It all started with: Get those train tickets Franz and move your ass.
Not really, It did not begin exactly this way. But when I bought them I had no excuse but to leave. Initially it is all in your head, you have an idea, you start planning, buying maps and stuff you will probably need, but you know, those objects can stay in your cellar forever if you are not motivated enough. Therefore I started talking to my friends in Munich about the project. I told literally everyone I was about to leave and that I wanted to go north, real north. It was not about bragging for something maybe cool I did not even started. I had to convince myself and I subconsciously looked for tricks to get myself out of a comfort zone. And saying it out loud as well as buying those tickets forced me to get started.
I was truly happy about going cycling and traveling for months but at the same time I was quite scared, scared of crossing all these countries by bike, to be alone and also to take time.
The great thing is that pedal by pedal I just left most of my fears behind and some of them I carried until the tunnel which brought me to the North Cape.
So, actually it started with getting first on a train.
– Munich – Basel
– Basel – Mulhouse – Belfort – Lyon
– Lyon – Montpellier – Perpignan
– Perpignan – Cerbere – 🚲 – Portbou
– Portbou – Barcelona – Madrid – Lisbon
I bought an Interrail ticket, got a bike spot and my boyfriend and I first traveled to Basel to visit Martina & Davide, a couple of friends who moved there. Easy and simple. Quite expensive if you do not have an Interrail ticket but well, it is Switzerland.
Afterwords I had to get it by on my own.
I never truly traveled alone as I can remember, I was often with family, students, friends, boyfriend, but even though I am a loner and like spending time doing my own stuff and getting lost within my thoughts I love people so I realized I never traveled alone even for a week. Maybe just a weekend.
I remember that weekend hiking at the Königssee. Alone, only with a couple of deer and thick thick fog. Super strange. I can tell you.
Anyway, I really thought to be invincible with my Interrail pass, I got to the Basel ticket office, smiled and with all my self confidence I just asked to go to France with my bike, ideally having lunch in Avignon and then proceeding to Barcelona.
if he could, he would have laughed in front of me I guess.
Sorry but we do not have access to French trains but only Swiss ones. So I can get you to Bern and from there to Grenoble if you want (10 hours, whatever).
Maybe you can cross the border, go to France and ask the French.
Well, the border is few km from the train station so, yeah, I do it, but why??????
Insane. Why these companies do not talk to each other?
In France was not that different, they could give me proper information only concerning their region. And France is such a tiny little country, right?
She looked for the only available solution for me and my bike and gave me a ticket to Lyon.
If you want to carry your bike on a train across lovely France, you can have a problem.
Unless it is a regional one which takes ages to get where you want to go.
So, either you can fold your bike or you need a lot of luck because the other trains just have 2/3 spots available.
That is how my adventure started. Changing plans.
From Lyon, a very lovely city full of bakeries (maybe it is the french style), I went to Perpignan.
From here you can feel the sea, you feel it when you see the chaos, in the architecture, in the tanned people and in the air that smells differently.
Yes, I was going south, that south I missed for so long.
If you want to cross the border to Spain and you do not have a foldable bike or you can not fold it because you are alone with a 15kg bike, four bags and a tent (and by the way when they designed wonder woman I surely was not taken into consideration for inspiration), you can hop on a regional train to Cerbère, the last small village before entering Spain. Does this name sound familiar right?
I left Perpignan very early in the morning and when I got there I deserved a Mediterranean breakfast in front of the sea. Man, the sea made me breathe again. My hearth just pumped faster and my eyes were full of all that blue. Have you ever felt the same?
Theoretically from there you could get on another regional train to Portbou but it seems there are probably jut one or two per day so I hop on my bike and went up up exactly on the border and then down to Portbou where I could catch the first regional train to Barcelona.
I will be honest, it was my first time. Everyone has been there already, everyone I know. I even have friends who lived and now live there. But apparently I was not interested.
I planned to stay at least one night, I swear.
But that woman at the info point of the train station just got so much on my nerves that (I am sorry Andriá) I felt so uncomfortable I had to leave.
I really do not know how to bring you to Portugal to be honest, there is no way, no way, maybe tomorrow you can get to Madrid (10H train????) and see what you can find. Hasta Luego. Next please.
I asked everyone, the bus companies, the train station, rental cars, everyone, once, twice, tree times, all of them just sent me away with a sticky fake smile. But finally someone gave me a tip.
You ask the transport company you can find in front of the street if they can ship your bike to Portugal, you take first a train to Madrid and then the only night train to Lisbon.
It sounds good, reasonable, yes, why not?
And so I did.
For four hours we crossed the Spanish inland, a beautiful desert landscape I could see from my window seat until we reached Madrid where I had to hop on another last train connection to my second home.
Once in your life you have to get that night train guys.
It was like entering another world.
Old, slow, and full of people from different countries.
Asians, Africans, Brazilians, Americans, Spanish, Portuguese, and a 30 years old Italian girl.
The world was there. It was clear I was going to Lisbon.