donderdag 22 augustus 2013

GR2013 Prologue

It's kind of strange how quickly things can go. Two years ago, I didn't even have a driving license or motorcycle of my own, but now, I was to embark on the largest and longest journey of my life, going further than I'd ever gone, all alone on two wheels. The time for prep and training was over, time to get to the meat of things.

To me, it didn't feel particularly special. I guess it's the same effect if you climb a mountain on a flight of stairs - at first you look up, and you think you're never going to pull it off.
Then you just take it step by step, slowly going another step higher, and you still feel you're not really doing anything monumental. Until you look back after some time has passed, and see from where you've come.

I was reminded of this the day before departure, when a radio station called me to inform whether I was available for an interview, either at the studio or by phone (if you can understand Dutch, you can listen to it here). I guess the project had slowly begun to grow bigger than I originally anticipated.

I didn't really expect anything from the trip, myself. I feel it's best to go in with an open mind, and let things just surprise you. Greece had already gained an insane reputation - for 5 of the 7 scheduled nights, people from various Greek motorcycle forums kindly offered a place to stay or volunteered to be a guide. I guess they don't have their reputation for hospitality for nothing.

Most apprehensive and yet curious I was about Albania - a country most people I spoke with seemed a little dubious about. "Albania, are you sure?" was an often heard question. But the people that had gone down the same route were adamant - I had to go back through the Balkans, I wouldn't regret it.

And the way I saw it: on a trip like this there has to be a part that's slightly outside your comfort zone... as that's the only way you're ever going to push yourself to the limit. Besides, if I went back through the Balkans, there would be no time limit in Greece or the route back up. I could take as long as I wanted.

In any case, my route eventually turned out to be even better than I previously anticipated. The bike surprised me in a number of ways, alot of countries surprised me in a number of ways, and I almost had a fatal accident... but you'll read more about that (and alot of other stuff, like the story behind the above picture!) in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow: the first two days!