Cyprus, the country of Cats, Cars & Cigarrettes.

Cyprus is not reachable by using a bicycle only, so I needed other transportations means to get there, but once arrived, I did a tour of the island on the bicycle together with two unexpected cyclo-friends.

 

 

While you travel in exotic countries, often will happen of course,  to not understand people talking in foreign languages. This is actually one of the reasons why I love traveling.
Being somewhere without understanding people talking, is a bit like walking with closed eyes, I can feel more connection with the earth.

 

In Cyprus I notice how paradoxical and contradictory our ‘civilization’ is

Police, which should protect the weaker often bites them up.
Hospitals, which should heal us and improve our health, sometimes (often?), transmit us sicknesses and make us pay for services and medicines we no need.
Governments, which have the duty to organize and legislate for the benefit of the public, regularly do the interest of private, powerful, individuals.

As final mockery, western cultures, which are based on the above-mentioned institutions, call “wild and uncivilized” population as native Americans that have much fairer, and nature-friendly, regulations.

 

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Paphos: efficiency of work in hospitals.

 

 

UNDERSTANDING AND RESPECTING WHAT IS DIFFERENT

 

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Papier-mache art in Limassol

The most people I meet think either I am a poor guy or I am really rich to afford such a long travel.
For the most people is hard to realize that with little money you can travel all the world.

On the other hand, thinking about my extravagant Cypriot landlord and my wild father makes me reflect on the following:

There are things, or persons, that we will never understand.
There are behaviors that we will always find weird and we will never be able to give an explanation for.
This does not mean that we have to fight against it or judge these persons as wrong. We should still respect such things and give everyone his right to be different.

 

People doing wrong things are really useful to us, they show us how not to behave.

The main reason why we do certain things or we take a particular decision is not because it is right or we believe in it, but mostly because we are used to act in a certain way, or cause the most people do it.

The hardest in life is to do what we like. We need to have the courage to do what we like.

 

 

CARNIVAL IN LIMASSOL

 

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A cyclo Carnival guy

 

In Limassol’s carnival, there was no rubbish on the streets, it was all quite clean and tidy, on the other hand, I remember that in Northen ‘clean’ counties, during carnival, the streets were full of the most diverse items. It seems a paradox; Carnival in Nordic, well organized, wealthy countries is much more liberating and wild than in southern nations.

With carnival everything changes, the most people take advantage of this event to do what is not allowed otherwise.

 

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THE ISLAND OF CATS

Cyprus is artificially filled up with cats, this to keep snakes away, not exactly for safety, because snakes don’t kill normally, but for touristic reasons, to not let the tourists be afraid of them.

Here, people ask me about pets, I have just formulated an answer to the question: “do you like pets?”—My answer is—“as I try to not discriminate humans, I don’t want to discriminate animals based on race either.”

Humans try all the time to train pets to make them behave like us, actually, I think it would be more useful if WE would learn from them; wild animals, for example, can help us to understand how to survive.

 

 

AFTER A FIGHT WITH EIGHT PERSONS

 

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Stitches on the left cheek

 

On a windy night, I had a discussion with some people that ended up with little blood.
The day after the fight, I went to the hospital to check the stitches on my face. At the surgery department, I see a long ‘zig-zag’ queue; people are constantly skipping it by just running to the first place, I try to talk to them telling that this is not correct while an English man tells me: “here is always the same, Cypriot people don’t respect lines and you have to fight to get people not to skip”—I thought—“oh, no! fighting again…”

Now I know where South Italians got the habit of not respecting queue.

 

CAR-POLIS

“I prefer not to use cars because they kill.”—If I may say this statement in Cyprus, people would not understand it—Jeeps are everywhere, it seems like there is a permanent rally competition going on.

The stairs of the hospital in Paphos were empty, the elevators were full and medical departments filled up with people in line. Same for the city: sidewalks are empty, while the streets are full of cars and people walks solely in shopping centers, in chaotic lines.

 

Sun & sea?  Smoke & Internet monopoly!

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What’s to find in Cyprus? Sun and sea of course, but also:  people smoking indoors everywhere, the worst Internet connection, a huge amount of Shops of bodybuilding, Sports bets venues, Car rental—also everywhere!
Wealth show off is rampant too.

The difference between a person with a lot of money and someone with less wealth is that the first, most probably, can’t live without money, the latter can live both with or without money.

 

 

THE GOOD OF CYPRUS – English and no criminality

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I was surprised to notice that everyone speaks English in this tiny island, even older people. The most of them quite good.

There is a significant British presence in Cyprus, for sure in Paphos. The reasons is that British were ruling here for a while. Now you find principally pensioners, but they are into interesting activities: second-hand shops, Theater workshops, cultural events, and related. It looks like that the British don’t really mix with locals, you can easily see restaurants stating in big letters outside: “real English breakfast, English television…”
While speaking with some English persons, they “confessed”  me they think that local people don’t speak proper English, I immediately thought: “let’s hope they don’t go to Italy!”.

One of the warmest people I met in Cyprus was a Syrian family, I felt more welcome there than at my own place. They are really my brother’s and sisters.
I had just a few connections with Cypriots, in Limassol, through CouchSurfing, I got to know some beautiful human beings.

A really good thing that happened here is that I’ve met other globe cyclers, one of them is  Jacques. But this has little to do with the characteristics of the island.

Another positive point is that there is nearly no criminality, it seems to be one of the ‘safest’ places on earth—if you exclude traffic dangers.—

 

People in Paphos speaks like Sicilians, or maybe Sicilians speak like “Paphonian”. The latter, I would guess.

 

THE BAD –  “Car culture, shopping, and smoke: everywhere in the air.”

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The mentality is extremely conservative in Cyprus, if locals see a girl speaking with strangers in the street she may not get married, for real!

They are selling land, houses, and any kind of building to foreigners, which is not a bad thing itself; the sad thing is that together with propriety sale, they are selling their soul, their culture. Giving to big real estate companies (called ‘developers’) the right of doing whatever they want with the land, even building, on the beach, cement shit monstrosity for stupid tourists.

People don’t walk in Cyprus, they all use cars. The bigger the car is (mostly SUV’s or jeeps) the higher is the status of the transported people.

Locals don’t enjoy simple things, they find it boring to breath clean air, and instead, they breathe smoke, they find it not fun to drink water, and instead, they drink crappy Coca-Cola. But they don’t find it boring to do every day the same: going to the office, watching TV, and gossiping trying to live other’s life.

Corruption, at high levels, is really common and accepted.

 

CAFE’s in Paphos

20150223_155048.jpgUnfortunately, the EU non-smoking law is not enforced in Cyprus, it means that wherever you go, you will get quite smoked, not sure a salmon would be any jealous.

My favorite places:

Vintage art bar, sometimes they don’t smoke in one of the rooms
Ananas 8Bit Coffee
Temple bar

Finally, I did manage to find some non-Smoking places:

Pingouino
Muse
Deck

 

 

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Cycling from Ukraine to Georgia. Shocked by the Cultural difference

 

Mud, wind, sun, rain, the black sea, Russian Army with helicopters, lack of food, lack of water, my back hernias, my painful knee, lack of money, drunken Georgians driving like there is no tomorrow, holes in the street, toxic substances, any kind of animal in the middle of the street, Georgian excessive hospitality, mountains, hunters shooting even at night, the fact that I a have a city bike, and even farmers with axes pointed at me: none of these stopped me from getting from Kiev to Tbilisi.

Wanna know what happened on the way?
Simply read below.

CYCLING VS MOTORIZED VEHICLES

You can call a cyclist irrational, or even masochist, you may think it’s meaningless to cycle when you can take the car or an airplane, and be much faster.
Nevertheless, a cyclist believes in what he does. He believes that using the legs instead of polluting vehicles, makes you feel proud of yourself, proud of your body and of your respect to nature.

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Hence, why do painters still exist when you can take a picture and get everything much faster?
This was the sentence my father used to pronounce when someone would argue that his paintings are not exactly as reality.

The same difference between a painting and a picture we can transpose to bicycles and cars.

That’s the reason why a while ago I jumped on an abandoned bicycle and decided to go to the other side of the world with it.

 

INSPIRATION TO CYCLE

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The books that inspired me the most:
– Odyssey
– Gulliver
– The tour of the world in 80 days

 

Inspiring Cartoons:
– Future Boy Conan
– Don Chuck Monogatari
– Hokuto no Ken


I Share my Bicyle Diary with you

KIEV – ODESSA

 

 

Kiev – Bila Tserkva, First 50 km’s

FOOD
I can’t easily find vegetarian food, the most people eat meat and milk products.

