IAC #5 — Catching up with whatever this is!

UPDATED October 25th, 2019 — this is a dispatch from my cycle tour of Ukraine and surroundings this past Summer with my partner Nastia, an open project on an Autumn/Winter hiatus — check out the project page more information, and sign up for my newsletter if you would like to be notified when it resumes 🙂


I finally found some time to edit, add a few more photos, and cross-post my tour de Ukraine dispatches to this website, where you may now find mildly edited versions of them:

  • Day #0 — my very first day back on the road, one day before than originally planned;

  • Polishing it up! — a quick update from our first few days on the road after getting Nastia’s bicycle;

  • If only this were just an extended vacation — a reflection on my travel process, particularly on how it depends to some extent on the kindness of people i meet along my way, and how i may want to change some of how i handle it going forward;

  • If not an extended vacation, then what is it? — another live update, and a bit of a warning about what to expect from my newsletter while i’m on the road;

  • Some bus stops in the Chernivtsi Region — a document of bus stops along our route by bicycle through the Chernivtsi Region, with a few tentative notes/brewing thoughts on national borders and identity.

If you prefer sharing my writing more broadly in social media than by directly forwarding some of these emails to select people, i hope you’ll find the links above convenient — whatever you do to promote this newsletter will be much appreciated, so long as you sincerely endorse it <3

I’ve also started a page to collect photo galleries and articles from this tour, which i’m giving the working title In The Countrie — that’s a free (and intentionally misspelled) translation of у країні (u kraini), which in turn is a play on words with Україна (Ukraina), Ukrainian for Ukraine. If you don’t want me to make puns in your language, better not let me learn any of it! Anyway, Nastia likes it, and i hope the other seven of you who can speak both languages will also 😀

Speaking of Nastia and the other seven of you who can read Ukrainian, she also has a blog, where she’s been writing about her experience traveling by bicycle for the first time, as well as in the country she grew up but never saw much of. Machine translations work relatively well also.

Cool. That’s about it for today.


“I’ll be back in five minutes, please stir the jam every half-an-hour” — that came up at our dinner table with our hosts a few days ago as the kind of notice they’d give their children when going to the market, or to pick up something from the neighbor.

I thought it was hilarious — and it accurately described my own experience growing up with my grandmother! If i went out to look for her, i’d often find that she’d barely left home before getting stuck catching up with a neighbor. Upon seeing me, she’d sometimes react — “Oh, great, you’re here, can you please go to the market and get me an onion while i wrap up the conversation, so i can go finish cooking lunch?”

I love Grandma.

In that spirit, see you next week!

___
Featured photo: a still somewhat disoriented Nastia preparing our nevertheless delicious dinner at one of our wild camping sites (Ukraine ’19)


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In the Countrie: cycle touring; Eastern Europe, Ukraine

IAC #2 — If only this were just an extended vacation

UPDATED October 25th, 2019 — this is a dispatch from my cycle tour of Ukraine and surroundings this past Summer with my partner Nastia, an open project on an Autumn/Winter hiatus — check out the project page more information, and sign up for my newsletter if you would like to be notified when it resumes 🙂


It’s been a couple of weeks since i started my ongoing cycle tour of Ukraine and surroundings with my partner Nastia. 

If i were to superficially acknowledge the kindness and generosity of just the people who helped Nastia and i find a place to spend the night so far, it would read something like this:

Most of you already heard about Liubomyr and Anastasiia, who gave me a bed in their apartment on my first day on the road, some cycling apparel, and some company next morning on the way out; on my second day, Vitaly, another Vitaly, Mariana, Ivan, Yura, and Vasyl’ offered me a tour of their village and a taste of their lifestyle, including a lake where i could take a dip and a sweet spot for my tent. Krzysztof and his family (11 people, if i didn’t lose my count) made room for the two of us in their home while we got a bicycle for Nastia and she practiced riding it loaded; after we left them, Piotr, his mother Marta, and his fianceé Alicja found time for us in the middle of wedding preparations, making Nastia’s first day on the road (by bicycle) a smooth, short, encouraging ride; we then moved into Aneta’s bare apartment one day before she moved in herself, and there we were invited to “camp” for as long as it took us to sort out the pannier bags we still needed to complete Nastia’s cycle touring set. Now on our way back to Ukraine, we were offered shelter from the rain, smiles, and good vibrations by the jolly Podolec Family; next day, Maria allowed us to set camp in their front yard; the day after, it was Shakhlar’s restaurant backyard. We finally made it to our friend Dima’s in L’viv, where we now rest for a few days — and run yet another few cycle touring errands.

