Category Archives: Japan

Skedaddle Twaddle about our holidays to Japan

Mind over matter…

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With New Year fast becoming a distant memory of blurry celebrations and broken resolutions, we thought we’d take a fresh look at February to find out how you can grab the bike by the handlebars (quite literally) and make the most of 2016…

If your dreams of healthy shakes and daily trips to the gym faded within minutes of your New Year hangover wearing off and your first attempt at a green smoothie, it may be time to start thinking about a new type of resolution, to help motivate you through the winter! So, with the first month of the year now under your wheels and the nights beginning to lighten ever so slightly (hey, it’s still light at 5pm if you look out…just!) it’s time to start thinking positively and help get yourself in the right frame of mind to seize the year and all its possibilities.

With a positive outlook firmly in mind we’ve been looking into how we can discover our ‘happier self’s here at Skedaddle HQ and the general consensus seems to be planning for our future travels, and spending a little bit of extra money to make these dreams a reality! Now we don’t mean heading to the shops and buying yourself an exciting new gadget gizmo, or purchasing that pair of shoes in the sale, we mean spending money on enriching experiences that can help boost your mental well-being. Dr. Thomas Gilovich is a professor at Cornell University and has been studying the effects of money and happiness for two decades, he explains:

Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods…You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.

Gilovich shares a belief that experience is far greater to your sense of self than any material object you may own, and therefore a far better investment for yourself, a philosophy we couldn’t agree more with here in the office. But, you may ask, how on earth does this relate to cycling? Beside the wisely known physical benefits (have you seen Victoria Pendleton’s body?!) pedalling has also been scientifically proven to chemically alter the brain, for the better.

So we thought we’d ask our team of experts here in the office what they thought and held a vote to find their favourite two wheeled experiences that could help enrich your mental well-being and make a real change in your life. With the votes in, here’s our top 3 holidays that made the shortlist…

Japan

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Photography: Gary Tower

For a holiday jam-packed full of exotic experiences that you’d never normally get the opportunity to sample in the West, our cycling adventure in Japan is the answer.

The traditional Japan one often thinks of really does come to life during our adventure here, where new experiences lie around every temple! From Japanese inns known as ryokan (some dating back hundreds of years) to tatami-matted rooms and thermal spring onsen’s, you’ll be greeted by a whole host of fascinating traditions that promise a real feast for the soul. Alongside brushing up on your bathing etiquette, you’ll also get the chance to take part in a traditional tea ceremony (oh yes, the Japanese love their tea even more than us Brits do!)

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This is a fantastic opportunity to head out of the busy mega cities and learn more about the fascinating heritage of these island communities. We guarantee this is a destination that will captivate and enthral those who dare venture here.

We had outstanding guides, superb bikes maintained daily and everything was well organised. We enjoyed the variety of accommodation which gave a good feel of Japan. What a difference having a knowledgeable and enthusiastic leader. Jean and Peter, Hampshire

For more information about our cycling adventure in Japan, click here.

This is a fantastic opportunity to head out of the busy mega cities and learn more about the fascinating heritage of these island communities. We guarantee this is a destination that will captivate and enthral those who dare venture here.

For more information about our cycling adventure in Japan, click here.

Camino de Santiago

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Photography: Innes Garden

A route travelled for over 1,000 years, the Camino is a historical journey with big spiritual rewards both for the believers, and non-believers among us. Considered one of the most popular pilgrimage route’s in Europe, thousands have taken to this trail over the years to reach the stunning cathedral Santiago de Compostela, and ‘find themselves’ along the way. Nevermind your walking boots though, hoping to spin a new light on this classic walkway, we’re offering the opportunity to take to two wheels to experience the Camino.

This epic route takes you through some of Spain’s oldest and most fascinating landscapes, from the medieval Galicia in the far North West, and past many historical gems, including the dramatic, fortified Ponferrada castle. This is a far cry from the costa del resorts Spain is typically associated with, and gives an incredible insight into this countries rich history and culture.

