Look around the Globe
We are Marta and Lucas – a couple, two people, both riding bikes and both curious about the world, who now in their 30s have a great idea: The idea to travel the world by motorcycle.
Update: South American, Chilean and Argentinian climate can really surprise!
Ushuaia would be the starting point to our several month journey north to Alaska. While some, including us were not sure we had planned enough time to properly enjoy the trip we decided to go ahead. We had no strict timelines so everyone would be able to enjoy the trip at their own pace. Maybe for some six months may not be long enough for the whole trip, but we saw what we wanted and feel this special experience will last with us forever.
What we liked in South America were crossing borders, not difficult between Chile and Argentina. Maybe until dogs found some lemons and meat we had in our bags and we got some small troubles...all was okay. We knew that it’s forbidden, and they said we are smugglers, but, hey, everybody who is camping needs something nutritious and healthy to eat! Finally they let us into the country.
Between borders we had the most exciting and thrilling accommodation we have ever had in mountains. At the altitude of 4,100 m above the sea level (which was maybe not the best idea to do it so high, as the next day our headache almost made our heads explode), because of the incoming storm we decided to camp right on the natural border of Chile and Argentina. In the middle of nothing, with thunders, singing wind, some unknown animals looked like foxes, pitching our tent between small, dry, coniferous bushes… And the sun woke us up next day with spectacular view…
Argentina is huge, thousands of kilometers of riding, so Chilean people are laughing that it’s totally flat and boring, (yes – maybe comparing to Andes they are right) but the landscapes are straight from ….. the best cabers of national magazines and exactly in Argentina you can meet two the biggest and the most spectacular venues or rather physical states of water – the running one The Iguazu Falls and The Glacier Perito Moreno. Both of them are overwhelmingly powerful, more – the sound of water in such a quantity create a feeling that it’s obvious that the nature in its power is invincible and spectacular.
Riding means adventures, which are maybe not always our favorite ones – if you know what I mean – the flat tire is one of these what we don’t like. So after maybe 12 000 kms riding in South America – that was time to have one of course!
Luckily just next to the village, after spending some time in about 37 degrees of Celsius, just 3 minutes after we started riding we felt a big “bang”. All was clear… we had to come back to the village and find “la gomeria” to fix it rather then change the tire ourselves in the burning sun that would take much longer.
As we got our trip underway were riding through the South part of South America, at times stopping to appreciate all these fantastic animals like sea lions, penguins, seals, lamas and many more – then the feeling of living is fabulous!
Being honest that was also the first time, where unexpectedly we saw some frightening insects… we hate! Calling ourselves the “dream frighten team” isn’t an exaggeration – I am afraid of spiders – you know the huge like tarantula ones and Lucas gets paralyzed (literally!) when he sees snakes. And because of the fact in South America surprises like that are rather normal and common – was really funny and loud sometimes when I was screaming, and Lucas decided to stop riding or walking when seeing a snake. What is interesting scorpions in our room weren’t really scary - we just decided to look at one with no fear… The journey, the life, and willingness to overcome every fear sometimes a small lizard seen before as a crocodile, now can turn into 20 running around in your hotel room without any fright! To be continued…
Update: Our first big motorcycle overseas trip and the overland real life reality taste.
From the beginning it was clear that we got beaten by a travel bug. Many factors were indicating that we can’t sit still, so the Asian express prank was just the intro to our next motorcycle adventure.
Actually, the plan to travel was maturing as we were coming back from the Central Asia trip, but nobody didn’t expect that in such a short time there would be a jump into another continent that we considered – the greatest life journey. Totally crazy! Believe us – with no extensive knowledge, experience, asking anybody about tips or advice – we packed the bike and sent it to Chile. Yes! To Chile, because even that the plan from the beginning was just maybe North America – our familiar company from Poland was sending the container with bikes to South America, not the North one.
Then we decided – okay – we will cross South and the Central one on two wheels, so finally after some time we will reach the North one as we initially wanted. After sending it, there was time to think what else we had to be done. And surprisingly the list wasn’t long, but the uncertainty was paralyzing.
Visas – okay, that’s easy travelling both Americas - for European Union citizens it’s only US visa needed – no problems with that. Vaccinations – that would be the whole scope of climate zones – we thought - we needed to make some steps to protect our health: malaria and any other tropical diseases and at that time we planned to visit Venezuela which the yellow fever vaccination is a must have.
