Intense Italy part 1 – Swiss alps to Milan

After a good night of sleep on my stunningly beautiful campsite, i gathered my stuff once again and biked my way through the green green valley.

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Down to lago maggiore.

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I passed fantastic pastel coulored churches before i made it to the lake, which was surrounded by crazy expensive luxurious hotels, mansions with huge gardens and even bigger gates. While the lake is beautiful, the ambiance was not very welcoming. People were not so nice and most did not respond to my happy ciao at all. I passed a lot of racebikes though, and they all said hello. Somehow you’re part of the community once you get on your bike πŸ˜‰ (i know this from riding my motorcycle where every other drive is suddenly your best friend :))
When one of the cyclists shouts ‘CIAO BELLA’ while racing by, he just made my day πŸ˜€
I biked all the way south, unable to find a good campingspot and exhausted from the climb the day before i finally gave up and decided to treat myself to a real camping at the lake, with a warm shower :). I found a small camping where there was almost no-one andΒ  i could pitch my tent right at the water, cool!! I spent all night sitting there, reading my book and watching the lights on the opposite shore πŸ™‚

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The owner offered me to pay half prize and when he saw my stove didn’t work when i tried to make risotto he offered me a pizza from the restaurant. Wonderful πŸ™‚

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Unfortunately the night had eaten the green valley..Β  And once i left the lake behind me i found myself on heavy traffic roads through lots of industry,Β  bleh :/ so i took my map, entered all the smallest roads i could find, hit many dead ends and did some offroading, cycled at least twice the distance than necessary,Β  but I enjoyed my days! I saw ‘the real life’ and got in touch with the smell of fresh cut grass and forest again. Usually when people tell me they smell colours, im starting to think their getting psychotic.. And maybe i am as well, (manic for sure!), but I smell the colour green all around me! And there is even so many different flavours! In this northern part of Italy it is a bit more a challenge to find a nice route, but im enjoying πŸ™‚

I didn’t know i was ever gonna say this, but I am already a bit disappointent that i found myself in flatland (great book, by the way!). Everytime there is some climbing to do i get excited! I feel my body has grown a lot stronger the last weeks and i enjoy the exercise. 60 km is now considered a nice warm-up, i cannot believe it!

I slept in Legnano,Β  with Davide and Eliza, they are great!
I cooked a big big salad *yummie😋*, some flambeed pineapple and strawberries for dessert (yeay for normal prices again, after Switzerland), and we went to Elizas parents, where her dad actually fixed my stove, so cool!

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Her parents are very very nice and friendly people and do a lot of charity work in Burundi. Quite impressive, such a family that has always opened their home to strangers, long before networks like couchsurfing existed.

I found my way into the big chaotic city of milan. After all this smell of green i needed a little adjustment in my mind for the busy people, heavy traffic and fumes. I passed by some bikeshops to find a new fork and rack. Some people didn’t speak any english, but most did their absolute best to help me out, offered me a beer, took me to lunch at this great authentic little restaurant (thanks Colin!)

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and this shop, la bicicletteria, was finally able to find the things i needed, yeay! It took a couple of days which i spent in Milan with Fabio and the weekend in Como with NicolaΒ  and Madossain, all couchsurfing hosts.

Fabio is amazing, we spent some wonderful time together wandering around the city at night, wandering through the parks by day, cooking fantastic italian dinners with food from ‘the box’ (which apparently every italian from the south gets sent by their parents, a box full of delicious food, damn yummie :D), having great talks about his ‘lets-built-a-raft-and-go-down-river-po’-adventure, on this!!

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We talked about what is life about and how can we follow our hearts, what is the right thing to do? We kindly asked the busdriver to bring us to paris and we visited the dome, the park (doing some acrobatics with a crazy Pakistani guy who came walking to italy..), the castle, the beautiful library, the botanical garden.

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We put our feet in the castle fountain

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We looked up Napoleon’s very sexy butt at the art school

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We appreciated the street artists

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We got some breakfast from this man because the smell coming from his shop was just overwhelming :).

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And we even got to experience snow for a couple of days!!

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And last but not least….., he treated me to the best gellato ever!!
Wow, i promised myself i would never eat another icecream again! Ever!
It was midnight but the shop was very crowded. For a reason πŸ˜€

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Liquid chocolate in the cone and chocolate and marroni (special kind of chestnut) icecream on top. Wow. Fantastico!!

