So here I am back again after a break or I should say after a small road trip of 16,000 kilometers to 18 European countries on a 25 Year Old Honda motorcycle.
After completing India tour on a motorcycle, I was clueless what to do next. During this time, I came across a lot of people and motorcycle groups like MTM(motorcycle travelers meet) who encouraged me to travel beyond borders.
But to travel in Europe you need money and actually, you need a lot of money to travel in European countries(that’s what I thought initially ) and I had already exhausted my funds during my 500 days journey across India. So I came up with an idea to try crowdfunding. I never thought or planned for traveling and especially on a motorcycle but it must be destiny that keeps taking me to different places and I felt crowdfunding could be the option to fulfill my wanderlust now.
To be true I never thought crowdfunding will work but it’s never bad to give it a try. So I created a crowdfunding page on gofundme and surprisingly people started donating me money for my journey. It feels strange when you get money from 150 people just to travel but I am really thankful to each and everyone who has donated me for my Europe trip. A lot of these people were my friend from college but I did receive money from people whom I met once in my life or rarely know. At the end of 3 months campaign on crowdfunding, I was able to receive money around 4,50,000 INR. (Details about the money which I spent on trip is mentioned at the end of this blog)
Having money is not the only thing you need to get into Europe. Traveling to Europe with Indian passport is really difficult and especially when you don’t have any permanent job in India and also no saving in your bank account. As I said it’s never bad to give it a try and I tried for 6 months visa from Italy embassy.(why 6 months?. Because I wanted to travel and explore Europe as much as possible and it really takes time to travel). I had all the documents which were needed, including invitation letter from a friend in Italy who were willing to take responsibility for my journey, but it didn’t work out. In next two days after applying for a Schengen visa, I got the rejection letter from the Italy embassy for some reason I could rarely understand(“Justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable”).
So I started talking to travel agents and some travel agencies and each one of them were telling me it’s impossible to get 6 months visa for Europe. Most of them even told me it’s hard to get even 3 months visa for my current situations(Without a job in India or big saving in the bank account).
After my 1st rejection of visa, I waited for 2 months and reapplied again from France embassy (only 3 months this Schengen visa this time as 2 rejection could ban my visa for Europe for a long time). This time I added more documents and Kinduzz solution really helped me get necessary documents. But there was still one issue, all documents were rarely believable as all of them are just scanned print out. I collected all document and just gave in the Vfs office addressing the embassy of France(I started believing that it will be rejected again). This time reply didn’t come for almost 14 days and on the 15th day from the time of submission of my application, I received a visa confirmation but my visa was starting from the day it was approved. This was strange because all my flight ticket and travel insurance were from different dates. People say, for the first time normally embassy take a personal interview and especially when your documents are not good and you don’t have a job but France embassy just gave me visa :). I assume the guy in embassy must be having a really happy day and my luck just worked that day.
Finally, I had a visa for Europe but just for 90 days with limited time period. I planned my journey starting mid week of June but my visa was starting from 24th May(if I had waited for my planned trip I would lose 25 days of my visa time). So I had to dump every planning. I booked the flight ticket to Europe and left India on 1st June as I didn’t want to waste the limited visa time which I had. Without any plan or any Idea, I entered into Poland on 1st June 2017
and The Journey Begins…
But to start a Motorcycle trip, you actually need a motorcycle and with an Indian passport, I couldn’t buy a motorcycle in Europe on my Name. For some moment it felt like a more difficult task to travel in Europe than clearing any entrance exam(like IIT and IAS) in India. Every time I resolve one problem, one more is on my way to block the trip. But I being an optimistic person kept of trying and things actually turned out in my favor at the end. I came in contact with few friends in Poland whom I met almost 4 years ago during my travel in India. They helped me in getting the motorcycle. I gave my polish friend money and she bought a motorcycle on her name. I am really thankful to her(Marta) for taking all this pain during her pregnancy period just to help me for my motorcycle trip. She bought a motorcycle, her boyfriend repaired it before I could go and she even arranged all the documents which were needed for riding a motorcycle across Europe. So here are the people who helped me in getting my journey started.
During my first 3 days in Poland, bike documents and other stuff were getting ready, I was planning on what would I need to ride across Europe. I have ridden a motorcycle in India and I never used riding gears but people suggested me to have riding gears while I am riding in Europe. So I made a very long list and thought about completing it before leaving Warsaw but I ended up completing only half and I compromised on a lot of the things
Meanwhile, I took a city tour on a bicycle in Warsaw, Poland and tried some really nice local polish food offered by my old polish friend Kuba and his girlfriend.
