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England to Georgia in 20 Photographs


As our time here on this blog comes to an end until the judges make their decision in January, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back over our journey so far.

We blogged about our training rides across the length of England and around the Isle of Wight but here are 20 pictures that tell our story from London to Georgia so far...

 
We left from Hampton Court Palace on August 18th, fresh faced with shiny new bikes.


Joined by friends to our first night's camp, the coast and some all the way to Paris.



France was the perfect introduction to our tour: good weather, friendly drivers and delicious food.

 
Then we hit the Alps in Switzerland...

...2,000 vertical metres to the top.


Followed by a long winding descent.

We've taken every opportunity for a wild swim.

We reached our first one thousand miles in Italy...


...and made a tribute to the country with torches at our camp site.

  
We followed the Croatian coast, camping regularly by the sea.

We were recommended a wonderful secluded bay.

This photo tat Laura took on a Croatian island has been used in advertising campaign for our bikes!

2,000 miles

Albania was a surprise favourite with plenty of animals in the road...

...and muddy dirt tracks.

We reached Greece and were hosted by a kind orthodox monk.


We clocked 3,000 miles I'm Turkey...

...where we were hosted almost every single night by kind local hosts.

Now winter has tightened its grip and ahead of us lie the mountains of Georgia, Armenia and Iran followed by the rest of the world!



The Road Ahead

We are now at the far eastern edge of Turkey, looking towards the vast landmass of Asia and wondering what lies ahead. We have cycled here from England and it has been a wonderful journey so far. 

If anything, it’s all felt rather easy - the weather has been kind, the terrain manageable, the food plentiful and the bikes have worked perfectly. Over the last few weeks, the weather has changed and we've had to deal with snow and colder temperatures, but we've been lucky enough to spend most nights indoors, invited in by local people.

By far the most precious memories of the last three months involve the people we’ve met, as we have hopefully demonstrated on this blog. Through our '100 Sporks' project, we gave a Light my Fire spork to everyone who helped us on our travels, and subsequently wrote about them here.

When we read back over the entries, we remember with fondness the Greek Orthodox priest who fed us soup while explaining his religion, the Croatian shepherd who called himself ‘Uncle Niko’ and who flagged us down at the side of the road to give us some figs and the Serbian road cycling champion who serviced our bikes for us. This is the greatest souvenir of our trip so far, and we would like to thank Light My Fire for giving us the Sporks in the first place.

One of the seven finalists in this competition will be given €3000 to fund their next adventure, and we would use this to continue cycling across Asia to Australia. The money would ensure we have enough funds to cover the whole distance.

We are looking forward with trepidation to the road ahead and preparing ourselves as much as possible for the adventures it will bring.

We will be continuing to blog about our trip at www.thenextchallenge.org so please take a look and sign up to our monthly newsletter. Thank you for reading and following our adventure this far.

Tim & Laura


Photo update

Here are a few more photos from our cycle journey from the UK to Australia, this time from Turkey. We experienced some big snow falls which made cycling a little difficult, but met some wonderful people along the way.

For more photos, see our collection at www.thenextchallenge.org/photos.

Happy Christmas to all who celebrate it.









Latest Video: Quit Job, Cycle to Asia


Here's our most recent video from the trip. A montage of footage from the UK to Istanbul.

It finished in the Top 50 of a competition run by MagistoMagisto, the video editing software that we use.

You can see all of our videos at www.thenextchallenge.org/videos

Spork #42: Istanbul visitor


In addition to Laura's parents, we were joined in Istanbul by a good friend of ours: Jonathan.

Jon gets top marks for flying all the way out to the far side of Europe to catch us before we enter Asia for the briefest of visits, arriving at 4am on Saturday morning and departing in the evening of the next day.

His departure marks the last planned visit that we have (offers always welcome but at present, no one else has arranged to meet us on route yet) and the last deadline that we had. Prior to Jon's arrival in Istanbul we had booked accommodation in Switzerland and later on the Croatian island of Hvar for fixed dates, met my brother in Thessalonika and had a visit from Laura's parents in Istanbul. Each of these things required setting a date and sticking to it but, for now, the road ahead is entirely flexible with no fixed dates or deadlines.

Seeing a familiar face is always welcome, with the chance to catch up on news from home and enjoy a few too many drinks together.  It offers a brief opportunity to reconnect with our normal life, before we are tossed back into the uncertainty and unknowns of the road.  We hugely appreciate the efforts that people have made to come and join us, however short the trip.

