Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Day on the Road: Lots to Think About

One of the best parts of travelling by bicycle is that we get to experience so much of the countries that we’re visiting – interacting with locals along the road, noticing the slow changes in landscape, seeing how people live outside the big cities… And travelling by bicycle also gives you lots of time to think about what you’re experiencing.

On quiet sections of road, we are able to ride close together and chat. We try to explain the differences we see (“Why is it so lush here, when it was dry just over there?”[1], “Do you notice the differences in communism in Yugoslavia vs. the USSR?”[2]), or make plans for the rest of the day (“Let’s stop for cookies at the top of the next hill”, “How much further do you want to go today?”) or generally work on the question of life, the universe and everything.

Often we can’t communicate easily, but our internal thoughts run along the same lines – exploring what’s going on around us, or working on the world’s problems. To keep our mind off a particularly tough climb or head wind, we also sometimes listen to audiobooks or podcasts on our iPods. And we often play The Licence Plate Game ("I wonder which German city DD stands for?"[3], "How can their be so many New York licence plates in Macedonia?"[4], "Why is Austria represented by the letter A, when it should be Ö for Österreich?"[5]).

[1] We've noticed that a lot more rain falls a short distance inland from the coast, especially in the mountains - so the coast is arid while there can be lush crops inland.
[2] It seems to us that Soviet communism involved much more industrial development, while small-scale agriculture continued to dominate in Yugoslavia . Since the collapse of communism, the former Soviet countries have more abandoned factories and deteriorating infrastructure, while their is less sign of 'boom and bust' in the former Yugoslav republics. 
[3] The licence plates in most Eastern European countries begin with a code for the city. DD stands for Dresden.
[4] When Macedonians living in the USA return home in the summers, they ship back their cars as status symbols.
[5] No idea.

No comments: