This is where I found myself last Saturday, surrounded by good cheer and the smell of meat roasting on an open fire. Read more…
NEW YORK CITY, USA – Just back from visiting family in New York where I found the city looking better than ever for bicycle enthusiasts.
Tuesday, 4pm – within an hour of arriving, I was biking down town from my sister’s apartment in lower Harlem to collect my niece and nephew from school.
New signage and marked bicycle lanes in Manhattan have helped to transform cycle commuting in Manhattan from the domain of kamikaze bike messengers to the realm of 9-5ers and…parents picking up their kids from school.
I have spent little time in the city in recent years, but to my eye, of the many recent urban renewal projects, this one is transforming life in the city. I was stunned by the number of workaday cyclists plying the streets from Harlem to Mid town.
The showcase piece is the now famous West Side hike and bike trail paralleling the Henry Hudson Parkway from the George Washington Bridge, all the way down town to Battery Park.
While this is a gem of urban planning with amazing vistas of Lady Liberty and Jersey shore (albeit not the Jersey shore), it does get somewhat crowded on the weekends, however, there are several other marked routes up and down the island serving daily drivers.
For a truly New York experience, grab a bike at one of the many shops detailed on the city’s “greenway” hike and bike map, and head into Central Park on Sunday for a few laps.
We stopped at the magnificent Larry’s Freewheeling at the top of the Park and picked up a tandem; well worth the $15 an hour to hear my niece screaming with glee.
The traffic runs counter clockwise, and they do ticket for red light infractions, so slow down and enjoy the ride.
CANTON GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Nothing can be finer than a late summer bike ride along the Rhône River flowing south from Geneva. In spite of much poo pooing by cycling friends, the Rhône trail system offers hours of trail riding entertainment, minutes from the city centre.
You can drop into this urban jungle from the stairs descending the north side of Pont Butin, or from the backside of the St. George cemetery. Follow the trail signs along the river bank and enjoy the solitude of this sunken forest, a protected zone managed by the Canton of Geneva.
There are ample rises and drops if you are looking for a good workout as well as a few landscaped stairways to be portaged. And for those just looking to get away from concrete urban-ism, there are at least two beaches where you can spread out a picnic.
For a sweet two hour loop, follow the river south to Russin, climb up the road crossing the Barrage de Verbois to Route de Mandement, and take the bike lane back to town through Satigny’s picturesque vineyards.
Biking by the Rhône (click on images to enlarge)
Click on photos to enlarge
SAN SATURNIN LES APT, FRANCE – ALBISOLA, ITALY – MOLLENS, SWITZERLAND – As summer rolls to an end I am still savouring the warm memories of a summer vacation of two-wheeled bliss spent between the Luberon region of Provence, the Ligurian Coast in Italy, and the Valais.
Luberon is a protected region of painted ochre and lavender scenery, dotted with picture book medieval villages. Seen from the saddle of a bike, the scenery rolls by like a slow motion slide show.
I rolled into the town of Rousillon, renowned for its burnt orange cliffs, just as the sun was putting the final touches on the town’s church tower.
PROVENCE, FRANCE – AMINONA, SWITZERLAND – This week marks a high point in biking adventures for the year with back-to-back outings in Provence, France and Valais, Switzerland leaving me with a mile-wide grin.
What to say? Skies and lavender fields hand coloured by Cezanne, gently rising uplifts separated by carved ocher tinged limestone gorges. In short, biking paradise.
Even the 35 plus degree days seemed dreamy with the dry heat pulling the sweat from my pores and somehow refreshing me as I headed for the next watering hole (read winery).
The wealth of medieval villages, classified among the “most beautiful towns in France”, and the beautiful scenery made the distances in between melt away under the Provençal sun.
That feeling and the beachcomber laziness of life in the Luberon region where I was staying were the perfect antidote to bike-commuter burnout.
My only regret? Not having brought my mountain bike to explore the endless vineyard roads and canyon paths… next time.
Twenty-four hours later I was carving the mountain around the ski area at Aminona, Valais.
The scenery surrounding the Petit Mont Bovin is some of my favourite in the area, with its distinctive knob-topped summit and sweeping high mountain vistas, and all the sweeter to enjoy after a 2-hour, 1,2oo-meter ascent.
To boot I found good company along the way to share the views with: Jack.
Half-way through our climb my new-found trail mate told me he had recently celebrated his 70th birthday, making me feel like a bit less of a bad-ass.
At the top the views were no less awesome.
One week of vacation left, not sure how to top this last one.
MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND – Boogy music producer Nile Rodgers “Freaked Out” the Montreux Jazz Festival last night, 13 July, with an evening of disco and dance music talent at Stravinsky Hall.
Last night’s call to booty was met by a fired up Montreux audience ready to shake it.
The closing night party line-up included performances by dance and techno hit makers Tavares (“Heaven Must be Missing an Angel”), Martha Wash (“It’s Rainin’ Men”), Taylor Dayne (“Tell it to My Heart”), Alison Moyet (Yazoo, ALF), and Grace Jones, in addition to Rodgers’ band Chic.
Regardless of what you may think of disco, it is the great dance equalizer, and for that I love it – I saw men, (straight, white men) in golf cardigans doing the Bow-Wow on their knees last night in Stravinsky Hall.
And Alison Moyet, what to say.
MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND – Remember “It’s Rainin’ Men” and “Everybody Dance”? Well, Martha Wash got Stravinsky Hall going tonight, 13 July with her unforgettable dance standards, forever imprinted on our cerebral cortex.
Disco Daddy, Marc Cerrone and friends followed close behind, putting the hall into a tail – as in booty – spin.
It’s getting hot in Stravinsky Hall, and about to get hotter with Taylor Dayne, La Roux and more in the wings.
More coming …
See other MJF reviews on GenevaLunch.
MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND – If you were lucky enough to catch the Rufus Wainwright show last night, 5 July at the Montreux Jazz Festival, you could have doubled your luck by catching the Pedrito Martinez Group performing shortly afterwards in the lounge at Miles Davis Hall.
The quartet with members from Cuba, Venezuela and Peru – they are based in New York – was the perfect nightcap to a stellar evening, with their conga driven Afro-Cuban rhythms.
My only regret is missing their four other shows at the festival. If you are reading this now (5:52 pm Friday) you have exactly 1 hour eight minutes to catch them at Parc Vernex in Montreux…for free.
Otherwise you’ll have to follow them to the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, or one of the other 20 venues they are playing in Europe.
See other MJF reviews on GenevaLunch.
MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND – Novices and loyal subjects alike were treated on 5 July at the Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF) to an audience with the king of ersatz funk, Rufus Wainwright.
I have been an armchair admirer of Wainwright’s genre and gender bending musical genius since I first heard “My Phone’s on Vibrate for You.”
Wainwright’s gift is his uncanny, or inherited ability – he is the son of Kate McGarrigle and Louden Wainwright III – to transform the mundane into soulful, sometimes sad, silly and occasionally sappy stories that resonate deep in your bones. Think Elton John meets Leonard Cohen (also the grandfather of Wainwright’s baby daughter).
Under Wainwright’s charismatic charm, I found myself singing along with the rest of Miles Davis Hall to such quirky choruses as “The church has run out of candles.”
MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND – Gorgeous weather and fresh sounds made for a crowded scene on day two of the Montreux Jazz Festival.