Jon - we owe you a spork.


Sporks #40-41: Christmas puddings

By the time you read this, we will probably be somewhere in the middle of Turkey, experiencing the joys of winter in the mountains.  We have told to expect temperatures down to minus 20, and camping in these conditions requires some careful preparation.

Before we left the UK, we left a cupboard full of warm clothes and extra sleeping bags.  Laura's parents then flew out to join us in Istanbul for a few days in November, bringing this extra equipment with them. 

More importantly, they also brought a total of five(!) Christmas puddings with them.  For non-British readers, a Christmas pudding is a very dense cake made with dried fruit, traditionally eaten on Christmas Day for dessert.  They are delicious and we had been worried about the prospect of a Christmas without them.

Our bikes are now heavier than ever, but it was a wonderful break and so good to see family before we start the long journey across Asia.  We are very grateful to Laura's parents for bringing our stuff out, and for being generous enough to pay for us to stay in a nice hotel while they were there - a rare treat!


Spork #39: Hakan of Istanbul


Cities are always the most difficult on a bike tour - lots of traffic, hard to navigate, nowhere to camp, difficult to walk around with a fully laden bicycle - so we were very relived to hear from Hakan, a cyclist who lives on the west side of Istanbul.

We contacted him through the WarmShowers website and he put us up for a few nights while we awaited the arrival of Laura's parents for a short break in Istanbul.

For a 22-year-old he seemed to be alarmingly well informed about so many different topics - film, photography, literature - and he told us about his experiences at the Taksim Square protests a few months before our visit.

As a cyclist himself (he's currently planning a big trip around the Turkish coast line) he knew exactly how to keep the tired tourists happy: a big greasy meal on arrival, unlimited hot tea, a comfy bed, access to wireless and lots of films.

He is also the founder of the WarmShowers Turkey Facebook page, members of which are currently lobbying to allow bikes on public transport.

Spork #38: Food from Above

Our "Magic Letter" explains in the local language who we are, what we are doing and what we want from the poor people we have opted to interrupt that evening. We use it most nights but we don't usually hand it over to children.

They laughed a lot and the younger ones primarily ran in circles shouting "Hello!" before hiding behind a friend but, eventually, the older members managed to help us out by taking it in turns to run into a building and return with a filled bottle of water (I did offer to go with them and fill up our one big water bladder but it was either not appropriate or not communicated effectively).

They then tried to point us to a suitable camping spot. We wheeled off down the road and they continued to shout after us but they did so in unison, each shouting different things and pointing in several different directions. We pitched on a spot that seemed good to us but a shifty man appeared and tried to convince us (we think) that we should stay in his hotel by repeatedly pointing to our tent and acting out having his throat slit. Not reassured by this man or his miming, we picked the tent up and wheeled back up to our friendly young acquaintances.

Eventually we were led towards a large front yard and directed to pitch outside one of their houses. Our bikes were brought over by teams of two kids at a time and the re-pitching of our tent was assisted by many small hands, a little over enthusiastic with the rocks to bash in pegs. Again, food was brought out to us on trays (there was some kind of religious celebration happening that evening, hence the kids and their families were all gathered).

As we woke and prepared our breakfast, an old lady poked her head out of the window of the house above us and dropped a bag of bread down to us which was proceeded shortly by two chocolate muffins. A surreal but brilliant start to the day.


Sporks #36-37: Our friend, Suleyman

By now, you know how it works. We find somewhere to ask for water and we end up not only being given the water but also a place to camp and, in this instance, a tray of hot food for dinner.

This time it turned out to be an off-season hotel whose cafe and garden were currently populated by the owner's extended family. As we ate our tea we had the prying eyes of two wide-eyed and very cute granddaughters and the owner (the granddad) was keen to inspect each item of equipment that we removed from our bags: the tent and its elaborate pole system, our camping mats with their inflation bags, our gas stove, the Kindles and so on.

Amusingly, with the days that bit shorter now (it's dark a little after 5pm) and with our dinner handed to us on a platter, our evening routine was completed by 7pm and we found ourselves tucked up in the tent alarmingly early. No doubt this was the first of many such nights and we approach the depths of winter.

The following morning, the granddad sat down and began writing on a small piece of paper with some concenration. After ten minutes he handed us the slip with a telephone number and some words: "When you reach Australia, please call this number. Your friend, Suleyman."


Spork #35: Tekirdag

We were hosted by Ben Ali in Tekirdag, a town on the European side of the Sea of Marmara. He is an English teacher with many interests: always out swimming or playing football.

