CERN

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I learned a lot at CERN. Being there, hearing the stories, seeing the incredible machines and asking my questions, helped me to get to the following understandings. Please correct me if im wrong!!

Some theory: all (visible) matter (which is only 4% of our universe though!)

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is made out of molecules, which are made out of atoms, which consist of a nucleus (protons and neutrons) and electrons. The electrons are negatively charged, the neutron is neutral, and the proton is positively charged. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN uses protons, because you need a charged particle to be able to accelerate particles close to the speed of light. Only particles with no mass can actually reach the speed of light. When particles attain mass, they slow down. And nowadays it is said that particles obtain mass through their interaction with the higgs-field, a little like swimming through honey. The honey sticks on you and slows you down. With the slowing down, temperatures also get colder.

The LHC is the biggest and most powerfull particle accelator in the world, installed in a 27 km tunnel 50-150 meter below ground. It is build to study particle collissions at higher energies than ever before (up to 99.9% the speed of light), hoping to find things that will help us understand the universe and how it came to be.

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The LHC had some problems at the start-up though, and only highly necessary repairs were done. They were in a hurry, because there was a race with the US, who would find the Higgs boson first. The LHC could not reach it’s full potential, but was nevertheless able to discover the Higgs Boson in 2012, being approved by both the CMS and ATLAS detector, finding evidence of the boson having a mass around 126 GeV. A Nobel Prize was awarded 🙂

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Immediately after this confirmation, the LHC was closed for major repair and maintenance, only to reopen some two weeks ago. Running at full speed now, it is, among other things, searching for extra dimensions of space, unification of fundamentalistic forces and string theory.
These are exciting times! It takes a couple of weeks to get the superconducting magnets at the appropriate extremely low temperature (the LHC’s niobium-titanium magnets operate at a temperature of 1.9 Kelvin or -271 Celcius) and it will take years before we can say something about the first results after analyzing all the data. The low temperature is needed to conduct electricity without resistance as to create the strongest magnetic fields possible.

By the way, the world wide web was invented here at CERN,  as a means to distribute, store and analyse all the data. It changed our world completely!

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So how does the LHC work? I asked the lady ‘how the hell do you get a proton out of an atom’? Pff that’s easy, she told me, you just take a hydrogen atom, which exists of only one electron and one proton and you ionize it, that’s it! You get rid of the negatively charged electron and just use the positively charged proton. You speed it up with switching on and off the electric fields,

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before spanning it around a circular tube, accelerated by electric fields and guided by big magnets and you end up with a beam of protons, ready to enter the LHC. With every turn it picks up more speed. One beam going one direction, another the opposite. They collide in four detectors, each running their own experiments: ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and LHCb. ATLAS being the only one situated in Switzerland,  the rest is in France.

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The LHC generates up to 6000 million collissions per second. That’s a lot of data to analyse!

One beam can be used up to ten hours, then all the particles get absorbered and new beams are created. To get enough protons there is only need for a very very small portion of hydrogen. This bottle shows the actual size that is used at CERN.

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Of course, also other beams are created, including high energy muons to study the structure of the proton,  heavy ions to form new states of matter, and radioactive ion beams to observe exotic nuclei.

The energetic collissions produce many new particles, as energy turns into matter in accordance with Einstein’s E=mc2, where E stands for energy, m for mass and c for the speed of light.

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So far quantum physics found out that all Hadrons (like protons and neutrons) are made out of quarks, held together by gluons. There are different tastes of quarks. So a proton consists of two up and one down quark and a neutron consists of two down and one up quark. There are others as well, like strange, charm, top and bottom,… Crazy names right?
I was happy to discover another subelimantary particle at the supermarket!

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And only 75 cents!

Makes me think of the very creative names cosmologists gave their telescopes, like the very large telescope and the extremely large telescope in Chili. Funny scientists 🙂 ah yeah and they have great names for the forces as well. There are four: gravity, electromagnetism and.. the strong force and the weak force. Impressive! Gravity being the weakest force of all, which might be because it comes from another dimensions… Whoohh. Like an exciting children book.

Each force has their carrier:

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So now it becomes a comic. Keeps getting better and better 🙂
Were searching for things, well actually were not sure what were looking for or what it means if we find something.

