THE ROAD AHEAD – our plans for European adventures

We leave Sydney for Amsterdam next week. We’ll be sorry to leave family and friends for a while, but we always look forward to catching up with our other family and friends in the Northern Hemisphere.

Amsterdam is lovely but we won’t be hanging around there all the time. We have other adventures planned:


Mosque, Atyrau, Kazakhstan - Photo: ThereseKL

I’ve been invited to be a visiting author at the Dostyk International School for a few days, and I’m delighted to be going there. I’ve been googling Kazakhstan and Atyrau. Kazakhstan is enormous – the ninth largest country in the world by area, and Atyrau is an oil town on the Caspian Sea. It may not turn out to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, but it’s bound to be interesting. Yes, I’ll be teaching my writing classes in English – I still have a lot of work to do on my Kazakh.


Who wouldn't enjoy a ride in the Dutch countryside and a few organic spuds?

Mevrouw T and I have ridden a lot of Dutch cycling routes, including the ‘Pieterpad’ which crosses Nederland from north to south (or south to north if your prefer riding uphill).

Recently Dutch organic produce promoters Biologica and Greenpeace have marked out a 1000km ‘Pieperpad’ cycling route across the country, passing by a lot of organic farms, notably those growing organic potatoes (‘piepers’ in Dutch).

Our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to ride the route, eat the produce, meet the farmers and write something interesting about the humble spud. It should take two weeks – maybe three if there’s rain and a headwind!


It's taken 10 years to hike from Lake Geneva to Nice, but this year we're planning to finish the job.

The Grand Randonnee 5 is one of the world’s greatest hiking trails, though the French manage to keep it secret from most other people. It starts in Belgium, crosses into France, winds beside the Rhine through the Alsace wine region, then climbs the Jura Range and descends to Lake Geneva. From there it heads across the Alps to Nice.

With my Dutch friends I’ve now walked most of the Alpine section, doing it a week at a time over four different years. This year we’ll start at Briancon and walk south for a week, thus filling in the missing link that has been beckoning us since 2005.


Ponte della Maddalena, Bagni di Lucca. Photo:

Through this blog I was fortunate to come into cybercontact with Debra and Liz, Australians who, like us, spend some months each year at a base in Europe. Theirs is in the lovely north Tuscan spa town Bagni di Lucca which we’re looking forward to visiting. I heartily recommend their blog Bagni di Lucca and Beyond, for all interested in culture, architecture, photography, food and all good things Italian.

There are bound to be other adventures over the coming months, but this is a pretty damn good start. Stay tuned to this blog for the reports…


Filed under Cycle touring, Hiking, Holland, Italy, Travel- Europe

11 responses to “THE ROAD AHEAD – our plans for European adventures

  1. Jonathan S

    Have a fabulous time over there, Richard.

  2. David Barrett

    Sooooo jealous!…. but I guess I can’t have everything.
    Have fun, Richard.

  3. Mike

    Richard, I look forward to following your progress, or perhaps, keeping up with your progress would be more apt. The potato route sounds pretty damn fascinating. I hope that you and your blog might intersect with le Tour de France, too.

  4. Rachel

    What an interesting life. The Pieterpad, especially. Several friends and I are going to Groningen in Sept. for a conference, and I’m hoping to persuade them to walk the first few sections of the Pieterpad with me. One of the blogs that persuaded me was your post from a few years ago about walking/biking this trail in nasty weather.

  5. Rachel

    One sub-head is misspelled, I believe.

    • ‘Pieperpad’ perhaps, Rachel? The cycling route between the potato (pieper) farms is called the Pieperpad – a gentle Dutch joke. Yes, they do have a sense of humour after all.

      I’m delighted you’re interested in walking the Pieterpad, though my preference now would be to cycle it – the countryside, lovely though it is, changes too slowly on foot, especially when it pours with rain!

  6. I hope you enjoy our little part of the world. Thanks for the mention.

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