It’s been practically three months now since I returned from my 9-month bicycle tour of central and japanese Europe. In that point I’ve obtained fairly just a few questions on my journey and I’d prefer to reply just a few of these questions for you now. Prepared? Right here it goes…
What Was Your Favourite Nation?
My favourite nation was, surprisingly, Albania. Nearly everybody instructed me to not go there, as they believed it to be unsafe. However as soon as I bought there I actually liked it. The land was lovely, the folks have been sort, and the meals was incredible (as have been the costs). I feel I appreciated Albania greater than another place largely as a result of the truth that it was the least touristy nation I visited on all the journey. This alone made me really feel good – like I used to be having an genuine journey expertise. I’d love to return and see extra of Albania earlier than it turns into an excessive amount of like the remainder of the EU.
I’d additionally like to provide a shout out to Macedonia as my second favourite nation. I’ve to confess that I didn’t have excessive expectations for this tiny nation nestled north of Greece and east of Albania, however it turned out to be one unimaginable place. The land wasn’t practically as distinctive as that of Croatia, Albania or Switzerland, however the folks have been so extremely good, the historical past was fascinating and the combination of previous and new was in contrast to another place I’ve ever been to earlier than.
What Was Your Least Favourite Nation?
There wasn’t anyone place that I wouldn’t return to. In truth, I appreciated nearly each place I visited this 12 months. But when I needed to name out a single nation as my least favourite, it must be Montenegro. After dwelling within the nation for practically a month-and-a-half, I bought used to the place and it really began to develop on me. However life in Montenegro took longer to get used to than any of the opposite 15 international locations I visited. Half of me liked Montenegro and the opposite half hated it.
Did You Ever Get Lonely?
Surprisingly, no. Despite the fact that I spent 9 months nearly utterly on my own and couldn’t perceive 90% of the folks I got here involved with every day, I by no means actually bought lonely or homesick. That stated, this was my ninth long-distance bike tour and having traveled on my own previously, I’m fairly used to being alone and taking good care of myself. If this had been my first lengthy bike tour, I’m positive I’d have certainly been very lonely and homesick at occasions.
Did You Like The Meals?
It’d come as a shock to some, however my favourite meal was discovered within the tiny city of Strumica, Macedonia. In case you are ever end up on this pleasant little metropolis, make sure to go to Elizabet’s Pizzeria (close to the town park) and order your self a vegetarian pizza pie. This explicit pizza is, if I could say so myself, completely incredible! Spicy, submitting, and extremely reasonably priced (about $5 USD as of this writing).
I even have to say that Germany and Austria had one of the best bread I’ve ever had in my life and it was comparatively cheap. The bread in Montenegro, nonetheless, was utterly inedible. I didn’t eat bread for the remainder of the journey after I left Montenegro. That’s how unhealthy it was. It was so unhealthy, in actual fact, that I nonetheless get a little bit nervousness each time I eat bread now. It was actually, actually unhealthy!
What Nation Would You Need To Go Again And See Extra Of?
I’d return to any of the locations I went this 12 months, however I’d actually love to return and see extra of Slovenia. I used to be there for under three days and noticed a great chunk of the nation, however I really feel like I actually missed loads. For an outdoorsy individual like myself who likes to reside on a budget every time potential, Slovenia looks like it is perhaps a bicycle traveler’s paradise. (I used to be instructed whereas I used to be there that the typical month-to-month earnings of most Slovenians is roughly 500 Euros ($750 USD).)
I’d additionally love to return and see extra of Croatia and Albania.
If You Might Reside In Any One Of The Cities You Visited On Your Bike Tour This Yr, Which One Would It Be?
I spent the primary two months of the 12 months in Luzern, Switzerland and this place, greater than another, actually felt like house. I appreciated the folks, the tradition, the panorama, and the town’s incredible location within the middle of the nation. I feel it will be very straightforward for me to maneuver to Luzern and really feel at house there.
I additionally suppose that Vienna, Austria can be an amazing place to reside. I not a fan of massive cities for probably the most half, however Vienna is one incredible place. There may be a lot to see and do in Vienna and I may see myself being very pleased there as effectively.
Different massive cities I loved, however had by no means heard a lot about beforehand have been Ljubljana, Slovenia and Zagreb, Croatia.
Did Anybody Harass You For Being An American?
Many American vacationers are afraid and/or ashamed to confess that they’re American. They concern that due to what’s going on on this planet proper now, folks may not deal with them so effectively. I perceive why they could suppose that manner, however I knew early on that I wasn’t going to cover the truth that I used to be from the USA (No, I by no means instructed anybody I used to be from Canada). When folks requested the place I used to be from, I often instructed them I used to be from California (relatively than the USA (That is true. I’m from California, however I now reside in Utah. I don’t inform folks I’m from Utah, as a result of hardly anyone is aware of the place Utah is. Nevertheless, nearly everybody is aware of the place California is)). However you already know what? I didn’t get a single unfavourable comment after I instructed folks I used to be from the States. I discovered it stunning that even in Kosovo the locals appeared to applaud after they discovered that I used to be from the U.S. of A.
The one place the place I used to be ribbed about being from the USA was in Athens, Greece after I bumped into a person strolling by means of the park across the Acropolis who stated he too was from the U.S. however that he had been dwelling illegally in Greece for quite a few years and that he would by no means return to his house nation. He went on for a couple of minutes concerning the taxes, our nation’s insurance policies on torture and the truth that he (and I) have did not ever meet a terrorist in our total lives. He made some good factors, however I discovered it amusing that the one time in a 9-month interval after I was harassed about being from the USA, it was from one other U.S. citizen.