We had some time to kill before we were due in Istanbul so he very kindly let us stay with him for three nights, cluttering up his front room and abusing his WiFi. He apologised for leaving us alone for so long when he was out at work or in the evening, but actually the rest and peace was just what we needed.

He offered us a great introduction to life in Turkey, taking us for Turkish coffee and cooking us a wonderful dinner of fish and salad. He also explained lots about Turkish culture to us, perfect timing as we began our cycle across this vast country.

We are giving sporks to all who help us on our cycle trip around the world. For more information about our trip, see www.thenextchallenge.org 


Sporks #33-34: The Shell Garage


A petrol station.
Perhaps not the first place you'd anticipate generosity but, nonetheless, that is what we found.
Initially shown a patch of concrete on which we could safely pitch for the night - which was very welcome to us, our first night in a new country and with clouds setting in - we were almost forcibly sat in chairs and provided hot, sweet tea (for any budding hosts of cycle tourists out there - there are few better ways to to welcome a cyclist that a hot, sweet cup of tea).
Before I could finish my admittedly second cup of tea, the stern man that had shown us to our tent pitch dragged me around the corner and up some stairs to the roof of the building. He indicated that rain was coming then opened the door to a room with two beds. Bliss.
Showered and unpacked there was a knock at the door. In came one of our hosts bearing a tray with two bowls of steaming soup and a large bowl of bread. This was the icing on the cake and another top tip for the aspiring cycle tourist host.
Just as Panos (Spork #32) had told predicted, the Turkish are indeed "very hospitality".
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Tim and Laura are cycling across Europe and Asia to Australia. Follow their progress at www.thenextchallenge.org

Spork #32: Chateau Grand


It was a big hill, no doubt about it. 550-metres doesn't sound that high but, on a 50kg bike, through the bowls of a city (Thessaloniki) and after five days of rest, 10 miles' cycling uphill feels tough.
We had assumed Chateau Grand was a hotel when we pedalled up the drive in search of water and a place to pitch the tent. But as Panos later explained after appearing on the balcony in response to our calls of "Calispera!", it is a wedding venue.
In fact, Panos gave the best possible response to the question: "Can we have some water?".
His reply: "Hot or cold?".
He then made us coffee and we spent the evening discussing his background, politics and the Greek economy with two of his friends.
Oh, and when we asked him what we should expect in Turkey, he replied simply: "Very hospitality. Turkish people, very hospitality".
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We are cycling 15,000 miles from England to Australia. Follow us at www.thenextchallenge.org

Spork #31: He's My Brother

We had our first visitor from home in Thessaloniki: Tim's brother Robin.

He flew out for a long weekend in the city, the first familiar face since leaving England/France two and a half months ago.

We stayed in the spare room of a local's apartment (arranged through the Air B&B website) and set about being tourists for a few days:

Walking around the city, its many old churches and up to the old town for a view out to sea
Attending the military parade, heavily guarded by armed riot police
Taking a bus out to the beach
Watching entries into an international film festival (some excellent, many depressing, several just plain odd)
Looking at weird and wonderful creatures in Insectopia
Rob and Laura playing with their SLR cameras
Indulgently watching films in our room

Eventually, after five days, Rob walked to a bus stop as we reacquainted ourselves with our bikes. It was a brief goodbye but left me with a little sadness. I probably won't see him again for another year.

P.S. Rob, we forgot to actually give you your spork! Thankfully, there is a whole box full of them in the loft so please help yourself...



Spork #30: God and Soup

A wonderful welcome to Greece was provided by the Orthodox church or at least by one of its members: Father Paeseus.
(N.B. I am sure that I have spelled his name incorrectly - sorry Father)
We stopped at a church to ask for some water and see if they thought it would be alright for us to camp outside.
We were soon treated to two large chocolate ice creams, invited to camp in the church garden and given a big slap-up meal in Father Paeseus' home.
He had been learning English in preparation for a trip to America and - with the aid of hand signals and, later in the evening, his English tutor - we learned about the Greek Orthodox church and how it's traditional for its members to abstain from meat, fish and diary products on Wednesdays and Fridays; its differences from Roman Catholic and similarities with Russian Orthodox; and about his grand plans for a huge monastery in the foothills behind his church.
The grilled fish he packed us off with lasted us through two huge lunches. No mean feat for two hungry cyclists.
You can read the full account of our encounter here: http://thenextchallenge.org/2013/11/night-orthodox-monk/
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Tim and Laura Moss are currently cycling around the world - www.thenextchallenge.org

Video of cycling across Europe

We have now reached Istanbul and later today will cross the Bosphorus from Europe into Asia. It feels very much like the first stage of our trip, through familiar territory, is over. What lies ahead is  the great unknown.

