In recent years, I’ve learnt I like to travel. Preferably on a motorbike and solo. This, simply because a motorbike allows you to participate, rather than spectate.
What do I mean by that? Well, imagine you’re in southern France, somewhere beautiful – maritime Alps with its narrow single lane roads carved into sheer cliffside springs to mind here. It’s summer, the temperature hovers around 40 degrees C and you have nothing to do but take in the scenery.
Sitting in a car, you’d probably have set the aircon to 22 degrees C, and with a cold drink nearby, taking in the vistas as you drive by. If only you could do that. You’re stuck in a queue on this silly single-lane road, full of all the other cars, sightseeing. You spend the day in your tin can, tediously treading your hamster-wheel/car-queue, talking to noone, unable to park anywhere but at tourist traps selling overpriced junk food to people standing in line at the counter. Stressfull.
Astride a motorbike, you’ll be experiencing the full force of the sun, sweating like a pig as temperature soars. Luckily, you’ll also smell the scent of dry pines and hot asphalt as you take in the vistas. Because you can do that on this spectacular single lane road, passing any miserable sods queued up in their cars. You park wherever you like, sticking the bike in a corner to go and have a photoshoot and a chat with the other bikers. You talk, share tips on places to see and where to find nifty little restaurants used by the locals. Blissful.
The thing is… A bike brings freedom – at a cost. However, if you know how to utilise that freedom, the cost is – well, just an expense to be paid. Central to getting your investment’s worth is that you keep a focus on the essence of travelling; the authenticity of experiences you find. How close you can get to local ‘RealLifeTM‘. Enjoying a continental breakfast in a 4-star hotel is the same everywhere, as opposed to discussing unemployment rates among french carpenters with a french carpenter – while sipping wine on said french carpenter’s patio in the setting sun. Just sayin’…
For starters, avoid 4-star hotels at all costs. They’ll cushion you and feed you and support you and utterly, completely isolate you from anything authentic as best they can.
Next, dispense of any means of transportation resembling charter plane, car or anything else that cushions you from the hard work of travelling. Travelling is the goal, not just a means of ‘getting there’ to go sit by the pool. And while travelling un-cushioned, you’ll experience the locals, smell the scent of pines and hot asphalt and get to know a subjective view on unemployment rates among french carpenters. Or something completely different.
Finally, (this is strictly my own standpoint here) go alone. The minute you’re off with someone, the locals will look at your two-wheeled guild and think “a group – they’ll manage. No need to intrude”. If it’s just you, you’re probably in need of direction, help or something else. People love to help – give them the opportunity. And as you do, smile and be enthusiastic. Engage. The response will be instantaneous and most likely good.
I mean; the alternative is guided bus tours, cheap booze by the pool, ignorance and a sheep’s life.
I’d rather have this:
Where to go – discussions and ideas
I’m considering creating a number of subpages to the one you are reading, each one related to a particular country and what to see there:
- 1st hand knowledge:
- Want to go:
- Czech republic
- A distant dream:
- Don’t want to go:
While waiting for this content to magically appear (do not hold your breath!), you may consider looking around on this site for other people’s ideas: The HUBB