That word, ‘fantastico’, will be forever linked to my new good friend Nicola in Como. I biked there, passing Monza racetrack,

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castle,

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prostitutes in the streets (no pictures), men making kissingssounds directed at me when passing-by (such Romeo’s :/), before reaching Como.

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Wwoooooowwwwww!!!

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I could not believe it was real!! I was really there?! So beautiful, the mountains so green, the water so blue.

I stayed with nick and we spent great days just hanging around, biking back and forth, enjoying the great views and we were both so very happy! I was very happy to see Nick so happy and the other way around, fantastico! Another couchsurfer i contacted, Madossain, invited us to climb mount Boletto with fantastic views,

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I said my prayers at the bicycle church

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and we went up to the observatory by night to see JupiterΒ  πŸ˜€

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And overlook the lights of the valley.

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Magical! Many more great views by night would follow, like this one on top of the abandonded building where Fabio and his friend took me:

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(this is the building..)

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Since Como is the city of Alessandro Volta, i spent some time thanking him.

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Thanks to his invention we get to appreciate the many colourfull lights on earth and without Volta there would have never been such an incredible project like CERN πŸ™‚

After these wonderful inspiring days in Como i had to go back to Milan for the bikeparts (bringing the guys beer).

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Happy with the new improvements on my bike i was happy to leave the city where i didn’t really felt at home. A city for the rich, about fashion and luxury, people taking pictures of the Versace store and posters with very angry looking models, with texts like: ‘fashion feeds the world’.

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Wow, that’s just hard to grasb .. Are you kidding me?! Fashion is something that really really has nothing to do with a better world. Absolutely not. Gladly im not the only one that has a problem with bullshit like this. The Expo that runs now in Milan (even though is supposed to be about a great subject: how do we feed a future population of 9 billion people without destroying the planet?) being sponsored by money-driven companies like McDonald’s and Coca Cola was welcomed by a lot of angry people and riots. It is just unreal that so many people still suffer from hunger while we bath in luxury.

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Even though i disagree, it cannot really bother me. I just choose a different path. My mind keeps strong and the voice of my heart is getting louder and louder. These days i am more and more just spontaneously starting to laugh, about to cry and everything at the same time. So many emotions start to rise up from my body. I didn’t know they were there..! So far i had even two experiences on the bike where i’d just started crying out of nowhere. Of happiness!! Insane… I just can’t believe all these wonderful places, wonderful people, wonderful experiences. I feel like i’ve been living a zombie before. I feel so much alive!
Many times it feels unreal. Was i really there? Did i really bike all the way there from home? Is this view real, are these people really all so beautiful? I get overwhelmed with my own hapinnes .. I really cannot believe it. And I have a great desire to share this happiness and my utter best to show it to the world. Everybody, share! Share your smiles πŸ˜€

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Nick, Madossain and I had great deep talks up on Mount Boletto, discussing for example how it is important to think about what kind of person you want to be, in stead of figuring out who you are. Im not searching for who I am, im learning from other people and my own thoughts what sort of personality i want to strive for. Finding out who you are is a relatively passive exploration while the other makes you think much deeper and makes you put your thoughts in action, always, to try to become a better person. On this trip i do this a lot, a lot. Some people are capable of doing this back home on the couch, i needed this trip.. Now i have the time, the liberation of daily worries, and sooooo much inspiration! I enjoy every person, analyzing what it is i like exactly and with that material try to create a better improved version of me. A more easy, patient, accepting, forgiving, giving, kind, friendly, smiling person. Trying to add value to every life i encounter on my trip. Always starting with a big big smile, trying to let everybody feel loved and appreciated, giving them attention (which might be the greatest gift), taking my time for doing that , and enjoying so incredibly much if someone smiles back at me!
Not like a stoned hippie, but like an understanding, warm person that beleives that people are neither good nor bad, they are the product of so many variables we hardly understand, and every person, in the end, wants to be loved. Give em that feeling and they might be able to spread it to another person. Happiness is contatious πŸ˜‰

I feel like im getting closer to the meaning of life (monty python, gotta love them!) and if there is a God, Im getting closer to God. Sometimes im so content and a part of nature that i feel like Im dissolving in everything around me and it feels so very good! I have absolutely nothing to worry about (even though biking, finding food, water and shelter is a busy job), i feel so capable of just enjoying every single moment. Not thinking about the past, not thinking about the future, just enjoying and ‘being’. It’s hard to put this into words and I know the old me would not have understood. But Im here now, going from a very very fast structured lifestyle, very rational thinking, to the manic energy of freedom to a more relaxed state of mind where I find myself cycling for hours without a single thought. Just smiling, always smiling πŸ™‚

Einstein, time, life

So i read this book Raman gave me in Lausanne. Einstein’s dreams. The book is about time and how it is very relative πŸ™‚ It made me think of my own life and the people around me and i’d like to share some thoughts.

