A Day in the Life – Europe

Posted on
November 25, 2007 by

Pitter, patter, pitter, patter. We hate waking up to the sound of rain pelting our home, a two and a half man tent decorated with graffiti and an alien waving the peace sign with both hands. This morning is going to be a slow one so we stretch out a little and discuss our plans for the day. When it rains in the morning like this we always take it slow in the hopes that the sun will come out before we pack up. It doesn't seem to be stopping so we make a dash out to answer nature's call and grab the breakfast that we bought last night. Yum, we love starting our day with yoghurt, muesli and a fresh banana. Well, there's no putting it off any longer so we pack up our stuff wet and strap it to the bikes. On the upside, we're not being attacked by millions of tiny insects like we were in Sweden.

It's seventy kilometres to the next big city so our plan is to ride about ten kilometres from the city and set up camp. This will ensure that we won't be stuck looking for a place to camp in the city. Like the time it took us two days to cycle out of Istanbul. Man, that city seemed to go on forever. The landscape here is hilly so today might be tiring. It's not so bad though – before we got bikes, sixty kilometres would take us three days. Thanks to Fred and Shanty of the Cyclown Circus, the culturequest team has discovered the wheel. We get on our bikes and ride.

The rain doesn't let up for the first couple of hours. Rrrrrumble, we feel our stomachs telling us that it's time to refuel. Luckily, it's only a kilometre to the next village and we can smell the fresh bread from here. We spot a bakery, lean our bikes against the building and go inside. We buy a loaf of fresh bread for lunch and something that looks interesting to eat right now. This and an apple will keep us going until lunch. We crack a cheap can of cola each and light a cigarette as a daily ritual. The rain is slowing down now and riding is starting to get a little more comfortable. We only wish that the hills weren't quite so high and steep. Then again, they're nothing compared to Friisveien, the road in Norway that went on and on and on at an incredible pitch. The sun was in the sky for eighteen hours that day with no clouds to give us shade. Now we'd give anything to see the sun and dry off a little.

It's after noon as we round a corner to find a lookout point with a picnic table. The rain has stopped and the clouds are starting to break up. It's lunch time. The jar of red stuff we bought yesterday goes really well with tuna, sliced zucchini and potato chips all put together in a sandwich. We notice something crawling on the edge of the table. It's a bug we haven't seen before so we take a photo of it and make sure it's safe in the grass. The sun has started to shine so we take a few minutes to sit and enjoy the view. Getting back on the bikes is not as hard when we're at the top of a hill. The coast down the hill lasts a few kilometres and we can't help but think back to the time we struggled through the Czech Republic. The hills there are short and steep, so we spent lots of energy getting up them but didn't get enough rest going down the other side.

From the top of a hill we see a village coming up in the next valley. Time to restock our food supply. Perfect timing because our butts are sore and we could use a little snack before dinner. We don't rest long since we know that there is only another twenty-five kilometres or so to the city. Soon we will need to find a spot to spend the night. A few kilometres up the road we stop at a gas station and fill up our water bottles. The next road sign we see tells us we're only fourteen kilometres from the city. Now it's time to find our spot. We take a smaller road that intersects the road we're on and look for a flat spot that won't be too visible. A path veers off to a farmer's field and luckily the crop has already been harvested. There is a tractor trail and a line of trees around the field which make it the perfect spot for us.

We haven't showered in a while so we decide to do it now while the sun is out. We find a tree with a limb about seven feet high and hang our shower ( a beach-ball with holes in it ) from the limb. We have seven litres of water with us and we use five litres to shower with. No problem because two litres should be more than enough to get us through to the next fill up opportunity. It feels good to be clean and we can't help but remember our first makeshift shower which was a two litre juice box with holes in the bottom. We smelled peachy clean that day.

By this time we're famished and begin the dinner process. One of us gets the stove ready while the other cuts up vegetables and puts some water in the pot. It will be vegetable-calamari stew on the menu tonight. The sun sets as we eat dinner but we're in no rush since by now we can put the tent up blindfolded. After the stove and pot are cleaned up we light a candle and a cigarette. As we finish off our smoke we think back to a storm we experienced in Germany while waiting for a ferry that wouldn't take us across the river until morning. The storm was directly over us with lightning that lit up the sky like daylight. With earplugs in, the thunder was bearable but shook the ground beneath us. We kept changing positions from lying flat to curling up in the foetal position. We knew that one of these was the safest during a lightning storm but couldn't remember which one. That was a rough night. The sky is mostly clear tonight and the sunset was red which gives us hope for good weather tomorrow.

It doesn't take us long to get the tent set up. We crawl in, get the bed ready and mark the days travel on the map. It was only fifty kilometres today but the hills made it seem like much more. Our bodies are tired, a feeling we've grown accustomed to. The bed is comfortable tonight with some soft dirt under us. It feels good to lie down and stretch out. Before long our eyes get heavy and we drift off to sleep.

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