliari’s popular stretch of sandy coastline. Relax on the beach, swim in turquoise waters, or enjoy water sports activities like paddleboarding or windsurfing.

For lunch, indulge in fresh seafood and Sardinian specialties at a seaside restaurant along Poetto Beach or in the city center. Sample dishes like fregola with clams, bottarga (cured fish roe), and grilled octopus paired with local wines.

In the afternoon, visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari (National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari) to see artifacts from Sardinia’s prehistoric Nuragic civilization, ancient Roman artifacts, and Phoenician relics.

Take a scenic drive or bus ride to the charming town of Villasimius, known for its stunning beaches and coastal landscapes. Explore picturesque coves such as Punta Molentis or Porto Giunco, ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.

Return to Cagliari for a leisurely evening along Via Roma or Via Garibaldi, lively streets lined with shops, cafes, and gelaterias. Enjoy gelato or an aperitivo at a trendy bar while soaking in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

Savour dinner at a traditional Sardinian restaurant in Marina or Stampace districts, offering regional dishes like culurgiones (Sardinian ravioli), proceeds (roast suckling pig), and sedans (sweet fried pastries with cheese and honey).

End your day with a romantic walk along Bastione di Saint Remy, a panoramic terrace with stunning views of Cagliari’s illuminated skyline, harbor, and sea. Cagliari’s blend of history, nature, and gastronomy promises a memorable day on the beautiful island of Sardinia.



3 Islands – A Day in Bastia

The 3 Islands tour starts in the town of Bastia, which merits an extra night’s stay. Our ‘Day in Bastia’ is designed to set the scene. Bastia offers a blend of history, culture, and coastal beauty. Begin your day with a traditional Corsican breakfast at a local café, savouring pastries and strong coffee.

Start your exploration at the heart of Bastia in the historic Old Port (Vieux Port). Admire colourful fishing boats, waterfront cafes, and the imposing Citadel perched on a hill overlooking the harbour.

Explore the bustling market at Place Saint-Nicolas, where vendors sell fresh produce, local cheeses, charcuterie, and handicrafts. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and chat with friendly locals.

Stroll along the charming streets of Terra Vecchia (Old Town), lined with centuries-old buildings, picturesque squares, and hidden alleys. Visit the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church, which has Baroque architecture and ornate interior.

Next, ascend to the Citadel of Bastia for panoramic views of the city, port, and surrounding coastline. Explore the historic citadel walls, bastions, and the Governor’s Palace, now housing the Museum of Corsica, showcasing island history and culture.

After immersing yourself in history, head to Place du Marché for a leisurely lunch at a traditional Corsican restaurant. Indulge in local specialties such as wild boar charcuterie, Corsican cheeses, and seafood dishes paired with regional wines.

In the afternoon, visit the Jardin Romieu botanical gardens, a serene oasis with Mediterranean flora, shaded pathways, and panoramic views over Bastia and the sea. Relax amidst lush greenery and enjoy the coastal breeze.

Continue your cultural exploration with a visit to the Musée de Bastia, housed in a former governor’s palace. Discover exhibits on Corsican art, history, maritime heritage, and traditional crafts.

Take a scenic drive or bus ride to the charming village of Saint-Florent, nestled between mountains and the sea. Explore its picturesque harbour, ancient Genoese citadel ruins, and sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters.

Return to Bastia for a delightful evening along the waterfront. Enjoy aperitifs at a seaside bar while watching the sunset over the Mediterranean. Then, savour a delicious seafood dinner at a waterfront restaurant, sampling fresh fish, lobster, and local Corsican specialties.

End your day with a leisurely promenade along the illuminated Old Port, soaking in the coastal ambience and lively evening atmosphere. Bastia’s blend of history, gastronomy, and scenic beauty promises a memorable experience on the enchanting island of Corsica.

