Everyone wants to know where we’re going, and to be honest, we don’t know exactly. Here’s an outline of the plan….
In Europe, we’re largely following some Eurovelo routes, see: http://www.eurovelo.org/routes/
After cycling from home to Newhaven, the Sunday 17th April ferry sets us in Dieppe mid afternoon, so a short ride to Eu for the night is the second leg. Then we latch onto Eurovelo 5 to Brussels. Actual: Missed Brussels and went more south.
We come off that onto a “castles” route in south-west Germany, divert south to Ulm to meet Gideon’s ex-work colleagues (about 1st May). From Ulm, Eurovelo 6 follows the Danube an awful long way, until we get to Budapest. There might be an extended stop in Vienna, as it’s reputedly a good place to pick up visas. Actual: Yup, did that.
After Budapest, we hang a right, possibly onto Eurovelo 13, towards Turkey. Actual: Nope, Gideon misunderstood where EV13 goes, and we saw the hills on the map, so stuck on the Danube until Ruse, in East Bulgaria.
We think at this point we’ll have done 3-4,000Km. The real distance depends on the directness of the Eurovelos, and how much choosing minor roads & nice stops increases the mileage. As a rule-of-thumb, we can use Google Maps directions for cars (in most places it doesn’t have a bike routing), and add 50%.
We plan to reach the western side of Turkey around mid-June. Turkey has a visa-at-the-border and e-visa, and we head across the north coast (if we’re in a hurry: fast but pooey big roads), or more slowly, and hopefully interestingly, via the interior. There’s nearly 2,000Km of Turkey, and probably June-July is a bit uncomfortably warm for this. Actual: Yup, we went south of Ankara…
After Turkey, we hope to end up in Azerbaijan, because from there we can get a ship for Kazakhstan (or Turkmenistan, but that’s expensive as a guide is mandatory). Before that, we may stop in Georgia. Most of the ex-USSR ‘stans have quite onerous visa requirements. As the visa dates are fixed, we may have rests or trains to adjust timing.
Ideally, we cross the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, then bike and train to Uzbekistan border. The sea crossings could take a couple of weeks, as they’re not conventional ferries, just ships.
Actual: The above pretty much worked out as planned. Sea crossing was quicker than could have been.
We didn’t advance plan a route for Uzbekistan (& possibly Tajikistan), and Kyrgyzstan. This area is traversed by the old Silk Route – actually it’s many routes – and is full of fascinating places. It may be unhelpfully hot, Actual: September in Uzbekistan was lovely, at least until we reach the mountains in the east. We expect to end up with another longer stop in the capital of Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek). One thing this has in common with Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, is that we don’t need visas to go there for a month or two. This is now about October/November 2016, I think.
Then, because of the winter snow, and the difficulty of obtaining China/Pakistan visas on the road, we mus fly to Delhi, India. Actual: Yep, flew with Pegasus for about $250 each.
The beginning of winter seems an ideal time to arrive in India. We have no detailed plan for India yet, there’s so much possibility, and we don’t know exactly when we arrive. But over some time, we need to head towards IndoChina. Hopefully we can check out at least some foothills of the Himalayas.
Actual: We went West to start, to tour the fort cities of Rajasthan, before resuming eastwards, on a slightly southerly route, rather than the Himalayas, then went a bit north to Varanasi.
So now spring 2017. By now our plan is very vague. We’re hoping the India-Myanmar border will open by then, if not we probably have to sail or fly round it, with an outside option of getting Bhutan/China visas and looping north. Actual: India Myanmar and Bangaladesh Myanmar borders are actually worse than when we set off. There’s no sea route, either. Looks like another flight, from NE India to Myanmar.
Then south-ish thru Indo-China, and as far as we can safely get overland before probably flying on to Oz. This last stage is not detail planned in advance. Hopefully we can cross the equator to our advantage, climatically.