Part II : Asia (mostly)
To be continued ???♂️
“Life is but the shipwreck of our plans”
March 21: Time zone confusion, airport zombies, flying cinema. Arrive in Heathrow. A jar of marmite is a small consolation prize. Waiting and reconnecting, fly to Lisbon. Pedro’s family make a car based welcome party, no hugs for 2 weeks time. Enter hibernation.
March 20: A sleepless night for all of us. With every voice and nighttime squeak we thought the authorities were coming to put us in quarantine.
Say our heartfelt goodbyes and thankyous to Chris and Alice. They have been so amazingly kind and utterly awesome. Staying with them for 9 nights, we arrived as strangers and left as friends.
Get to the airport 9 hours early, and desperately try to reduce the weight of our bags and bikes. Our tyres which have taken us from Bulgaria to Vietnam do not make the cut.
With heavy, confused and conflicted hearts we begin our journey back west.
March 19: After a morning packing, enjoy our last Veggie Castle lunch with Chris and Alice. Finish eating only to find a flurry of missed calls. Australia announces it will close it’s borders to non-residents in 24 hours. Aka our flights are useless. Stress, tears and phone calls result in booking a last minute flight to Lisbon. Our adventure is over.
March 18: Wash bags, bikes, shoes and discard yet more gubbins from our bags. Buy extra toilet paper to take as a gift to Sarah’s brothers in Oz.
March 17: Finally make a decision and book flights to Melbourne. Five minutes later the British FCO advise against all but essential travel to everywhere and anywhere. But, with a plan spirits lift.
March 16: The deliberations continue
March 15: Crazy to think that 10 days ago we were at the Mongolian Embassy trying to apply for a visa. The world is a very different place now.
March 14: Torrential rain makes our decision to abort our cycling in the north easier. Flag down a bus and head back to Hanoi, to our utterly amazing Warmshowers hosts, Chris and Alice.
March 13: Wake up at a loss of what to do. Continue cycling, take a day off or go back to Hanoi
March 12: Turned away from more guesthouses today, eventually find somewhere with very compassionate owners who are upset at the whole situation.
March 11: Happy to have leggings and long sleeves, super nice views though shame about the haze. Impossible to perceive the difference in heights. As we climb higher it gets colder. Equally hard to find a place for lunch today. Suddenly people are very curious where we are from. Pre booked guesthouse turns us away, spend ages hunting for a place which will let us stay… starting to miss our tent.
March 10: Flat till lunch time, people turn us away from a few restaurants saying that they were out of food… ? long 20km climb up 1000m in the afternoon, hardworking but crazy landscapes at the top. Harsh, rocky environment, but communities dressed in brightly embroidered clothes. Sleep in freezing cold dorm.
March 9: Never climbed up so fast, super yummy lunch although phin coffee took almost 1h to be ready
March 8: Pedaling without bags feels utterly awesome. Climbing up hills feels amazing. So are the views
March 7: Catch a bus to Cao Bang to continue our adventures in the north of Vietnam… but without most bags!! A 200km bus journey takes 8 hours…
March 6: Bike fixing and egg coffees. Better than it sounds!
March 5: Make a short trip to (the) Mongolia(n Embassy). Alas they won’t even let us apply for a visa due to the current coronavirus situation….
March 4: Torrential rain eases our decision to catch a bus into Hanoi. Run a few errands and go and meet our Warmshowers hosts Chris and Alice.
March 3: Chilled out cycle towards Tam Coc, and spend the afternoon wiggling through rice paddies surrounded by towering karst limestone mountains.
March 2: Pedal sleepily away from our termite neighbours.
March 1: Go back to camping at gas stations…
Feb 29: What a night. We asked to stay in a sports field by a school and despite initially getting a thumbs up, the school guard arrived and had other ideas (half way through cooking dinner). One of the kids playing volleyball there told us he could take us somewhere else. He took us to another volleyball field but it was closer to houses than we would generally choose to camp. After we put up the tent and right before going to sleep, half the village arrives with lights and shout us to go away, surrounded by kids covering their mouths and noses with their hands and tshirts (but still being close to us out of curiosity)… After a long time of talking with the local police, they take us go to guesthouse…. which turned out to be a love hotel paid by the hour… so we thank them for wasting our time and went to look for another place in the middle of the night…
The not so good sides of traveling….
Feb 28: Manage to find a decent lunch for the first time in days. The trick is to eat at 1130.
Feb 27: Rainy rainy rainy morning. Check out a little later than planned and pedal through atmospheric (and often wet) grey clouds. More beautiful karst limestone landscapes, only a few villages scattered here and there. No bananas!
Feb 26: Lesiurly day off in Phong Nha, make a little ride on our bikes without any bags. Happy for this as the roads are steep!
Feb 25: Dash day to reach Phong Nha. Good long straight road for it : surrounded by bright green rice paddies, sparkling water and blue karst mountain silhouettes in the distance. Odd lunch.
Feb 24: Wiggle from Dong Ha and reach the coast of Vietnam! Overwhelming smell of fish drying, sand covered in so much trash that a swim is not tempting (for Sarah atleast). Nice camping hiding in the trees to the sound of waves crashing below.
Feb 23: Beautiful beautiful green landscapes. Oh how we had missed so much green! Rolling through hills and down valleys, only problem is that we don’t yet have any VND. A friendly local understands our hungry faces and exchanges some cash for us so that we can eat lunch 🙂
Feb 22: Happy with our change of plan, we head towards the Vietnam border. Beautifully remote green rolling hills dotted with villages. Stares of disbelief from kids and adults alike. Really don’t think they get many foreigners on bikes round here. Wear our rain jackets for the first time since…. China? And cross the border into Vietnam, in the dark. Oops.
Feb 21: Leave our little hut, the cows now dispersed. A 4km long 12-15% hill suggested S wasn’t quite fully recovered. Pedro has a morning of playing push Sarah’s bike up the super steep hills. Not fun for either party.
Stop the day early, find a place to stay, both lacking energy and motivation, change plans completely and decide to abort our cycling in Laos and cross into Vietnam tomorrow!
Feb 20: For the first time in days, S springs out of bed. Today we cycle again ?. Discuss routes with the hostel owner and pedal off 🙂 Super happy to properly wild camp again when we find a hut to sleep in …. but then visited by some locals on motorbikes in the dark… and surrounded by cows with bells round their necks all night…
Feb 18-19: Recovery days in Tadlo. Manage a little walk to the waterfalls for a swim, in between lots of naps.
Feb 17: Wake up in the temple and head off to have breakfast further along the road. S feeling funny. S feeling not so good. S feeling bad. S now has a tap for a bum. Catch a ride to Tadlo and find a cheap bungalow to stay for a couple of nights.
Feb 16: Early start from our grotty guesthouse. Have a morning of meeting lots of cyclists. Spend a long time chatting with Laura and Pierre, exchanging route tips and tales from the road. Boring cycle to Pakse, S lacking in energy as we try to cycle up the hill away from town.
Feb 15: A few more ferry crossings in the morning, but then a bad route choice left us cycling through nothingness on bad rocky road in the midday sun. Bump into crazy Swiss cyclist we had previously met in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
Impossible to find a camping spot, turned down by a temple, shooed away by a family surrounded by empty fields, we resort to staying in the nearest guesthouse.
Feb 14: Post lunch departure from Don Det. Start island hopping, heading north towards Pakse. Funny ferry crossings and sandy tracks going through small villages and bright green rice paddies.
Feb 12-13: Days off on Don Det, chilling in hammocks
Feb 11: Final pedals in Cambodia, clock up 23000km! Excited to be back in Laos, crazy trip on slow boat to Don Det with five people and their associated touring bikes.
Feb 10: Day of ridiculous headwinds part#2. Exhausted by lunchtime. Luckily served cyclist portions.
Feb 9: Day of ridiculous headwinds part#1. Reach Kratie at 11h and have lunch suddenly surrounded by tourists. Take small road instead of main road… in combination with headwinds makes for weary cycling!
Feb 8: Wiggle along the Mekong on better roads than yesterday, but through lots of small villages which is more like a continuous string of houses. Alternating Muslim and Buddhist communities: mosque, mosque, headscarf, temple, monk, monk, temple, burkha.