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We do know the future will have something to do with quarks.  Enough evidence confirms the existence of quarks, but we didnt find a way to separate them just yet. Maybe with the full potential of the LHC well be able to do it!

In a couple of years well get results, the LHC will close again and well be able to visit the underground area 😀 mark my words, ill be back! In the meantime were working on a 100 km LHC.. Are you fricking kidding me?! I like this insane world 🙂

Lausanne – Geneva – Lausanne

I was just an hour on my way from Lausanne to Geneva when something magical happened. I was illegaly biking on the beautiful footpath along the swiss side of the lake, when i encountered something i didn’t see before so far. Another cyclist, fully packed, came from the other direction. All morning I have been feeling great, smiling, saying bonjour to everybody i passed, but this time my bonjour was more like: HEEEEY AWESOME, WAIT, STOP, WHO ARE YOU?, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?, COOOOOLLL 😀

Jean-Daniel responded equally enthousiastic and we ended up sitting in the grass, talking for hours! It happened to be the case that he just returned from three years of cycling Asia and he was pedalling his very last day back home. Can you imagine? Me, just starting my trip, him, almost back home .. Again, a very nice, warm, friendly guy, wow. Jean invited me to come to his parents farm in Villeneuve when i move on to Italy and gave me this amazing bracelet he made himself, using the chain that brought him from Switzerland to Nepal, insane!

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Jean has no computer, nore does he have a cellphone. So when i want to come, i just send him an email which day ill be there (he gave me his adress) and he will ride his bike around town to find me, isnt that great?!
After promising i would visit him, we parted and i moved on to Geneva.

There Pierre and his fiance Sandy kindly invited me in their home to stay a couple of days. Much fun! After a couple of days it felt like ive been their flatmate for years and we were all very sad to part 😦

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I spend a day of fixing my bike, while the front rack i bought in strassbourg already collapsed and the mountainbiketires on my bike were already worn. Pierre showed me a nice place where i could work on my bike, using the tools and materials there. It was like bicycle heaven! So i idiotproofed my front rack, got new rimtape en tires, checked my spokes, adjusted the gears and i was ready to go again 🙂 on my way to new adventures!

And this time the new adventures brought me to CERN, the biggest baddest bouldest insane science project human kind has ever build! The tour was very interesting, i asked the lady so many questions and i went back to cern two days later to do some more exploring 🙂

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So this is what i found out: we are making major progress , these are exciting tires, but at the same time we dont know anything 😉 there is still so much to discover and we’re not even sure what we’re looking for!

I will write a separate post about the theory of quantum physics i learned, only for those interested in the details 😉 and please correct me if im wrong!

In the mean time i discovered a new (tasty) elementary particle just right there in the supermarket !
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I heared the name Claude Marthaler before who is apparently well known among world cyclists for his major travels and the many books and article he wrote about it, like a rock star! I tried to contact him and i was lucky he happened to be in town. We ended up spending two full days together in which we had brunch, went to Sembrancher by train for his presentation, stayed overnight,

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went back to geneva, strolled around town, went to his bike mechanic friend for some more adjustment and advice 🙂
If you are in Geneva and need help, go to this guy, Matthieu is the best!

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This is Claude and Matthieu:)

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And they signed my bike 🙂

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To thank Claude and Pierre i cooked dinner (quiches and salade) and we had a great evening with two other friends, one of which just came biking from Paris 😀

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What a great last night before moving my ass back to Lausanne. In the appartement at about 1 in the morning Pierre wanted to do a little interview, but since it was already late we ended up finding the right lighting in the corridor. Somehow that day i lost my voice and sitting in the corridor with dank lighting and my new voice i felt like we were making a porn movie. I guess i never expected to be the star :p whaha no just kidding, pierre asked me some questions and ill be filming some small movies the next days. He offered to compile a little clip about my journey , which is supernice! Im very much looking forward to the result 🙂

The director of our movie called ‘cut’, the staff went home and to bed. The next day i biked along the French side of the lake this time, to remeet with Raman to go do some trekking in the mountains 🙂 arent they just beautiful?!

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Loaded with presents, like extra tires, biking shirts, front bag, sleeves etc. (insane!) I biked passed amazingly beautiful small towns like Nernier (make sure you visit it when in the neighbourhood), Yvoire, Thonon and Evian, before crossing the lake by ferry 😀 happiness all around again.

