Our friend Helen B sent us an article the other day from the May/June copy of I Fly Magazine, describing the Top 5 Bike Holidays. Two of them we had done: La Route Verte in Quebec (the section from Montreal to Rivière-du-Loup ) and Land’s End to John O’Groats in Britain. We can now tick off a third on the list, the Shimanami Kaido. It certainly ranks up there with the other two – the cycling was excellent, the scenery stunning, and the weather perfect.
The Shimanami Kaido is a 78 km bike route that winds across six islands in the Seto Inland Sea, between Honshu and Shikokū. The islands are connected by the Setouchi Shimanami, a chain of 7 enormous bridges (3 suspension bridges are among the longest in the world) linking Onomichi with Imabari. The recommended cycle route (there are other routes on the islands) is generally flat, apart from the long, gentle climbs up to the bridges, and can easily be done in a day. We decided to break it up and spend a night on the islands to extend the experience. There are also a number of interesting sites to visit along the route.
Breakfast at the hostel was traditional, with fish, rice, miso soup, egg and green tea. We did not find coffee until later, when Paul happened to notice a COFFEE sign along the seashore. Lois went in search of the proprietor of the guest house, who served us good brewed coffee on the patio, and, much to our surprise, cheese on toast! The 73-year old clearly enjoyed talking to her guests and sat with us, using Google Translate to ask us questions and tell us about her family and her various guests. We also shared information about Canada, our offspring and families and showed her photos. She was fascinated when Paul found an old photo of her guesthouse on Google Maps. We tried various ways to forward the photo to her, but without success. While we were sitting there, a Black Kite had perched on a sign across the road. Paul was intrigued when the proprietor tossed out some food for the bird which swooped down and swiftly retrieved it. We were a bit reluctant to leave that patio on the ocean and that very nice lady, who gave Lois a hug when we said goodbye!