Feb 7: So much in one little day: much dust, small roads, river crossings and associated adventures. Inadvertently buy eggs that are actually fertilised ??? Might be a while until we eat eggs again…
Feb 6: Dawn start through villages at kids going to school time, through rice paddies and ponds full of ducks. Afternoon full of ferry crossings. Another temple night where we have nice chats with a 14yo monk.
Feb 5: Start the day with an excellent wiggly detour through tiny tracks by nice rocks. Meet two Belgian cyclists and then have a day full of Google translate conversations – over coffee, lunch and later with monks in the temple we camp in.
Feb 4: Finally leave Kampot with a plan for the next 11 months!! Stop by Kep to say goodbye to the ocean and wave at the most southerly point of our trip (so far!..)
Jan 30 – Feb 3: Days off planning and researching and thinking about our next few months of pedalling
Jan 29: Biggest day of cycling ever (148km!), cycling along some of the most horrible roads ever
Jan 28: Meet French Canadian cyclist Pascal who cycles just a little bit faster than us. S keeps finding money and full bottles of water by the side of the road.
Jan 27: Breakfast on the beach, S feeling rotten, not helped by dual sound karaoke… lunch in town and then back on the bikes to conquer some hills
Jan 26: Lazy morning of coffee and oats and icecreams. Pedal to Cambodia. Not best first impressions when the border guards try (and fail) to bribe us for our visas. Night time karaoke at our camping spot…
Jan 25 : Meet Thijs and Nienke at the beach and have an excellent relaxed afternoon chatting
Jan 24: Existential crisis in the morning. In the afternoon, decide to dash to Trat… 60km in 3 hours
Jan 23: Woken up at 5am by karaoke. Have breakfast on the beach… Sarah has a short 5 hour nap in the hammock. Decide it’s going to be a day off…
Jan 22: Excellent day weaving along the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, swims in the sea, lunch with an awesome view, tried loads of different tropical fruits, 60 cents pp campsite 🙂
Jan 21: Wake up to a crazy ant infestation. Invited to share breakfast with the forest monks. Chat with one of the two British monks visiting the monastery for a long while. Pedal off later than usual intent on reaching the coast by the evening.
Jan 20: Up and at-em early, say farewell to Chad and aim to get to lake for camping with a view. Fail to get som tam for lunch.
Jan 19: Unexpected day off with Chad and Niki after waking up super tired. Incredibly lazy day, Sarah has two naps. Dinner with Chad & Niki and crazy Portuguese-American guy.
Jan 18: Dash day along many looking straight roads.
Jan 17: Lazy morning in our hostel and pedal off only after one last lunch at the same place we had eaten for the last two nights.
Jan 16: Spend the day wandering around temples, melt in the afternoon humidity.
Jan 15: Wake up realising we slept next to lake full of monitor lizards. Watch loads of these giant 2m long lizards swimming in the lake. Meet a funny monk pair in the morning. Like grandfather and grandson. The older then lights up a cigarette and we see the younger has a picture of a scantily dressed woman on the back of his phone ? Dash day to Ayutthaya.
Jan 14: Have a leisurely morning, and leave after a tour of the fruit trees. Camp in a monastery again. Melt inside our tent and get eaten by mosquitos outside. What to do.
Jan 13 : Make a border run to Burma so we don’t have to rush our way through Thailand. Stay with Swiss WS host Aureilo and have CHEESE FONDUE for dinner. CHEESE FONDUE!
Jan 12 : Sleepiness banished we make a dash to Kanchanaburi. It’s Sunday and you can tell by the traffic. Good section to pedal fast through – flatish, busy and boring road! Turn up at hostel liter dripping with sweat. Nice.
Jan 11: A day of boats and sleepiness – two ferry crossings, only 25 km of cycling and camp on a houseboat.
Jan 10: Dirt road through the jungle. Don’t really manage to find proper lunch, but do find Thai pizza, aka rice flour pancake filled with grated coconut and sugar. Camp in a Buddhist temple.
Jan 9: Unexpected roads of super steepness. Even Pedro ends up pushing.
Jan 7-8: Days of with WS host Jah. Have some super relaxing days floating in the river at the bottom of her jungle garden and paddle boarding at sunset. Enjoy camping in her super airy tent and get spoilt with delicious veggie dinners cooked by her mum.
Jan 6: Stop at the “Hellfire pass” museum for a very bleak history lesson…
Jan 5: Dash day scuppered by making a wrong turn up a dirt track that isn’t a through route after all…
Jan 4 : Slow day wiggling through Thai countryside, rolling hills and much sweat and dust. Thankfully many public toilets have a free shower!
Jan 3: Densely green landscapes and lots of crazy ass beautiful birds. Camp in some forest surrounded by unfamiliar chirps and calls
Jan 2: Sadly part ways with our cycling Dutchies, reintroduce our legs to the concept of cycling. Beautiful lakeside camping… serenaded by karaoke.
December 23-Jan 2: Cyclists’ Christmas and NY with our favourite Dutchies
December 20-22: Have a few days off in Bangkok finding bike parts and other exciting things. Finally meet our Central Asian cycling friends after 5 months of cycling in different parts of Asia.
December 19: Cross into Thailand and hop on a train south to Bangkok
December 18: Longest day of cycling ever… 134km. Very sore bums at the end of the day
December 17: Had to buy train tickets for a day earlier, so squishing 3 days of cycling into 2.
December 16: Day of tired, but still lots of up and down to go. Followed by a dog for 30+km. He even waited for us while we had snack breaks. Reward limbs for tiring day of pedalling with soak in the hot springs!
December 15: Awesome sunrise at the school. Super early lunch before the climb. Start the day in a hut, end the day in a hut
December 14: Pack up in our usual post day-off lazy fashion. Clock up 20000km(!), noodle soup for lunch, bump into two Dutch cyclists on a tandem and camp in a school
December 13: Day off in Luang Prabang, Sarah in a grump pretty much all day about the UK election results
December 12: See elephants on the road as we head towards town. Captive, but this pair seem relatively happy nevertheless. Reach Luang Prabang and S has an overflow of memories flood back from a trip 6 years ago
December 11: Take a riverside detour on a dirt road. Hard going and super steep, but worth it for the late afternoon light. Camp in our smallest camping spot ever in between amongst a forest of bamboo
December 10: Super nice day of pedalling. Climb up in the morning, past endless villages. Meet a group of cyclists at lunch on an organised tour of SE Asia, their unladen bikes seeming naked next to ours!
December 9: A day of culinary treats : iced coffee, banana and pineapple curried rice, banana chips & crispy rice snacks. We like Laos 😉
December 8: Morning full of dust, broken road and trucks. Lunch of DIY noodle soup – add your own seasoning and veggies. Insufficient input for cyclists’ output. Landscape greener and roads quieter as the day continues
December 7: Wake up not knowing if we will make it to the border today or tomorrow. Horrible morning cycling along a too narrow road with too many truck drivers with a death wish – More than ready to be leaving China! Make it to the border. On the other side in Laos: Surprise surprise a Chinese construction site!!
December 6: Fun lunchtime being questioned by the police. The usual pointless yabber yabber. Even more frustrating because they were keeping us from our yummy lunch! Another night where it is impossible to find somewhere to camp. Climb down a tree to the wide river bank and camp on the only of uncultivated land
December 5: Camp in the garden of a family who seem a little bemused by our presence. They are very kind and are concerned we will be too cold at night sleeping outside. Despite the fact that it’s far warmer than a few weeks ago, we graciously accept their thick pile of blankets
December 4: Reluctantly leave, but our visa is ticking. Pedal out of town with Colin, another WS in Jinghong. Super nice morning ride through rubber trees, less nice afternoon ride through truck ville. Eventually find super nice jungle camping, down a very steep slope that will be fun to go back up in the morning!
December 3: Day off in Jinghong. Enjoy a coffee for the first time in months!
December 2: Wake up at 4am wondering why we’re stopped. Turns out the bus driver gets a sleep too. Arrive in Jinghong and greeted by great WS host. Thom takes us to a good bike mechanic and get a fixed bike back 4 hours later!
