10 Life Lessons You Learn from Cycle Touring

  1. You cannot rush life. In all areas of your life, be it your relationship or your career, you just need to be patient. Which is something that I find incredibly difficult and especially in my very early 20s, I tried to rush things that I shouldn’t have and it didn’t end well. So, lesson learned there. I know it can be difficult when there’s pressure from the family or you feel like you’ve reached a certain age, but it’s just not possible to rush things. And it’s never too late to start again, don’t ever feel like you’re to old to start something or you have to stick with something because you think you’re too old.

    And on the bicycle, you certainly cannot rush anything. You gotta pedal every meter, step by step.


  2.  If you just keep going, you will arrive. Persistence is key.



  3. Taking breaks doesn’t mean you don’t arrive. You have to go your own way in your own pace, no one else’s pace matters. Everyone has to go their own way and everyone has to fight their own battles.
  4. Punctures, i.e. obstacles, happen and while they may slow you down, don’t let them stop you.


  5. Don’t waste any of your days. Dream big and plan small. What can you do in one day to bring you closer to your goals? You can’t achieve it all in a day but you can work in little steps towards it.
  6. You have to enjoy the journey. I read an article a long time ago about how you have to choose a career goal where you enjoy the journey to get there. And it’s so true, both in life and on the bicycle. If you wanna be a rockstar, you have to enjoy hours of practice, if you wanna cylce for three months, you have to like cycling quite a bit.



  7. Have a plan but stay flexible. Allow life to happen. Don’t beat yourself up for not living up to your own unrealistic standards.


  8. Keep going. Don’t give up. Go slow, take breaks, but keep going.
  9. Have more faith in your ability! Every day I had moments where I think I won’t make it and I feel tired, but there wasn’t a day where I didn’t make it! You have a lot more ability in you than you might think. Believe in yourself!


  10. Always pack light! 😉


Posted in Belize, Costa Rica, Cycling, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our journey is coming to an end: Back to the Caribbean

We sold our bikes in San José with a smile in one eye and a tear in the other. These guys have done such a great job carrying us all the way through Central America. Six countries, over 2800 km in approximately two months of cycling and so many great experiences. The journey was even better than I had imagined and I’ve definitely absolutely fallen in love with cycle touring. To be honest, before we started I was just really hoping that I wouldn’t hate it haha. It sounded good to me in theory (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have decided to do it) but you never know what it’s like once you’re on the road. But that feeling of freedom that you have with your bicylce and your tent on the road, it’s just incredible!

Here are the last views of our bicycles:

They didn’t want to pay for our Selle saddles (or didn’t recognise the worth of them) and said, the bikes only need to have ANY saddle. So we gave them ANY saddle haha. The cheapest saddle we could find, and boy, it was terrible to cycle on for just a few hundred meters. Pure plastic. But stylish, isn’t it?

It was pretty cold in San José (and we had the biggest disappointment with a Lebanese restaurant there. Totally overpriced and bad food. If you’re in San José and you have had Lebanese food ever before in your life, do not go to “Lubnan”. If you want to try Lebanese food for the first time, don’t go there either, because Lebanese food is nothing like what they serve there), so we got on a bus to Puerto Viejo to tank up on sun, beach and ocean before going back home.

We stayed in a lovely hotel at the black sand beach near Puerto Viejo, the sea was pretty wild when we arrived, but it was at least warm and the sun came out for little bits as well. It is still somewhat rainy on the Caribbean side but we were lucky that it usually only rained in the morning and in the afternoon we could still enjoy the sun at the beach.

We rented some beach cruisers (it’s really tough to give up cycling, even for just a few days, you know?) and cycled to Punta Uva, where we found the most beautiful beach.

A cute kitty at a hotel always makes the place more hospitable!

After having enjoyed our last weekend at the beach, we eventually had to return to San José to catch our flights home and join our families for Christmas in cold Europe.

(Puerto Viejo has the coolest bus station ever!)

Although I’m a huge Christmas fan and of course excited to see friends and family again in real life, I was quite sad to see our trip coming to an end. It really has been the bestest of times!