Maps, the route – Lucas was responsible for that part of adventure, but when we realized that the Pan-American route is most frequented – the most exciting places are off the beaten track, so the road was played by ear. That’s right! Spontaneity is a good word for our travel – in one month (from sending the bike till the first day of our trip was exactly 5 weeks) the whole journey was like “chasing the time” with every little thing.
Language – we realized that Spanish is a beautiful language, but probably we are not able to learn it in such a short time! Only basics, which meant that at first, unknowingly we wanted to pay more than was necessary and finally the calculator was the best option to negotiate. Shame on us, but true.
In December 2016 the South American story was a reality, with many doubts, shaking knees we started...
Two people on a different continent from the beginning learning how to travel. First, despite now we can say that South America is one of the most beautiful regions in the world – our first countries and the style of leaving during first few weeks almost exhausted our budget and disabled travel.
No wonder, we were learning how to make it – longer, further, passing many tourist attractions but within a budget. Every skill is a matter of time. So we tested – the stuff, our barriers, how much we can handle. And one day we installed the app which was the best bet – please accept small travel - tip if we can say like that and install the iOvelander app on your phone – that will rescue your live while travelling. You will love it!
And about South American climate: Patagonia – the rainbow land changing every few kilometers can surprise you. Riding down, and remembering it was of course summer on the Southern hemisphere – the climate is unpredictable. In the morning you wake up and the sky is blue with hot sun shining, then you start riding and passing few ferry crossings, jumping from one Chilean peninsulas to another one – the rain catches you few times. It’s beautiful around, some forests intertwine with rough landscapes after splashing volcanos. Flowers, flowers everywhere forming green carpets with colorful patterns and delicate bushes in which you would like to lay down and have a rest the whole day. You find a river and camp. You pitch a tent next to the running turquoise river, on a green grass, with the snowy mountains view you prepare a coffee and dinner – our first one when we camped. And you then fall asleep, to wake up in the morning in a pouring rain. Everything is wet, and no option to dry. How long a man can wait – you just pack the tent on the bike (regret that you don’t have the umbrella even to leave your sleeping bags dry putting into your yellow motorcycle bags).
Patagonia – the unexpected land which you would love because of its colors, diversity and its caprice. Riding down to Ushuaia, the famous Fin del Mundo gives the feeling of freedom. You reach the symbolic place of the world, head the famous place where our journey was planned to start from. Ours was.
Yes, the Ushuaia point, where the Antarctica is so close, where many travelers begin to ride up; to ride up in a windy climate, because Argentina and its funny sign is not a joke…
How to transcend borders in Asia – literally and figuratively – the Central Asia express trip.
Imagine you have 3 weeks of holidays, which means 22 days – times that by 24 hours – that gives you 528 hours to explore excluding time for sleeping.
The plan is to ride 15 000 km - round trip.
Let’s go. It will be a quick story about how we did something which was doomed to fail.
The whole trip could be classified as a crazy one from the beginning.
2 months of preparation for 7 countries in which 5 of them required a visa was a hassle before we even left.
In 2016 the preparation of documents began, including two refusals for Russian transit visas, a special meeting with the Uzbek ambassador who, from the shock of hearing our plan, made some mistakes with our dates of entry into the country, and a completely new e-visa for Tajikistan, which looked like a bogus paper sent to us by a hacker.
That part didn’t discourage us. In any case, as we know nowadays the procedures for a few countries are much simpler, so think about Central Asia as your destination – the adventure is waiting there.
Fully motivated and prepared for long distances, we rode through Poland and first stopped for 6 hours at the Belarusian border. People warned us to be prepared for that, so we thought – no problem, that’s okay.
Then everything ran like clockwork; a pit stop in Brest, crossing a wonderful and clean country like Belarus straight to Moscow in one day, with 2 minutes spent on entrance to Russia (that was fast!) and riding fast to Kazakhstan. Just riding, not many stops on the way, a night spent somewhere and another day early in the morning we just hit the road again.
People! People in these places are awesome, helpful and really open. You are their guest and every time they offer more than you are asking for.
The dream was to put a leg in a Caspian Sea, then Uzbekistan welcomed us with a few of its quite interesting and unexpected things. First – the border, which we reached at night. Second – we exchanged some money with people who actually gave us more money than we estimated by checking on an app, which really made us happy. Eventually, we realized we lost some “grams” of money because of the black market rate. Why grams? That is a funny story, the highest value bank note in Uzbekistan is 1000 SUM which means for 100 USD we received 500 notes each, 1000 altogether, hardly even possible to fit it into a motorcycle tank bag. We’re still laughing about it till this day that they need a truck full of money to buy a car with cash. Forget keeping money in a wallet or pocket – carry a big case!
