Cyclonudista 2018 Finland – Helsinki gets naked on the bike – Saturday 21 July

Soon another World Naked bike in Helsinki,

This year we have chosen the hottest day of the year:

Saturday 21 of June

Which is officially the hottest day not just for us cyclonudista´s, but for the meteorologists too!

 

 

Are you asking yourself why should you join CycloNudista?

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, on the hottest, sunniest day of the summer, a bicycle tour around the city, to get the town back from big motorized vehicles, shout against pollution, cars, and hypocritical prudery.

SATURDAY 21 July 2018 – 17.00 (Departure at 18:00)
Varsapuistikko (close to Railway Station and Kaisaniemenpuisto)

WHY?

– To manifest AGAINST POLLUTION & car culture;

– PROMOTING CYCLING, Nature & Simplicity;

But the unique reasons why 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 agree with the speculations of the oil industry,
you want to sensibilize drivers to mind the bikes.

…and because you may be an exhibitionist!

–PRACTICAL INFO–

MEETING POINT
Varsapuistikko – next to Kaisaniemipuisto – Kaisaniemi park, close to the main train station.
(You can come from 17:00 to 18:00)

17.00 – PICNIC
I will bring a big amount of snacks and drinks, it will be for sure enough for the first ten people, you are welcome to bring something if you wish.

17:30 – BODY PAINTING
We can bodypaint each other and decide which is the specific message—“your motto”—each of us wants to share.

18.00 – DEPARTURE
Strictly on time, be ready by 18:00!
Tour map:
https://goo.gl/maps/4RRSpb2qi832

20.00 – SAUNA
We celebrate the celebration in the sauna: warm & cosy!
Sompasauna, a free, anarchic public sauna by the sea.
In the heat and steam we will have time to share our thoughs and feeling about the ride: what this ride means for each of us?

21:00 – BBQ
There is grill there @ sompasauna, if you have some vegetables you wanna grill, feel welcome to bring it so we can have a nice shared BBQ dinner.

WHAT TO BRING:

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

Optional:
– Clothing
– A smile on your face,
– Any decoration that you find appropriate,
– Body painting material,
– Music instruments to play,
– A camera to record or stream pictures & videos: photographers and journalists welcome!
– Drinks and food (for picnic and/or BBQ) to share if you wish,
– A blanket for picnic,
– Towels (for sauna).

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

… 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.

@@ SO, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? CLICK ON ATTEND NOW! @@

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 to participate in this event, but also to take ownership of it.

———–MORE INFO———-

EVENT LINKS

Facebook event
https://www.facebook.com/events/163716694168521

CouchSurfing event
https://www.couchsurfing.com/events/5th-world-naked-bike-ride-of-finland-2018-cyclonud

Google+ event
https://plus.google.com/events/c57qd196uocangmvqnpbebuikic

BeWelcome event
http://www.bewelcome.org/activities/1899

Eventful event
http://eventful.com/events/5fh-world-naked-bike-ride-finland-2018-cyclonudista-helsink-/E0-001-103769997-8

Allevents.in event
https://allevents.in/helsinki/5fh-world-naked-bike-ride-of-finland-2018-cyclonudista-helsinki/163716694168521

GROUPS

Facebook Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/WNBRhelsinki/

CouchSurfing Group
https://www.couchsurfing.com/groups/cyclonudista-helsinki-world-naked-bike-ride

Google+ Community
https://plus.google.com/communities/100320970072056647775

LINKS

Cyclonudista Helsinki Blog
https://travelthetheater.wordpress.com/cyclonudista-wnbr/

Last posts
https://travelthetheater.wordpress.com/category/cyclonudista-wnbr/

International Event
www.WorldNakedBikeride.org

World (naked)Cycling Tour
www.BikeTravelTheater.org

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Super Power Vegan Diet – Instruction for use

My normal weight has always been around 75 kg, nevertheless, some years ago I was 90 kg, I didn’t even notice immediately how bigger I became, but the scale, and the buttons flying off my shirt, made me understand the ‘size’ of my problem.

Travel, time and experience profoundly shaped my lifestyle, 
above all, these factors, made me become a:
 Supermarket vegan,
 Restaurants vegetarian,
 Omnivorous in emergencies.

