I flew from Peru to Sweden and I expected to cycle in Northern Europe. When I arrived at Stockholm airport, the immigration police suspected something and they checked all of my luggage en scrutinized my papers. I was asked many questions. One hour later, after I proved I had enough money, my passport was stamped.
My first night in Scandinavia was spent in the airport, the following morning I cycled to Stockholm. The air was fresh and I felt fresh, just like in Alaska. A new country, language and culture to be explored!
The only way from the airport to the city was a motorway with a wide shoulder, which seemed not dangerous to me. I started to ride along the wide road. Many cars passed, quite a few honked their horns. In South-America, that would have been a greeting, and I waved back at the motorists. Next, a car sounded it's horn longer, stopped in front of me and an angry man emerged. He said: "get off the motorway!". I was very surprised. I understood that the cars were not greeting me. I asked directions to go to Stockholm. He just told me: "Ask someone else!".
The fresh air suddenly chilled my heart.
Coming from the equator in Ecuador, Sweden was cold, especially when it rained. One time I sat down on a bench in rest-area along the road, trembling. Many cars stopped for a break, people got out their cars. There were businessmen, families and some couples. Everyone pretended I wasn't there. After 30 minutes, my body was a little warmer, but my heart stayed cold. I didn't want to stay there, put my luggage back and started riding, as the cold rain continued. My muscles were very cold - pedalling was hard - but I reached Sundsvall before nightfall. Then I found out that I had lost one of my bags.
In the bag, there were 16 rolls of new film, 3 new T-shirts and my notebook and pen. I decided to go back the point where I last verified my luggage: 17 km. I cycled slowly and carefully through the rain as my body was getting even colder. After 17 kilometers I had not found my bag.
The following day, I went to the police station, but they had not found my bag. A few days later, I called them again, but still no luck.
This was not to be the only bad experience:
The mosquitos in the forests between the lakes would attack me every night. Pitching a tent gets very hard if one has to fight insects at the same time.
Whenever I visited a restaurant because I needed some good food, I would find out that everything was very expensive. I would order the cheapest menu, and I would get small portions.
By the time I reached Umea, I had such a severe toothache that I thought that I could not go on. My physical condition was bad and so was my bicycle.
Both wheels were bent and made noises against the brakepads, and the bearing of the bottom bracket was bad.
Lonely, cold and dark in the soundless night, I looked at the roof of my tent. "I want to be in South America!", I thought.
Many things went wrong during my two weeks in Sweden. But I also saw beautiful lakes and forests, towns and villages. I drank clean water and had food that did not make me sick, I rode safe roads with nice asphalt. Everything was perfect, but it felt not good. Everthing was very different compared to South America. I didn't meet any nice people, and I was pedalling every day. It was a physical challenge.
On the 3rd of July, at 20:30 hours (8:30 pm), I left Sweden when I crossed into Finland. The Finnish immigration police give me a roadmap and I started riding through the white night...
Last evening, it started to rain again. It's not nice when it rains. There are a lot of mosquitos in the forest and they bite me when I try to pitch my tent. It's not as bad in open spaces, but when it's windy and rainy I like to stay in the forest. This morning, I did not want to leave my tent - it was raining and the mosquitos were waiting for me. But it's not nice to stay in a small tent all day, either.
Last night, I also found out that one of the spokes of the rear wheel was broken, and now I had to find a bicycle shop. So, I decided to go into town.
After breakfast (bread and yoghurt), I took my raincoat and cycled 7 kilometers back to Rovaniemi, leaving my tent behind. Santa Claus comes from Rovaniemi; there is even an amusement park with lots of reindeer. I felt sorry for the reindeer - they are also bitten by mosquitos and they get wet from the rain. It wasn't easy to find a bicycle repair shop; I had to ask several people before I found one.
It was a small shop in the basement of a factory building. There was an old man working amidst many broken bicycles. I asked him to replace the spoke and the bottom bracket. He did not speak any English, but since we both know a lot about bicycles, we still understood each other. A bottom bracket is the part of the frame that holds the bearings for the crank - Adriaan. He helped me, even though there were other customers waiting. Before he could replace the spoke, he had to remove the casette from the freehub. A cassette is the packet of sprocket wheels attached to the rearwheel and the freehub (which permits to roll the wheel without driving the chain) - Adriaan. The cassette was mounted very tight, it needed the two of us to get it undone. I was holding the wheel, while the man handled the spanner. Half an hour later, everything was ready. When I asked for the price, he said that I only needed to pay about € 20.00 - just the cost of the parts. He gave me some spray-oil as well. I was very happy and talked about my journey (in English). He could not understand me, but he enjoyed my story and my pictures.
