The Spoked Traveller | Blog
Trails and advice cycling around the world as solo female cyclist and adventurer
mountain bike, adventure travel, cycling travel, bike tours, outdoor, solo travel, female mountain biking, badass female cycling, female travellers, women travel, adventurous
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This seems to be a theme with me. What is home? Frig, I dunno. It certainly isn't a place with four walls. But it was odd returning to London this weekend, a place that should be home if you consider time a prerequisite for home: I lived here from 1993 until 2014. Certainly the longest I have ever lived anywhere. But, I have to qualify this. I went away every summer. This weekend I drove back to London from my current home in Toronto. As I drove to my mom's after my trail run through one of my favourite parks, Komoka, which hugs the Thames River and then shoots up the valley, I got back in the car and then as I'm blindly driving, since I know every street, store, corner and tree so well, I missed the turn off.

So, I bought a road bike, which as a mountain biker, means a huge cultural, emotional and physical shift for me. To fully immerse myself in this change, I joined a bike group and last weekend I went on my first road bike trip: 75 kilometres from my apartment in downtown Toronto to the burbs of Oakville. Meeting at a coffee shop at 8:30am, I wasn't surprised by the other riders: all the men were wearing  team jerseys, talking about bike components and their pitiful sluggish shape, this being the first group ride of the summer.

So, my friends, recently I blogged about treating Toronto like a far-away place and explore what that means--treat it like a completely new place, which it really is for me. I lived here in 2000 as a student but I went back to London to hang out with a boyfriend almost every weekend. I never explored Toronto. Then, a really magical thing happened: I recently found a kindred spirit who also wants to re-discover her backyard, but her backyard is in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

When I'm away, I become someone else. Instinct and spontaneity return. Without the stress of work, without the familiarity locking me into habits and patterns, I listen to my gut, which means, I also take risks. I become more, well, more me! I eat at restaurants alone and I don't care if people stare-- they're staring more from the fact the blond hair and fair skin scream, 'I'm not a local!' Especially in Indonesia last year when I had locals take pictures of me.

Ok, on the first day of Christmas, Bjornar served to me: codfish called bacalao. On the second day of Christmas...you get the idea. Norwegians love fish, especially cod. In terms of countries that catch cod, Norway is in the same league as Portugal--and at one time before its cod collapse, Newfoundland. Since arriving in Norway, I have had it smoked, which is general the last stage of the game before the fish goes bad, then I've had it salted and then, I've had it soaked in lye. Yes, you read correctly.  Cod soaked in lye, which renders the fish into jelly, is served on Christmas Eve. Lutefisk. Some love it; others loath it. IMG_2978 I realize lutefisk sounds like something only a viking would eat during a long journey at sea when nothing else was available, and while this may be true, it's a Christmas tradition so Bjornar made it, or at least he bought it already prepared, and we ate it on Christmas Eve, when Norwegians typically celebrate Christmas and open gifts. It was bland. Other than the jelly-like texture, it was like tofu: useless unless it's got something added to it.

There are places that you see in photos and say: "I want to see that!" Alesund is such a place. Squeezed onto a little inlet, the town looks like a doll house city from the Sunnmøre Mountains above. And with its fairytale facades, it's charming personified. IMG_5972       Reachable by two ferries from Trondheim-- and a five hour drive -- Alesund feels like it's on another planet: one inhabited by everything cute. Flowers etched into window boxes, and cafes that smell of cinnamon. The town burnt to the ground during a major fire in 1904  -- 850 houses went up in flames, and then it was heavily bombed during WWI. Ironically enough, it was the Germans, who traded a lot with the town at the time, that helped rebuild in the Art Nouveau style, which is quite Dutch. IMG_5964 IMG_5949 IMG_5904 IMG_5946 IMG_5967