December 1: Catch a little bus and then a big sleeper bus to Jinghong. Not sure of ETA – 0130 or 0730, but it doesn’t really matter as we have a bed! A bed on a bus! Bus takes the most ridiculously small wiggly roads. Actually not so disappointed to not be cycling as a lot of road works.
November 30: The clicking and wobble returns… Hitch a ride back to Nanjian …
November 29: Pedal 60km before lunch after an unexpectedly cold morning. Have a watermelon snack for the first time in months… All good until we hear an ominous clicking from Sarah’s back wheel. Spend the afternoon doing bicycle heart surgery
November 28: Pedal away reluctantly from cosy and welcoming warmshowers host. Have to press on to reach the border before our visa expires. Visit the 6th post office and finally manage to send a parcel back to Portugal
November 27: Day off in Dali at WS Garrett and Coco in their very cosy traditional Yunnan home. Super couple.
November 26: Lazy morning having by the lake in the sunshine. Pedal towards Erhai lake and enjoy wiggling around the lake and villages in very very flat roads. Hilarious number of people taking selfies.
November 25: Enjoy wiggling through villages and perfectly ordered fields. Everything so green. Camp too close to civilization for Sarah’s liking!
November 24: Wake up with very aching limbs, but pedal onwards regardless
November 23: Squeeze a typically two day hike in Tiger Leaping Gorge into one. A little broken by time you we get back to the hostel!
November 22: More views of the beautiful Haba and then taken by surprise by the sight of Tiger Leaping Gorge. After days of deliberating, decide that we can’t not make the hike 🙂
November 21: Wake up to frost on the inside of the tent again… Thought we were past this phase! Day of steepy ups and steepy downs and views of Haba mountain
November 20: Leave the warmth of our electric blanket and head out of Shangri-la
November 19: Shangri-la city is an odd place, mostly rebuilt and refurbished in more of a Chinese style than the original Tibetan! Very very touristy. Enjoy wandering around the market instead
November 18: Arrive in the iconically named city of Shangri-la… renamed from Zhongdian in 2001… Oh you Chinese!
November 17: Through lots of road works and then up up 40km of up ti colder climes again
November 16: Crazy steep sided rocky valley #2
November 15: Nice ride through wide valley dotted with beautiful Tibetan houses… followed by crazy steep sided rocky valley #1
November 12: After being indecisive about whether we would leave today or tomorrow, we get going back on the high plateau. Despite November, super sunny and warm – even have a yak milk ice lolly for an afternoon snack
November 11: Day off in Litang doing veeeerrrryyy little
November 10: Only 30km to Litang, but S struck by mystery bug. Hitch yet another ride to town and attempt to find somewhere to stay. Hostel requirements: shower & electric blankets!
November 9: Super nice day rolling up and down high plateau roads with mountains as far as the eye can see, and hardly any trucks.
November 8: Poo day. P’s stomach disagrees with the food the family gave us. Manage the 30km down hill stretch, but zero energy for the 30km 1700m ascent. Eventually find a ride with some friendly guys that squeeze us into their pick-up. Much better views on the other side of the pass anyways!
November 7: Bump into two Belgian cyclists, one of which we had already met some months back in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Cycle together and camp in a family’s garden
November 6: Do some bike mechanics while we wait for the tent to defrost. Bit of a slow day, but beautiful. Traditional Tibetan houses scattered through the landscape. After a cold morning, melt in the afternoon sun and then get battered by the evening winds! Stay the night in hostel in Tagong, run by a Czech guy.
November 5: Wake up to views of Zhara Lhatse. Stow the bikes in the bushes and hike up to the first glacial lake. Have the mountains all to ourselves – see noone S struggling with the altitude alot, or maybe just a lack of food and sleep. We’re not sure. Hike back and back to the road, when it immediately starts to snow
November 4: Papi Crowley turns 70!! Leave our foresty camp and turn off the main road and head towards the base of Zhara Lhatse/Mount Yala. Hard going on a dirt road, we’ve climbed another 1000m and so are now back up at nearly 4000m. Beautiful surroundings but so so so much trash.
November 3: Slowly leave Danba and begin to climb back up again after spending the last days wooshing down. Beautiful autumnal colours everywhere and cheeky white peaks poking their heads up out from behind other mountains
November 2: Day off in Danba… Our days off are becoming increasingly lazy
November 1: Leave the family’s home and start what we think will be an easy descent to Danba… Then the road turns to mud and the last 15km takes 2 hours…
October 31: With handfuls of apples and pears we wave goodbye to the super kind family. Both feeling tired and in need of a day off, so have more breaks than usual to nibble on food and daydream. After asking to camp beyond a locked gate we get invited in yet again, this time we even sleep in a bed. Luxury. Family has puppy = happy Sarah
October 30: Back to the road, it becomes increasingly horrible as we continue. The scenery is nice, but the volume of traffic is not. The honking drives us both nuts. Eventually a series of road works makes the going even worse. Then, a nasty tunnel. S refuses to cycle through, but after not too long we convince the police to give us a ride through the three tunnels 🙂 On the other side, another steep sided valley awaits. Look for a camp up what turns out to be the entrance to someone’s home… They invite us to pitch our tent by their house. Cosy evening with multi-generational family eating yummy homegrown corn and watching speed indoor climbing on the TV.
October 29: Takes a while for the sun to reach the tent. On the road, meet a bunch of Chinese cycletourers on electric bikes. Cycle in the direction of magnificent snowy peaks, then begin our descent. Down through pine forest, down out of the snow, down into warmth peeling off layers as we go. Pedalling through a gorge and so end up camping in field at the edge of a village
October 28: What a day. Frosty tent inside and out. Blue skies and white mountains all around. Fruit & veg from the singing van, super nice guy gives us extra oranges. More perfect winter mountain views at a pass, then down down with cold toes to camp
October 27: Despite shelter, the tent is still covered in snow in the morning. Cold morning cycling with two pairs of trousers and wellie boots. Bottomless stomaches at lunch. Blizzard starts soon after, make emergency camp in non-discreet field. Naturally, the snow and hail stops 15 minutes later
October 26: Evil dog bites two holes in Sarah’s pannier bag. Cold toes all day. Snow in faces in the afternoon, so stop early and camp in a picnic shelter
October 25: Eventually leave our hostel after removing snow from the bikes, but toes are frozen like iceblocks after 5km. A kind lady let’s us into her house, which we thought was a cafe, to defrost. Play with her 2 year old daughter, turns our peek-a-boo is international. Afternoon pedalling across Zoige grassland. Beautiful!!
October 23-24: Days off exploring Langmusi… and hiding from the snow. Unfortunately, the room we stay in isn’t much warmer than our tent would have been
October 22: Wake up to a layer of snow on the tent and bikes… wait for the sun to come out and enjoy pedalling through the snow dusted mountains. Pedal over our highest high in China to date : 3603m
October 21: Have a very slow day. Both feel lethargic… not sure if because of cold, not enough food, the altitude, or just needing a day off… but we meet a bunch of amazing people : an old lady that insists we come inside and warm up by her fire; a bunch of kids that are ecstatic about our soap bubbles; and two kind ladies that let us cook in their kitchen at the back of their shop when they realise we were getting our camping stove out!
October 20: Explore Labrang monastery in the morning, which is full of people and pilgrims. Pedal off and bump into Polish cyclist Malik, pedal a few kms together before he finds a place to stay and we camp
October 19: A bit of a dash day. Things start to look Tibetan with prayer flags all over the hillsides. Have a fun evening at a hostel in Labrang being lost in translation with a bunch of Chinese tourists
October 18: Finally manage to get petrol for our stove after days of “meiyou”. Take ages finding a place to camp as we seem to cycle through an endless stream of villages
October 17: That time we nearly inadvertently camped in a graveyard…
October 16: Start pedalling South!
October 15: Disembark our cosy train and spend one night in the megalopolis Lanzhou
October 14: Start our 28 hour train journey east to Lanzhou
October 11-13: Arrive to Yining and enjoy spending a few days eating the most delicious food we have had in months, exploring and generally being utterly lost in translation… In-between a million police checks
October 10: Pedal the last 40km in Kazakhstan to reach…. CHINA!!! 😀 Quite excited!