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With a real challenge up for grabs here, as well as plenty of opportunity to meet lots of new faces taking on this route for a whole host of meaningful reasons, this is a fantastic journey for those looking for a higher purpose or alternate perspective on their lives. Prepare to be enlightened, in more ways than one…

Dan was fantastic in every way. He was very organised and ensured everything ran smoothly. He took great care of everyone in the group whether at the front or the back and was very encouraging. A really great guy, always smiling and knowledgeable of Spain and the Camino. Picnic lunches excellent. Gillian, Cambridgeshire

For more information about our cycling holiday the Camino de Santiago click here.

St Malo to Nice

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Cycling the entire length of a country may seem like the stuff cooked up for a channel 4 documentary, but we promise it’s far more doable than first expected…at least when you know us, anyway! Having expertly sourced the perfect route across France and with past Skedaddler’s claiming this to be, ‘a journey of a lifetime’, our road holiday St Malo to Nice ranks amongst one of our most popular.

With 950 miles to cover, there’s a lot to take in during your journey through the French countryside, with a little something for all to enjoy. Whether you’re after beautiful coastlines (this holiday includes  both the Atlantic and the med!) sweeping countryside (classic regions explored during this route include the typically French Dordogne and lavish Loire) not to mention one of the countries most dramatic natural features, the stunning Gorge du Verdon, which comes complete with rocky archways, and a snaking river so turquoise you’ll have to look twice…

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Combine all of the above with plenty of opportunity to gorge on some of the world’s best-loved cuisine (we promise plenty of croissants and baguettes…as well as many other classic culinary delights) and our iconic journey in France is an all-round gem for anyone either looking for a new challenge or a thoroughly enriching route.

‘Skedaddle picnics on this trip are better than anything Jamie Oliver could rustle up…. and they manage to prepare them by a roadside too! Delicious and plentiful. Could not have asked for more. Without a doubt my favourite day was the the Gorges du Verdon on the penultimate day! The most incredible day I’ve ever had on my bike.’ Alison, Surrey

For more details about our cycling holiday in France, Click here.

So, what are you waiting for. Time to get saving those pennies and dreaming up the perfect holiday to help see a healthier, happier you in 2016…

Adventures Abound in 2016…

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Out of this world explorations seemed to dominate the media in 2015. From British astronaut Tim Peak’s highly publicised expedition into space, to serene shots of the moon projected into our homes over Christmas, thanks to John Lewis’s heart-wrenching festive advert. 2016 dawns with a new spirit of exploration, where outdoor adventure is emerging as the new way to travel! So, whilst we can’t offer a bicycle-powered rocket into outer space (keep your eyes peeled, you never know!) there’s no need to look quite so far into the stratosphere to find your own extraordinary adventure…

Never mind the package holiday dream, adventure travel is finally beginning to ride the wave of popularity, as more of you than ever are looking to head beyond the bustling resort poolside and out into the local landscapes of your chosen destination. In fact, between 2010 and 2014 adventure tourism grew by a whopping 195%. With the promise of exciting new discoveries, fascinating insights into local culture and some of the world’s most inspiring and otherworldly landscapes, adventure travel has a broad appeal that quenches the thirst of the most wanderlust travellers out there.

Always looking to keep up-to-date with the latest goings on in the travel world we took a closer look at successful travel publishers and fellow adventure junkies, Lonely Planet, who recently revealed their Best in Travel for 2016. Here’s our favourite picks from their round up and how you can experience them for yourselves.

All eyes on…Japan _Customer.35653.26617

Voted number two on their top destinations for 2016, Japan sits highly on Lonely Planets must-see countries this year. Here’s what they have to say about the land of the rising sun:

Japan. It might be number two in this year’s rankings, but it’s always number one for travellers in search of an otherworldly experience. Nowhere else on earth exemplifies that dog-eared ‘modern yet ancient’ cliche like the land of the rising sun. Tokyo’s successful bid to host the Olympics in 2020 has raised the temperature of a feverish city amid a blur of new development, but beyond the suburbs Japan remains as elegant and enticing as its graceful wooden temples.
(Lonely Planet, Best in Travel, click here to read article in full)

With two sold out cycling adventures to Japan last year, (we’ve added a brand new date to avoid disappointment and to enable more of you to head that way for an adventure). We’re not surprised this ethereal island country has made its way onto the list!

