Those Three Words
Where conversation fails to end
Where your eyes say what words can't
Where your arms feel like home
When the moment feels right
Unable to stay unspoken
Rolling off my tongue
And into your heart
Follow your heart
On June 2013 I sat on Rambla del Poblenou with my good friend drinking wine. As I complained about my bad luck with men, my friend decided it would be a great idea for me to sketch my dream man, so I did.
I drew his thick dark wavy hair, big beard, tall muscular body, wearing a green T-shirt. I sketched him as if he was sitting in my friends chair drinking the wine, I then closed the book and never looked at it again, until now. Fast forward 5 years...
Cycle your heart out
I’m cycling my heart out on my 31st heart route with my boyfriend, and for the first time in my life, I’m in love. We're cycling a heart route which he created himself, and is randomly almost identical to my 2013 one. As we cycled along Rambla del Poblenou, I realise my sketch has came to life, he was real. There he sat, his thick dark wavy hair, his beard, sipping his red wine, on the same street as 5 years ago.
It turns out he was along the heart route the whole time, I’d cycled past his flat on my 2013 heart route, but before we could meet, I guess I had a few lessons I needed to learn.
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Would you like to create your own heart route and cycle your heart out with a loved one?
Click here for my top tips!
The Route to Friendship
Sometimes in life you’ll visit somewhere and fall in love
Destined to return
That place for me was Brighton
It stole my heart not once, but twice
Recently made fuller
Thanks to the beauty of
Sometimes it’s weeks
Time passes and not a word exchanged between you
Yet put together in the same room
Retold as if they’d occurred last year
Jobs, partners, cities, may have all changed
But some friendships remain the same
Unable to budge for anyone
Not even time
Follow your heart
I dedicate this heart route to my friends Jimmy & Kieron, and their wedding coming soon!
It was also an amazing opportunity to be able to reunite again with old friends, and dance our hearts out to Britney Spears at Gay pride!!
Cycle your heart out... the route to friendship
I first fell in love with this city about 7 years ago after visiting a friend. The minute I left the train station it was as if I'd arrived home. The warmness of the people, the charm of the North Laines, the endless choice of veggie restaurants, and then of course the cycling! Riding along the coast, the scent of fish and chips in the air, and views of scattered of deck chairs. Coming back here after so long, all those feelings remained.
Cycle your heart out
Bike rental: Brighton Beach Bikes
Brighton Palace Pier
Brighton West Pier
North Laine Bazaar
The White Rabbit pub
Iydea Vegetarian Kitchen
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Thanks so much to Mark and Mel at Brighton Beach Bikes for advising me on how hilly Brighton is, and helping me create my heart route!
My amazing friends, for making a ton of new beautiful memories together!
If you would like to create your own heart route click here to learn my top 5 steps!
I would always reserve certain places for one day
I'll go there when…
Or I'll go there with…
Costa brava it was one of those places
Year after year I put it off
I don't drive
I'll go there when I have a partner
I was living in the permanent future, blind to the now
This year changed all that
Now I replace one day
The Rio Whisper
Two years ago you sprung from a photo
And remained imprinted on my heart
But the noise of life covered
And concealed your naked beauty
Month by month you’d whisper in my ear
But each night I'd rock you back to sleep
I guess you grew tired of my excuses
Of putting loved ones first and myself last
So you decided to remind me
Thank you, for melting my heart
And washing my eyes clean again
That photo from two years ago flew back into view
Never have I seen a heart route this unique
A bike path hugging every turn, every curve
A heart-shaped lake,
In a city that beats to the rhythm of my soul
A heart-shaped route to remind us to follow our hearts
and listen to our inner voice
“If you're searching for that one person that will change your life,
take a look in the mirror”.
Follow Your Heart
When was the last time you put yourself first? So often in life we spend so much time and energy bringing a smile to everyone else's face, that we forget the most important person of all, ourselves. That cliche we have heard our whole lives, is probably the single most important thing we can learn in life, love yourself first! Buy yourself flowers, take that trip to the mountains that you continue to put off, that outfit? Buy it? Meal for one? Enjoy it! That crazy adventure? Book it!
Cycle your heart out...and follow your heart!
A country I've dreamed of going to for years, but always put off, that 'perfect' time never seemed to arrive. In the back of my mind the movie 'Up' would replay, I don't want that to be me, one day on my deathbed wishing things could have been different. October 2017 I lay in bed contemplating who to message for advice… instead my fingers led me to something else...PAY NOW I clicked. Rubbing the morning sleep from my eyes, I'd finally done it! One ticket to my dream destination coming soon! Sharing a sunrise breakfast on the beach a couple days before with my beautiful friend Vanessa had filled me with so much gratitude. Some friends have this amazing ability to help push you in the direction of your dreams...magic is something you make, and I'm so glad to have her in my life. Cherish these friends with all your heart.
