We felt sad and it was raining the day we left Italy, a country we had fallen in love with. Both the best and the worst with touring cycling is that you always leave a place for another one. You are feeling sad about leaving something you like, but you are happy at the same time because you are on your way to something new.
We have often felt a bit sad about leaving places and people who we really like. These wise people that we are about to leave usually tells us something that we already know – “Of course it feels a bit sad now because we’ve had a great time together, but you know that you will meet new great people, at a new place very soon. That’s the charm of traveling. ” And indeed it is.
We had heard that Croatia was beautiful and my mom had warned me of sea urchins. Otherwise, we didn’t really know what to expect of the Balkans. We crossed Slovenia in one day and then we were in Croatia. Wow. It’s not enough to say that it’s beautiful. It is truly a paradise. We wanted to take pictures of everything that we passed with our bikes, all the time. We had lunch on the beach and dinner on the beach. We always had the clear blue water on one side and the greenery and the mountains on the other. The only negative was the traffic and the narrow roads without any shoulder. You feel quite helpless and exposed as a cyclist on these kinds of roads.
It has been easy to find places to pitch our tent and also easy to find food and water in Europe. There are many villages but there is also a lot of untouched forest and land between them. It’s a really good experience to plan food purchases and carry water for a long time like we had to do in Australia, but it’s also nice to be able to stop at a Supermarket and buy fresh vegetables when you feel for it, especially when it’s both cheaper (and according to me a little bit more tasty, hehe) than buying canned food. However, it’s always important to keep track of the map. Sometimes you have a remote area in front of you and then you have to be prepared.
When we cook, we use our Trangia kitchen. We can only use one pan at a time and that’s different from when we’re at home and we can use maybe four pans at the same time. We have learned to be inventive with what we have and to buy food so that it is enough for just the meal we are going to eat. The food is our fuel and therefore an important part of our day on the road. Usually we cook pasta, quinoa or bulgur with tuna or beans and some vegetables. Below you can see two of our favourite meals from the Balkans – with cabbage, strawberries, seeds and nuts. Oh, I wish that our meals always looked like this..
We talked about Albania and Macedonia as a bit of a transport section to Greece, before we actually got there. It turned out to be much more than a just a transport section. I think this was where we got our strongest memories and impressions of our trip through Europe. We met local families who was living up in the mountains and many times each day we passed elderly women who either went with their cows to a grazing site or were on their way home again. We rarely saw any tractors. Instead, people and animals were working together on the fields. It was so nice to see, although we felt a little bit sorry for the donkeys overloaded with hay.
We passed incredibly beautiful mountains and camped under the cherry trees. We were invited to try Turkish coffee and fruits and watched the Champions League final with a family outside Debar in Macedonia. We passed the beautiful Lake Ohrid and climbed a lot to get through these countries.
We have wonderful memories from our months on the bike through Europe. We ended up in Istanbul in June, just before the Swedish midsummer. Love took a break from touring cycling and went home to Sweden to enjoy the summer. So did we for two weeks to apply for our Chinese visas. Hopefully Love will join us again in Kazakhstan in August. Emil will join Calle in Tajikistan, so it seems to be a big team that will end the world tour together in November. Eva and I are planning to cycle through Turkey along the Black Sea, to Batumi in Georgia. Then we will cycle through Georgia and Azerbaijan and cross Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan. Follow us along this route in Turkey until next time!