Land of the Thunder Dragon, Fortress of the Gods, Place of Good Fortune – Bhutan has many names and faces. Yet, the last kingdom of the Himalayas is still quite unique. Nestled between Tibet and India, it seems to have been laying in slumber for centuries, blanketed safely from the outside world and the influences of outside cultures. Indeed, a lot has changed since its cautious awakening in the 1970s, but many of its values, traditions and, most importantly, its way of life have remained true to this day.
After lunch, we pack our bags and head out on a ski tour around the backside of the volcano. We’ve gotten used to the fact that it is snowing most of the day, every day, so the sight of big puffs of snow from our skis stamping uphill is not a surprise to us. Obviously the sun and some blue sky would make for a great photo, but Hokkaido’s real draw is the vast amount of the world’s finest powder and that snow obviously has to come from somewhere.
Our next stop was to the “Nordic Arena” of Otoineppu for cross-country skiing and the lesson learned is: Preparation is an elastic term. Although the groomer prepares the 5-kilometer route once in the morning and at noon, it is snowing all day long, the word dynamic takes on a whole new meaning.
It’s a bit contrary to what one might think: If you travel to the land of the rising sun in winter, don’t expect to actually see the sun. On Hokkaido, the northernmost Japanese island you rarely get a glimpse of the sun, the same can be said about blue skies. White is the dominant colour of the landscape and snow is the reason people from all over the world visit there in winter.
Our trip had an incredibly tight schedule and could be compared to that of an overly motivated tourist. We had to try and see as much as we could; mountain villages, rice fields, temples and a trip to the sea for hiking and mountain biking.
Tokyo is loud, it’s colorful and a bustling city, and at least that’s what we had anticipated. The peace and quite we experienced upon our arrival at the airport proved us wrong. Soft hues, carpeting, nobody talking on the phone, everything was running in unison and practically silent.
Everything one needs is there and everything that one could do without is not there. Payments are based on trust and good will, if only everything in life could be so easy as the self-catering lodges of the Norwegian Hiking Association (DNT).
In the morning the wind whistles over the Fjell and shakes our cabin from its sleep. Cross-country skiing on this day? In this weather? Forget about it! Staying in bed under the warm comfort of blankets sounds much nicer.
Travel is one of the best ways to expand ones horizons; with the sun upon your face get out on the road and let your inhibitions drift away, explore countries, meet new people and make many friends along the way.
A look at the fascination for mountain passes - Monte Grappa | Gotthard Pass | Sella Ronda.
The rocks of Verdon are simply the best limestone and for many it’s the perfect rock. A must visit for climbers, you need to have been there to understand, to have touched the wall, climbed the legendary gorge and felt the power emanating from the mountains.
Leave your workday behind and take a trip with us to a place where time comes to a stand still. A place away from the crowds and where nature remains untouched. We set off on a short bike-packing trip together with friends and for this reason alone it was already perfect.
Is it because we are closer to the limits of the sky, or due to the elemental forces that created the mountains millions of years ago? Possibly it is the feeling of freedom created by the breathtaking views atop of the world. Whatever the reason may be, the power of mountains is forever present. Their power is addictive, contagious and they leave you feeling fulfilled as their energy stretches far beyond the mountains themselves.
So, there we have it! Wasted, but happy and intact after our arrival at our final destination from our "Tour de Eurobike" road trip. All in all it was truly everything more than one could imagine from such a trip, nothing short of the full monty, "Joy and pain. Sunshine and rain."