This is a short photo slideshow of the last few months: http://animoto.com/s/2snDmgkgWoi767JsyvgnLA 

Watch this space for more updates from the road and visit www.thenextchallenge.org for more information about our trip.  

Posted via Blogaway

Progress Update and Video: Biking the Balkans

Video of Biking the Balkans


Progress Update

We are now over 10 weeks into our trip and those early days - Hampton Court, France, the Alps - already seem like distant memories.

In short, the Balkans were good to us. Croatia's coast was a never ending series of ups and downs, and we had a fair share of rain, but this was easily compensated by the relaxed itinerary and stunning scenery. Indulging in an afternoon off cycling, on a tiny, quiet beach one day, we asked the local bar owner if it was OK to camp on the sand. "No", he replied, "you should use the spare room", and we promptly devoured his DVD collection.
We had a few days' rest on the island of Hvar before pedalling through Dubrovnik and up some huge hills to the eccentric Marko's house (a wonderful gentleman who lived in a converted caravan and claimed to have been drinking buddies with Fidel Castro).

Montenegro passed in a blur of rain and concrete but whose memory will always be fond owing to the fact that, out of the blue at our campsite one evening, the 1992 Serbian Road Cycling Champion ("Vlad") walked up to us and offered to service our bikes.

Then came Albania... our unexpected favourite.

Donkeys, chickens, horses, dogs, cats, snakes, sheep, goats and, on one memorable occasion, a small pig, all joined us on the Albanian roads. The place was chaotic and utterly unlike anywhere else we'd been in Europe but everybody smiled and everybody waved and it felt positively welcoming.

The highlight of the trip so far came during a thunderstorm halfway up a mountain when a man let us shelter in his shop. We ended up spending the night in his house, meeting his entire extended family who travelled to see the strange foreign cyclists, were fed like kings and had a week's worth of fruit stuffed into our panniers (full story here).

And then we reached Greece where the hospitality was no worse. Most memorably, Laura went to shake hands with a monk and emerged with a Cornetto (see Spork #30). He let us camp in the church grounds then fed us bread, soup, salad and shots as we spent an evening communicating slowly through a limited vocabulary and wide range of hand gestures.

Now we're in Turkey and have Istanbul in our sights...
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You can see our route map, stats from our ride and receive our newsletter at www.thenextchallenge.org

Spork #29: (More) Albanian hospitality

A beautiful bike ride descending from the mountains around Lake Ohrid took us to Maliq, where we met up with Algent. We contacted Algent through Warm Showers, a website which connects cycle tourists with potential hosts around the world. 

As well as being a keen cyclist, Algent is very involved with his church and arranged for us to stay for a couple of nights in the church's spare bedroom. We were able to spend a useful afternoon cleaning our bikes (the first time since leaving the UK) and enjoyed an evening playing board games in the warm and dry. We were also invited to attend the Sunday morning church service, which was interesting for the number of young people in attendance: a welcome contrast to churches in the UK.

Thank you to Algent for arranging our stay, and to the church pastor for his generosity in buying us coffee and lunch. It was our last couple of nights in Albania, and typical of the wonderful kindness of the people we encountered there. If you get the chance to visit the country, we can highly recommend it!


Sporks #25-28: Albanian hospitality


It was with unexpected pleasure that we were greeted by Albania. Greeted, that is, by a large bull walking nonchalantly down the road. Proceeded not long after by chickens, donkeys, pigs, horses and more. The Albanian people smiled and waved without exception. The children shouted Hello! and drivers honked their horns.

At a hostel in Shkodra where a cat’s claws wreaked havoc on our tent, a gentleman translated a basic message into Albanian for us. It read something like this:

“We have cycled to Albania from the UK. Is there somewhere we can get drinking water? Is there somewhere safe we can pitch our tent for the night? Thank you, Tim & Laura”.

We called it the Magic Letter and with good reason. It really seemed to work magic.

A couple of days after entering the country, we found ourselves struggling up an endless mountainside being pummeled by a huge thunderstorm.

I overtook Laura, made a swiping “Kill it” gesture at my neck which was immediately understood as this:

STOP CYCLING.

It’s wet, late, wet, getting dark and wet.