ANIMALS
On the right side of the road, there is a small fence with a crowd of cows constricted inside. They have extremely little space, being forced to squeeze and can barely move.

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PEOPLE
The people I meet along the way are not too interested in interacting, some of them don’t even look in my direction. I guess this is not due to anything negative in their character, they are probably introverted and reserved. That’s actually a polite way of behaving; I appreciate much more who gives me my personal space and privacy, instead of those who go behind my boundaries. Nevertheless, while bicycle touring, one is more open and can get benefit from getting to know locals.

ASBESTOS
The 80% of the houses in the rural areas, have the roof made of this toxic material. Asbestos is everywhere. Fences, walls, water pipes, and aqueducts are in asbestos too.
I initially felt preoccupied and sad about the people’s health here, but after seeing how old peoples get, I feel released: even though they grow up around toxic’s substances and not far from Chernobyl, many manage to get quite old and still in reasonable shape.
My curiosity made me wish to know the real age of those old men and woman, still, I didn’t dare to ask.

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DOGS
The worst thing a cyclist can encounter are definitely dogs, that’s a constant in all countries. Northern countries are much more safe in this aspect, dogs are friendly there,  they don’t bother you.
The more you go south, the more dogs become aggressive, without being racist, we can make an analogy about people.
From the moment it’s proven that dogs behave in a parallel way to humans around them, these in Ukraine start to become a problem, luckily, they get scared of me once I look at them in the eyes and they run away.

SLEEPING
Installing the tent on the side of the road, behind few trees, where the level of the ground is about two meters below the street; I have little space cause the road is right on my left, on my right I have a grain field.
The ground is not smooth, the noise of vehicles, many of which are tractors, is annoying my sleep. Furthermore, dogs from a nearby farm, bark all night and I get really cold.

 

Bila Tserkva 50km – Rokytne 110km

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A BABUSHKA KICKS ME OFF
In the deep countryside, I see some nut trees along the road, so I decide to harvest this healthy dry fruit. While I pick some nuts, a babushka, from a house at the other side of the street, shouts at me and points her right hand to the street, showing me the way to go away from her surroundings.

ASBESTOS, AGAIN
Everything is made of asbestos here, people do not seem to care.

DOGS
The night passes with a continuous barking of dogs, they seem to be near the tent, I shrink into a ball in order to avoid any of them to reach me at the edges of the tent.

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The sunflowers bend their head down, to the opposite side of the sun, it seems almost like a sign of rebellion to nature or maybe it could represent the nature itself, surrendering to humans, which burn and pollute the fields without respect.
It’s hard to count all the camps of sunflower, now dead, that I find on my way. I have the impression sunflower is in absolute the main crop of Ukraine, following, in smaller number, I see grain and corn fields too.

ROKYTNE, MY FAVORITE TOWN
A different town is in front of me, it’s called Rokytne. I notice immediately the many cyclists, friendly people, and finer shops.
I have a break here, it’s the only place that stands out from the standard Ukrainian post-soviet, outdated style. Also, the mentality of the people seems to be more forward. I get to this conclusion judging by how the cars drive and the fact that many locals ride bicycles for choice, not because of poverty.

 

Rokytne 110km – Skibin 150km

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DRUNKEN MAN, WANTING TO PAY AND KISS ME
In order to get water and some food, I stop in a “Magazin”, an omnipresent small shop that sells a bit of everything. NB: the everyting that you can find in a country where import is quite limited due struggling economy and an active war.
I see a table outside, where a drunken man is napping, in a deep sleep, which is for me surprising because it’s about 10:00 in the morning; I seat at the opposite side of him, there are two bottles of beer on the table, one is right where I am sitting. From the moment nobody is there, I move the drink away from me.
After few minutes, a man comes straight to me and shouts something. I understand that I took his place, I try to explain but from the moment he realizes that I cycling a long way, he smiles, holds my hands, and introduces himself; proposing me some food. Once I tell him that I am coming from Finland with the bicycle, he becomes euphoric, offering me money as help; at a certain point, he even tries to kiss me while we take a picture.

Highlights of the rest of the day:

Too much wind, I can’t cycle.
Stop for a long reparation. My hands get black and I don’t find a place to wash them.
A scooter stops next to me, the driver has a technical problem.

 

Skibin 150km – Uman 220km

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All the way with no restaurants or snacks.
A man is on the ground, lying on a bicycle.
Many cows and goats attached at few meters of chain.
I talk to a woman milking a cow.

 

Uman 220km – Kryve Ozero 310km

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Lost in the woods full of trash.
In a snack, the shop owner tries to cheat with the price. It’s the first time I notice someone tryes to cheat about prices in Ukraine.
Many dead foxes on the highway.
I meet Alexander, a young boy walking on the highway attempting to reach Odessa by foot. He has not even a bag or backpack, wears dirty clothes and broken sandals. I think about the difference between him and me.

A golden toothed man gives me fruits.
Many horses on the chain.
Without knowing, I slept at the entrance of a school.

 

Cryve Ozero 310km – Zhovten 400km

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EXTREMELY HOT AND SUNNY, I GOT A SUNBURN
A man hosts me, he is caring and helpful, drinks vodka, but misses two front teeth. He heals my burning arms by applying milk cream on my skin.
When I am about to sleep, he comes to the room without knocking, looks at me smiling, makes a circle with his right hand, putting the index and the thumb together, then releases the index finger to his neck making a sound.
I am not sure about what this may mean, but I go to another room with him.
He shows me a bottle of Ukrainian vodka, I get a full glass of it. Explaining that it’s too much, I take another glass and pour one finger of vodka in it, he takes the rest and drinks it all in one shoot.
Not even five minutes are passed, he wants to show me how strong he his, so he starts to do push-ups and similar exercises.

 

Zhovten 400 – Odessa 500

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Main issues: disastrous road, dogs, wind, sun.

 

ODESSA – BOAT
Going fast under the rain: slaloming around huge ponds, crossing with red traffic lights to get to my ship, which is departing soon.
Before boarding, in the check-in room that looked more like a refugee camp for mentally disturbed and alcoholic, I already get to know that Georgians are heavy drinkers. They drink and drive, and as it turns out, they also drink and sail: a drunken officer coming from the ship confirms this.
Waiting for hours in the corridor of the custom control area, I discover that inside this small space a full ecosystem is around me. There is a mini bank office, which is actually a two square meters hole with a think glass; a miniature restaurant and even toilets, the latter smelling like an open latrine.

THE GEORGIAN NEANDERTHAL MAN

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A drunken tall man, featuring a Neanderthal walking style, argues with me about his ‘priority’ in getting through the entrance.
For unknown reasons, he was carrying an old washing machine from Ukraine to Georgia. He was there with his mother, which was constantely embarassed by his behavior.
There is not much I can tell him because he is totally drunk and doesn’t appear to understand any language that I know, anyhow I explain him the situation in English, he does not get any happier.
This individual continues, during the long hours of the custom control, to harass people and disturb. He reaches the point of repeatedly attempting to kiss a well-shaped female bank employee, a security woman—old and of the dubious attractiveness—, and other women.
During these absurd actions, he was leaning so close to the victims that his lips almost reached them. He was explicitly asking to have sex, verbally and physically.
Constant shouts, aggressive approaches, pushing and pulling, verbal assaults, were all perpetrated by this monkey-man. He was talking no-sense even with whom didn’t speak his language.
We were maybe fifty passengers, there was at least a dozen of people working in the station, nevertheless, nobody stopped him, not even the border control police, customs, and military personnel.

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Walking with feet at two shoulder distance, bended knees, and open arms, he looked like a zoo escape.
After the initial feeling of indignation, I could not stop to laugh, I thought to be in a dream, real life can’t be so funny.

There were continuous grotesque scenes, going from unreal hilarious to unbearable, these could all have been used in a low-quality comedy, which could have been really funny somehow.

He ended up falling asleep on the benches of the waiting room.
RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS

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Two Russian helicopters visit us, they roam around the boat for about half hour. Coming approximately ten meters close to the vessel.
It is a quite intimidating experience, also because I am on a regular, innocent, ferry boat. The only issue with it is that it’s a Ukrainian ship, that’s why the Russian harassment.

DANCING ON THE DECK, DRUNKEN
Passengers offer me drinks, I drink more vodka than what I am supposed to drink, this caused:
Peeing overboard.
Discussions with officers.
All night vomiting.
Sleeping for two days.
Back highly painful.
Sickness.

