Las unicas cadenas que te dan libertad son las de la bicicleta.
The only chains that give you freedom are the ones of a bicycle.
These days we are thinking of the freedom we had. This trip gave us an incredible freedom. And yes, you are right, we are extreme freedom-lovers. And now? Bam – welcome back to normal! After the first euphoria of being home, seeing everybody and celebrating, it is definitely hard to accept. Same flat, same hood, same people and the whole journey seems to encapsulate in a big bubble. Staying in rooms all day long, sitting in front of the computer, and realizing the adventure is over. Leaving is easier than coming back. It seems sad.
But it is not. It is great at the same time! Because we are still free, the journey freed our minds! And this will last. We will keep what we experienced forever. And it will definitely play an important role in how we will live and create our life from now on. Freedom is not always easy but worth it!
Velosophics on TV
For those of you who have missed us live on TV a few days after being back in Düsseldorf - here you go!
For us, an amazing year comes to an end… Our thoughts are with our cycling buddies who are still out there and all our friends we met on the way - you all made our trip so memorable!
We wish YOU all the best for 2014!
Have a good start and live your adventures and dreams!!!
Thank you all - Gracias a todos!
We are back home. So suddenly. In our flat, surrounded by our personal belongings - so much stuff. A few days later: Christmas! Seeing the whole big family, old friends, being all together, celebrating… it is great to feel so homey at Christmas!
But already now we have moments when we hardly believe that we have been on the road for the last 16 months. This feeling comes much too fast! It hurts to realize that it is really over now. Full of melancholy and gratitude we think of the number of countries we cycled through, the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets we enjoyed, the huge dimensions that let us feel so little and powerful at the same time. How many people we met and how many adventures we lived through!!?? We realize it was a long time - the best time of our life! So, we directly find ourselves in front of the world map in my parents’ house and think about new places to go…
We would like to thank you all for taking part in the Velosophics journey! Never before, we experienced so much support and help, so much engagement and cordiality. This is incredible, honestly!
We learned that 98 percent of all people are good ones. So we don’t have to be afraid of anyhting and one is for sure: There is always a solution for every problem. This knowledge definitely has a huge impact on our attitudes and future decisions. Thank you Latin America, for teaching us this lesson!
Now we know that everything is possible, no matter how far or high it may seem. How often did we shout “Todo es possible en el mundo!” and “Wir schaffen das!”??? It is only a question of your own will and time you have to invest for yourself - for your dream. This is the best and the most important we ever did in our life: Having a big dream and fulfilling it!
Thank you all
for inviting us, offering places to sleep and food,
for trusting us, giving the feeling to be safe whenever and however we will come back home,
for motivating us on the streets with your thumbs up, greetings and wavings,
for your visits from home,
for writing and missing us,
for sponsoring us with equipment and bike parts before and during the trip,
for cycling with us and sharing amazing days and weeks on the road,
for donating and supporting our “Bikes for Africa” charity,
for teaching us Spanish,
for integrating us in your families,
for letting us sleep in your own beds!,
for your professional support building and working on the bikes,
for giving us a ride when we were stuck,
for showing us your cultures and personal worlds,
for publishing our project,
for not gun-pointing us!,
and finally for welcoming us back home!
With this in mind we wish you all a Merry Christmas, some beautiful days with your friends and families and a great start into the new year!
Cycling, driving, flying home – Buenos Aires, Frankfurt and finally Duesseldorf!
We knew it: one day every adventure comes to an end. We bristled against it once and extended the trip. But now time has come: we arrive in Buenos Aires, the last goal of our cycle tour through Latin America.
Buenos Aires, WOW! City of beauty, gigantic dimensions, of music and nightlife, design and art, the city of the rich, of modernity and poverty likewise…
It is a shame – we cannot really discover and celebrate reaching our destination. The days are packed with organisational stuff. Preparing the 80 kg of equipment and the bikes for the flight takes time. We are so pleased to stay with the family of Diego and Pili who help us with everything we need. A huge asado at first, but then we drive around to find bike cartons and packaging material, to see the most important parts of the city (in Diego’s opinion the Boca stadium!) and we meet more and more family members, one is nicer than the other. „We always hang out with our whole families, this is Argentinian style!“ It is mostly because of them that we fall in love with the city, the two days we spend in downtown it is raining like the end of the world and Hardy is fighting a cold.