I kept on asking my polish friend(Marta) to go for a short ride before I could actually move to other cities but on my last day in Warsaw, she took me to fuel station which was 200 meters away and that’s all I learned about riding rules of Europe and next day I left Warsaw to see other places in Europe. When I was leaving, my friends were wishing me “Hope we will see you back in Poland”. These were not only my friends’ words but everyone I met in Poland before starting this trip had a doubt in mind that I won’t return in one piece.
I didn’t know anything about the motorcycle so I was initially worried whether this 25-year-old motorcycle will run for next 80 days. Before I could think of anything else, On the very first day of my journey, the bike engine gave some problem. Out of the two cylinders, only one was running and speed drop from 70-80 km/hours to 30km/ hours. Machines are not my best friend I must say. So I took a break on the highway and called my friend in India(Bala) who owned a similar bike to know the issue. He asked me to open the tool box in the bike and check tools to fix the bike. But when I opened the toolbox I just found a brush to polish shoes instead of tools. On the very first day of my journey, I knew I don’t have many options to fix the motorcycle. I tried to start the engine again and surprisingly the bike started normally and it even ran till Krakow and next few days without any problem.
That’s not the only thing which came as surprise to me. I knew I might need to eat some exotic food in Europe but didn’t know that on my first day itself it will be happening. I reached my Couchsurfing host in Krakow and the whole family was waiting to have food with me. When I went on the dining table and asked what they have prepared, the answer was “Rabbit”. It’s an expensive food and served only on special purpose but this family prepared it for me who is just a couch surfing host. I couldn’t say no to them so I thought let’s just eat. It was more strange to eat a rabbit because last few days my host in Warsaw, Poland had rabbit as their pet and I used to play all the time with that rabbit and now I was about to eat one
What is Couchsurfing and Why I started using Couchsurfing?
First of all for people who don’t know what is couch surfing. It’s a platform where people host travelers at their home. They give you food and place to sleep without any money being charged.
that’s what I thought initially
but on the very first day, I realized this is not just a way to save money. It’s a way to interact with people and exchange culture who have similar interests. You share your experiences, stories, and knowledge with people whom you are hosting and to whom you are being guested. Everyone wants to travel in this world but a little support from someone could keep you moving and this community understands it very well. For the same reason, people offer food, drinks, and place to sleep without any money.
Now why I started using it. I started using it just to save money initially. After coming to Europe, buying a motorcycle and other kinds of stuff which were needed to ride a motorcycle, I was just left with money to travel for 50 days across Europe( if I spent 50 euros per day on everything). But I am really thankful I got introduced to Couchsurfing which really made this bike trip more memorable to me. I was even able to save some money for my future trip after traveling for 80 days in Europe.
Now moving back to the Journey…
I stayed in Krakow for 2 days and visited some local place which my Couchsurfing host planned for me. She had good knowledge about the history of town so she took me around town and even didn’t let me spend any money.
I have been to only two European cities so far but something which I realized as soon as I entered here in Europe was that Europe is the home of musicians. You will find a lot of musicians playing wonderful music on street and in return people give them some money which they use for traveling. It’s not only in Poland but almost everywhere in Europe.
From the first day, only the Europe was becoming interesting to someone like me who have stepped out of the country for the first time. Whether it was museum filled with paintings(which were really painful when you know all these people on wall died during world war 2)
or sometimes it just a graffiti on walls or a Garden library. Everything was coming as surprise to me
I was enjoying and experiencing new things from the places I visited in first 2 days. But one thing which I was not sure about is the places I should visit in future.
I didn’t know what to visit in Europe, so for me, Europe trip was more similar to a situation when you visit a new restaurant and you wish to try some good food. But the restaurant had so many things on the menu and you can’t try everything on the same day. So you just order the most popular food or something which was suggested by people on the online reviews of that restaurant. And I did exactly the same during Europe trip.
