These are just a few of my endearing and surprising finds along those routes:
• In Norway's Lofoten Islands, guests can overnight in the sometimes Spartan rorbuer or fishermans' cottages, and even cast a line through a hole punctured in the floor.
• A shock of pink may sweep across the Sinis Peninsula on Sardinia's West Coast as flocks of flamingos congregate.
• Those who island hop with their bicycle along the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia will find that a large expanse of bucolic Mljet Island is taken up by a national park with a unique feature: a pair of saltwater lakes encircled by pines (a 12th century Benedictine monastery sits on an islet in the larger of the two.)
• When cycling in the northern Peloponnese peninsula in Greece, it's not unusual to zip down steep sections where a symphony of bells herald herds of goats and sheep crossing the road.
• Even novice cyclists can happily ride through the fairy-tale world of Germany's Black Forest because the southern route eliminates the heart-pounding ascents this sylvan landscape -- it includes some Ice Age-remnants and verdant nature reserves -- is noted for.