Sunday, 26 August 2012

Life is Good II

Just in wales visiting Angelsey on a cycle trip!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Life is good

Out of the city into the villages is where I prefer to be, here you get to relax and see life go by. The pictures above give you an idea how time goes by. I watched these old boys playing chess it got so intense after a while that it became a team sport, not sure if that's in the rules.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Dont panic I'm just a man on a bicycle

Athens, I have arrived, not an army to defeat you as so many have done in your 7000 years of history, but as a traveller with two wheels not a cart pulled by horses but the simple bicycle with my own form of horse power, my legs and my lungs.  Entering the city like all cities I've been through takes some doing, and of course with all of it in the Greek alphabet it makes asking directions great fun. The outskirts of the city is like most cities a bit worn and battered but then so is the Acropolis. I passed some of the Olympic stadiums that were built for the games in 2004 and it doesn't look like they've been used since then with smashed windows  graffiti and litter dumped everywhere, I don't know if that's got much to do with the crisis here but i hope London doesn't go the same way. I found myself a cheap hotel room with air conditioning 23€ that with the 23% vat and took my unladen bike for a tour of the city. Athens two words chaotic and exhilarating, and not a bike in site strange for a city but not surprising with the way the drivers hit the accelerator  here while the police two to a motorbike watch on targeting by the looks of it immigrants with no papers.To get to see inside the big monuments you have to pay  and the tourists were in some big lines with their cameras poised in the 38c heat the thing is these monuments are so big you get a better view from the outside and that is what i did. I spent the next few hours touring then headed for the sea, i guess Ive seen so much land and cities the sea is calling so much to me at the moment. a half hours ride and I'm at the clear blue sea I'm like a little boy with his bucket and spade i chain the bike up and go skinny dipping  its allowed in Greece on the beaches I'm a little concerned of the shock of my bronzed arms face and legs against the pale white rest of my torso so i head for a quiet rock swim and with mrlion we walked into the , no shivers warm intoxicating sea bliss. after a dry out in the sun the evening came and i headed to a rugged outcrop that overlooked the Acropolis and the city, amazing views, and inhabited by my fellow tourists, the rocks we were siting on were so smooth from the gazers you had to be careful of your step. There was a gang of pickpockets, bag snatchers working this area so  easy to see the only view they were watching was that that contained valuables, in a couple of the photos you can see them. I had to tell a couple of tourists that the were about to get their bag stolen much to the annoyance of the on looking  thieves.
 So i will have a few days here and enjoy my journeys end, i have to return so i can go again, its been brutal, exhilarating crazy wild and emotional and something i hope you all get a chance to do. The trip was done on a budget of 3500 and out of that came my bike costs, I've been away for  3 months travelled into 16 countries and cultures and cycled a few miles. My eyes and mind have seen so much good and bad sadness and joy  and as they say I have had the time of my life i only hope one day you will get that time too, live life thanks for Reading, now how the hell do i get back from here?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Happy Birthday Brother today is for You

Happy Birthday Brother Sorry I'm not there to celebrate it with you but today I will give you my days ride, and today crossed the Macedonia border and cycled into Greece. It has been a week since I left Vienna and I was determined to get to Greece on your Birthday so at 4pm on the 16th August 2012 I had cycled 138 miles leaving at 6am and arrived in Greece with very mixed emotions. The poor man at passport control didn't know how to react when i told him i had cycled from Great Britain to here even more perplexed when i told him id come via Norway In the end he gave me a big hug and got his other officer to come around to shake my hand, then people in their cars started to  wonder what was going on and so on the intercom  he announced what i had done the honking on the  car horns that followed was amazing got to admit I  got a quivering lip as I continued to cycle cars passed me with beeping horns and bravos thrown out of the window, I still cant believe I'm here Thank you Greece for the welcome.
 So brother yes you are 50 and your feeling a little fed up so remember this Its not about the length of your life its all about the width of your life, Love you brother be happy I cant stop grinning