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Back in Lausanne i spend some more time with Raman, who is a very nice and knowledgable guy, we spent hours and hours of talking and sightseeing,  completely exhausting me 😀

We went to the beautiful village of gruyere,

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Where there is somehow a Tibet museum, no clue why, and an even weirder geiger museum with alien bar:
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We went hiking for hours on the beautiful mountains (i thought my legs were strong by now, but different muscles were hurting the next days! Love it 🙂 ),

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throwing snowballs :D,

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wondering about the not-so-efficient gates 🙂

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finding out the via ferrata was closed :/ enjoying some great cheese, wine and of course Lindt chocolate (heaven!),

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and making some new friends

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before taking the train back through the beautiful scenery.

Back home good things kept happening 🙂 Raman lived in Edinborough for some time and offered to make me Haggis, he secretely kept in his fridge this whole time.. The bastard 😉 it tasted sooooo delicious! I made some salad and spicy carrots (dont tell any Scott i did that) and we watched an Indian movie, there’s a first time for everything!

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Raman thaught me a lot about different things, including Indian culture, which i knew very little about. Very nice! The rest of the Haggis we had for lunch the next day. I like this mix of Indian, Scottish and Swiss experiences, id recommend all of you to try it 😉

We spend another wonderful day full of interesting conversations walking along the very very flower and colorful promenade of Montreux
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Visited an old friend: freddy mercury! You know he was born in Zanzibar and grew up in India? I like his song: I wanna ride my bicycle, i wanna ride my bike 😀

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And his girlfriend, who is just a little bit more shy:
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On the way it started raining, there was nobody on the streets anymore and we started singing in the rain 🙂
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We made it to the chillon castle just in time, which was used to house the needy and impoverished travellers back in the 13th century 🙂 Just saying..
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With the view of a highway, and i mean really HIGH way…
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The next morning I left Raman and Lausanne to go find Jean-Daniel in Villeneuve..

La belle Switzerland

Entering Switzerland i found myself suddenly speaking german again, no more kisses, just handshakes and rain.. But the city of Basel gave me a warm welcome:

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There’s a beautiful piece of forest on the border between Switzerland and Germany, which is exactly here on this bridge :

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Obviously i had to cross it to set foot in the sixth country on this trip!
The forest was astonishing beautiful and i felt like a princess in my own made fairytale 🙂

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As a princess and now that i actually have followers (so my blog tells me), I feel like i should behave more royal and maybe say something very  important… hmmmz *blank* whahaha maybe ill come up with something later 😉

In Basel i stayed with Manuel and his hammock

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Listening to his stories about cycling Patagonia on his own, conquering all the high mountain passes he could find. Very nice, easygoing, and obviously insane guy 🙂 we drank some beers and went to sleep a little after midnight. Little did i know the next day was going to be the hardest one so far! Oh dear…
I wanted to reach La Chaux-des-fonds which was some 130 km away (on the route i wanted to take) . I knew i could do that easily. But.. Fuck.  Those mountains!! I kept climbing up and up and up and more up and more steep, came to the conclusion i carried way too much stuff and found out (again) that rain gear on the bike makes no sense at all cause you get soked wet anyways from the sweat. It was raining all day, i was so cold and my legs wanted to give up. I focused my eyes on the white line on the road, put on some Savant music and kept pedalling. And oh my.. arriving at the top of the mountain, actually seeing some snow that had fallen last week and pushing my body to the absolute limits was such a great feeling! I was the fricking Queen of the open road!!! Hell yeah 😀

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When i calculated 20 more kilometers to go, being absolutely exhausted, cold and soaked wet, there was a detour.. Fuck. It meant more mountains and i was sure i wasnt going to make La Chaux-des-fonds before 9pm (i left at 8 and didn’t stop for more than 5 minutes to prevent my body from freezing). At that point I remembered something my sister used to say: life will never give you more than you can handle. Even though it is obviously not true, i held on to that and squeezed the last bits of energy out of my body.

