Monthly Archives: October 2012

Alpe d’Huez – not only for Tour de France bike riders, also for down hill skiers

France 2012

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/10/25/alpe-dhuez/

Driving on the road up to Alpe d’Huez you pass through 21 hairpin bends. In each of the bends there is a plate with the name of one of the Tour de France winners on the legendary mountain. But Alpe d’Huez is not only for Tour de France bikers. During winter it is a very good ski resort, both for beginners and advanced skiers.

Hairpin bends at Alpe d'huez         View to Alpe d'Huez from Auris en Oisans mountain

Skiing at Alpe d’Huez

In January 2012 my brother and niece invited me to join them on their annual skiing holiday. They are both very good and fast skiers, whereas I myself is more relaxed about the skiing. I can, if I really want to, go downhill on a black piste, but I definitely prefer a blue or red piste. Even though the need for speed is in my blood, can’t deny that, I guess I’m more for the relaxed downhill skiing where I also take the time to enjoy the scenery around me. Just the sight of the magnificent mountains around me, is something very special – I grew up in a country where the highest point is only 170 meters above sea level.

The Alpe d’Huez with surrounding towns has a total of 250 km pistes so there are plenty of different pistes to explore. I think it great to get up fairly early in the morning and go the furthest out you can in the area and then use the following hours working your way back – going down one slope and up in a lift, down another slope and up in another lift etc. In Alpe d’Huez, I recommend to take the trip out to Montfrais and then return to the foot of Signal going through the villages of Vaujany and Oz en Oisans. Fantastic skiing and scenery.

Scenery near Montfrais at Alpe d'Huez          View to the piste Signal at Alpe d'Huez

Another must do in Alpe d’Huez is the La Sarenne run, but I advise only to do it if you are an experienced skier. The first part is really steep. A very easy but beautiful piste, and perfect for the final day run, is the one going down to the village Huez from Alpe d’Huez. Please click Alpe d’Huez for all information about the resort and a detailed map of the pistes.

French food

Another great thing about holidaying in France is of course the food. We stayed in a hotel with breakfast and dinner included and even though the kitchen was run by Danes, the food was inspired from the french kitchen, so absolutely lovely. If you want to source your own french specialities, I can recommend to visit some of the delicacy shops in Alpe d’Huez. Both the sausages and the sweets are absolutely delicious.

French charcuterie          Cakes in Alpe d'Huez

For lunch on the mountain, I recommend a pizza at the little cosy Chalet du Lac Besson reached by the piste Boulevard de Lac. The food there is excellent and on top the view from the terrasse is fantastic.

Other activities in Alpe d’Huez

In Alpe d’Huez there is also an outdoor swimming pool and a skating ring. Unfortunately I didn’t find the time for any of these activities, but it looked great. I did try out the after skiing but being a little bit “germanophile”, I must admit that I prefer the after skiing in the german speaking Austria. In Alpe d’Huez there are several bars to choose from and also good party vibes late in the evening, but the Austrian after skiing starts much earlier in the afternoon and is full power compared to the French.

Ice skating ring in Alpe d'Huez          Outdoor swimming pool in Alpe d'Huez

A room with a view in Alpe d'Huez          Heavy snowfall at Alpe d'Huez

All together I consider Alpe d’Huez a complete skiing resort. I had a great week there with my family and did some amazing skiing. It is said that there are 300 days with sunshine in Alpe d’Huez. The first days we had bright sunshine from a blue ski – the last couple of days very heavy snow fall, but it also has it’s charm to experience snow fall of minimum 50 cm within 24 hours. Though not really the best skiing weather. My last day in Alpe d’Huez, I went up and down one time only – doing otherwise for me wouldn’t be safe.

Did you try out some great ski resorts? And why were they just perfect for you? Please let me know for inspiration to my next skiing holiday.

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Categories: Alpe d'Huez, France | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

My longest road trip

Germany 2002-2006

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/10/22/road-trip-in-germany/

I have been on many great road trips until now. Both the short day trip ones and others lasting several weeks. But the longest road trip must be when I was driving around Germany as a sales representative from 2002 to 2006. Some might say: “How can that be a road trip? – that’s work! And sometimes you did sleep in your own bed during those 4 1/2 years, didn’t you?”.