 

GEORGIA

BATUMI – TBILISI

 

Batumi 0 – Kobuleti 35

HILLS ON MY WAY
My first kilometers in Georgia are a new experience for me.
All is really different than in Ukraine. The traffic, the roads, the altitude and the people.
A kind-hearted man helps me uphill and gives me food. There is no mutual language we both speak properly, so we communicate by hands. He tells me that with his car he just needs two hours to get to the capital. Pointing at the Coca-Cola he is drinking, and at his chubby belly, I tell him: “this drink, together with a car, are the worst for health”.

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The way was becoming really steep, it seemed that the mountains I was cycling on would never end. My back it’s painful since four days already, today more than ever, I can barely walk. My bicycle has just three gears so I have to push it, operation almost impossible due the condition of my spine.

Next the first high hill, three young girls give me some water, cause my bottle was empty

 

Kobuleti 35 – Lanchkhuti 100

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A minibus stops, there are two men in it, one of them tells me to get inside, he helps me to load the bicycle. He does not speak any English, it’s hard to communicate, nevertheless, I do understand that he is offering to bring me to Tbilisi.
I speak also with his wife on the phone, she could speak English and was really kind too.
My point is to cycle to Tbilisi, I explain this and I tell him that I just needed a bit of help for these hills and because my back hurts.
His sense of hospitality it’s really disarming, he definitely wants to do more for me, so he offers me a coffee, food, and asks if I need anything else.
Before leaving he gives me a bag full of food. There is a piece of flatbread, which is really tasty. When they are about to leave, the minibus does not start, I help to push it but it does not work. Luckily, the other person, who is his father in law, knew a trick and by maneuvering at the engine,  managed to make the vehicle start.

It starts to rain, I stop at a snack, the only of the village. There I spend half day and I get to know nearly all the students of the village.
They are friendly and many of them speak english. It seems they don’t want me to leave.
One of them tells me that he knows a place where I can put my tent, I follow him but instead he brings me his home, not sure about what to do, I cycle fast to the first possible place where I can install my tent, it’s pouring rain and I am in the mud.

 

Lanchkhuti 100 – Samtredia 150

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I get Bread and water from a sweet old lady.
I am outside the tent, shirtless, about to pack my stuff, when an older woman passes by, I regret to not have asked the people nearby if I could camp there, so I say to the woman who I am, that I have slept there and where I am going. She says something like “cleb” , I just understand that she may want to offer me some food, so I try to explain that I have already bread–offered me from another kind Georgian the day before–.
She is faster than me, I get a big fresh backed piece of bread and a bottle of water.

RAIN IN THE MORNING
I was about to depart when it started to rain, the tent and the bicycle were all wet, the sky didn’t promise any sun, I packed and I started cycling anyway, hoping to find a place where to get my stuff dry.

HORSES ON CHAINS
One of the nicest things of Georgia is the freedom of domestic animals, they are just everywhere, with no chains.
Horses don’t have the same fortune, I have seen many of them with short chains; which is horrendous for an anymal that is naturally made to roam fast in vast spaces.

 

Samtredia 150 – Meore Sviri 200

RAIN AND MUD: A CAR STOPS IN FRONT OF THE TENT

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Blocked in the rain I can’t move from the tent, I hear people passing in front of it.
An old mercedes is slaloming in the mud like a rally car. Two man with a little beard are inside. They tell me to get in the car, I do it.
I am brought some kilometers away, in a house where there are six more men, I don’t know what to expect, also cause we don’t have any language we can use to communicate.

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Sweet Georgians helping me remove mud from the bicycle.

Some tension and worrying feeling builds up, I relax and it all ends up really sweet.
They are all very welcoming and hospitable, offering me food, drinks, even drugs!–the latter I refuse–.
I am invited to stay for the night and I get even the mud from my feet and the bicycle cleaned up by them.
Watermelons are brought to me by them as present for the morning breakfast.
The only negative side is that the host is drunk since the beginning and he does not hesitate to drive the car, like there is no tomorrow.

 

Meore Sviri 200 – Kvesrevi 300

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Rain, rain rain.

 

Kvesrevi 300 – Tsromi 350

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RAIN
I have to depart with the tent being wet and the rain continues almost all day.

A young dog followed me a little. For the first time not to attack me, but in search of company, or food.
He was so sweet that I almost wished to take him with me.
One of his legs was injured, in a car accident probably. Anyhow he managed to run and jump run behind me. Happy as I have never seen a dog before.
Once I shouted at him to make him stop following me, he makes a dog cry, it’s disarming and pitiful, even for me that I don’t consider a dog better than a pig.

PERCEPTIVE ILLUSION OF THE STREET INCLINATION

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I have to do the highest climbing now, reaching almost 1.000 meters of height.

The bicycle seems not to cycle properly, I feel that something is preventing its wheels from spinning smoothly. Therefore I stop and by putting the bicycle upside down, I check what’s the problem. All seems to be normal with the bicycle. The way, a two-lane road, goes uphill but it seemed to my eyes that it was downhill, so I got confused thinking that the problem was the bicycle. Probably my perspective made me have a wrong perception of the road’s inclination.

After the long climbing, here the fun part comes: the downhill!

In the first village, a Kid asks me for money, I am really touched by that, unfortunately, I am not able to give him money, nor I manage to spend some time with him to understand his problems.

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In the fields, where pastors bring animals, I met a Man who served in the USSR army in the Baltics. We can’t understand each other much cause he speaks Georgian and Russian, I just understand few words of Russian. He seemed to be nostalgic of the USSR time.

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Few hours before the sun sets down, when you still see a strong yellow-orange light, I set my tent up, on a beautiful hill, where there are cultivated fields and no garbage, finally, except for a couple of synthetic napkins.
I hear shootings nearby, it’s gonna be another night of worrying for hunters.

 

Tsromi 350 – Gori 400

In the night before, I have a visit of several different animals around the tent.
It was deep night. A craving creature comes out from few centimeter of my tent’s back side.
After few hours, something that could have been a fox, defecated just outside the entrance of the tent.

HOUSES AND CAR – POLICE AND COMMON PEOPLE

20170929_130814My eye catches many houses with just the front façade painted: it first seemed funny to see houses where the only finished side is the one facing the street. The other three sides have just bricks. Later I understand that poverty is still rampant here, the most people don’t have enough means to finish the building works. Probably stucco and paint are also expensive because they need to be imported.

From the other hand, Police buildings are really modern and luxurious. For reasons to me unknown, they have the European flag outside their police stations.
Police cars are extravagant too. They often leave police vehicles in the street with the engine running. When they are driving they keep the emergency lights, blue and red, always on. As it’s permanent emergency. Which is true, seen how georgians drive!
It seems there is a lot of money for police, but not for the Georgians or the streets, the latter often with rainwater draining gaps unfinished, transforming them in a mortal trap.

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Georgians drive Cars, mostly vans actually, with German and Dutch text on it.
In first instance I was surprised, I thought many Germans were living here. Nevertheless, when I started to notice that these vehicles had German and Dutch minor businesses’s advertising, I realized Georgians were driving them.
They simply didn’t have means to paint the cars again, probably it looks cool for them to have a van with some European ununderstandable text such as: “schilderwerken Van Den Lieve”

TOMATO SELLERS GIVE ME FOOD

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I was going off-road, for about two hours, going at walking speed and stopping often because the way was uphill. The bicycle was heavy, the weather is hot, therefore I get quite tired.

To get out of the dirtroad, I cross tomato sellers, one of them invites me inside a van, offering me tomatos, bread and anything he had on the small table.

In a small shop, they are kind to me, offering coffee and sweets.
This time my politeness got me into troubles, because I am not supposed to drink coffee, still, I accepted it. The coffee made me totally nervous for all the day and I could not sleep properly at night.

I discover that Georgians shops owners, to save electricity, do not keep the freezers for food always on, they unplug it for a while. They ignore maybe that unfreezing and freezing again makes food going bad.
Now I finally understand why ice-cream’s taste like expired here.

Gori 400 – Noste 428

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THE CITY OF STALIN
I actually got to know just after have crossed Gori that it was the city where Stalin was born. Anyhow I had a feeling of strangeness while I was the city.

NIGHT VISIT OF A KIND THIEF
I have my tent in a side path of a muddy county road, between cultivated lands with low trees and green crops.
It’s really dark, late, cold, and it rains.
A kind shop owner offered me a coffie yesterday, I did the wrong act of drinking it, so I am restless all night. This makes me really sensitive to noises.
The bicycle is parked at the tent’s side, from the other side, I hear footsteps: “hallo”—I say immediately—“hallo”—the man replies, —“karasho”—I say, but there is no reply to it.
I hear footsteps going to the back side of the tent, then I don’t hear anything, I guess he went over a small path behind the tent.
Trying to sleep again, when not even ten minutes are passed, the same man is passing by, I pop out with my head from the tent and I see, in the darkness, his shape, the reddish light of a cigarette, and three animals going with him.
He does not come to talk to me and seems evasive, so I deduct he has stolen the beasties.

