2550 kilometers away from Berlin and 15.000€ of donations later we have reached milestone number 3 – Ohrid in Macedonia. Cycling through the Balkans was an adventure…
Cycling through the Balkans
After leaving Split in October (WATCH VLOG) another 1000km of cycling lay ahead of us. The first 7 weeks of our trip were exciting and luckily, we didn’t have to face any difficulties on our trip yet. Leaving Split though, the tables had turned. Nono’s knee had been hurting for a while already. At first, it seemed like it was only a matter of time until our bodies adapt to cycling every day. Days passed but eventually, it got worse and worse. Only after deciding to take a few days off, the first signs of recovery appeared. The closer we got to the end of October, the shorter the days got. Being so dependent on daylight is an interesting yet strange feeling. It gives you a completely new understanding of how crucial it is in our everyday life. However, cycling through the Balkans with all its exotic impressions and lovely inhabitants, made up for every difficulty along the way.
Five countries in two weeks
We cycled through fascinating countries, that aren’t necessarily your typical tourist destination. Within two weeks we crossed Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia. Every country has its own charm and character, different traditions and ways of seeing the world -yet all have two things in common: cyclists seem to be invisible for drivers and the roads start to turn to gravel. We are thrilled for all the exotic impressions that our cycling tour in the Balkans brings us: people drive past us on horse-drawn carriages, fruit is sold along the road and we share the road with cows, sheep, and goats.
Hospitality and generosity in the Balkans
Although language barriers tend to get more frequent and using your whole body to communicate becomes the norm, we are stunned by the hospitality of the people we met along the way. In Bosnia, we were fortunate to meet an amazing family that invited us to spend the night and we enjoyed a traditional BBQ. We learned traditional dances, the proper way of preparing cevapcici and listened in awe to stories about the cruel war. Something similar awaits us in Albania, where we spend an evening with an interesting family and learn about its people, land, and culture. There is a lot of respect in the Balkans – if you are planning a bike tour in the Balkans, you should remember: give respect and get respect.
A Brown Bear and landmines in Bosnia
After we already had a wolf next to our sleeping bag (WATCH VLOG), we have another encounter with a wild animal in Bosnia. On the 20th of October, we camped in a small Croatian forest right on the Bosnian border. We were almost asleep when our attention got caught by a sound. At first, we couldn’t pinpoint what it was. It got louder and louder and then it became clear. It was the growling of a bear. Our hearts started racing. We waited a few minutes and made the decision to not only leave the tent but to also leave the Forrest we were in. Within a heartbeat we went full survival mode, panicky lit up our self-made torch and went into the dark. After a few minutes, we reached the nearest street, placed our sleeping bags on the concrete and waited for sunrise.
Cycling through Bosnia is not only mesmerizing but üayong attention to landmines while camping is crucial. The war is only 23 years ago and has left areas of the country still covered with hidden landmines. Sometimes these danger zones are marked, but often every hint is missing. Every year, several people die by stepping on one of these mines.
Fundraising campaign – almost reached one third
There is a lot of things that have changed since we started cycling. However, one thing hasn’t: We still not passionate about cycling. The experiences on our way are mesmerizing, yet cycling every day pays its toll and can be hard. Furthermore, building up our tent every day, preparing our food with a camping cooker and living out of four bicycle bags can be frustrating. However, we know why we are doing all of this. Our mission is to collect donations for a co-dedicated School in Guatemala and each day we get closer.
More than 300 people around the world have donated more than 17.500€. We are amazed by the continuous support! If every person who hears from our story donates even a few euros, the school is built in no time and over 400 children have the chance of a future full of hope. That is our goal and it is well worth all difficulties along the way.
After one week of staying in Ohrid, enjoying the city and exploring its surroundings, we will continue our bicycle world trip and continue cycling the Balkans a bit more. The next milestone lies ahead: Istanbul – the gate to the Asian continent. It is still more than 12.000km to our final milestone Beijing. We will continue with our adventure and on our mission to create awareness for educational problems!