STOP CYCLING.

The man later to be known to us as “The Uncle” was, at this point, just a man. He stood in the doorway of his workshop looking down on two drowned rats with bikes who pulled into his driveway and who approached him with wild eyes and a piece of paper in their hands.

I presented said paper to the man.

“We have cycled to Albania from the UK…”

We pointed to a possible camping spot: a patch of dirt beneath a roof of concrete that had the single key feature we required in a camp site for the evening (it was dry). He shook his head. The magic was not working.

Still, he seemed happy to let us sit out the storm and moments later his wife appeared with a bottle of water (the magic worked a little) and two pomegranates.

“Do you know anywhere we could camp?’, we articulated through hand movements.

The head shakes again.

We eat the pomegranates in awkward silence and contemplate the reality of heading back out into the maelstrom. The wife disappears and returns with a girl.

“Hello. How can I help?”, says the girl.

“Oh! You speak English!”, I add pointlessly.

Once The Girl had explained that The Uncle was happy for us to camp outside his workshop and had been trying to express as much through the Albanian tradition of shaking his head to mean Yes, she went on to say that, actually, they’d really rather we stayed in their house.

Of course, it’s not every day that two Brits turn up on bicycles so The Aunt got onto the telephone in a hurry to tell the relatives about their new arrivals. And so, whilst Laura showers, I am faced with a steady stream of family members who have come to see the English people. One of the cousins even missed his son’s first birthday to meet/see us.

The Girl Who Speaks English makes the situation much easier – she speaks English, after all – but when she leaves the room, awkwardness inevitably descends. The Uncle reaches for a wedding video to fill one such void and Laura, back from the shower, struggles to control her giggles at the 1980s special effects.

An hour ago we were wet and cold. Now we are warmed both by showers and by the kindness of strangers. We are also fed like kings before bed. In the morning, we pack up swiftly to avoid abusing the hospitality. The poor Girl is dragged back to the house to interpret and misses the start of the school. I feel bad for her having the burden of translation upon her once again but ask her to translate one last message:

“Please tell your mother”, (who missed out on last night’s entertainment but has made it to see us this morning), “that she has a very kind, intelligent and thoughtful daughter”.

She blushes but proceeds to translate when prompted then replies:

“And can I say something to you? You are absolutely the best people I have ever met!”.

Laura’s eyes well.

Mounted on our bikes, we wheel them to the gate.

“I hope you have enjoyed your stay”, says the girl.

I shake my head.

Yes we have.


Spork #24: Casey the American Adventurer


This is Casey Link. He is an American adventurer, cycling and pack rafting his way around Europe, but we met him in Albania, where he was planning to spend a few months, learning the language and getting to know the Albanian culture. 

It was great to meet Casey to have the chanceo to speak to a fellow cycle tourist. He is a very interesting guy with a philosophy close to our own in many ways, who has turned his back on the standard graduate path. Instead of being confined to an office, he roams around the world, stopping when he feels like it to earn some money (luckily he is a computer whizz, meaning he can work remotely from wherever he finds an Internet connection). 

As well as providing good company, he gave us some useful tips about using apps for navigation and for recording our route. He deserves his spork purely for being such a fascinating chap with an interesting story to tell!

You can find Casey's website at elusivetruth.net and he is on Twitter at @Ramblurr

Spork #23: Serbian National Cycling Champion

We crossed into Montenegro and finally found somewhere to camp in a quiet village on the Bay of Kotor. After a quick swim, we were settling down to eat dinner when a couple approached us out of the darkness.

A few minutes into the conversation, the man revealed that he happened to be a previous national cycling champion in Serbia, and that he subsequently provided bicycle maintenance support for the national cycling team. Our bikes have been great, but it was definitely time to have them serviced (a job we never get round to), so this was perfect timing.

He offered to have a look at our bikes, so the morning after we wheeled round to their house at the back of the village. Thankfully, he was impressed with their good condition after 3,000km, and only needed to make a few adjustments to ensure they were running smoothly again. As well as the free bike service, it was lovely to spend a morning chatting with Vlad and Natasha, learning more about what life is like in Serbia.

(We should also add that just as we were leaving, their neighbours appeared with a big bag of satsumas and grapes for us. This would usually merit a Spork, in our aim of giving one to everyone who helps us on our round the world cycle, but in the rush we forgot. Sorry and thank you to these kind strangers!)

