Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Spring (...wait...winter?!) Bicycle Trip through Europe

Hello from Germany everyone! We left South America in mid-March and headed back across the Atlantic for some time with Markus' family and to prepare for the next big leg of our travels--a spring bicycle trip through Europe. We've been reveling in regular showers, a soft bed, good food, and of course some good times with family and friends. It was great to be here to celebrate Markus' mother's birthday, our niece Klara's birthday, and Easter. We reflect a lot on our time in South America and are still writing blog posts about it - stay tuned for more stores, photos, and a detailed map of our journey as we continue to make updates.

Bicycling through Europe:

When Markus and I planned a spring bicycle trip through Europe, the timing seemed perfect. We would ride north along the edge of springtime, staying always within a climate envelope of bird song, fresh green buds, and long days with cool temperatures perfect for biking. At the time we planned this trip, we were also living in Fairbanks where any temperatures above -10C (15F) or so seemed luxuriously comfortable. From an Interior Alaskan perspective, the average temperatures of 3-15C or so throughout our bike route from Slovenia to Finland sounded great...

Fast forward to today--we awoke to another 10 cm. of fresh snow. Big fat flakes fell from the sky and the roads looked icy. The temperature has averaged below 0 C the entire two weeks here in Germany and though we have our bikes all put together, we have only ridden them once (photos below). These just slightly-below-freezing temps that we always enjoyed in Fairbanks now seem unreasonably cold after the summer we just spent in South America. Our plan to bicycle north from Slovenia to Finland is looking a little more like a winter trip! We already delayed our start date of the trip by a week due to snow in Slovenia. Now the plan is to head to Slovenia tomorrow, but snow is forecast yet again. My relatives in Slovenia have never seen a spring like this before. And as for us in Germany, it seems Markus and I had another Easter playing in the snow, just like we do in Fairbanks.

Riding into the Magers' driveway in Lichtenberg

Trying out our flashy new gear--reflective vests and colorful shoe covers (which we got in the 1 euro bin)

The Plan

Our goals for this trip are to experience a whole variety of languages, cultures, and ecosystems while biking through Europe. We are especially excited to travel along the former "iron curtain", largely because it's personal--Markus grew up in East Germany and I grew up in the United States. Those historical divisions no longer exist but we are both pretty interested in how the region has changed since the wall came down. Another big goal is to visit friends and family along the way. We will begin in Slovenia to spend some time with my Slovenian relatives and to get to know the Slovenian countryside a bit more. We will end in Rovaniemi, the Finnish town on the Arctic Circle where we first met in 2004, and spend time visiting our "friend family" and the places we used to live and study. The piece together a route in between, we've set goals for places to reach by certain dates and (especially with the late start) will need to take trains and ferries occasionally to make miles.

Check out our planned route (also on the "maps" page of our blog).

Tomorrow we leave our very comfortable setting here in Lichtenberg and hit the road again for more of the unknown. At the best, spring will arrive and we'll go with plan A. At the worst, a re-route to the Croatian coast or heck maybe Greece doesn't sound too bad. Regardless, I have no doubt we'll have an adventure!  

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