I have expected many things of this journey in the time leading up to it. Much involved me or Ruben badly crashing or one of our bikes breaking down beyond repair. It all pretty much scared me I believe, all this unexpected experiences and how hard life on the bike might be.
We’re in it for a little over a week now. Traveled from the south of France to somewhere above Zadar, along the beautiful Croatian coast. So we have a little bit of experience by now. We did have some wild experience!
Leaving France was a little hard. This truly was a dive into the unknown, leaving behind some wonderful people and not knowing if and when I’d see my horse again. For us, the adventure really started. The first few days brought us trough the remaining part of France, we had our first real night out in the rain (a Dutch saying states that a good start is half of the work) yet this wasn’t half as annoying as I expected it to be. Honestly it’s pretty cosy as long as your tent keeps you dry, which our pretty MSR did, of course. The second night even brought some storm, and the little mountain river we found and put our tent next to was changed into a rushing stream of mud the next morning. No shower for us. So we became more creative, and when you quickly shave everything inside a toilet for disabled people of a fancy restaurant you know you're on your way of becoming a true nomad.
The mountains led us further, and we eventually crossed borders to Italy. Views were even more astonishing and something exciting was on the way: at Imke’s parents we looked into an old off-road track book, and found a nice one in the north of Italy. From Sestriere we went up north as the asphalt ended. I can tell you, it feels so alive to maneuver with your awesome machine over winding and bumpy mountain roads. To go to places you’d normally only walk to. And of course encounter some crazier people (who were really excited to see some foreigners with foreign bikes on that track) who went literally up and down the mountain on their trail motorbikes (those small things without a real saddle), not following any track at all. Maybe some day... but for now this is more than enough for us! The smiles couldn’t be wiped from our faces. This is exactly the reason why we wanted bikes like this! When the trail ended we found another perfect place to pitch our tent, but not before I got to see how my bike looked horizontally with all these beautiful mountains in the back. Nothing bad happened for the both of us, and this will probably not be the only time it lays flat 😉
After a very boring and ugly part in north Italy and some much prettier roads and pristine mountain lakes more north we left the county, of course after honoring some traditions: ice cream. Trying not to judge traffic behavior of the Italians was hard, especially when we came into the relaxed and cheerful Slovenia. Earlier I discovered a secret love for this country, and it only grew this time. What a peaceful pretty place this is. And smiling and waving works contagious. If even people who walk past your tent on some kind of farmer field on a very early morning with a big fat hunting gun make these gestures you just start doing the same. At least I decided to do that from now on. Especially when people look scary.
Eight days of traveling and eight nights out under the stars have been truly amazing. It is such a privilege to experience all of this, to finally truly live our dreams. So all these scary things I’ve imagined, sure, some things will happen and it definitely will get hard, but I know for sure it’s all going to be worth it. We will find our way through it and we are so blessed with all these wonderful and fascinating new experiences.
And for now? We decided to treat ourselves with a little luxury. We are a little north of Zadar now, staying in a kind of hotel for 3 nights. Washing all our clothes (we still have to try the dry bag-with-laundry-water-and-soap-tied-to-our-bikes washing machine, dryer appeared to work just fine already), reordering our stuff and preparing some last things for our website, e.g. you 😉 Tuesday our adventure will continue!