Travelling solo can be harsh. Doing it on a motorcycle can be dangerous as well, but not always though. Simultaneously, travelling solo is such a great wayto further self-development and the best way to blend in with the locals of the country you visit. You get the chance to experience more, in the process youlearn to be afraid less. Seeing the world on the back of a motorcycle, while challenging beyond belief at times, is simply the best way for me to do it becauseyou get the chance to feel, see and experience more in less time.
How did it all start?
I am a regular guy from Cyprus. What is Cyprus you say? Where is it?
Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, the third largest and the third most populous of all the islands in the area. Most of the people there don’ t travel! When saying that I am not talking about‘vacations’ or ‘holidays’. On the contrary, Cypriots, as we call ourselves, are experts on short getaways. They can book a full, inclusive ‘everything taken care of’ destination trip or, at a minimum, book accommodations in advance if they want to have a set place to lay their heads as they wander around a country.
For me it wasn’t the same. I wanted to go out there, and live my adven-ture over an extended period of time. I wanted to do more than simply get away for two weeks; I wanted to cut the chains and explore the un-known for a few years.Having made a trip a few years earlier that left me hungry for more, I realized I wanted to get to know the world more intimately.
Travelling became more than just a ‘vacation’ – it became a passion!
I started thinking about this trip and trying to find out the best way of making it come to fruition, with an eye towards keeping the costs low whilestill have the maximum possible experiences. This is where, after much time spent researching all kinds of methods, a motorcycle became the clear option to achieve my goals.
Travelling with a motorcycle means that you are free to go wherever you want, whenever you want. I’ve been to places that many travellers haven’t because there is no bus going that way. More than any other feature of solo motorcycle travel this is what makes the choice so special.
On the motorcycle you feel more!
It might sound a bit ridiculous, but feeling the weather changes is an integral part of my trip. If it’s raining I am getting wet and if it’s hot I am getting sweaty. If I find myself somewhere on a mountain and the air is clean, I will open my visor and let it hit my face. Breathing in crisp air that refreshes my spirits.
In Turkey, Kosovo and Albania I found myself riding through bazaars. I cannot begin to describe the scents from the fresh fruit and vegetables. It is amazing how may places have a unique, distinctive scent to them based on the way they cook their food. I have learned so much about cultures by absorbing the scents, sights and sounds of the region, which can only be discovered when riding in the open air
You have all of your senses working while on that motorcycle trying to get to your next destination.
One of the most endearing aspects of traveling by motorcycle is the ac-cessibility it offers in terms of mingling with the locals. The people I meet are extremely kind to me and they are interested to hear my story. They feel safe coming and talking to you, they know that you are exposed to everything and that makes them feel more secure about reaching you and starting a conversation.
That’s what a traveler on a motorcycle can do to people. If a huge caravan stops in the middle of a village, it’s more likely that the locals will hesitate to approach and start a conversation, but with the bike it’s different. I am right there, in front of them at the gas station filling my bike next to their car.
About my trip
My trip started over a year ago. I left Cyprus on April 4th, 2016 and set off to get to know the world.
Now,Fourteen months later, after covering more than 45.000km and after seeing more 24 countries of Eastern, Northern and Southern Europe, my desire and passion for travelling has only grown stronger.
I found out that the 99% of the people in the world are interesting, kind and caring. One-on-one, nationalities rarely matter!
The countries I’ve driven through to date: Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece and Alba-nia,Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria
Next up, my trusty bike and I will visit:Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Denmark, Faroe islands, Iceland, France, United kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, Malta, San Marino – and then I will return back toCyprus.
All in all, I will be on the road for over two years, covering about 100 thousand kilometers.
I have experienced a lot of things during the past year that have left me filled with joy. Wonderful local people, amazing travellers, great land-scapes, good days, bad days, uneventful days and awful days.
There has been fantastic meals and horrible food, sometimes no food at all.But if you ask me,today, right now, I would not change it for anything else in the world!
When travelling I love seeing the ‘out of the ordinary’. For sure, I will visit the capital city of each country and the many of the well-known places of interest, but I get a kick out of spending time in places most travellers never hear of, let alone see.