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It rains since yesterday, I was wet when I went to sleep and I wake up wet, in the morning the sky is totally covered with gray, intimidating clouds, so I stay in the tent.

I discover that the ‘thief’ of yesterday, was actually the pastor of the animals.

STOMACH PROBLEMS
Maybe the fact that I have eaten yesterday a tomato from the, not too clean, hands of a farmer, or maybe some other food I got in a shop which was not really hygienic or not rinsed properly; possibly a mix of these, plus a coffee that I was not supposed to accept—because caffeine act to my body like a drug—all this made my belly going crazy in the night.
I had cramps and swollen stomach, my sleep was constantly disturbed, it seemed like the digestion was having main issues.

 

SHOOTINGS IN THE NIGHT

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Hunters became a constant, they hunt everywhere and do not seem to have much legal regulation.
I am not surprised anymore to hear shootings few hundred meters from the tent.
What surprised me was the fact that yesterday night there were shootings during hours of complete darkness, it could have been after midnight.
I wonder: “How can they see where they shoot in the night?”
Hoping they will not shoot in my direction, and that there will be no bullets coming back from the sky to me, I managed to sleep a bit.

INVITED FOR LUNCH
I go in a restaurant to eat, before I am able to order any food, I get invited from a group of people eating. They are really sweet and caring, adding food to my dish every five minutes.

GEORGIANS EATING HABITS
Just one is person talking while toasting, and strangely to me, he just cheers with few persons. I get to know that some of them are deputies.
At the end, suddenly, all people stand up and leaves within one minute.

I MEET A BICYCLE TRAVELER

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From far, I see a shape of something that looks like a bicycle coming in my direction.
It’s a cyclist, traveling.
Henk, is his name, he is Dutch and we have a lot of experiences to share.
Homelessness for example, he is involved in helping people sleeping rough.
Moreover, our cycling route has similarities, he is doing the same route, but the opposite direction.

He started in America, coming from California to Asia and Middle East. Now heading to Greece, to help in refugees’ camps.

Two hunters with dogs pass by us, between the harvested corn fields. After circa five minutes we already hear shootings. For few hours they will be hunting just next to us.

 

Noste 428 – Tbilisi 460

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A COLD NIGHT
On top of the high Georgian hills, the wind blows strong, the temperature drops steep down in the night and I get quite cold.
I have an unfortunate body setting that makes me feel extremely cold at night.
My sleeping bag is too thin, I need to wear all my clothes, even the jacket, hat, and gloves. Yet, I am not warm enough, I wake up often.
This cold night, added to all other cold, uncomfortable nights I had so far, makes me thing about people sleeping rough for all their life.
I have dreams of Henk, a boat, and a girl.

ARRIVING IN TIBLISI

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The first huge advertising panels I find:
McDonald’s
Carrefour
Cigarettes
Real estate
Cars


 


GEORGIANS

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They are:

Great at hospitality.
Superb with food.

Bad with trash disposal.
Horrendous with driving.

The most recurring Georgian question: “how are Georgians” – meaning if they are welcoming enough.

Hygiene to improve.

Expensive cars, but broken teeth
Hunting everywhere.

As other post USSR counties, Tbilisi it’s full of architectural barriers. Car culture it’s spread as the plague and a pedastrian has big difficulty sometimes just to cross a road. Risking maybe his life.



 

HOSPITALITY CUSTOMS AND HOMELESSNESS

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Why hospitality rules don’t apply for an homeless?
What’s the meaning of these hospitality traditions?
Are they more a “show off” or do they have social implications?

 

THE MORE SOUTH, THE MORE CONTRASTS

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Traveling south, traveling slow, connecting with locals, this will make you truly understand a culture.

It seems that the southern one goes, the more people are different in their kindness and honesty.
In Northern Europe, you will find mostly friendly people with strong ethical values.
In Central Europe, some people may be less trustworthy.
Southern Europe is considered to be a region where you can’t really give a generic opinion, some people are extremely sweet and helpful, others quite dishonest. Asia and USA could also be placed at this level.

More South, in middle-east and North Africa, this contrast becomes more visible, many would help you no matter what, while others are just waiting to get any kind of own advantage from you.

In the Southest of the world, central-southern Africa and Latin America, you find angels, but also devils.

I still have a long way to go to prove this thesis.

Preparation for Cycling from Ukraine to Georgia – Reviewing Komoot

It’s time for me to cycle from Ukraine to Georgia.

I am on my way to Georgia, I am leaving Europe to get to Asia, on my way, for the first time I will be cycling on mountains, this will challenge my tour.
I am first heading south from Kiev, I will avoid Crimea and the war zone because I already have enough troubles on my way without armed conflicts going on.

I will reach Odessa and there take a boat to Batumi, in Georgia.

From Batumi, I will cycle to Tbilisi, the capital. Which is near Azerbaijan.

I am quite excited because I am going south where the weather should be good!
Georgia is known to be a welcoming country, I have heard great things about Georgia, especially the fact that Georgians are quite hospitable and make good food. Let’s hope they have some vegan stuff for me, let’s also hope that they will offer food to me while I cycle, as I have heard cyclists saying.

KOMOOT

This time I have also a helmet and a 280 degrees camera.

I have just discovered an app with maps for bike touring, hiking, running and outdoors. It’s called Komoot.

After long online researches, it seems that this software it’s the best for people traveling to by bicycle.

It tracks your route and you can also share it.

What makes this app more useful than others is the possibility to get cycling directions for any country in the world, you can also download the maps offline (paid).
Once you planned the tour, you can save it and see how the way will be, the elevation, which kind of street you will be on (asphalt, path, paved…).
It tells you also how many kilometers will be uphill or downhill.
You get even information about how fit you should be to do a certain route and you can set your own fitness level.

From Kiev to the black sea

From Batumi to Tbilisi

 

AFTER HAVE TESTED THE APP

I have to say that Komoot is practical, fast, intuitive, easy to use, user-friendly, effective, smart.
It really covers all the world, the instructions easy to use, allowing you to share routes, embedding, and see them online.

All important information are on the panel when you navigate: altitude, next stop, speed, average speed, time to destination, km to destination.

So, I suggest you to try Komoot!

Getting assaulted in the streets of Santo Domingo

Five persons sitting on a square table playing domino,

Going on a bicycle as much as I can, unfortunately, I can’t cycle on water, therefore in some special circumstances, I still have to use other transportation means.

Front part of the right wing of a passenger airplane with clouds and blue sky

The view from an airplane shows you a perfect world, the small cars all going their pattern, all the perfectly aligned lights.  It seems to be a world that does not contain anything harmful, it shows as everything good is going on, you would never think people would be killing each, being in wars, doing abuse and commit a crime, in such a beautiful, round world.
Maybe this is also the vision of “god”, everything appears perfect to him, that’s why he does not intervene.
Maybe his sight degraded with time, as did mine.

 

THE LESS EDUCATION THE MORE DEGRADATION;

It’s independence day, a big celebration in the Dominican capital because it’s more than one century since the separation from Haiti.
Carnival shows and army parade are organized: helicopters, airplanes, fireworks; All that money spent—a euphemism, to not say wasted—for fun, could be used in social, education and health care. Here they really need these last three things.

I walk, as always, in a historical area, it’s inside the ‘Zona colonial’, which is one of the few safe areas here, that’s why I discretely take out my device to record an old woman sleeping in the street. Unfortunately many, old and young, sleep in the streets in this country.
I walk few hundred meters, suddenly, I am pushed and pulled from a group of about five or six teenagers, they are trying to steal my phone. I defend myself holding the hand of one boy.
I am quite unprepared, I didn’t expect it to happen right there, but I do manage to put one hand in my pocket to protect the smartphone and keep them away with my legs.
I try to talk to them, attempting to calm down the situation, telling that I could give them some money but I really need the phone and I can’t afford to lose it.
They don’t really listen and attempt to punch me, I shout to attract the attention of nearby people, it’s a central area and there are cars passing by, but nobody helps.