It was still raining when I left. I went to the library, because many libraries in Scandinavia are very nice. Great buildings, free reading, also for foreigners, and internet use. I wrote some letters, checked my e-mail and read a book. There were many e-mails from German and French friends who invited me to stay at their houses. My heart warmed, and their e-mails motivated me to carry on.
When the library was about to close, I took my raincoat and cycled back to my tent. The newspapers in the library had told me that there would be another 3 to 4 days of rain ahead...
The last stage to the North Cape (Nordkapp in Norwegian) was a long one. The weather was great, with sunshine and no rain. There is no sunset here (not all summer), so I could cycle and cycle - all the way to the end of Europe. I was passed by many cars - the tourists visit the North Cape all hours of the ... day. When I arrived, after 200 km, at 1:00 am, the tourists that had passed me, started applauding.
The next day I cycled back to the last town, about 53 km. I wanted to go to Iceland from here, but there was no ferry service. The boats for Iceland leave from Bergen. I decided to go there by bus, because I was running out of time. I went to a travel agent for a bus ticket. The agent, who spoke English very well, asked me to wait for one hour. When I came back, another agent told me that the man I was waiting for would not be back that day, which surprised me. I asked her for the tickets, but she was not kind. I feel that Norwegians are not very kind to poor travellers...
I met a German motorcyclist the day before and I ran into him again. He told me he was waiting for his wife. She was delayed because the airplanes could not fly because of the weather. The wife would come by bus instead. We both waited for the bus, but it never arrived. Robert (the motorcyclist) called the airline and was reffered to the bus company. An employee with the bus company told us to go ask in the hotel across the street. Of course, the receptionists did know when the bus would arrive. When we returned to the bus company, they couldn't give any news. I was very disappointed in the Scandinavian people - I thought that they did not like foreigners. I wanted to leave this (very expensive, too!) country as soon a possible.
I'm on the Shetland Islands now. The people are very friendly, like on the Faroe Islands. The nature is very beautiful. One can see wild otter, puffins, many kinds of sea birds, and horse and dogs... The ship festival is now. So, many foreigners visit this town. It is very busy but very interesting! If I say "Hello", almost all people say "Hello". It is very pleasureable for me!!
This point marks the end of the 'ghostwritten' Japanese journal taken off the original site created by Futoshi Nakamura (Toshi). The following chapters are the e-mails (edited for legibility) that Daisuke sent me from October 1999. - Adriaan
It is raining today. I'm lazy this morning. I met a Dutch gentleman on the road 2 days ago. I was looking for a good place to sleep for the evening. Just that time, a sports car stopped beside me...
So, I stayed in his house for 3 days. His name is Adriaan. He came back from his motorcycle's trip just a few months ago. He traveled from Belgium to Australia for 1 year and 2 month. He is a rich man, also very friendly. He knows very much about cyclists. It was a very, very comfortable place for me. Good house, a lot of delicious food, showers, a warm room, quiet place, and very kind person!
By the way, my friend Toshi made my web site for me. It is still only Japanese words. But you can see some pictures. Please enjoy it. I would like to translate it into English. But, my English is not good. Please help me to make a web site. When you look at my web site, please let me know what you think!
Hello friends! I'm O.K!! Of course, I went on my cycling. I show you my life.
I am Berlin now. It was a memorable day yesterday. The Berlin wall fell 10 years ago. So, many ceremonies were held here. We can not see a border between east and west anymore. The people can easily move from the east to the west or from the west to the east now. Of course it is the same German country. The people hoped for freedom a long time, and it came true. I think this is one of the happiest memorial days in Germany. This is a good situation, but elsewhere war still rages and some people still aren't free. We must hope for the better.
Hello friends!! JAK SE MAS?
I'm in Prague now. It is winter season, but I see many tourists in this town. So, it is very beautiful town. Castles, churches, old buildings, bridges... it is very nice. and good beer!
I like the Czech republic very much. It is not only a beautiful town, but also the people are nice. I met some people. They are very friendly!! I hope you could visit this country, maybe you can experience it.
By the way, I made my plan until Africa. If you have some advice or information, please send e-mail.
