Every adventure has its highs and lows, joys and frustrations….but through personal endeavour, we get to savour the sweet taste of achievement. I no longer measure achievement primarily by distance. I’m beginning to grow up a little (well, just a little) and appreciate the value of much more than just ploughing a furrow.
This adventure was never intended to explore heady landscapes, scale mountain passes, carve my way through verdant valleys…..no, this was all about visiting a host of countries that I have never been to before, and using the bike to connect capital cities. Over the last 40 days, I have simply binged on a succession of city breaks, 9 in total to be precise, including Krakow in southern Poland.
And in each city I have paused for a couple of nights, locked up the bike, and walked the historic city centres, visiting some 30 museums and historic buildings, enjoying the buskers and street entertainers, sitting by fountains with a picnic, catching the odd city demonstration (usually about climate change)….and in most of the cities, being hosted by friendly, caring human beings who form part of the Warmshowers network.
So I can’t share photos of many wonderful land and seascapes, of mountain top panoramas, nor of glacial ravines with cascading waterfalls, but I have come away with a sense of deep satisfaction of having discovered something about 8 individual nations, about people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, about major historical events that have fashioned their history, and where they are now in their march towards the future.
For those who like statistics, here are a few to keep you interested:
Days travelling: 40
Days on the bike: 28
Distance covered: 2,308km
Average daily distance: 83km
Longest day: 115km
8 countries and their capitals:
Poland: Warsaw and Krakow
Camping: 14 nights
Warmshowers: 15 nights
Backpacker’s hostels: 10 nights
With a former student: 1 night
Rain while riding: 2-3 hours
Days of headwind: 18
Days of tailwind: 3
Best national food: Viennese
Best National Library: Helsinki
Best museum: Vasa Museum, Stockholm
Most beautiful historic city centre: Tallinn
Most scenic part of the journey: Tatra Mountains.
Most annoying moment: discovering I’d left my tent footprint drying in the previous campsite.
Second most annoying moment: discovering I’d had my power bank stolen in a backpacker’s hostel.
Greatest surprise: being seen from a distance by a former student in Stockholm, and then staying with him and his family in Turku, Finland. That’s a 10/10 on the serendipity scale.
Most uplifting moment: an eleventh hour offer of a bed (for three nights) in Vienna.
The most unusual camping spot: departure lounge at Heathrow airport, after a late arrival from Vienna.
If you followed me on at least some of my journey, thank you for your company. I hope it inspires you to embark on adventures of your own…..