Travel tips for touring around Europe

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  • In a couple of months I've decided to for-go London life for a while and jump on my bike and travel through Europe and maybe beyond depending on what happens while I'm out there.

    I have a route planned to a point, the general areas I'll be travelling through and some of this sites, places, things I'd like to see on the way.

    Basically I was wondering if anyone has any ideas of places that are amazing and worth visiting, buildings that are inspiring, communities that are inviting, waters that are good for swimming or surfing, rocks and mountains that are great for climbing, everything considered...

    [So the route so far as the map shows...
    beginning back at my folks place as I need to keep all the other bikes somewhere! back across the country staying with a few friends en route in London and down Plymouth way.
    Ferry across to either Santander or hopefully Bilbao, just depends whether I can find a cheap ferry to the latter. If not I'll just have to lump it and cycle back on myself the short distance to Bilbao as it's one of the places that has inspired me (working in architecture and design and all) through uni.

    Then along Northern Spain, through the north of Portugal and inland to madrid, South from here through Andalucia towards Grenada and the coast to the short sanctuary of a friend's house. following up the coast towards Barcelona and through the Pyrenees and Southern France, then across the Alps to italy and down through to Bari in the south for the ferry across to Albania, I shall then follow the coast up through Croatia to Slovenia where my Grandmother was born (part of the reason of doing such a trip is to find out a bit about where my family comes from)
    Up through Austria where I have some relatives that I may be able to borrow a bed or at least a floor from.
    I'm hoping then to follow Northwards through the Czech Rep and Germany and up to Denmark where I will be able to get the ferry back across to Harwich in Norfolk.]

    Cheers in advance if anyone has any helpful hints....

  • Hey S1mon. Have you left yet?
    I was just about to start my own thread for my European tour. Sounds like I'm after the same sort of advice.
    Your route sounds amazing, apart from the Pyrenees and the Alps.

    I too could do with some tips of great places to go in Europe. I'm thinking of heading North West out of Holland towards Russia ish and then up to Norway / Sweden perhaps. Could definitely do with some tips.

  • make sure you've got the right kit!

  • Remember that all shops will be closed by 2pm!

    You'll have an amazing time in Northern Spain. The scenery is incredible. San Sebastien is worth a visit and not far from Bilbao. Be careful riding through central Spain - I did Bilbao to Valencia a few years back and there was an awful stretch through a landscape of landfill North of Zarragoza. Avoid that for sure.

    In terms of kit I have found that a good sleeping mat is one thing I wouldn't go without. Alpkit do good ones at very good prices. Watch out for heatstroke if you're going to be down south in the Summer. If you're going to be in the sun for long stetches it's a good idea to carry sachets of elecrolytes to replenish your salts after lots of sweating.

    It sounds like you're going to have an amazing time. How long have you put aside for the route you've shown?

  • Cheers for the tips so far guys, already lots of bits about Spain to think about, really excited about Northern Spain, haven't heard a bad thing yet! apart from maybe the landscape of landfill, sounds horrendous!

    @Wicksie, nope not left as yet, I'm not leaving work for a bit over a month, I'm looking to leave at the beginning of May. Dive into this thread and ask all the stuff you need to know about! Like the sound of your route too, I'd love to get up to Scandinavia at some point. Sounds from what I've heard from people who do cycle touring a lot that once you start you never finish so I might catch you up there!

    @Chinnny, damn right about the kit, at the moment I'm adding bits to my On-One inbred, strong frame and wheels, low gearing, I'm going with disc brakes as I reckon i'm more likely to find spares on top of what I take with me in Europe easier than say Asia or Africa(?).
    The Old Man Mountain racks are on their way and my old Carradice panniers just need a reproof and they'll stand up to a good few more years of road work! Marathon XRs for the tyres,
    I have a decent if small 1 man tent and good sleeping bag, The main thing I need now is a proper camping stove, I'm thinking the MSR Whisperlite International, but if anyone has any other recommendations please speak up!

