Canton of Vaud

Switzerland is a paradise for adventure travelers and for those addicted to outdoor activities. There are options for all kinds of tastes, activities with differents degree of difficulty and adrenaline level. Unlike one may think it is not just about winter sports. The Canton of Vaud is not different offering excellent infrastructure in a wonderful landscape.
Let’s start with the obvious: Switzerland is for skiing and snowboarding as Hawaii is for Surfing. If you stay for a while at the arrival hall at Geneva Airport on a winter season you will see such a quantity of people, from all parts of the World, carrying skis and snowboards bags that will leave no margin for doubt. It is like arriving at Bali airport in Indonesia and watching the surfboards bags coming down the baggage belt. Switzerland offers a wide range of ski resorts with trails of different levels of difficulty: from off-piste skiing to beginner-friendly. Although most famous Swiss ski resorts are not in the Canton of Vaud, there are some outstanding ones as Leysin, Les Diablerets and Glacier 3000. At this one is located the 107 meters long Suspension Bridge connecting two mountain peaks called Peak Walk by Tissot. The view is really amazing! Also in Glacier 3000, the Alpine Coaster is a funny activity for the whole family.

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Regarding outdoors activities without snow, the Canton of Vaud is hard to beat. Lake Geneva, one of the largest in Europe, is shared between Switzerland and France. Most of the Swiss part is located in the Canton of Vaud. It offers a wide variety of activities as swimming, sailing, windsurfing, SUP among others. The shore between Lausanne and Vevey is called Lavaux and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. Hiking along the hilly terraced vineyards is a pleasant experience. You will enjoy fantastic views of the Alps, Lake Geneva, and grapevines.
Tip: Just as there are good restaurant options for lunch in the Lavaux Terraced Vineyards you can also go to Lutry to enjoy a good meal in a pleasant setting and then head to La Plage de Lutry to enjoy a relaxed and amusing atmosphere.

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It is no exaggeration to say that the Swiss net of cycling routes are close to perfection. There are nine national routes and many regional and local routes. The routes are good signage with a white number inside a blue square on red signposts. It combines cycling tracks in the cities with safe and quiet countryside and agricultural roads. Are mostly paved roads and paths but it contains not paved sections. Between Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva as well as at the Alps in Canton’s easternmost districts there are plenty of itineraries options for road cycling and mountain biking. I strongly recommend downloading the SwitzerlandMobility App for hiking, cycling, and mountain biking maps among other information.

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For Olympic Games enthusiasts a visit at the Olympic Museum is mandatory. Founded in 1993 the museum is located in Lausanne, the capital and largest city of the Canton of Vaud. Its archive contains sporting equipment, the Olympic torches, the Olympic medals, a video documenting opening ceremonies and much more.
If are you looking for an adventure travel destination with a lot of outdoors activities, well… the Canton of Vaud may be the place that you are looking for.

Armação dos Búzios 

Búzios is a paradise just 170km away from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Located in Região dos Lagos (Lakes Region) in the northern part of the state of Rio de Janeiro, it is known for its beautiful beachs and awesome nightlife on high season.

Praia da Armação in the center of Buzios

Due to its geographic position in a peninsula Búzios is a water sport destination. Praia Rasa and Manguinhos on the north side, where the wind blows constantly, are the best spots for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Trendy Geribá on the south side is a good beach-break for surfing. Praia Brava is also a surfing spot and a beautiful site to chill out. 

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On the evening my suggestion for dinner is Bar do Zé at Praia da Armação with its relaxed and chic atmosphere and great food. Then, why not take a walk around the Rua das Pedras while you choose between going back to your hotel to enjoy next morning or get ready to exciting nightlife of Búzios?

Ljubljana – Dubrovnik Expedition / Part 3: Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia

The Croatian coast is a jewel resting on the Adriatic Sea. It offers to the visitors a wide variety of attractions, whether they are interested in sailing, cycling, parties, or just chilling out on the beach. I came to that conclusion in the course of the trip. It is definitely a great option for those looking for Sport and Adventure Travel.