My Europe trip was actually more like a crash course in Europe :D. But there is always one saying in traveling “More you travel, more you realize you have seen just a little”. So with my limited visa, I just decided that I will go in some direction and visit only places which come on my way and I left my host family in Krakow to Gdansk, Poland via Wrocklow, Poland
As people say, it’s not the destination which is important it’s the journey itself. So I decided, I will take routes by my choice, not by google map suggestion. I used to put random pointers on the map in direction of my next destination(following the countryside roads or smallest road possible ) and keep moving on the small roads avoiding Highways, motorways, and other big roads. It was just an experimented on first but this idea took me to some really nice roads.
although I was riding through the small roads but the first few days (almost a week) of my journey was more about survival on European roads with traffic rules instead of riding comfortably.
Everyone in Europe seems to follow traffic rules but being from India, I was not so much used to of that. I realized we have all the similar marking on the road which I saw in Europe but no one here in India follow those rules and now to get used to of them suddenly was really difficult for me. Some of the rules were like
- Overtake only when you find a broken line in the middle of a road. While in India you can overtake whenever you want
- Don’t stop of highways unless you have any emergency situation
- The extreme right side of the road is actually empty no matter how much traffic in on the highway. This is actually used as emergency lane but the first time I went on a highway on the 2nd day of my trip. I thought it’s empty side and I was riding on an Autobahn in the emergency lane. Luckily I was in Poland and I was not caught by police. Later I planned not to take an autobahn because for a slow rider like me it was really scary to ride on.
- You may find a triangle pointing towards you at various places on the road which actually mean take a stop or slow down before entering the main road. So for first few days whenever I used to see any car coming from the left or right side, I used to put breaks, luckily I was not hit by a fast moving car from behind.
- You may find speed limit board on the road which is normally 90km/hour on highways or outside town and if you are in town they are normally 50km/hour or 30km/hour. And most of the people are following these rules even if the road is empty.
As you might have guessed already, I broke so many signals and rules initially but luckily I was not caught. I didn’t mean to break them but I was not used to of following them as well. I survived many times and after a week I was able to understand and follow them except breaking signal 😀
I spent first few days in Poland as I was getting used to of riding on right-hand side and learning rules. But I never regret a single day as I got to see a lot of beautiful places and I met a lot of nice people on the way or through couch surfing
I was in Gdansk, Poland, and my host was in her office so I was roaming on street clueless when I saw this guy with a sign board saying “Free walking tour”
And this guy was telling an interesting story about town like a pro. Without thinking twice I joined him in the group and keep walking with him(Don’t miss anything which is free 🙂 ). I already visited places by myself but when I went with him again to those place, I came to know really interesting stories of places which I had ignored. From the beginning of this city till now, he gave a short summary of everything and now I could imagine the history of this small town from past till now in a really interesting way.
From Gdansk, I entered into another country, (Lithuania) through some more beautiful places in Poland. While Lithuania is a small country in Europe but it was more interesting for me to know that the language has root in Sanskrit. Not only Lithuanian, later I came to know a lot of European languages are actually Indo-European languages.
It was hard to get Couchsurfing host initially, I still remember the first time I sent a request to get host, I had sent to almost 70-80 people out of which most people had replied as “NO” or some of them suggested me to get some reference which would make them believe in me. But there were few people who were ready to host me even with low references and they introduced me to local culture and food which they have. And they are the one who actually clicked my photos else I rarely like to click my own photos 🙂
I was in the town of Vilnius where I found again a group of people with the free walking tour sign.
and this time I came to know that there is something called as “Free walking tour” which is available in almost every city of Europe. They are guides with official Id cards, but they don’t charge you money initially. It’s your choice to give them some money(as much as you want) at the end of 3 hours walking tour around the city. But they will provide you a lot of information about the town which you could rarely find on google. From the good and cheap place to eat or drink to the history and background of the town.
Since most of the people who join these groups are backpackers, so you will make really interesting friends on these tours and I made a lot. Some of them are really good friends(like these from Norway and Spain) that I could say I have home in their home country
I was on a motorcycle which used to give problem sometimes but this beautiful bike from HONDA is like Iron man of the motorcycle. It used to get well on its own and never disappointed me. For the same reason, I was never afraid to take it on off roads even without any tool.
And slowly, I started developing more trust on this motorcycle. Although my friend in India(Bala) keep on telling me to buy the part (CDI unit) because of which it is showing the problem. And being lazy person, I didn’t buy anything and keep on moving towards the northern Europe crossing Latvia and Estonia
I thought driving rules are same every where in Europe but actually they are almost same not everything is same. Every country I visited, there was a little difference in rules and sometimes this little difference was really risky.