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The serbian mafia

Im sitting having my lunch before i cross into Macedonia, and im tucking into a couple of brown seeded babs, good for all reasons when these two polceia decide to come for a visit.The serb police force do a very good sturn face and they were putting on an excellant display today, they speak in serbian and i catch passport, i hand it over, they study it more than they need to and i break the silence with, lovley warm day again, they ignore me. They look at the bike and point to the bags and i catch mafia in the sentance, sorry i dont understand, he points to the bag and makes a gesture to open them up. As i get up to open my bags, there is a car crash on the street and he points again to the bags as they head off to investigate the accident. Im struggling to work out what they want, why mafia and the pointing to the bags, do they think im a smuggler of drugs or guns, so i start to empty my contents of bags all four onto the picnic table, my front two hold food and cooking gear the second two clothes and bike stuff. As im emptying the food bag one of my half used instant mash has decided to go wandering in my bag, its everywhere. So i have a james moment, their going to think that my instant mash is cocaine so very quickly i start to wipe off the powder onto the floor but then the floor is covered so as im trying not to attract any attention i do a sort of irish feet shuffle they do so well while atempting to keep my top half ridgit. Its all covered up and i see all my bags contents on the table, i get a bit embarrised on the state of my underpants and socks that even tthough they do get washed the salt from my sweat and the sun is amking them fall apart so i hide them under a t shirt which has yogurt stain down it so i cover that with my fleece which also needs a wash. I'm as ready as ill ever be and so I finish my lunch and then wait patiently and then wait impatiently.'soon an hour has gone and i want to get on. on lookers passing my jumble sale are bewilderd by it all.  another 20 min go by and they seem to be wandering off. i wave over shouting hello and they come over to see my lifes wares, they look angry and start saying stuff to me, i cant understan and so i put my hand up in a no understand way, its looking ugly, and then i notice my shorts im wearing has a blob of cream cheese on it from lunch and i want to wipe it off but decide to try and look hard, very soon were not getting anywhere and a youngter is brought in to translate. plonker that i am listens to the translation. they want me to take care of my luggage as their has been atacks on travellers and by the way youve got something on your shorts. They wander off i pack up and head tothe border the Macedonian contol speaks great english and im through in no time. very soon the hills get bigger and much hotter and i can see my imaginary greek sea in the distace some 250 km away with some big mountains in the way.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Beograd thats their translation

the road into Belgrade was a bit on the wild side. even though the donau was near to me their was no cycle path with it. The night before id studied the map and found a 'b' road that would take me in avoiding all the new road and all its traffic. certainly not the case, i think everyone was hitting my road to avoid the toll costs and probably by the looks of their vehicles would not have coped with the fast roads, i wonder if they have mot's here some off the vehicles seemed to be held together with string let alone could they go much faster than me, which when they do manage to overtake the black smoke from them fills the oxygen starved lungs. The last village i entered before belgrade i stoped for lunchin  a park i found a bench and tucked in to the soft cheese tomatoe and bread and a lemonade riddler basicly its a shandy. Soon i must have caught the intrest of a group of  young lads who cautiously ventured towards me,soon they sent the smallest up to me and he spoke serbian, i had a bit of fun cruel i know but replied i  welsh, very puzzled he returned to his friends scratching his head, after a bit of debate the biggest came forward and spoke to me in very good english , hello do you speak english, a little i grunted, where are you from,'wales,'yes i know wales you play good rugby, at this point he had broken me and  so i did my best to speak much better english soon the other group gathered round and as boys have that look of hunger i offered them some of my loaf which they demolished with gusto, we talked and i found out that i was having my lunch in their school grounds. As i was doing my best to save some of the bread for myself one of the boys brought this man over to me who introduced himself as the school boss and would i like to have a look in their school which i accepted and spent the next hour looking in the classrooms and most importantly their english books. children i serbia start school much in line with the other countries ive visited at the age of 7, finish school at15 either do military service or go to college but it can be both, they can drink and smoke at 16, no car till their 18.

After lunch break i headed into Belgrade and the last 10 miles were on the river path which was very pretty and soon into a very concrete worn out city, i didnt expect their to be so much of the old city standing after the nato bombing in the 90s but a lot is just about standing and thats not because of the bombing. The language and signage is all greek alphabet and so you really feel as if your away from home. The people are'all friendly and ive had so many bravos and honk on the horns in welcome i think i have not seen any othertourers since bratislavia and so i guess im an odity every time i stop for a map read or water break im aproached. So this is what i can say'of serbia poor ruggid but rich and beautiful in its character and energy. I go tomorrow to my last country before greece, macedonia a day and a half cycling and i will be in greece and boy im going to hit the hills then but im so looki g forward to seeing the sea, love to all of you x

Wild camping or rough camping!

