Thursday, March 19, 2015

5 Bike Friendly European Cities I Want to Visit

Ever since I got Genevieve (my bike) I have started paying more attention to which cities around the world are bike friendly. I fell in love with Europe when I studied abroad in Ireland for six months in college, and I am always looking for opportunities to  go abroad. I worked in London the summer before law school, took international law classes in Venice the summer after 1L year, and I have also visited France and Scotland. My biggest regret about those trips is that I wasn't as physically active then as I am now, and as a result I missed out on some great running, cycling, and hiking opportunities. I mean...

Me somewhere in Ireland Circa 2008
Me in front of the Eiffel Tower, circa 2008
Me at The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, circa 2008
No wonder Europeans are so fit--it's easy to stay active when you can roll out of bed and go for a run with a view of the Eiffel Tower! But that's a little off topic. Let's talk about a few bike-friendly places in Europe I would love to go for a ride.

1. Norway
A quick google search pulls up a really helpful website with information about cycling in Norway. They have a list of their top 10 cycling routes and some tips on getting from point A to point B on a bike safely. Also, can we have a conversation about the fact that Norway has bike escalators for really steep hills? Let me say that again: NORWAY HAS BIKE ESCALATORS!!!! Here is a video of how it works:

Maybe I'm weird, but this thing would be near the top of my must-visit attractions in Norway list.

2. Berlin, Germany
I have wanted to visit Germany for years, and I would probably want to visit Berlin no matter what, but it certainly doesn't hurt that there is at least one company that offers bike tours.

3. Munich, Germany
You can visit this website for more information about biking in Munich. Some of the highlights for me were the cool bike rental service called Call A Bike, the information about bike tours, and the helpful cycling maps. And there's also the part where you would be visiting Germany, which is not ugly. Behold:
4. Copenhagen, Denmark
I have wanted to go for a bike ride in Copenhagen ever since I saw the youtube video below:

5. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Cycling is so common in Amsterdam that the New York Times wrote an article with the title "The Dutch Prize Their Pedal Power, but a Sea of Bikes Swamps Their Capital." You can find it here. No offense to the New York Times, but with so much obesity in America, shouldn't we as a nation be doing everything we can to get more people using active transportation? Anyway, the main reason I would love to bike in Amsterdam is because the city is full of protected bike lanes. Protected bike lanes are completely separated from car traffic by a raised divider, trees, poles, etc. You can see Amsterdam's protected bike lanes in action in the video below.

Cool, huh? Nashville is trying to improve its bike infrastructure, but I can't even imagine riding in a city where cyclists are so well taken care of. Maybe if more U.S. cities had cycling infrastructure like this, more people would ride bikes!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

100 Books in 2015

I have always loved reading. There were a few summers as a kid when my goal was to read a book a day until school started, and I remember spending a lot of happy hours blazing through books. Sadly, I don't have summer breaks anymore, but I still like to make time everyday to read. Most of the time that means listening to audiobooks while I go about my workouts or make my way to work, but I am happy to say that despite being a busy adult, I still finish a respectable number of books. 

I have had a Goodreads profile for a while now (think social media for book lovers. Let's be friends!) and I recently discovered that you can challenge yourself to read a certain number of books in 2015. I was feeling ambitious when I set my goal, but I decided to aim for 100 books in 2015. 

If you're good at math, you know that I would need to read approximately 8 books per month to hit my goal. That breaks down to about two per week. I'll never hit my goal if I go down the Song of Ice and Fire rabbit hole, but if I stick to mostly average length books, I think I can reach my goal--or at least have fun getting close. So far in 2015, I have read some really awesome books and I thought some of my fellow book lovers might like a quick review of some of the books I have finished recently.

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen was just ok. It's about Charlotte Silver, a girl whose parents have their own ghost hunting tv show. She tries to hide her parents' job from her friends when the family moves to a new town for a case, but things get complicated when a ghost takes a special interest in her. For me, the plot was only mildly interesting as was the main character. There are so many amazing young adult novels that have come out in the past few years, that this one just didn't measure up.

I thought The Night Circus was spectacular. As children, Celia and Marco are trained by their respective mentors to battle each other in a high stakes competition that will determine which of them is the more talented illusionist. Their battle takes place within the confines of Le Cirque des Reves, an extraordinary circus that appears out of nowhere and is only open at night. At its heart, The Night Circus is a story of true love, intrigue, and, of course, magic.

I will preface this by saying that Molly Harper could kick puppies and bite babies and I would still puffy heart love her books. That said, I thought Rhythm and Bluegrass was a fun and lightweight read. It's the second book in Harper's Bluegrass series. If you are looking for a cute, occasionally humorous romance novel, Rhythm and Bluegrass might be for you. I will note that while this book is the second in a series, it could easily stand alone.

Echo Burning is book 5 in the Jack Reacher series. I have read a few of the Jack Reacher books, but I haven't been reading them in order. I was able to follow and enjoy this book even though I haven't read the first four books in the series. I thought Echo Burning was a little uncharacteristic of this series because it was a little light on action sequences. Most of the Jack Reacher books are thriller thrillers, but this one was more of a psychological thriller where Reacher decides to help Carmen, a Mexican-American woman who was allegedly being abused by her rich, white, Texas rancher husband, Sloop Greer.  At the beginning of the novel, Sloop is in jail for failing to pay his taxes or some similar federal charge. Now, the Texas rancher is about to get out of jail and Carmen is terrified that the cycle of abuse is going to start all over again. Carmen can't leave Sloop because he would never let her take their daughter, Ellie, and she can't go to the police because the local sheriff is an old friend of Sloop's. In the days before Sloop comes home, Carmen goes out looking for someone to help her and she finds Jack Reacher. Throughout the novel, Lee Child builds suspense by calling Carmen's credibility into question. You might be disappointed if you are looking for a traditional thriller, but as a psychological thriller, I think Echo Burning is pretty good. 

Those are a few of the books I have read recently. Do you have any reading goals for 2015? Have you read any good books lately?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bloglovin' Blog Hop

Host and Co-Hosts:


Your March Sponsor!

I love Bloglovin'! It is such a clean, easy way to follow blogs you love and directly comment on blog posts, while still remaining on your stream on the Bloglovin' site. If you haven't used it lately, you should. They have really made a nice interface.  

So, why not grow our following then! Here are the rules:

1. Enter your link below DIRECTLY to your Bloglovin' profile; you will need to manually upload a photo.
2. Follow your host, co-host, and sponsor.
3. Visit 2-3 other bloggers in the linky and say  "hi".
4. Share and tweet this hop!    

Feel free to grab a button and place it on your blog!