Europe Bikepacking Travel Journal: The Beginning

July 26, 2017 Wed Sweet Pea Cafe 13:19

Tallahassee, Florida

It’s been a while since I last wrote because I’ve been running around filming, dancing, singing, biking, printing, listening and learning. I’m sick with what I guess is a cold, and I’ve never been happier. Marina gave me some “natural” vitamins when I stopped by the Anhaica workshop to pick up the touring bags. Marina gave me a brown rando bag and two front Highlander panniers, I absolutely adore them and I picked some flowers on the way to Sweet Pea. The dark and light pink of the petals match the theme I’ve had going since I got the Mr. Pink in 2015.

I’m excited for Tampa because I’ll visit Velo Champ, Foundation and many other places I enjoy being. I’m about to bike to The Timbers and pack up/sort my belongings – the multitude of physical vessels I’ve gathered over the course of 22 years. I made a necklace yesterday with the amethyst I got from Amanda at AXIOS and the coin Maggie gave me on the 24th. I put the pine from Rachele’s christmas tree, then the wicker from the broom hanging from the ceiling in the living room. I used the twine from the glass orb holding feathers in the center by the window. The peacock feathers from Haley and Elise are also part of the dream catcher. Then I dropped some peppermint oil on the pinecone in the center of the metal wire.

 

 

Thursday September 7, 2017

Gothenburg, Sweden

I’m sitting in a cafe by the harbor finally typing out the things I’ve written in the two travel journals I have by my side. Since starting this bikepacking adventure in August, a little over a month ago, I feel like I’ve settled into what will be typical of my expeditions. I usually wake up around 7:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. and I’m outside exploring by 2 p.m. The past two days I’ve been staying on a friend of a friend’s couch close to the center city of Gothenburg. When I arrived at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, I’d been on a bike for 10 hours and 130 kilometers. I covered 400km in 5 days and get to say I biked across Sweden, east to west. I met some amazing people along the way, which still surprises me when I least expect some generous person to open up their home and let me drag my 100lb bike and gear into their life. In Vetlanda, I stopped for food at a pizzeria where the owner offered up the couch on his back porch to me. I met his whole family and learned a lot about his background thanks to Maria, his daughter. She distinguished two types of religious Syrians and what sets them apart. Her family is Orthodox christian, the mother is from Syria and the father is Turkish. She grew up in Vetlanda and has spent her whole life there. Walking to their house, she told me she’s most afraid of men assaulting her when walking alone at night. I told her about the drunk Ukrainian man in Farosund who tried to kiss me and get me to go home with him. The degree of sexism and sexual assault that is forgiven or ignored in Sweden makes me sick, and it’s no different in the United States.

I’ve been thinking a lot about gentrification here, too. Monky, the guy who is letting me stay with him for a few days here, lives in a neighborhood that is gentrifying. We’ve had good discussions about the meaning of life, ambitions and art. Again and again I’m overwhelmed with how much love and generosity people have within them. I met a woman in a creperie in Faro who offered to host me when I got to Larbro, and we had some amazing conversations, too. I’ve enjoyed sharing my story and my family’s story with people who can empathize with me. I bought my dream guitar in a music store in Visby and it’s been a reliable companion when I find myself feeling lonely or down.

There’s a hurricane headed towards Florida, and it’s the size of Florida. I don’t know if anyone could survive it. I feel some sort of guilt for being away when I wonder if I could even help. I wish I could evacuate everyone from the peninsula. Eventually, everyone should leave it alone. We weren’t supposed to inhabit a place that is sculpted out of limestone and even the humidity should be enough to keep people away. To me, Florida is capitalist’s paradise where you can demolish sacred grounds and slap a Wal Mart in the swamp. I might be pessimistic right now, but Oregon is on fire and Texas is underwater. Puerto Rico has been ravaged and I don’t even know what will become of Cuba. I’m sitting in a quiet cafe, the breeze is cool outside and I have a headache. I don’t drink enough water and I cringe when I see people letting the faucet run free. All that life down another drain. I’m riding my bike across Europe, across continents and under the pressure of a dream I’m seeing unravel in front of me. I hope I don’t get confusing. I’m meeting people who make me see the love and hope that makes the world sustainable. I’m seeing people who have no idea where they’ll be in 2 weeks. I’m seeing myself in new lights every moment. I want people to read what I write and be inspired to do something they love, too. As long as it leaves the world better than we’ve found it.

On the journey to Gothenburg, I had moments when I was pushing my bike up a hill and wanted to collapse and cry. I listened to all my favorite artists. David Bowie, Bob Marley, Tegan and Sara, Erykah Badu, Now Now and Frank Ocean. I screamed in the middle of the woods when my legs felt like they couldn’t match the elevation. I sang as loud as I wanted. I slept in a playhouse by a farm, on the wet grass in the middle of the forest, on the edges of cliffs overlooking the Baltic.

I plan on riding to Malmo in a week, then going to Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Paris. From France, I’ll go to London and then Dublin and spend 3 months in Ireland from November to February. When I return to Paris in Spring, I’ll bike to Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and back up to Sweden. After that, I’m considering going to New Zealand for 3 months and maybe to Japan after that.

I’ll be sharing excerpts from my travel journals as soon as I type them out. There are hundreds of photos I want to share as well, so I’ll add the album links with the chapters of the journals.

For now, this is me letting ya’ll know I’m thinking of you in Florida, the West Coast and all over the world.

With love, peace and tranquility,

Grey

 

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