Hvar Town
Cozy and trendy Hvar Town

As mentioned on the last post I had arrived at the Island of Hvar. After five consecutive days of cycling I could not wait to take a day of rest to recover my muscles. I could not have chosen a better place: Hvar Town. The city is cozy, the beaches are beautiful, varied options of boat tours and cycling, a spectacular view from Hvar Fortress… Just the weather that did not cooperate, collapsing a thunderstorm after noon. At least I was not on the road facing the storm. It would have been such a challenge! Next day it was time to face what it appeared to be the most difficult stage. I would cross the entire island of Hvar, running 80 km through the mountains (despite being an island, were 1.808m of cumulative altitude) from Hvar Town to Sucuraj, where I would cross the ferry back to the mainland and take a transfer to Neum (the only coastal town in Bosnia-Herzegovina). The initial idea was to cross from Hvar to Korcula, but I had to adapt myself to the situation, because there was no ferry due to the high season end (only catamarans, which do not allow bike transport). Without a doubt was the most difficult stage. But funny how life can be contradictory, was the coolest way. The island is beautiful, with several bays of turquoise water, and the road after Stari Grad was empty. I passed the wineries area with its vineyards, olive groves and lavender fields (which was not the season).

With the completion of the previous stage, I entered the final stretch of my tourist expedition. I left Neum with good weather and went to Ston to visit the famous city wall. Later headed to Slano where would be the last night before heading to Dubrovnik. Upon reaching the small town, I was on the hill looking for the inn when an inhabitant, realizing that I was lost, offered me help and a glass of wine of his local production. It was exactly what I needed, a glass of wine! This stage was 49 km long and 1.099m of altitude gain.

Walls of Ston
Walls of Ston

I finally reached the last stage! I was completely excited and motivated to complete my solitary adventure. But I was scared as well! The weather had turned again. It was not raining too heavy, but the wind was very strong. Although the driver who took me from Sucuraj to Neum warned me: “careful on the road on Saturday because the weather will be stormy.” I thought, “Oh no! I cannot give up now. Lack little… Less than 40 km”. In fact it lacked 36.8 km and 1.060m accumulated elevation. I took a deep breath and hit the road. Strong gusts of wind against and sideways, depending on the road bends made me hold the handlebars hard not to lose control of the bike. I had to also keep a mind control, no point in looking forward wanting to come soon. Patience! Even downhill I could not gain much speed because the wind held me. And so I was, fighting the ghosts inside my head and against the “Yugo” (the strong southeast wind) to the fantastic city of Dubrovnik, “The Pearl of the Adriatic”!

Arrival in Dubrovnik
Arrival in Dubrovnik

The Expedition Ljubljana – Dubrovnik has been successfully completed. Were a total of 549 km with a total accumulated altitude of 8.063m in nine days, eight days riding and a day off.

Ljubljana – Dubrovnik Expedition / Part 2: Croatia

The Island of Pag is an awesome destination for a holiday. There are spectacular beaches, cool towns and great routes for cycling. In addition, there are many activities to do as sailing, diving, snorkeling or just chilling out on the beach. The environment invites the visitors for outside activities. It was where I saw more cyclists around, groups and individuals.

Pag Town
Pag Town – Island of Pag

I started this stage in Novalja and cycled all the way in the Island of Pag up to Zadar. The weather was great, there were stunning views and friendly atmosphere. As it was late season roads weren’t too busy. My first stop was in Pag Town, which I first saw from the top of a hill. The Pag center is a pleasant setting to have lunch and drinks enjoying the nice view of the Adriatic Sea. But I still had a long way to arrive my destination, so I refilled my water tank and moved forward. When I stopped for lunch I was less than 6km away from Zadar. I rode a total of 80.9km with a cumulative elevation gain of 896m. When I finished this stage I was so tired that I did not see much in Zadar. After diner I just went to bed.

Stone Bridge
Stone bridge in Pag Town

The next day the weather was really bad. I left Zadar under heavy rain. I stopped after 5km and took shelter in a kind of roadside mechanical/tire service where inside there was just a dog. I wondered if it wasn’t better to go back and take a bus… I finally stopped for lunch in Pirovac, around 50km away from Zadar, where I met a Belgium couple who was on a cycling journey for whole year. When I saw their luggage I promised not to complain of mine anymore.

Sibenik
The Cathedral of Saint James

We reached Sibenik together, the weather was much better than in the morning. I was impressed with the beauty of The Cathedral of Saint James, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. For those planning to visit Croatia, Sibenik is a town that is worth visiting. Besides the Cathedral, Saint Michael’s Fortress and Krka National Park are great attractions as well. This stage was 72km long and 445m the elevation gain.