October 9: Tent day in the forest… Last camped in forest maybe 3 months ago in Golestan in Iran?!
October 8: More long straight vaguely flat roads, but whenever there is a bend in the road (maybe every 20km) the scenery changes from steppe to green valley to gorge to forest and keeps us entertained
October 7: Our morning picks up when we bump into Selma Michelle and Andreas again 🙂 Coffee, chocolate and a chat before parting ways. Next time we see them will really be when we return to Europe
October 6: Slight improvement – finally able to turn off onto smaller road with the same crazy drivers
October 5: Horrible roads continue… Maybe we should have caught a train for this stretch …
October 4: Finally manage to leave. Spend most of the day navigating through horribly busy roads to escape the city
October 3: Pedro turns 35!! Parabéns!! Attempt to leave Almaty, but take so long to repack our bags that we stay another night
September 29-October 2: Days resting, eating and fixing all the broken things. Stay with WS host Matt who spent four years cycling around the world and is now a teacher in Almaty, hosting an endless stream of cyclists pedalling through Central Asia
September 28: Finish our last few kms and arrive in Almaty with only a little bit of shouting at the cars. Incredibly European feeling city … The first since Tbilisi?!
September 27: Dash day. Aim: to cycle as many kms as possible to get us as close to Almaty as we can. Pedal our first 100+km day in ages and camp 30km from the city with “Selma”, aka Michelle and Andreas. Sarah and Michelle beat Pedro and Andreas at Brandidog ?
September 26: Morning mission climbing back to the top of the canyon. Have fun watching some sort of gerbil-like rodent. Begin the dash to Almaty. Fruits and veggies still hard to come by!
September 25: A day of canyons : Kazakhstan’s answer to the Grand Canyon. Quite toursity, but cool rocks nevertheless. Decide to make crazy descent and camp by the river as we are quite grubby and feel like a swim
September 24: ding ding ding! Country #24 : Kazakhstan ! And a return to paved roads !
September 23: Drag ourselves away from our campspot and towards the border… But we don’t make it all the way to Kazakhstan as 40km before the border, the road turns back to gravel.
September 22: Campspot so beautiful and legs so tired that we take a day off in the tent and do very little other than plan or route through China.
September 21: Turn onto smaller dirt roads winding through villages as soon as we can, to escape the main road heading towards Karakol. Beautiful camp spot overlooking Issykul with mountains behind 🙂 Barely notice we click over 16000 km
September 20: Continue our 2000m descent, woosh down valley that makes us feel like we are in the Alps! Land at the edge of Issykul and are both a bit overwhelmed by our return to civilization: the road is full of of crazy drivers and all these pesky houses mean we can’t just plonk the tent wherever we please
September 19: Continue along the Arabiel valley. Our favourite few days of cycling so far. The pass is a monster and we both have to push the bikes one by one to the top. As we reach the pass, it starts to snow and obscures all possibilities of a view. Freeze on the way down (see river crossings), Sarah’s brake pads give up and make emergency camp on the old road in a corner of a serpentine
September 18: Turn off the “main road” aka small gravel track, onto dirt 4wd tracks through grassy valley with mountains all around. See one car all day. Many many river crossings. Awesome awesome awesome.
September 17: More snow as we climb our pass of the day. Wear sunglasses to protect faces from incoming freezing precipitation. Thankfully sun comes out at the top and we can eat lunch and warm up… Before descending all afternoon under grey skies throwing various states of water at us as we go. Spend the evening with a family and stay in their yurt. They are very amused about the concept of vegetarianism!
September 16: First day of our adventure towards the Arabiel valley. Abort day early due to snow blizzard.
September 15: Half day to Sary Bulak, restock our dwindling supplies and enjoy being able to buy exciting things like yogurt and apples. Spend the remainder of the day in the tent, resting limbs and hiding from the rain
September 14: Other cyclists say it reached -7 in their yurt the night before… A day of cyclists in fact: We meet 9 others as we pedal our way round the lake! Long day of pedaling as snow is forecast and we want to get as low as possible
September 13: Back to the washboard and up up and more up along the serpentines to Songkul. Freezing cold at the top, dive into the tent asap.
September 12: Take the advice of a local and take a shortcut to Zhany Talep. Turns out to be great advice. Even less used by cars therefore less washboard! ?
Zero cars on the whole shortcut 🙂
September 11: Less awesome day. Some of the worst bone rattling washboard we’ve had of the whole trip. Makes Sarah have a bit of a grump. Find a nice campspot though which *nearly* makes up for it
September 10: Snow. After raining all night we realise that it turned to snow during the night. Surrounded by 15cm of snow and it keeps on coming… Only camped at 2500m and still need to get up to 3000m… Spend the morning in the tent until the sun convinces is it is going to stay. Pedal on and up through snowcapped peaks under blue skies. Awesome day
September 9: Wake up to rain, have a lazy tent morning and eventually leave. Rains all day, but the occasional views through the thick cloud is awesome. Camp early to escape the cold and rain
September 8: 40km descent is harder work than the climb up, bumping our way down through deep gravel and washboard
September 7: Climb up to Koldama pass, beautiful on both sides and potentially best camping view ever, despite the crazy wind
September 6: Tiring day going up up on gravel pavel, rocky and hard going
September 5 : Finally do so of the jobs we should have done on our days off and eventually leave Osh
September 2-4: Days off in Osh, eating, bike & person cleaning.
September 1: Have fun climbing up the last pass of the Pamir Highway, meet friends in a van called Selma at the top for a coffee and then woosh down to Osh at 30+km/h into a headwind
August 31 : Hoped to cover big distances today, but a snapped gear cable hampered progress. Eventually replaced, make a pelaton to tackle the winds with one very energetic Pedro taking the lead.
August 30 : Return to our bikes in the morning and have an afternoon ride to tackle the penultimate pass.
Clock up 15000km!!!!
August 29 : A little pooey, wake up early and make a long hike to Travellers Pass (4105m) for awesome views of Peak Lenin.
August 28 : Day off the bike with Mari & Eva, Michelle & Andreas – we drive with their can Selma to Turpal Lake and hike the rest of the way to camp in a yurt for the night
August 27 : Pedal up to the Tajik border and onwards for nearly 20km through no-man’s land before crossing into Kyrgyzstan. Look for food!
August 26 : Abort day of cycling early due to crazy headwinds. Camp in some sand dunes and later discover we are 50m from a military bunker. Military guys kindly donate two cans of unidentified meat stew to us…
August 25 : Lake Karakol. What a beaut. Camp with 5 other cyclists from Holland, Germany, Spain and Japan!
August 24 : In which we pedal to the highest high we have ever pedalled on a bike: Ak Baital pass at 4655m
August 23 : A day of gentle pedalling but still at super high elevation. Mari and Eva not feeling great with the altitude but soon adjust. Camp in the shelter of a bridge over a small stream to escape the crazy winds. River level unexpectedly rises at 21h when already in our tents… No idea why.
August 22 : Day off in Murghab eating watermelon and exploring the bazaar made of shipping containers. Fun evening with Mongol rally drivers and other travellers in the guesthouse
August 21 : Fun 45km pedal downhill to towards Murghab. Such a beautiful ride through the crazy moon like landscapes
August 20 : A sleepy morning with a good breakfast of milky rice we take our time to leave. Kind road gently winding upwards with awesome views and the wind in our backs. Meet our first solo female Pamir cyclist, a funny south Korean woman. Take shelter closer to a homestay to camp to hide from the wind – successful dinner of lentils and mashed potatoes cooked above 4000m ?
August 19 : Wake up in our mountainous desert camping spot. Mari and Pedro swim in what turns out to be a salty lake… Not so refreshing. Eventually arrive in Alichur and see our first yak!! Bucket shower in a shiooy container.
August 18 : Our first 4000+m pass. Breathing is super hard and the road surface shitty, but eventually we make it through the sandstorms induced by the trucks and get to the top. The wind grows, and storm clouds brew. Too cold to stop for a proper lunch, have tea in a house literally in the middle of nowhere. Camp on the moon.
August 17 : Hot springs in Jelondy!! Fix punctures in camping mats and camp early in super sheltered spot. Make first cow poo fire!!!