There is the purity of the country. Sometimes locals will tell me that I’ve been to more places in their country than they have, and it’s true!
What’s more, if you asked me whether or not I would go on the same trip again, I would do it with the same passion, suffering the same mistakes, setbacks and accomplishments, all one more time, because it is the only way to become an experienced “Experience Collector”!
How easy it is to travel by motorcycle
Anyone can do it!
I ‘ve met people who didn’t even know how to change a flat tire and still they were on the road for quite a while. Depending of the continent you are travelling, it oftendoesn’t matter if you can’t fix things. Europe and America are easy because you can find help everywhere, but if you want to go to a less developed land, bring a good set of tools and a service manual with you. You might not need it, but you sure have a lot of time to read it and start learning.
What I am trying to convey is depending on the journey, you can even travel on a motorcycle without having a clue as to how to maintain it and still see an entire country. If you do go to places less developed, by tak-ing the time to learn some basic maintenance issues you can save your-self a lot of money and time, along with feel more confident about going to places unknown.
After all, travelling is all about learning and self-development in every respect isn’t it?
Cost of Traveling with a bike!
Not as bad as one might think and still cheaper than any other method overall!
When budget motorcycle travelling, the motorcycle will be the number one expense of your trip. The bike will need fuel, services, materials, parts, tires and you’ll have to endure some breakdowns along the way. You can go cheap on the food and accommodations by camping in the wild a lot, but the bike is something that you will have to take care of no matter what.
On the other hand, it is the cheapest way to the world. On my bike the cost is 0.06 cents (Euro) per Kilometer. That’s €6 per 100km. No bus, train, plane or automobile will ever approach this low cost method of tra-vel. And I also get to pick my route, my stops, my departure time… you get the idea. Flexibility!
Which is the best motorcycle.
The best bike is the one that fits you! There is no such thing as “the best adventure bike” for all. The best bike is the one that fits to your riding style, skill set, weight, height and budget. There are people out there travelling around the world on Vespa’s – how great is that? The engine doesn’t necessarily have to be big; asa big engine needs more fuel and maintenance.
In my opinionthe best travelling bike is anything between 350-500 cc be-cause it is strong enough to go fast on motorways and small enough to be fuel-efficient.
Also a smaller bike is lighter! You are going to be travelling to unknown places and, sooner or later, find yourselfriding on dirt roads, muddy paths and stone covered hillsides. Being able to put your feet down and control the weight of the bike is one of the most important things for a rider to be able to do. Further, if you drop the bike, you can pick it up by yourself if it’s light.
I dropped the bike in a very difficult dirt road in Albania. My bike is a Honda Transalp 700. The net weight is 220Kg, plus 60kg of gear. While trying to lift it up I heard something cracking in my lower back, leaving my left leg numb for a few minutes. Thankfully, after about ten minutes, I was able to stand up and walk. I had to wait for more than one hour until someone to showed up and help me lift the bike.
This is something you would avoid with lighter bikes. When you are on a motorcycle trip with friends things are different though. The help you need is right behind you. So I would encourage you to go ahead and tackle any road with any bike you like.
The worst day of my trip or the best, you decide!
I was travelling to Romania, the third country I was visiting after two months on the road. I found myself riding along the Danube river heading north. The road was paved and in great shape, the scenery was amazing. I just passed theDecebalus sculpture on the rock and I was riding pretty fast to a nearby town called Moldovita. On my right I had the Danube and the mountains of Serbia.
At some point my GPS navigator told me to take a left shortly before Moldovita. While not part of the original route I set up, I decided to take the turn in order to cut down some kilometers on the route, maybe shave some time too. I followed instructions and took the left, before long the smooth paved road ended and I was now riding on a fairly decent dirt road.
I continued riding on that way, passing some interesting villages where tourists and travellers are not an everyday occurrence. After 25km the road conditions began to get more difficult. Boulders and rocks started appearing on the road and, due to rainy weather the previous evening; the road soon was more a mud path than a road at all.
Mud and rocks are the most difficult terrain to tackle with a bike as heavy as mine. I started to get tired and seriously worried, since my GPS began recalculating the route. To this day I am not sure where I took the wrong turn, but I knew it was too late to turn back having passed the last village 10km before and finding no other person as far as the eye could see in any direction.
I was on top of a hill standing on top of a hill with no signs of humanity anywhere in sight whatsoever. I was very tired, worried and I wanted to get off this horrible road before nightfall, which was approaching in a few hours. On a turn in the road my tires got mired in some deep, sticky mud. I lost control of the bike despite my best efforts.
Thus, the first fall of my trip became fact!
Not only am I now covered in mud from head-to-toe; I must now crawl my way out of it too. By the time I do so my blood is boiling, overheating my body. So I undress down to my boxers.
Next, I have to turn my attention to lifting a 280kg bike out of a mud hole. First step is unloading all the gear and panniers to lighten the load. It took me an hour and several attempts to lift the bike and push it out of the mud. Taking me from very tired to almost exhausted!
Now the dilemma is do I continue for another 20km with the possibility of the road getting worse or do I turn the bike around and head down the road from where I came. Hmmmm.
After a few cigarettes and a coffee I decided to go on. “It’s an adventure after all” I thought…
The next 20km was not as tough as I expected. There were some parts where I needed to use all the skill and energy I had left to pass through, but soon enough I was in the main street that leads to Bigar water-fall.Bigar is considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the country.
I twisted the throttle and I started moving fast to the waterfall. It was ready 5:30 and I had one hour of light left before I needed to find a place to camp.I hadn’t covered more than 10km when I felt the rear of the bike shaking and moving out of control. At the next bend I knew!!!! A Flat tire!!
I stopped on the side of the road and I started cursing to all directions.I was already too tired and covered in mud. Now I had to deal with a flat tire, which was the first of my trip and I didn’t have the experience to fix on the side of the road. “This could take hours…” I say to myself out loud.
I put the bike on the double stand and got everything off once again. I found my tools and I started fixing the tire. A couple of people stopped and asked me if I needed any help, but there wasn’t anything they could do to assist me. By this time I already took off the inner tube and I was repairing it.
I was surprised that it only took me 30 minutes to fix it. While I was in-flating the tire another motorcyclist stopped. He asked me where I was going and I told him that I was trying to get to Bigar, after which I needed to go to a city for food and refueling before finding a spot to camp. He decided to join me and we continued together to Bigar and then to the nearby town of Resita.
We stopped at a supermarket and I got some canned food to eat and then we went to a gas station. I was already too tired and my head was ready to explode. What a day!!! I was checking on the map all the time to find a potential spot to camp, and I was asking info for the roads around the city so I could easily find a spot without covering a lot of kilometers.
Then I noticed that the gas station had some space at the rear of it. I went inside and I asked the girl who was working there if she would call her boss and let him know that someone is going to camp at the gas sta-tion in the city. Andrea was her name. She looked very surprised when I told her that I was going to camp there and she followed me outside with a big question mark on her face.
She saw the bike covered in mud and she asked me if it’s mine. I told her the story of the day and that I wasn’t in shape to ride longer. I needed to rest. I just wanted to pitch my tent and sleep. She told me that it’s OK to camp behind of the gas station and really that removed a lot of my worries.
After three minutes Andrea came back out and said: “I called my family and told them about you, we would like to invite you for dinner and maybe you can have a hot shower before coming back to the gas station to sleep.”
It was time for me to stare at her with a question mark on my face.
This girl who didn’t even know me was inviting me to her place to have dinner with her family. Half an hour later I found my self eating dinner with a fantastic family in their home and chatting about trips. Andrea’s father, is a traveller himself and he was in Thailand for a couple of months.
When I went back to my tent, I just couldn’t believe what happened! From the worst day possible, to the best experience a traveller can have.
The next morning Andrea and her father came to the gas station offering to take me on a tour of the city of Resita before saying goodbye. After our day together I continued on my way to ClujNapoca with the widest smile possible on my face.
So you tell me, best or worst day of my trip?
Where to watch the trip: