Monday, February 07, 2011

Bike Trip By the Numbers

In 2010, I biked and slept on all 7 continents: Antarctica (McMurdo Station), Australia (Sydney), North America (Colorado), Europe (Austria->Greece), Asia (Turkey->Jordan), Africa (Egypt), and, finally, South America (Ecuador). It was life changing and exhausting. One of my friends from the Ice astutely said, 'it sounded like you were out too long.' I suspect he was right. There were times where I was just worn thin. However, I knew at the start of the trip that I was already worn a little thin.

I had lots of ideas about a summation blog about my trip. However, I've been busy being present and trying to get settled down instead of writing about the past. Also, I'm not done reflecting on the experience. I'm still learning how it has changed me. Instead, you get a data dump from my notebook. The day is the day number of my trip. The visited column is just the places that I stopped at during that day's riding except in row 1 where I started in Salzburg. All my other start, and therefore stop, points are listed in the Slept column. Mileage is how many kilometers I went per day.

The one trend I did quickly notice is that the number of camping and quality biking days dropped dramatically in the Middle East. Some of this was due to the exhaustion of the long trip. Some of it was the quality of riding. Some was probably cultural barriers of just throwing a tent into a field in more populated places.

Day Visited
Slept Mileage
1 Salzburg Obernberg 100
2 Passau Untermuhl 100
3 Linz Grein 109
4 Castles and Melk Ruin and Krems 97
Tulln 63.5
Vienna 81.5
Vienna 0
8 Petronell-Carnuntum Bratislava 85
9 Masonmagyarovar Gyor 101
10 Koromon Esztergom 126
Esztergom 0
Budapest 73
Budapest 0
Budapest 0
Dudince 126
16 Banska Stiavnica Banska Bystrica 97
17 Lower Tatras Pribylina 98
18 Strbske Pleso - Mt Rysy High Tatras 44
19 Poland Krakow 140
Krakow 0
Krakow 0
22 train Budapest 0
Pakozd 64
24 Lake Balaton Tihany 111
25 Lake Balaton - Heviz Bak 115
26 Redics-Turnisce Ptuj 102
27 Celje Kranj 153
28 Lake Bled Lake Bohinj 70
29 Triglav NP, Vintgar Gorge Lake Bled 63
30 Kranska Gora Podkoren 44
31 Vrsic Pass-Soca Valley Nova Gorica 126
32 Muggia, Italy Pirand 126
33 Ć kocjan Caves Postojna 97
Ljubljana 58
35 plane Northampton, MA 0
Northampton, MA 0
Northampton, MA 0
Northampton, MA 0
42 plane Ljubljana 0
43 Ljubljana Croatia 133
Pletvice Lakes 96
45 Gacoc Knin 144
46 Krka Falls Troger 101
47 Split Mostar 13
48 ferry Hvar Island 105
49 ferry Korcula Island 106
50 ferry Miljet Island 100
51 ferry Dubrovnik 43
Dubrovnik 0
Kotor 97
Podogorica 83
Bog 102
Tirana 149
Tirana 0
Berat 117
Berat 0
60 Pogradec Bitola 103
Greyena 200
62 Meteora Delfi 85
63 Thebes Dafmoula 122
Athens 53
65 Piraeus Santorini 12
66 Santorini ferry 74
67 Rhodes Marmaris 9
Dalya 94
Fethiye 95
Fethiye 11
Blue Cruise 0
Blue Cruise 0
Blue Cruise 0
Olympos 0
75 Kemer-bus Pamukkale 31
76 bus Ephesus 10
77 highway Istanbul 15
Istanbul 0
79 Istanbul Asia bridge 30
Cappadoccia 10
Cappadoccia 0
Cappadoccia 25
Antakya 0
Aleppo 144
Aleppo 52
Aleppo 2
Serjillah 88
88 Afamra-bus-Hama Palmyra 82
89 Home Crac 10
Tripoli 86
Cedars 65
92 Ballbek - bus Beirut 94
Beirut 0
Damascus 10
Damascus 0
96 Sweida-Orange Market Bosra 137
Jerash 94
Amman 2
Amman 0
Amman 0
Israel 102
Kazrin 78
Hula 99
Rosh Hanikra 108
105 Akko-cab Tel Aviv 10
Jerusalem 75
Jerusalem 0
Jerusalem 0
109 Jericho Dead Sea 80
Madaba 40
Wadi Mujib 68
Dana 0
Petra 0
Petra 0
Wadi Rum 108
Eliat 108
117 Nuweiba Dahab 157
Dahab 0
119 Blue Hole Dahab 0
120 Sharm-Thistlegorm Dahab 0
St. Catherines 0
Cairo 12
Luxor 5
Luxor 49
Aswan 13
Aswan 0
127 Abu Simbel Aswan 18
128 Cairo Valley of Agabat 0
White Desert 0
Cairo 0
Cario 0

Total 6934km
Days Biking 88
Average biking 78.79545455 km/day
Rest Days 43
Average with Rest 52.93129771 km/day
Camping Days 35