And when i was about to get desperate, there came an angel from heaven… The most beautiful thing ive ever seen!
No, i didn’t die, and i was not hallucinating, my angels name was Jerome and he was driving a big pick-up truck, offering me a ride to town. Wow! Yes Please! He turned out to be the owner of a big beer brand (bfm). He took me to his house, made me a wonderful dinner (hes a good cook! And i love the bears garlic, which i never even heard of before), i took a nice warm shower and then Jerome and his girlfriend left to go to the movies, leaving me the key to his house. Isnt that insane?!

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An hour later my couchsurfing host, Carolie, arrived back home and i went to her place. What a great kickass chicka  she is! She told me everybody in town is working for the watch industry, including her, but in her free time she does lots of interesting sports. In her lunch break she just puts on her crosscountryskies at the doorstep or she goes for a nice mountainbiking ride. She does some triathlons and she’s planning a 7day run through the Kalahari dessert. We watched a movie about McConckley,  a crazy skiër and basejumper. She invited me to go mountainbiking the next day, which would have been great, but I was to go to Neuchatel lake with my new friend from Strassbourg to do some kitesurfing and camping 🙂

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Somebody just gave us their bbq to bake our flammenkuche and we ate it at some private beach we found in the forest 🙂

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The next day there was supposed to be wind to go kiting, but there was none :/ shit! Plan b ended up to be visiting the town of Estavayer-le-Lac, where we ended up drinking beers in the beautiful harbor.

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Unfortunately we had to part and Jean brought me back to Carolie, where i left this morning to go to Lausanne.

Oh my the ride to Lausanne.. this has been the most beautiful ride so far!! In the morning there was a lot of climbing, with which came better views, more sun and more snow, i couldnt believe it! B.E.a.u.t.I.f.u.l!!

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And after all this climbing i was rewarded with a great, fricking fast, descent! I love the feeling of speed!!
I descended through beautiful colorful viniards with great views over the lake.

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I feel so happy!! Im in love again 🙂 butterflies and all..
I, again, kept smiling and saying bonjour to everybody the rest of the day. Sometimes i get a smile in return, which absolutely makes my day 😍

In Lausanne my interesting India-born and raised host Raman took me to a very nice Ethiopian dinner with a midnight walk through the surprisingly empty city .. We profiled the few people on the streets and ran on the olympic tracks to compete with Usain Bolt, before finally making it back home to have some angeliclike sleep… Zzzzz….

Tomorrow de day will bring me Geneva!
Have a good night 🙂

Strassbourg

I decided to take a little detour to go visit strassbourg, i never went there before.  And boy am i happy i did!! I stayed for two days and i was in love. Absolutely in love. That city is so beautiful! There’s the water, the bridge, lots of green, many historical buildings, i like the mix-up between french and german architecture and specialities. The cathedrale is hugh, has an amazing astronomical clock inside and the view from up top is beautiful.
Some pictures:

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And the other reason i fell in love with this city is this, meet my new friend Jean:

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Jean cycled the world for 27 months and was kind enough to be a very good host and spend some amazing time together. We ran up and down the cathedrale clocktower (yes, we ran), we played chess to this homeless guy (homeless by choice, didn’t accept any money, interesting story), we went out with Jean’s very nice and crazy friends, i baked him banana pancakes and he bought me flammenkuche, we walked around the amazingly romantic city and the best part was when we climbed his rooftop to drink beers, while making sure not to put too much weight on any tile, cause they break 😁 (the picture above is from his roof). Jean is a paraglider and kitesurfer as well and ill be meeting him tomorrow again to do some kitesurfing and camping in Switzerland, yeay!
Oh and another good thing: everybody was kissing me, mmmm 😀 haha crazy city. Apparently i encountered my first cultural difference. Everybody kisses each other, even when you first meet. We shake hands, but I like this much better! So i kept introducing myself, wet cheecks and all :p

Finally i had to move on and went to Cernay, to stay with a couple that cycled the world for three years. Wow, there’s so many crazy people in the world, and im meeting them all now! Im starting to feel that cycling the world makes you a better person, cause everyone i meet is so very nice, warm, friendly, relaxed, openminded and hospitable. I hope i will become like that as well. One day. When i grow up 😉
This is Emily and their two girls 🙂