Want to explore for yourself? Our cycling adventure in Japan takes full advantage of both the natural and cultural wonders, which continue to captivate and fascinate those who venture here. Starting in ancient Kyoto (former capital of Japan) you’ll explore historical back streets and temples dating over 1200 years old. Your journey will also take you out of the city and into the ethereal countryside, where you’ll ride around the edge of a volcanic crater and take in ever-changing landscapes, from wooded valleys to rugged coastlines. Along the way there will also be plenty of opportunity to soothe your achy limbs in one of the many bubbling hot springs which this country is famed for!

Here’s what our customers had to say:

‘Outstanding guides, superb bikes maintained daily and everything was well organised. We enjoyed the variety of accommodation which gave a good feel of Japan. What a difference having a knowledgeable and enthusiastic leader.
Jean and Peter, Hampshire

Top tip from from our Cycling Adventures team…

Give everything a go…from onsens to calligraphy to sake (Japans national beverage), Japan is full of unusual but pleasantly surprising experiences!

Discover the…Valle of Viñales

cubacyclingadventure71 2015 saw Cuba hit the headlines in a big way, with the news that Cuba and America have finally resolved a 50-year dispute and their embargo lifted. With more of you now than ever before looking to head to this vibrant, Caribbean island, Lonely Planet has the low down on a top sight to see once you’ve landed in Havana:

That Cuba has come in from the cold is not news, but most people’s knowledge of the country extends no further than crumbling but cool Havana and the beaches of Varadero. To see a lesser-known side of Cuba, head to the heartland of Valle de Viñales, where farmers’ oxen still plough the Unesco-listed landscape. Go hiking, riding or cycling through the fantastical mogotes (rock formations), then slump into a chair on the porch and daydream before tucking into a home-cooked meal at your cosy casa particular (homestay).
(Lonely Planet, Best in Travel, click here to read article in full)

Our cycling adventure in Cuba, Cuban Revolutions, is the perfect opportunity to explore this otherworldly valley; made distinct by its dramatic rocky outcrops, Viñales is enhanced as you pedal your way amongst its loaf-like features. Having had your fill of the island, you’ll experience this UNESCO treasure on day 12 and 13 of your tour, where you’ll enjoy an unforgettable day of cycling that provides a unique insight into Cuba.

Here’s what our customers had to say:

‘A great itinerary and every day we did something new and found something different and special. I feel I have a good insight into the country and and sampled many different aspects. The thing I liked best was cycling down back roads which otherwise I would not have known were there! Thanks to our guides for helping me to see the real Cuba, off the beaten track.’ Anne, Cambridge 

Top tip from our Cycling Adventures team…

Go now! Travel restrictions mean that Cuba is set for some dramatic changes in the next few years. We’d also recommend taking a camera so you can snap all the amazing sights you’ll see around every corner’

If neither of the above floats your adventurous boat, fear not! We’ve a great range of trips visiting lots of exotic destinations across the globe. Click here to find out more about our cycling adventure range.

Top Adventures in 2016…

A wise chap once declared, ‘travelling – leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller’. For plenty of spine-tingling, spellbinding moments, check out our adventure picks for 2016…

In China, Guilin & Guangxi provides a journey framed by mysterious mist swept peaks and the stunning Li river. You could be riding through landscapes that look like theyhave been taken from a magical other-world. Here, a rural way of life is commonplace and you’ll encounter many fascinating locals along the way.

For more Asian adventures, our Tea and Temples tour in Japan is another popular journey starting and finishing in the ancient city of Kyoto. Renowned for its volcanic foundations, you’ll explore smoke-belching mountains by bike as well as enjoying natural hot spring baths at the end of the day…

For those with their sights set on South America, our adventure in Chile & Argentina is often claimed to be one of the ‘best group trips ever taken’. With its snow-dusted volcanoes, sweeping lakes and towering monkey puzzle trees, it’s not hard to see why! Maybe 2016 is the year to see what all the fuss is about…