the journey so far
My journey started on June 14th, 2021 with a flight from London to Gibraltar, UK. After a gruelling 1km, I crossed into Spain and followed the west coast northwards towards Portugal. I battled 1200kms of fierce Atlantic winds as I edged my way along the coast of Portugal before commandeering a fishing boat to cross back into Spain in the north. I rolled eastwards through the lush, green hills of Galicia and Asturias, before crossing into France. I filled my panniers with croissants, cheese and baguettes and set off through the Pyrenees, tackling many Tour de France classic climbs like Tourmalet, Soulor and Aubisque on my 55kg rig. In Gavarnie, I entrusted Cliffy to some friends and set off for a five day hike through the mountains, hop scotching over the French-Spanish border. As I reached Andorra, I was bowled down for a grim few days with heat stroke. With my 90 day Schengen Visa allowance drawing to a close, I had to adapt my plans and fly from Barcelona, Spain to Stockholm, Sweden on September 6th 2021, where I had been granted a temporary residency visa.
Farewell to Summer! Scandinavia was getting cold. I spent two weeks in Stockholm applying for a french working visa and planning the next leg of the journey. I hit the road again with fresh legs, crossing Sweden west to east. I hit another road block as I reached Denmark, when the post office held my passport (and new visa) captive under technicalities. Ten days and many grey hairs later, I was free and rolling south through the colourful autumnal forests of Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Fuelled solely by croissants and pain au chocalat, I spent some very long, cold and grim days cycling across the north of France through WWI memorials and tilled fields, before arriving in beautiful Paris. With December edging closer, winter had arrived and cycling became frigid. I cycled through days of pouring 1C rain and sub zero temperatures and before the snow arrived. I slipped and skidded over sketchy mountain passes and arrived in the alps as a human popsicle.
After several weeks of applying and interviewing for jobs from my tent, I secured a job managing a chalet in Megeve and settled into for the season. But plans don't always go to plan. A month later, I took a big fall skiing and felt a tear. A complete rupture of the ACL paired with a torn MCL and meniscus. Before no time, I was packed up and flying back to Australia for surgery and a long rehabilitation journey. Cliffy was dropped at a friend's house in Geneva, Switzerland and two days later, I was standing by the ocean in a summery Sydney. Initially, I was told that it would be 18 months before I could get surgery, but with incredible luck, I was called up last minute, only six weeks later. Surgery was a success, and I hobbled out of the hospital with a goal.
16 weeks post surgery, and I was back baby! June 7th 2022, I flew back to Geneva and reunited with my trusty steed Cliffy and headed east, hiking, climbing and cycling my way across the Swiss, Italian, Austrian and Slovenian alps.
In late August, I peddled out of the mountains and found the coast once more, beginning my journey through the Balkans. After island hopping across Croatia, I turned inland at Bosnia and Herzegovina and found the mountains once again in Montenegro. Here I had a series of critical mechanical problems with Cliffy, leading to all sorts of wild side trips and unlikely friendships.. I also found the cutest puppy in the world, covered in ticks, abandoned and looking for love. After finding a vet to help and a forever home for her with friends from London, a new chapter began. I had her microchipped, vaccinated, de-ticked, dewormed and got her a pet passport. I stole a grocery basket from a super market and affixed it to my handle bars with zip ties with the help of some new friends and I had now become the slowest pet courier in existence. I called her Monte and we set off on an incredible 1300km journey across four countries together. We cycled, we hiked, we climbed mountains, we ran along beaches, we camped and we snoozed in the sunshine. After five weeks spent crossing Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and Greece together, we met her forever family in Thessaloniki. A tough goodbye but a rewarding moment seeing her welcomes into a warm, safe and loving home for all of her days. With a heavy heart, I cycled on through Greece towards Turkey. A tough goodbye but a rewarding moment seeing her welcomes into a warm, safe and loving home for all of her days.
With a heavy heart, I cycled on through Greece towards Turkey. I reached 10,000kms before the border and then crossed into my 21st country by bike. After a visit to Istanbul, I pedalled along the south west coast of Turkey from Tekirdag to Antalya, enjoying the beautiful mediterranean beaches and wonderful hospitality throughout Turkey. With the year drawing to a close, I took a bus to visit Cappadocia and then caught a ferry over to Cyprus to meet my sister for Christmas.
After a week of eating and diving, we said goodbye and I flew with my bike to Amman, Jordan. I spent NYE with new friends in Jordan before crossing over to Palestine/West Bank and completing a loop of northern Israel. I crossed back into Jordan, the friendliest country i've ever visited, and crossed it by bike from north to south visiting the Dead Sea, Petra and Wadi Rum on the way before reaching the Red Sea in Aqaba. Plans to cycle Egypt were abruptly crushed as soon as I got off the ferry in Egypt with police and checkpoints making it near impossible to pass through. So I left Cliffy at a hostel in Dahab, Egypt and spent a month backpacking around the country before collecting Cliffy, returning back to Jordan on the same ferry and cycling down into Saudi Arabia.
My cycle across Saudi was a beautiful one, climbing out of the desert heat and into the beautiful mountains, across sandy colourful landscapes and meeting many camels and their owners along the way. The generosity was nearly outrageous as I was stopped every 10km to be gifted unbelievable amounts of food and water. I am also proud to claim that I'm fairly sure to be the first Australian woman to cycle in Saudi Arabia!
After 1400km through Saudi, I reached Jeddah where I caught a ferry to Sudan. I now head south into Africa. What adventures are waiting around the corner?