Different chapters describe what happens when for example our lives never end, or when we experience everything for the first time, or if we have just one week left. With each of those, time feels different and we make different decisions.

‘In a world where time is a sense, like sight or like taste, a sequence of episodes may be quick or may be slow, dim or intense, salty or sweet, causal or without cause, orderly or random, depending on the prior history of the viewer. One might argue whether time really exists outside human perception.’ Children want time to speed up, can’t wait to grow older, but the elderly wish they could stop time. Me, I just want to make the best of my time and not waste it. Even though i realize wasting time might be the best way to spend it.

I know for myself, but probably many others with me, we are easily trapped in day to day live where time does pass, but little happens. ‘For it is only habit and memory that dulls the physical passion. Without memory, each night is the first night, each morning is the first morning, each kiss and touch are the first.’ and we all remember these πŸ™‚ Getting out of the habit and routine makes you feel alive! I see so many people around that have forgotten how to smile and laugh, be happy and share their happiness. And I tended to forget that sometimes :/ Everyone has to fuel their own fire within, and we should try to help each other accomplish it. The beauty of a smile makes all clocks in the universe come to a halt.

‘Some people become stuck in some point of their lives and do not get free’. Make sure you are not that one. Always keep wondering whether what you’re doing is the thing you want to be doing, still. Maybe it was your ambition before, but maybe it is time to move on now. Maybe you are happy, then realize, enjoy and share!

I used to be stuck in this system where i lived by the clock. I would rise at 6.30 in the morning, eat my lunch at noon and dinner at 19. I arrived at my appointments on time, precise by the clock. Making love could only happen between 20 and 22. I worked a fulltime job, played music on wednesday and read the saturday newspaper on saturday. When my stomach growled, i looked at my watch to see if it was time to eat. My body was a mechanical thing that needed to be ordered, not obeyed. Meeting someone had to be arranged well in time and you could go nowhere without carrying your agenda. There was no time for spontaneous visits, change of plans, enjoying the moment. Sometimes i felt like a robot, a zombie and i wondered whether anything exists outside of my mind.

I changed that. I do not carry clocks anymore.Β Instead i listen to my heartbeat and that of others. I feel the rythm of my mood and desires. I eat when i am hungry, take action whenever i wake from my sleep and make my dreams come true all hours of the day.
This world, my new life, is a world of ever changing plans, of sudden opportunities, of unexpected visions.
I stand at mount olympus at twilight and shout that the future can be changed, that thousands of futures are possible. Listen to your heart, listen to your heart, listen to your heart.. And you make time slow down.

Last days of Sweet Switzerland

So Villeneuve was not so far from Lausanne and i got to go biking my last kilometers around the beautifull lake Leman. I made a stop at Cyclocampeur in Vevey where Pierre helped me to drill holes in my rims for bigger valves. I had send Jean-Da two emails that i was coming to visit him, but he never responded. I really wanted to meet him again though so i decided to just go to his parents little farm and see if he’s there. I was lucky!! His parents were very nice to me, his mother begged me not to go when i left after two days. Jean-Da invited me to go have dinner with his friend Valentine, and wow, what a beautifull evening it was! Both of them have the greatest smiles on their faces, from ear to ear, at all times, an incredible positive attitude and they show so much warmth, love and kindness.

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I was very impressed. I feel very fortunate that i just met Jean-Da on the road and got to spend another two days with him. I know i wrote on my blog before that my goal is to make people smile, but Jean-Da boosted my morale through the roof! He made me realize even more that love is the most important thing in life and it needs to be spread much more!Β  (and i realize i wasnt doing that enough back home..)

Despite of Jean-Da’s mother asking me to please stay, i felt like i needed to get on the bike again and Jean-Da biked along for some kilometers along the river Rhone, beautiful!!

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We were both smiling and saying bonjour,Β  but many people didn’t even respond, too busy with their own lives. Jean-Da told me about how it is to come back after three years on the road and he was shocked with all the busy busy lives where people dont have time for each other anymore, focusing on things that have no real value. They work very long days, doing something they dont really like to pay for stuff they dont need, being to exhausted at night to spend their free time wisely :/

Spontaneous visits were not appreciated and coming from total freedom, always outside, all the time in the world, it was horrible to get back to busy schedules, timeclocks, appointments, the indoors life, little movement and have-to’s. But the worst was that people dont seem to be happy, they dont smile, they dont take time to do the things they like or make other people happy. Wow. Shock.
In my job i used to focus on a lot of bad things happening in the world and well, let’s not talk about the media. I always needed to travel to see the good in people again. I needed it more and more..
All the travellers i meet tell me the more you go east, the poorer the country,Β  the warmer the people. Why is that? Like in Iran, you get invited all the time, people take care of each other the same as of strangers, always ask if you need something etc. Today i asked some people whether i could pitch my tent in their garden and they just said no! We are not used to trusting and helping out strangers anymore :/

But to be honest, so far i met a lot of wonderful people and im very grateful to experience this. My smile is growing bigger everyday and i hope it is contatious!!

So.. I biked my way along the river up to Turtmann, where i thankfully could stay with Mathias (heavy rain was coming). The route was stunning πŸ™‚

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Riding through the valley, many viniards, big mountains on both sides, following my way along the river πŸ™‚
I arrived at Mathias’ place, he showed me the house and left for a meeting, sure! He’s making plans to do the same trip but a year later. He showed me his preparations and excell-sheets, wow! This guy is well organized! I suddenly realised that it was time for me to do some preparations as well. Like, im really looking forward to cycle the Himalaya :D,Β  but I have to think about the best season to do it and with all the visa ill have to think about when to enter Turkey! That far back. Damn .. I just left home and am taking my time, but a little thought about this might not be a bad idea πŸ˜‰ would be a shame if the highest passes are closed because of winter. But hey, Mathias and I got to talk about the plans, which was very nice!
The next day it was raining. And boy, i mean, really really raining!Β  Closeby there were even people evacuated from their homes because of the heavy rainfall, shit. I was going to climb the Simplonlass but Mathias was very kind to invite me to stay another day. And even better, he drove me up up up the mountain to go swimming in natural hot water pools, great scenery around and yes, in the rain, yihaa!! So good πŸ˜€

I felt very energized and was looking forward to climb the beautiful simplon pass the next morning. It had stopped raining and it was a beautifull day up to an hour after i pitched my tent, perfect πŸ™‚
The climb up was heaven and hell at the same time, it was very though, but oh so beautiful and insanely rewarding!!

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An eagle awaiting me up there πŸ™‚

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Can you see the little eagle hanging from my handlebar there?! I am positive i will reincarnate as an eagle when i die. Able to spread my wings and fly high up in the sky! Every night I go to sleep i which i would wakeup having grown some wings of my own πŸ™‚ maybe one day!!

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At the top there was some military family day going on and some weird guy offered me wine, coffee and beer and kept bapping away in very fast italien, of which i didn’t understand anything. He tried to kiss me a couple of times, i told him hell no and left to find my way into Italy πŸ™‚

A loooooooong faaaaast downhill (my favourite ;)) brought me into stunning very green Italy.

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Can you believe it?! I didn’t fetch these from Google, i was actually there to make the pictures! Wow πŸ˜€

And the best part of the day is when i finally, after some searching, found this great camping spot:

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Isnt this an amazing view?
I pitched the tent between some abandonded houses (i hope) away from the road

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and took my time enjoying the stunning scenery. So happy πŸ™‚

It started raining, i lie in my tent enjoying the sound of the raindrops, and the pain in my legs. It was another amazing day in my new life.
And even more special: today is the day i left home exactly five weeks ago! I have never been away from home more than five weeks… And it feels goooooooddddd. Yes i realize more and more that i didn’t spend enough quality time with my dad, my family, my friends.. I am sorry i missed my best friends 30th birthday and i am sorry i was always too busy living my life that i missed out on the fantastic conversations and experiences my dad and i used to have. I hope i can make it up..

But for now this new life is what i need to do. It makes me realize what is important, so much that i have no desire to go home anytime soon. I would feel miserable.The world is out there waiting for me to discover it!

“Being on the road five weeks,
I met so many saints and freaks,
I kissed so many strangers cheecks,
This is exactly what i seek.

The good in men, the warmth, the love,
Realize you can never give enough,
With just a bike i feel so free,
To ask myself: who do i want to be?

I have increasingly more love to spread,
The open road will help me do just that,
Spread the virus to every passer-by,
Before im ready to spread my wings and fly.”

See the video tamar on the road part 1:Β https://youtu.be/t14a6Zxskgo