 

I want to share with you a really effective diet to lose weight, be healthier, energetic, and cruelty-free.
This diet is diet it’s totally different than any other diet because it’s based on self regulation and it has different levels of freedom.
I am following this pattern since years and I have checked yearly my blood nourishment values to monitor any irregularities, my doctor always complimented me for my excellent values.

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THE DIET

Morning
Fruit salad with squeezed lemon
Porridge
Cereals
Fresh made juice–or–let pieces of fruit soak in a carafe with water and lemon, keep the pulp in the juice.

Midday
Rice (risotto, paella, etc) or Pasta. Better rice!
Vegetables
Onions (superfood!)
Garlic (superfood!)

Evening (before 18.00)
Soup
Salad

Don’t eat after 19.00, you will sleep better, waking up strong and energetic

Eat fruit peels

Eat local food and buy from family shops:
This is not just ethical, sustainable and good for the health, but is often cheaper.

You may want to adopt a generic weekly schedule with a day of fasting:

Mon-Fri    – Mostly vegan

Saturday – Just fruit

Sunday    –  fasting

In general you should always avoid: fried food, salt, sugar, and sweets, except dark chocolate.

If you can’t manage to fast once a week, make sure to fast once a month.

After years on this kind of diet I feel much better and following this scheme gives me a routine, even if I do exceptions.

 

Eating just once a day (breakfast, brunch or lunch)

I have used sometimes the pattern of having just a big meal once a day, a kind of brunch, mostly for practical reasons, it didn’t make me feel bad, I was just quite slow for about half hour after having eaten, but in later in the day all was perfect.

ABOUT FASTING…
You have to pay attention primarily to one thing: the glucose levels go down after four hours (or more) that you have eaten, the body may need it and this cloud make you feel a bit weak or in the long run, if you don’t have body fat, you could start to burn out your muscles instead.

Legal aid in Europe – How to get out of troubles in the EU!

Are you living or traveling in the European Union?
There are a number of rights that you have which you may not be aware of, I make here a short list of some of these rights and I tell you which are the steps you should make in case of legal issues.

 

It’s your right to film Police

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In the most European countries you have the right to film Police in public, also in the USA it’s allowed.

There are several organization to get informations about your rights for filming Police:

CopBlock.org

Opensocietyfoundations.org

While filming is mostly allowed, once you publish a video, you may want to blur the faces of the policemen.
You should also be aware that if Police is in operation better you keep some distance and discretion while filming, otherwise they may annoy you.

 

How to claim your rights as a human—or a citizen, traveler of tourist—and make a complaint, “press charges”, “make a report”, to institutions and what to do to escalate it to higher hierarchy levels

Whom to contact

– Higher ranks of the same institution (head offices, etc…)

– Ombudsman of the institution

– General Attorney (if is about Police)

– Regional ombudsman

– National ombudsman

– Traveler rights associations

– Human rights associations

– European ombudsman

– European commission

– European Parliament

– European President
(for extremely serious matters)

In parallel of this you could contact a local lawyer (via hg.org for example) or the local court if applicable.

FireWorks Atomium - Brussels

INFORMATIONS

e-justice.europa.eu provides useful and update informations about your rights in EU.

VisaHQ.com offers services and data about visas

 

FOR HOMELESS

Feantsa, European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless

 

FOR URGENT IMPORTANT MATTERS, PHONE NUMBERS

– Call your Consulate

– Emergency Support Aid International Human Rights line +353 1 21 00 489

Amnesty International +44-20-74135500

 

HELP FROM ONLINE COMMUNITIES

Don’t forget that you can always ask for help through any of these online communities:

And, why not, Facebook.

Do you have any information that I missed in this list? Please comment!

How to make your hair strong with everyday home ingredients: Lemon, Olive oil, and coconut

This time we don’t talk about bicycles, traveling or social issues, but about hair. Why?
Well, because if you have beautiful hair, it’s easier also to travel!
A potential host, from couchsurfing for example, would be more keen to host you if you have beautiful hair, this is proven by a statistic done by… me.
Above all, this method is 100% green.

The most commercial hair products make your hair weak and are harmful to you and to the environment.

 

Here an easy procedure, with over the counter products, that you can use to make your hair strong and shining

MASH TOGETHER
Coconut
Rosemary
Sage

IN A DOUBLE BOILER

  • Olive Oil (3 tablespoon)
  • Turn the heat on low
  • Add 1 to 1-1/2 Tablespoons of the mesh (Coconut, Rosemary, Sage)
  • +Coffee / Black tea    (for gray hair)
  • Let it steep for about 30 minutes on low
  • Strain the herbs from the oil into a small glass container using a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

Adding more goodies to your treatment, or start your hot oil hair treatment

  • Lemon
  • Avocado
  • Banana


You can store this paste for up to six months in a not totally closed container.

 

APPLICATION

  • Apply it to your hair
  • Massage for 10 minutes
  • Leave it in overnight and wash it in the morning

 

 

Healthy commercial products

Organic Henna + Indigo Natural Hair Dye Combo for brown and black hair colour , 200g+200g

To buy on:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Organic-Henna-Indigo-Natural-colour/dp/B00844WD5Y/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top/275-9333566-7208763

 

Naturtint Permanent Hair Colorant, with Active Vegetable Ingredients, 5N, Light Chestnut Brown – 5.45 fl oz

https://www.google.com/shopping/product/16378486415634502338?q=henna+indigo+gray+hair+natural&newwindow=1&rlz=1CASMAF_enFI605FI605&biw=1242&bih=637&site=webhp&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.&bvm=bv.92885102,d.bGQ&tch=1&ech=1&psi=gkpOVe_MDcS4ygPHu4GgBg.1431194245595.24&sa=X&ei=AExOVaTVIOauygPPh4BQ&ved=0CJ0CEPMCMAA

 

 

Did it work? Write in the comment the results!

Shocking discovery: no shelters for the homeless in Copenhagen!

We all agree that Denmark has one of the best welfare system of the world, right?
Well, I can say that about homelessness, the Danes are still far from perfection. Why?
Read to know!

Pax is not the only one sleeping rough in Copenhagen, as I always wandered around, I have many friends sleeping rough and sometimes, I am a bit homeless myself, that’s why the issue of shelters is quite close to my heart.
I decided to see how easy it is, for a homeless, to find shelter in Copenhagen, the world’s capital of “support to less lucky people”. It took me months to gather some information about shelters here, I have contacted all the people I knew, institutions, organizations, and churches. I have also checked the list of shelters on the dedicated website CopenHelp.
The most shelters just allow people with a cpr number—a registration number you get when you register your domicile in Denmark—or from specific categories: old and sick people, pregnant women, heavy drug users, etc…

I’ve contacted many shelters, just few answered, I post you some of the answers below.

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Kofoes Kælder
()
They just help people aged between 18-29.
“We are a contact place for young homeless people in Copenhagen between the ages of 18-29. We can help you get in touch with proper authorities for solving dole money problems, getting on waiting lists for shelters, medical help, give you directions to other places that have specialised in helping non Danish citizens etc….if you are not a Danish citizen we can also help you get in touch the Copenhagen homeless unit to discuss your travel home and help you with getting id papers and so on for your travels. You are very welcome to come in for a cup of coffee and we can see how we can help you the best way possible”

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Kirkens Korshaer
(Stengade 40, 2200 København N)
I send them an email asking if is possible to have shelter on 10/01/2017.
“we offer adults vulnerable citizens shelter. However, I have to know a little more of your background story before we can offer you a room for the night. You are always welcome to contact us at Hillerødgade 62 9 PM for a clarification of your situation.Natcaféen has 30 spaces intended for adult men and women who do not currently be accommodated in a residential facility.It is possible to bring your dog. The café is housed in the inn’s cafeteria and is open all year. It is free to spend the night in the cafe. Natcaféen operated acc. Service Law § 110”
Once I went to visit them, I had no place to sleep myself and I asked if it was possible to sleep there without danish documents, they told me just old and sick people, selected by them, can get inside.

Grace
(Baggesensgade 9, 2200 København N)
I have heard this to be the best shelter of Copenhagen, where they are really open and kind to anyone, regardless their documents.
Once I arrived there on a Friday night, the door was closed and nobody answered me at the phone.

Other shelters
I wanted to check out also Natcafeen Sundholm (Sundholmsvej 36) &
Nødherberget (Hørhusvej 5), but I didn’t have the chance to get there.

 

 

Conclusion

I always had a computer, good skills to search and communicate, I have friends and family that supports me, in addition, I have some financial resources, and fortuitously, I also have EU citizenship; nevertheless, after arduous and complex researches, I have no clue about where a homeless can go to sleep in Copenhagen.
I don’t even imagine how hard it is for someone that sleeps in the streets, with heavy physical, psychological, social, and economical problems, to find a place where to go.
If you are a homeless in need of care, you wont get much support when you don’t match the criteria of the shelter.
If you are not local or between 29-50yo, you risk to get not support at all.

 

What do you think when you see a person sleeping in the street?
Do you think it’s fair to leave people sleeping under bridges?
Let me know in the comments.

 

Foodsharing Copenhagen – The story

Food waste is an issue that we can’t just ignore.
It’s not just a pity to throw away food, but it it’s an act of ignorance, egoism, and self-destruction.

We often forget that huge resources are used  to produce food: from production to the consumer, almost the half of it gets thrown away.
We should remember that there are people which can’t afford even to buy enough food; in Copenhagen, there is a graffiti stating: “someone’s trash, is someone’s else treasure”.

I had the chance to volunteer with and discuss with some of the activists which started Foodsharing Copenhagen

To fight food waste, a movement called Foodsharing started first in Germany, where it is now well-established.
Since about one year it started in Denmark, where it conquered Copenhagen.
Foodsharing Copenhagen was, in the beginning, a really small project, a grassroots initiative.

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Foodsharing sign at the start, searching for volunteers in the streets

 

Thanks to the help of many volunteers, among which there was the great people of Floating City and the legendary Francois—who arranged many agreements with food donors—, it became a well structured non-profit movement with almost 10.000 followers on their Facebook page.

 

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By the way, if you don’t know what Foodsharing is, well, it’s simple: there are weekly events where people can share their food or take food that they need.

 

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Visit the Foodsharing Copenhagen website or the Facebook group for more info.

Street Connections – Getting close to people sleeping rough

 

–STREET CONNECTIONS–

A simple, human to human action, to share time and food with people, in the street.

 

WHY

It serves mostly for two causes:

– Create awareness about homelessness

– As sign of humanity and warmth to people sleeping rough

 

 

PRACTICAL

Once a week, we first gather with all the volunteers to prepare food with love; something simple is good enough.
After having a short conversation and planning about who goes where, we go in the streets in small groups, two to three persons in each group.

There is already a map which we can use to find the points where people sleeping rough are.

In an extremely kind, casual and humble way, we approach people sleeping rough, we start a conversation as we would talk to a person in a bar, then we aim at keeping it, about any topic, but we would never ever ask about their problems during the first or second time we meet them. Later on, if we feel confident and we sense that our connection is strong enough, we can start talking about their problems with them, but always trying to let them start the topic first, without pushing.

The next week we do the same, but with more knowledge, experience, and love acquired from the previous time.

Once we have enough information about the problems of our friends in the streets, we can brainstorm for solutions. Every person needs a different solution.

Each of us can propose to follow up one person in the street. This is the most effective way to create something beneficial.

We could, for example, help in making them an account into an accommodation or volunteer platform such as:

CouchSurfing
BeWelcome
TrustRoots

WorkAway
HelpX
VolunteersBase

 

CONNECTION

The first thing to create is a connection, a bridge, and a humble, true friendship. Even just one connection is enough. Once this is built up, each volunteer can understand situations and problems of people sleeping rough. Just then, there are possible actions that could improve their situation.

 

FRIENDSHIP

It’s not a rescue mission and it does not aim to fix problems instantly. It’s rather a long-term process, where each volunteer decides to open their minds and hearts making friendship with someone who meets mostly indifference and ignorance.  It is about creating an individual and unique relationship.

 

WHO HELPS WHOM

You are not simply “helping people in the street”, you are actually helping yourself too. From this activity, you may benefit more than the one you meet. It may seem strange but it is true.

Getting connections and understanding realities that you have never imagined to exist, will give you more than you can imagine.

 

FOR WHOM?

“I feel really excited and tensioned to connect with people sleeping rough. I sometimes give food I have with me but I don’t actually talk with these people.”—Those are the words of a really kind-hearted activist. So, it seems, it’s hard even for highly aware people to connect with the ones in the street.
This may be exactly the same feeling of many others: you want to help, but you find it awkward or even embarrassing to randomly talk to people in the street.
“Street Connections” is a kind of workshop for those, like you, who have a big heart, but feel a bit uncertain about going and talking to rough sleepers.
Being in a sociable group, sharing knowledge and experience, will transform your tension into pleasure.



Copenhagen – Facebook Group – Street Connections



 

What is worse? To think without do or to do without thinking?

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.