    @Jimalex, cheers for the tips first off, One of my friends recommended San Sebastien so looks like the going back on myself may be a bit longer than initially planned! I'm going for a decent sleeping mat for sure, The alpkit range seems the best so far for price and weight and amount of people who recommend them. But I found a Vango one, anyone had any experience with other self inflating mats? The first aid kit is brimming over with bandages and electrolyte sachets but I reckon I'll pack a good few more as I'm sure I'll be exposed quite a bit and heatstroke's not that much fun! I'm hoping that I'll get into a kind of regime that follows nature and the local people, waking at sunrise, cycling for a few hours in the cooler(ish) morning sun and then resting for a few hours in the peak midday heat, then carrying on once it has cooled a bit further into the afternoon. Sure there'll be a few mistakes when it comes to cycling too long in the sun so that advice is key, thanks.
    At present I don't really have a proper time frame, I'm working on around 6/8 months for the route shown and am looking at around a month in most countries apart from maybe the Eastern European parts, simply because the route I have planned through these countries crosses the borders pretty quickly.

    Cheers for all the advice guys, If anyone has any other tips about places that are near the route shown above, and also for Wicksie's route (Wicksie, chuck a map up so people have an idea of where you're heading....) it'd be great if you could contribute!

  • Ive heard that the MSR Whisperlite International are good and they get alot of good reviews on touring sites, another option would be something like coleman multifuel feather stove 442, its what I use when I tour. Depending on the size of the bottle you'd use for the MSR its probably a little bigger and definitely heavier but it is also cheaper.

  • dont forget yer bike !

  • Always carry a lightweight mattock/trowel so you can shit wherever without polluting and spreading disease. This practise is known as 'cat lat'. also means you can dig a turf for burying wet or dry biodegradeable waste too, and for making safe fires, without leaving uneccesary damage.

    Sounds like a wonderful endeavour. I am very envious.

  • @ woods_alexis, just been checking out the coleman stove, looks like a good option. Only problem I can see is that I was going to strap the fuel bottle to the underside of the downtube with a bikebuddy cage and not sure if the coleman would fit, anyway, i'll take a look next time i head to an outdoors shop...

    @B1K3L0V3R ;)

    @skully cheers for the tip, i actually already noted that from you on another thread about general touring, have found a lightweight trowel so I shall be leaving no trace as I go, well not on the surface anyway!

  • Don't bother with "electrolytes" just eat plenty of crisps. Get used to cold food, so you don't have to carry a stove? I did this, local bread, cheese, fruit and wine is a nice supper.....if you want something hot have coffee and hot chocolate in cafes and occasionally sample local bistros in the evening?...budget dependant.

  • Ha. I'm like cracked record.

    A trowel is a traveller's friend. When I meet a seasoned traveller, you'll hear me remark 'now there's a frood who really knows where is trowel is...'
    (Douglas Adams nearly got that right)

  • the setup I have is a trangia 1l fuel bottle strapped to a bike buddy on the underside of my downtube and then the coleman in my panniers. I have the trangia fuel bottle as my spare, its a good fuel bottle because it has a funnel so its easy to pour into the coleman (for some reason coleman own brand funnels are pretty expensive).

    I didnt go for MSR because i'm on abit of a budget, but the bike buddy / MSR setup would be awesome, specially as the MSR would take up such a small amount of room.

    One thing I do notice with the bike buddy, its primarily designed for quite large (girth) bottles, so you couldnt use the clips and springs for anything smaller than a 1l bottle IMO. Also i dont know what bike you plan to use it on, but on my dawes when i fit the bike buddy and trangia bottle on the underside of the downtube, with mudguards on theres maybe only a 5mm gap between the bottle end and the mudguards so its quite tight.

  • self-inflating mats.
    i have a compact eurohike one that i use. its pretty comfy, i use it when i work at festivals. it is in no way uncomfy and doesnt aggravate aches an pains, the longest i've slept on it for is 22 consecutive days and it caused me no problems whatsoever. it's also really light.

  • longest i've slept on it for is 22 consecutive days

    Lazy bastard.

  • Lazy bastard.

    hahahaha
    i meant consecutive nights.
    but yeah, it's awesome, takes up very little space in a tent so you can bring all your stuff inside with you.

  • Remember that all shops will be closed by 2pm!

    ^^this.