On-the-road hospitality, spontaneous or pre-arranged through friends or social networks such as Warmshowers and Couchsurfing, don’t just make my travels possible — they’re a large part of what has made them worth it. My encounters along my way have shattered my prejudices about people in places i knew little about and startled my expectations about how they might treat a complete stranger like me.

I have already shared a fair lot about that in reaction to my previous tours in 2016 and 17 — not the least about Ukraine, where the bulk of this one will take place. What else can i say about the topic?

Here are some of the thoughts that arise when i reflect on this question:

  • It was more convenient to express my gratitude for my hosts when i used to share my experience in real-time on social media. I reckon it was also more convenient for them to continue following my journey onward there. That’s not the headspace i currently inhabit though, and i’m not sure how to handle this on a (supposedly) weekly newsletter — definitely not with such run-on paragraphs at the beginning of every issue.

  • Although that was already a mouthful, it doesn’t do justice to how those encounters developed and felt like — it doesn’t convey my relief when Liubomyr answered positively to my request to spend the night at his place, or the encouragement when he rode the first 30km with me the morning after — it doesn’t track the progress from my initial hesitation to approach Vitaly, Vitaly, Ivan, Yura, and Vasyl’ (then nameless able-bodied, adult males expressing some apprehension themselves), to our assimilating each other’s peaceful motivations, to feeling comfortable following them into a swamp looking for crayfish.

  • Even that is just part of how i experienced our chance meetings, and might not duly reflect what my counterparts would have liked me to emphasize in sharing them forward.

  • Indeed, my perspective in writing about this so far has been the perspective of a relatively clueless observer — i knew little about the places i was visiting, and couldn’t speak more than a handful of words in their respective languages. I could read the energy underlying our encounters, which was overwhelmingly positive, but i’d be left wondering — is this guy always so jolly when he drinks? — how often does his wife reach an orgasm when they have sex? — how do these people feel in general? I was unequipped to approach even far more superficial questions.

  • I’m mindful not to take any of what i have for granted. I’m privileged to have so far gained access to just about everything i’ve ever felt i needed, and at the expense of comparatively little compromise.

  • I don’t believe any higher power watches over me — the boundaries between the people i meet and me are negotiated on a case-by-case basis. I find that hard to do even after two or three years of practice almost every day, sometimes several times a day. I nevertheless find my present circumstances more comfortable than the abundance that i left behind to live like this — at least so far.

  • I don’t expect things to be much different going forward either.

  • Thanks in no small way to the support from some of you, i’m not (or at least no longer feel) as strapped for cash as i did in earlier expeditions. So, i also expect to be less dependant on local generosity where it may not emerge.

What are people getting from helping me? Actually, what am i getting from being helped by them? I got my bath at the end of the day, and a safe place to sleep — but do i want to be drinking this much vodka this often? Have all expectations been set clearly enough, and are our mutual needs being met?

I’ll leave it at that for now — i’ve been dwelling on this for a couple of days already, and it’s time to let it out.


So, we’re in L’viv now.

This is my third time arriving here on a bicycle — the first time was when Nastia and i met, the second one when i came back a few months later, and we moved in together. This time i arrived here with her.

I don’t have much to say about L’viv as a tourist. I lived here for a year, and my most active association is a common feature of the whole former Soviet Union and its sphere of influence — the microdistricts and Khrushchyovkas (panel buildings). They remind me of my hometown’s superquadras, and this yields a sense of familiarity i believe has something to do with why i like it here.