Posted in Costa Rica, Cycling, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Costa Rica as you picture it: National Park Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is not super easy to get to when you’re on a bicycle as the climbs make it pretty tough. The six kilometers from Quepos to Manuel Antonio were probably the most difficult ones on the whole trip. Together with cycling around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, that was rather challenging too.

We decided to spend a few days to relax in Manuel Antonio before we’d make our way to San José. We chilled at the beach, had a guided tour at the national park and went on a bird watching tour. Manuel Antonio is pretty much the idea you have of Costa Rica, lots of animals, monkeys everywhere, lush rain forest, beach and the sea.

Here are some of our pictures, hope you like them!

The beach was really amazing, although the waves are pretty strong at times, so swimming isn’t always too easy. And yes, I’ll admit it, it made me miss the Caribbean sea a little bit.

This cool restaurant had a bar inside a plane, how cool is that? So we thought it’d be a good background for a final portrait of us and the bicycles.

Monkeys everywhere!

Here are some of our pictures from inside the national park. Some of these were shot through the guide’s telescope, others came close enough for us to take pictures. The beach inside the national park is in a lagoon so the sea was calm and gentle. Happy me 🙂

Birds birds birds, macaws, toucans, iguanas, sloths, howler monkeys and capuchin monkey, coaties and lots of other animals!

On a more critical note, everything in Costa Rica is insanely expensive without necessarily being better than in any other country. At first we were told, oh it’s just the high standard of living, but that doesn’t really explain things like rice and beans being double or triple the price. Turns out that Costa Rica massively taxes any imports and thus local producers have an absolute monopoly and hence the high costs of groceries etc. Tours are of course also pretty dear, so sometimes it’s just tough to not constantly feel ripped off.

Posted in Costa Rica, Cycling, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gulf of Nicoya: Enjoying Costa Rica in its original state

The Nicoya peninsula is still pretty peaceful with lots of farms, happy Costaricans who wave at us while we’re cycling past and not a lot of tourists. We saw literally one shop with Costarican arts and crafts the whole way from Liberia to Playa Naranjo (from where we took the ferry to Puntarenas). That shop was actually super nice and the owner very friendly, he also made the best frappuccino ever!

From Nicoya we cycled down to Playa Naranjo, where we stayed for two nights before we got on the ferry. On the way there we missed a turn, so 5km ahead we realised we weren’t going the right way and tried to get back to the main road via a short cut. That meant we had to cross two small rivers. While Hassan jumped in right at the first one, I was still a little hesitant but at the second one all I wanted to do was float. So awesome!

(I’m actually not as white as it looks in this picture where I seem to reflect the sunlight, I did get a tan haha!)

This was our little paradise near the ferry:

And some shots from the ferry to Puntarenas which takes about one hour. We also saw dolphins but I didn’t manage to get a picture of them.

From Puntarenas we got a bus to Monteverde to check out the cloud forest which was a little bit of a disappointment.

Essentially it was just a lot of clouds and rain, and kinda cold and a little bit miserable. We made the best of it though, but I really don’t think it’s worth the 20$ entrance unless you’re ready into plants.

Trying to find shelter under a big leaf!

The bus from Puntarenas in the morning took 4 hours and the last bus left at 3 pm (of course we didn’t make that one), so we seemed stranded. We didn’t want to stay the night tho so we just started walking and got superlucky as a friendly Costarican stopped and gave us a ride nearly all the way to Puntarenas, which is 70 km away from Monteverde. For the last 10 km we could just catch a bus that brought us back into town.

Posted in Costa Rica, Cycling, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Costa Rica: The first week

Our final border crossing went just as smooth as all the other ones.

We cycled into La Cruz where we spent the first night and were pleasantly surprised by the big portion sizes, the cornershops that you could actually walk info (ever since Belize all the small shops were completely closed off and you’d order what you want through a tiny window) , the happy people and the pleasant hotel room we had for the night, even with a hot shower (imagine such luxury!!).