I remember when I was riding in Poland, on railway crossing there used to be a barrier which goes down if a train is coming. But when I entered into Lithuania, I didn’t find any barrier and instead a red light was blinking. So as per my Indian logic I thought, this red light is not working that’s why it’s blinking and I crossed the railway crossing 2 times while it was blinking. But on the 3rd crossing, I found a car stopped in front of railway crossing and the red light was still blinking. Now even I stopped my bike behind the car and 1 minute later, a fast moving train was passing in front of me. After the train had passed, the signal turned into green. So basically I should not have used my stupid logic but luckily I survived few more times again.
Later I entered into Lativa and here there was no signal at all. Just a sign board saying “stop” like this. It’s better to take a stop and be careful before crossing them.
Not only this, even the sign on road have a little variation. As a result, I was the stupid person in the crowd who used to break signal all the time because of confusion of traffic rules but I was never caught. If you are not caught, there is no crime 😀
Needless to say, every place I was visiting in Europe during my survival riding period was beautiful and especially during the time of sunset. Sometimes the towns of Europe looks more like a painting.
After Estonia, I entered into Finland using a boat Transport. I have seen boat transport in India. In Europe, although they call it a boat but actually it’s a cruise (a very big ship ) which I had seen for the first time in my life so a small ride till Finland in this big ship became memorable as well.
Finland was very expensive and in beginning, I didn’t find a Couchsurfing host in Helsinki but in evening one guy accepted my request and invited me to his home. He was from Pakistan and doing Ph.D. in Finland. I stayed at his place and the hospitality he had offered changed all my perception about Pakistan which we see on Tv. It was the first time I have met someone in person who is from Pakistan.
We talked all night discussing and sharing stories of our countries with few more of his friends from Pakistan. I even stayed with few more people from Pakistan during my Europe trip. And all I could say is, what we see and understand from TV is not true. India and Pakistan may fight here on the border(because of politics ) but in Europe, people from these two countries are actually best friends.
My plan was to take a boat from Helsinki to Stockholm and skip northern part of Finland but this host from Pakistan asked me to visit some more places in Finland to understand the culture of Finland before I leave this country. So I changed my plan again and started moving towards the northern side of Finland. The more north I move, the fewer people I found. Lonely India became really lonely 🙂 as moving towards north but it was beautiful to ride always
I was in Finland at the time of mid summer when the sun never goes down(24 hours of daylight). It was weird but it was a surprise of nature which I saw for the first time in my life. No night and that doesn’t mean people work 24 hours :D. During mid summer, people do a bonfire and celebrate this day as after this day the night will start getting longer. I joined my Couchsurfing host and their friend to the underground party which was not actually underground. It was just people smoking and drinking openly on loud rock music (Cute Finish people 😀 ).
After visiting few more places in Finland, I decided to take a boat and reach Stockholm but again my Couchsurfing host told me “You have come to Finland, you should meet Santa Clause because we have the Real Santa”
I searched on google and found the place in the north of Finland (Lapland) is actually the home of Santa clause. If anyone in this world sent a postcard addressing to Santa clause it will go to this address in Lapland. So without thinking twice, I changed my plan again and started moving towards the north of Europe. The more north I move, more number of trees and less number of people I would find. It became monotonous after few days as I could only see trees. But during the rainy time, I found some rainbows(even double rainbow which I saw for the first time in my life). This was something which encouraged me more to ride further.
Finally, I reached the place where Santa clause lives. In super excitement, I visited Santa clause village and I was really happy as I came to this place after 3 days ride. But taking a selfie with him was not allowed instead a professional photographer will take a photo and it cost 30 Euros (2200 INR) for one photo with him. I didn’t have option as I was riding for so long to meet him, so I just paid that money to buy this photo with Santa 😀
From Lapland, I took a U turn and started moving towards the Sweden. I have come far north and I wanted to visit the bull race festival in Spain. So I skipped the Norway part and started moving towards southern Europe.
Every country in Europe has its own charm and for me, it’s really tough to compare which one was better than other. I never used to ride so much in India but in Europe surprisingly, I got used to of riding a motorcycle for all day. I was miles away from my homeland in a place where people rarely understand me but I was not afraid for even a single moment. It could be because of meeting different people every day or people who hosted me at their home through Couchsurfing. With every day I am spending in Europe, I was getting more comfortable in Europe.
And a lot of local food prepared by Couchsurfing host was always waiting for me at the end of the day. Sometimes I used to visit supermarket and it really funny to see how Indian products are being sold in European market like this
I spent almost 10 days more because of detouring toward Santa home. Finally, after a little delay, I reached Stockholm which has so many stories that I came to know through the “Free walking tour” group.