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Usually i hear from everybody that goes abroad for a longer period, they have such a hard time coming home again, get a bit depressie, and need a really long time to adjust to ‘normal life’ again, whatever that means. So Jean and Emily were planning on going 1, maybe 1,5 years but werent ready to go home yet. After three years they felt it was time though and they were happy to be back in France and ready to start a family here. I liked to hear that. I was a bit anxious about having to come home one day, but now i realize even better that i dont need to go home, i can if and whenever i want to. Like the homeless chess player told us: make sure you find out what makes you happy in life and do that. It’s that easy. Life is good 🙂

The route to get to Cernay was fantastic, biking along the water with the beautiful mountains of the Vogese on my side or front. Again, i was in love…

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I told my friend Guido, i decided it was a good choice to leave everything behind and go on this trip, i was feeling so happy! He kindly pointed out it was probably the first good decision i made in my life 😁 thanks.

Hey, and i almost forgot: my first 1.000 km on the bike are a fact, yihaa! Everybody, feel free to drink a beer (or two) to that 🙂

So far France, the next post will be about Switzerland! Next border 🙂

Warmshowers

After i left my friends in La Besace, France.. No wait, that’s not right.. Let’s try again. They left me!! Boohoo .. And I got to stay another day in the beautiful town of absolutely nothing 🙂
I recovered from the lack of sleep and abundace of alcohol, tested my tires, enjoyed the first spring sun and used my time to arrange some places to sleep the next days using networks like couchsurfing and warmshowers, what a thrill! I still can’t believe there are so many people that like to host travellers for free. And for me, I thought, it would be very nice to meet some likewise openminded people after long days of the bike alone, talking to myself, my friends who I fantasize are staying behind just a little bit when i go uphill, and all the animals and imaginary friends I meet on the way.. Sometimes i have my friends Dostojewski and Stephen Hawkings chatting away in my ears and I’m taking some French classes as well. My French is improving pretty fast and I try to do some small talk on the way. People are very friendly and eager to show me the way, fill my water bottles or just make some conversation. Too bad i’m leaving France in a couple of days already. But hey, new adventures are awaiting me!

So, back to the story: for my first night with a warmshower host I was looking for a place in Luxemburg, so I could keep crossing borders 😀
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Somehow this border crossing just gives you a feeling you really accomplished something. I should be carefull not to get addict to it. As a psychologist, I might find a new career in helping fellow addicts 😉

In Luxemburg I had two options from the warmshowers network. One was a vegan family that asked their guests not to bring anything non-vegan into their house. The other was a gay guy from paris who lives a nudist life in his appartement and asks his guests to walk around naked as well.. Oh my!! Whom to choose ?! Can you imagine? Sure, I’m looking for adventure, new experiences and freedooooommmm!!! Yihaa! So guess who I chose to stay with?!!

Ok, so no, i chose the vegan family.. And it was a good choice! Fred, Emily and their two year old son Julien were very kind and welcoming. I could even have dinner with them and breakfast, which were both very nice. It turned out both had quit their job recently to follow their dream of starting a vegan catering company…. Without any experience in this field…. You go girl!! The food was great and they have this great way of thinking how to live their lives without destroying the planet. All the best to them!

The next night I crossed back into France and stayed with this amazing travelling family in the small town of Châtel-Saint-Germain, where you would never expect to find people like them.. One of their daughters is now travelling the Americas for a year, their son lived in his van for year to travel through Europe, going to all the best places for rockclimbing, and the parents themselves were booking a motorcycle holiday in Burkina Faso, a country I never even heard of!! (it’s in Africa, north of Ghana) awesome! Again, very warm and welcoming 🙂

