Below are our impressions from the road written at the time of cycling from Portugal to Turkey.
There may be some critical and harsh words coming form our feelings at the particular times caused by
heat and exhaustion, but those bad moments were quickly forgotten and only good memories stayed with us
as it usually happens in life. There is not a grain of regret and we will happily do it again, when
an opportunity comes.
June - November 2005
portugal - turkey
still in canada, june 2, 2005
We're still in Canada and we're not even packed yet. Fortunately, the flight is at 20:45 on Saturday what
gives us 2 full days to get ready.
Next words will be coming from hot and sunny Porto.
porto, portugal, june 7, 2005
We´re still in Porto getting ready for our trip. The weather is extremely hot outside, but indoors it´s
Tomorrow we´re leaving this nice city and the nice people, Paulo and Ana who let us stay with them, and we´re
planning to follow the coastline to Aveiro. Luckily, it seems like we´ll have a strong tailwind.
Talk to you soon.
porto - aveiro, june 9, 2005
We finally left Porto and arrived in Aveiro, a small town located about 70 km south of Porto. It`s a
charming town with a beautiful central square surrounded by colourful small buildings.
The town was very prosperous in the past from salt making and it´s famous now for beautiful houses with
stripes painted on them and they are known as HOUSES IN PAJAMAS.
When we arrived here, met Manuela, a great lady who´s lending us one of her rooms to spend the night.
Tomorrow is a national holiday here in Portugal and we´ll spend time at a local beach. Here are some pics
fatima, central portugal, june 15, 2005
Sorry for the delay. After we left Aveiro we had to camp on the beach and in fishing villages,
so there was no internet.
2 days ago we said "Goodbye" to the ocean without jumping in even once (water is too cold)
and we turned inland at Praia de Sao Pedro. We wanted to stay longer, but the headiwind was just too strong.
Today we are in Fatima, Ewa´s highlight in Portugal. It is really an amazing place and there are
thousands of people here some walking on their knees to the chappel where the apparition took place 88 years ago.
We can not send any new pics at this moment because this is a cyber cafe with internet only, but we will try to do
it as sson as we can.
We are leaving Fatima and heading east for about 30 km to a town called Tomar and from there south to a city
called Evora that is famous for Roman ruins. We should get to Evora in 2 or 3 days and send more e-mails from
Until yesterday the road was totally flat and the only obstacle was the headwind. Yesterday we had 2 major
climbs coming to Fatima and we heard that it will be a bit hilly today, but from tomorrow it should be flat again.
We miss you all,
Ewa and Bart
fatima - evora (hot! hot! hot!), june 18, 2005
After 3 days of cycling through a desert of cork trees we have reached Evora in southern Portugal.
It is HOT HOT HOT! I haven't washed in 4 days. We´are trying to find a room. Details coming soon.
The net here cocts a fortune.
evora, southern portugal, june 18, 2005
We are fresh again and we found a cheaper net cafe. We are currently in a nice town, Evora famous fro Roman ruins.
It is very hot in this part of the country and we cycled for 3 days through a cork tree region with almost no towns
or villages, but we have made it. Tomorrow we are leaving for the Spanish border, but we won`t cross it yet.
We`ll continue riding south for another 2 days to see 2 more places and then into Spain and Sevilla where we hope
to stay with our Portugese friend`s Paulo`s friend.
We often think about the great new friends - Paulo and Ana from Porto and our Portugese mother, Manuela from
Aveiro. We miss you guys and hope to meet again one day.
The cycling has been great although it is getting hotter and hotter as we go south. It is hard to imagine southern
Spain and Morocco in July. It is great to see how Portugal changes from north to south. There are more and more
Arabic accents as we go more south. Even some church towers look like mosques. It is great.
We pass through towns that have every single building white washed and are still unspoiled by tourists. There are
towns here with beautiful "old towns" completely free of tourists. The other day we even met a sheppard with a large
group of goats - amazing! It is hard to believe that it`estern Europe.
People are great too, although we must say that haven`t really met any new friends since we left Aveiro,
but it is still great.
The food is amazing. We stuff ourself with it everyday and it also differes from region to region
adeus portugal! hola espana!, june 23, 2005
We left Portugal and are in Spain now. We have just arrived in Sevilla and are looking for something to eat.
It is hot and getting hotter everyday. We will write more soon cause siesta time is coming and they are
closing restaurants and we are starving.
Love you all
evora - sevilla (over 800 km of cycling from Porto - we're taking a break, june 23, 2005)
We are in Sevilla staying at an apartment of 2 sweet girls that we met through our friend Paulo from Porto.
They`re 2 sisters named Angeles and Maria and they have a black female cat that looks like Jappik`s minature.
We`ll stay here until Sunday and then continue south towards Morocco.
After Evora we cycled to a beautiful village on a mountain top with a XIII century castle. It was the most
beautiful place we visited in Portugal. The mountain top is surrounded by the castle walls and the village is
located within the walls. The little houses are of course whitewashed and they look beautiful. The main church
from the back looks exactly like a mosque. The castle has the main tower and the inner walls where the bull fighting
takes place and that's where we camped. The bull fight wasn't scheduled for that weekend, so nobody was there and
when the last group of tourists left the village, we put up the tent and washed ourselves over a tub where bulls
drink while waiting for their turn to go on the stage. Ewa was a bit scared of the castle ghosts, but she enjoyed
it in the end.
The next day we left the village and when we passed another town only a few km from the Spanish border,
we suddenly decided to cross it and found ourselves on the other side. Right from the start we encountered high
rolling hills that the next day turned into mountains. On the second day we reached a pretty town - Jerez on a
slope of a high hill, went down and up the longest slope ever - 12 km of riding uphill in 40 degrees temperature.
It was crazy, but we made it. Almost every town that we passed before reaching Sevilla had a castle on a mountain
top and of course white washedhouses, the more south we went, the more Arabic looking.
There were Arabic signs in Portugal especially in the church towers, but in Spain there are even more, although
we expected even more. There buildings that looked like somewhere in North Africa - amazing.
For 2 days we cycled on a plateau and only started descending yesterday afternoon. About 50 km before Sevilla
our road (full of trucks) suddenly, without any warnings turned into a highway and we cycled on it for the next
6 km until the first exit. The surface and the wide shoulder were so good that we wanted to go on until the outskirts
of Sevilla, but somehow got off and when asked a local man for directions, we were invited for a cold beer. Man,
we needed that. The man`s name was Simon and he was an older, already retired man living a peacefull life far away
from all the city noises. When he gave us beer, and told us to jump into his pool to cool off, we asked him to
camp there and he was more than happy to let us stay with him.
This morning we left Simon`s place and in a few hours reached Sevilla. Fortunately, today was a liitle bit
cooler (only 35 degrees) because of the morning rain and hale. It was the first rain on our trip (3 weeks) and
the first day with the temperature lower than 40 degrees in 4 or 5 days.
Spain is much different than Portugal. Portugal was much easier to cycle through. Most importantly there was
water and public toilets in every town. In Spain water fountains or wells are very hard to find and there are no
public toilets and if there are, they`re locked. People are also differnt. The Portugese were somehow more open
and less stressed than the Spanish seem to be. Somehow people in Portugal looked happier. Perhaps we`re wrong,
but that`s our first impression.
On the other hand, roads are much better here. There are bicycle shoulders on every road, no matter what grade
and that`s very important. Also the surface is very, very good.
Tomorrow, we`re going to see Sevilla football stadium that is less than 5 minutes on foot from the building and
a bit of downtown. We`ll try to send some pictures from the city tomorrow. According to the Lonely Planet this is
an "impossibly intoxicating and sexy city". We'll see if that`s true.
We miss you all. Lots of kisses.
Ewa and Bart
relaxing in sevilla, june 24, 2005
Finally a day without work. Today we ate breakfast sitting at a real table and cooked on a real stove and what
breakfast it was - EGGS!!! Yes, we had eggs for the first time since we left Canada. Well, we had sweet eggs in
Aveiro, western Portugal, but this time we had hard boiled eggs and they were delicious.
Outside, the day like eveyday - hot!!! Sevilla is a nice city. We went to see the cathedral and were amazed
by how a mosque and a church could be made into one.
Across the street from the cathedral is the main post office where we asked about sending a parcel to Canada.