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Cro Magnon – A Day in Bordeaux

Cro Magnon concludes in the exciting city of Bordeaux, which we think merits an extended stay. Bordeaux offers a delightful blend of history, wine culture, and scenic beauty. Famed for its wine the city has so much more to offer and, with a large student population, has a really vibrant vibe to it. I have relatives who studied in Bordeaux and then stayed on, and it is easy to see why when you scratch beneath the surface of the place. With its port and gastronomic heritage, the place has a really cool charm.

Begin your Bordeaux exploration in the historic city centre, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the magnificent Place de la Bourse and its iconic Water Mirror, a stunning reflection pool that creates beautiful visual effects.

Stroll along the elegant Rue Sainte-Catherine, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets, lined with boutiques, cafes, and historic buildings. Discover hidden squares and charming alleyways as you wander through the heart of the city.

Next, immerse yourself in Bordeaux’s rich wine heritage with a visit to La Cité du Vin, a modern wine museum dedicated to the history and culture of wine worldwide. Explore interactive exhibits, enjoy wine tastings, and marvel at panoramic views from the Belvedere.

After a wine-inspired morning, indulge in a leisurely lunch at a traditional Bordeaux brasserie or bistro. Sample regional specialties such as entrecôte bordelaise (steak with Bordeaux wine sauce) or fresh seafood paired with local wines. Note that our route takes us through the lovely town of St Emilion, so you’ll have a chance to familiarise yourself with the area’s wine-making heritage. There are plenty of great wine bars in the city that give you a chance to indulge in the fine wines the area produces.

In the afternoon, take a guided walking tour or bike ride along the Garonne River’s quays, admiring picturesque views of historic facades, bridges, and riverside parks. Alternatively, embark on a relaxing river cruise to discover Bordeaux from a different perspective. The tourist office in Bordeaux is really good, so don’t hesitate to head there for details on local guides who often use it as a starting point for tours

Visit the Place des Quinconces, one of Europe’s largest city squares adorned with statues, fountains, and gardens. Explore nearby landmarks such as the Monument aux Girondins and the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, a neoclassical architectural gem.

Venture to the Chartrons district, known for its antique shops, art galleries, and wine merchants. Explore the CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain housed in a former warehouse, showcasing contemporary art exhibitions.

As evening approaches, head to the historic Saint-Pierre district, famous for its lively restaurants, wine bars, and nightlife. Enjoy an apéritif of Bordeaux wine before savouring a gourmet dinner featuring regional delicacies at a renowned gastronomic restaurant or a cozy bistro.

End your day with a romantic sunset stroll along the Garonne River’s quays, marvelling at the illuminated bridges and monuments. Bordeaux’s blend of cultural heritage, culinary excellence, and scenic charm ensures a memorable day in this vibrant wine capital.



Strzelecki – A Day in Melbourne

Stage 2 of the Strzelecki finishes in Melbourne, arguably Australia’s most ‘European’ city. Stage 3 begins in Melbourne too, and it’s well worth spending an extra day or two here if you are leaving or joining the tour at this point. Our GM and Strzelecki Trip Specialist, Ben Weigl, who lived here for a number of years, still talks it up as being the best coffee culture in the world! For a man who has travelled to all 4 corners of the globe and loves coffee, that is a ringing endorsement! Melbourne perhaps lacks the glitz of Sydney, but it makes up for it with a quintessential vibe that has earned the moniker of being the world’s most liveable city in the past.

Aside from talking up the coffee culture, our ‘Day in Melbourne’ post is designed to give you some tips on a city that offers a rich blend of culture, art, culinary delights, and urban charm. For starters, head to the local cafe, wherever you happen to be staying, and begin your day with a great Aussie breakfast. Australia really does know how to get it right with the first meal of the day. Ben recommends smashed avocado (avo) on sourdough with an accompanying flat white if you want to eat like a local. Our tour runs in mango season as well, so anything that incorporates that amazing fruit needs to be embraced as well.