A man walking with a gun in the Santo Domingo
After short, I see a man with a gun pointing straight to my face as he would fire, I put my hands up, trying to calm him down. I notice the boys starting to run away; I see a policeman in uniform taking his gun and pointing at those kids; I tell him not to fire.
I find out that the first man with the gun was a policeman too, the touristic police station “Cestur” was just in front of me.
My shirt is broken, my arm bleeds but nothing was stolen. I thank the police and I go to do the report.
I meet ‘el Coronel’, I tell him what I think: “I appreciate your work; all this happened not because there is not enough police: we need here less punishment and more education for the kids”.
He tells me to come back the day after, I don’t know why.

To avoid any risk, from now on I put the phone in my underwear. This created the situation where I thought I lost my phone and was searching for it for hours, while it so was deep in my pants that I had forgotten about it.

A red coca cola truck in street traffic

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE CARIBBEAN’S COUNTRIES AND THE USA

How different is the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico?

Long traveling still didn’t make me master politics about all the countries: before arriving in San Juan, I actually didn’t even know it was part of US, I discovered it when I had to make my travel documents.

Among the Puerto Ricans, there is a strong feeling of being independent of USA, for sure the more politically involved ones have it, but at the same time, after 100 years of Politically  belonging to the US, there are many North American habits that are so strong now in PR that I would be really curious to know if Puerto-Ricans could get rid of it. Things such as driving with big cars, consumeristic mentality, and money based society.

A poster on a light pole: a soldier shoe with the USA flag stepping on the PR flag

Consequently, I wonder how Puerto Rico would have been without the US, or, how would the Dominican Republic have been now belonging to the US?
Anyhow the US still comes here to suck resources, with Coca Cola, McDonald’s and various other multinational.

 

I GET ROBBED IN THE WEALTHIEST COUNTRIES

As you have read above, I was assaulted in the Dominican Republic but ultimately, nobody stole anything from me.

Do you want to know where I did get my stuff stolen?
I got stolen in the richest places of the world: Copenhagen and Helsinki.
In two different situations, my bag was stolen, in Copenhagen, it was taken away from between my feet!
But this is another story…

A police car in the sidewalk of San Juan in PR

So, what about you? Where have you got robbed?
Share your story!

<5$ Gear to set up your Bicycle for a Road Touring trip

A bicycle ready to hit the road

No, I am not going out of path, I assure you that this blog is still about minimalism.

However,
Here I list gear you may find useful to add on your bicycle if you want to cycle the world, or just have a couple of days on the saddle, even though accessories are not the most important thing in life.
You have here a list of what can be useful to take with you for a long, maybe never-ending, road bicycle trip.

It’s a short list for a minimalistic bicycle touring set up, starting with the most important items and ending with gear you don’t essentially need.

 

Part of a blue touring bicycle and legs of the cycler
I may cycle Naked but I always wear the reflective jacket.

Security – This is the most important gear you need

  • Reflectors – The more the better!
  • Reflective jacket – To wear all the time you are on the road
  • Lights – Solar powered
    2x on front with steady light, to fasten on each side of the basket eventually
    2x on the back, installed on the mudguard
    Reelight – Electromagnetic: one on front & one in the back
  • Bike locks, two – Best with code
  • Pepper Spray – You will be probably approached by dogs, so you really need it
A bicycle parked in front of a diamond shaped, colorful, building in the night
Reflectors shining in the night, while I am Parked in front of the National Library in the Belorussian soft Dictatorship

It seems strange, but lights are the most important accessory.
You need in total six lights fastened on the bike!


A bicycle hanging by it's right pedal on a wooden bench in a bus stop
If the bicycle is not too heavy, you can lift it for smaller reparation without having to take out all the bags, which is really handy. So avoid to bring too much stuff.

Tools – For repair


Bags – Not too many

  • Two rear side bags – The best ones you can order online internationally from Holland, but you need to send the shop a private email. The bigger the better.
  • Basket – A basic cheap basket, extremely practical and better than a bag or anything else you can put on the handlebar

 


The handlebar of the bicycle with phone older, compass-bell and basket
The phone older, compass-bell and basket, really useful stuff!

Accessories, not vital but useful


 

Smartphone apps for bike touring

  • Offline maps – Sygic or Google Maps are both fine, just make sure you download the maps.
  • Ulysse speedometer – to have your speed visualised and tracked.
  • AutomateIt  – you can trigger the map automatically if you start cycling
  • Overlays – You can get a floating layer with widgets, for example maps or weather widget always visible.
  • AZ screen recorder – record your screen for afterwards nice memories.
  • Audiobooks – unless you like to meditate on the bicycle

The back side of a touring bicycle
Reflectors and lights, the most important accessories

Optional, for extra comfort

 

Two men on two bicycles bike touring in the nature
The most Road Touring Cyclists I have met, travel with full loaded bicycles, which is for me not necessary, it’s more hassle than comfort.                                                                                           Here Jaque on the left and a Canadian cyclist on the right, they were both lovely and extremely knowledgeable; cycling the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Bicycle for world touring?

In this post I don’t disclose about which bicycle to use simply because it’s not important at all, any bicycle can be good to travel the world, it all depends on your budget and needs.
I can say that the best bicycle is the one you find comfortable to cycle with, possibly a strong bicycle that matches the geography and urbanistic you have to cycle in.

 

A laptop on the back rack of a bicycle, used as desk
With the use of a simple elastic, you can transform your bicycle in a handy laptop desk

 

As you may have noticed, the most of those gear I have mentioned are inexpensive and can be easily bought on eBay, keep in mind that the shipping may take about one month, so plan your trip ahead.

If you want to know what to put in your backpack, read the post I wrote about it.
I also have a dedicated page about all technical aspects of traveling the world for a long time.

Two bicycles parked in a small street with a men looking at it
My bicycle compared with the one of a traveler friend, Luca, another Luca in Riga. I have much less gear and my bike set up looks almost like a city bike. I have spent much less money than him!

 

I hope you have found the information on this post useful, feel free to share, comment and write.
I would love to know if you think maybe there are accessories that I missed!

No more roaming costs in EU, tell me if is true!

European Union Facebook page

From tomorrow, 15 June 2017, the European Parliament mandated to have “no more” roaming costs for calls, sms and data connections.

The president of the Council says: “The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story.”

But the truth is that there are many rules about this policy, so better you read them, here I share the official statement from the EU:

 

End of roaming charges in the EU – 15 June 2017

Roam like at home

The EU “roam like at home” rules mean that when you use your mobile phone while travelling outside your home country in any EU country you don’t have to pay any additional roaming charges. You benefit from these rules when calling (to mobile and fixed phones), sending text messages (SMS) and using data services while abroad.

You pay exactly the same price for using these services when travelling in the EU as you would if you were at home. In practice, your operator simply charges or takes your roaming consumption from the volumes in your domestic mobile tariff plan / bundle.

If you have a contract with a mobile operator which includes roaming services it will automatically be considered as a roam like at home contract. The default option for all new mobile contracts with roaming services will be roam like at home.

Conditions

Roam like at home is intended for people who occasionally travel outside the country where they live or have stable links i.e. they work or study there. It’s not meant to be used for permanent roaming. As long as you spend more time at home than abroad, or you use your mobile phone more at home than abroad, you can roam freely at domestic prices when travelling anywhere in the EU. This is considered a “fair use of roaming services”.

If you use your mobile phone abroad permanently, your mobile operator may charge you for your roaming use. These charges are capped however (see fair use policy below).

When you cross a border within the EU, you will continue to receive a text message from your mobile operator informing you that you are roaming and reminding you of its fair use policy.

Fair use policy

Mobile operators may apply what is known as a “fair use policy” to ensure that all roaming customers have access to and benefit from the roam like at home rules (i.e. regulated roaming services at domestic price) when travelling in the EU.  Mobile operators may apply fair, reasonable and proportionate control mechanisms to avoid abusive use of these rules.

Fair use policy and data limits

When you roam like at home there are no volume restrictions for voice calls and SMS, but there are rules and limits for data usage at domestic price which are determined by the type of contract you have.

In some specific cases (see below), beyond a reasonably high volume of roaming data at domestic price, you may have to pay a data roaming surcharge which will be equal to the wholesale (EU-wide) data cap (€7.70 / GB of data in 2017 plus VAT). This wholesale roaming price is the maximum your domestic operator has to pay a foreign operator when you use data roaming services.

Data limits – pre-paid cards

If you have a pre-paid card (meaning that you pay in advance for using your mobile phone) you can roam like at home. However, your mobile operator may apply a roam like at home limit for data if you pay per unit and your domestic unit price for data is less than €7.70 per GB.

If your mobile operator applies a roam like at home volume limit for data, that limit should be at least the volume obtained by dividing the remaining credit on your pre-paid card by €7.70 as soon you start using data roaming services. You will get the same volume of roaming data that you have paid for in advance. You can of course top up your credit while roaming.

