On 28th May 2012 we left a hot, sunny Istanbul at 6am to begin our epic journey across Europe by bicycle. We were full of enthusiasm and confidence, excited at what lay ahead and motivated by the fact that we’d also be raising vital funds for New Life. The size of our planned mission hadn’t seemed to phase us and the idea of cycling home seemed very feasible. Exactly 3 months later, our weary bones arrived home on 28th August having cycled through 10 different countries, with 3950km’s under our belt and a huge sense of achievement.
Our route took us through a whole host of wonderful cities, towns, villages and beautiful countryside. Every country was different, some good, some bad – and being on bicycles definitely gave us a unique experience that we’ve never found when travelling by train or by bus. On average we were cycling between 60 & 90km’s a day (with plenty of rest days along the way) come wind, rain or shine – battling with 45 degree C heat in Serbia and thunderstorms and headwinds in Austria. Accommodation was mostly in our small tent (only one of us could sit up at a time) and our food was basic, cooked on our very small gas stove.
When deciding our route there were heaps of things we had to take into consideration that you wouldn’t think of when travelling by car – hills, road surface, amount & type of traffic, weather & wind direction. On a number of occasions we got it wrong and found ourselves half way up a mammoth hill or struggling to dodge pot holes and traffic. We also spent 95% of the trip cycling into a headwind – next time we’ll definitely go in the opposite direction!
In most places people greeted us warmly and we were amazed by the kindness of strangers. There was Atim and family in Turkey who fed us & gave us beds for the night then took us on a tour of the local village and mosque, even though they couldn’t speak a word of English & we only knew a handful of Turkish words. Dragan in Serbia let us camp in his garden and took us to a BBQ with his friends on the banks of the Danube. Clara in Hungary saw us looking tired and weary in her local town centre & invited us to stay at her home, and Rolf in Germany entertained us for the evening with stories of times gone by. Within our first week in Turkey we’d clocked up a whole host of freebies – more than 25 cups of tea, 10 meals, 5 nights accommodation and a bag of vegetables from some women working in the fields.
Knowing we were fundraising for New Life kept us motivated when the going got tough and made sure we definitely made it to the finish line. Although we’ve reached our target of 50,000 Thai Baht, we’re still taking donations so please do visit our fundraising page at www.simplygiving.com/istanbultoamsterdam It’s been an amazing experience and one that I’d recommend to anyone, no matter of gender, age or fitness level. Having said that, it’s also great to be home with time to reflect on our achievement and sort through the hundreds of photographs we’ve taken. If you’d like to read more about our journey visit our travel blog here: www.meyouandrootoo.blogspot.com
Laura & John
–Many thanks to Laura and John for this guest post