    Me and a friend did a shorter effort in France (during the tour) a couple of years ago. Ace fun.
    http://cyclish.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_a­rchive.html

  • Slightly off topic but; I see you're using google maps and MS paint. When i planned my route i worked out how to do something pretty handy on google maps to get a rough idea of distances and feasibility. This may be obvious to you guys, but I found it useful and I'm not sure how many people are aware of how good this can be for basic planning.

    -Search 'from' starting place 'to' destination
    -Then you will be given the quickest route
    -Select the little walking man icon to change to walking, so you aren't given motorways
    -Next you can right click on any place you want to stay and select 'add destination', which will add said place to a list on the left of stops. It also gives you a rough distance between stops.
    -You just need to drag your route according to your journey by simply hovering over the line, and dragging it to wherever.

    In the end, you've got a relatively comprehensive large map which you can print-screen or maybe save somehow, that is slightly easier to get done and editable.

  • On that trip I would definitely recommend a detour towards Zurich if it's not a budget breaker.

  • Nice one SuperJoe, will be looking into the sleeping mat tonight!
    @ Woods_alexis, I'm moving towards the MSR for that reason exactly, the amount of space it will take up is pretty minimal. As for the bike, I'll be using an on-one with a rigid fork, as it's a MTB specific fork it keeps the geometry as when the bike has a suspension for in place, meaning theres plenty of room between wheel and frame, so the Bikebuddy will fit quite well even with a large fuel bottle.

    @Marco, the blog looks good, will have a proper read back at the ranch later, maybe you can help with something else too, I use wordpress at the moment for a couple of blogs but wondered how you (or anyone else for that matter!) found blogger? How is it for usability? adding photos, update speeds, just wondering if I should shift to blogger for my travel-blog. I'll be using my little netbook to type on the go, hopefully using wifi when I find it in towns to update. I've heard that some McDonalds have free wifi on the continent. Looks like I'll have to go back on my word to never step foot in one of those places again while I'm away!

    @ Chinnny, nice idea on using googlemaps, thats how I kind of figured a rough estimate of distance and times, I've picked up some high detail papaer mappage to start off with but maybe using these and Googlemaps might help me stay on some kind of track timewise!

    @Void, Zurich, noted, great city then?

    Nice one all

  • re stoves...I've used a Primus Omnifuel for years on different fuels and its been great.

    re blog -i used wordpress for my tour blog last year and found it really good...

  • Wow, that's one heck of a trip. VERY jealous.
    Can't remember who it was but someone put up their equipment list somewhere and I found that really helpful. Used it as a rough guide for two long tours. Had everything you'd need for a long tour.
    Will try and find it.

    There were a few changes that I made though, left some stuff out and added my own but mostly I found it bang on.

  • Hello! I've just signed up so I can reply to this thread. i'm off in June from Hull across to Rotterdam, following the Rhein down to Swizerland, then off up to the Danube and along to the Black Sea.

    As I've not toured before I can't offer you any tour specific tips, however, what I can do is advise you on destination.. I've spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe - it's a great place. Might I suggest you go from Albania to pick up the Danube in Serbia and follow it up to Budapest? It'll be worth it, culturally, but also financially. I'm hoping to spend the most of my time over there, simply because of my budget.

  • i'm off in June from Hull

    That sounds adventurous, I've heard all sorts of things about Hull, do people really have moustaches on their foreheads and go outside in t-shirts despite the sub zero temperatures? Do you need to have lots of inoculations? I heard that rickets and tuberculosis were prevalent in North East England..

  • I don't know mate. I'd go nowhere near, but the only boats that go through Stoke On Trent are barges.... Actually, there's an idea..

  • @steves, nice one on recommending the primus, looks good, watching on on the bay at the moment so we'll see what happens.

    Angus, would be cool if you could find that list, I found a one online on travellingtwo.com, which in itself is a great site for travelling tips btw.... its the tent I bought from you that I'm taking with me so nice one for that!

    @kuriosoranj, cheers for signing up, welcome to the forum! Your plan sounds like a great route too, following the Danube is something I hadn't thought of but one of my friends did suggest going through Budapest so I'll definitely look into that.....
    Yeah looking forward to seeing Eastern Europe as haven't really experienced that part of the world properly.
    cheers everyone, some grand tips on here already, anybody know much about the Alps and routes through Italy, I've heard of a cycle way that apparently runs a long distance down the country??

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Travel tips for touring around Europe

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