Sample story

Jana lives in Slovakia and has a pre-paid card with €20 credit (including VAT) for her mobile phone, which covers calls, SMS and data services. When she goes on holiday to Spain, she has €12 (excluding VAT) credit left on her card. This means that during her holiday in Spain Jana can have a volume of data equal to the value of the remaining credit on her pre-paid card. She will get at least 1.5 GB of roaming data (€12/€7.70 = 1.5).

Data limits – national bundles with unlimited data

If you have a contract where you pay a fixed monthly fee and it includes bundled services with unlimited data, your mobile operator must provide you with a large volume of roam like at home data. The exact amount will depend on the price you pay for your mobile bundle.  The roaming data volume must be at least twice the volume obtained by dividing the price of your mobile bundle (excluding VAT) by the wholesale data roaming cap (€7.70 in 2017).

For example: you pay €40 (excluding VAT) for your mobile bundle with unlimited calls, SMS and data. When you roam like at home in the EU, you get unlimited calls and SMS and at least 10.3 GB of data (2x(€40/€7.70) =10.3).

Your operator must inform you of your roam like at home data allowance. If you go beyond this allowance while roaming the surcharge will be the wholesale data cap = €7.70 / GB of data in 2017 plus VAT, €6 / GB plus VAT in 2018.  The data cap will decrease further after 2018.

Data limits – national bundles with limited data

If you have limited or very cheap mobile data (less than €3.85 / GB in 2017), your operator may apply a “fair use” limit for data when you are roaming. The limit is calculated on the basis of the retail price of your domestic mobile bundle as in the case of unlimited data (above). Your operator must inform you in advance about this limit and will have to alert you when you reach it. Be aware that you can continue data roaming but your operator will apply a surcharge. This surcharge will be the wholesale data cap = €7.70 / GB of data in 2017 plus VAT, €6 / GB plus VAT in 2018.  The data cap will decrease further after 2018.

Other contracts

Operators may also offer contracts without roaming services or specifically designed alternative roaming contracts with tariffs which fall outside the scope of the roam like at home rules (for example if you roam outside the EU) but these types of options must be specially chosen by the customer. As mobile operators are free to offer cheaper rates, you should shop around to find the best value and offer to fit your specific needs.

Fair use policy – monitoring

As part of their fair use policy, your operator can monitor and check your roaming use over a 4 month period. If, during this period, you have spent more time abroad than at home and your roaming exceeds your domestic usage, your operator may contact you and ask you to clarify your situation. You will have 14 days to do so.  If you continue to spend more time abroad than you do at home and your roaming consumption continues to exceed your domestic usage your operator may start applying a surcharge to your roaming consumption. The surcharges (excluding VAT) are capped as follows:

  • 3.2 cents per minute of voice call made
  • 1 cent per SMS
  • €7.70 per GB of data (cap in 2017)

The cap for data will progressively decrease on 1 January each year as from 2018 as follows:  €6, €4.50, €3.50, €3 to €2.50 in 2022. The cap after 2019 may be revised following a review of the wholesale roaming markets in 2019.

Fair use policy – cross border workers

If you work in one EU country and live in a different one, you can choose a mobile operator in either country and roam like at home with a SIM from the country where you live or from the country where you work. The roam like at home fair use policy applies: as long as you log on at least once day to your domestic operator’s network, it will count as a day of presence (even if you go abroad the same day).

Calling from home / roaming outside the EU

Calling another EU or non-EU country from home is not considered as roaming so the roam like at home rules don’t apply. You should be aware that the prices for these calls are not regulated and can be expensive.

The cost of roaming (particularly data roaming) outside the EU can be expensive, so to avoid running up steep roaming bills check the cost for roaming outside the EU with your provider before travelling.

Roaming while travelling by ship or plane

When travelling by ship or plane in the EU you can roam like at home as long as you are connected to a terrestrial (land-based) mobile network. If mobile services are provided via satellite systems, roam like at home no longer applies and you will be charged for non-regulated roaming services (no price caps).

Protection of personal data

Your operator is required to comply with the relevant personal data protection rules and may only use your data (which they already have for billing purposes) to check and compare your roaming usage with your domestic consumption.

If things go wrong – your consumer rights

If you think your service provider has not respected your roam like at home rights and you have been charged for roaming services while travelling within the EU, contact your operator and use the complaint procedure in place to contest these extra charges.

If you are not satisfied with the response you can contact the relevant national regulatory authorities in your country, usually your national telecoms regulator who will resolve your case.”

http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/telecoms-internet/mobile-roaming-costs/index_en.htm

 

 

I am quite curious to see if is true.

What do you think about this?
Share your thoughts!

CycloNudista 2017 Helsinki – Get rid of the accessories!

The most extravagant Many-FIEST-Action of the year! – For the fourth time in Suomi!

Do you know that oil kills more than wars, traffic accidents and murders all together?
For me this is already enough to dissent against it.

JOIN US To protest against INDECENT exposure to cars and pollution! Celebrating Cycling, Nature, Human body, simplicity and freedom of being.

The concept is simple: we do once a year a bicycle tour around the city, to get the city back from big motorized vehicles, shout against pollution, cars and hypocritical prudery.

12 June – 16.00
Varsapuistikko (next to Kaisaniemipuisto – Kaisaniemi park)

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WHY?

– To manifest against car culture & Pollution;

– Promoting Bicycle, nature & simplicity;

The reason YOU do it may be infinite:
You love bicycles,
you love your city,
you want noiseless means of transport,
you don’t want big and fast vehicles in the city,
you don’t like the oil industry,
you want to sensibilize drivers to mind the bikes

…and because you may be an exhibitionst!

 

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PRACTICAL INFO:

MEETING POINT
Varsapuistikko – next to Kaisaniemipuisto – Kaisaniemi park, close to the main train station.

16.00 – MEETING
We meet in the park.
come on time, or anyway before 18:00 (if you are working) because we can share some time together.
BODY PAINTING
We can bodypaint each other and decide which is the specific message one person wants to share.
&
PICNIC
I will bring a big amount of snacks, it will be for sure enough for the first ten persons, you are welcome to bring something if you wish.

18.00 – DEPARTURE
Tour map:
https://goo.gl/maps/MtgpA9TF7xE2

 

21.00 – SAUNA & GRILL
We celebrate the celebration in the sauna, warm & cosy!
Sompasauna (a free public sauna by the sea).
In the sauna we will have time to share our thoughts and feelings about the ride, what it meant for each of us.
There is also a grill there, if you have some vegetables you wanna grill, feel welcome to bring it.

 

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WHAT TO BRING:

Mandatory:
– Yourself,
– Bicycle, another green mean of transport or good legs to run!

Optional:
– A smile on your face,
– Any decoration that you find appropriate,
– Body painting material,
– Music instruments to play,
– A camera to record some pictures/videos,
– Drinks and food (for picnic and/or grill) to share if you wish,
– Blanket for picnic,
– Towels (for sauna).

Of course you are free to join/leave whenever you want and nudism is not mandatory.

FB_IMG_1465819390960.jpg
… WHERE IT BEGAN

On June 12th 2004 cyclists in 29 cities across the world took to the streets of the world, mostly wearing nothing more than a cheeky smile.

It was not only a huge success, but also a huge surprise, neither the media or the police actually thought that it would happen.

This was the worlds first international naked bike ride. Since then it has spread
to more than 70 cities around the world with thousands of participants.

 

HOW IS IT ORGANIZED

Well, the first thing to know is that it does not have any leaders, hierarchies or even any bureaucracy. It is an event that belongs entirely to its participants. You are not only invited to participate in this event, but also to take ownership of it.



MORE INFO



EVENT LINKS

Facebook Event
https://www.facebook.com/events/1149608161756155

CouchSurfing Event
Google+ Event

International Events
www.worldnakedbikeride.org

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Life in Denmark. Bicycles, Recycling and Free Food in Copenhagen.

A totally broken small boat, black and white, behind which you can see some typical Danish style buildings in the outskirt of Copenhagen.

WHY I LOVE THE NORTHERN COUNTRIES

In the Northern European countries, I find all that I was fighting for when I was in Southern Europe.
Here I am so happy that I feel a bit like a “looser”, I have the sensation that by being in this place, getting all the benefits of locals whom actually won those battles which I just left at midway, it’s a kind of easy escape for me.
Of course there are things here to improve too, still, the institutions are honest and trustworthy.

But from the other hand, I feel that by spending so much of my life at these latitudes, I am linked to the lands and people, which is so far and different from where I was born,  aware of belonging much more here than anywhere else.