It is a hard and sad farewell from this special continent in that we immersed on our bikes for such a long time – five months in Central America and nine months in South America. We were living our dream and suddenly we are facing the end! No! We don’t want to but in only one day we will be in grey German winter!
A 24 hours flight, changing in Panama City and one stop over in the Dominican Repuclic. A plane full of sunburned package holiday tourists, no place for the legs and not enough food… Not exactly the best conditions to bring Hardy back home! But a great welcome by Julia and Frank at the airport – they even come by bike to pick us up!!! Cycling into Frankfurt we directly feel so homey although it is not our city. It is the smell of German cold, the street signs, the way people behave… The first stop after 10 minutes is a German bakery where Hardy cannot efface himself and wants to buy everything – oh gosh, how much we were missing German bread and pastries the last year!
The following days we feast through the flats of our friends and family: Hardys dad in Mainz, our friends in Frankfurt, Bonn and Cologne… We are delighted by huge breakfast tables and the well furnished and stylish flats everybody is living in. It is all so comfortable and cosy. And everything is working! No more toilet flushing to repair, the water in the shower stays on the exact temperature, we take the bikes in the train without any hassle etc… And yet, it is grey and cold and we already miss the warmth of the Latin American people and the Spanish chatter around us. On the bike we spontaneously answer greetings of pedestrians with „Hola, que tal?“ – this will probably take some time.
Finally, one week after landing in Frankfurt, we make the last kilometers from Cologne to Duesseldorf accompanied by Sören and Stefan through the cold rain. Our thoughts in these moments are hard to explain, a queasy feeling in the stomach as we arrive in our „barrio“ Flingern. And suddenly we see them: parents, sister, best friends and the little new borns! They are all there, waiting in the cold with flowers and prosecco!!! How often did we talk about this moment before?? How will it feel to see and hug you all again?
Just great – we love you!
Lovely Chile: Our last cycling weeks in Latin America
We can imagine no better country to spend our last cycling weeks and get prepared to return back home to Germany. Even without going to the famous South “La Patagonia” we are amazed by the beauty of Chile! The sea and the mountains are so close together that you could go skiing and jump in the ice cold Pacific in one day!
We spend a few days on gorgeous Isla Negra, a peninsula South of Valparaiso, and visit the Neruda House there. Pablo Neruda was the most famous Chilean poet and author who rebelled against the fascism. Superinteresting, worth to visit!
We are in spring time, the colours of the flowers are amazing, the climate just perfect for cycling and camping. Everything is easy in Chile and sometimes even really similar to Germany. Signs for Kuchen lead us the way and we even find German products in the supermarkets. Many German influences here, unfortunately not only the good ones: When we pass the little village of La Cruz, people tell us that Dr. Josef Mengele lived in a Nazi colony near by for some years and his daughter is still here. The good thing is, most people in Chile know more about our history than in other countries like Bolivia and Peru. There we had to explain quite often that we are definitely not proud of the German history and Hitler is a real “malo“.
The Chilean people are supernice, everybody is willing to help us, sometimes inviting us to camp on their properties with access to the lake etc… Wild camping is difficult though, only high up in the mountains you will find land that has no fence – that sucks! But anyway, we feel like on holidays in these weeks!
And unexpectedly, we really like Santiago, especially because of the great company of Christobal and his friend Vero who lets us stay in her apartment. Santiago does not seem very Latin American, it is super modern, forward thinking in many cases and we come across many nice ideas like putting pianos in open spaces and inviting people to play them. We also encounter the first white bicycle in Santiago. These so called ghost bikes are set up as memorials for cyclists who were killed in the traffic by irresponsible drivers. We heard of this tradition before but never saw one on the whole trip.
Santiago is biggest city (6 milllion inhabitants) we have cycled into on the whole trip. This is only overtopped by Buenos Aires where we arrived yesterday – but by bus. Now it is time to enjoy the very last days in Latin America - sun and asados!