After tens of thousands of kilometers of overland travel adding up to hundreds of days across dozens of countries, i thought i had mastered the art of long-term travel in general and cycle touring in particular — i thought the underlying process was committed to my muscle memory and intuition — that i’d have plenty of space in this framework to pursue experiments beyond the practicalities of how to make it all happen on a budget.

That might have been the case if i’d continued cycle touring solo. But i decided to wait for Nastia, who had never traveled by bicycle before. This brought the master back to school — many of the solutions that had become second nature to my process don’t quite work for her, and some are even incomprehensible — even what does eventually work for her also is not always easily implemented.

I’d like to think we both find the disruption mostly welcome. She didn’t know she could climb a 100m-high hill on a loaded bicycle — i didn’t know those were edible berries. I push her to explore her limits — she draws my attention to things i’d filtered out before knowing they even existed.

There was no doubt plenty of drama, but these are the main ways in which i noticed we might add to each other’s process after a week together on the road, and i want to end this week’s note on a positive note: there’s potential — it might just require a tremendous amount of trust and patience from both of us.

___
Featured photo: “muda de roupa” (Poland, Summer ’19)


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IAC #1 — Polishing it up!

UPDATED October 25th, 2019 — this is a dispatch from my cycle tour of Ukraine and surroundings this past Summer with my partner Nastia, an open project on an Autumn/Winter hiatus — check out the project page more information, and sign up for my newsletter if you would like to be notified when it resumes 🙂


This note will be a short one — i already feel some spiritual unease for having missed a Tuesday, so i’ll do my best to at least honor the week!

Perhaps for the better, Internet access has been a challenge on this tour.

Our first host in Rzeszów didn’t allow us to connect my laptop to her network — she believes Apple devices cause it to misbehave, and i guess that’s her prerogative. Our second host had just moved in, so she didn’t have Internet at all — we had been duly warned, and were actually happy about it, thinking we’d still be able to score a couple of hours online at a library or commercial establishment nearby, and otherwise just relax hanging out with her, catch up with our cycle touring errands, read — i didn’t expect the two libraries i visited would require Rzeszów residency for Internet access, and that we wouldn’t be able to find an Internet café or restaurant with Wi-Fi in the student district!

I lost my smartphone in the mountains last month, and Nastia’s has been run over by a car — i wanted to make a video of her riding against the sunset over a bridge, it slipped off my hands, and the incoming car i was waiting to pass so i could pick it up went right over it — better than running right over us? This nevertheless ruled out the mobile Internet possibility we were already trying to avoid, so as not to be always connected.

If i were to believe the Universe has any purpose whatsoever, then it must be for me to stay offline on this tour :p

Anyway.

Nastia has a bicycle and panniers, the blur or which you can see on the featured photo, and we’re now on our way back to Ukraine — it’s officially on!

And i better cherish this offline opportunity, as it might be one of the last any of us will ever have.

Have you all a great weekend!

___
Featured photo: an afternoon “at work” playing with the camera while Nastia sold some postcards in Rzeszów, Poland (Summer ’19)


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The Other Side of the Fence

A conversation with long-term traveler Rico Noack.


I’ve been feeling a bit worn out by my own stories lately — perhaps also a bit pressured (even if just internally) to keep churning them out.

I feel like it is once again time to surrender to the present — and because i want to keep up with my weekly newsletter output, i decided this would be a good opportunity to try something different: to share stories from other travelers’ perspectives!

The first one is a conversation with Rico Noack, a Couchsurfer from Germany who stayed with us for one night with his friend Kristin back in January. Rico and Kristin were especially energic guests. While we were sharing travel stories over dinner, i felt inspired to revisit an idea i had first considered a couple of years ago — to record and share conversations with fellow long-term travelers talking about their experience on the road 🙂

After they left, Rico and i kept corresponding, and eventually had a couple of calls during which we recorded the conversation below:

The Other Side of the Fence – A conversation with long-term traveler Rico Noack

If you prefer, you may also download the audio.