Begin your Melbourne exploration in the heart of the city at Federation Square. Admire the modern architecture, visit the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) for interactive exhibits, and take in views of iconic landmarks like Flinders Street Station.

Stroll down Swanston Street towards the beautiful Carlton Gardens, home to the majestic Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum. Explore the museum’s diverse collections showcasing natural history, cultural artifacts, and interactive displays.

From Carlton Gardens, venture into Melbourne’s vibrant laneways, such as Hosier Lane and Degraves Street. Marvel at colourful street art, boutique shops, and cozy cafes tucked away in these hidden gems. This is the best place to see the lesser-spotted Melbournian hipster :). You will likely never see better-manicured facial hair than what you’ll see on some of the guys you’ll meet in the laneways!

For lunch, indulge in Melbourne’s diverse culinary scene at Queen Victoria Market or one of the city’s many food precincts. Sample gourmet treats, international cuisines, and fresh local produce while soaking in the bustling market atmosphere.

After lunch, delve into Melbourne’s cultural offerings with a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) or the Melbourne Arts Precinct along the Yarra River. Admire world-class art collections, contemporary exhibitions, and captivating performances.

Take a leisurely walk along the Yarra River Promenade or hop on a scenic river cruise for panoramic views of Melbourne’s skyline, including the iconic Eureka Tower and the Arts Centre spire.

In the afternoon, explore Melbourne’s iconic sports precinct around the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Melbourne Park. Visit the MCG Sports Museum for a dose of sporting history or catch a live match if schedules align.

As evening approaches, head to Southbank Promenade for waterfront dining and entertainment. Choose from a range of restaurants offering cuisines from around the world, or enjoy a drink at one of the lively bars with views of the Yarra River.

End your day with a visit to the Melbourne Observation Deck at Eureka Tower for stunning nighttime views of the city lights. Alternatively, catch a performance at one of Melbourne’s renowned theatres or live music venues for a memorable evening.

Wrap up your Melbourne experience with a leisurely stroll through the city’s illuminated streets, taking in the vibrant nightlife and the unique charm that makes Melbourne a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike.



Strzelecki – A Day in Sydney

The Ride and Seek journey began in Sydney back in 2011, which was home to the founders Dylan and Meg for over 10 years. It is fair to say that we know it well, and we would argue it merits a multi-day pre-tour stop. In the context of ‘A Day in Sydney’, though, we’ll do our best. If you arrive early, don’t hesitate to reach out for any warm-up bike routes. Centennial Park, for example, is a wonderful spot to stretch your legs in the heart of the city – be it on a bike or not. Alternatively, we could send you some of our favourite routes that pass through some of Sydney’s wonderful National Parks. Our own stay in Sydney was focused on the Eastern Suburbs, with Bronte Beach being home for 5 years. The choice of the neighbouring Bondi Beach to start your tour is linked to our familiarity with that particular area of Sydney. Those beach suburbs encapsulate the wonder of Sydney as a major city with a bonafide holiday destination.

Sydney offers a unique blend of iconic landmarks, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. Start your morning with a delicious brunch at one of the city’s trendy cafes, fueling up for a day of exploration. You’ll find an amazing Aussie breakfast with an accompanying Flat White coffee, pretty much wherever you might end up staying before the tour starts.

After that, begin your Sydney adventure at the iconic Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage site and architectural masterpiece. Take a guided tour to learn about its fascinating history and intricate design.

Next, stroll along Circular Quay towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge, an engineering marvel offering breathtaking views of the city and harbour. For the adventurous, consider the BridgeClimb experience for a thrilling ascent to the bridge’s summit.

From Circular Quay, catch a ferry to Manly, a picturesque beachside suburb known for its golden sands and laid-back atmosphere. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the scenic Manly Corso, lined with shops, cafes, and surf boutiques.

After soaking up the sun and sea breeze at Manly Beach, head back to Circular Quay and visit The Rocks, Sydney’s historic neighbourhood. Explore its cobbled laneways, heritage buildings, and artisan markets showcasing local crafts and gourmet delights.