August 16 : Accept and invitation for tea in a traditional Pamiri home. Super interesting structure. Turns out it is also the 2 year olds birthday
August 15 : Eva gets a flat and whilst we fix the puncture get given a watermelon, 1.5l of water and several kilos of dried fruits and nuts
August 14 : Leave with our dream team – cycling with Mari and Eva. Camp in a family’s garden and get given a dinner of tea, cucumbers and sweets
August 11 – 13 : Happily arrive in Khorug. Enjoy several days relaxing, eating and fixing broken bike bags.
August 10 : Continue along the Panj, camp with a view to Afghanistan and when night falls get moved on by the military. Apparently it’s safer to camp behind a bush…
August 9 : A sad day – Eva still poorly, so they catch a ride onwards. We pedal solo. Save an Italy cyclist who has run out of brake pads
August 8 : Another day of rough tracks along the Panj. Meet a group of six Germans cycling together – a mixture of brothers and cousins, quite a motley crew. Eva not feeling great, but with Mari’s help makes it through the steepy, sandy sections and we make an early camp.
August 7 : Leave as a team of six, but eventually we are four. Finally we have found another pair of cyclists that travel at our speed and have a similar enthusiasm for lunch stops – Mari & Eva.
August 6 : Today is the day of the first big up, again not so much fun being with much faster cyclists. Sarah struggles up, with an unhappy stomach and not enough oxygen. Mine clearance going on at the top. Super hard rocky bumpy, hand braking descent down to Qalai Khum. Exhausted.
August 5 : Wake up to a herd of passing the tent. First ish morning in a very long time. Find shoes of fellow cyclists and manage to return them to their owners. Cross a landslide, swim in a river and bump into Dara and Sam.
August 4 : Pedal with Lucas for the day, although his pace is clearly faster than ours and it becomes a bit frustrating. Sarah super destroyed by 16h, so we make an early camp and Lucas pedals on.
August 3 : Fun day wooshing up and down. Leisurely lunch with sketching & Harry Potter. Afternoon tea and honey with some friendly bee keepers.
August 2 : Bodies better, but perhaps not fully prepared for uphill steep gravel pavel. We make it in the end and camp with the first Portuguese people we have met on our trip!
August 1 : Wake up feeling a million times better than the days before, bodies and bikes fixed we hitch a ride back to where we left
July 29-31 : Bike and person fixing days in Dushanbe
July 28: Head back to Dushanbe, Pedro woke up feeling sick, and 2 hours later Sarah follows. After 40 km we are too sick to cycle further and catch a ride back to Dushanbe. Collapse into bed, sleep for 18 hours … In-between many many toilet breaks…
July 27: Early departure, make a good 70km start then hfgdybdbsjs! A rack bolt has sheered off with half stuck in the frame. Fail to remove the stuck half, so move up to a higher position… But then notice I have 8 cracks in the rim of my wheel… :/ Stay with family whose house we broke down outside – we ask to camp and they let us sleep inside and feed us dinner…
July 24-26: Days off in Dushanbe, applying for GBAO permit and preparing bodies and bikes for the Pamir highway
July 23: Cycle 70km loosing 2000m of elevation… but it’s still hard work with a hairdryer like head wind! Four exhausted cyclists arrive in Dushanbe
July 22: A day of up, up and steepy up. Catch a ride through the Tunnel of Death (5km of unlit, unventilated, potholey nastiness) and find a camp spot with a beautiful view to the side of a road tunnel
July 21: Take an off-road detour to Iskanderkul Lake, as though we wouldn’t have enough 2000+m off-road climbs to pedal in Tajikistan
July 20: Camp in an orchard with a convenient supply of fresh apricots
July 19: Have a late departure from Samarkand, happily cross into Tajikistan and finally return to the mountains! Rejoin Tom and Sabine for a few days of mountain pedallin’
July 18: Having left at 5am, arrive in Samarkand at 0930 with 60km under our belts just in time for breakfast at the hostel ?
July 17: A big dash day – 100km by 11am. Restart pedalling at 17h and it’s like cycling through treacle… Realise it’s the melting road rather than our tired legs that is the culprit
July 16: Wake up in a caravanserai listed on couch surfing and head off towards Samarkand
July 14-15: Days off in Bukhara. All of the cyclists staying at Rumi’s hostel.
July 13: Start pedalling at 6am. By 1030 we have cycled 70km, but it’s already too hot to cycle… especially with 40+km between patches of shade. Abort plan to cycle through 300km of desert to Bukhara and catch a ride instead – it’s just too hot.
Sarah’s bike more than a little worse for wear after the ride…
July 12: Pedal to the edge of the desert. So incredibly hot.
July 11: Sunrise arrival into Dashoguz. Wait for shops to open to spend remaining Manat. Pedal to Uzbekistan!
Wandering around Khiva feels like we have been transported to another world. Beautiful tiles. See the most number of tourists that we have seen in months!
July 10: Manage to not get cooked alive in the gas crater. Hang around all day in the middle of nowhere in the desert waiting for the night train to Dashoguz
July 9: Mini tour of Ashgabat before catching the train to Darwaza. Camp next to the gates of hell
July 8: wake up early to enter country #20: Turkmenistan!! Struggle with the heat and so many white buildings
July 7: Last day pedalling in Iran, finally we are on a small quiet road and actually enjoy the cycling for the first time in a while!
July 6: Lazy morning at “Travellers Land”, do some planning for Turkmenistan before hitching a lift to Quchan. Discover that barley and oats is written in the same way in Persian, which would explain Sarah’s recurring mystery stomach aches… :/
July 5: Everyone wakes up feeling like they’ve been run over by a train. Get up slowly and pedal on, Sarah feeling odd and eventually gives up on cycling last 30km and gets a lift to “Travellers Land” in time for an afternoon nap
July 4: Cycle in a happy pelaton of four through Golestan national park, battling against strong winds together still manage to cycle nearly 100km
July 3: Share a camp spot with fellow cyclists Tom and Sabine
July 2: Eventually leave Gorgan and our lovely hosts, really hope to see them in Portugal one day. Bit of a boring pedal to Gonbad, but see camels!
July 1: After a leisurely breakfast and short morning trip out, by lunchtime it is raining and so we stay the rest of the day 🙂 Have a super nice time sharing laughs with everyone and playing with cutest puppy on this earth
June 30: Collect Turkmen visas and pedal across town to the bus station. Misinterpret journey length for arrival time and roll into Gorgan at 22h. Luckily we are befriended by the lovely Roshan and are invited to stay the night
June 29: Call to find we have won the Turkmenistan lottery! Woohoo! Visa means we can continue East 🙂 Bus back to Tehran
June 26- 28: Catch the bus to Kashan for a little break from Tehran while we wait to hear about our Turkmen visa. At the hostel meet another cyclist, Maxime, that we had met before in Olympos, Turkey two months before
June 22: One year on the road today!! Celebrate by walking our feet off in Tehran. Here’s to the next 365 🙂
June 19- 25: Fun times in Tehran applying for visas
June 18: Bus to Tehran and experience the joys of navigating in a city with three times the population of Ireland…
June 16-17: Days off in Hamedan preparing the extensive paper work for our Chinese and Turkmenistan visas… Only a little bit frustrating doing everything from a mobile phone… ?
June 15: Arrive in Hamedan at the house if warmshowers hosts Hossein and Nassim
June 14: Super hot day, rejuvenate with an afternoon nap and soaking headscarf in water… Turns out it is useful for something!
June 13: After Bistoon say goodbye to Manon and Dries. Crazy rocks and cute camp by a river 🙂
June 12: Day off in Kermenshah, find gluten-free chickpea cookies and meet up with awesome french family cycling with their two young girls
June 11: Crazy cycling 127km to Kermenshah. The company of Manon and Dries makes it more entertaining!