Praha - Linz - Munchen - Stuttgult - Zurich - Bern - Geneve - Lyon - Marseille - Barcelona - Palma - Valencia - Madrid - Lisboa
A few years ago, a French cyclist travelled around the world on his bicycle. He met many friendly people, who helped him a lot, in rich and in poor countries. This is not only his experience, but also that of other cyclists. He decided to start an organisation for accomodation for world bicyclists (CCI - Cyclo-Camping International). I have already visited a few members of this list in Europe. I did not know any of them, but all of these members helped me very well. The members are almost all French but there are people in other countries listed. So, if you want to help cyclists, please join CCI. The world's bicyclists need your help; especially during the cold season when camping is too cold and hotels are too expensive. If you do not have an extra room, don't worry: cyclists have sleeping bags.
I have already been in Europe half a year until now. I started Stockholm at summer time. And I am in Germany at this winter season. I saw different natures, different towns, and different people. Everything is interesting to me. But my most important impression is people.
I visited Europe 9 years ago. A family invited me that time. I visited this family again this time. All of them remembered me. And they were still fine. Of course they helped me a lot. I enjoyed European life with them.
And this time, I made many good new friends. It is my property. If it is possible for me, I would like to meet you again. A man's life is limited. It is possible or not, I don't know. But I want to say to you "See you some day, somewhere!!".
I will go to Switzerland next week. Then: France, Spain, Portugal, and I leave Europe. My next stage is Africa. I am very interested in Africa. What will happen to me??!
Good-bye for now. If you need some information or something, e-mail me anytime.
I am still Konstanz, Germany. I stay with a very nice German Cyclist's couple. I have been here for more than a week now.
I was in an accident last Saturday. I broke one of my teeth.
It is Monday today. I visited a dentist this morning. I asked the doctor about time and cost.
The doctor said: "You must visit 2 times, about 2 weeks. The cost is about 730 DM (US$ 400.00)".
I was disappointed. It needs quite a long time, and it is expensive for me.
One problem about me is that I don't have any medical insurance. (Because I am travelling a long time.)
I do not have any good idea. My host said: "You can stay at our home as long as you want!" It is very pleasureable for me. My teeth is not hot now. I can continue my cycling. But I must fix it before I enter Africa.
If I go to Spain or Portugal, is it cheap?? Do you have some information about dentists?? If you know something or have a good idea, please send Reports to me!
My European bicycle trip is almost over: only Portugal is left. This is my second time cycling in Europe. I came to Europe 9 years ago. That time, I crossed London to Egypt in 3 month. This time, the European countries show me more various things....
I arrived stockholm airport last June. It was nice season at Scandinavia. Cycling is easy. Because good road, good weather. I went to North Cape (Norway). On the way to Nordkapp, I lost my luggage on the road. I visited police many times. But they could not find it. There were many rainy days there. Nobody waved hands. Nobody called me. The customs are different from Latin America. (The people there called me everyday and shook hands with me in Latin American countries. At last I was "Latin American sick" (like homesick). But, many friends send me nice reports at that time. I got well. Nordkapp.... it was tourists place, not so wonderful place for me.
After Norway, I went around Iceland. The nature is not easy sometimes. But, it was very beautiful country and friendly people. Many people are shy, but nice. The Faroe Islands are also beautiful. People are more friendly than Iceland. It have still nice nature.
Shetland, Orkney, Ireland ... also nice landscape and people. But, I lost my good camera on the top of the rock. It gave me bad memories. But not only bad. There are very beautiful memories for me, because the camera fell down slowly and slowly like a slomotion movie to the sea.(about 100 meters)
Europe is historic place. It has many nice old towns. Each country has different language(s), cultures, customs, money ... and so on. It was very interesting for me. Nice families invited me at Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland. They helped me very much. We had an enjoyable time. I made many friends, it was a good experience.
I was in south Germany at Christmas time. It was cold. -10 degrees. But, a nice family invited me, and helped me, so I could enjoy Christmas, and cross Alps in January.
Spain is warm. It is near Africa. I think about Africa in my head now. Gracias todos amigos. I will go to Africa. Thank you very much European friends, Good-bye. and see you soon African friends!!
I stayed for about 2 weeks at my friend's home in Madrid. I picked up 2 teeth at dentist. I will start cycling again next week to Africa.
Bernard and Varelia, Luis, ... They are very good friends in Madrid. Both are nice cyclist and they are members of the CCI (French cyclists club). I was very happy to meet so many nice friends.