And then we found out our hotel had this amazing view! Arriving after sunset makes for these great surprises haha (we had been so hungry that we stopped at the first restaurant when we got into town). Awesome place for breakfast!

Of course, all of that has its price and Costa Rica really is not cheap. The cheapest hotels/hostels are around 30 $ and groceries are insanely expensive, like 6$ for a packet of cereals. Not easy to get by here when on a budget. One great thing about Costa Rica is that the tap water has drinking water quality, so no more filtering needed! Yay! Our filter has been great throughout though.

From La Cruz we wanted to cycle to Liberia, but we almost didn’t make it, as Hassan had another flat tire and we actually didn’t manage to fix it, but I had to go and get a new tube (of course we only had a spare tube for my tires and our tires have different sizes). We just about made it that day (perhaps we also started cycling a little too late…).

Liberia reminded me a lot of towns in Mexico we passed through on the way from Cancún to Tulum. A more expensive version of Mexico. It was really crazy to see a Walmart like supermarket again, Nicaragua did have Pali supermarkets but there wasn’t such an overflow of everything. We treated ourselves to a good McDonald’s dinner haha, we were starving because we skipped lunch because of a late breakfast. Not the best idea when you’re cycling! Nuts can only keep you going for so long.

And we saw a scorpion on the way home!

In Liberia we got off the Pan-American (soo much traffic, which made it pretty difficult to stop for pictures) and headed towards Nicoya. Such beautiful roadside views, green hills, blue skies, lots of fields. Really beautiful landscape and a fairly strong tailwind that helped us out a little bit.

We stayed a night in Santa Cruz, where we unsuccessfully tried to camp in the stadium but the security guard sent us away. So we got a motel room for 20$ (already hagled) which was not exactly any better than the many 5$ rooms we got in Guatemala.

The heat was very intense the following day, so we only cycled to Nicoya, where we couldn’t find a room for less than 40$ which we really weren’t willing to pay. Hence a football pitch became our home for the night instead. Washed off the sweat of the day with a knacker shower in a nearby bar and had some pizza.

Posted in Costa Rica, Cycling, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Isla de Ometepe: Chasing Sunsets

Ometepe is the biggest fresh water island in the world and it has two volcanos, Concepción and Maderas, with the former still being active.

As mentioned in my last post, we got the ferry from Rivas and then stayed the first night in Moyogalpa (because I wasn’t sure when we’d get there and how tough the cycling would be).

Interesting hostel/homestay that was quite adventurous to get to, as it depended on the tide of the lake. Lake Nicaragua is gigantic, the bigger a lake is the more it behaves like an ocean, so that’s why it may seem unusual for a lake to have tides (at least it seemed unusual to me).

When we wanted to go to the supermarket to get some dinner the tide was pretty high, so I was already mentally preparing for walking through the water on the way back, but our hosts had rebuilt the dam with sandbags, so we were lucky.

The location directly at the lake did give us a great view of the sunset though (which was the main reason I had picked that one).

Staying in more of the centre of Moyogalpa would have been nicer and I saw a few guesthouses that just looked a lot better (cleaner, more modern etc). Then we cycled across the island to Balgue.

There we had an airbnb for two nights. Our host was actually one of the nicest people we met in Nicaragua. Foodwise we had both some of the best and some of the worst food of our trip in Nicaragua.

Ometepe in general is not exactly cheap (just by the nature of being stuck on an island choice is limited of course). Renting a scooter is 20-25$ a day, an ATV 50-70$, a kayak 5$ per hour and per person (!), so if you want to get around the island that can quickly add up.

Additionally only half of the island has a paved road (from Moyogalpa to Balgue), the rest is unpaved and not in a good way. We’ve experienced quite decent unpaved roads during the trip but the ones in Ometepe were sadly not part of those.

We got around the island quite a bit chasing views and especially sunsets.

I finally got my sunset shot when we stayed in Santo Domingo.

And finally, we stayed near Merida where we took out a kayak for the sunset and managed to get some nice views.

The next day we cycled back to San Jose del Sur.

Some tough inclines there!

We took the ferry back to the mainland and I have to say I wasn’t sad to leave.