June 10: Leisurely day off in Paveh. Cook the family dinner much to their delight
June 9: Feeling better, but not up for cycling in the crazy steep mountains we take a lift to Paveh. Hosted with the kind Sia and family along with Manon and Dries
June 8: Sarah’s dinner preferred to be outside her body, so a day off is enforced. S promptly sleeps all day in the hammock
June 7 : S wakes up feeling floppy. Cycle on regardless, but steep mountain road does no favours. Stop in the shade to recouperate, and as we do witness a car literally drive off the edge of the road. No words. Thankfully there was a ledge which broke the fall of the car and it wasn’t crammed full of the usual 10 people … everyone got out of the car walking… Eventually, still in shock we start to carry on cycling, but heat and mystery weariness stop play and we catch a ride on a truck to nearest village – the scenic Uraman Takht
June 6 : Cycle from Marivan towards Uraman Takht, need for food shopping scuppers early start. Supposedly quiet road super busy because of post Ramadan holidays… Iranians picnicking on every corner!
June 5 : Woke before sunrise to try and beat the heat. Cycle 60km before lunchtime, dunking heads and bodies in water whereever possible.
June 4: End of Ramadan woohoooooo! Hot hot hot. Camp early by much needed river, swim fully clothed ?
June 3 : Spend the morning visiting Saholan cave before pedalling on towards Saqqez to stay with Hana and family… Family friend tries to convert Pedro to Islam whilst never making eye contact with Sarah…
June 2 : A day of meeting people – Bezhad at lunchtime for watermelon and Hemin in the evening as we look for a place to camp. Eventually drive to Bukan to stay with and meet the entirety of Hemin’s family
June 1 : Tour of Maragheh in-between fixing lots of things
May 31 : First taste of Iranian rose flavoured ice-cream, bought on the road whilst wondering the rules of eating ice-cream in public during Ramadan. Happily arrive with WS hosts in Maragheh
May 30 : Cycling hell out of Tabriz along 6-lane highway, Pedro’s phone dies of heat exhaustion, camp on very dehydrated salty lake Urmia
May 28-29 : days off in Tabriz, exploring the bazaar and relaxing at the cosy home of Zahra and Arash
May 27 : much less windy today, zoom down 30km in one hour to see the beautiful multicoloured mountains of Tabriz. Bump into 5 mountain bikers on our way into the city, tea, snack and bike swapping ensues!
May 26 : super windy day – cover 13km in 1h30 of pedalling… downhill! Give up and camp early
May 25 : long, hot, hilly day. Drink atleast 5l of water each and still feel thirsty… melon is the solution!
May 24 : slowly slide down the hill to Iran and see the first pomegranate trees since Turkey, a little bit nervous as we cross the border but all a-ok. One last Snickers before waving goodbye to Stefan
May 23 : last mountain pass in Armenia, super empty road, powered (slowly) to the top via podcasts. Epic views on the other side of the pass looking towards Iran
May 22 : dirt road for the most of the day makes progress hard, end up camping in a field with snakes… great
May 21 : Day off in Tatev to rest our weary limbs and wash our smelly sun-block covered clothes
May 20 : Could have caught a cable car across the valley… But decide to cycle down and then back up 600m of vertical height over 6km…
May 19 : meet fellow cyclists Astrid and Michael that have just come from Iran. Another speedy camp to miss the evening storm
May 18 : epic hail and thunderstorm just as we get the tent up
May 17 : make the excellent decision to take a detour (in distance and elevation) up the beautiful Yeghegis Valley. Awesome dirt road and super remote camp spot
May 16 : S mobbed by school girls whilst waiting outside of a shop. No shade at lunchtime nearly breaks S come the end of the day
May 15 : escape at the crack of dawn, and pedal to lake Sevan in the company of a friendly local bike-enthusiast
May 14 : awesome views of a snowy mount Ararat, followed by a much needed hot-spring bath. Make the terrible decision to accept an invitation to stay with a family. Grandfather turns out to be a sleezy creep
May 13 : Beautiful cycling on top of high plain through small mountain villages, giving kids high fives along the way
May 12 : happily leave campsite behind and continue cycling in lush green gorge… Harrassed all night by bunch of young guys with no brains and eventually relocate at midnight to a petrol station
May 11 : spend last lari and enter Armenia… Camp too close to a big nasty dog
May 10 : Finally leave Tbilisi … After one more ice-cream
May 4 – 9 : hanging out in and around Tbilisi with Pedro’s parents, organising Iranian visa shenanigans
May 3 : 20km woosh down 1000m to Tbilisi. Very happy to take a shower and rest
May 2 : camp in an old ski park overlooking Tbilisi
May 1 : awesome awesome high plateau, could stay up there all day! Nasty 10km on crappy road followed by beaut of a camp by Dashbashi canyon
April 30 : the day the dog ate Sarah’s freshly baked bread from the fire…. and Stefan breaks a pedal
April 29 : more beautiful landscapes, rainy afternoon pedal to garden of Eden camp, grilled veggies for dinner 😉
April 28 : cross Goderdzi pass with snow towering above our heads, descent just as much hard work down rocky road through icy rivers! Find awesome mountain shop selling buckwheat, veggies and soya! Hot spring bath before camp 🙂
April 27 : reunited with Stefan, Sarah’s seat post bolt shears off just as we meet two VW campers. Make a Frankenstein fix and pedal up up on hobbly bobbly road
April 26 : beautiful landscape but struggle to cope with the incessantly honking drivers, not helped by devious old lady honey-selling b*tch
April 25 : more tunnels, one 5.2km long!!! Time to leave Turkey and enter Georgia … Immediately offered wine instead of çay
April 24 : 34 tunnels!! Plus an extra 14 that we hitched through!! Camp at a zipline, after a free ride over the river
April 23 : Pedal through a beautiful valley soon to be condemned by massive hydroelectric project
April 22 : Exactly 10 months since leaving, hit 10000km!!! Aaand reach new highest high of 2380m at Gölyurt Geçidi. Also snow. Much snow.
April 21 : Snow induced tent day. Sleep many hours.
April 20 : Wake up on the train and spend the morning picnicking and enjoying the view… Very sleepy when we get off at 1430.
April 19 : Wake up at 0330 for balloon flight (sponsored by Mami and Papi Vicente). Too windy, so cancelled. Cycle 120kms to Kayseri and catch sleeper train at 0100… 22hr day…
April 18 : wake up to hot air balloons filling the sky. Best camping ever!! Explore the rest of the day and find a cave to call home for the night
April 17 : head towards Goreme and spend the day admiring the crazy rocks
April 16 : day off in Nevsehir, washing clothes and planning onwards steps
April 15 : dash to Nevsehir with impending rain clouds behind us all day
April 14 : explore Selime Cathedral and the Fairy Chimneys and play hike-a-bike along the Ihlara Valley. P wants to adopt a stray dog. More thunder and lightening in the evening
April 13 : wake up to amazing sunrise over lake Tuz and end the day with sunset over crazy rocks of Selime Cathedral
April 12 : longest day of cycling of the trip… 130km and still enjoy lunch with super kind family
April 11 : funny unexpected çay stop with Imam, bike mechanic, fireman and teacher of Arabic
April 10 : menemen for lunch, yum! More evening rain…
April 9 : rain induced day off by Beysehir lake
April 8 : best road ever, past the beautiful mountain village of Kesme and up and over pass on a dirt track with snow above our heads
April 7 : further up and into the mountains, loving the change from the super touristy coast
April 6 : head into the hills along Köprülü Canyon
April 5 : 5am wake up to pedal 40km to catch a ferry from Kemer to Antalya at 10am… Antalya surprisingly chilled out with a good vibe
April 4 : Explore ancient city of Olympics and adjoining beach before grilling halloumi in the flames at Chimaera
April 3 : Finally drag ourselves away from boat life and disembark… Despite leaving at 13h, still cycle 75km…
April 1-2 : Amazing few days enjoying boat life sailing round a bit of the Turkish Mediterranean coast. Rafa the most amazing cook!! Super people.
March 31 : Set off with Stefan, introduce him to second breakfast, mid-morning swims and stopping for lunch… On our stop for lunch meet Court, Rafa and Gabriel and they invite us to come stay on their catarmaran!!
March 30 : Camp on the beach and meet fellow cyclo-tourer Stefan
March 28-29 : “Day-off” cycling bagless to Butterfly Valley, followed by actual day off!
March 27 : Spend most of the afternoon at the beautiful Inline beach, drag ourselves away to get to Chillsteps hostel near Fethiye
March 26 : The sea, the sea!!! Amazing scenery around Kaunos and Dalyan
March 25 : Bump into two Swiss cyclists on a homebuilt bamboo recumbent tandem – hopefully see them further along the road in Turkey. Celebrate Sarah’s pallindrome birthday with a mud bath!
March 24 : Brrr, bitterly cold day. Camp behind a café
March 23 : Head back to the mountains! As we look for a place to camp, get invited to join a family’s picnic. First attempt at baking gluten-free bread in a camp fire a moderate success!
March 21-22 : Explore Pamukkale and Kaklik caves with Magda, also staying with Murat
March 20 : Sarah poorly, we try to hitch lift but fail, after an afternoon nap end up pedalling all the way to Denizli and WS host Murat
March 19 : wake up to beautiful sunrise, restock supplies in buzzing market, meet tortoise, camp in cute little nook
March 18 : pedal around beautiful lake, meet a camel, have çay, and end up in super picturesque camping
March 17 : onwards we finally find ourselves in beautiful landscapes – vineyards and hills and little villages. Happy cyclists. Get taken in by a bunch of guys working at a quarry
March 16 : have breakfast with Yigit and family, leave at 13h and make a dash to Soma to meet Bircan. Super lovely lady, we spend the evening planning our route and laughing alot
March 14-15 : nothing notable, mostly cycling through towns and industrial estates. Eventually arrive in Balikesir and meet Yigit
March 13 : pedal to Bursa, Pedro in single-speed to find another bike shop. Rendezvous with Gorkem who acts as translator, spend funny evening with G, his mum and cousin
March 12 : catch a ferry out of the madness of the city. Sarah doesn’t get seasick, but when we get off it’s raining. Pedro has a bicycle apocalypse
March 8-11 : have fun exploring Istanbul and trying to find a bike shop to repair Sarah’s trusty stead. Stay with the super friendly Cansu, Ceyhun and Bonbon
March 7 : trying to get to Istanbul proved difficult with unfriendly train station man saying only folding bikes and bus station kid asking/stealing extra for the bikes…
March 6 : have out last coffee in Bulgaria and cross the border into Turkey, head to Edirne and meet our warmshower(s) host (s) before realising Sarah’s rear hub is broken
March 5 : day of traditions, bracelets hanging in a cherry blossom tree and camping pancake day
March 4 : day of shopping in Dimitrovgrad, spending last leg and going around the many power plants… Slept near the (somewhat noise) coal convey belts
March 3 : the day when somehow not expecting at all we did 85km. slept by the sunflower field and woke up with wolves/foxes near the tent…
March 2 : head towards Plovdiv, camp near the wine fields
March 1 : amazing cliffs near Devin and one of our more silly camps, carrying bags and bikes up a big forest hill
February 28 : cycle along the many rock quarries and make fire camp just before the town of Dospat
February 27 : Meet up with Catherine and Nick and stack up at a hut with views over mountains and do some cooking with the wood stove inside
22 26 : Finally departure for part II of the adventure and head up to the Pirin mountains
Part I : Europe
December 22- January 9 – eating and fattening =P
December 21 – reach our pre-hibernation cave ;p
December 20 – reach Thessaloniki
December 19 – on the bikes again, last camping of the year (in a cotton field!)
December 18 – rainy day off
December 17 – best hot bath ever!
December 16 – ahead of schedule for arrival in Thessaloniki, so make diversion towards some natural hot springs
December 15 – bad night sleep dreaming of bears…
rain all day, hang out in several gas stations and cafes!
December 14 – warm up from a chilly camp in a cafe and buy many sesame seed based products
find bear poo in a potential camping spot, retreat quickly and camp elsewhere!!
December 13 – cycle in the windy, cold and snow and without intending to, cross into Greece
December 12 – cold cold morning fixing punctures by the lake, water freezing on dishes as soon as they were washed. Back to Albania
December 11 – notice that our lucky mascot shiny is gone 🙁 cross into Macedonia, have many punctures
December 10 – wake up to snow!!
December 9 – up up and up we go, super steep in places
December 8 – cycle to kukes for a half-day rest and preparation for the upcoming mountain stretch towards Macedonia
December 7 – cycle overviewing the snow covered peaks of the Albanian Alps as for as Kosovo
December 6 – we catch the fun ferry from koman to fierza and spend the night with amazing views over Valbona
December 5 – on the road again we leave Shkoder and go east towards koman and end up spending the night in a campsite under a bridge…
December 3-4 : Days off with warmshowers Susan and Chuck – exploring Shkodër and fixing things with holes : sleeping mats, inner tubes, clothes.
Finally finally find alcohol for our stove!!
December 2 : pedal up and around the beautiful Shkodër lake and into Albania.
S has first puncture!
December 1 : leisurely morning but finally say our goodbyes to the French gang at 13h
Cycle up and over, end up finding camp in the dark by a castle.
November 30 : cycle on horribly busy roads for alot of the day. Take us back to the mountians!! Meet Frederico and Mael at the gas station.
November 29 : waking up to a frosty tent and bikes we warm up with a coffee in the cafe we camped behind – friendly bickering between owner and customer as to who will offer the coffee to us! 🙂
See the sea for the first time since Barcelona in Kotor Bay.
November 28 : say goodbye to Niksic and see snow capped mountains to the north
P gets puncture number 4 at the end of the day – fix outside a small cafe and end up sleeping behind it…
November 25-27 : days off in Niksic hiding from the rain again – mother of the family keeps bringing food deliveries to us ;p
Temperatures in the mountains in northern Montenegro -5 to -17°C… decide to cycle south
November 24 : go across mountain gravel track (mostly pushing the bikes..) into town of Niksic
November 23 : cross the border into Crna Gora aka Montenegro
November 22 : visit to the town of Stolac with the campsite host before heading up the mountains hyped on coffee (and cheese burek)
November 21 : finally blue sky, we head back to Mostar to pick up the Ciro trail for a while, before heading into Stolac’s surprisingly amazing campsite “heaven in nature”
November 17-20 : days off with warmshowers host Bambi on Zemljani farm (olive picking, roof fixing, wood stove crafting)
November 16 : start the day with frozen water bottles in the middle of the mountains, have fun on rocky mountain dirt road and finish the day in Mostar with ice-cream
November 15 : very cold day cycling up to Bildinje lake, finish day on a dirt road in the mountains watching frost form on our tent as we go to sleep
November 13 : bellies full of local mushrooms and eggs we start the pedal up to Kupres, camp on the plateau in a sheep field
November 12 : get taken in by the very friendly Boro – mushroom expert and owner of the Pecka Visitor Centre
November 11 : leave the campsite and pedal through Martin Brod to see the waterfalls
November 10 : day off by the campsite
November 9 : woke up in the garden of friendly Dino who sheltered us in, after telling campsite was closed
November 8 : woke up by Croatian police car, cross the border into BiH
November 7 : woke up in the myst of the backyard of the rafting center
November 6 : hunt for a Balkans map and stove fuel begins
November 5 : entered Croatia and had our first passport control of the trip.. more to come..
November 4 : cycle South-ish through Slovenia rivers, flooded fields, red tractors, beehives and piles of hood
November 3 : finally back to cycling as rain finally slowed down
November 2 : using appartment as base cykcd baggless to lake Bohinj before getting rained on once again
November 1 : false start – soaking wet in Bojinska we have to find another “cave” to shelter
October 31 : five days of torrential rain later, we leave our cocoon and pedal onwards
October 26 – 30 : hiding in cave from the stormy weather outside… Bikes fixed, bag holes mended, laundry done, pancakes flipped, route planned, visas investigated, films watched…
October 25 : after cycle along valley where sun does not reach blocked by the mountains around, we reach Slovenia!
October 24 : strong wind creates amazing swirls of autumn leafs all around us as we slide down the valley towards Slovenia
October 23 : found another kind refugio peole that lets us put up the tent in their backyard..
October 22 : hike around the apparently famous tre cime rocks and then slide down from the refugio… Coldest night ever
October 21 : after a good rest day, why not cycle up again 1000m with heavily loaded bicycles up the insanely steep road up to refugio Auronzo?.. luckily find shelter there..
October 17 : decide to use Cortina campsite as a base for more hikes and rest days (we haven’t done laundry in a month!)
