Thoughts and tales from the saddle - on my own in Europe.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Day 240 - Sarreguemines - North East France

It was my birthday yesterday. I spent it cycling through the hills and forests of Des Vosges, in Alsace. It was deserted - I think three cars passed me - and beautiful. I spent the night in a small town, had a beer, ate dinner, read a book, wrote in my journal. Just another day on the road. I think it was the first birthday I have ever spent completely on my own. It was nice. Fitting that I shall remember my 30th like that, after all I've done over the last year.

I was going to say '...spent completely on my own in a strange, foreign land,' but France doesn't feel strange or foreign to me anymore. It almost felt like home when I crossed the border from Germany - the road signs, the shops, the towns and villages. It was all somehow familiar, not that unsurprisingly as I've spent over two months here this year. Plus I can speak the lingo a bit, so can actually communicate with people on a reasonable level, which makes a nice change.

I move towards Luxembourg and Belgium in the next week or so and then probably to the channel and a boat to England. This trip has been marked throughout by various bodies of water - the Channel to the Atlantic, Atlantic to Med to Adriatic to Aegean, as well as the Loire, the Dordogne, the Rhone, the Danube, the Rhine (which I crossed two days ago)...they all seem to have provided a constant thread running through, so it will be a poignant moment when I finally reach the Channel again, signalling the end of the trip.

Those of you who have been paying attention will notice that I will therefore not be going to 'Every European Country', as I said I set out to do. That is slightly disappointing to me, but only very slightly. I would hope that you have realised by now that this was never about ticking boxes, never about just being able to say I've been here, or there, scoring some kind of points in the pub. This journey was always about just that - the journey. The discovery, the experiences, the adventure, as well as the physical and mental challenge involved in doing it as I have, alone on my bike.

I will still have done what I set out to do and that was to live this, to survive and to rise to the challenges I set myself. Returning to the channel, having travelled every land-inch on my two wheels, using only my two legs, is the biggest of those challenges and soon, hopefully, I will be succeeding in that. Then I will be a very happy 30 year old man.


  • At 8:28 am, Anonymous Pete said…

    Happy Birthday and welcome to the thirty-somethings club! :o)

    Shame you couldn't have made it for the 10th but I'm sure we can celebrate once you get back.


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