Uzbekistan surprised us with petrol, or rather the unavailability of it. The whole country uses gas – that is the government strategy. Petrol stations are abandoned and in order to fill your bike you need to knock on doors in the neighborhood and ask if they have some to sell. Of course they have it, but as it’s like gold, the price must be negotiated. Another thing – better to use filters as the liquid in 5 litre bottles looks and smells like petrol, but nobody knows exactly what it is mixed with. Many impressions about Uzbekistan make it the highlight of the journey.
When riding long distances east or west there is something else you need to remember – you can get lost in time, so it’s better to ask for the time and check it with your watch or GPS – it can be funny sometimes when two people are talking in different time zones.
The Asia Express project was also full of emotions related to the nature we encountered on our way. The winners were Tajikistan with the Pamir Mountains and its famous M52 that turned out to be shorter but harder than expected and of course Kyrgyzstan. Thrilling, breathtaking moments when you pass other cars and stay just a few centimeters from the edge with a running river 30 meters down, difficult hard terrain, narrow cliffs, slopes, green scenery mixed with rough soil and snowy peaks when you raise your head to take in this amazing place on the Earth. Both are lands with mysterious landscapes – spectacular, undiscovered and unexpected.
It’s easy to fall in love with Central Asia and the hospitality there, their smiles and selflessness, kindness without asking for anything in return - which nowadays usually isn’t the case.
Sleeping in yurts, eating their homemade food and drinking the milk straight from the camel or cow. Waking up with the sun shining over the endless ground and field around you, sleeping with thousands of stars over your head rewards every little effort on the road, every drop of your sweat, every minute of despondency and any kind of unexpected events.
We were riding in that scenery until the Chinese border and then back.
A life lead like that for few days shows just how beautiful the world is, when all these circumstances which occur suddenly, are resolved and overcome - making the travelers stronger and proud of being a human who can easily adapt to any conditions.
That is the magic of travelling. No matter how many borders are closed, no matter how many kilometers you need to add to find a way, this is all about adventure.
To be continued…
It began with a passion for motorcycles for Lucas- a small boy spending almost every minute tinkering with and riding his Simson S51. It seems that nobody could have stopped the growing interest in riding fast bikes and as our lives evolved, the types of motorcycles were changing, but the idea of 2 wheels and riding further remained unchanged for him.
I began riding with Lucas in 2016, through asking him for some help riding after a small accident and with that, the story began.
Finally, after selling my bike, the role of pillion fell mainly to me, of course with the opportunity to swap with Lucas sometimes. Yes, occasionally a man is on the back and he is happy!
Riding bikes is a passion – that’s clear...When it’s combined with travel, adventures and curiosity for the world, experienced by two people who motivate each other – you can only imagine what might happen!
So here we are – Look around the Globe, with 86 countries now traversed and around 175 000km done on 1 bike over 5 continents. Welcome to our adventurous motorcycle world, ride with us!
We discovered parts of Europe during some free days and holidays. The logistics of leaving our 2 cities wasn’t easy, but the further in advance you plan something the easier it is to manage.
Bornholm Island was the first trip riding two-up. I had given Lucas so many restrictions and rules because when we decided to travel on 1 bike, I totally didn’t know what to expect sitting behind him. I had to trust Lucas and I gave him the opportunity to ride as he wanted, but it was so difficult when you feel the speed twice as much as you do when riding by yourself.
I’m sure you’re wondering – why are you not riding your own bike? That’s probably not my favorite question, but let’s just say – it’s not my last word on the subject and one day, probably when we finish our first world loop, it will be time to jump on my bike.
In any case, let’s say – it’s a great challenge to travel two-up all over the world and we are proving that you can keep the whole house on 1 bike as well.
We would later go even further– from Poland to Slovenia, Croatia and Italy, coming back through Grossglockner in Austria and riding 3000km in 4 days. The next time was Kiev, Chernobyl, through Moldovia to Odessa and back home in another 4 days.
Every weekend in a different place and the days filled till the last minute before getting dark. Totally crazy plans and hundreds of kilometers every day to keep up with what we had planned into such a short space of time.
Always happy, rested with our minds, but a little bit tired with our bodies after spending long hours in a saddle.
With days like these we sound as if we were becoming addicted, but nobody, not even us, could have expected what would soon come into our heads…
The Asian adventure was calling us!
To be continued…