Winter was coming and time was running out. It is in the Cordoba province that I decided to reach my parents’ house in Faido on my bicycle from a point within Europe … spontaneously I bought a flight ticket to Amsterdam, Netherlands.
My family and friends knew of my new plan only when I send my GPS position with my satellite transmitter, as soon as I landed in the old continent … I like this kind of surprise twist.
Only Anneloes and Adrian knew about my arrival in Netherlands. I met the lovely and funny couple in Ushuaia (and then again in Cochrane). They were riding to Santiago de Chile and they have also been on a 3-week cruise in the Antarctica …. I was so jealous!
I arrived exhausted in the evening … it was a relief to see friendly faces after a nightmare flight. While Anneloes was taking care of me, Adrian was preparing my bicycle. Thank you my friends!
When I started this trip I categorically excluded Europe … probably because one years ago I had others needs. I wanted to start in a place different of my home, I wanted to get away from everything that was familiar to me. This is why I started in Georgia. But now, after 13 months on the road, it seemed to me interesting to end the journey here and to experiment how I would have looked at “my” reality.
I should admit that I was positively surprised … we know: in Europe at the moment there is a social crises, but despite this I had generally positive experiences. Netherland is really a very nice, very green, very clean and … very flat country.
The cycle paths are fantastic. You can travel for kilometers in the countryside submerged by nature, or straights along the highway, but never happened to find myself in the middle of a busy road.
People are kind and helpful. Like the lovely Marja. She asked me if I needed help and, if I wanted, she could accompanied me for a stretch: “Sure, it would be a pleasure!”. She explained me about architecture, history, uses and customs of Dutch people … we rode about 20 km together.
Preparation zero (as usual) … not having internet it was difficult for me to download the maps necessary to navigate. Marja was the one who saved me. Thanks to her paper maps I could make a sketch of the path that I had to take … it worked out very well. In this way I rode through Netherlands. Thank you dear Marja!
Although there are no more borders, I noticed quite quickly when I entered Belgium. Everything was a little more neglected, the gardens were not perfect and flowered like the Dutch ones and the attention to aesthetics (architectural and also personal) was lower … in other words, it seemed to me that the Belgians are more easy-going.
For the second time during this trip I decided to try the warmshowers hospitality. I ended in a goat farm in Borlon. Geraldine and her family are just amazing and I had a funny stay there.
Is the goat winking at me? Aaah noooo, it is for what is hanging behind me!
Gaston and the little horse … Ehi guys a bit of privacy please…
Geraldine takes care of bout 30 goats, milks them and makes delicious cheeses. The family has a very simple lifestyle and produce practically almost everything they need … even delicious beers.
I was enjoying peaceful, nice, relaxing rides … I had the impression to be on holiday!
Even Luxembourg and France were pleasant surprises. In France, in the beautiful camping of La Croix du Bois Sacker, the owners offered me the two nights I spent there: “We too want to give our little contribution to your trip!” … an adorable and great-hearted family. MERCI beaucoup.
I noticed that at my passage people laughed, maybe because of my faded and worn clothes, the shoes that had better times and the bicycle loaded with bags covered with dust and patches … sure, in the midst of so much elegance and attention to the physical appearance my passage didn’t go unnoticed. I didn’t care … how could I care? I had almost accomplished what one year ago to me seemed unreachable!
I was in Alsace … I was very close to Basel, where live my sister and her family … difficult to explain the excitement and happiness at the thought of hugging my loved ones … I think it was the adrenaline that made me practically fly on my bicycle.
And the star of this trip? I think it enjoyed quite much: sunny and hot days, a lot of countryside, mice to chew everywhere (yes, it is a murder) and long sleep in the fresh grass … do you think it was suffering?
I would define the European route as a Sunday ride: beautiful, easy, pleasant and relaxing. Thanks Europe it has been a pleasant time … but wait a moment… yes, something is missing: my home country! To the swiss ride I’ll dedicate my next post.
Catwoman, Dimitri the murder and some chewed mice