Trogir
Trogir water front

I woke up excited for this next stage; I was looking forward to arriving in Trogir. There were some climbs, but the road was empty and the weather was nice. My friend Rok was right, Trogir is a jewel. Next time I will spend a couple of days there to enjoy that extraordinary medieval city and feel the friendly atmosphere. I had lunch sided by a terrific Croatian white wine. After lunch I hit the road again. Next stop: Split. The arrival was a little confusing as there was too much traffic. Finally I reached the spectacular Diocletian Palace, completing this stage with a total of 78km long and 757m of elevation gain. Well… After a long ride I had enough time for some beers before getting the ferry to Stari Grad (Island of Hvar).

Ljubljana – Dubrovnik Expedition / Part 1: Slovenia

Last October 02nd I started the Ljubljana – Dubrovnik Expedition that was a crossing by bicycle from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, to Dubrovnik, “The Pearl of the Adriatic”, in Croatia. I departed from Rio on September 29th and from Vienna International Airport I took a transfer to Ljubljana. Due to my travel agency Larbtur I had a meeting on October 01st at Happy Tours Slovenia with my friends and partners Rok Bulc, Nando Cabral and Aleksandra Jezersek to talk about the expedition itself and other business we have together. After our meeting Nando drove us to Bled, a beautiful and peaceful town on the shore of the gorgeous Lake Bled. There is an island in the middle of the lake and the awesome Bled Castle (first castle in Slovenia) lies on the top of a steep cliff overlooking the lake. At night I had a walk around the cool Ljubljana old town.

Bled Island
Bled Island and the church for the Assumption of Mary

On the next morning I met with Rok at the hotel. It was time to start the journey. We went to a gas station to pump up the bike tires and then hit the road! But less then 6km away my back wheel tube burst forcing us to stop to change it. Tube replaced, let’s pump it… Pow! We broke the valve!!! “Well… it’s gonna be a quite adventure”, I thought. Rok went back and bought 4 more spare tubes. Tube replaced, pumped… Let’s go!!! We headed to Postojna on not busy roads, the temperature was perfect for cycling, the view was nice, there were some not easy climbs on the way and we had a pleasant ride.

Postojna
Arriving in Postojna

We went straight to visit the Postojna Cave, the best-known cave in the world and it is the greatest tourist attraction in Slovenia. It is amazing what nature can do! An electric train carries surprised visitors in subterranean passages and incredible rocks formation. After the cave we went to the Predjama Castle. Wow!!! It’s amazing what men can build! Definitely it is a not to miss attraction, my favorite in Slovenia. Nine kilometers away from the caves, the castle is perched in a vertical cliff and was first mentioned in the year of 1274. In the Middle Age safety was above all. The castle was cold, humid, not cozy, but safe for its inhabitants. It had many owners along the centuries.

Predjama Castle
Predjama Castle is perched in a vertical cliff

The most famous one was the Knight Erazem Lueger in the 15th century, a renowned robber baron, which was besieged in his fortress for a year and a day due to an order from Austrian Emperor Fredrick III to capture and kill him. After visiting the castle Rok took a train back to Ljubljana and I overnight in Postojna. We rode a total of 78km and had a cumulative elevation gain of 1227m.

Croatia border with Slovenia
Croatia border with Slovenia in Rupa

When I woke up next day I knew that this second stage would be tough. I was by myself and when I left Postojna it was cold and raining. However I also knew that while I was cycling I wouldn’t feel too cold. And that was it all the way to the border with Croatia, surrounded by woods and forest in Javornik Hills. After passing passport control, I headed south to Rijeka on D8 state road that has not much traffic as runs parallel to A7 motorway. After a while a far way view of an island and the sea got me even more motivated.

View of Opatija
View of Opatija

Finally, after a long downhill, I was there in front of the Adriatic Sea! Before going to Rijeka I couldn’t miss a visit to Opatija, a trendy destination where former Austrian Imperial Family used to expend several months during winter. After lunch I went to Rijeka where the stage was concluded, with a total of 76,4km long and 771m of cumulative elevation gain. From Rijeka I had a transport to take the ferry to the Island of Pag where I would start the next stage.