Introduction / Trip Preparations

Hi, all!

As you may already know, Adam and I are spending the whole summer on our belated honeymoon (so belated, in fact, that we will come back home three days before our one-year anniversary...but that's what happens when you wed a few days before the first day of school!).  We decided that we wanted to take a grand adventure, one that would only become more difficult to do down the line as we have added responsibilities in life.  Because I have every summer off (yay teaching!) and Adam has recently quit his job to start his own business, that freed up this summer for us to embark on this grand adventure!

So what is this grand adventure?  Well, as you can see from the map at the bottom of this webpage, we will be traveling across Europe:  starting in the south of France, just west of Marseille, ending up in Budapest, Hungary towards the middle of August, and passing through Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and even Liechtenstein on our way!  And yes, we will be BIKING across that route.  The entire way.  All 2000ish miles.  And no, this is not one of those "supported" rides where you have a car following you from hotel to hotel, carrying your stuff... everything we need for the entire eight weeks will be strapped to our two bicycles!

I know this may not be most people's idea of the perfect honeymoon, but if you know me and Adam, you know that we love adventures, exploring new places, and really immersing ourselves -- we are not into frantically checking off the "must-sees" of tourist destinations, nor do we really like lying on the beach (both of us hate sand...and besides, Adam says I'm like a husky, who always needs to keep moving!)  We discovered bike touring last year and fell in love with it -- it is the perfect way to "see things slowly," soaking up local beauty and culture while also getting some exercise and being outside!  We have now gone on two bike tours, from Boston to Provincetown (at the tip of Cape Cod, 140 miles away), and you would not believe the diversity of landscapes, people, and local cultures that we encountered even along this short stretch of Eastern Massachusetts!  Bike touring makes us feel strong, independent, and able to really ENJOY everywhere we explore.  We can't wait to try it in Europe!

As you can imagine, a trip like this requires an enormous amount of planning and logistics, which has been occupying our weekends since January:  figuring out how to fly two bicycles across the Atlantic, planning a route, buying equipment, and reading ENDLESS bike touring blogs.  However, it also requires a certain degree of flexibility and willingness to figure things out on the fly, since we have no way of predicting what could happen along the route.  What if it is pouring rain one day?  What if we really want to spend extra time in a certain city?  What if a local advises us to skip ahead on the train because of construction on the route?  Because of this uncertainty, we have NOT booked accommodations for more than our first few nights.  We will mostly be relying on a combination of campgrounds (plentiful in Europe!), hostels/inns, and WarmShowers.org hosts (an online community of bike tourers, similar to CouchSurfing) for lodging, and we will likely make arrangements only a few days ahead of time.  We also love staying with locals that we or our friends know (as we will do in Lyon and Bratislava), so if you know anybody that we should visit along our route, please tell us!

So, what are we bringing with us?  Well, to start with, we each have our Specialized AWOL touring bikes:  a black one named Charlotte (mine) and an orange one named Buddy (Adam's, with an electric generator built into the hub for charging our phones, GPS, and other devices!).  Charlotte and Buddy each have racks (Charlotte on the back, Buddy on the front and back) for holding panniers, otherwise known as saddle bags.  We have six panniers in total of varying sizes, and we also will strap our tent and sleeping bag to the top of the racks.  (Fortunately, given my experience with backpacking, we own a lot of very light, compact camping gear!)  We also have handlebar bags that will hold all the essentials and that we'll be able to easily take on and off the bikes as we explore local attractions.  Our bikes are also tricked out with all the safety gear we need:  spare parts, mirrors, lights, bells, etc.  (Major props go out to WheelWorks in Belmont, MA for supplying us with pretty much EVERYTHING we need... including both our bikes!)

And how do you pack for an eight-week adventure biking across Europe?!  That's an excellent question... one that we will be figuring out this weekend, I hope.  The plan is to bring two complete biking outfits and then a few non-biking outfits, plus plenty of layers, rain gear, sun protection, etc.  (Don't worry, we will be doing plenty of laundry along the way!)  We are limiting ourselves to two pairs of shoes each:  one sneaker and one sandal.  We plan on buying food as we go along, and we have a small stove for cooking out when we are camping.

Electronics-wise, we will be buying a European data plan and SIM card that will enable us to pay for monthly data allowances while we're over there.  Most cities in Europe have free municipal WiFi (even in campgrounds!) as well.  While this plan will not give us traditional phone or text access, we will be able to make phone calls through VoIP programs like Skype or FaceTime (not Adam, though, the non-iPhone sucker!), and send texts through iMessage (again, not Adam) or What'sApp.  We are also bringing our Garmin GPS, onto which Adam has downloaded our painstakingly detailed route, so we will have turn signals and stay on the trail without needing to use Google Maps.

Speaking of which, how did we even plan out our route in the first place?  Europe, blessed land that it is, has this incredible, crisscrossing "interstate system" of bike routes called the EuroVélo routes (vélo = bicycle in French).  There are 17 of these routes, each with varying lengths, difficulties, and themes, and consisting mostly of dedicated bike paths (and occasionally small back roads).  We pieced together our itinerary by connecting three of these routes, each of which runs alongside a major river and will thus be (mostly) free of huge hills!

We will start on EV 17, which follows the Rhône River.  After taking a train from Paris, we will begin where the Rhône meets the Mediterranean in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, west of Marseille, and follow it northward through the Provence and Rhône-Alpes regions, passing through Arles, Avignon, Valence, and Lyon along the way.  (I am particularly excited about this leg because I lived in Lyon for a semester in college and it is one of my favorite places in the world!)  From there, the river curves eastward into Switzerland, going around the north side of Lake Geneva and culminating in a ride up an Alpine pass to the glacier that serves as its source!

From there, we pick up the EV 15, which follows the Rhine River.  It runs along the eastern edge of Switzerland (called "Heidi Land"... so quaint!) and will dip into Liechtenstein before reaching Lake Konstanz, where we will enter into southern Germany.  The scenery along this leg should be pretty spectacular!

From the city of Konstanz, we will ride northward and pick up the EV 6, which follows the Danube River, in Tuttlingen.  We will continue on the EV 6 through the Black Forest and Bavaria regions of Germany, passing through Ulm, Regensburg, and Passau.  After taking a short detour to Salzburg (because I am OBSESSED with The Sound of Music!), we will rejoin the EV 6 in Linz and follow it through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary, passing through Vienna, Bratislava, Györ, and ending up in Budapest.  In Budapest, we will take a train back to Paris and then fly home to Boston!  (Just in time for me to begin on boarding at my new teaching job!!)

Our itinerary has us biking, on average, about 4 days per week, and an average of 40 miles per day, to keep things reasonable and prevent us from exhaustion, injury, or just pure anger (speaking from the never-to-be-repeated experience of biking 110 miles in one day on our first bike tour...).  This should give us plenty of time and energy to explore our surroundings, meet people, and just ENJOY ourselves!

We could not be more excited about our honeymoon, and we look forward to using this blog to keep you updated on our adventures!  Especially because this honeymoon is longer than most, we look forward to keeping in touch with our friends and family along the way :-)  Happy summer / bon été!!


Comments

  1. So excited for you both! You're at the top of my summer reading list.

    ReplyDelete

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Where are we now?

Legend

  • Red = We're going to bike that
  • Purple = We're biking that now
  • Grey = We biked that!
  • Black = We decided not to go that way
  • Yellow = We took a train
  • Magenta = We took a plane

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