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Leaving Europe, 3000kms, 1/3 of funds raised

We have made it to Athens, Greece, the final city in the European leg of our journey! We have 2 announcements to make about milestones we have reached which Emma and I are quite proud of.
Long sub-zero degree nights in Greece gave us beautiful frosted mornings (and chilblains on our toes and feet).

Firstly, we crossed the 3000km mark (now at 3420km exactly) and have been on the road for 3.5 months. We feel as though we have settled into our journey and are not just freshly started as in the last blog post. (We also don’t feel quite as fresh physically as it was 17 days since the last proper shower; we have been wild camping and last paid for accommodation in Ohrid, North Macedonia. But don’t worry we wash off with public taps and flannels and rivers and ocean when possible!) The question of accommodation, camping and wild camping is something we will speak about in a future post. We have cycled in a total of 9 countries so far (even though most were small countries, and most African countries we cycle through will take us much longer to cross). These, in order of appearance, are: Germany, Czechia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia and now Greece. We’ve completed about 1/6 of the total distance of our trip, and are stoked for the changes that lie ahead.

We've had about 90 different homes since leaving Berlin

The second big announcement is that we have reached 1/3 of our fundraising goal. This means we have raised 9000 euros out of the 27 000 goal. We are proud to say that we have made a first transaction to the charities we support of 2500 Euros each. To The Humane League (THL), we were able to make the transaction in a time window where a different generous donor was matching all donations 3x. Therefore we were in effect able to channel 7500 Euros to one of the most impactful and transparent (non-human) animal welfare charities on the planet. The impact that this had is slightly tricky to quantify exactly. However, if the estimates of 1 dollar donated being able to prevent between 20 and 300 ( ) hens from living in cramped cages in factory farms but rather living cage-free is used, then the money from our generous donors (you) was able to save between 150.000 and 2 250.000 (!!) individuals from this cruel fate. (To find out what cage-free really means: ). This is incredible, and to be honest we are very proud of the achievement, as well as grateful to you.

This, however, must be acknowledged to be a small dent in the reality of the situation. The numbers are absolutely staggering about how many non-human animals live under such conditions for their entire lives, viewed as products and not as individuals. In our opinion, it is high time for those of us that have the luxury of choice in which products we buy and industries we support to make a mindset shift towards compassion towards other thinking, emotional beings. This societal shift of consumer preferences is needed to go along with the structural changes that can be made by campaigners such as THL, the business sector, and government policies.

One of our favourite free-camping spots so far, big open space, nearly no-one around, and next to a lake full of birds and plane trees.

The second charity we are supporting, Prince Albert Skills School (PASS) also received its first instalment of 2500 Euros (approximately R45 000). We have been in communication with those running the school, and we believe they know best where the money should be allocated. A portion of this first transfer will likely be spent on the ceiling of the new girls school building. The summers in Prince Albert get hot (40+ degrees Celsius hot) and the winters cold (it is in a semi-desert climate) so an insulated roof will add great value to the school building and learning capacities of the students. Funds will also go towards solid shoes, school uniforms and 2 sewing machines. We have also suggested that some of the funds be used for developing and designing a website for the school; if anyone has the relevant skills and would like to get involved with a socially impactful project, please reach out to us. Once the money has been invested in the school, we will include updates and photos in future blogs.

2 sunny days af cycling small mountain roads above Lake Shkodër, just before entering Albania from Montenegro

Aside from these milestones, we have also had to make some decisions in the last weeks. How does the trip go forward logistically; how do we get to Africa? We have struggled for some months with that question. We were originally hopeful to find a boat or a ferry that could get us to Egypt or Israel (potentially via Cyprus) either from Greece or Turkey. The closest we got was a ferry that we found online that was discontinued in 2003 for unspecified political reasons. We would have liked to cycle East around the Mediterranean but unfortunately Syria is still too unstable to cycle through. After many hours of unsuccessfully searching the internet and speaking to other travellers about boat options, we decided to book a flight from Athens to Cairo with our bikes checked in as sports equipment. This was a difficult decision because we are trying to fly only as a last resort. Even though carbon offsetting for flights is imperfect, it is better than nothing; so we will be doing either this, or donating to an underfunded but effective climate activist group such as Extinction Rebellion. We spend new years in Greece, and fly to Cairo on the 4th January 2023, and are super excited and inquisitive about this big step!

We were 4 cyclists at this point in Croatia, our friend Sophie, as well as our new Argentinian friend Ezequiel who has been living on the road for 5 years already

A reality about cycling and camping is that the weather plays a much bigger role in our everyday lives than when living in a fixed home. We have been checking the weather reports regularly to see how much we’ll need to cover up against the rain and cold, how we will be drying things out on our bikes which act as clothes lines during the day’s cycle, and how warmly to dress (this last one also depends on the hills we have to climb so we don’t get too sweaty under the layers). We have also had a little peek at the weather in Egypt and it looks beautiful! 20 degrees and sunny in the daytime and down to 12 degrees at night. This also means we will have more sun for our portable solar panel. The last weeks have been a bit tricky because we have not had much access to charging points and therefore it’s been difficult to charge up our devices. We rely on our phones for navigation and communication, our head torches because the sun is setting so early, and most importantly the portable speaker for the after lunch music motivation. We have not had very much sun recently in the Balkans and are looking forward to being less dependent on charging up at cafes or shops. This has also made us more aware of the extreme privileges and convenience of easy electricity access: thinking about the millions who have never been connected to the grid, those who are violently disconnected (Ukrainians), and those who are undergoing extreme load-shedding and poor service delivery in South Africa and elsewhere. It’s interesting trying to consciously take the step back, be reminded of our privilege and be grateful: not always easy to remember to do but a work in progress!

Lunch stop in Greek village square, savouring the sun

Something which has us very happy is that our family (Imke, Rudi, Jacob, Oma and Opa) are visiting us for Christmas in Athens. They have been our biggest supporters since the start in many different ways and although we speak regularly on the phone we are so lucky to be seeing them and eating some lekker food together! Those are the updates for now. If you would like to discuss any of the points raised, have any feedback or questions or suggestions or just want to say hello please do so, we’d love to hear from you :) Some ways that you could support us aside from donating to our Gofundme ( ) include sharing our story with your friends or family via word-of-mouth (or this thing called social media), by recommending places or connecting us to people you may know along the way, or simply sending us some encouragement and personal updates from your side!

Oscar and Emma

Enjoying the sunset on some volcanic rocks on a hill in Croatia

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