We have been cycling for over 7 weeks now and no longer is it something for us to get used to but is the way of life. I think we are even getting used to cycling 100km per day in the Balkan heat which is constantly above 35 degrees, and are used to sleeping almost anywhere.
The worst place we have slept so far was in Croatia. We were on a ferry coming back from cycling on one of the many islands there, it was a 6 or 7 hour boat ride so we prepared ourselves each with a few 2L bottles of cheap beer and put our feet up. As the sun set we passed out and were woken around 2am when the ship reached the shore in the city of Zadar. We were pretty groggy and didn’t really feel like cycling 10-15km outside the city to find a good camping spot so we went with the first thing we saw… a little 2m spot between a fence for the shipping yard and the on-ramp to the motorway. We quickly fell asleep in the dirt, dreaming about being back home sitting on the couch watching films and eating junk food. In the early morning (around 6:30am) when we woke to the noise of big trucks driving to the shipyards blowing dust from the road on us, and the rancid smell of dead animal, it was already 30 degrees. Soon we realized the smell was from a big seagull that was ripped to shreds all around us and we were laying on its feathers and meat chunks. Yummy. We then got ready to cycle another 120km. Anyway… I think that was the worst place we slept so far.
On this trip, like many other trips, I have really come to appriciate the little things in life that most people take for granted and don’t think twice about. Here is a little list of some of those things
- Clean underwear – It is easy to get used to wearing the same underwear for 7 days in a row (or longer) but when you get a fresh pair on you feel brand new and ready for anything the road has to throw at you.
- Daily warm showers – After about only 3 or 4 days of cycling in hot weather without a shower, even washing in the sink of a dirty gas station bathroom gives you a fresh, clean feeling.
- Cozy bed – As much as I love sleeping outside in random places, it is always relaxing to have a nice big bed to roll around in. But still nothing really beats a hammock.
- Sleeping in late – When cycling in summer it is always best to wake before sunrise and get lots of km’s in before the afternoon when it really gets hot. It’s hard for me as I am a lover of rolling in bed all day long.
- Hot meals– Since we aren’t traveling with a stove we rarely get a warm chew in us, when we do we enjoy it more then most people. Normally we are eating plenty of raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, yogurts, tortilla chips with canned beans, and breads.
- Washing machines– Although washing machines are huge wasters of energy and people should try not to use them too much, it is nice for us to use them once every month or two since our normal hand-washing in rivers and public bathroom sinks doesn’t always get the nastiness out. We are serious dirtballs and it’s only going to get worse (or better if you enjoy bad smells) as this trip goes on.
- Cold tap water– When you are drinking your re-used bottles of water that are hot from baking in the scorching sun, and you need something just a little bit more thirst quenching, you really come to appreciate cold tap-water from a public bathroom or garden hose to refill with. We are not at all fans of buying cold bottled water in the shop since the countries we are traveling through (and most countries in the world) have poor recycling programs (WARNING…I’m about to go on a rant). All the plastic goes in the trash, eventually ending up in the waterways and into the ocean, broken down into small editable plastic particles over decades and end up in the food chain. The chemicals in plastics (especially Bisphenol A which is used to make all water bottles, baby bottles, medical and dental devices, dental fillings, eyeglass, CDs and DVDs, and basically anything plastic you can think of) are largely responsible for many of the serious diseases found in the world today including diabetes, birth defects, obesity,neurological issues, breast and prostate cancers, and heart disease. I’m not making this up, this is really dam serious and when I think too hard about what we have done it honestly puts tears in my eyes. The big problem is that, Bisphenol A is also a synthetic estrogen (that means it’s a man made female sex hormone), and plastics made with it can break down, especially when they’re washed, heated or stressed, allowing the chemical to get into our food and water and then enter the human body. That happens to nearly all of us! The Center for Disease Control (a U.S agency that works to protect public health and safety) has found BisphenolA in the piss of 93% of surveyed Americans over the age of 6. Let me say I believe almost every single person in the entire world has this chemical in their body! You should really know about it if you don’t already so please please research it!! If you don’t have this shit in your body, you’re not living in the modern world. Even in countries where plastic bottles are recycled, the lids for the bottles can not be and will pollute our planet for thousands of years. The plastic we have made will be here longer then us! This year more plastic will be produced then last year, and next year even more!! In western countries there is usually no difference between bottled water and tap water anyway, it is just an obscene money making scheme. Wouldn’t you think it’s crazy if people started buying bottled air that is the same as the air the can breath for free? For example, in Holland the tap water is actually better then most bottled water. Bottled water from Pepsi co and Coke companies (such as Eva Water, H2OK, Aquafina, and Dasani) are mainly from the tap anyway (seriously, look it up!). Please don’t buy bottled water if you can help it!
- Clean underwear– I know I already mentioned it, but we appreciate clean undies so much it is worth saying again. I guess the only good thing about dirty ones is that when we are starving and will do anything for food, we can always go mushroom picking in our underpants.
- Regular contact with friends and family – Don’t take for granted your ability to talk with your friends and family, one day you wont be able to. It’s important not to forget to tell the people you love that you love them!
This list can go on and on, these are just some of the first things that come to my mind.
We are relaxing down in Greece now and soon we will be leaving Europe and heading into Asia. Although it has been a lot of hard work and suffering, we are still full of energy and excited for what lies ahead!