I biked on and past the great city of Metz:
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I took some time biking through the city and sat on a terrace, watching the people go by.
Most of my days on the bike are just me and sweet mother nature. The smell of spring, the singing of the birds and the wide open fields where I am the Queen of no-mans-land 🙂
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The next day i was the only person at the camping in Tensch, where the working men made a hugh bomfire looking at the trees like oh-oh, maybe it was a little bit too much 🙂 loved it! There’s nothing like a big big fire 😀
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After getting very accustomed to bush and roadside toilets, i got used to peeing just besides my tent, very convenient 🙂 but at this camping, thinking i was the only one there, I was surprised by two guys walking there when I was peeing out in the open. They saw my white bum!!. Oopsie , I didn’t expect anyone to be walking there. But hey guys, thanks for making me laugh out loud 🙂
The laughing happened again when i encountered a little surprise after biking half a day along the Canal Saar, which is amazingly beautiful and peacefull. I’m starting to get very fond of waters you can bike along, they are the most beautiful sights so far..
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Oh yes. I was telling you about the little problem. Haha, here it is!!
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Awesome! A nice bridge 🙂
Just around the corner, quel surprise! So obviously at first i tried to turn my bike into a paddle boat, but when that didn’t work out i got all my stuff off the bike, walked it to the other side and got everything back on again. Some elderly hiking group came to my rescue and carried the way too heavy bags for me. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to improve their health by given them a little extra exercise 😉

So this night I arranged to stay with a guy in Hattingy, close to Sarrebourg. I biked my way into the village, when a guy on a motorbike (yeay!) came riding next to me and ordered me to follow him. Of course I didn’t argue (cause i’m not like that 😁), said ‘oui, monsieur’ and put some more effort in to keep up with the motorbike. This is what came of.. Everybody, meet Arno!
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With Arno (25), i had my very first couchsurfing experience. And we drank to that!..oh man, i didn’t sleep much and gladly I can stay another night, cause i am in no condition to go pedalling any mountain soon.
This is why:
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But hey, you gotta adjust to the local customs and Picon was something new for me. Now, the liquor made out of orange zest, which you put in your beer, has no secrets for me anymore 😉

Arno didn’t want me to coock and insisted to take me out to dinner and a pub afterwards
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Also, we visited the ladies at his father farm:
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Our evening was very very nice, Arno is insanely hospitable and we had a lot of fun 😂
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Ok guys, I’ll turn around and try to get a little more sleep now.. 😴 bonne nuit!

Interviews before leaving

Before I left home, I was contacted by the local newspaper the homeless people sell in the streets. They have a column about locals who do impressive stuff. They thought my upcoming trip was impressive enough to write about, awesome! So there was an interview. And with the interviewer came a professional photographer, oh my, I didn’t expect that! Just that morning I was drugged at the dentist, so half of my face was hanging haha, but fortunately once we got to the point of making pictures, I was fine. Check out the result! You can open the article by clicking the link. It is in Dutch unfortunately..

Tamar Valkenier Tamar ValkenierTamar Valkenier

Link to the article (in Dutch): straatjournaal april 2015

BUT!! You English speaking readers, don’t you worry, last January I met a Russian lady crazy enough to want to write a story about me as well, and.. *tumtumtumtum* it’s in English! She wanted to write it for her website ‘ladies who impress’, wow, that’s just too much honor and a little bit uncomfortable. I was not so happy about the result, because the focus is solely on what i do, and not all about who i am.
But hey, here it is:

Meet investigative psychologist and sky diver Tamar van Dijk

IMG_8452I am in Tayrona National Park, making my way back from the Lost City, ruins of an ancient settlement, discovered in Colombia in 1976. I am with a group of travellers from Colombia, the US, Canada and Europe. A big lad in his early twenties is attempting to cross the river using a pulley rope bridge. He is huffing and puffing, making the show of it, but never quite leaving the bank. Most of us have already crossed the river barefoot, which was mildly inconvenient but relatively fuss-free. A fit young woman next to me says to no one in particular: “He is just waiting for someone to tell him not to do it.” Sure enough a moment later we hear “Oi, leave it, they probably need the pulley this side of the river” and the grateful backpacker runs down to the stream, his bravado gone, his relief barely hidden.

Perhaps it does not take an overqualified psychologist to read a man’s mind but Tamara was spot on, so forgive me the side story. Please meet Tamar van Dijk (not her real name), a 28-year-old Dutch investigative psychologist who helps the police profile murderers and solve crimes.

Tamar grew up and lives in Haarlem in the Netherlands. “It is a very charming medieval city close to gorgeous beaches and sand dunes – it’s nothing like Harlem in New York!” After finishing school, she decided to become a cook and got a job in a restaurant. Tamar spent about six years cooking in some high-end restaurants in Haarlem, and at the same time she enrolled to study first economics, then psychology “to keep the brain cogs in motion.”