I stayed at the hostel Lemon Spirit in Leblon, a short walk away from the famous Ipanema beach. It was really easy to meet people and make friends. On my first day I met a really nice girl from Melbourne called Amy, who ended up joining me on my heart route! The hostel also provided a free breakfast, delicious papaya every morning put a smile on my face, especially as it was combined with monkeys swinging from the trees in front of me!
There was no shortage of places to rent a bicycle in Rio, especially around the heart shaped lagoon. I also decided to try the local bike hire scheme called Bike rio as I wanted the freedom to be able to cycle the whole time I was there. All I needed to do was download the app and use a Brazilian SIM card to register, it was also much cheaper than renting a bike every day.
The unique heart shaped lagoon, Rodrigo de Freitas! Following the 7.7km bicycle path, there no need to whip out my map, no need to worry about traffic, and impossible to get lost. Instead I was able to cycle my heart out mindfully, allowing nothing but my heart to guide me.
Cycle Your Heart Out
Along the route, I was greeted by a wave, swaying in the wind were pink petals I knew I'd seen somewhere before. Impossible to smell without closing my eyes, transporting me back to 2010, the first time me and the frangipani flower first met. Now whenever we do, I'm reminded of sunset bike rides along the crocodile beaches of Darwin, Australia, and the rice paddies of Ubud, Bali. Maybe it was the scent that helped draw me here...
That evening I watched in awe as waves crashed against the Ipanema shore, and I reflected on my day. As I sipped my coconut, I gazed up at the same mountains I had once only dreamed about. Here they were, resting so effortlessly before me, while the Brazil flag danced in the wind. I pulled out my sketchbook, to imprint that moment on my heart.
“The meaning of life is to find your gifts, the purpose of life is to give it away”
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Grateful to Elodie, the French beauty who got me painting again, I'll never forget the moment I spotted her in our hostel in Melbourne back in 2010. Hypnotized by the way she sketched, it was thanks to her I believed I could paint again, who made me believe I was good enough, and hadn't forgotten how. It was her who took me shopping to buy my 1st ever travel paint kit, and who introduced me to the magical water pen in Hobart Tasmania. From Australia to the stunning rocks of Rio's Ipanema beach, here we sit, catching up on 8 years of stories as the sun sets with a paintbrush in our hands.
Awaken love, a global meditation organisation that I discovered first in Barcelona. Instead of a typical Saturday night out in Lapa, I decided to go to this meditation event and get to know more locals. I was lucky to meet these 4 lovely Brazilian ladies and enjoyed sharing my heart shaped story with them, thanks Raphaella, Debora, Izabella, and Fernanda for a lovely evening and night!
My tour guide Lucas from Intrepid Travel. After cycling my heart out I decided to explore the rest of Rio! It was beautiful to discover that locals call the lagoon ‘The heart of Rio’! Click here to read my full review on Trip Advisor.
All the people from Lemon Spirit hostel who helped me climb to the top of the Dois Irmãos hill, and made my dream come true! Zipping up through the Vidigal Favela on the back of a locals moped, a 1 hour hike through the bushes and sweltering heat! Gazing down, the whole of Rio de Janeiro lay below me. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the heart shaped lagoon!
Finally thank you Rio, for making me ride around your every curve. For making me follow my heart and not drown my dreams. For making my heart beat again and believe in love. This route really took the phrase 'follow my heart', to a whole new level!
We Are Barcelona
Birds replaced by helicopters
Music drowned out by sirens
Hate breeds hate
Love breeds love
Reaching for my map, I know what needs to be done
Drawing a red line
From the top to the bottom of Las Ramblas
Following the pen along Passeig de Colom
And into Ciutadella Park
Line by line
Passeig de Gracia
Plaza de Catalunya
Line by line
You’re now complete
The red pen is then replaced by bike tyres
Breathing in and out
Soaking into my memory
For every flower I see
Every candle I notice
Every message I read
I no longer feel fear
We are not afraid
We are Barcelona
Our heart beats on
Woven in a web of confusion, my wings tightly bound
It took six years and twenty-five heart routes to realise it
Sure, it would've been nice if it had occurred overnight
But it didn’t
And maybe it wasn’t meant to
Maybe each heartful route was a lesson to learn
A blessing in disguise
Maybe each one was a chapter to be told
In a story that was unknowingly writing itself
Maybe that alluring spider’s web
Was meant to catch me
Maybe I was meant to fight my way through
To come out the other side
As a grateful little fly
Follow your heart
Cycle Your Heart Out and... write!