See you soon!!!!!!!
The date, this special date, that felt so far away for the last 15 months, is coming closer and closer, and suddenly appears right in front of us: We have a flight on the 29th November from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt and will slowly cycle home to Düsseldorf in the first December week.
If there is no big snow storm, iced roads or broken parts on the last kilometers we will arrive
at the Hermannplatz in Flingern
on Saturday, 7th December
around 1 pm.
Would be great to see many of you there!
For days and weeks we are talking about home already. Too early, for sure! We should enjoy the last weeks of cycling and freedom, the sun and the mountains, meeting different people and seeing new things every day. But it is an unavoidable automatic process. Already now we are so much in Germany with our thoughts. A big part of that is anticipation for the reunion, but a lot is already organizing the first steps back into German life. We are checking job offers and talk about how our lives could look like, seeking for a new adventure – jobwise.
It will be epic seeing you all again! And it will be great to have our home back: an own bed, a big kitchen, not changing and packing the bags every day, no cooking on the dirty ground and washing clothes by hand… An automatic dish washer and a warm shower that is always available. And how will it feel like to wear jeans again?! Or even high heels?! I will cook big meals, make tons of cake and muffins and we will celebrate our dark German bread. We will ring and meet our friends when we want to… I will go running and not cycling! We will listen to our music out of Hardys beloved high-end speakers – no more crappy sounds! The list of things we are looking forward to is looong! From over here it all seems like luxury stuff for us but we already know that we are living the real luxury (in our sense) right now:
Having the time and mobility, the freedom and courage to do what we want to do and go where we want to go.
Street art in Valparaíso
Two days wandering around in famous Valpo, how the locals call it. A lively city full of art, music, subculture and great sceneries… But definitely not made for loaded bicycles! Check out these impressive graffitis!
A thousand thanks to Carl and the whole house community who welcomed us in San Enrique street!
Just one more time: Back into the Andes from Mendoza to Chile
We cannot separate ourselves. We have to go back to the Andes – just one more time. In Cordoba we consider every possible route we could take to Buenos Aires or somewhere else to enjoy the last weeks of the trip. Paraguay, Brasil, Uruguay? Definitely not Central Argentina, this was by far the most boring and annoying region we have been on the whole trip.
The coast of Brasil would be nice, of course, some beach days before going back into German winter sound tempting. But there is nothing exciting for cycling in the Southern part of the country… Uruguay? Too European, we will have this again sooner than we would like… Iguazu water falls? Must be amazing, but again nothing else for cycling there… Paraguay? Hot and flat, mmh… So, we soon find out the Andes are calling us back. We take a bus to Mendoza and want to cross one last Andes pass - into Chile. Mountains are just so much more interesting to cycle, we will miss them when we come back, for sure.
Mendoza – the biggest wine-growing area of Argentina in a beautiful setting at the foot of the Andes. We really like the city, it is green, has dozens of big parks and wide streets… Since we are in Argentina, wine is good and cheap, and even the tetra packs are good quality. Great! These are easy to carry on the bikes for some relaxed camping nights. But in Mendoza we really start flying on a cloud of wine. We visit the wine museum and go for a tasting at La Rural/Rutini, an amazing winery close to Mendoza. Listening to us talking about our travel project with other visitors the Rutini stuff even gives us a bottle of delicious white wine as a present!
After a little tour through the Valle de Uco in the South of Mendoza it is time to leave the easy wine-filled camping nights behind and climb up again. The pass is on 3,185m and the gradient not too bad. On the way we visit the natural bridge Puente del Inca, an arc of rock built by erosion. The sulphurous source beside it colours the stone in yellow and red tones. Just a few kilometers further we have a clear view on the highest mountain of America, the Aconcagua (6,962m). Impressive!
The last bit of the climb is not that easy any more, and finally we face a 3 km tunnel to the Chilean side. But suddenly we experience the amenities of a better developed country: Security people call us a van that safely drives us through the heavy traffic - what a service!