One such story is about the Iron boy and it’s one of my favorites as well. This 15cm statue is the smallest status of Stockholm town. This statue was made by an artist who used to dream about looking at the moon during his childhood.
It is believed that if you leave a coin to this statue and make a wish while rubbing his head, your wishes will come true soon. While leaving a coin will bring good luck, on other hand picking up any coin from here would bring bad luck for you. This statue is really popular among locals of Stockholm. Locals here sew clothes for him during winter and one can find this statue with colorful clothes(like the one next to him but he is not wearing it as it’s summer ). During the rainy season, local people come and visit this statue and change clothes so he won’t be outside in wet clothes. There is a small projector light on the wall in front of him. During night time that projector will project a round shaped moonlight over the statue. This status is also known as “little boy who looks at the moon”
It’s ok to enjoy beautiful Stockholm and listen to stories but Swedish people do get very serious sometimes like this
From Sweden, I entered into Denmark where things have started changing again. The landscape was different. Now I could see more people on street and also not everyone is following traffic rules here. Which made it more difficult for me to ride as I started getting used to of driving rules now.
But with each country I was going, my places of interest keep on changing. And in Copenhagen, I went to a hippie place where in the boundary of this area, it’s legal to drink and smoke anything. Anything means anything. This place is known as Christiania and some people also call it as Mini Amsterdam
From Denmark, I entered into Germany (The land of no Speed limit). There is no speed limit of highways in Germany and you could ride as fast as you can. For the same reason, people from the beginning was telling me to be more careful in Germany.
Since Autobahns in Germany are free(without toll) so I gave it a try to ride on the Autobahn with my motorcycle as well. I was riding at speed of 120km/hour although I never thought my bike could go on that high speed I was little scared as well due to the engine problem.
All other bikes have features of going from 30 km/hour to 120km/hour in few seconds and my bike on other hand had the ability to go from 120km/hour to 30km/.hour in just a few seconds. But this Iron man of Honda didn’t break my trust and I kept on running.
Autobahn was just to get a feel of high-speed motorcycling which I really didn’t enjoy much, so after some time I came back on small roads crossing through small villages in Germany and finally entered into Berlin
This is also the place where the concept of Free walking tour actually started (as I being told by people )
In Berlin, I was staying in Couchsurfing home of an old lady who was so cool, I could say the coolest old lady I have seen in my life. Berlin is known of night life and this old lady of 65 years old was always planning and pushing me to go to night clubs. She would even be wanted to join me and show me the night life with her husband but she had her 66th birthday next day which made her day all busy. I planned to stay two days and I ended up staying 3 days because I couldn’t miss the birthday dinner of this really nice old lady. Small things can bring a lot of happiness in life and so does my 1-day extension had made her smile which I feel is the best I could do for her
I went during the time of summer but I really don’t know why people call it summer of Europe when most of the days in Europe it’s raining. From the beginning only, I have been riding in the rain a lot.
In Germany, it was raining one day when I was leaving for Amsterdam from Hanover. I used to break so many signals all the time and during this rainy day, I thought I will follow the rules more.I tried to stop my bike on one of the signals and it skid. I was on the ground a few minutes later with my bike.
Now I knew why people were telling me to wear riding gears. Because of those gears only, I didn’t feel anything and just stood up in few second. I was in the middle of the road and the signal was green. I put my bike on the stand but the bike has turned 180 degrees during the skid and I was pointing in opposite direction facing the coming traffic.
It was Germany and people have warned me to be more careful in Germany and don’t get into police because it could create some problem. I thought my bike won’t start but this iron man from Honda started on the first attempt and we were on the road. The only thing which broke during the crash was one of the mirrors. But I think a crash was part of the journey only. It’s not a dent but a memory I had received 🙂
And I reached Amsterdam(The home of hippies in 70’s). A place where everything is legal (it’s not legal actually people and government tolerate everything ).
