Andrea (her full name is Andrea Malafaia de Figueiredo), 50, is a retired Brazilian. In April of this year, she embarked on her first independent journey of 8 months. Andrea takes the long road from Lisbon to Paris through the Balkans and talks about this adventure.
“One? By bike? For eight months? Pensioner? " - it surprises people. When I was going on this journey, my loved ones did not believe. Someone said that I was brave. But I'm ordinary. I am afraid of many things: afraid of people, afraid of the road. I just packed up and drove off.
I started working when I was 15 years old - I wanted to travel at my own expense. The father said: "No, you are not going anywhere because you have no money." Well, I earned them and went.
I started cycling at about 40 years old. Brazil is a fairly flat country, which is convenient for cyclists. One of my first trips was along the coast - it was very beautiful. I traveled a lot in a group, but it is not always convenient. My longest trip lasted 3 months, and now I went on my first solo trip for 8 months.
Nobody believes that I am Brazilian: either in Brazil or in Albania. Amazing!
When people find out that I am a pensioner, they are always surprised. In Brazil, there are two types of pension: by age and by work experience. When I had enough seniority, my boss asked if I would continue to work. I decided that was enough. Of course, I get less money, but that's enough for me. I am 50 and I am already a pensioner, but I feel younger. My body is in good shape: although I am fat, my muscles are in good shape.
Since I retired, I try to ride a bike everywhere, even though I have a car. The city was created not for cyclists and pedestrians, but for cars. However, sometimes on a bicycle I move faster than the flow of cars.
I am glad that I am retired. Now I can visit my family in another city not from Friday to Monday, while buying expensive tickets, but whenever I want and as long as I want. I can afford a trip of 8 months. And I won't worry about having to do it in two weeks. It is important to properly prepare for your trip and take everything you need for camping.
ABOUT THE ROAD AND TRAVEL
The most difficult thing for me is to wake up early and go. When you start at 6 in the morning, you may be in a completely different place by noon. It's very hard for me to go in the heat. Near Dubrovnik, I decided to wait out the heat in the city and only went to the camping in the evening. When traveling, you must take a bicycle bag. Everything you need for camping will fit in it. With a bike bag on the trunk, the trip can be long.
I am fortunate that I have enough time to stay where I want for a few days and rest. I do not need to drive on a strictly compiled route. Now I don't even know where I will go next.
In Brazil, it is dangerous to travel alone by bike. My bike was stolen twice, with death threats. The last time they put a gun to my head, they told me to hand over my bike and phone. I said, “Okay boy, calm down. Here's my bike, take it. I have no mobile phone. " The guy did not believe, and then I took out only the keys from my pocket. He calmed down and disappeared. My mobile was in a car parked nearby.
Sometimes I take pictures of interesting names and send them to my loved ones with the caption: "I don't even know where I am".
In Portuguese, you cannot find a word with more than two consonants next to it: I cannot pronounce the name of the city in which I am now (Shkoder). Sometimes I take pictures of interesting titles and send them to my loved ones with the caption: "I don't even know where I am."
There are difficulties with a visa: I spent three months in the Schengen area, and now I need to carefully calculate the days so that I can return to Paris without violating visa laws. Now I am in Albania, and further south - Greece. Ah, Greece! So close, but I can't get there.
Many cyclists have health problems, especially knees. I'm not an exception. But so far, I have more problems with my bike. I liked that in Spain, motorists are very attentive to cyclists: they slow down and go around you carefully, they can stop and let you pass, they will greet you. In Italy, the opposite is true: once I almost died. The truck driver on the two-lane road did not want to go around me on the free lane. He honked persistently and drove very close to me. I was lucky that the bike is heavy enough and I just didn't get blown away. He didn't want to see me, a cyclist, on his way. But I am also human, I could honk too. Having a bike bells on your bike is very important for your safety. If there are people on your way, it is better to signal them and warn them about your approach.
After that, I decided that I did not want to travel to this country and chose the ferry.
I was also surprised by this: Croatia is a member of the European Union, but they have their own currency - the Croatian kuna. And Montenegro, on the contrary, is not a member of the EU, but all settlements there are in euros.
About money while cycling
On the road, I spend about € 1000 a month, which is less than what I would spend at home. While I am traveling, I continue to receive my pension, I have a bank account and I rent out my apartment. I'm too lazy to cook, so I prefer to dine in a restaurant, drink beer and relax. I always sleep in campsites. I carry everything for traveling and camping in a bag on the carrier. Here, in Shkoder, I stayed at a hostel for the first time. I'll finally sleep on the bed!
I cried a lot for my journey. When I was in Croatia, I decided to go to one of the islands. I had no cash with me - only a bank card and a credit card. At the very first ATM, when I tried to withdraw money, the ATM “chewed” my card. And here I am on the island with no money at all! I didn't know what to do, and they sent me to the police. The police said that they are not dealing with these problems. A woman turned out to be the head of the police, she found me free accommodation in one of the hotels and promised to help. It's a terrible feeling when you don't have any money - I couldn't even buy myself something to eat. As a result, contrary to all the rules, the ATM was opened and three cards were taken out, one of which was mine. The bank employees only checked the name on the card with the name in the passport and that's it. It was illegal! But I was happy. Those who travel without money are very brave. I can't do that.
Time is the most important thing we have. Before you have time to look back, it leaves. I decided that during my absence I would rent an apartment. I began to collect things, and all clothes, CDs, books and the rest fit into 50 boxes. We surround ourselves with things that we don't really need. When my mother died, I also thought how much was left after her. Now I decided that I need to distribute some of the things, because I have nothing to do with them. I have everything I need with me. Sometimes I think about my 50 boxes. Why litter your life?
You can follow Andrea's journey on the Facebook.