Odds and ends:
  • Slovenia was the unexpected treat of the trip. I knew nothing and was pleasantly surprised.
  • If you need a bike shop in Cairo, google Bescletta. I think Ibrahim Ossama was the guy who took such good care of us.
  • My original plan had me biking around 8000 kilometers. I dropped 1000 in Turkey when I bused while I recovered my energy and enthusiasm.
  • I would not recommend independently traveling in Egypt if you don't have a ton of patience for people trying to scam you.
  • Petra is better than anyone tells you.
  • I think the only sites I didn't get over were nature's beauty and people's beauty.
  • Austria, Germany, and Switzerland are the kings of bike touring. They have more signs than probably all of North America combined, but we are working on that over here.
  • Montenegro deserves a longer visit than you think.
Things I'd like to go back and see/do:
  • Petrin Tower, Socialist Statue Bar park, the tower with babies, Prague, Czech Repuclib
  • Cesky Kreminov, Czech Republic
  • Alps, Austria
  • The castle that Disney based their castle on, Germany
  • Spissy Hrad, Presov, food, Tatras caves, Ginger Money hostel in Zridar, Sklene Teplice, Slovakia
  • Budapest citadel, Hungary, #2 tram where Matty L (sabah alumni) did this video. Full jam here.
  • Salt National Park, Dantes Cave, Honey wine, Slovenia
  • Brac, Croatia
  • Durmotir and Tara Canyon, Montenegro
  • Theth, Albania
  • Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
  • Southern part of Greece
  • Nehrut, Ararat, Davidya, Turkey
  • Mar Musa, Honeycombs, Latakia, visit Rami, Euphrates, Syria
  • The Negev, Israel
  • More desert in Egypt

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Quito, Ecudaor

Panecillo Hill topped with a state of Quito's Winged Virgin.

Quito. The capital of Ecuador at 9,200 ft. It's full name is San Francisco de Quito. Tina and I had two short visits there. While deciding how much time to spend there, I went through a struggle that I always have when visiting a country. Lots of people say that you have to visit this city to see this cultural thing or that. However, I usually prefer the rural and undeveloped areas. In the end, through the necessity of flying out of Quito, we spent a morning, an afternoon, and two nights there.

Parque La Alameda (Alameda Park).

The Basilica Church from the Secret Garden hostel balcony.

When we first arrived, we immediately went to the hotel and didn't explore. The next morning we walked from New Town to the hostel, Secret Garden Quito, to catch a ride to Cotopaxi. On the way, we cut across a couple beautiful parks that I almost got stuck in. I just wanted to roll in the grass on a beautiful day, but we had places to be. The hostel's balcony had the best view of the city that we saw. We had to wait for our ride, so we took a quick stroll around Old Town. Old Town was filled with the hustle and bustle of commerce and government. We dodged cars on narrow streets and narrower sidewalks while taking in the wonderful scenery. Say what you want about colonialism, but they left behind some beautiful buildings.

Typical colonial buildings in Old Town Quito.

Old Town, Quito.

To get on the public buses, you pay to enter these little enclosed sidewalk stops. Then, the bus will stop in front of them and let you on. This would have been a good stop to wait at because there was a band playing in front of the blue building and you could buy ice cream from out of that guy's bucket backpack.

On our second visit to Quito, we strolled around Old Town again trying to find a specific flea market. It gave a little purpose to our wandering as we asked person after person about where to go. We definitely had a more thorough wander around on the second try. We passed more old buildings. We found a couple schools and churches. We even found a mall.

The 500 year old Cathedral Church of Quito.

The Government Palace.

More old buildings and an Indian (Asian-Indian) boutique.

I'm not really sure what my impressions of Quito were. I liked walking around. The colonial governmental buildings didn't seem to fit with everything we had see in the rural areas. I'm sure the exact same could be said about the marble buildings in Washington DC compared to rural Virginia. They sold motorcycles in their appliance shops. Traffic was often horrendous. The roads were narrow and one way so if one truck stopped for a delivery, everyone else waited and honked. The buses seemed like a good way to go. They often had their own lanes and I wouldn't want to be the pedestrian who got to close to one of those lanes. Take a step off the sidewalk and you would have been close enough to get knocked down by a mirror.

A number of appliance shops were selling TV, stereos, washing machines, and motorcycles.

The Monastery of San Francisco.

El Panecillo towering over Old Town.

On our last night, we headed back to New Town to eat. We saw a side of it that we completely missed in our previous visit. There were cool hostels, hip bars, dance clubs, and higher end restaurants. This stuff might have been in Old Town too, but we didn't see it. Old Town didn't seem to be as trendy. If you were looking for a big night out, I think New Town is where you'd go. After a great meal, a super weird desert of tree tomato in something gooey, and a long night's sleep, it was time to leave Ecuador.

Quail and chicken eggs at the grocery store.

New Town, Quito.

I had a great time in Ecuador. I was surprised to see and enjoy so much in such a short time. On the other hand, there was a number of times that I was wishing that I was traveling on my bicycle and moving slower. I'd definitely like to go back to visit the Galapagos Islands. I didn't go this time because it was pretty expensive. I've been spending for months without a job lined up, but now that I really close to being in one place, I am reluctant to spend a lot without an income.

A small statue of a lion in Old Town.

I love that the Ecuadorian take on Catholicism doesn't need to be represented with expensive materials (though their churches are pretty ornate). They were happy to create this nativity creche with rubber duckies and other things that could easily be children's toys.

The world's game, soccer, can be played anywhere. I can't imagine how far downhill the ball goes if you miss the goal.

Originally, the idea to visit South America was to round out my 7th continent of the year. I was pretty sure when I threw the idea up on Facebook that it was a shallow goal and that I would only go if it was cheap. However, Tina took the bait and decided we should head to Ecuador. She was super excited about it so we were off. As it turned out when I got here, there was no moment of elation over the hard work that went into completing a goal. It had never really been the goal of my travels. It was just a tag on at the end of a year of adventures. Even though I was not overjoyed about the 7th continent, I was still excited about being in Ecuador. On the other hand, I recently realized that I biked on all 7 continents while I was traveling this year and that did make me smile.