We already have stuff to send and we´ll do it from here. Anyway, an older guy at one of the windows was extremely
rude and pissed us off, but we didn´t blame him. It was 2 o´clock and already siesta - the time when until recently
everyone was at home or at a cafe relaxing. Today, many businesses stay open through the siesta in larger cities
(in small towns everything stops at 1 or 2 and comes back to life again at around 6). We´re sorry for those people
whose life styles have to be changed, the life styles that their ancestors had led for centuries. But since
McDonald´s stays open all day long, others are made to work as well.
We also went to see the Sevilla FC stadium which is just a few minutes away from the place where we´re staying.
Tomorrow another relaxing day.
Hugs and kisses.
Check out the new pics from Portugal and some new ones from Spain
hola from algeciras, june 30, 2005
On Monday we said 'goodbye' to Maria, got back on our bikes and left Sevilla. The heat wave is over and there
is no need to take siesta breaks from 12 to 6 anymore, so we were able to reach our destination in 3 days.
After almost 2 weeks we are back on the coast and today we crossed the border between Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Yesterday we reached Tarifa, the most southerly point in Europe, full of British hippies. It`s a nice town with
a beautiful old quarters surrounded by almost 1000 years old Moorish walls. The road to Tarifa wasn`t easy though.
The first 2 days after leaving Sevilla we cycled on the main highways infested with trucks and only yesterday
we followed the shore with white sandy, wild beaches on a back road across the beautiful green and yellow gentle
Cycling in Spain compared with Portugal is not easy. The roads to and from every larger city are only highways
and nothing else. The bikes are allowed there, but the speed limit is 120km/h and you can imagine the amount of
trucks on them. Fortunately, there are shoulders on every road here. Besides that it is impossible to find a
public tolet. From the border (about 500km) we have found only 2 (none in Sevilla) and both were locked. Also
there is a huge problem with water fountains. There are hardly any depite the heat. And you know how much we hate
to buy water, but sometimes we have no choice.
Other than that everything is OK. Andalucia is a beautiful province. From Sevilla it became obvious how proud the
local people are of their Spanish-Arabic culture. In Sevilla, many women wear Flamenco style, long and fluffy
dresses and big earings. And from Sevilla, the more south we went, the more buildings looked exactly like those
in Northern Africa. The main cathedral in Tarifa has the tower that hasn't been changed much since it was a part
of the main mosque in the town. People everywhere listen to the local music which is a mix between traditional
Spanish and North African tunes.
Last night we had the first glimpse of Africa. It is only 14 km away from Tarifa and tomorrow we are getting
on the ferry to Morocco. We can't post any pictures now because the computers here have no usb connection,
but hopefully we can find another cafe later.
We're sending lots of hugs and kisses.
Ewa and Bart
salam from morocco, july 4, 2005
We made it across the Strait of Gibraltar and are currently in beautiful Morocco, but not with the bikes.
Its too hot and we had to leave them in Algeciras where the parents of Maria & Angeles (the 2 girls we met in
Morocco is an amazing place as we imagined and even more. The first 2 days we spent in Tanger where we found
a cheap hotel right in the Medina where we could hear Imams call for the prayers every few hours. For 2 days we
walked for hours around Medina where the buildings on both sides of the narrow alleys let in a little light making
the place pleasantly cool. The main alleys are filled with shops, street vendors and hundreds of people and the
little, labirynth back alleys where its impossible not to get lost are filled with noisy kids, usually playing
football. The shopkeepers can be very annoying in Tanger and when they manage to lure you inside their shop you
wont come out wihout buying something. And the bargaining oh man, I think were experts after 3 days of being
The people are amazing. We havent met a rude person yet. Everyone is very nice like in Portugal.
They smile and reply to our every greeting very often making a small conversation. In Tanger many people spoke
English, but in Meknes less which is not really a problem because we manage to somehow comunicate in English,
French, Spanish, Italian and even German (all languages mixed into one). There are many young women without
head scarfs and even wearing tops with open shoulders. The signs of the new king being very liberal are very
visible here. We even met a gay guy yesterday in Meknes unbelievable.
After 2 days of enjoying the Medina life in Tanger, we caught a bus to Rabat where we were supposed to meet
a guy we met on the internet, but his phone was off all afternoon and after waiting at the bus stop for 3 hours
we jumped on another bus and found ourselves in Meknes in a windowless, but cheap hotel in the Medina. Our room
is surrounded, like many buildings inside, with beautiful tiles on the walls. Our 2 windows are overlooking the
courtyard that has an unusual shape. Instead of being rectangular its triangular (hence the name Hotel Nouveau).
Today, again, we spent the entire day walking and bargaining in the Medina. In the afternoon,
we had a delicilious dinner of camel meat balls and Moroccan flat bread. We bought the meat at
a butcher and took it to a tiny place where a very kind man barbequded it for us. Every meal must
be followed with a delicious cup of tea filled with fresh mint leaves.
Tomorrow (July 5), were leaving for a little place, Azrou where were planning to see Middle Atlas mountains
and from there to Fes.
So see you there.
our imperial fez, july 7, 2005
Yup, we are back in Meknez. We arrived by train not long ago. On the way to our hotel we met a Moroccan girl
who studied in Minsk. Surprisingly, she spoke more than perfect Russian! Things do not ceace to amaze us in this
exotic country of Africa. Thanks to a very nice man at the Hotel Nouveau, our room was waiting for us! Now,
let me tell you about Fez.
This great imperial city was not exactly on top of our list, but it would be like being in Osaka and not visiting
Kyoto. So on Tuesday we found ourselves on a bus from Azrou to Fez. On the bus I noticed a man sitting behind
looking at us, but I was too tired to ingage in a conversation. However, when the man got off on the outskirts
of Medina, he smiled and waved to me. Few hours later, after we checked into a hotel and had our couscous dinner,
we went for a short walk. And there, right in front of us was the man from the bus again. He introduced himself
as Said. He invited us to have a meal and stay with his family at his house behind one of the mysterious, old
walls in the Medina. It all sounded delicious! We took the invitation for the next day at ten oclock. Wow! We w
ould enter a Moroccan house and have a taste of the real family life in this exotic country!
The next morning we waited for him sipping tea in a tea place downstairs. Said appeared at ten, on time.
He took us to many artisan shops where we could see thing being made by hand, the old fashioned ways as well
as and sad sweatshops where little kids spend their days making cheap things for tourists. He also took us to
many mozaik shops where we were left breathless after seeing works of art in process. As Said explained in his
very limited English "pierce by pierce", the piece by piece puzzle-like work to us seemed endless and tiring,
but with a monumental effect. I will let the pictures speak for themselves...
The best part of Fez was Said's house. We had a pleasure of sharing space with "Madame of the house",
her four children, her two sisters and their daughters. I got to tell you, family life in Morocco is something
to be anvious of! "Madame" is in confectionary business. She makes cookies for weddings, so the family comes
and lives with her while they make them by hand. And when I say this I mean from the youngest to the oldest,
men, women and children stay in the kitchen tirelessly mixing and forming fillings out of almond paste.
The work amazed me so much that this morning after breakfast I decided to join them. Bart was taking notes
of recipes recited in Arabic by "Madame". All of them talked almost at the same time, and laughfter and Arabic
language filled the room. Once again I will let you look at the pictures to see what I mean.
Fez was, indeed, imperial to us. Thanks to Said we had an experience of a lifetime. My only regret was that
I didn't get a chance to visit Hammam, the Moroccan bath. Bart went with Said but the women's baths were closed.
Poor man tried his best to get me try it because as he said himself "is good the watr", but all the Hammams
in the city and the mountains were finished for the day. It was disappoiting to me and my three girl-companions.
Oh well, next time perhaps.
Now you tell me, was Fez not amazing?
back in spain and moving east, july 13, 2005
We´re back in Spain and slowly moving East along Costa del Sol. It´s hot and it will get even hotter,
but luckily, we're near the sea and the breeze that we get is very helpful.
When we got back from Morocco, we stayed for 2 days in Algeciras with Maria and Angeles' parents and their sister -
Ana. Life was sweet. We sat by the pool with their 2 dogs and jumped in whenever it got too hot. Thanks to the
kindness of the Sanchez family we're staying tonight at an empty apartment in a resort town of Estepona.
On the way to Estepona, we stopped for a few hours in Gibraltar. For some strange reason we imagined Gibraltar
to be more like Great Britain. It was Spain with British currency and prices. We coudn't even go to the top of
the limestone to see the old Moorish castle and the only wild monkeys in Europe because the fee is 8 pounds.