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Copenhagen – Malmø

United but divided.
Sweden and Denmark spent big efforts to build the Øresund bridge, to create a metropolitan area that would be extended from Copenhagen to Malmo.
It happened that Sweden claimed to host much more refugees than Denmark and decided to have a border control between the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo.

The most worrying and upsetting thing is that in Copenhagen the control personnel,  before boarding the train to Malmo, takes a picture of your ID without even telling you anything about it.
That’s a big abuse against privacy. Not even in intercontinental border controls they take pictures of documents without a specific reason or without communicating it in advance.

Harmonious contrasts

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Business, but social.
København: “trading-harbour”, this is the translation of the name of the most continental capital of Scandinavia.
Even though we could easily say that Copenhagen is the capital of trading, business, design, and development, at the same time there is such a big social and human oriented movement, a real avant-garde, that you feel at home, no matter where you come from, or at least I speak for myself.
I feel warm, with like minded people and in a welcoming environment, even if I always disliked business and trade… but here commerce, it’s fair. At any rate fairer than anywhere else.
The first aspect that many companies and startups often take into account, in Copenhagen, it’s the social and environmental commitment.

POLITICS IN DENMARK, WHY IS IT SO SUCCESSFUL?

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In the most shops you will find a small cornerd dedicated to Danish Patriottism, flags and danish symbols in small format to use at the airport, during a danish birthday or many other occasion. Not sure is nationalism, for me is just funny.

Because political issues are made easy to understand by politicians.
Because everyone participates to political topics in the ordinary day life.
Because people gets involved and loves to share their thoughts in a constructive way.

LIBRARIES vs SHOPPING CENTERS

You can judge the quality of the administration of a country not just from the welfare measures, but from his libraries too.
In many countries there is this habit of hanging out in shopping centers, wasting time, money, brain, products and polluting.
Here libraries are a richer, more enjoyable place to be.

ART vs TECH PEOPLE
We are keen to think that creative people is fun and laugh all the time while persons in science and religion are always serious and sad. Actually, often the opposite happens. People that does ‘serious’ jobs are quite open to jokes and fun, maybe especially because they want to get out their serious environment.

PUBLIC BIKES SHORT PERIOD RENTAL TOO EXPENSIVE

Public Bike sharing is something that should be tourist friendly–they are the ones that need a bike for short and don’t want to buy one–.
The average tourist stays in Copenhagen for two/three days, paying 25kr/hour is really expensive, it’s equal to about 3,5 euros.
The monthly subscription is quite interesting: 70kr/month and the first half hour is free.

You should make the one-day subscription for maximum 10kr a day and weekly 30kr without having to pay extra if you use the bike for less than 30 minutes each time.

In Paris, Seville, London, and many other cities you pay about two euros/day with the first 30 min free.

CYCLING INFRASTRICUTRE
Impressive, but I can still list stuff to improve:
– Narrow bike lanes
– Bus stops on the bike lanes
– Cars going on the bicycle Lane to turn right
– Too long waiting for traffic lights
– Not all the city is cyclable
Yes, I lived nearby Holland.

LIVING IN CHRISTIANIA
Hunting for accommodation in Copenhagen is quite a mission impossible.
After long hours of online research and many emails, I find something, in Christiania!
It’s a big room in a factory building which has been transformed into an apartment. It’s a historical, cultural, living example of Copenhagen Lifestyle and changing urbanisation habits.

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The same happens to many buildings in Christiania years ago, when a bunch of artistic, creative, good-hearted, revolutionary people, started to occupy buildings, creating the current “free-town”.
It’s typical for many alternative areas of Copenhagen, I have been lucky to have a true feeling of Christiania-like accommodation.

ONE HOUSE, TWO HOUSES, THREE HOUSES
Most accommodations in Copenhagen are like this: Plants, white framed windows, white furniture as bee’s nest. In every house.

20170201_140920.jpgANIMAL’S RIGHTS AND SOCIAL

Animals rights and human rights are strongly linked, not just because we as human are ‘social animals’ with the same needs of animals, but also cause you can evaluate the quality of a government by the animal welfare. I am not surprised to see that in Denmark, regardless a quite carnist society, there is strong fermentation for animal rights.

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PEOPLE’S KITCHEN COPENHAGEN
Free collaborative dinner, organized by no profit associations of volunteers

MONDAYS
18:30Folkets Hus, Outdoors (Vegetarian)
Stengade 50, 2200 Kbh. NV.
“There is a box for donations, the proposal is 20 kr. You eat outside, so wear clothes on cold months. The food is rarely dumpster-dived. Vegetarian.
Ragnhildgade 1, 2100 Copenhagen
Is an asylum and refugee political café with hosted in The Candy Factory.

\TUESDAYS

18:00 – Kraftwerkts Folgekokken
Valgårdsvej 2, 2500 Valby  (Right next to Toftegårds Plads).
“Bus 4a and 1a run straight to the door, and otherwise, it takes about 5 min to walk from Valby station. Would you like to help plan and cook the kitchen? Send an email to kwfolkekoekken@gmail.com.

19:00 – Kafa-X
Korsgade 19, kælderen, 2200 Kbh. N.
“20 kr. Come at 16:00 and help with the food and get a free meal. You can also take the dishes out.  The food does not come from the trash, but they get discarded vegetables from the greengrocer. Vegan.”

 

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WEDNESDAYS
17:30-20:00 Støberiet
Blågårds Plads 3, 2200 Nørrebro – tlf.: 35 35 77 70.25
“25 kr. For vegetarian. I do not know if it’s vegan-friendly option.”

19:00Café Bumzen 
Baldersgade 20-22, 2200 Kbh. N.
“There is no payment required, but the payment proposal is 20 kr. They also want a hand with the food. It may well be cold in there, take an extra shirt or two in the winter months! Some of the food is dumpsterdived. Vegan.”

THURSDAYS
19:00
Ungeren
Dortheavej 61, 2400 Kbh. NV.
“Go at 15:00 and help if you want to have a free meal. Otherwise about 20 kr. (Sometimes 25 kr.) The most luxurious folk kitchen in Copenhagen.  Sign up for Dortheave’s Folkekoek on Facebook and get to know the menu in advance. The ingridients are not from dumpsters. Sometimes you can buy a cake for dessert. Vegan.”

19:00 – Christiania, by Loppe-bygningen (there is a sign)
“20 kr / wash the dishes after eating and you can freely make use of the remaining bread. Vegetarian, but vegans are taken into account.”

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FRIDAY
18:30Cafe N,
Blågårdsgade 17, 2200 København N.
“25 kr. Non dumpsterdived food. Vegan.”

19:00The Candy Factory (Bolsjefabrikken)
Lærkevej 11, 2400 København NV.
“You can come and help make the food from 16-17. Both vegetarian and vegan.”

SATURDAY
12:00-16:00 – Foodsharing Copenhagen (indoors)
Grønttorvet 64, 2500 København
“Check the calendar on facebook to be sure of the date/time. Foodsharing Copenhagen invites you once again to share rescued / donated food in a fair matter! You are invited to come by between 12pm and 4pm and pick up food for yourself, your friends, neighbors and family! It is getting cold outside, therefore we are moving inside for this special event and next to our regular food distribution, we want you to have a good time as well, so feel free to stay for some hot drinks and a hyggeligt atmosphere. =) PLEASE BRING also the food that you would throw away at home to prevent your own food waste!”

SUNDAY
12:00Folkets Hus, Stengade 50, 2200 Kbh. N.
“Brunch! 25 kr. Check the website for dates. Vegetarian but with a fair vegan selection. The ingredients for the food can be from the bins.”

14:00Kageorgie (First Sunday of every month)
Ungeren, Dortheavej 61, 2400 Kbh. NV.,
“Donation Based. I was there the first time they made it and it was insane! There were so many cakes! Sumptuous. Vegan.”

Ragnhildgade 1, 2100 Copenhagen
Is an asylum and refugee political café with hosted in The Candy Factory.


So, have you been in Copenhagen?
Do you know any other social, non-profit, places where to eat?
Wanna tell me your opinion about this design city?

Write a comment!

What is the difference between a homeless and a traveler?

A woman and a boy sleeping on a the aligned chairs of an airport

Here I tell you my thoughts about this topic and also my experiences.
I have been going around as a nomad for years and even television and newspaper wrote about me regarded as a homeless.

 

While traveling, aren’t we homeless?

We may have an ‘home’ somewhere, but it’s also possible that we are traveling for long and we have given it away or have no access to it anymore.
Even an homeless may have an home or a family somewhere in the world, but it does not make the situation better, they may have been victim or family abuse or similar problems.