For lunch, indulge in fresh seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants in Darling Harbour or Barangaroo: Sample Sydney’s famous fish and chips or savour delicious oysters from local oyster bars or the famous bugs pictured below.

Morton Bay Bug Salad with Rocket, Asparagus and Saffron Aoli

In the afternoon, immerse yourself in nature at the Royal Botanic Garden, a lush oasis in the heart of the city. Take a leisurely stroll through themed gardens, enjoy scenic views of the Sydney Harbour, and spot native flora and fauna.

Continue your cultural exploration with a visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, housing an impressive collection of Australian and international art. Admire works by renowned artists and discover emerging talents.

As the sun sets, make your way to Bondi Beach, Sydney’s most famous stretch of sand. Our Strzelecki tour starts here. Join locals and visitors alike for a sunset walk along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, offering stunning ocean views and hidden coves. On that walk, you will pass through Bronte Beach as well, which is where the dream of Ride and Seek was first conceptualised.

For dinner, explore Sydney’s vibrant dining scene in Surry Hills or Darlinghurst, known for its eclectic mix of restaurants, wine bars, and rooftop eateries. Indulge in modern Australian cuisine or international flavors, paired with local wines or craft cocktails. Search out a Messina gelato store as well for an amazing dessert. Local tip – the original Messina gelateria can be found in Darlinghurst.

End your day with a leisurely stroll along Circular Quay or Darling Harbour (pictured), admiring the city lights reflected on the water and taking in the lively atmosphere of Sydney at night.

 



Caesar – A Day in London

Our Caesar tour starts in London, where a single day of exploration will never do it justice. On the theme of a day in London, though, we will do our best. London offers a rich tapestry of historical landmarks, cultural experiences, and modern attractions. Start your day with a hearty English breakfast at a local café, fueling up for a day of exploration.

Begin your journey at the iconic Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the British monarch. Witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony for a traditional and ceremonial experience.

Next, take a leisurely stroll through St. James’s Park, a beautiful green space adjacent to Buckingham Palace. Enjoy scenic views of the lake, vibrant flowers, and charming wildlife, including pelicans.

From there, head towards Westminster Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage site steeped in history and architectural splendour. Explore the intricate Gothic interiors and discover the final resting places of numerous historical figures.

Continue your historical immersion with a visit to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, an iconic symbol of London. While Big Ben may be undergoing renovations, the imposing Gothic Revival architecture of the Parliament building is still awe-inspiring.

Cross the River Thames via the Westminster Bridge and make your way to the South Bank, a cultural hub teeming with attractions. Visit the impressive Tate Modern art gallery, housed in a former power station, which showcases contemporary art from around the world.

Stroll along the South Bank promenade, soaking in panoramic views of the river, the Millennium Bridge, and the majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral across the water. Consider a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for a theatrical journey back in time.

For lunch, explore Borough Market, one of London’s oldest and most vibrant food markets. Sample gourmet delights from local and international vendors, from artisanal cheeses to freshly baked pastries.

After lunch, make your way to the historic Tower of London, a fortress with a fascinating and often dark history. Marvel at the Crown Jewels, walk along the medieval walls and learn about the tower’s role in English history.

As evening approaches, take a relaxing cruise along the River Thames, offering enchanting views of London’s illuminated skyline and famous landmarks.

End your day with a visit to Covent Garden, a lively district renowned for its street performers, boutique shops, and restaurants. Enjoy a delightful dinner at one of the area’s diverse eateries, from traditional British pubs to international cuisine.

If time permits, catch a West End show at one of London’s renowned theatres for a memorable finale to your day in this vibrant and dynamic city.



A Taste of Southern France

Vincent Reboul is the trip specialist for our Cro Magnon tour, which takes us from Lyon to Bordeaux. Apart from being incredibly passionate about prehistory, he is also a man who loves the tour’s gastronomy.