Have they gone mad? 8 pounds per person plus extra for an vehicle?!!! We did manage to see the monkeys on the
other side of the rock from the town. We found a garbage dump there and of course monkeys searchiong for food
together with seagulls.
After a delicious lunch we were back in Spain where the prices are more human.
We have tons of pictures waiting to be uploaded, but the cafe is closing. We promise to post them (at least some)
Keep in touch.
up the coast battling strong headwinds and high mountains, july 19, 2005
We left Estepona and are continuing cycling East along the coast. Costa del Sol and its resort towns are
behind us. In the nice city of Malaga we met a German guy, Samuel who began his ride somewhere near Munich and
is going to Gibraltar. We visited the Picasso museum together and went our seperate ways, us East and him West.
2 days ago when we left the town Nerja, mountains began and it took us 2 days to get across. Luckily,
all the time we were on the coast and there was a little breeze from the sea. Yesterday we went across the
last hill and rolled into a small town Adra and later even smaller town Balanegra where we made a camp.
The mountains were finished, but not the hard work. Today, a very strong headwind started blowing right
into our faces and we're beat again.
Yesterday, we noticed that people are a little bit more open here than they were in the south of Andalucia
and Extramadura. Many passing cars honk, people wave and we even had a small talk with 2 older guys. Hopefully,
it will be even better as we ride East. On the other hand the toilet situation hasn't changed. It's even become
worse. Before we had beach toilets and now many of them are locked too.
Currently we're in Almeria a very pleasant town still in Andalucia. We just had a nice lunch of salami and
cheese sandwiches washed down with Gazpacho right below the 8th century Moorish castle. During lunch,
a pregnant girl no more than 17 years old came to us and started talking in Spanish ignoring completely
the fact that we didn't understand anything. She was very proud of 3 rings she had in her face and wanted
to show us her daughter. Unfortunately, she never came back and we had to go.
It is the hottest place in Spain and thank God for the sea breeze even if we have to cycle against it.
When we passed by the ferry terminal today and saw a schedule for Africa, we took a minute to think if we
should leave Spain for Algeria. Later, though, we decided that we want to see Barcelona. We are about to
head back to the sea and cycle along the coast where the most beautiful, wild beaches in the Mediterranean
according to Lonely Planet are. Tomorrow, we should be out of Andalucia.
Love you all
approaching valencia, july 25, 2005
We are already in Valencia province. I say already, but it took us much longer than expected because of
7 days of mountains. We were tired, but finally enterd a plain yesterday.
In 4 days we should be in Valencia and from there continue to Barcelona and France. Hopefully, the road
will stay flat.
I have a little problem with my big toe. Yesterday a tip of a needle from a dry plant got stuck under
my skin and we can't get it out. We might have to see a doctor.
Tomorrow, we'll write more from a small town - Denia, between Alicante and Valencia where we hope
we'll be able to stay for a night or 2 with a Dutch couple - Jan and Janny who also do a lot of long distance
Talk to you soon,
ibiza, july 28, 2005
It's hot, hot, hot!!!
We reached beautiful Denia where we stayed for 2 nights with a very nice Dutch couple - Jan & Janny.
Our route has changed a bit. We decided to take a ferry to Ibiza where we are currently and from
here another ferry to Barcelona to save some time. We just got here and still have´'t found a place to camp
and we are very hungry.
More words coming soon.
life in ibiza, july 30, 2005
This is the third day of this unplanned trip to Ibiza, the land of world famous clubs and naked people om the
beach. Today we are leaving, though. Our ferry to Barcelona leaves in about an hour.
The 3 days here were really great. We did nothing. We found a great place among trees on top of a hill right
across the bay from the city and above a nudist beach. The life was sweet. We swam all the time in the clearest
sea ever and jumped from the rocks. The beaches here are not really nudist, but nude bathing is allowed on many
and half of the people are usually naked.
It's time to go and we're waiting for the ferry to Barcelona. The trip will take 9 hours and we'll be in the
city tonite at 9. Finally I will be able to see the city I've been waiting to see since I was a boy. We are both
very excited about going there. Barcelona was the main reason for visiting Spain.
We can't send any new pictures yet, but we'll try from Barcelona. We hope to stay there for about a week and
hopefully get to see the first game of the season (if it's played at home).
Wish you all great weekend
amazing barcelona (past the 2000km mark), july 31, 2005
We've reached Barcelona, the most beautiful city we've ever visited. It's simply amazing.
The words can't describe it, but we still can't post pictures. Be patient.
As we aproached the city by ferry yesterday, we smiled to ourselves from all the excitement. I've been waiting
for this moment all my life and I'm finally here. We rode our bikes into the city from the harbour with smiles on
our faces. Our heads moved in all directions trying to see all that we passed even in the dark.
One thing is for sure - Barcelona isn't Spain. I guess, it's too cosmopolitan. Probably, the same thing can
be said about Madrid too and visiting any of these 2 cities doesn't mean visiting Spain at all. Anyway, we loved
it looking at the city from the ferry and loved it even more when we finally arrived.
Today we took a walking tour around Eixample and saw all those amazing buildings by Gaudi and his
masterpiece - Sagrada Familia. Tomorrow we'll continue admiring this amazing city and try to post some pictures.
It's not easy to find an internet cafe where we can freely use Desktop and work with the pictures, but we'll try
We're staying with Juliana, a Brazilian girl who loves to talk. She's very nice and we hope she'll enjoy our
stay with her.
Love to all,
Ewa and Bart
rolling towards marseille, august 4, 2005
After 6 days of staying in Barcelona we are ready to move on. The next major stop is Marseille and we hope
we can get there within less than 2 weeks.
In about 5 days we will be out of Iberian peninsula. It's been about 2 months since we began our trip and we're
still enjoying it very much even when thinking about the high mountains awaiting us on Costa Brava. We've met
many friends here on the peninsula who helped us a lot and one day we hope we can do the same.
We'll have more news in a few days, possibly from France already.
Wish you all great vacations.
france at last!, august 13, 2005
When we left Barcelona, the surroundings changed completely from Southern Spain. For the first time in
weeks we cycled in the sea of green again and we could easily find trees to hide from the sun and to hide
our tent at night. Costa Brava was hard, but beautiful. It was the nicest coast so far and we wanted to stay
there longer, but at the same time we wanted to be in France already.
We got to the border where we had to go across couple of mountains, but once we were through, everything
suddenly changed. Most importantly, people are nice, talkative and friendly. It feels good to be able to
exchange greetings and smiles on the streets. Also, the washroom and water situation has improved. They are
We are riding through a beautiful country and we are enjoying baguettes, cheese and mineral water (that
is all they eat). Tomorrow we should be in Marseille, the last stop in continental France. We will write more
and post some pics from there.
Love and kisses,
marseille, the last stop in france, august 14, 2005
This morning we rolled into Marseille. We cannot really say yet whether we have a place to stay.
The lady that we contacted from Barcelona said that it was OK, but it was 10 days ago. Yesterday,
we sent another e-mail to find out if it is still OK, but haven't received any replies yet. We'll see./P>
This ride across Southern chunk of France was very short, but great. When we crossed the border in the
Southern Pyrenees and saw the first (unlocked) public toilet, drinking water fountain and smiling people all
around us we were glad./P>
We mostly stayed on the coast cycling through resort towns which are much quieter than those in Spain.
For about 2 days we cycled about 20 or 30 kilometres inland passing through charming, little towns and stuffing
ourselves with baguettes and delicious cheese. At one point, in a small town - Agde, we accidently enterd a
highway and a few kilometres later were screamed at by an angry French policeman./P>
2 days ago we entered Provence and crossed a desert-like giant beach in the Natural Reserve of Camargue w
here we were able to see some more pink flamingoes./P>
And finally, today, we are in Marseille. It's still not clear how long we'll be here, but if the lady can
still accomodate us, we will stay for about 3 days. Then the next stage - island hoping and the first one is
Love to all,/P>
corsica, august 16, 2005
Just quickly from Corsica. We left Marseille early because the lady where we were gonna stay probably left
the city for the long weekend. After hours of looking for a room we finally found a really bad one with mice
running around the room in the North African part of the city where there wasn't even one French person.