The descent on the Chilean side is great fun, we have the road for ourselves. In the golden light of the late afternoon (since a few weeks we have light until nearly 9 pm again!) we speed down the serpentines while the cars and trucks have to wait because of road constructions. Everything is lush green, clear rivers and nice houses next to the road, Chile is idyllic! In San Felipe we meet our namesakes again and stay two days all together in the huge house of the warmshowers hosts Jennifer and Ed. We love it! They are winemakers, great cooks and they have a dish washer – the first one we see after over a year!
We leave together with Hardy and Alena, cycle 70km to the National Park La Campana and do a hike of 10km through the park the same afternoon. Maybe a bit to much for one day, but beautiful! Only a 100km later we arrive in Valparaiso at the Pacific Ocean. The sea - nice to see you again, it has been a while…
Goodbye Andes - From Salta to Cordoba
After seven months cycling down the Andes from North to South, from Colombia to Northern Argentina it is time to say good bye… With mixed feelings we leave this incredibly long mountain range of joy and sorrow behind. One more pass and then the last descent into the flats of Argentina.
We live a great week in Salta with some tasty bottles of red wine and loads of meat for Hardy: He has to gain some weight after the exhausting weeks in Bolivia while I was continously putting kilos on eating maybe half of his portions… Isn’t this unfair?! We also work a lot and celebrate one more reunion with our namesakes Alena and Hardy – until we finally hit the road again. Cycling feels so easy the first days. On the perfectly paved roads we nearly fly into the wine region of Cafayate, 90 to 110 km per day become normal in contrast to the daily 30 to 50 km in Bolivia the weeks before. As Argentineans seem to be a camping nation nearly every little town has an official camp site and everything we like is available. We have to free ourselves from the habit to always buy and carry food for some days. Public toilets are clean again, provide toilet paper and even have toilet seats! Hardy would put it “nice and boring“. The only part that really impresses us on the way to Cafayate is the Quebrada de las Conchas with its rock formations and colours.
The holy siesta time in between 1 and 5pm is something we really have to get used to. You meet nearly nobody on the streets at this time of the day, sometimes shops only open again at 6 pm!
After some more red wine in Cafayate we make our way up to Tafí del Valle, the last real pass of the trip. One more climb from 1,000 to 3,000 m, camping in a small mountain school and then a worthy descent out of the Andes: Coming up from the desertic side, we dive into a lush green jungle on the other. We smell the rich plant life, the spring, hear so many different bird voices – I did not know how much I was missing trees the last months! Cycling through the woods after such a long time immediately makes me happy. We find a great camp spot at Rio Sosa, take a bath in the evening and in the morning and wish it would always be like that! But it is not…
When we finally turn our back to the Andes we enter the hot, the boring, the dirty Argentina. It follows a week on the looong, straight, flat, boring and dangerous Ruta Nacional 157 to Cordoba. No fun! The dirty monster trucks and buses want to honk us off the street and sometimes come really close. It is pure stress and definitely no easy cycling. Welcome back to industry! There is no more river to bath in, nearly every water in Argentina east of the Andes is contaminated. Ugly factories spit clouds of smoke in the air and stinky water in the rivers. The wind comes from the front and the only things we see are dry brambles and dead cows at the side of the street. People tell us it has not rained for about seven months, animals are dieing by the lack of water… Until the Germans come and bring the rain! It starts while we are staying in a church in Lavalle and it just won’t stop! Great for the nature, bad for us.
The next days we stay in huge sport halls, in an old lady’s house, in a community center – in every village and town we meet incredibly nice people who are curious and always willing to help. Somehow the open Argentinan mentality reminds us of Colombia. The people are our highlights of these days!
In another heavy rain we finally arrive in Cordoba. But we get a really warm welcome by our www.warmshowers.org host Willy and his family. For two days we feel like in a casa de ciclastas, the two French Leo and Damien are staying here as well and we have a great time all together. We can imagine no better place to get to know the Argentinean life, learn a lot from refreshing conversations and enjoy good healthy (!) food! Muchas gracias familia Espíndola and friend Pablo – you are great!
For our last weeks we do not want to keep on cycling on these horrible roads through Middle Argentina. Probably we will take a bus to somewhere else the next days to enjoy our last weeks in nice nature instead of risking our lives…