“I got a Masters degree in Psychology as well as a Masters degree in Criminology, covering law, psychology and sociology. At that point I realised I was more interested in criminal psychology and a career with a greater sense of purpose, so I stopped cooking and applied for a job as an investigative psychologist.” 200 other graduates applied. Tamar got in.

She took an additional course in investigative psychology at Utrecht, and was also sent to study Violent Criminal Behaviour with the FBI Academy in the US. “I had a plenty of theoretical knowledge straight after university but lacked practical experience. The FBI course was very helpful, although some of their methods seemed obsolete in comparison with what I had studied in the Netherlands!” I ought to mention that Tamar has decided to get a Law degree as well and is now half-way through the curriculum.

So what does an investigate psychologist do?

“I study files, help to investigate cases the detectives have trouble with. The work varies: murder, threat, stalking, sex offences etc. I often assist criminal interrogations, watching interviews with a psychotic suspect on a murder case. I analyse allegations of sexual offences,  advising criminal prosecutors on such aspects as false memories, false denials or false confessions. I am also one of the three psychologists on a team that works on stalking cases against public figures, like the Dutch royal family or politicians. They get threat letters, and we read and analyse them.  In many cases the writers are delusional, and we assist in getting them the right medical care. Finally, I advise local police on their efforts to prevent murder or violence from happening. For me it is the most rewarding field of work.”

Tamar enjoys a mental challenge, and having both a challenge and a sense of purpose are the most important aspects of her life.

Speaking of challenges, Tamar is a bit of an adrenaline junkie. She has always been active and adores being outdoors, but her idea of fun is perhaps of a kind some of us would refer to as ‘insane’. “Since I spend a lot of my time sitting in an office, after work I go out to race my motorbike or rock climbing.” Tamar spends her weekends mountain biking, kayaking, kitesurfing, wild camping or skydiving.

Tamar racing on her motorcycle

In early 2014 Tamar was on holiday in South Africa where she went sky diving in tandem. She loved it, and she also wondered how it would feel to jump solo… Back in Haarlem she saved up some money to start a sky diving course in the summer. Tamar got her sky diving license in August after theory lessons and seven qualifying jumps.  At the 20th jump she broke her foot at landing, but naturally she cannot wait for the summer season to resume diving.

Tamar 1Tamar 2   Tamar skydiving

“Flying in the air is the best feeling ever. Every morning I wake up hoping I have been transformed into a bird. Sadly, that hasn’t happened so far.”

In case you are wondering, extreme sports do not take up all of Tamar’s time. “I also play saxophone (in a tango orchestra), read about astronomy, philosophy and neuroscience, I attend lectures, go to concerts, and I love spending time with friends and family.” Incidentally, Tamar has a twin brother, who is her opposite. “He prefers staying within his comfort zone…”

Tamar’s plans for the year is to go travelling on her bike. She is planning to cycle all the way to South East Asia, wild camping along the way. “I’d like to meet new people, perhaps help them out and, at the very least, make them smile.”

Meeting Tamar reminded me once again what Ladies Who Impress project is all about: to celebrate insanely impressive women and inspire all of us to aim higher and to challenge ourselves.

Music in la besace

After i left the french border behind me, things started to turn for the better.. The route from dinant all the way to charleville along the river meuse is amazing. For most part there is a cyclepath where you are the only one with big mountains rising alongsides.  Loved it!
A wrong turn took me to the nuclear site, which turned out to be a dead end street. I found out after going 10k down .. :/ you know what that means ! Nice strong legs once i got to charleville.. Ok to be honest, after that first crazy week it felt like my muscles were getting torn right of the bone. Ouch!

Thank God there was la besace, exactly what i needed . My dear friend Spijker picked me up in charleville and we spend easter weekend in la besace, where my saxophone teacher ownes a big house. 15 musicians spent easter weekend playing the blues, eating , drinking, dancing, having a lot of fun. Some impressions:

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My good friend Floor and I coocked a lot of the food we ate, and if I can say so, we succeeded! 😀 we actually met in this kitchen some 2,5 years ago and became good friends ever since , so it was the perfect reunion 🙂

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And sure, i had three flat tires, but nothing we can’t handle 😉

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Thanks guys for another amazing easter weekend!!