We left Marseille the next day and currently are in Corsica in the town where Napoleon was born. We'll
try to write more soon.
from porto to rome and only 1 flat each, august 24, 2005
We left Marseille in the middle of Mistral, a fierce wind blowing from the South making cycling against
it almost impossible. But we did it. The ferry to Corsica that day wasn't going to the town (Bastia) that we wanted,
but we couldn't afford another night in a mouse infected Tunisian hotel and had to settle for a town in the South
island - Ajaccio, the birth place of Napoleon Bonaparte. As it turned out later, the lady that we planned to stay
with in Marseille was actually in the city, but her PC was broken and we couldn't contact her. Too bad. Perhaps
we can meet some other time.
Corsica was great, but hard. It's a tiny island, but full of mountains. It's actually like a one mountain
growing out of Mediterranean Sea, totally different from Sardinia. We started cycling from Ajaccio, about
2/3 of the island South from the Northern tip. The last night we spent right on the shores of a small, empty bay.
There was no one except a lonely anchored yacht in the middle of the bay. It would've been a perfect place if it
wasn't for a jellyfish that got me while I was swimming in the morning. It was painfull and my elbow was swollen
for about an hour. A week later I can still see the marks on my skin.
After 4 days of hard hills, but with amazing views we were at the Southern tip, in a little town - Bonifacio,
known also as Corsica's Gibraltar. From this beautiful town we took another ferry and an hour later landed in
From the ferry we noticed that Sardinia was flat compared with Corsica and that cycling was gonna be easy.
It took us 3 days of slow riding to reach a major port city - Olbia from where we decided to catch a ferry to
the mainland. That Rome is like a magnet. We got too close to it and it pulled us towards itself. Well, to be
honest, we scrapped Sicily from our plans because we are running out of funds and time. The main reason to see
Sicily was Etna, and we know that one day we will see it (sorry Manuela, we really wanted to visit your friend).
Also, in the middle of Sardinia we had a place to stay at a house of a kind man from Nuoro, but instead we had
to cross the Tyrrhenian Sea to Rome.
A completely packed, overnight ferry took us to Chivitavecchia from where we took the ancient Aurelia road
to Ladispoli, a small town where I lived for a few months 16 years ago. It was exciting to see the familiar
buildings and the beach where we spent the summer days.
From Ladispoli we set out to probably one of the most amazing cities that exist on this planet - beautiful
and crazy Rome. On the way here, though, we had to stop for a night and even found a nice place right by famous
Aurelia. There was something like a farm being turned into something else. Anyway, a kind man told us that we
could stay there, but warned us about the dangerous snakes by a nearby river. It was fine with us. We didn't
plan to go near the river anyway. As we were getting ready to set up a camp, Ewa noticed something like mouse
move in one of the small trees near us. And when I got near it to see what the hell it was, I saw the whole
tree full of tree rats. They were on every branch looking down on me and probably already smelling food in
our panniers. That was it. We quickly packed up and took off. Fortunately, a few kilometres later we found
an unfinished warehouse where under a roof we pitched our tent.
The next day, we entered Rome. It was an amazing experience. And here we are staying at a youth hostel
right by Termini station. We hoped to stay with somebody here, but it's not the easiest time to find a
place anywhere and especially in Rome in August. Tonight is our second night on a bed that is way too
small for 2, but we can't afford anything else. It's a nice place, though, with very, very nice people
and if you're ever in Rome looking for a place to stay, try Backpacker's Place near Termini Stazione.
from rome to naples on scary italian roads, augusut 30, 2005
We were caught right in the middle of a training of Portugese Nave Seals and had machine guns pointed
at us from all directions, we accidently entered highways with speeding trucks in Spain and France, we were
screamed at by an angry French cop and I was stung by a jellyfish in Corsica, but nothing compares with
Italian roads and their drivers. It's like a circus.
There are no rules here or at least no rules that are observed by anyone. The roads have no shoulders
and are usually very narrow. 2-lane road can become 4-lane roads at any moment. On top of that most of the
drivers have no respect for cyclists at all. Everyone expects us to get out of "their" way and they let us
know that they're coming from behind at 100 km/h by their loud horns. None of them thinks even for a second
about slowing down and overtaking us cautiously. Riding here is no fun at all.
Camping spots aren't easy to find because everything is behind fences. The shops are not equipped with
canned food at all and Mozarella cheese, bread and tomatoes are our everyday lunch and sometimes even dinner
too. On the other hand people are very warm and friendly here. The more South we go, the more friendly people
we meet. Before Naples, many people stopped us on the roads asking many questions and never believing that
it's possible to ride a bike from Portugal to Italy. Throughout our conversation they kept repeating one
thing - "con la bici?"(by a bike?). Sometimes, we stop and talk just to take a short break and relax from
those dangerous roads.
Yesterday, we visited Capua, the town where I lived in a refugee camp. The camp is abondoned and devastated.
It's overgrown, has become a garbage dump for locals, but still the empty, falling apart buildings are full of
Gypsies. We have no idea how they live there without water and electricity, but they do and before Naples we
saw many more places like that. Outside of cities Italy doesn't look like a rich, developed country in Europe.
It looks like a third world country in Africa. The road sides are covered with a carpet made of garbage.
15 years ago Italy looked like this and I thought that things have changed, but they haven't. Garbage
is everywhere making Spain look good and Japan spic and span.
Last night we arrived in Napoli and stayed with Domenico in Avelino, a nearby town. We met Domenico
on the internet on one of the hospitalityy sites. We plan to stay here for a few days and then move South
to Pompei. FInally from Pompei we'll go across the peninsula to Brindisi from where we'll catch a ferry to
luciano from naples, roberto from bari and our adventures in the deep south of italy, september 14, 2005
And here we are. Today is the last day of our journey across the Latin Europe. Tonight we're taking a ferry
to Southern Albania and tomorrow, we'll be cycling SOuth towards the Greek border. About 2 weeks ago we left Naples,
crossed Apennines and rode around the heel of the Italian boot. Currently, we're in a small port town - Brindisi
right between Lecce and Bari in the deep South of Italy.
But let us go back to Naples. Our first connection there turned out to be very unreliable and after a day of
waiting in Piazza Garibaldi we decided to look for something else.
And we found a great guy named Luciano just outside of Naples where we were able to stay for 3 days.
Luciano lives with 2 friends - Eugenio and Gino, but his house which is always open and protected by a cool cat
Camillo, is always full of interesting people. There is always a large group of friends there every evening and
for the 2 nights there were 2 more - us.
We were able to visit the city without bicycles and also spend an entire day in the amazing city of Pompei.
It's quite incredible to see how the 2000 year old buildings, pictures and even paint on the walls can be so
well preserved. Some walls have still shiny paint on them and some pictures look like they were painted yesterday.
It's amazing, but the place is huge and when we got back to Luciano's place all we could think of was to sit on
his comfortable couch, grab a beer and stay there forever. That evening we ate an amazing Napolitan pasta cooked
by noone else by Luciano. It was spaghetti with octopus in spicy sauce and it was really great.
The next day, we left Naples and cycled through the neverending town along the sea with private beaches only.
The beaches were private, but extremely dirty with piles of garbage lying everywhere. It was hot and we were tired
of hundreds of cars passing us at high speeds dangerously close. When we entered the mountains, we were still
going through the neverending town that began far before Naples. It was frustrating because there wasn't an inch
of public land and we were forced to camp in people's fields. But when we reached Puglia on the other side of
Apennines, there was nothing else, but the sea of fields. It's an agricultural region and the population is scarce
in that part. It gets more crowded near the coast, though.
We reached Bari and stopped at the place of our new Salentino friend - Roberto. Roberto is a really cool guy
who lived in Bari with his younger brother Alessandro (currently Roberto is in the Noirth of Italy and his brother
is also moving there soon). When we finally took a long desired shower, we were treated to a great dinner of
Bari is a nice town which is very different than Naples or Rome or at least I thought so. The buildings here
like all over the Italian heel are built with this yellowish white stone that is found in the upper strata.
We stayed in Bari for 2 nights and here, once again our plans changed. Instead of going straight to Brindisi
where we are right now, we went around the Italian boot's heel. Roberto and Alessandro invited us for the weekend
to their home - Acquarica del Capo which is located right at the bottom of the heel.
The road from Bari to Acquarica took us across a beautiful country that is rich with culture. In the past
it was fought for by every major power and the signs are clearly visible today. There are Spanish defensive
towers on the shore, Greek region where people still speak Greek, Albanian towns with mosques, French churches
and many light haired people that still carry Norman blood in them.
On the second day passed Bari we reached a small town called Alberobello which is a part of Unesco Heritage.
