In my opinion, the destination or just seeing some sights is not what makes traveling so interesting. It really is all about the experience(s) that you gain on the road. In the end, it will be those experiences that make up your memories.
The journey, not the arrival, matters.
– T.S. Eliot
That’s what traveling is by definition, after all.
As convenient as planes may be, I’m still not a fan. I totally agree that it’s easy to hop on a plane and fly off to some place if you don’t have a lot of time. I do that too, but it’s not my preferred way of traveling at all. Flying is like time traveling. You get into a machine and a couple of hours later you arrive in a strange place and in a different time zone. Hence, culture shocks and jet lags.
Those two things never happen when you travel at your own pace. That is why I love ‘slow travel’ so much.
And traveling slowly is exactly what I want to do next year in spring: I’m going to cycle from Gibraltar, Europe’s southernmost point, to the North Cape, Europe’s northernmost point.
The entire journey is going to be overland and will take about three months, as you can see in this image.
I want to start cycling on April 1. Therefore, I will leave home in Belgium sometime during the last week of March, traveling to Gibraltar by train (Interrail). From there on I will try to use only my bike for transportation and travel as cheaply as I can, sleeping in a tent or hostels and cooking my own food whenever possible.
However, as Belgium conveniently lies in the middle of my way north, I will take advantage of this by having my bike checked up, eat some proper food and get a good night’s sleep.
The way from the Rock to the Cape that I want to take is roughly 7,500km. I want to average at least 100km per day, which will make it a 75 day (or two and a half month) long bicycle ride. My aim is to be back home before summer starts on June 21.
I don’t want to rush anything though, I’m not trying to set a record here. So if I happen to like a place, I will definitely stay there a little longer. And there’s no way I’m not going to spend some time exploring great cities like Barcelona, Milan, Copenhagen and Stockholm, just to name a few.
I’m fully aware of the fact that it won’t be a ride in the park. At all. But that’s probably the main reason I want to do it… I like a challenge once in a while!
The road runs through fifteen countries and I honestly think it’s the most beautiful cycling route in the world. It will take me through all kinds of stunning landscapes: the British Rock of Gibraltar; the Spanish Sierra Nevada and Costa del Sol; the Pyrénées; the Côte d’Azur in France; the Swiss Alps; the Belgian Ardennes; the Dutch lowlands; the North Sea coast in Germany and Denmark; the vast Swedish and Finnish forests and the Norwegian fjords.
We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have, if only we seek them with our eyes open.
– Jawaharial Nehru
Besides riding my bike to and back from school in high school and college, and when I go out, I don’t have any biking experience whatsoever. I’m in need of some serious training, to say the least.
It’s November 1 today, exactly five months before I plan to actually start my ride. So I thought it would be a good motivational something to start training tonight.
I will definitely tell you how that went.
UPDATE: New cycling route.