Now after a long stretch of riding, hard, we find ourselves with time to think back and appreciate our travels. Our path up to this point can be described as three different routes: the West coast of Portugal from Lisbon to Lagos, Madrid to Barcelona, Spain and Eus in southern France to Montpellier on the Mediterranean coast. The rest of the path has been stitched together with train tracks and volunteering.
This being our 3rd day of train rides on our way to the 3rd volunteering location and nearing the 3rd month of travelling, I think that it is appropriate to do a broad summation of our journey up to this point.
Starting in Portugal, it was absolutely exhilarating to pull our bikes off the plane, put them together in the airport and roll out into the light of a refreshingly foreign world. Not knowing much about what we were getting ourselves into we flew through most of our budget in the least expensive country to traverse. And in doing so we had an absolutely amazing time! Dinners in fancy (at least to us) restaurants, hostels/hotels, nightlife, and a willingness to always say yes to an end of the day cerveza made our ride through Portugal unforgettable, and in hindsight, obscenely expensive. We will carry with us the memories of new friends, delicious local food, and marvelous beaches forever and for that it was worth every penny.
In Spain we started to travel by train over greater distances. It turned out that we could spend more money on food and camping for a weeks worth of riding than we would on a days worth of train rides. After spending Easter in Seville we made our way to Madrid where we got to live the city life for a few days. Kim and I then started off on our bikes once more.
The country roads of Spain were great. We rode along a wonderful mix of gravel and paved farming tracks, encountering few cars but tons of amazing towns and a medley of lush terrains. The road to Barcelona was a good one and we will not soon forget the people, restaurants and wild camping on the way to our favorite European city thus far. Kim and I fell in love with the Mediterranean and everything else that Barcelona has to offer: architecture, art, music, tapas, wine, beaches and friendly people. We then embarked on our first Workaway experience. Volunteering in exchange for food and board has significantly enhanced our travels. And after three weeks of saving money while bearing our least favorite host, we set off towards France knowing that our trip could only get better.
France brought with it gorgeous mountain ranges, amazing people and a few more of our favorite places in the small bit of world that we have been lucky enough to explore. Volunteering at Radiant Light Retreats was extremely refreshing on many levels. After our two-week stint in the south of France we set off once more with our pedals spinning and spirits high.
The journey to our current location in the French Alps was fraught with intense heat, soar legs and serious cycling. We have come across so many amazing things that we didn’t expect to find out here. The Mediterranean was not something that came to mind upon thinking of France, but will now stand out as a wonderfully unexpected highlight of our trip. We also came across the most luxurious camping imaginable, country roads lined with endless seas of grape vines and the odd zebra and ostrich along the way.
We were met by the Alps shortly before arriving at our latest and favorite Workaway experience. The mountains are amazing and the people here share in the wonder and appreciation of this unique and awe-inspiring landscape. Kim and I may spend some extra time here really exploring the region and our hosts seem to be happy to allow us to do so.
Our journey up to this point has been a great one. We would be happy if this was all that we got to experience. The wealth of culture, food, art and most of all, friendly and caring people have made this the trip of a lifetime and we are happy to stretch it out as long as possible. Just because we would be satisfied with ending our trip now does NOT mean that we are going to stop pushing forward any time soon.