The town is full of smerf like tiny houses. The next day we got to another beautiful, old Greek town - Gallipoli
and finally after 3 days of cycling, we reached Acquarica del Capo, the town that is never visited by tourists
and hasn't really changed since 100 years ago. It was the middle if siesta and the streets were empty. There
was nobody there, not even occasional car passing by. It looked deserted and spooky. The life here begins again
after 5 o'clock and between 2 and 5 everything sleeps.
We spent 2 nights with Roberto and his family. The first evening was the night of Madonna and there was a
street procession in which people carried a statue through the streets. On the next day we were introduced to
Roberto's entire family that came to the town for the procession and lunch at his house. The lunch, of course,
was full of the local recipies.
One of such dishes was pasta called "Little ears and little dicks". The name comes form the shapes of the
pasta. We also had "Frizelle" which is dried whole wheat bread softened in water and torn into small pieces
with fresh tomatoes on top, salt and, of course, olive oil. For 2 days we did almost nothing, but eat.
During the lunch with the family, I sat near Roberto's granfather and when the guy noticed that I was a bit
interested in what he had to say about his colourful past, I was in trouble. He talked and takled and didn't
care much that I had a little idea what he was saying. But it was so much fun to be there.
We were lucky enough to witness the famous "Pizzica", a local dance that derives from a dance to cure
possesed women or rather young women who pretended to be possesed to be be brought out of thir homes in
order to see men. It was a great adventure to be in such a small town, deep South of Italy where the country
hasn't been spoiled yet by tourists.
We left Acquarica and made our way up the coast to Lecce, a beautiful city worth visiting and from to
Brindisi. Last night we reached the sea again and the deserted summer towns of Southern Adriatic coast that
are ruled by stray dogs during autumn, winter and spring. For the first time since Andalucia we pitched our
tent on the sandy beach and fell asleep to the sound of the waves.
This morning we left our little beach and arrived in Brindisi. We have already bought tickets for Vlore in
Southern Albania and are waiting for the ferry.
After over 1000 km of cycling in Italy, one thing is for sure - we will never come back here with bicycles.
It was a great adventure to be here and we have made many great friends, but Italy is probably the worst country
in Europe for cycling. A Canadian guy that we met in Bari had a similar opinion and I bet everyone who cycles
here does too. It's way too dangerous and not worth risking life.
first moments in albania, september 15, 2005
Last night we left Latin Europe and this morning after 9 hours on an ancient ferry we landed in Vlora,
a city in Southern Albania. The first impression was like being back in China. I think all Socialist countries
have that in common. We checked into a hotel which is cheap, but not cheap. A nice man whom we met on the street
helped us find it and also helped bargain for a price a little. Surprisngly, everyone here speaks at least a
little bit of Italian, so we can communicate somehow.
We're planning to stay here for a few days and then head towards either Greek border or Macedonian. the
problem with Macedonia is that we would have to go back North a little to get there and there are high
mountains all around us. It won't be a pleasant cycling for sure. But first we have to finally leave this
internet cafe and walk the streets to see what's going on here.
Ewa and Bart
warm vlore, september 16, 2005
We must say that after the first day we are nicely surprised with Albania and its people.
Before arriving here, we had mixed thoughts about the place. It must have been all those warnings about
Albania and surprised looks when we said we were coming here. Italians and mostly those who have never been
here seem to be paranoid about Albanian people. In fact, the nation is very warm and friendly. The people here
are as friendly as in any other third world country. Most are still very simple as in most Communist or post
Communist countries and as we discovered long ago simplicity warms peoples hearts. But the globalization found
its way here too and the transformation is on the way. There are already some people here who think 24 hours
a day how to become rich while others live in poverty.
The general atmosphere is that of China a few years ago or Poland of the 70s and 80s. There is always something
nice about these places and we always enjoy being in countries like this. I think it is so because we were
raised in a similar place and many things bring back memories.
Our hotel is right downtown near a Socialist style monument and there are many unfinished buildings around us.
The room is not bad, but the washroom is terrible. The shower is in a storage room and when mens toilet is
flashed half of the water comes out on the floor through a whole in the pipe. But it all doesn-t matter because
we have a bed which is a nice break from the tent.
We spend our days here walking around, talking to people and eating "byrek", a local street snack which
is a pie filled with spinach, feta cheese or meat with cabbage. It-s really delicious. Yesterday Ewa was
challenged to a game of dominos by an older man and we even tasted Albanian beer that wasn-t bad. In the
evening we were lucky enough to witness a concert of traditional groups from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.
We-re planning to stay here until Sunday and then head South to the mountains.
Ewa and Bart
into the mountains, september 16, 2005
After another lazy day in Vlore we have decided to leave to morrow morning. The more we're here the less we
want to get back on the bikes and climb the mountains. We have no choice, though. Btween here and Athens there is
nothing else but mountains. It will be hard, but at the same time very interesting. We can't wait to cycle through
those little mountain villages on the Albanian side as well on the Greek side.
Yesterday, a travel agent at our hotel asked us if we wanted to appear on local TV. He couldn't believe what we
were doing and he that was gonna call his friend at the local TV station to set up an interview. Nothing has
happened yet though, and it seems like we won't be on Albanian TV after all.
The weather here is good. It's much cooler than it was in Italy and most importantly it's dry. But as we enter
the mountains it will probably get cold and we'll digging out our winter clothes. So far we haven't had 1 day
without sunshine in more than 3 months. We are getting sick of it and are missing clouds very, very much.
EWA and Bart
3 days in albanian mountains, september 23, 2005
When we left Vlore on Saturday morning we had no idea what awaited us down the road. Little did we know that
the next 3 days we were gonna spend on the most difficult, but also the most beautiful road we have ever been with
bikes. And it wasn't only because of the views. It was the combination of breathtaking views, great people and
amazing atmosphere that accompanied was on that lonely road high in the mountains and in the isolated villages.
We wanted to stay there forever and where did we find it? Not in Tibet, not in Japan and not in Canada.
We found it in Albania, this little place in Europe forgotten the rest of the continent.
The weather was good on that day. Just outside of Vlore we began climbing and a dusty road with almost no asphalt
left on it took us up a hill and then down into a large valley. Here the surface was much better. We passed
a small friendly village called Drashovice and then a small town Kote where we were able to fill our bottles
with water coming down from the mountains. It was so unusual for the town to have visitors that in a few seconds
we were surrounded by about 20 kids who played with our lights and bells.
When we left Kote, we met our friend from the ferry that we took to Albania. It was a very nice surprise and
we stopped by the road, drank beer and ate watermelon. It was right on the junction where our small, mountain
road was turning left and his was going right. We have absolutely no idea what the road was going to be like,
but we were warned by many people against taking it. Everyone we asked said that it was too difficult and only
villagers used it. One guy in Vlore even said that it didn't exist. But we had our minds set on it and there
nothing that could change it. We got on the bikes and turned left from the main road.
The asphalt lasted for about 1 km and the gravel began. We passed another friendly village called Vaize and
a sheppard who was so happy that hugged about 3 times. We reached a small hamlet - Ploch and pitched our tent
right outside of it near a Communist monument. There was a total silence broken once in a while by sheeps'
bells somwhere in the distance. It was a beautiful place and we had a good night sleep there.
We left our spot in the early morning when sheppards were leading on horses their sheep to their favourite
spots. The weather was good. There was a little threat of rain, but it quickly passed. The road was still
OK at this point, but after a while of riding I noticed that my front tire had gotten softer and when we
reached a village Severen, I had to replace the tube and we kept going. The tire was good again, but the
good road ended in the village. From here the road was made of large rocks, very difficult to ride on.
They were so big that sometimes we had to push the bikes It was built by Mussolini 60 years ago and never
fixed even once. We moved like snails and envied those who rode horses or donkeys. The road was good for
walking and not for riding or driving. We passed some people dressed like they were coming back from a funeral.
We also met a guy walking with a gun on his shoulder who scared the shit out of Ewa. From this moment the road
had become very steep and we had to push the bikes uphill.
We finally reached a point from where it seemed like the road could go only down, but down in a large valley
we saw that it did go down only to a small village and back up from there. The road condition was so bad that
even thoughwe were going down, the speed was no more than 4 km/h. and at times we even had to push. Besides
that we were almost out of water and out of food. We had only 2 pieces of "byrek" left and the village in
the valley was a good sight. We knew that at least we could get water there.