The society accepts us, travelers, probably because we are seen as people with money to spend, we (often)have a temporary accommodation, we don’t seem sad and we will ‘leave soon’; or so is supposed to be.

Even if you are in such a unstable situation as not being in your country, when you are a traveler you are not feeling down because you are enjoying the trip.
During my trips I have often crossed my road with homeless persons, sometimes I have heard their story and tried to help, but I have never done enough I guess.
Being with limited financial capabilities and without a roof on you head of course is one of the worst situations that can happen.
The feeling of being without a place is hard to understand if you don’t experience it.

That’s why I spent awhile without contacting any host (or hostel) and relied on nature or goodwill of randomly met people.


–I got some interviews from national Finnish media, which are maybe the most honest medias of the world, still they where not really accurate and I seemed as a desperate in the pictures. So try to imagine what kind of disruption, or destruction, of reality media from other countries would show you.–

From one’s point of view this kind of lifestyle can be called “Absolute Freedom”,  from another perspective it could be a nightmare for many others.
Is hard, sad and humiliating to be in such a situation where you have no money to pay a rent, where you are in the street, in the cold (sometimes freezing and rainy), looking for shelter and food.
People and institution, especially in western-northern countries, are keen to help you, but not always, not in the way one needs.
Mostly the help you get is a superficial or materialistic aid: a shelter for few days–oftentimes you need even  to pay for it–a bit of food, some compassionate words.

I think that who is in the street needs, of course, first of all a shelter and food, but, immediately after he needs more than this.
Because the reason why he/she–or “han”, in the non-sexist Finnish language–is in the street can be often a psychological one, I guess that someone is there cause he does not feel  “cared for”, and probably didn’t connect strongly enough with others or something special.

The more in need, the less help

Would’t you think that when someone is in the street, without a place where to go, other people would help him?
Would it not be rational, logic and fair to see resources, good will and care for who needs it?
Surprisingly enough, many people DON’T help. Often it happens that the more the person needs help, the less he gets it.
We love to help people like us, people that has something in common with us. So, who would admit to himself to have something in common with an homeless or a ‘poor’ person?
Probably not plenty people would think that and this makes people refraining from getting any close to the ones most in need.


I was “homeless” myself and I felt down, even if I have mostly a strong character and I am a social person


Article on a popular national Finnish newspaper ‘Helsingin Sanomat’

I did an experiment on myself, I decided to not rent any place and not to rely on money for few months. Later I will write more about the daily life of this period, but now I want to concentrate few lines about the relation homeless/traveler.

The thing that made me having quite much concern about homeless people is that while experiencing myself to be a ‘homeless’, I was feeling down, depressed unsupported, and still I was really lucky because:
I do have a home somewhere in the world,
I do have a family that loves me,
I have friends,
I have social skills,
I know how to survive in extreme situations,
I do have some savings,
I choose to be ‘homeless’, I can ‘opt out’ from my situation in any time,
I have a computer and smartphone in order to get information’s and communicate,
I have all tools to live wherever I am: sleeping bag, sleeping pad,
I am EU Citizen, “sadly” privileged in terms of migration;

…and anyhow I was feeling often extremely weak without my own place where to go.

No home, feeling free?

I had the wish to feel free, I wanted to have no roots and no place to relay on, to be as free as a “bird”.
I was just roaming around, finding a place to sleep on the last moment…
Yes, it could have been funny, it was sometimes.
But in our society, with our level of domestication, we often need to have one place, even a small point, which we account as our space, our “home”.
Missing this place can distress, overwhelm and make us feel highly vulnerable; and so I felt.

Humans = social, or not?

Let’s not forget that Humans are Social Animals, the social component is quite strong, we need constant positive social contacts in order to not get depressed.

Causes of homelessness

In our society we have alcoholism, drugs abuse, gambling, military service, being incarcerated, unhealthy food and other addictions that ruins millions of lives, but after my experience, I would say that what really makes homeless happen are the following:

– Exclusion
Classit society, economical injustice. We all want to be superior to someone else, that’s why we use the homeless as a reason to be proud of ourselves: we are not homeless = we are succeeding better than others(homeless) = we are proud of ourself, even if we are much worse than a homeless as human being.

– Egoism
People address homeless as parasite that want to live for free, not understanding how nice those persons may be and how big troubles they have to get into society.

– Indifference
When we see a homeless, we think that the problem does not belong to us, we often don’t even notice them anymore, people steps on them carelessly, both metaphorically and literally.

– Bureaucracy
Numerous social welfare systems fail to address homelessness, they pretend the homeless would do paperwork– and often–would have documents of the same city where he is, which is the exact reason of the homelessness: People lacking social skills to do paperwork, people moving from one place to another; in other words, the system that we have which should take care of the homeless, is itself the reason of the homelessness. This happens even in countries with great social institutions (Finland, Denmark, Belgium).


Mental health and addictions

Often people in the street have Psychological or alcohol problems, but not always!
Those persons are not harmful, at least most of the times.
Just in few cases they may be hard to approach, in such situations,  well skilled persons–with knowledge of psychology–should get in touch with them. Not Police.

How to help a homeless

What I did myself is started several self-created small projects about helping persons in the streets, I have also joined existing communities, In the Dominica Republic I have met people from Assoartca, a street music school in the street, for everyone.
I have helped a bit with Food Sharing in Copenhagen, which is an organization to share food that would be wasted otherwise.
I made a Small Guide about living with little money and I try to share those information’s with people that needs it.

BE-Cyclo Bike Social Workshop Cafe

One of the next project I am realizing, which will effectively help.
Where people can repair a bicycle by them-self, but the place also provide activities and support to those without a shelter.


Street surfers action, let’s help our friends “host-less”


 

I have organized several times meetings to sensibilize and actively help who is in the street.

It was an event on Couch Surfing, this was written in the meeting page:

“Don’t you think that the people on the street could have been maybe your friends or relatives?
Is not just because I want to be Philanthropic, but because I don’t enjoy myself if people around me don’t do it neither.
It’s cold outside, it’s even colder when people behave indifferent to your problems.

The practical plan of the socio-meetings is:
“We aim at taking someone home for one week (food and accommodation), make him a workaway (woofing or helpex profile) & BeWelcome profile.
Teach them basic urban survival techniques: BeWelcome, Dumpster diving, Hitchhiking, Bicycling (find, buy and use bicycles).

We can see to find a way for them to get to them new au pair host or a new cs host.

If anything happens with your new street csers guests just post it in the event page, other members will jump into the problem to help you (and him eventually).

Of course nobody is forced to do anything, but if we make a strong group we can help each other and win the cause…”
HELPING HOMELESS IS LIKE DATING
To help in the best way a homeless you should should behave as you are in a date. You should approach the person in an non invasive way and start a casual conversation.
It’s relieving for society to think that the homeless is in the street because he chooses to be outside, excluded.
The truth is that we are excluding them.
TREAT THEM AS A FRIEND
You should talk to a homeless just as you are talking to a normal person, like a friend.
Don’t talk in first instance about their problems, first try to get to know them with random talks and just afterwards you can ask a bit about their past.

HELP ONE AT THE TIME
Helping someone means a regular commitment, you should find one person that you wanna help and go regularly to visit, seeing what you can do for him and with the time find possible solution for his homelessness.
A short visit every two-three days is important, you should also first learn about the problems and find out the possible way of helping.
If the person is able to work you could find match on a volunteering website: WorkAway, HelpX, HoVoS.
Someone that needs medical care may need you to bring them to a hospital, eventually you may contact the city council to seek for solutions.
Don’t pretend to find a solution within one day.

While trying to help someone, I noticed that even my phone, which I reputed smart, has no idea about what it means to be a homeless. while I was editing my phone-book I was adding the number of a person from the street, that I met in the street, the phone showed me the number registered as “home number”, ironically it was stored this way, even if this person has no home.
Would a phone mind it?
Would you be smarter than a phone?

DOCUMENTS, PERMISSIONS AND BUREAUCRACY
Every government and institution has some kind of support for people in the street, but in the most of the cases it’s not matching their needs. Often you need not just to be citizen, but also to have the residence in a certain city to get even the smallest support.
We can’t accept those barriers.
This bureaucraZy is the exact reason of homelessness, many don’t go through the paper work or are not allowed to.
We need just to make one rule: Sleeping on a bed is a fundamental human right and regardless of the background of the person, all have the rights to have a bed at least, if not a house!

What is worse? To think without do or to do without thinking?
I am really curious to know your point of you, what is for you the difference between an homeless and a traveler?
Write it in the comment!