World Cycle 2014. European part. Eindhoven – Istanbul

Links to my daily blog entries, sorted by country, can be accessed below.

On September 13 2014 I handed over the keys to my apartment in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. I had my last day at work 2 days earlier. I was homeless, unemployed, and very very excited. I was about to start on an adventure of a lifetime, and now it was really happening. I was going to cycle 36000km from Holland (my last home) to Australia (where I grew up) over a period of 2 years.

5614km through 16 countries - the European leg of my trip

5614km through 16 countries – the European leg of my trip

Since that day I have cycled 5614km through 16 countries. I have cycled in sun and rain, up mountains, on plains and along amazing coastlines overlooking turquoise-blue waters. I have stayed with friends, with warm shower hosts and in hotels. I have camped in camping grounds, on beaches, behind tractors and in front of a mosque. I have seen a sheep slaughtered, been warned of having my throat slit due to ‘problem’ and have screamed at numerous attacking dogs. I have met lots of cyclists and heard their plans of cycling the planet, and how they’ve done dumpster diving, high-lining and naked cycling (lots like doing that). I’ve joined with one for the long-haul – James Lambie. And I have eaten and eaten and eaten. Man, it was fun!

A massive group of my friends and colleagues cycled the first 30 km of my trip in the Netherlands with me to the border with Belgium. I zig-zagged through Germany saying goodbye to lots of friends from the last 21 years. I love Switzerland (and Lichtenstein and Austria) and the beautiful alps. Cycling down valleys flanked with massive mountains on each side – all in the bright and warm sunshine. Italy started with scaling the highest pass of my trip – Passo del Stelvio, descending down the 48 switch-backs to the Adige Valley, all under the blue heavens, bathed in sunshine. Italy was mountains, lakes, plains and beautiful cities.

Slovenia was so peaceful after the busy Italian roads along the plains. An amazing underground canyon – Škocjanska jama – absolutely massive, was an incredible highlight. Croatia is so beautiful. Amazing coastlines – steep slopes overlooking clear turquoise blue waters. Croatia was lots of swimming, lots of wow moments, and meeting with my new travelling companion, James Lambie.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was an experience of people, history – still raw after the war, my first aggressive dog experience, wild boar hunts, land mines, and fantastic Banja Lukan hospitality.

My favourite day of the trip was in Montenegro when James, Wilm and I climbed to the most spectacular view out over the Kotor bay. I will never forget the view of the town and the bay far far below, flanked by massive mountains on all sides. And I was above it all on my high perch, bathed in the sun.

Albania was intense. I was not at ease. Albania was being circled by dogs while huddling in the tent. An overfull ferry-boat with water bubbling up onto the deck. ‘Problem’ in Bicaj with stories of throat slitting and attacks. It was also camping in front of a mosque, wonderful hospitality in Pac, beautiful mountain views, and seeing poverty and speaking to people looking for a better life.

Macedonia (sorry – the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – FYROM) for me was Lake Ohrid. Again, we were blessed with amazing weather as we cycled to the top of a pass with a beautiful vista over the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Greece was wet. It rained and rained and rained. The roads were big, and the drivers crazy. Thessaloniki was a highlight, staying with a friend, and making new ones.
Bulgaria. We saw the remote parts of the country. Mountain roads passing through villages and towns that were poor. Without much economic activity, and the towns half empty, people leaving in search of a better life.
My trip in Turkey has only just begun and already I’ve had a man’s night out including a lamb slaughter, and meandered alone on the Gallipoli peninsula – almost sacred for Australians remembering war victims.

I’m looking forward to the continuation in 2015!

 

While cycling, I kept a daily blog. You can find the entries, sorted by country, below.

  1. The Netherlands
  2. Belgium
  3. Germany
  4. Switzerland
  5. Austria
  6. Lichtenstein
  7. Italy
  8. Slovenia
  9. Croatia
  10. Bosnia and Herzogovina
  11. Montenegro
  12. Albania
  13. Macedonia (FYROM)
  14. Greece
  15. Bulgaria
  16. Turkey
Comments
  1. […] over the winter break, I have collected all the daily blog entries of the European leg into a summary page, which can also be accessed from the World Cycle Route […]

  2. valerievolk says:

    Great summary Matthew. Enjoyed the overview and revisiting your experiences.

  3. […] You can also see a summary of my blog for the European part here. […]

  4. ton smeets says:

    Hi Matthew

    I liked your both videos very much and I hope you will continue your cycling trip in the next year on the same and enthousiatic way as you did your european tour. Of course a merry Christmas and a happy new year for you. My son did like Australia and New Sealand very much. He will be back in Holland in two days.
    Till next year.

    Ton Smeets

  5. petitpas says:

    joyeux noël de France !

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