October 16 : hike the Viel de pain along a crest offering amazing views over Marmolada on one side and Passo Pardoi on the other
October 15 : head up to refugio Marmolada, one of the few open. Kind to accept us camping outside, finally found a base to do hiking!!! =)
October 14 : cycle along the beautiful dolomiti mountains all around us, stopping for a zillion photos. Seems we arrived at off season so everything closed (campsite included). Kinda lost end up sleeping just next to cycle route and picnic benches
October 13 : after aa lon but calm climb out of Bolzano, reached at last the Dolomiti! Beautiful mountains (and lake – karasee) at site!
October 12 : rescued by Irine and Markus, super kind warmshowers, after loosing track of time (and places to sleep) in Bolzano
October 11 : meet two cyclists on the opposite way of the via claudia in a tandem recumbent as we slided down the valley
October 10 : playing with autumn leafs colours as we border hop again between Austria and Switzerland
October 9 : epic epic climb with stops at every bench on the way to the top of Hahntennjoch at 1894m! a new record! Views worth it! So tired that we ended up staying at hotel at bargained price
October 8 : finally leave Germany (because we took our time!) and cross into Austria following amazing river lech
October 7 : sore neck and rain results in stsyibs extra night at campsite in Fussen
October 3-6 : days off with Pedro parents around Fussen (small hikes + lots of cake + home cooking and movie)
October 2 : Sarah freehub complete fail, no way to make it move >> hitchhike of two bikes and respective cyclists and bags to the nearest local fahrrad shop to have it fixed
October 1 : after taking shelter from the rain in yet another bus stop, offered tomato soup and help in finding place to stay in b&b by kind strangers and end up not having to pay for the night by another also kind lady
September 30 : offered a floor to sleep on appartment being refurbished by kind passing-by cyclists saving us from a very stormy night
September 29 : after a rather flat day of cycling, naif decision to climb a ridiculously steep gravel road to find place to spend the night, rewarded with amazing view over lake Contanz
September 28 : forced to move out of planned camp location because it had beed “reserved” for local kif birthday party
September 27 : autumn is here! Cold cold cold! Spent the night at benchs of forest shleter
September 25 : day-off exploring Freiburg
September 24 : day-off bike fixing, sache torte eating and blog updating ( realise we‘ve spent one third of our time resting … and then realise that a weekend is nearly one third of a week )
September 23 : cross into Germany!
arrive at warmshowers host Jutta and Benjamin (and Valentine, Felix and Jenne and chickens), happy to be dry and warm inside watching the wind, lightening and rain lash down outside
September 22 : arrive very soggy and wet at a campsite near Glère, made the most of the facilties and cooked under shelter in a kitchen sink
September 20 : the cows, their bells and therefore us did not sleep much last night, but P spotted a red squirrel in the trees as he brushed his teeth
September 19 : pitched our tent in a forest in Switzerland with the sound of cow bells in the background
September 18 : enter the Jura mountains – all looking very alpine : milka cows, chalets, pine forest and green hills… and deserted ski resorts
September 17 : depart from cosy Cusy and remind our legs how to pedal
September 15 : day of rest and recuperation with pancakes 🙂
September 14 : day 2 of two-day hike: scramble up to 2640m and pop in to Switzerland for the day
September 13 : day 1 of a two-day hike: stay at mountain refuge Loriaz – best catering for a vegetarian coeliac in the whole of France, despite being halfway up a mountain
September 10 : rock climbing for the first time in three months, with views of Mont Blanc!
September 9 : after years of talk, we all go sailing on Lac d’Annecy with captain Kilian
September 8 : meet Kilian and Marta in style with a swim and a picnic in Lac du Bourget
September 7 : leave Grenoble and meet Lucille on the cycle path on our way north. Lucille was excited to meet us as she had just finished her own cycle tour from Croatia to Finland. Ended up sharing a tasty lunch at her parents house before heading on our way to their suggested wild camping spot close to Pontcharra
September 6 : staying with the lovely Clementine and Arturo we had a day off in Grenoble and had our first rain in France – enjoy seeing the mountains pop out from between the buildings and the clouds
September 5 : rejuvinated after a good sleep in the house of our super lovely warmshowers hosts, Séverine, Yannick and Philippe, we had a super beautiful day cycling up and over Vercors.
rewarded further with a stunning view of the Alps from the top. An excellent reminder to always take the scenic route!
September 4: realised too late that we were camped too close to a train line carrying many night time freight trains….
September 2 : first cold morning so far, multiple layers worn for the first time in months!!
end the day with perfect wild-camping spot with blackberries on tap
September 1 : Pedro happy to discover a slackline festival going on at our lunch spot
August 30 : 3000km!!
tahini disaster in Sarah’s bag
August 29 : Cirque du Navacelles was a worthwhile diversion!
hole in the sleeping mat though…
August 28 : meet the friendly Marie as we look for water – she points us in the right direction, advises us on a good swimming spot and recommends a diversion to the Cirque du Navacelle
August 25 – 27 : some days off relaxing in a campsite by Lac du Salagou – lots of swimming, tasty pears from our camping neighbours and keep our legs in shape by hiring a pedalo
August 25 : most expensive coffee yet – €2.60!!!!
August 23 : bumpy trip along the canal du midi
August 22 : gorges de galamus – amazing views, narrow narrow road, super blue water
August 20 : first impressions of France – impatient drivers, pothole-y road, price of food doubled!
August 19 : cross into France over Col d’Ares
August 18 : stumble across music festa in cute mountain village of Beget
August 17 : get rescued in the torrential rain by the kind soul & WS host Joan
August 10-16 : back to the sea!!
stay with the Barcelona branch of the Crowley family
spend alot of time in various bodies of water
August 9 : torrential downpour as we reach Barcelona
August 7 : sleep in a ruined monastery
August 5 : storm a brewin’ – thunder and lightning show on the opposite side of the lake
August 4 : 2000km!!
into the Pyrenees to try and escape the heat
August 3 : more hot
help kids fix broken chain just as their dad arrives
August 2 : make it over the gravel-pavel road of doom
meet Petr the Russian hiking the coast of the Iberian peninsula (8 months in, 7/8 of the way round)
August 1 : HOT HOT HOT
July 31 : hide from the sun at parque fluvial de Fresneda – swimming, hammocks, picnic, slackline and climbing under the bridge
July 30 : Sarah breaks her chain again
July 28-29 : days of rest and recovery on Ivan’s farm in Delika, Sarah sick
July 27 : amazing cliff ‘salvado” crossing into the Basque country, meet Ivan outside supermarket
July 26 : survive a herd of intimidating cows in the road
July 25 : lunch with Tan and Andy ! 😀
slide down the hill to Vega de Pas in a super green valley
July 24 : day of heat induced lethargy
July 23 : follow invitation of locals and upgrade (?) from tent to shepherds hut
July 20-22 : Picos with Acácio & Amelia
July 19 : Riaño! Pedro starting to regret not bringing climbing gear
July 18 : climb to our highest point so far – Las Señales (1625m)
July 17 : retrace our pedals from a year ago around Embalse de los Barrios de Luna – much more water this time
July 16 : make a hilly diversion to avoid a landslide, as advised by a friendly old man
mosquito’s dinner in the evening at Sena de Luna
July 15 : scrump the best cherries ever
July 14 : first ripe fig and first 1000km!!
July 13 : nearly adopt a greyhound
July 12 : day at the farm with Jonanthan and Marleen
July 11 : first puncture
July 9 : Espanã!
July 8 : Gerês wander
July 7 : day of rest … don’t even leave the campsite, but plot a route through Spain
July 6 : Gerês!!
July 5 : Marão and heading to the Douro – new favourite place
July 4 : 2 hrs (!!!) in CGD, queuing and then closing our accounts
July 2 : day of bike fixing and baby wipes, followed by midnight crumpet making with Scott and Josie
July 1 : kittens 🙁
June 30 : broken chain
June 28 : Pedro learns not to cycle with no hands the hard way …
June 27 : Sarah acquires a map – much happiness ensues
June 24 : Tomás and the wine
June 23 : morning with Luis and Maica, and the pack, at Quinta dos Cães
June 22 : finally leave Lisbon!