In our conversation, Rico told me in more detail about how his travels evolved, from typical family holidays while growing up, to his first independent trip to visit a friend in Bulgaria (and also first time Couchsurfing) in 2012, his time living, traveling in and falling love with Romania between 2014 and 2015, and finally his half a year cycle touring and backpacking from Azerbaijan to Georgia, then around Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, and back to Azerbaijan in 2017. This last adventure is where we spent the majority of our time talking.

We also talked about his process documenting his journeys, which started as a method to manage sensorial overflow and developed into an ethical duty to share the experience with others back home, as well as where he traveled. Rico has written a chronicle of his 2015 trip to Romania, Moldova, and Italy, and is now in the process of composing another book — developing from his journals from his 2017 expedition in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and enriched with passages by Kurban Said and Chinghiz Aitmatow. He told me (via email) that “[s]haring these experiences, promoting those countries ([in] written or [spoken form]) is a way to stay in touch with them for me. And to give something back.”

Here’s a more detailed index:

  • 0:00:00 Preamble: Some words about my intention with this experiment;
  • 0:04:47 “Who’s Rico”: Introduction, and first travel experiences on the other side of the fence;
  • 0:14:51 “You should start working and make some money”: Or maybe not — arriving, staying, and falling in love with Romania;
  • 0:21:20 “I have to write this down, otherwise [my head] will explode!”: From managing sensorial overflow to an ethical duty to share;
  • 0:24:02 “And then I had the feeling that everything started”: Azerbaijani hospitality, from strangers to friends;
  • 0:38:15 “To German and Georgian friendship!”: Experiencing (literally) a different flavor of hospitality, and pondering its meaning and sources;
  • 0:45:34 “in Georgia, you always have your tent in a really beautiful place”: Everyday life on the bicycle;
  • 0:54:51 “Oh come on these mountains are just too high to cycle them!”: Backpacking in Central Asia, starting in Kyrgyzstan;
  • 1:00:30 “It’s a really cool concept I think”: Volunteering at the Community-Based Tourism in Sary Mogol, Kyrgyzstan;
  • 1:05:33 “She was hitchhiking alone to whole Tajikistan”: Getting curious about the country;
  • 1:19:22 “Dog sticks and baking soda”: Some of Rico’s practical solutions for dogs, personal hygiene, and other practical matters.

It’s flattering that i can help him fulfill this duty! Truth be told, editing the audio was more challenging than i anticipated, but i enjoyed our conversation very much and learned a lot from the whole process. I hope you will also enjoy listening to it!

Questions and feedback to Rico may be addressed directly to him via email: riconoack1 [at] hotmail [dot] de.

More about Rico

Rico is a 29-year old social worker from Germany. He currently works part-time counseling refugees and people with disabilities for an NGO in Leipzig. Parallel to that, Rico is writing a Master’s thesis on the circumstances of disabled refugees in Germany, aiming to give the topic more exposure in the academic community. He was featured in an article (in German) on ADZ-online about Social Work in Romania, where he spent eight months as a volunteer (http://www.adz.ro/artikel/artikel/der-aufbruch-der-rumaenischen-sozialarbeit/).

When Rico is not working or writing, he enjoys cycling small dusty roads and forest trails in the countryside, spending time with his flatmates, friends, and family, as well as playing his guitar or harmonica. He invites you to listen to some of his recordings on soundcloud.

References

Some books, opportunities and resources mentioned in our conversation:

  • If you can read German, he will be happy to send you the chronicles from his five weeks traveling in Romania, Moldova, and Italy in 2015 — just send him an email!

Annotated maps of Rico’s travels in the Caucasus and Central Asia:

Some photos from Rico’s travels (click for full view):

__
Featured photo:Rico, sunburned in a Kakhetian vineyard (Georgia ’17)


Enjoyed this interview? I plan to make more like it in the near future and will announce them on my newsletter whenever they go live — if you don’t want to miss it, then subscribe!


