Bucharest to Barcelona

Bucharest to Barcelona

Europe has not been what I expected.

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Romania, Peles Castle

Romania. A country I knew nothing about. Yet it was amazing in every way. It is high on the list of countries I will spend more time in. From the city of Bucharest to the small towns and tiny villages, I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Romania, top of the Transfagarasan road

I arrived in the Ukraine quite unexpectedly in the middle of August. I’ve never known so little about a country as I did going into the Ukraine and I enjoyed my time there greatly. The language is not as hard as I expected it would be and I was able to learn the Cyrillic alphabet in just couple of days of study. So much potential to explore. But I was undeterred in my route towards Germany.

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Romania, Breb

Poland. This country was a delight. Krakow had too many tourists for my taste but I loved my time in Wroclaw. So much to learn about the country and its people. I had high expectations for Poland and they were exceeded in every possible way.

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Ukraine, Ivano-Frankivsk

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Ukraine, Lviv

Germany. Perhaps my expectations were too high. I know a lot about the country and had been looking forward to it because it is where my ancestors came from. Yet….I found it a very hard country to enjoy. The country feels rigid, cold, excessively capitalistic and constraining. The times I enjoyed most in Germany were always filled with people from other countries. I will likely go back someday as it deserves another chance yet for now it is on the list of countries I am not overly fond of. On the plus side, I got to sleep in a Castle for the first time!!!! Incredible!

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Poland, Auschwitz

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Poland, Wroclaw

From Germany I almost went north but with day after day of cool rainy weather (and no end in sight) I decided I have to go south. It is too hard on me riding my motorcycle in this weather. So instead of continuing north to Scandinavia I turned around and rode hard for Switzerland and then Italy.

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Germany

Switzerland. Must go back in the summer! This is an incredibly beautiful country! Expensive. And still some of the things I didn’t enjoy about Germany. But so incredibly beautiful. I am coming back with my camping gear when there is warm weather so I can enjoy the full glory of those mountains.

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Switzerland, Romont

Italy. Milan. Warm at last! Except I arrived at the start of Fashion Week and it took hours to find a hostel….and I was stuck in one that was very bad. Yet I liked what I saw of the city and the Italian culture. It has possibilities.

In Milan I had a choice to make. Return to Eastern Europe, explore Italy, ride towards Spain, or ride towards England. All were tempting. In the end I chose the route to Spain on what was almost a completely random whim. Was it the best choice? No clue. It was the one I made.

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France, Avignon

France. Just two cities in France, Nice and Avignon. Nice was overflowing with tourists and I really couldn’t understand why. Avignon had tourists yet it was not excessive and the location was a lot more interesting. Odd random whims of fate. I quickly developed a love/hate relationship with France. Food and scenery is amazing. The wine is wonderful. Lots of interesting culture. I could even get around the normal French language hastiness by speaking a hodgepodge of Spanish, Romanian, Italian, and mostly forgotten French learned in school. It worked well enough. Or got people to wince so badly that English came out anyways. Yet the attitude of the French people frequently rubs me the wrong way and I never felt like I wanted to stay anywhere. Perhaps if I gave it more time? Or another country I can do without? Someday I will find out more.

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France, Avignon

Spain. Barcelona! It is nice to be able to use my Spanish again and talk freely with the locals. As I suspected when I was in Argentina, time away from struggling with the language allowed it to settle in and I am now far closer to fluent than ever before. I am going to spend a little bit of time in Spain but not Barcelona. Nothing I dislike, yet nothing I really enjoy either. Not enough to interest me in staying here a few weeks.

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Spain, Barclona: Escalator for tourists going up the hill!

Over all of this is that Europe really isn’t the best place to explore on a motorcycle. Everything is expensive, small towns are more expensive than big cities (its the reverse everywhere else I have traveled), hostels are very bad compared to Latin America and motorcycle parking is always difficult. It would be good for camping, but that isn’t what I am interested in just now….I want to explore the culture and meet the people and that can’t be done easily from campgrounds. Traveling with a backpack would have a significant cost savings day by day and also allows a lot more flexibility to jump around Europe on cheap flights. For example, $33 USD Barcelona to Dublin. The drawback is, of course, less flexibility locally. And riding a motorcycle is just plain fun of course!

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Spain, Barclona

So what is next?

I have no clue. Lots of possibilities. No direction yet. I still need a new laptop and now need a new camera as well. I want to stop and live somewhere a few months. Perhaps do some work. I have things to take care of in the USA….loose ends hanging around because I expected to be going home about now instead of becoming a permanent nomad. I may store the motorcycle for awhile and buy a backpack. Perhaps I’ll go to Ireland. Or Turkey. Or Sweden. Or Romania. Perhaps back to Colombia to study salsa and bachata dancing. Perhaps back to Argentina for more tango.

Only time will tell….

Note: Not all images are tagged with a location because I have GPS problems. Locations also are less exact than in the past.
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5 comments to Bucharest to Barcelona

  • Elizabeth

    I had to chuckle at your comment about how expensive it is. You knew that… Many people have told you that… Didn’t change from then to now… but still I had to laugh at it. I didn’t stay in any hostels, but rather in B&B’s. They were consistently nice and comfortable. They were easy to find though may be a bit more expensive than a hostel would be.

    You hit France right on the head! From what Mother & I saw it is some lovely countryside and the food was fabulous. Not so sure about the people though.

    Please give Germany a chance. I thought Southern Germany fabulous. Remember, the Germans are very proper about the language. They will indulge your mispronunciations and politely correct you. Some people find it stern and strict. I find it very much like our relatives on Mother’s side of the family. The Black Forest, Bavaria, and pretty much everything south of Frankfurt were very refreshing and lovely to me. I personally would go back again and again. But then I’ve been to that area 3 times now.

    I take it you found a way to deal with the 90 day thing with the visa?

    Glad to hear you are ok and surviving Europe.

    • othalan

      On cost: it is surprising only because I am on a motorcycle. Without the bike it would be far cheaper than I expected.

  • Mom

    These pictures are great!

    I agree with E, that Germany is delightful, and the small towns the best of all. Think of all those people endured over centuries of invasions and oppression, yet they keep up homes, flowers, local markets, walk for most errands. Do realize that I spent no time in big cities!

  • Margaret

    I found the French people friendly when was there (twice), but I’ll admit most people match your posting. I am mother’s opposite–no time spent in small towns, only big cities.

    I suspect you would enjoy backpacking around Europe. Most places are designed for public transportation, though admittedly not the small towns. Have you considered a folding bike? I see more bicycles than motorcycles in Europe. Would backpacking let you see some of China, which you mentioned is not motorcycle-friendly?

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