Translated post from 2 weeks ago…
I am writing this post to summarize the blog’s first years. I have been a bit fickle deciding if it should continue after the travel ended, but for now I will re-write my story in short form and see what comes in the future. Most of all for new and future readers, but readers who have followed me on the travel are certainly welcome to read it as well. 🙂
Should it inspire you to read more, the old posts remain and my book about the travel is still free to download from this page.
Before the travel
It all started in the springtime of 2014. I had a passenger in my car from Aarhus to Aalborg via the car sharing portal Gomore. She was from Holland and travelled in Scandinavia, where she lived and worked on the so-called WorkAway hosts, arranged through the site workaway.info. She told me about the concept and I was inspired to travel again. When we met again a month later she spent a week at my spare room and after long talks about her travels and experiences, there was no turning back for me. I had to get out and see and feel the world again after 25 years without longer travels.
Within a few months I resigned job and apartment, sold my vinyl collection to raise money for travelling and gave most of my remaining belongings away. I knew it was a break-up with my life as it had been for many years and I think I already had a feeling back then, that I would not return to Denmark. The overall plan was to drive around the European coast line in my Yaris, with several Work Away stays along the way. The final route ended at about 24.000 km:
October 14, 2014 we drove from Lystrup, my former girlfriend travelled with me during the first 14 days, down to A Coruna in Spain. After that I mostly drove alone, except some periods where I had passengers whom I met along the way. I drove through 15 different countries in this order: Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal. In January 2015, I had a month’s “holiday from the journey” on the island of Gomera, one of the Canary Islands. Then, Spain and France again on the way to Italy, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The route changed (fortunately) many times along the way, the first plan was to follow the Black Sea heading north.
Along the travel, I worked with 5 work away hosts, an average of two weeks at each location. The first host was in Galicia in the beautiful and lush mountainous region of A Lama. The second a horse farm near the town of Coruche in Portugal, hard but useful work. On Gomera I also worked a bit on a “Backpacker slow home” in San Sebastian, not mediated via workaway.info though. The next stay was in Italy with an amazing British couple who had rental houses. Here I spend most working hours repairing and laying tiles around a swimming pool. Fourth place was in an overwhelmingly beautiful mountain area on the peninsula Pelion in Greece, just above Evia. Here I built a small house for future workawayers and made the garden ready for spring. Last place was on a Bed & Breakfast in the middle of Istria Peninsula in Croatia. Altogether, a total of 3 months of working and socializing with interesting people and local culture. It is very recommended for travelers who want to try something else and meet the locals in a different way than traditional tourists.
The remaining 6-7 months of the travel, between the workaway places, I lived in hotels, guesthouses, apartments / rooms, campsites and in the nature. And met a lot of interesting and amazing people, many of whom have become friends and whom I still have contact with. I am very satisfied that I chose to follow the coast around Europe, there are so many beautiful sites and landscapes. In my previous post, I have selected four of them which you can read more about, but also Finisterra in Galicia, Peniche and Nazare in Portugal, Almunecar in southern Spain, Gomera, and hundreds of spots along the hilly coast of Greece should be mentioned. Europe’s coastline is so much more than the tourist-filled beaches! Trying to make make a top 10 of cities I visited, it would be: Santiago and Finisterra in Galicia, Lagos and Coimbra in Portugal, Girona and Almunecar in Spain, Pisa and Tarquinia in Italy, Nafplio in Greece and Ljubliana in Slovenia. It is obviously not adequate as there are thousands of small and beautiful villages along the coast, but it was the 10 town that ended on a list I made of potential places to settle in the future.
I visited a few tourist sites on the way including the Cathedral of Santiago, the old town of Girona, Cathedral and the “leaning tower” in Pisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s birthplace, Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, Ostia Antica near Rome, Olympia and the historic areas in Athens. But the absolute highlight of the travel happened last and also led to the end of the it, a few months ahead of schedule. In Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic. First a few of the best pictures from the travel until then:
You can find lots of more pictures in the photoalbum…
Yes, my travel ended suddenly and abruptly, June 3, 2015 at. 15 pm. At that time, my travel cup was brimful of experiences, beautiful scenarios and lovely people. I had just booked a trailer for 2 weeks in a small campsite in southern Czech Republic. Near the city of Ceske Budejovice, which I visited 23 years earlier. Back then I met the love of my life in that town, a girl I was in love with many years after. But under tragic circumstances we lost contact shortly after we met. From 1992 to 2005 I was in the town 5 times to look for her, but in vain. It has 100,000 inhabitants, so probably a bit naive expecting to meet her on the street.. Then I had finally given up and 10 years more had passed until this travel. This June day in 2015, I went into town to revisit for a few hours. Walking on the street I was suddenly derived from an intuitive input, some will call it fate, other just coincidences. It made me change plan and direction abruptly, I turned around and returned to a small cafe bar, which I passed earlier. Seconds after closing the door behind me, I looked into the beautiful eyes that had melted my heart 23 years earlier.
The timing and circumstances was perfect, my former girlfriend and I had broken up the relationship over the phone 2 months prior, and Katka was in the process finishing of a relationship that had not worked for some time. At the moment we met again we fell in love, or still were in love – and now finally we were given the chance to be together. The next months we traveled some time together and hereafter there was no doubt that my solo trip had ended and a new life to begin. I moved in with Katka and her son in August 2015 and for now we have lived together for eighteen months. I’ve got a Czech ID card and still try to learn the language, which is pretty dificult. Katka takes care of her cafe bar where I sometimes help and play chess with some of the guests. And I spent the first long time writing a book about my travel. There has been many things in the meantime, travel, holidays, happy and less happy events, but the status is that we still live together. And look forward to the life together that could have started in 1992, but for some reason first started that day in June 2015, when my travel ended.
The view from our kitchen window, one of the days where the sun sets under clouds in the west.