Interviews: cycle touring, hitchhiking, hiking; Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia;
Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Poland, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

What May a Full-Time Traveler’s Vacation Look Like?

My wife and i had just returned from our honeymoon, which was implemented in the course of four months hitchhiking together across Europe and around Brazil.

After such an extended period of time so close together, we both agreed each deserved a couple of weeks on their own. I decided that hanging out with my friend Fuji at his annual midsommar getaway was the perfect opportunity for that 😀

I’d joined him and his friends in Sweden both Summers before — the first time in 2016, after a 13km walk from the nearest train station, and the second time by bicycle, during my latest cycle tour last Summer.

What would be my dramatic arrival this time?

Circumstances favored hitchhiking — they decided to rent a cabin in Estonian countryside, some 1,300km away from my current abode in L’viv, Ukraine but not requiring any ferry crossings — i didn’t have the time to cycle tour or the money (or desire) to travel by other means 🙂

Still apprehensive about leaving

The prospect of leaving was no doubt exciting, as it is always the case — i was going to visit a friend i love spending time with, and somewhere i’d never been to before and had been curious about since putting it on my map a couple of years before. I would also be traveling solo for the first time in a while, calling all the shots, and having nobody else but the crazy people inside my head to argue with about my decisions!

On the other hand, those four months hitchhiking with my wife throughout Europe and Brazil left me feeling worn down by the process. I consider myself an introvert, and the amount of socializing hitchhiking demanded from me was something i wanted some distance from — especially in contrast with the amount of alone time i get while cycle touring.

I was also apprehensive about the unknown — i felt i could deal with it much better when i was cycle touring, which gives me a little more flexibility with regards to what and how much to carry, as well as where to go in order to address my problems along the way.

Despite having a place to stay in Estonia, i’d surely have to spend at least one night on the road to cover those 1,300km plus one controlled border crossing separating me from my destination — that would still have been likely the case even if i activated one of my connections in Lublin.

It might have been easy to find hosts along my way in Poland, Lithuania or Latvia through hospitality networks such as Couchsurfing or Trustroots. But having such a goal for the day was one of the greatest sources of social stress during my honeymoon with my wife — more often than not, that required us to hitchhike nonstop to a late arrival at our host’s, followed by an early departure next day in the morning, for yet another whole day hitchhiking, thus reiterating the vicious cycle.

I don’t wanna travel like that

No — if i’m going to hitchhike to Estonia, then i’ll go cycle touring style: self-sufficient, process over product, and in real need for help only to find a place to set camp for the night — whenever and wherever i decide to call it a day!

With a little bit of creativity and not so many concessions at all, i somehow managed to fit everything i needed, including my hammock-camping gear, a stove and enough food for half a week (plus my tree-climbing gear!) into my 32-liter backpack, and off i went!

I have so much confidence in this minimalistic setup that i’m sharing the details in a forthcoming blog post — seriously, i believe it would have been sufficient for me to remain on the road indefinitely — perhaps one day i’ll try some sort of around the world in 80 days stunt, even if just for the fun of it.

The rides

Indeed, having a complete camping/cooking set, and not having a pre-determined goal for the day did make the process a lot easier to accept.

I didn’t linger, but nevertheless took my time eating my meals and snacking — i stopped to look for a place to sleep when i felt like it, and where it was most convenient, not where i had to — even the occasional 2-hour wait was handled without much despair, joyfully surrendering to music, dancing, and air guitar — the long walks were welcome breaks for introspection in between socializing with drivers, and i sometimes gladly took them even if they were avoidable.

With some drivers, the language barrier didn’t allow for the conversation to go very deep, even though i’m still impressed with how much i can already communicate not only in Ukrainian but also in Polish (a language that had always read and sounded ferociously cryptic to me) and Russian!

It seems like most drivers help for the mere pleasure and/or duty of helping, just because they can — wouldn’t you? — don’t we all? A few others thank me for the company, and seem to enjoy the stimulus from the occasional unpredictable conversation with an interesting stranger — many used to hitchhike when they were younger.