Spork #22: Marko's Flea Market

Most nights, we camp in our tent wherever we can find space. We love the feeling of independence, being able to set up a familiar home within a few minutes at getting off our bicycles. It also means we can stop wherever and whenever we want to, without the pressure to make it to the next town.

However, for a few days in Croatia, the weather was very wet. For several nights in a row, we were battered by huge thunderstorms and everything got soaked through. For a respite from the rain, we used the website 'Warm Showers' to find local people who would be willing to host a couple of wet cycle tourists for a night.

Marko was our saviour on the border between Croatia and Montenegro. Having left Croatia under Tito's rule, he has now returned to his homeland after spending most of his adult life in Canada. Aged 78, he is choosing not to retire peacefully, but instead is trying to regenerate the local tourist industry, raising funds to redevelop the narrow gauge railway near Dubrovnik.

If you are interested, he would love to hear from you, and you can find his website at http://www.dubrovnikbytrain.com.


Spork #21: Onboard a Saga cruise ship

What do you imagine when you hear about cruise holidays for older people? Hand rails and stair lifts everywhere, lots of grey haired people talking about the past, meals with no texture so the old people can manage it without their teeth?

We recently had these preconceptions challenged, being invited on board the Saga Sapphire cruise ship when it was visiting the island of Hvar in Croatia. Tim's grandfather and his partner Pat are regulars on these holidays, which are aimed at those aged over 50, and their latest adventure happened to intersect with our cycle trip around the world.

We turned up to the port, not really knowing what to expect, or even if we would be allowed on board. After some confusion, we realised our names were already on the list as official visitors, so were taken on the tender boat to the main ship, across the harbour.

On arrival, we were pleasantly surprised. Sure, there were some people with walking sticks and grey hair, but there were also plenty of younger people, in their fifties, joining in with the dancing lessons and darts tournaments. There was a gym, a spa, a swimming pool, a library, a help-yourself ice cream bar...in fact we could have happily stayed for a week. It was not at all what we expected.

The highlight was lunch, which Grandpa John and Pat kindly arranged for us to have in one of the ship's many restaurants. After weeks of pasta, we were treated to a very British lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, followed by crumble and custard. It was proper food, in a venue which felt more like a London bar than a ship for older people.

As with everyone who has helped us on our journey, Grandpa John and Pat each received a spork, in appreciation of the arrangements they made to get us on board. Thanks to you both, and see you when we finally return to the UK sometime in 2014!


Spork #20: Paradise on the Adriatic

"Do you think we could pitch a tent on your beach?"

"No" came the response. "I think you should sleep downstairs".

We encountered another random act of kindness in Croatia when we were looking for a place to sleep on a beautiful stretch of coastline between Sibenik and Split. We had fallen in love with the turquoise waters and sun bleached rocks of Dolac, having spent a lovely afternoon swimming and reading in the shade of pine trees, so decided to quit cycling for the day and spend the night there.

As it was a small area with houses close by, we wanted to ask permission before pitching our tent. We treated ourselves to a beer at the 'Boxer' bar in Dolac, and mentioned our plans to the owner, who instantly offered us the room where his employees usually sleep. As the season was ending, the room was empty so we could use it to escape from the wind for a night and enjoy the rare treats of electricity and running water. Fresh coffee in the morning was the icing on the cake, as we chatted to the owner and his twin brother.

We would recommend this area, and this bar, to anyone passing through Croatia.

Spork #19: Uncle Niko and the figs

As we were cycling across the island of Pag in Croatia, a man who was picking figs at the side of the road flagged us down. He was curious about what we were doing, and when we explained (in broken German) that we are hoping to cycle to Australia, he laughed and squealed at the idea, instantly endearing him to us.

He insisted we try some of his fruit, saying they would be good for energy. As he kept peeling them and pressing them into our hands, he also claimed they would help our brains with maths problems...we're not sure how accurate that is, but they were by far the most delicious figs we've ever tasted. He gave us a bag to take with us, and with sticky fingers and warm hearts, we pedalled off into the wind.

A mile or so down the road we suddenly realised he was probably selling them: why else had he flagged us down? In a rush of guilt for leaving without paying, we wheeled around and rushed back up the road. Waving money at him, we were acutely embarrassed when he shook his head and explained they were a gift, from our new 'Uncle Niko'. It seems that sometimes people are just being nice, and this was an encounter we won't forget in a hurry.

Cycling through Croatia

Here is a short video showing some photos of our cycle down the Croatian coast. Enjoy!

Click on this link to see the video:

Cycling through Croatia