If you are in Amsterdam, you have to smoke some stuff in coffee houses of Amsterdam. So I went into one of the popular coffee house “Bulldog Cafe”. I asked for what they have and they had a long menu of different types of joints. I thought in Europe they have mostly light beers so their joints must be light as well. Again my stupid logic didn’t work well, I ordered a big jointed and smoked it. After which I don’t know what happened in next two hours. I went out on street and just followed the crowd but after 20-30 minutes I used to find myself again in front of the same bulldog cafe. But Amsterdam is more fun when you are high
While in other countries you should be more careful with high-speed cars and motorcycles but when you are in Amsterdam you should be more careful with a bicycle. Yes, a bicycle. There are lots of accidents happened when a pedestrian is hit by a bicycle than anything else. And for me, it was scarier when I realized they don’t have a break in bicycle but they do have a break(reverse peddling for a break).
From Amsterdam, I keep following the small roads(Country side rods) through some beautiful locations like windmill farm and went to Belgium. I didn’t visit Brussel because now I started getting bored with big cities. So I went to a small village near Dinant, Belgium as Dinant is the place where the guy who introduced saxophone was born.
With each country I was visiting, I was learning new food habits from locals and trying new foods which were introduced to me by my Couchsurfing hosts. One of such thing was this way of eating Egg when you boiled it half and eat it like this
Since my host was living around 30km away from Dinant city. So instead of going on by motorcycle, I tried Hitchhiking for the first time in Europe and it really works in Europe. Later I tried it few more times at other places in Europe. Instead of riding a bike or taking care of parking location. Just stand on road with universal sign of asking for lift and you will get one in Europe within few minutes (but sometimes it may take lot of time)
I had to travel 35 km on my way back home and this guy was supposed to drop me just 20km of my route. But as soon as I told him that I am from India, next thing he said “Amitabh Bachan. Amar-Akbar -Anthony”. That was his favorite Bollywood movie.
Thanks to Amitabh Bachan this guy dropped me home (instead of going in his own way he came to place where I am staying which was 15km more) 😂
He is from Egypt and living here in Belgium. He could speak a very little English so most of the time we just keep laughing when we sing Bollywood song or tell me about Hindi movies.
I packed my luggage next day and planning to leave for Paris but the neighbor of my Couchsurfing host asked
“Are you leaving?. Do you want to try some Morrocan tea”
I said “yes”
And from that time for next 4 hours, I had been drinking tea and just eating eating eating.😁 I can say the hospitality of Moroccan people is one of the best I have seen in my life. Since I spent so much time and I don’t prefer to ride at night, the planned changed again and I had to stay one more day in small village of Belgium
Next day I reached Paris but my experience of Paris was not as good as I was expecting. There are so many tourists everywhere on street and temperature was nearly 40 Degrees. I tried to go for Monalisa museum but I had to wait for at least 2 hours in a queue to get inside. So I skipped most of the places in Paris, took a Free walking tour and spent most of my time looking at the wonder of the world. In Fact, I only came to Paris to see Effiel tower and nothing else
Place and landscape were changing every time I was visiting a new country but something which was common among the countryside roads was the big rolls of dry grass on the field. It was few in number at other places of Europe but when I entered into France, it becomes so much that almost every day I used to find these thousands of grass rolls.
One more thing which was common among all places was being me the slowest person on road. I had never overtaken anyone during my Europe road trip except the bicycle rider :D.
Since France is popular for Wine, so I visited the town(Bordeaux) which is the home of wines and tasted some local wine but couldn’t make much difference as I am more of a beer person than wine.
From Bordeaux, I started moving towards more southern part of Europe. I used to hear people in Europe drink more beer than water as the beer is very cheap. Which turns out to be so true. I used to carry a water bottle with me but one day I just kept looking at this water bottle to remember the last time I had drunk water. I didn’t drink and drive but yes I did drive in hangover a lot. :D. Almost every day I used to drink 3-4 pint of beer and sometimes even more.
I wanted to visit the bull race festival in Pamplona, Spain but because I went to meet Santa, I entered Spain almost 1 week late and I missed the festival. But Pamplona was still special as it was beginning of mountains in Europe for me. Not very big but it always brings a smile on the face of motorcyclist to see mountain crossing.
crossing those small mountains, I reached the first city of Spain(Pamplona). I fell in love with Spain from my first day itself. The people are more lively and helpful as compared to any part of Europe. I made a lot of new friends in Spain and as expected we had lots of beer again with some Tapas food(Tapas is a small portion of food served inside most of the bar in Spain which is very cheap as well. )
From Pamplona, I took the pilgrimage road (starts from Pamplona ). This route is very popular these days as a lot of people from around the world come and walk through this route. Being a lazy person I didn’t walk through but I traveled through this route on my Iron Man Honda Motorcycle(Transalp 600) and I could say this route was one of the beautiful routes I have gone through in Europe
“Spain is a weird country but special as well”, This line was told to me by my friends in Pamplona. And I think after few days only I felt what those lines meant actually. If you visit the country side of Spain, each small village on the route will make you fall in love with it. So does the food habits in Spain like eating sweet candy with beer in Pamplona, Spain. I wish I had more time, I would have stayed in every possible village of Spain
I have not seen a lot of Spain by that time, but this country is definitely the one I would love to visit again and again. From Spain, I entered into Portugal which was the southern most country in Europe.