Half an hour later we were by the first house. A woman standing in front of her house and 4 men up on the
roof told us to come in. They said that we could get water there and asked if we wanted coffee. They were
happy to have a visitor in their small village where seldom anybody passes because of the road. After a
while the woman asked if we were hungry. We were so hungry by then that couldn't say "no". Something very
unusual was happening in the village and in a few minutes the front yard was full of people, mostly kids.
Everyone wanted to witness it. Another lady, Sonya, asked if we wanted to wash while they're preparing
food for us. We went about 150 metres down the road to her house and all the kids with us. We washed,
looked at some photos and went back to the first house. There we found the food ready on the table. It
was full of food and everything was home made. There was boiled lamb, baked egg plant with rice, feta
cheese, sour cream, honey, tomatoes and bread. For the dessert we had grapes that kids got off the branches
right above our heads. It was an amazing lunch and we were very greatfull for these poor people's generocity
and were happy to be in their village. And when they asked us to stay with them for the night we smiled and
The arragements were made and we were gonna sleep at Sonya's house and we all moved to her house. The rest
of the day we spent with the villages talking without a common language, but still managed to communicate.
At about 6 o'clock Sonya's husband returned home and at about the same time a lonely sheep also came home.
The sheep went straight to a water bucket to drink what turned out later the last drops of water in its life.
A few minutes later it had its throat slit by Sonya's husband while 2 small kids hels its legs. They killed their
only sheep and we were the reason. We witnessed the entire process of skinning an animal and taking its insides
out, some for people and some for other animals. Suddenly the place was full of animals. A cat got some, 2 dogs
and even chikens came to feast on the sheep's organs. Besides the sheep, Sonya's daughter killed a chicken that
later also became a part of our dinner.
Sonya's husband killed the sheep, skinned it and took the insides out. That was his job. The rest belonged
to the women and while they were outside preparing dinner, the man asked to join him in the living room to watch
TV. I got a demonstration how many channels it's possible to see with their satelite and we went through over
600 of them covering almost entire world. At last we stopped at Espanyol - Real Madrid game and the dinner began.
There were 2 of us, Sonya, her husband and 3 daughters, the lady from the first house and her daughters as well
as another lady. Everyone except for 2 girls got a huge plate of boiled lamb, grilled chicken, fries, feta cheese
and bread baked a couple of hours ago by Sonya's oldest daughter. Besides that on 2 seperate plates were sour
cream and honey. A spoon is used to get some honey, then sour cream and the mix goes into a hungry mouth. We
were eating and talking without a common language while Real Madrid kept trying unsuccessfully to tie the game.
After the this game, we stared watching Barcelona play against Atletico Madrid while trying to finish the huge
amounts of food on our plates. When we finally finished eating, it was already late When we left Vlore on Saturday
morning we had no idea what awaited us down the road. Little did we know that the next 3 days we were gonna spend
on the most difficult, but also the most beautiful road we have ever been with bikes. And it wasn't only because
of the views. It was the combination of breathtaking views, great people and amazing atmosphere that accompanied
was on that lonely road high in the mountains and in the isolated villages. We wanted to stay there forever
and where did we find it? Not in Tibet, not in Japan and not in Canada. We found it in Albania, this little
place in Europe forgotten the rest of the continent.
When we got up the next morning, the kids were getting ready for school. Sonya had already boiled eggs for breakfast
and had warmed up milk mixed with honey. Besides that the breakfast consisted of Turkish coffee and raki, the strong
Albanian liquor. We ate breakfast, drank vodka and said goodbye to the village people. 2 girls who have already
finished school led us dor about 1.5 km down the road to visit the school and say goodbye to the kids. The rain
that fell during the night had made the condition of the road much worse. The rocks were very slippery and there
was deep mud in many places.
The small school wasnt very pretty. The building was an old 2-storey, concrete rectangle. The classes were located
on the first floor and the second floor with its broken windows and blackened walls looked like after a war. The
kids, of course, made everything much more colourful than it really was. We were probably the first visitors in
their building or at least the first visitors in many years and they were very happy to have us there, especially
when we started taking pictures. It was the first day of school and there were no classes yet. The 4 teachers who
worked there were busy dividing books in the staff room. After a short while though, the directress hearing noise
from the classrooms showed up to see what was happening and took us to meet other teachers. The teachers were as
happy to have us there as their students and they wanted to be photographed as well.
When we left the school, we had a drink at a bar/grocery store right beside the school and found there 2 guys who
spoke good English. But the time was rushing us and we had to say goodbye to the people and get back on our bikes.
We had no choice if we wanted to get to the next town that day.
The people of that village touched our hearts. After our departure from Sinanai, the people went back to their
everyday, peaceful lives and, unfortunately, back to dreaming about the perfect life they see on TV. Yes, the
perfect instrument to globalise the world found its way there too and is making everyone believe that the lives
of people in Dallas are real,. beautiful and possible.
The road here was the worst ever. At times it was even impossible to push the bikes for more than 5 steps at a
time. It took us 30 min. to move a few hundred metres. We stopped for a break to eat some walnuts when a small
van with Greek plates came and inside were 3 people and one of them was the guy who spoke good English back in
the village. They offered to take us a few kilometres up the road where the paved road began once again. And
after a while we were sitting in the van driving towards Tepelene. We were a bit down after leaving the village
with such nice people and didnt feel much like pushing our bikes uphill on huge, slippery rocks. After 20 or
30 minutes of driving on a curvy, thin road where many cars fell off the cliffs, we reached the town Dukai and
our friends dropped us off. As soon as we were out of their van, a young woman approached us speaking good English.
She was a school teacher in the town, but lived in Tepelene, the town where we were heading. As soon as she heard
where we were going, she invited us to her house later in the afternoon.
We reached Tepelene at 1 oclock and had 5 hours to kill before meeting our new friend, Antonette. We found a
place to sit near the statue of the local hero, Ali Pasha and waited while the local kids kept us company asking
tons of questions.
Later we were led by Antonette to her home, 2 blocks away where we met her parents. We were told that, although
they were very poor, we could stay in their little place for as long as we wished. We thanked them and said that
we could only stay for 2 nights. We spent the evening talking about Albania, Canada and our cultures. Antonette
told us how difficult life was in Albania. She told us about the electricity being cut off everyday between 11
and 4, the water which flows only between 6 and 7 in the morning and sometimes between 6 and 7 in the evening
and her monthly pay which is ridiculous. We ate dinner that was boiled rice mixed with animal fat and some spices
and some milk with butter.
We went to bed happy that we met new friends and that we came to Albania despite being warned by many people in
Italy. At the same time we were every sad knowing how hard peoples lives are in this country. And where is it?
Right in the middle of Europe. Rich countries like France, Germany or England should be ashamed that on their
continent in the 21 century are still places like Albania, Moldova or Ukraine. How is it possible that Europes
wealth can spread so unevenly? Its even sadder to know that so many people arent even aware that these countries
exist. We often think here in Albania about those piles of fruits and vegetables rotting in the ditches in Japan
just because they werent round enough to be sold to supermarkets or nearly full bottles of pop that were thrown
out of car windows in Spain and France or 5 different laundry detergents that are bought in Canada like one is not
Anyway, the next day we spent with Antonette. Her mother prepared lunch which was macaroni with animal fat
and a piece of bone on top of it. It wasn't a happy experience. We left the next day and cycled for 30 km to
a large town called Gjirokaster. There we stayed for 1 night and moved to the border.
This morning we crossed the border to Greece and cycled for 60 kilometres to Ionnina. The weather was terrible
and we got wet. Fortunately, we found a campground where we will be able to take hot shower right after we
finish writing this.
Hopefully, tomorrow the weather will improve and it will be warmer.
we're in greece, september 24, 2005
Yesterday, we crossed the Albanian/Greek border and cycled for 60 kilometres to the town called Ioannina.
Our first thoughts were towards People's Republic of Poland's education system and that we were taught the
Cyrillic alphabet. Greek is more or less the same and thanks to that we're not illiterate in this land of
mountains, sea and feta cheese.
This morning, we met another couple of cyclists. They came from Switzerland and are heading to Istambul.
In few minutes we are leaving Ioannina and heading towards Athens which is 436 km away. If everything goes
well we should be there in about 5 or 6 days.
ioannina to athens, october 3, 2005
We left Ioannina and cycled for 3 days through beautiful Greek mountains until we reached the new bridge to
Peloponese. The road that took us through the mountains and some spectacular gorges, luckily, kept going down all
the way from the Albanian border to the sea.