Maybe the island life just isn’t for me or my expectations were too high after everyone we met before who was coming from the South told us how amazing it was.

It was pretty cool but for me just not comparable to places like Lake Atitlan, where you just had such a fantastic view over the lake and the volcanos.

On Ometepe it was a lot more difficult to get a good view. Somehow the island just made me a bit melancholic, so on the ferry back to Rivas I was pretty excited to get back on the bike (although we had of course been cycling on Ometepe) and head towards Costa Rica.

Posted in Cycling, Nicaragua, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Volcanos, lagoons and colonial towns: Granada and Masaya

It was a tough cycle from Managua to Masaya, as we had to cycle on the Pan-American, so imagine six lane traffic, heat and hills.

We passed the entrance to the Masaya Volcano National Park but decided to keep going as the sun was setting and we still had to find a place to stay for the night.

Sadly this amazing place was only a bar/restaurant, we would have definitely loved to stay here.

We stayed one night in Masaya, had some delicious Mexican food (Nicaraguan food isn’t exactly the holy grail of food…) and then cycled the next day on a path along the Laguna Apoyo towards Granada. On maps.me the path had one big climb but was pretty flat otherwise. Yeah… Not in real life, that was a really tough way with super steep hills.

We also weren’t actually sure if there was a viewpoint where we hoped to find one, so we kept asking the locals on the way. To be honest, I was ready to give up when the paved way turned into unpaved dirt road and we just had to push, but Hassan was convinced we’d find a viewpoint of the Laguna and we did!

The last 20 kilometers to Granada were quite a breeze. Granada is my favourite ‘urban’ area of the trip. It’s very similar to Antigua and Léon, all colonial cities, but for me Granada really has the best atmosphere and city layout with the Cathedral and the Parque Central. And great food!

The food at the Garden Café was very tasty, not too expensive and it’s just really beautiful there.

Difficult to capture but you get the idea. The best thing though was that we found a Palestinian shawarma place!!! OMG, it was soo delicious. I had been craving Arab food so much!

I really love the architecture and the colourful houses in Granada! We really enjoyed our time there, had a lovely airbnb with a beautiful garden and climbed up the churches for great views over the city.

Some chill time was very needed as well!

These cool leafcutter ants were working very hard in the garden of our Airbnb. Aren’t they fascinating?

Chasing sunsets, as usual!

We still wanted to see the volcano Masaya, so we booked a tour from Granada. And that’s where we fell deep into the tourist trap!

We just had really different expectations from reading other people’s blogs. Their hikes, how they watched the sunset and the parrots flying home and the bats, all that. So we wanted that as well. Turns out that the access to the national park is very restricted at the moment due to increased activity of the volcano. The park is also closed from 4.30 – 5.30 pm (because you pay 3$ during the day and 10$ at night as you can’t see the lava as well during the day).

Thus, all we wanted and had asked for wasn’t possible but the guy who we bought the tour from conveniently forgot to mention that. So we were really stressed hoping that we would make the sunset (of course we didn’t), then we got to the park, queued up in our van and then drove up to the crater. There was also a guide on the bus, but we don’t really know what her purpose was because she didn’t give us any information or guided us in any other way. Seeing the lava was super impressive but there were a lot of other people trying to get a picture of it and after 15 min a park ranger started blowing a whistle to get us all back into our cars. Like in a prison when you have to go back into your cell…

The car column went down and the next one went up. That was it. We felt really cheated because we had just had really different expectations, but seeing the lava was pretty cool. If you want to see an active volcano without any effort involved, Masaya is the perfect place! 😉

What was worse actually is that we also asked the tour guy about a ferry from Granada to Ometepe, which according to him was operating on Mondays and Thursdays. Turns out that company went bankrupt two years ago… The only way to get to Ometepe is to take the ferry from Rivas (San Jorge). As cycling with cramps isn’t too great, we got a chicken bus to Rivas and took the ferry to Moyogalpa. More about our island time on Ometepe in the next post!

Posted in Cycling, Nicaragua, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments