I fool around in a friend’s yard, accidentally learning how to really ride a bike…
Just a few years later I was turning 18 and I had already ridden the yet relatively not so dangerous tarmac trails and roads of my home country, Romania.
As I am writing this, I have sold everything for a nomad life that took me through 44 countries and I am now in Barcelona.
In the summer of 2012 I was preparing to cycle to Greece from Romania
The trip was an adventure in itself. I will always remember how I had no smartphone and almost no maps at that time.
I had to learn reading in two new alphabets (chyrillic and greek) and to pass several mountain ranges.
Riding a bike throughout Europe and across the known world could easily be the most complete life experience. No matter where you are and almost not mattering for how long you are willing to do it, ranging from a few days to even a few years, it will truly show you who you are and bring clarity not only to your physical, mental and emotional capabilities, but also to your potential trajectory in life.
I therefore left Bucharest and in only a few hours time I was crossing the Danube river.
I was not even 20 when I did that for the first time on my own. Travelling on a bike on your own is a rollercoaster. You are facing a multitude of obstacles, especially in the Balkans, where you can find stray dogs and narrower roads, but the opposite joy of following your dreams will overcome your fears in the end and make you feel overwhelmed.
Also, maybe the most important aspect such a journey is that you always feel like you have a direction.
The hills came. The prelude to the old and rocky Balkan Mountains.
Remember the training, legs!
Keep it steady, mind!
Breathe and build a rhythm so we can repeat the process.
The road down south to Veliko Tarnovo is shaky. In the way of the jagged material that it’s made of. You feel like every meter counts and that these communist roads were made to last. You feel like you’re in the Balkans!
Let’s turn left and head for the coast. I have mixed feeling about this. But it seems Bulgaria is much safer than I thought. I am not far from my homeland and still feel like I am a full package tourist when visiting this country.
The sea is so warm and I feel like I am enjoying every moment of the trip. The road down from the mountains to the sea is so direct, like a reward to all that I have managed to climb.
Finally sand on my toes! This is the life! Mountains and sea in the same picturesque glance that I am so happy to be able to take.
My bike tells me it wants to try the Greek seas also.
So we set sail to eat some more kilometers for breakfast, no matter how the wind blows. The sunset is an early sign that my Rhodopes are a bit too far for a one day ride.
Tomorrow is another day and here we are at the Greek border. We shall conquer another land today! The land of Alexander the Great can open to us now… in fact with the bicycle and at this encouraging pace, any land could!
This time I reach Thessaloniki by night, only in time to admire a raging-but-sweet romantic thunderstorm, as viewed from the citadel tower.