Keep an eye on www.theroadtoodessa.weebly.com !
Summer 2017 is still here, but I am already thinking of the next one... and there sure will be some stories from the road between now and June 2018!
Keep an eye on www.theroadtoodessa.weebly.com !
The journey is over! Yesterday I was on the train for almost the whole day. In the early evening I arrived at the family reunion weekend in Oostkamp, near Bruges. We celebrated the 65 years of marriage of my maternal grandparents.
Today late afternoon, I was cycling again - the last 50 kilometer home! You know what? Simply, It felt good to be back on the bike, just as good as the very first kilometers to Lier 40 days ago...
I feel there is a lot left to tell about this journey. I am always a little bit skeptical when people point to the benefits of travelling, both as being a means of self-development as a way to pursue more global understanding between people. Mostly I am rather unsatisfied when I ask to explain this a little more as all I get is the vaguest of terms. I am not sure if the planet would be a better place if all 7 billion people would go travelling like a global minority does today - by plane or bike-touring, that's even not the point.
It's ironic. As for myself, a journey like the one I've just finished is the best what can happen. My personal physical and mental well being, a significant part of my world view, my beliefs and my hopes: it's all thanks to the bike. The road is my safe haven. Travelling by bike all the way to Russian wilderness is not about leaving my comfort zone, to the contrary, it is my comfort zone. Cycling and cycle touring is more than a passion, it's a raison d'etre, a life's signification.
Once again, I feel contended now.
Thank you very much to everyone being part of this journey, above all: my hosts (*), but also thank you everyone following my writings. I was glad to be able to share my story with you and it was great to find out you were many (more than 50 unique visitors per day on my site (**)). Last but not least thank you to my family and to my friends - you might not be many but that's also not the point - you were travelling with me and after all you are the reason to come back home I guess, ough! That's enough emotional talk for now!
To end this writing: congratulations to my grandparents! Sixty-five years of marriage and the story is far from over! How I could I better end this travel than celebrating this moment together?
That's all for now! Thank you, and good night!
(*) and (**). see below pictures
(*) in order of appereance: Bram - Ajax forever! - in Lier, Martin in Koln, Paul and Sanne in Frankfurt, Steffen in Dingolshausen, Marion in Neualbenreuth, Petra in Prague, Honza in Hradec Kralove (CR), all Kovarik Family in Olomouc (CR), Zosiaaahhh in euhmmm... Silezia! (PL), Giovanni in Falkow (PL), Katarzina in Warsaw (Zabki more exact!), Algis, Lina and baby Iulia in Kaunas (LT), Kostas in Vilnius, Joel and Linda in Zilupe (LV), Dasha in Demidov (RUS), Alex and Dasha in Novosyolki (RUS), Alex in Moscow, Aldis in Riga (LV), all Narkevicius family in Kepurenai (LT), Martina and Arne in Lubeck (GER) and Bernhard and Friederike in Hildesheim (GER).
(**) the most unique visitors I had when I was in Poland on June 4th... 105! The less passed by at June 22 (18) when I had a day in Moscow... but I just posted a Pitcruisers' video ;) You should check them anyway!
I am still in Hildesheim... More than 4500 km of riding and none of them were hard. Except on some rest days, I had never ran out of energy, I just kept going. I really started to believe I am unstoppable! Well, I am not and that's ok! Within a mile of home, this morning I felt way more worse than yesterday - really feverish and overtired. Bernhard and Friederike took good care of me. In a really kind way they made me feel at ease - not being the unstoppable cyclist anymore. I could stay one more day with them to recover before going home. I slept the day away...
I am almost ready for tomorrow... Gonna take a couple of trains! Though, I don't go home directly... I go to Brugges! My grandparents have their 65 years marriage anniversary and tomorrow night till Sunday is the family reunion to celebrate that, ain't that great!? At least I will arrive by bike!
Auwch, I am maybe not so invincible... This morning I got a little fever and it didn't really go away afterwards but i made it through the day anyway. I even made it through the heavy rain the last 40 km of a 160 km ride between Luneburg and Hildesheim!
Honestly, I can't devise anything new about Germany. Looks like also Lower Saxony has all things sorted out pretty well, houses are big and sturdy, peacefullness is abundant, prosperity an unquestioned acquired right.
Even with this fever and the rain I could enjoy the day. I felt contended. It's probably the most predominant feeling on this journey. Although there were lot of moments I felt excited and happy, ultimately I prefer to pursue contentment, both on bike and off bike. Happiness is fragile and the pursuit of happiness is often compelling, contentment is more sustainable. I might have a plan, in the end I take the things as they come, let it rain, I couldn't care less. The hardest mile wasn't that hard!
I am at sea! The great Baltic encore is over. I cycled 84 km from Palanga (LT) northward along the Baltic Coast and a little more inland later on to the ferry port in Liepaja, Latvia and that was it!
I am shipping up to Travemunde, northwest Germany, that's 24 hours of sailing. I like boats - slow travelling! And after that? It ain't over till it's over, I have three more days left.
But for now, I am just staring. No land on the horizon yet, and that's all I want for a little while, just staring...
Saved the best for last? Today was such a great day! Plunge - Palanga 160 km including a 15 km back and forth ride on the Curonian Spit, taking the ferry in Klaipeda! It took a while to reach the Baltic coast as I had relentless stormy headwinds and a couple of showers on my way, though I easily got into a slower pace.
Riding the Spit on the whirling cycling path through these fragile forests and along the dunes was just thrilling, I barely can't explain. Going over the dune ridge, watching the fiercely rolling waves of the Baltic Sea, the storm wind blew clouds of sand into my face. For days, the sun hadn't shined so exuberantly as on the very moment I was standing there. It was magical, the beauty of nature, the power of nature and the vulnerability of nature all captured in the same moment!
So far into this great, great journey I had already quietly started to put my mind on coming home, but than Lithuania took me by surprise another time.
I could have, I should have, I did it... I rode the Curonian Spit!
Jelgava (LV) - Plunge (LT): 180 km of headwinds, rain (in LT) and countryside peacefulness!
I am very satisfied and still standing strong, and so is my bike! After 4300 km and another 30 km of gravel roads and loads of rain and mud today, this 9.5 kg wonder of technics and craftmanship is still riding impeccably soundless - only a few more 100s of kilometers to go, he's gonna make it! I tell you, it's a good bike, a pretty damn good bike!
Stage 1 of my Baltic second round! Riga - Jelgava 93 km. Jelgava is only 45 km south of the capital, but i went north to the sea first.
A little bit more than a week ago I was in the south-eastern part of Latvia in the country's poorest and very Russia oriented region (Latgale), moreover the only region who voted against EU membership.
It was all very different from what I've seen yesterday and today. Riga seems to have regained its former status of prosperous Hanzeatic League member and the nearby Baltic Seacoast is fancy without being perky. There has been a lot of space left for nature and new houses are built in a way they harmoniously fit with the traditional building style in the area.
Somehow that's how I felt too today: not excited but rather serene and in harmony, genuinely glad for this extra-time, expecting nothing in particular but getting all I need!
Tomorrow I go further south, back to Lithuania!
I am back in Europe! After a 17 hours night train ride I arrived in Riga, Latvia. The city is empty today as there are midsummer celebrations all around Latvia, but mainly in the countryside. Though also in the capital there are some festivities and fires, gonna see them with my host and two other warmshowerers.
Tomorrow I am off for a four days tour of southwest Latvia and northwest Lithuania including the country's treasure: the Curonian Spit. See map section for the route I am about to take, very likely I will add some extra kilometers left and right, for sure on the aforementioned Spit.
Never stop riding, it's now or never!