After crossing the bridge to Peloponnese we cycled for another 3 days following the coastline through sleepy
fishing villages and towns. We reached the incredibly huge city of Athens on Thursday, October 29. It took us a
couple of hours to ride through crowded streets full of dangerous drivers, but we made it and at the of that
tiring day we sat with our 3 new friends in their apartment and drank beer.
We are staying with 3 cool guys who don't stop smoking. They're Panayiotis, Dmitri and Yannis. We've been here for
4 days already and have enjoyed every minute with these guys. They're a great companion and extremely relaxed
making others relaxed as well. Panayiotis is a kind of guy who's always relaxed, but at the same time busy,
Dmitri is the mellowest dude we have ever met who doesn't stop rolling cigarettes and Yannis is a great cook
who begins cooking meals at 9, but finishes at about 1 or 2 am. For the first time in our lives we ate dinner
at 2 o'clock in the morning, but it was incredibly good. The 3 guys are an evidence that the Greek people haven't
changed much over the last 3000 years. They still get together and spend hours discussing things as they did in
Tomorrow, we are taking a ferry to Turkey. We will ride to the city called Izmir and take a train from there to
Ankara. We need to visit the Canadian embassy there to get my permit to enter Canada again. And from Ankara we
will get on our bikes again and ride back West to Istanbul and see how the things go from there.
leaving athens, october 4, 2005
Today we're leaving Athens and we are very sad. We can only hope that tomorrow will be better. We stayed
here much shorter than we planned originally. There were so many people that we wanted to meet, but unfortunately
we have to go to Turkey to the Canadian embassy there. Of course when I say "unfortunately" I don't mean we're not
happy about going to Turkey, but it's unfortunate that we have to leave Athens so soon without meeting all those
interesting people who replied to our e-mails. Turkey is the next country on our route and even though we are sad
about leaving Athens, at the same time we can't wait to be in that interesting land.
Anyway, as I wrote a few days ago our days here in Athens were spent in a great company of 3 mellowest guys in
Athens. We enjoyed the evenings full of beer and weed fumes and deep conversations on all possible topics. ANd,
of course, we will never forget the 2 am dinners cooked by Yannis.
On the second night were even invited to a Greek Soap Opera premiere party where we got drunk among Greek
celebrities. The problem was that we had no idea who was who, but it didn't really matter in the end because
we were there to get drunk with our new friends.
Turkey is probably the last country we will visit on this journey and hopefully it will be another great
experience. The only problem is the Canadian embassy and the fact that we need to go there to get my permit.
Things like that are always very stressful for us. We decided to take a train from Izmir to Ankara, get the
things done at the embassy and then get back on our bikes and cycle to Istanbul.
Well, this is it. I know it's an incredibly boring e-mail and I'm stopping writing at this moment. It's that
turkey, october 5, 2006
And we are in Turkey. We arrived here this morning on a tiny, but the most expensive ferry ever.
Yesterday we left Athens and our new Athenıan frıends behınd. We both sılently hoped for some kınd
of ferry trouble, so we could stay 1 more evenıng at that cozy place, but everythıng was OK and at
4 o'clock (wıth Japanese accuracy) the shıp left that gıant cıty. On the way to the port as ın every
major European cıty we found ourselves on a hıghway wıth cars flyıng next to us. Other than that
everythıng was normal except for a drunk Gypsy couple fıght near te port.
We had deck tıckets and as soon as we boarded the shıp were ımmedıately dırected to the top floor where
the rest of the 'cattle' was already gettıng ready for the trıp. The lower floor wıth a nıce, soft carpet
and the restaurants was a place only for the 'hıgher class' wıth cabıns, I guess. Anyway, we managed to
get down somehow and stayed there, even though they dıd try to kıck us back up. We even managed to sleep
on the floor ın our sleepıng bags. The bıggest problem was that the ferry made many stops durıng the nıght
and about every hour we were awaken by a blastıng speaker located rıght above our heads.
Thıs mornıng we arrıved ın Samos 15 mınutes before the ferry for Turkey left. I wanted to stay ın Samos
for a few days to take some pıctures, but Ewa constantly thınks about the embassy and she wants to get
there as soon as possıble. We bought the redıculously expensıve tıckets (35 EURO per person for 1.5 hour
long journey). The boat was tıny and very noısy and the only good thıng durıng that hour and a half was
dolphıns that swam and jumped near the boat as we aproached Turkey. It was very cool to see those anımals
racıng somewhere unknown.
When we arrıved ın Turkey, the fırst ımpressıon was that the local people see the dollar sıgns ınstead of
hour heads. The fees for vısas were 55 EURO and 20 EURO for some stupıd port tax that was probably made up
by a guy who pocketed our money. The vısa for Canadıans ıs 45 EURO. Turkısh government must be pıssed off
at Canada for not supportıng Amerıcans ın theır wars because I only paıd 10 EURO wıth Polısh passports.
Fortunately, ıt was only government offıcıals and the people outsıde of the port were very warm and frıendly.
We had a small chat wıth a guy sellıng carpet who lıke Moroccans lured us to hıs shop usıng the famous phrase
- 'You don't have to buy anythıng. Just come ınsıde. It's free to look'. There was even tea for us lıke ın Morocco.
We thought, 'Oh, yeah. We're ın North Afrıca agaın', but the man wasn't pushy at all as Moroccans are. He seemed
to understand that we dıdın't come to Turkey to buy carpets.
Currently, we're ın a very nıce and very cheap guesthouse (Dreams Guesthouse) ın Selcuk, a small town famous
for Roman ruıns. But the ruıns are not the reason we stopped here. We're beat after the long boat journey and
are lookıng forward the comfy bed that's waıtıng for us upstaırs
couch surfing, october 6, 2005
For all of you who are still not convınced about the Couchsurfing website, read thıs
that was written by our friend and the first host on our journey, Paulo form Porto.
selcuk to ankara by bus :(, october 7, 2005
It was the fırst serıous dıstance we covered ın a car, but we had to do that even though I hated ıt.
Ewa gets paranoıd every tıme we have to vısıt a government offıce and ıf we cycled to Ankara, whıch ıs about
500km, she wouldn't have enjoyed ıt at all.
It was a nıght bus (totally dıfferent from the Chınese nıght bus we travelled on 5 years ago) and we mıssed
probably a lot. All the towns looked the same lıke they usually do at nıght. We knew we were ın a Muslım country
though, because of the mınarets. Unlıke ın Morocco, here they have colourful neon lıghts around the projectıng
balconıes and you can't mıss them. You only realıse how many mosques there are ın cıtıes and towns at nıght.
Durıng one of many stops we experıenced what ıt means to throw out garbage (sunflower seeds) on the ground ın
Turkey. We were eatıng the seeds and as anywhere else we were throwıng the empty shells on the ground, when an
older man gave us shıt for ıt. He saıd that there are garbage bıns and ashtrays for that purpose. Suddenly,
we ralısed that Turkey looked much dıfferent form the rest of Southern Europe except for Portugal and Athens
(unfortunately not the whole of Greece) - ıt ıs clean. We even remembered a man ın Selcuk sweepıng park alleys.
We covered only 25 km between towns, but so far the country looks very clean. Other than that there was not much
to see exept for one spooky thıng, though. It was a road kıll beıng eaten by a dog. Any road kıll, even after
4 months of cyclıng usually looks pretty unpleasant, but when beıng eaten by another anımal ıt makes you shıver
especıally at nıght.
We arrıved ın Ankara thıs mornıng and when we got off the bus we almost froze to death. It was very cold.
The cıty ıs at 1200 m above the sea level and ıt's already October. A few mınutes later 3 shy guys lookıng
very student-lıke approached us holdıng a pıece of paper wıth our names on ıt. But ıt was unnecessary.
They recognısed us and so dıd we rıght away. After a short chat we followed them on our bıkes through the
busy streets of Turkısh capıtal to theır apartment where we all shared breakfast. And once agaın, on thıs
trıp we are stayıng wıth 3 guys. Isn't ıt a coincidence?
Ankara ıs a huge cıty and ıt's buılt on hılls makıng cyclıng around ıt not a pleasant experıence.
It has thıs Mıddle Eastern feelıng and ıt remınded me of Urumqı ın Xınjıang, Chına. Of course ıt was
only fırst ımpressıon and ıt wıll probably change as we see more of ıt.