Experiencing Germany from the Autobahn

Well, every trip from point A to B is what you make out of it, and driving around Germany as a part of my work was an opportunity to see and experience another country. Throughout the years there, I drove some hundred thousands of kilometers which meant that I just from behind my wheel saw a great part of Germany’s landscape and architecture. Germany is a very big country (at least seen from an European perspective) and has so many diversities to offer from the flat North to the Alps in the South, from the densely populated industrial cities in the West to the former DDR in the East, and from the big multicultural Berlin to small countryside towns. For those who have only been in the big cities or driven on the Autobahns (motorways) in Germany, they will be amased how much lovely countryside there actually is in this country.

Autobahn A7 in Hamburg

Listening to the radio while road tripping

I admit it, driving on the German Autobahns can sometimes be a bit boring, especially if you land in one of the numerous queues on a Friday afternoon or during the holiday season, but thats where you have to be inventive. If you are lucky, the landscape around you is worth taking a closer look at instead of at the speed of 130 km/h plus. Another great thing to do, is tuning in on the local radio station. Apart form practicing your language listening skills, you also get to know the culture of the country. And that counts for everything you listen to – not only the radio news, but also the music. I don’t think I would ever have gotten to know the lovely music of Herbert Grönemeyer or Xavier Naidoo, if it wasn’t for my time in Germany.

Another advantage of listening to the radio while on the road, is the warnings about road accidents and the following queues. My craziest “listening to a warning” moment was when I on a busy late Friday afternoon was myself part of an accident. The driver behind me decided NOT to brake when I had to brake because of the car in front of me did, and we all ended up crashing. Luckily it only came to material damages on the cars. While waiting for the police to come rescuing us, I sat in my car and listened to the radio – it is not wise to walk around on a motorway anyway, even when sitting in a queue. Suddenly I heard: “Autounfall auf der Autobahn A7 nördlich von Hamburg Richtung Süden bildet ein Stau” (Car accident on the motorway A7 north of Hamburg going south is building up a queue). My thought in this odd moment, where I only wished to begin my weekend, was: “Yes!!!, I know – I’m very much the reason for this f***ing queue” – even though of course it wasn’t my entire fault.

German accommodation

Being a sales representative on the road, you get to check out a lot of different accommodation. The company I worked for had a non-written agreement with us reps to use as little as possible on overnight stays, which in my opinion is actually to some extend quite OK, since you usually only need a good bed and breakfast when road tripping. The next day you are on the move again. Since I didn’t always knew where I would end up after a long day visiting customers, I sometimes chose to book accommodation last minute. Some of the hotels you find last minute are quite ok – others unfortunately not really that interesting. If you have the time to leave the motorway and go off the beaten track, then I recommend to find a little Gasthaus (Guest house) in a smaller town. It’s like entering another world and they usually serve a very nutritious breakfast that will keep you saturated throughout the entire day. And that all for a very reasonable price.

Sightseeing in Germany

Even though the reason for being on the road was work and visiting customers, there was usually the possibility to do some sightseeing after working hours. On that account I’ve seen a lot of the sights of Germany. To mention a few, in Berlin the Checkpoint CharlieFernsehturm and Brandenburger Tor, in Cologne the Kölner Dom, in München the Neues Rathaus, in Dresden the Frauenkirche that was recently rebuild after the WW2 bombings, the Lübecker Holstentor, the Frankfurter skyline, the wadden sea of the coast of Cuxhaven. Another German tradition is the Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas market) and almost every town of a reasonable size has its own. Click Germany for more information about tourism in the country.

Kölner Dom in Cologne          Cuxhaven Wattenmeer

All together even though I was working while on the road in Germany from 2002 to 2006, it was a fantastic and my longest road trip.

Categories: Berlin, Cuxhaven, Dresden, Frankfurt, Germany, Köln, Lübeck, München | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Free travelling

Cuba 2009

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/10/16/free-travelling-cuba/

When I travelled around Cuba for a couple of weeks, most of the nights I stayed in people’s private homes – the so-called casas particulares. In every city you come to, there are plenty of these private home stays to choose from and it is very affordable accommodation too. Apart from a private room and sometimes a bath room, breakfast and also dinner is usually included in the price. And it can surely be recommended to go for the casa particular dinner option in Cuba, since the quality of the home-cooked food is usually much better than in most of the restaurants.

Casa particular in Trinidad, Cuba          Room in casa particular, Moron

Then there is another advantage of staying in people’s private homes. You get to meet and talk with them in their own environment. Since my spanish is not 100% perfect, I was happy to have my Mediterranean travel companion with me to translate, because the talks we had with the locals before dinner while sipping a chilled mojito, were absolutely the best way to learn more about the Cuban culture.