Now the temperature was getting higher as well. It was real summer experience as the temperature was around 40 degree. From Porto, I went a little more south to Lisbon when I realized I have reached far south of Europe and I had to go back to Poland to sell this motorcycle again(Since it was not on my name) and take a flight back to India(Flights are also cheap from Poland).
And at the same time, the bike problem was getting worst. Earlier it used to give problem once in a week but now almost every day it started giving same engine problem. What could I do without any tools, so I used to try the universal solution of restarting engine few times until it starts normally and it worked all the time 😀
It’s been 58 days already and I was left with around 22 days time to go back to Poland. And in Lisbon, I found one Girl from Iran who wanted to come along with me on motorcycle till Italy(Don’t assume any thing, nothing happened ). She came through Couchsurfing as well so I couldn’t say no to her and also every time in my story there is always a girl as pillion rider for few days. So why not in Europe and I agreed to take her with me. But now the journey from Lisbon to Barcelona reminds me more of the song from Bollywood movie which goes like “Bhaag dk bose dk bhaag”. Every day I used to ride almost 300 kilometers. I had never ridden a motorcycle for that long and without break.
After Barcelona, the Irani girl left as she couldn’t travel that much on a motorcycle and I was happy again. I understood one basic thing in life, you know about people more when you actually travel with them. Although I was traveling with a girl on a motorcycle, but to be true I enjoyed more riding alone. So I was happy again when I was riding alone.
I was in Barcelona when one of my friend from India(Anjaneai Srivastava, whom I met in Bhutan while traveling a few years back) told me he is in a country name Andorra between France and Spain. For a moment I thought he was high or something because there is no country between France and Spain. But he asked me to zoom the map 4-5 times and there is this small country name Andorra which was just 200km from Barcelona. So I went to meet him and we traveled around Andorra and even went for small trek (Which is the only trek I did in the whole Europe)
This small country is a really strange place. With a population of just 70,000 and area that you could cover in 6 days by walk and a tax-free country(Ideal place for everyone). That’s the reason maybe people are more fun loving and do a lot of parties every day (At least our Couchsurfing host do it every day so we were part of the party as well ).
I met a lot of people in Europe but a great happiness comes when you see friends from India who are also riding a motorcycle in Europe. One of this crazy guy(Abijit) was even coming from India to Europe on a motorcycle so I took a little detour from Andora and went to Perpignan, France to meet Abijit.
After meeting Aabijit in France I headed entered Switzerland and my first place was Geneva. I fell in love with this country as soon as I entered Switzerland and my Couchsurfing host Adria in Geneva made my stay memorable one. Sometimes you meet people on road for the first time but you feel you have known them for years. Never felt like I am visiting a Couchsurfing host and Adria made it feel like I have come to my 2nd home
In Geneva, I met Rohit and we even went for a ride together.(There is always a Royal Enfield bullet in My blog 😀 )
After few kilometers of a wonderful ride together through small roads of Switzerland, I started moving in a different direction towards Interlaken saying goodbye to my Indian rider friend. Interlakenlaken, it was raining all the time in Switzerland and the landscape was just normal.
But as I started moving to the countryside of Switzerland after Interlaken, the landscape was breath taking. I thought Switzerland would be over-rated but that’s not true. Switzerland is really beautiful I must say. I wish I had more time I would have stayed for even a month in Switzerland exploring all possible places.
Each village I traveled through in Switzerland was Amazing. But unfortunately, because of less time on my visa, I had to leave the beautiful land of Switzerland in few days only.
But leaving Switzerland didn’t mean the beautiful landscape was over, Italy and Austria had a list of surprises as well. I wanted to visit a lot of places in Italy but because of time constraint, I just picked one which I have been following from a very long time. The Dolomites mountains of Italy.
I wanted to click a photo of The Dolomites with my motorcycle but a guy was blocking the frame in front. I asked him to move a little so I could click a photo but instead, he thought I wanted him to click a photo of me. He suggested me some pose and here is one more photo of me from Europe trip trying to be cool
From The Dolomites, I started moving towards Austria without much regret of spending less time in such beautiful location because from the beginning itself I knew, I am doing a crash course in Europe. Europe is big, you just can’t see everything in 80 days.
I was on my way to Austria and I was feeling very hungry. I found a small burger shop on the highway but the guy couldn’t understand anything in English. I tried to ask which one is pork and chicken and he was just confused. He pointed his finger on the black board where all items were written. From top to bottom everything was either beef or pork except one which says “cheeseburger”. I am not a vegetarian but I was avoiding eating beef or meat. I thought cheese burger would be without any meat. I had first bite and it was only cheese. The 2nd bike I had, I found something else as well. I thought it was pork as I never had that much pork in my life. I ate all and when I came to Austria I asked one of the friend from Europe that I ate cheese burger but it has something inside what could be that?. And the reply was beef. Actually, cheese burger is a beef burger with extra cheese. So now I could say I have eaten almost everything in Europe 😀
But Austria had one more surprise for me. A reason to trust and believe in People around the world. I have stayed in local houses using Couchsurfing where people used to give me keys after meeting me so I could come and go out of house anytime I want. In Austria, my host gave me address and location where she kept keys and asked me to go inside the house and stay like my own house. I couldn’t believe it, how could someone trust you so much but the world is a strange place I must say. It’s full of surprises and amazing people which we meet during our journey. I didn’t meet my host as she was on some trek and just stayed there for one day and left next day to see other beautiful location of Austria
And on my last stop in Austria, I met a cool host who has a wonderful dog and this dog has a passport as well. Actually, every dog in Europe has a passport and a chip inserted in his neck so if the dog is lost they could return it to the owner. But meeting this crazy dog, I wish I had one such dog whom I could take around with me on motorcycle
From Austria, my last location Warsaw, Poland which was not so far and I had 4 days left so I took a detour and went to Prague and Ostrava in Czech.
Last few days of my journey was always scary. I don’t know why but I start getting a fear of not being able to reach home safely. And if you don’t finish safely at the end, the story is always incomplete. This fear of incomplete ending always scare me but the happiness level becomes so high when I reach home safely. And here I am completing the journey again by telling you my story.
If you are thinking the journey is over. It’s not over yet, I didn’t have money to travel for 80 days in Europe but because of people I met in Europe and help I received using Couchsurfing, I had saved some money from my Crowdfunding amount.
Crowdfunding amount Collected : 4,50,000 INR (6500 Euros)
Personal savings: 70,000 INR (1000 Euros)
Flight ticket return: 44,000 INR (650 Euros)
Two times flight canceled fees because of visa: 14,000INR (200 Euros)
World Nomad travel insurance: 21,000 INR (300 Euros)
Why I used World Nomads Expensive travel Insurance?
Yes, it was one of the expensive things. I could have used other travel insurance like Bajaj and reliance. But when I went through the term and condition of all those Indian travel insurance. I found they don’t cover anything if you are using your own transport instead of public transport. Also, they don’t cover your medical insurance if you get injured while hiking. But on other hand, world nomads take care of everything. You do whatever you want. Ride motorcycle or any other adventure sport, they will always cover it for you.
Visa fees 2 times: 10,000 INR (150 Euros)
Cost of 27-year-old motorcycle : 1,20,000 INR (1700 Euros)
Cost of fuel and maintenance during 16,000 kilometers: 1,00,000 INR (1200 Euros)
Money spent on food, local bus ticket and other things: 1,50,000 (2,000 Euros )
Money saved during Europe Trip: 1,00,000(1200 Euros) + amount I will receive after selling the motorcycle again
Not only this, Castrol Biking has been supporting me through the journey of Europe and finally, they have put a support for my future journey of south East Asia as well.
So now I will be leaving for the road trip across south east Asia for 3-4 months. Since I don’t have an issue with the limited visa in Asia, I will be able to travel in south east Asia the way which I prefer (travel slow and explore more). Not sure what I will be doing after south east Asia as I have left with money for only this trip. But If I get in contact with more companies who are willing to support my journey, then I would definitely be going for south America and Europe to India trip on a motorcycle. But it’s too early to build so high dream.
All I could say is next post will be from south Asia road trip 🙂