What About Faith?
Sunday was my least favourite day in Europe as a result of on Sundays nearly each retailer and repair shut down. Right here within the States, Sunday is a comparatively busy day and whereas many outlets do shut early on Sundays, they keep open in the course of the day to cater to Sunday buyers. A number of occasions all through my journey I assumed to myself, “If simply certainly one of these shops would keep open on Sunday, they’d be raking within the dough – as folks would don’t have any different selection however to do enterprise with them.”
The one nation the place I didn’t discover a large shutdown on Sundays was in Montenegro. Right here, most of the outlets have been nonetheless open on Sundays and life appeared to go on like regular.
Moreover… I by no means thought of this whereas I used to be there, however now that I’m again at my house in Utah (the Mormon capital of the world), I discover it barely astonishing that not a single individual requested my about my faith whereas I used to be in Europe. That is in nice distinction to my bicycle excursions in the USA the place in lots of locations I used to be unable to go for even a single day with out somebody asking me whether or not or not I have been part of their non secular sect. All I can say is, “Thanks Europe for merely not asking. I admire it… and I’m positive others do as effectively.”
What Was It Like To Work Whereas You Have been Touring?
After I set out on this journey my foremost aim was to “work sensible.” To me, that meant solely engaged on a very powerful duties and never creating busywork for myself in order that I may spend the vast majority of my outing exploring and experiencing the tradition. Now that the journey is over, I notice I didn’t do an excellent job with my aim of working sensible. I did get loads of work carried out whereas I used to be in Europe, however I did fall into the entice of working an excessive amount of… and spending an excessive amount of time on duties that have been finally unimportant. That stated, I’ve discovered loads about working from the highway (and time-management normally) and I plan to implement what I discovered this 12 months into my future travels, in order that I can spend extra time touring and fewer time starring on the laptop display screen.
Have been You Ready To Be taught Any Languages Whereas You Have been There?
The explanation I began my tour in Switzerland within the lifeless of winter is as a result of my aim for this journey was to study as a lot of the German language as I presumably may. Ultimately, I spent three months within the German talking international locations of Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Sadly, I did not grow to be fluent within the German language. The principle downside I had was that when assembly somebody on the road or going into a store, I’d begin up a dialog in German, however the individual I used to be speaking to (as a rule) would shortly notice that German was not my first language and so they’d start talking to me in English. As a result of most individuals in these international locations are higher at English than I’m at German, our conversations nearly at all times drifted to full English dialogue. This was nice for me as a result of I may perceive what folks have been saying and so they may perceive me, however this was additionally unhealthy for me as a result of I didn’t get to observe or study as a lot German as I had hoped to. If I have been to return and reside in any of those international locations ever once more, I feel I’d join a category of some sort the place I’d be compelled to talk and write in German regularly.
In different international locations I solely discovered the fundamentals. Phrases like “Please, thanks, hey, goodbye, sure” and “no” have been nearly all I discovered in Serbian, Albanian and Greek.
What Did You Like Least About Touring In Europe?
The factor I appreciated least about Europe was all of the individuals who smoke. Germany and Switzerland have been by far the worst on this regards. In these two international locations, greater than anywhere I visited this 12 months, the smoking actually bought to me. For international locations that appear to be so well being aware, I don’t perceive why so many individuals smoke. I actually want they’d cease!
Aside from that, there have been simply small annoyances, equivalent to poor Web connections (which appeared to be constantly slower than what I’m used to) and easily not with the ability to talk at occasions or perceive the menus and labels on meals packaging.
What Did You Like Most About Touring In Europe?
There have been loads of issues I appreciated about Europe. Clearly, among the international locations have incredible practice techniques and, as you probably know, cater a lot extra to bicyclists and pedestrians than we do right here in the USA.
That stated, if I needed to identify a single factor that I appreciated most about Europe, it was in all probability the truth that everybody appeared so calm and relaxed in comparison with what I grew up with again in California. Right here within the U.S. it oftentimes looks like folks have a “Go! Go! Go!” mentality the place everyone seems to be speeding about, combating to get from one place to the subsequent, pushing to be the primary, and so on. However in Europe it was merely a lot extra laid again… and I actually, actually appreciated that.
The opposite factor I appreciated about my journey to Europe was that I didn’t convey my cellular phone with me and it was subsequently unimaginable for folks to name me after I was out exploring, driving my bike, or assembly folks within the streets. This was a real blessing! With out my cellular phone continually going off and interrupting me, I discovered that I used to be much less anxious every day and an entire lot much less pressured all through the journey. Now that I’m again house and have my cellular phone once more, I’m making an attempt to make use of it solely an emergency system and infrequently reply the telephone when folks name.
I encourage you to attempt dwelling with out your cellular phone for some time. Strive it for a month and see the way it adjustments your life. In case you are something like me, you is perhaps stunned by simply how a lot stress your cellular phone is inflicting you… and the way a lot its fixed ringing distracts you from carrying out the stuff you really need in life.
So, there it’s! The solutions to your questions on my travels in Europe. What do you suppose? Do you will have another questions for me? Most significantly, what do you end up fascinated by after your travels have come to an finish?