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Flag of Poland  , Masovian Voivodeship,
Friday, June 25, 2010

The idea of this trip began several years ago when I decided that I wanted to complete one of my school terms on exchange. I would study somewhere abroad during the winter term and then have the summer off to travel. This would mean that I would miss one co-op work term, but that seems a small price to pay for a summer of freedom, something I’ve only had once since first year of highschool. When I decided to go to Poland for my exchange things changed a little. I now had only July and August free as the school term there lasts until the end of June.

My original idea was to tour by motorcycle. That dream started to fade into the realm of unachievable as I slowly realized the cost of such an adventure in Europe, along with complications of international licences and my licence expiring after my birthday. The next idea was to travel by bicycle. It’s still two wheels, still complete freedom, and very much enjoyable as well. This was still not a concrete plan as Europe is very large and bicycles on trains is a complicated business.

Then one day I was reading a polish bicycle magazine and they had an article on składaks, or folding bicycles in english. My immediate thought on seeing a picture of a modern składak was “wow, look at all that free space above the rear wheel!” And so came about the idea to put a backpack on a składak and go travelling.

The Equipment

It’s simply quite amazing really. You have only one bag, and a small folding bicycle. If you want to take a train just through the backpack on your back, fold the bike in under half a minute and your set. No need to deal with multiple saddle bags, plus more stuff on top of the rack. With only seven gears it doesn’t leave you wanting more, but rather makes you wonder what the other 14 gears are for on a 21 speed.

In the backpack go my clothes, tent, sleeping bag, and a few tools. On the front my messenger bag with camera and netbook is mounted for quick removal. In various spaces of the bike is a pump, lock, bicycle tool kit, and three water bottles.

The Route

Now that I have everything figured out, where to go? Hmm, I’m in the eastern part of Europe (but everyone in Poland will tell you it’s central), to the west is very expensive, lots of tourists, and..... hmm, nothing makes me want to bicycle there. To the north; beautiful scenery, but very large and hardly anyone around. Would love to go there but maybe it would be better on a motorcycle. To the east; not too much, can’t go very far before I leave the European zone and run into visa problems. To the south; more European countries, still relatively cheap, and look, there’s a huge coastline in Croatia! Well with that settled it’s off to Greece via the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, and Monte Negro. Who knows if I’ll complete this ambitious journey, but it’s not the destination that counts, it’s how you get there and what you do along the way.
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