So from  Bratislavia,Slovakia  I headed down the canal and the paths were excelent,  we are talking tarmac without holes. o good in fact that it seemed to be used by the poulaton of Bratislavia, roller bladers everywhere you could easly have thought you were in LA. In fact roller blading has taken over the mode of transport of bike and im not sure if ive mentoned this but 'Nordic walking' is a thing of the past. Chris and I ventured on these Nordic walkers all down the canal its walking with the use of 2 walking sticks. They seem out of place as we both thought  that you needed those for montain climbing, talking to those that know they say that its supposed to  use more energy to use them and also makes you more flexible the good doctor and i thought not. Anyway it gets them out walking and thats a good thing. But they have dissapeared and the rollers have taken over. So much in fact that they have bilt another tarmaced path for the cyclists!
My first night out of Vienna ended after 65 miles and i slept by the river in my tent free of chage this i would call wild camping. The next day saw me up at 5 and continued cycling along the river into Hungary and towards a huge lake in the centre of the country. The landscape changed and became more ruggid and the houses more worn out some of them did not look fit to live in. I passed a dad on a worn out motor bike that was pulling a trailer with his wife son and baby on board i was doing 25 they were struggling to do 10mph  when theres smoke pouring out of the exhaust i thnk its time for an overhaul!

The miles clicked away  and soon the sun set and i realised i was not going to make my destonation i switched on my back lights and held my torch, bracket gone on other bike, I decided to make camp somewhere soon but cold i find anywhere. Miles and much darkness and the beeping of horns later i turn down a little road and find a suitable space on top of a verge in an area just big enough to pitch the tent. I cooked some dinner of baked beans and instant mash and slept till 5 having cycled 188 miles. My next day was good cross country cycling, the donau route went a different way to my straight as the crow flies to Greece, budapest will have to wait for another time, and I headed to the border of Serbia where i met up with the Donau again found a nice pitch by the river where i shared a camp fire and some beers and some caught fish. we sang some of their songs and i tried to teach them some welsh ones, Great night. The next day I headed into Serbia which turned out to be Croatia the three borders are all cose, passport contol first for ages and very strict wanted to see in my bags the smelly socks put them off pretty quick. Within a couple of hours I went outand  just as strict and I got some strange looks as my passport was stamped again with same date on it. Serbia control was tough  control too and I was asked where i was going to greece i replied what is wrong with here they said oh nothing i love croatia its a great country, but you are in serbia oops. That night i was looking for a camp site, when i stopped for a water break next to a farmer selling water mellons. he enquired if   i wanted to by one of his mellons  sorry no room, where you sleep i shrug my shoulders, you sleep here pointing to his barn so i set up in his hay barn. I see him loading up the melons into is wagon so as a thankyou i give him a hand and am rewarded with a huge mellon boy was it good for tea and breakfast. Sleeping in the hay was really comftable woke up to a pig snorting in my ear, oh the life on the open road.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The next bit

After leaving lauren in vienna to catch her flight home i head back on the Donau towards Bratislavia,its 1230 and hot. Chris and i did this stretch a week ago so its all familiar the wind is behind me and im cruising along at 25 mph. Im very thoughtful of my next step of the journey, and with mixed emotions of lauren and my time with chis the last 2 weeks. Im alone again and it feels strange just like the first few days in Norway and so im reflecting as im going along. Ive stopped for a'break and im studying my europe map, ive realised wht a huge detour i did when i went west from warsaw to prague, dresden to chris and back east with chis to vienna. In that period of time ive probably added another1500 miles onto my journey where ive id gone south at warsaw to here about 200 miles, i hasten to add that i use my finger as a mileage guessar, the lengh of my index finger is about 150 miles on my europe map.
Im not bothered about the miles the journey through cheue republic and germany and meeting up with chis and lauren was more than worth it.
So im sitting working this all out and have decided to draw a stright line from Bratislavia to Athens and that will be my rout, its some 1200 miles and so i should be in Greece in 10 days or less, and im getting excited about, yes im alone but im not phased about that. I m looking forward to the challenge of navigating my way through to Greece, and very excited.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


So to Vienna we investigated, we saw the homes of  kings princes, the government and its subjects. The city is truly beautiful and sharing it with my daughter made it even better. We walked some miles we had a beer on  'a beach' by the donau deckchairs errected without any problem. We were offered dinner by a tout if we bought an opera ticket! we settled for a free outdoor performance of the opera in the park, we had lunch in the gardens of kings and ate delicous ice cream fit for my princess. We snuck into a gallery without paying and we sat and watched the world go by. Its been great  and  tomorrow she returns home and i head south to Greece. Ill miss her but its been great to see her she makes me smile and laugh and im a lucky dad.