One driver picked me up because his wife saw me when she drove by and called him on the phone, “your car is empty, take him.” Another guy gave me a ride because that’s what he always does, even if it’s for just another 10 Km.

Filip, who had already traveled and explored some of the World in other ways, had always wanted to hitchhike — he has now just returned from his first hitchhiking trip, with a friend from Athens, Greece back to their homes in Lublin, Poland. I was the first hitchhiker he ever picked up — to inspire and help someone to take their last step to do something they had already wanted to is the core of what i’m pursuing with Not Mad Yet!

Special thanks to Agnieszka, Andrzej, and Marcin, who turned back to pick me up!

These three jolly paramedics were returning, full of energy, from a course they were ministering at the border — they gave me not only a ride but also about a liter of beer, traditional Polish food, an emergency blanket, and a tube of fast carbs — the last two have become part of my hitchhiking kit.

My first creep!

Pro-tip: beware rides that feel too eagerly offered — especially when you’re tired!

I’ve taken more than 200 rides across over 17,000 Km in 17 countries in this life, and i was probably pretty close to the point where it seemed like nothing bad could ever happen to me — and nothing bad has ever happened to me yet — it was just uncomfortable this time — a friendly reminder to remain alert and not to get cocky nonetheless.

After several hours trying to unsuccessfully hitchhike northward from Białystok, about 5 Km of walking, and climbing over a fence with my heavy backpack, i found myself very tired somewhere, where my prospects of finding a ride seemed no better. It was close to dawn, and i was debating whether i should simply call it a day and start looking for a place to get water and set camp, thus postponing the problem of finding a ride out of there to the day after, when a car pulled over on the opposite side of the road and asked me where i was going.

I said, “to Estonia.” The driver then told me he was going to Augustów, which was in my desired direction — although i thought that was a bit strange, i hopped in — maybe that was simply the first opportunity for him to take a u-turn? He did indeed turn back north towards Augustów — after swinging by a gas station to fill up his tank and buy a pack of condoms!

You must now be wondering how the hell i know he’d bought condoms — i first thought that bright purple box he took out of his pocket and placed on the dashboard, clearly wanting me to witness the event, was bubble gum — i was a tad sleepy and even considered asking him for some. He then started telling me about the prostitutes along the road, and asking me if i like sex — “excuse me?” — “sex” — “wait, what, why do you want to know!?” — “you don’t like sex?” His impertinence was accompanied by suggestive gestures, which at one point included picking up the box of condoms and shaking it at me — no need for bubble gum, i’m wide awake now!

The language barrier made it difficult to parse his exact intentions, but none of the possibilities in my model stood out as better than the others — how to deal with this?

I referred to the women hitchhiking solo i’d heard and read sharing such experiences, which seem to be an unfortunate component of the process for many (if not all) of them, including my wife — not every unpleasant situation carries the immediate danger of physical harm. Keeping my calm while trying not to let it fade into weakness, i continued talking to the guy while carefully scanning and sensing the environment.

I eventually judged his advances as in fact far more naïve and socially inept than ill-intentioned. While my first few indirect dismissals in broken Ukrainian/Polish/Russian didn’t seem to have a lingering effect, he did stop after i typed into the translator on my phone, “PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT THAT. NOW!!” and showed it to him — he then switched to much less controversial topics such as the monument marking the alleged geographical center of Europe in the town of Suchowola.

Upon dropping me off at the next gas station, he noticed the car right next to us had Estonian license plates implying that’s where they might be headed, and kindly suggested that i go talk to them.

Although he told me he lives in Augustów, which was another few kilometers further down the road, he pulled back towards where we’d come from — presumably looking for a prostitute to satisfy his needs, which he might be unable to negotiate otherwise?

Honestly, i feel a bit sorry for the guy.