Vincent says “The gastronomy of the many regions crossed during this Cro Magnon tour is exceptional. Faced with the richness of the dishes offered and the absence of cardiovascular diseases, the Anglo-Saxons wonder and speak of “French Paradox”. How in this country of gourmets, they say, where you can find so many foie gras, confits, duck breasts, rillettes and cheese specialties can the inhabitants reach such a great age, while spending so much time at the table? It is a mystery that lives from the depths of the ages. Only Cromagnon knows.

Between the famous quenelles of Lyon and the cannelets of Bordeaux, the sweet wine of Monbazillac and the walnut cakes of Dordogne, the choice is vast and shows in all its splendor the culinary diversity of the south West of France.

There is one dish, however, that fascinates more than another. This is the Aligot ! Imagine a large copper pot, where a mashed potato expertly mixed with pepper, butter, fresh cream and fresh Tomme as well as garlic is simmering. You get a dough so tightly bound that a knife cannot cut it. Only a chisel allows the separation of the immense thread. You can eat the aligot accompanied by a very good smoked sausage and a Cahors wine. The best time to taste the aligot during this Cro Magnon Epic is halfway through in the city of Rodez. With the aligot, you have enough energy to cross all the passes.” 

ALIGOT RECIPE



A Taste of Mallorca

Our Trip Specialist for our Mallorca tour is the venerable Alessandro Allegro. Below, he presents one of his culinary favourites – Tumbet – alongside his favourite Mallorquin tipple.

Alessandro says “The tumbet is an outstanding example of traditional Mallorcan food. A dish cooked with fresh seasonal vegetables from Mallorca’s diverse garden. A tasty dish that leaves no one indifferent and that will delight vegetable lovers. Its preparation is based on frying eggplants, potatoes, peppers and adding a tomato sauce. The tumbet can be eaten alone or as an accompaniment to a meat or fish dish, or even with two fried eggs.”

The Tumbet – A Summer delight

Ingredients for 6 persons

6 potatoes
3 aubergines
3 courgettes
3 red peppers
4 garlic cloves
Tomato sauce
1 laurel leaf in each aubergine frying
Salt

Preparation

– Peel the potatoes and cut into slices. Put it in salted water
– Cut the aubergines into slices and put it into salted water.
– Do the same with the courgettes.
– Then cut the red peppers into pieces.
– Fry the potatoes (with the garlic cloves), aubergines (with bay leaf), courgettes and peppers, each separately. Place all the slices in layers in a casserole or similar.
– Cover the total frying with tomato sauce that you will have to do separately.
– The tradition wants that you have to lay the potatoes first, then the aubergines, followed by the courgettes and red peppers, finally covered by the home made tomato sauce.

Bon profit! (in Majorcan language enjoy your meal )

And the wine accompaniment: Anime Negre

Alessandro says “Anime Negre is the wine most symbolic of the homonymous winery, a wine in which we discover the effort and sacrifices of many years by Miquel Àngel Cerdá & Pere Obrador in understand the callet grape, reinforcing its typicity and achieving each time a wine more expressive, alive and balanced. It is a very singular wine, authentic, mineral, wild and powerful.”

The wine stays for 14 months in new fine-grain French Oak barrels that have a medium to medium long toast, with racking taking place half way through. A further 2 months of stainless steel tank ageing prior to bottling.
Grape Varieties: 95% Callet, 5% Mantonegro-Fogoneu

The winery Ànima Negra, situated in the south-east of the island of Mallorca makes its wines in the ancient Estate of Son Burguera. This location, close to Felanitx, dates from the 8th Century & counted on since its beginnings with a dependence to make wine, destined at first to supply the demand of those living in this place. This activity has continued to blossom until today and has contributed to form the landscape of the Island, geographically integrated in the Mediterranean, and making wine an emblematic product of our gastronomy.