There ıs one ınterestıng thıng worth mentıonıng here, I thınk. It's about Turkısh
washrooms whıch are very sımılar to Japanese ones. The washıng ıs done on the floor as ıt ıs ın Japan
and the only dıfference ıs the absence of a buthtub whıch ın Japan ıs usually used to relax after washıng.
We can't waıt 'tıll we hıt a Turkısh hammam.
Well, thıs ıs ıt. We are ın the mıddle of Turkey and ıt's the begınnıng of Ramadan. Beıng so near to the
Mıddle East makes me wanna get on my bıke on cycle towards Syrıa or Iran or, what the hell, even Iraq. It's
hard to belıeve that we're just across the border from those natıons. But for now, ıt wıll only be my dream.
Maybe next year.
Tomorrow, we 'll see what ıt's lıke to smıke the Turkısh water pıpe.
More words and pıcs comıng soon.
relaxing ankara life, october 14, 2005
It's been 8 days since we arrived in Ankara and we're still here. The embassy visit couldn't be easier.
Everything was done in one day, but we just can't leave this place. There are so many reasons, but the biggest
one ıs the bunch of great people that we're staying with. We've stayed ın many different places between here and
Portugal and everyone was sımply amazing. These guys, their friends and neighbours who are always here are no
different. Tomorrow, we wıll make a third attempt to get back on the bicycles, but it won't be easy. İt never
is. İt was very hard to leave our new, great friends in Greece, ALbanıa, Italy, Spain and Portugal and it will
be hard to leave Ankara. Today, we are saying that we're leaving tomorrow, but whether we do or not it will only
be known in the morning. We've tried twice and even had a farewell raki party which is very similar to Eastern
European drinking nights. The party ended, hangover has passed and we are stıll here.
Our days in Ankara are very simple. We don't do much and yet our days are far from being boring. Usually,
we stay inside playing 'Asshole' or PS2, drinking tons of Turkish tea, watchıng TV or simply talking for
hours with Turkish beer in our hands. İt's like being back home. When we do go out, it is only to hang out
at our new friends' campus which is only 10 minutes away.
Also, the tradition of going to bed after 3 o'clock that we started in Athens with another great bunch of
people, continues here. The Ramadan drummer who passes by the building every night at about 3 o'clock to
wake people up for breakfast before sunrise must think that this is the most religious apartment in the
neighbourhood. Little he knows that we all are dedicated more to beer than to religion.
Anyway, whether we leave tomorrow or the day after, ıt will happen eventually. But we will never forget
these students, the football matches we played together, smoking the Turkish waterpipe together, endless
conversations and communal breakfasts. Yes, we finally reached a country where breakfast is very important.
We are no longer being thought of as weirdos because we eat breakfast everyday ;)
The last stage of our journey is ahead of us. the distance between Ankara and İstanbul is about 500 km.
İt seems like we will be in Turkey's biggest city and world's first metrpolis in about a week. The biggest
worry is the temperature. The altıtude here is only about 1200 m, but in the evenings it gets really cold.
We have a few mountains to cross where it won't be funny to sleep in the tent. The good news is that we
already have a place to stay in İstanbul, thanks to Manuela, our Portugese mother from Aveiro.
istanbul, our last stop, october 25, 2005
We left Ankara and our friends, but ıt took 5 attempts and 2 farewell partıes. On the last Saturday
evening the guys managed to cram 15 people ınto their small living room plus Dorothy from Canada via the internet.
We even had a mini concert and more beer and raki. Once again we went to bed when the Ramadan drummer was trying
to wake people up for breakfast before the sunset and there was no way we were gonna get up in the morning, climb
on the bikes and leave. İnstead of Sunday, we left on Monday by train. Our hosts helped us carry the bikes to the
street and according to a Turkish believe poured water after us to make us flow smoothly. On that day, we trıed
fasting. İt wasn't a complete fasting because we had breakfast before we left for the train. Still we (or rather
me only) tried to stay without eating until the sunset and it was pretty hard. İ don't know how these people can
do it everyday for a month.
We reached this huge city in the evening and on Tuesday morning we met with Seyhan, a friend of our Portugese mom
from Aveiro. Unfortunately, Seihan was leaving for Denmark and couldn't spent much time with us. She handed us
the keys to her summer apartment on a tiny island located 30 min. by ferry from İstanbul and gave us all the
directions. We have the apartment to ourselves on an almost empty island where at this time of a year there
are more cats than people. İt's amazing to come back every evening from busy, crowded and noisy İstanbul to
this quiet and peaceful place. İt's the perfect spot to relax at the end of our journey.
We miss the Ramadan drummer drumming his drum every night, but we have a mosque near and every morning around
4 or 5 we are awaken by the call for prayer. İt's more like a performance than just a simple call. Unlike in
Morocco, the ımams here are singing the calls and not just shout.
Turkish people are really amazing. They are warm and friendly, even in a huge city like İstanbul. But İ think
the nicest surptise is to see how stray animals are treated here. The animals, especially cats are everywhere.
It seems like the country has been invaded by them. And they all have a common mission - to find food. The ones
that are near restaurants or bazaars are the luckiest. There is always something for them. İt is very common to
see cats and dogs near kebap stands asking loudly until something lands on the sidewalk for them. İt is funny to
see sometımes dogs, cats, crows and seagulls eatıng together on our ısland. Caroline, if you're reading this, we
found a solution for you. You can pack your animals and bring them here. There is a huge competition for food,
but at least people have a lot of compassion and the only predators are cars.
We are trying as much as we can to stay away from the crowded, tourist spots here in İstanbul, but it's not easy.
Unlike in Ankara where we had so many people to talk to and get some insıde info about Turkish culture, here
we are alone. Plus there are so many interesting places in this city that we are forced to leave the island
every day and do a bit of sighseeing. The biggest experience was to visit the inside of a mosque. On the other
hand, it was pretty sad to see groups of ignorant people equipped with their digital cameras walking almost
on top of praying people and constantly snapping pictures, ignoring those who come there to pray. There is a
huge sign ın front instructing women to cover their heads and even scarfs are avilable for those who don't
have them, but only some do ıt. İ wonder if they would try to get ınto St. Peter's Basilica without covering
Next tıme we'll write from Toronto. It was great, but way too short.
İt was great to have you all with us on this trip.
toronto - the return to reality, november 20, 2005
The journey is over. About 3 weeks ago we arrived in Toronto, Canada, our home with the bikes packed in boxes.
I call it our home, but its hard to say where our home is. One thing is for sure after 6 years of living in
Japan and traveling across Europe we have returned to reality. The last 6 years let us forget that life cannot
always be easy. Well, were back and are searching for work.
In the last 5 months we have cycled for almost 5000 kilometres and visited 8 countries. Originally, Europe was
supposed to be the first stage of the journey around the world. It was supposed to be the place where we were
to get used to this lifestyle. Later, we trimmed the route to Europe and Asia, but after Europe took our money,
we were forced to return before we even reached the Middle East. We needed to come back with a little bit of
money left on our bank account.
The purpose of this trip was to meet people rather than sightseeing. Visiting all those beautiful places on
the Old Continent was just a bonus. From Portugal to Turkey, we met and stayed with many people sometimes for
a couple of days and sometimes for a week or even more. The experience was simply amazing. Our adventure began
on the first day when we arrived in Porto and met Paulo and Ana. Instead of cycling we stayed with Paulo and
Ana for 5 days enjoying their company very much as well as everyone elses we met on the road. Heres a short
list of the people wed like to thank for their help and hospitality:
Paulo and Ana form Porto,
Manuela from Aveiro,
Sanchez family from Sevilla, Algeciras and Estepona,
Jan and Janny from Denia,
Juliana from Barcelona,
everyone at Backpackers Hostel in Rome,
Luciano from Naples,
Roberto and his family from Salento region in Italy,
people from the the village of Sinanaj in Albania,
Antonetta and her family from Tepelene,
Panayiotis, Jillis and Yannis from Athens,
Ovgu, Evren, Orchun and their "family" from Ankara,
Seyhan from Istanbul
as well as everyone who tried to help us with accommodation, but for some reason we couldnt
meet and everyone who kept us company through the internet. You guys touched our hearts.
Well, its true. Were back, but were already making new plans for the future. If everything goes
well, we will be back on the road next spring. You might say that I am being very optimistic thinking
about a new trip without a job, but who knows, anything is possible.