My life is defined by experiences. The greater the number of experiences, the better it gets. I find traveling is a great way to have the most varied kind of life experiences, learning about other people, and about yourself…
The last few months, I have been learning so much about life in completely different cultures than where I come from. I have met the wildest, most honest, hospitable, angry, sad and satisfied people. Everybody has their own story and way of living, and I have been enjoying being a guest in their home and taking it all in. Their stories have shown me more clearly what really matters in life, and also what I can probably live without.
The one thing I have missed these last 3 months, has been having someone with me to share these stories and experiences with. And that’s why it’s been so amazing to have my brother Beer join me on the road for 2 weeks as we crossed the Pyrenees between Bordeaux and Madrid. I was quite nervous about him joining my adventure, how would that change my rhythm and would we drive eachother crazy…!?
I have gotten so used to my own company that I wasn’t sure how that would work out; Because there are a few insights you maybe like to keep for yourself, maybe escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing when you don’t want to. Now sharing my days, encounters, food, thoughts, insights and energy with another person. But I figured, the best way to start sharing my new way of living with someone, is to do it with family, in this case with my brother Beer.
It’s nice to travel with someone who you don’t have to make exhausting small talk with, but who does understands that at times you get homesick and cranky. Who knows you well enough that you can share your weakest moments and then help each other get through it. And when you’re trying to climb a mountain in 38 degrees, it definitely helps to go through that together!
I will describe two days of our crossing and some of the highs and lows we went through.
We started out strong, full of energy and super excited to cross the mighty Pyrenees. As many of you know I am the world’s greatest map reader, so I was pretty happy Beer was there to navigate the mountain routes with me. We approached the steepest climb in the Pyrenees, known to even hard-core cyclists as a pretty tough one. The route is beautiful, and still full of determination I began the slow, endless hairpins to 1709 meters. I remember singing along to the Stones’ “I can’t get no satisfaction”, as race bikers coming down cheered me on along the route, what a great feeling, so much power and happiness, I was almost exploding from joy when we got to the top!
With renewed energy we started day 2. Incredible how quickly your mood can change on the road… a stiff wind blows in our face as it became misty and then cold. The mountains ahead were going to be a 12% climb for the next 9 kilometres and nothing to interrupt the emptiness of your surroundings. We get hungrier and everything hurts, I don’t feel like talking and we sink into a long and tough day ahead.
Whether you are having a great day or a tough one, just make sure your wheels are rolling. Happiness is a feeling that comes and goes, but the greatest joys and satisfactions during this trip come from trying to push myself that little further. Then treating yourself on the end of the day with a cold beer and great food tastes that much better! Having done this together has been very special, reliving past memories, laughing, talking about interesting subjects we would never get around to in our regular busy lives back in Amsterdam. We have found biking together a great experience. Well, most of the time.
Life Cycle Stories wouldn’t be Life Cycle Stories if we didn’t talk about food. As the landcapes changed, so did the food.
The cuisine of Spain has been great so far. Spanish breakfast is short and efficient; caffeine, something sugary and in weekends servezza to get your through till lunch. The Spanish pinchos culture is all about sharing what’s on the table. There are absolutely no boundaries when it comes to touching someone else’s plate or stealing a bite of what you ordered. Spaniards believe in taking their time and enjoying their meals, so no rush, your day has 24 hours and you spend most of it eating and drinking!
And every Spaniard is very proud of their own regional food and family recipes. They are quick to tell you that their recipe and specific preparation is the absolute best and most authentic! I want to share with you our first Spanish meal after exiting the Pyrenees in Pamplona. The one and only tortilla, in this case made by Patricia, a Spanish power woman who works in an organic supermarket. Our go-to phrase that evening was; “Por favor, hablo un poco mas despacio” (Please speak slower!). We were amazed at her hospitality and energy. The Spanish sure know how to have a good time and enjoy their food!!
The tortilla can be served hot or cold, we had it both. Because the next day we took the left overs cycling. It is also a fantastic dish to finish all your’e ingredients. Its simply, tasty, so good for experimenting, but it must have crisp, fried potatoes, garlic and eggs.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 5 medium-sized potatoes, diced into pieces as big as you like
- 1 large onion, chopped, 2 gloves off garlic
- 6 eggs
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper
- And every other veggie or herb you like to add (we did sweet potatoes, green pepper, parsley and courgette)
Heat the oil in a nonstick medium-sized pan. Fry potatoes until crispy, golden and tender. Add the onion and fry until transparent. Add a generous amount of oil.
Return potatoes and onions to the pan, arranging them in a single layer. Reduce heat down to low.
Beat eggs with salt and pepper to taste. Important to mix your’e potato vegetable mixture in a bowl with the eggs. And then add everything into the pan again.
Place a big, round plate on top of the pan, and with your hand holding the plate, flip the tortilla onto the plate. Then, slide the tortilla back into the pan with the other side carefully
Keep cooking, gently shaking the pan occasionally, until completely cooked through.
Serve with a salad and bread!
Here a movie how we cook and flipped the tortilla with Patrica and Xabier. Que Aproveche!
Ok, for now this is it. Next destination will be Valencia, up to the east coast back to France.. because you still deserve a story about France from me. Riding further and further to my end destination; Italia. ( 3500 kilometers are cycled, 2,5 more months to go)
Life Cycle Stories