Dinner at casa particular in Cienfuegos, Cuba          Mojito time at casa particular

Transport of luggage from bus station to casa particular in Trinidad          Meeting the Cuban people

Being a true adventurer and experienced traveller, one of the things that touched me the most during these talks was when the topic came to the obstacles travelling out of Cuba. I consider myself being lucky to be able to freely leave my home country and visit almost all countries in the world without too much bureaucratic hassle.

I have today read the very good news that the Cuban government as of the 14. January 2013 will ease up on the ability to leave the country and with a valid passport and visa only making it possible to go travelling. Read more about the ending of exit permits here. I wish the Cubans happy and free travelling.

And then of course, I can only recommend travellers to visit Cuba – an amazing country indeed. Don’t just stay in one of the big hotels up north. Take a bus to one of the beautiful cities Trinidad, Cienfuegos or Viñales and stay in a casa particular and meet the authentic Cuban people.

Categories: Cienfuegos, Cuba, Trinidad | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Denmark beats Bulgaria 2-0

Portugal 2004

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/10/14/denmark-beats-bulgaria/

During the 2004 European Football Championship, I was so lucky to be invited from my employer to watch Denmark play against Bulgaria. This was not the first Danish national match I have seen live, but it was the first one during a final round for a championship – truly a fantastic experience. All my colleagues and not only the Danish, also a good handful of other nationalities, were dressed in red and white to cheer for the Danish dynamite team.

Bulgaria-Denmark 0-2 in Portugal 2004          Thanks for a great match Danish dynamite boys in Portugal 2004

On my travels I have attended many other sport events. I think it is a great way to experience another culture, since sports can often be just as religious and important for the nations people as well… religion.

Football

Football (or soccer for my american readers) is one of my favourite sports to watch (I’ve even played it myself when I was a teenager). So where did I go and what did I see – I will here mention some of the more memorable. Stamford Bridge hearing the Chelsea FC fans sing for their football players throughout the entire match. At the Hamburg stadium where I have watched the local football team HSV play several times, but where I also attended a match during the 2006 World Cup – Ecuador against Costa Rica. This World Cup in 2006 was all together a good example of what a big sports event can do to people – the entire Germany was one big party for the couple of weeks the tournament was on. Last year while I visited Barcelona, I got goose bumps when Messi and all the other top football players were running on the field. FC Barcelona won 5-0 over Napoli and therefore the Joan Gamber trophy, so another reason to smile.

World Cup 2006 in Hamburg. Ecuador vers. Costa Rica          Camp Nou in Barcelona

Sport events around the world

Apart from football, I also attended other live sport events. Several handball matches in the best male league in the world. I tell you those handball arenas in Germany can boil and my favourite team is SG Flensburg-Handewitt. I was luckily in Melbourne during the tennis grand slam Australian Open in 2007 and with a day pass it was possible to see some of the worlds great tennis players. Also the evening ski jumping at the FIS Lahti Ski Games in 1996 will never be forgotten. Or the rugby match with one of the best teams in New Zealand – Crusaders.

Australian Open 2007 in Melbourne          Crusaders - Rugby in Christchurch 2007

So I can only recommend to look out for a sports event while travelling. Pick one of interest or choose the national sport. Nomatter what I can almost guarantee that it will be fun.

Categories: Australia, Barcelona, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Hamburg, Lahti, London, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Remembering Kuta

Bali 2006

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/10/12/remembering-kuta/

The reason for travelling is usually to have fun and experience good things, but sometimes during the tour you see or go through things that are unpleasant and move you emotionally.

I remember when I almost 6 years ago was standing on the memorial square in the middle of Kuta on Bali. As in many other cities of Indonesia, the streets around me were busy with cars, motorbikes and people, but I was standing in silence looking at all the names of the innocent victims of the Bali bombings only 4 years earlier. Apart from the very long list of names it touched me extra emotionally, when I found the names of three Danish girls there. It all somehow got really close – the fear of terrorism.

         

Only a few months prior to my world travel, the little usually innocent and beloved Denmark (and the Danish people) was with some drawings suddenly a possible target for terror actions. It did make me skip the Danish flag on the back of my backpack, but it didn’t and never will stop me from going on adventures and visit new countries to meet and talk to locals with another background, religion or believe. Because at the end of the day, we are all human beings with the same human feelings inside, and I believe that the more you learn about other cultures, the more understanding you get for the beautiful differences there are to your own background.

         

I can surely recommend to visit Indonesia and especially Bali to experience for yourself the beauty of the island and it’s people.

Categories: Bali, Denmark, Indonesia, Kuta | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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