Truck drivers are my favorite

People often ask me about them — in Brazil, we grow up exposed to a fair amount of prejudice towards truck drivers. I’d started shifting that perspective while cycle touring already, when i noticed truck drivers seemed to give me far more space when overtaking than most private car drivers — on occasion they even came to a full stop behind me if the road was too narrow. I didn’t need much more of their help other than their awareness of me while i was on the bicycle, but the friendly and hospitable encounters at rest stops and gas stations gradually added up as well.

I’ve only had to find a place to set up my hammock in two of the four nights i spent on the road on my way from L’viv to Estonia and back — the other two nights i was offered the bunk in their cabin, where i slept safely and comfortably — not to mention the food some of them treated me with!

Where else did i sleep?

So, i had a place to stay with my friends in Estonia, and i spent two of my four nights on the road in my truck driver’s cabin.

The other two nights i slept on my hammock — once wild camping in Tallinn somewhere i learned next morning seems to be a place where drug addicts hang out, and the other time on the backyard of Grzegorz and his uncle, whose name i didn’t write and now escapes me:

In particular, i was positively surprised to find out that something i’d gotten used to while cycle touring seems still quite possible while hitchhiking — skinny dips! Indeed, i had an option to bathe every single night on the road, whether it was a lake, a river, the Baltic Sea, or the shower for truckers at a rest stop.

And how was Estonia?

Oh, yeah, right — that’s where i was going! I almost forgot :p

We probably hear as much about the Baltic states growing up in Brazil as people growing up in Europe hear about the Guianas. As far as Estonia itself goes, i didn’t have many expectations about the country — a place with not many people, somewhat remote, perhaps with a few Russian sprinkles?

As i said before, i was curious about it — but without feeling much of the need to experience Estonia in any particular way other than whatever came my way. And although any trip is for me yet another opportunity to experiment with travel methods and practices, push the boundaries of my comfort zone further out, and do some budget travel research, this was vacation with friendsi didn’t look for anything special to do there, or anybody else to meet.

Walking with my friend and his dog Zelda, i got to see a bit of the Estonian countryside, where there’s more intense and reckless traffic than i would have expected, and i also got a tour of a big chunk of Tallinn, where my attention was especially drawn to how the various generations of ancient and modern coexist in the city’s architecture.

Other than that, playing it by ear was the way to go — drinking beer, cooking, watching the world cup, playing board games, sauna, sharing online videos from the quintessential to the awe-inspiring, climbing trees, busking, helping my friends with my driving skills, watching a rehearsal of my friend Fuji’s visual spa, attending a performance of Omeulmad 2 (in which his partner worked as a producer), riding a bicycle in Tallinn, hiding a geocache, taking photos, writing on my journal, recording 20+ minutes of video logs, picking up trash from my campsite in Tallinn — that was quite enough 🙂

With the exception of finishing reading a book, which took me an extra few days after coming back, i did everything i had planned to do in Estonia — plus and a lot and unexpected more.

Everybody should know what they travel for — for someone who essentially lives on the road, traveling might as well mean having a place to relax in peace 🙂

What’s next?

After what could be construed as roughly two uninterrupted years on the road since i left by bicycle from Copenhagen to Istanbul in Fall ’16, it’s time to settle a little longer before my next epic enterprise.

Three other articles of a more tutorial nature are also coming out as a result of those couple of weeks on the road to Estonia and back — one describing my minimalist hitchhiking (and tree-climbing) kit, another one sharing my approach to finding a ride, and a third one contrasting the process to cycle touring.

Going forward i plan to write and share more such how-to pieces for cycle touring and hitchhiking, as well as life in general, in addition to the more emotional accounts of my experience on the road such as this one.

There is also still a lot to be processed from my previous projects — i first wanted to say a few words about what i’ve been up to during those four or five months the blog was silent, but i plan to resume writing about the North Cape Hypothesis and All Roads Lead to Rom…ania, as well as my three months in Brazil with my wife and our journey hitchhiking across Europe, tree-climbing, and whatever else comes up!

Stay tuned!



Vacation: hitchhiking, solo travel;
Eastern Europe, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine