On February 16th, 2016 I clambered out of my London back garden and started a very special adventure. I had no set destination, no set mode of transport and no agenda other than to spend one month exploring Europe. Yes folks – this was an unplanned, unstructured, social media driven, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants adventure. Because beyond my back gate is the world, and it’s a damn shame not to explore it at every opportunity.
I gave the reigns of the adventure to the good people of social media, who voted every few days on where I would go and what sights I’d see.
And if, like me, you have the attention span of a gnat with ADHD, you can just scroll to the bottom and look at the pretty pictures. Ooooo.
WHERE DID YOU GO?
Over the course of one month and with 959 votes cast on Facebook and Twitter, I was directed from London accross The Netherlands, the length of Germany, across Switzerland (twice) and down through France to the marvellous Med.
I journeyed a total of 1,328 miles. 47 of those walking, 273 on trains and 1001 by bicycle. Plus, let us not forget the 7 miles of ‘running with a bike’ due to a broken pump and buggered brakes.
There was snow, rain, wind and at last… sunshine! But the weather didn’t matter a jot as I was taken in by a collective gaggle of 53 kind strangers in 24 homes along the way – including their children who tolerated my poor attempts at conversation in their native language. Which, by the way, doesn’t prohibit you from joining in with Playmobile action and participating in hide and seek. Thank goodness.
Travel and adventure can be a tricky business. Planning leads to procrastination, procrastination to wavers in confidence, to delayed plans and life contorting itself into a sticky spiders web of reasons why we shouldn’t just pack up and go. Before you know it, it’s ten years down the line and you’re still saying ‘I’ve always wanted to… [insert fabulous location]’. I too am guilty of such a heinous crime. The victim? Europe.
Beyond summers spent in every possible French Eurocamp site and the odd city break, I haven’t ‘seen’ the continent at all. And while I’ve always maintained that this was because I was ‘saving it for when I was old and could’t get very far’ – that now seems a little silly.
Europe is gigantic. And as I began to plan a month long adventure to scratch a nasty case of the adventure itch – I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. And so I thought: sod this. How about I start it right here? From the place where all adventures begin – my humble abode.
HOW IT WORKED
Armed with not much more than a bivvy bag, a backpack and a devil-may-care attitude, I scrambled out of the gate in my London back garden. I then began to walk to a ferry port on the South coast. After 2 days of walking, I decided that walking down the dual carriage ways of Essex wasn’t quite as glamorous as I’d hoped, and so I stopped dead in my tracks and called for bicycle back-up. Boudica (my giant pink bike) came to the rescue and I continued the journey on two wheels. To the Hook of Holland we went… and onwards we pedalled.
Every few days I posted three options on Facebook and Twitter.The option that received the most number of votes / comments / poll choices across both Facebook and Twitter was declared the winner. Simples. On March 12th, after 1,328 miles of travelling, I hit the Med at Marseille, boxed up Boudica the pink bicycle and flew home.
I was stoked to have 5 schools on board, with the kids following the adventure and firing me questions as I went. The schools were spread out across the world, which made things doubly-triply-exciting. Who knew Geography could be so fun?!