All week leading up to my trip I'd been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book ‘Big Magic’. Having been on my reading list for ages, it more or less jumped off the bookshelf into my hands at the Airport. The more I read, the more it made me realise I write because I freaking love it. I understand not everyone will enjoy reading what I have to say, but that's OK too. I'd rather write for the rest of my life than live in a criticism-free bubble.
My favourite part was when she wrote about how we should have more fun with our creativity.
For many years I would stress myself silly about writing up my heart routes, I would try and force myself to write, even if I didn't have a creative cell in my body that day. I would then get burnt out, loose my words, conclude I was a terrible writer and keep it only for myself. I now whisk myself off to romantic locations on my own to allow myself no time limit, just the sheer luxury of being able to write, zero interruptions, other than my wine and olives arriving.
I'd created a heart route in the tiny coastal town of Westkapelle back in 2015, when I first discovered how much the Dutch love cycling, and how super flat this country really is.
Having returned to Holland for the 2nd time to spend time with family at the beautiful beach Callantsoog, I managed to arrange a 1 night stay in Amsterdam on my way back to Barcelona.
On the train ride to Amsterdam I looked up bike rental and straight away found MacBike. Located next to the canal, a short walking distance from the famous Rijksmuseum museum and my hostel. I hired my beautiful red bike and got a detailed map of the city. After finding a nice spot on the canal to sip my cappuccino and plan my route I realised it had created itself organically. The more I studied my map and all the canals, the more a heart shape emerged!
Cycle Your Heart Out
Riding down the canals I loved that I had no expectations, I think along the route I developed an addiction for canals, each one I passed I couldn’t help but take a quick pic! Having been up since 6 am my stomach started to protest at being neglected. A few metres away I found an inviting canal boat, a perfect spot for filling my stomach on some Dutch cuisine. While I ate dozens of touristic boats passed, I felt a little bit like a lion in a safari park as they whipped out their cameras ready to capture the beautiful picturesque canals, with myself modelling a mouthful of food.
I was about to jump back on my bike when I looked across the road and saw the Cheese Museum, I remembered a fellow cheese fanatic friend of mine had mentioned it to me last year. My taste buds melted as my eyes feasted on all the different flavours... truffles, pesto, a rainbow of colours from blue, purple and even green!
As I cycled along I came across a large group of people all staring up at a house, curious to know what it was I then saw a small sign, “Anne Frank Huis”. Memories came flooding back to me as a child, reading her book in my bedroom, wiping away the tears. In that moment I immediately dedicated a piece of my heart route to Anne.
After gliding along the scenic streets and canals of Prinsengracht Joordan I noticed how quickly the vibe changed. Arriving at the centre of my heart route, I had also reached the HEART of Amsterdam. I came face to face with the grim reaper at the Dam Square Royal palace, and dead bodies at The Body Worlds museum. Cycling through the craziness of it all, one thing remained the same, it was still full of bike lanes, and easy to ride through despite the masses of tourists.
I looked at my map, and noticed I needed to head back towards the canal to start the other half of my heart route. As I stopped at Dam Square to check where I was I noticed a bicycle taxi on the look-out for clients. He must know every single path in Amsterdam I thought, so decided to ask him for some directions. After pointed me in the right direction, and before I knew it, the lines had joined again, heart route 25, now complete!
After waking up so early and cycling the whole city until 8pm I was on the verge of passing out in hunger and exhaustion. Thank you Lorenzo restaurant, I didn't get the waiter's name, but I'm grateful for his kindness. I'm surprised I could even get my words out, I mumbled something along the lines of, "I'm hungry". Not only did he give me a massive portion of tasty pasta , he cracked some jokes, then took my bike basket off the table to make my meal feel more at home.
I pretty much passed out immediately back to my hostel! I'll need to return again soon to see Amsterdam by night.
The following morning it was time head back to Barcelona and press pause on my Dutch adventures.
Before saying goodbye I sat in a cafe called Back to Black that I’d discovered along my heart route, directly overlooking the bicycle filled canals.
Billie Holiday played in the background while I stared out the window searching for the right words to write up about Amsterdam. A heart shaped foam smiled up at me from the cappuccino reminding me of all the kind people I’d met along the route, and helped me make route 25 possible.
No longer had I finished Route 25, I was already starting to dream of my next heart route, and all the adventures yet to come.
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Thanks to everyone at MacBike for telling me all the best canal and paths to ride, as well as nice spots to relax and enjoy the open markets and cafe scene.