Superb Slovenia

June 4th. I biked my way into Slovenia. And I must say…

*HALLELUJAH!!!*

Wow, this country is so incredibly green!! Fields, forests, trees, bushes, everywhere! I just entered heaven 🙂 great campingspots everywhere i look.

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And the roads are very quite, beautiful,  hilly, curved.. The whole country only holds 2 million people, I’m still trying to figure out why that is, because i can totally imagine living here. For sure this is my favourite country so far! Slovenia is the most westerly country of the Slav nations in Europe and many people speak English.

There is one big city, Ljubljana (pronounced Loob-Li-Ana; took me a while :p), in the middle of the country. Ljubljana is a nice warm city with a good vibe, lots of outside live but not too busy or touristy. The rest of the country is covered in green with small villages everywhere. So much peace, quiet, simple life. Almost everyone has a little garden to grow some vegetables, lots of land, great views. Wow, this is one amazing country, im in love again

A deer crossed the road, birds were singing, sheeps were bleating, cows muwhing, a snake mades it’s way towards me (brrrr scary, but such beautiful creatures!). Houses are usually farms with big pieces of land and piles of fresh-cut wood neatly stacked, ready for winter.

After asking someone for water and being reassured that the snakes are not venomous (his exact words: not really :/) and this area holds no bears, i found a fantastic camping spot, well hidden in the forest, overlooking the mountains.

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Just to be sure, i put on long pants and a longsleeved shirt and kept my food far away from the tent. (Later i asked many people and they assured me it was safe to go camping. Anyways i tried to find hosts or ask for a campingspot in peoples gardens to be sure..)
I spent the night playing my harmonica 🙂

The next day i biked my way up to Ljubljana to meet with Joyce, jippie! She came to visit me and wanted to get a glimps of my new life, experience whats it like. So i arranged a couchsurfing host for the first night. He had many good references, but once i got there he was nothing like the guy i read about.. I was welcomed in a house full of blue smoke from the marihuana he was smoking all day, he kept on talking about drugs, guns, problems with the police. I was a little bit worried to bring Joyce here haha. But he seemed to be showingoff and joking and actually took really good care of me and Joyce, made us feel at home, cooked us Slovenian dinner and was kind enough to lend us his bike for a couple of days!! We wondered whether all Slovenians would be like him..

So the next morning Joyce and me started our biking trip towards lake Bled. I knew it was about 55 kilometers, but i had no clue about elevation differences and no clue about Joyce’s abilities to make it, but we were on the way! And wow, it was so nice to see someone looking at the world the same way i do. Everytime I looked at her, she had one very big smile from ear to ear, utterly enjoying the scenery, the biking, the outdoor, the time together. We sure are the same people and I would definitively marry her, if she didnt have a boyfriend and would be moving to Bonaire with him next month 😀 she knows how to follow her heart ❤
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On the way we bought some delicious cherries along the road (they are everywhere!), we stopped to get a cold beer at the supermarket and we were moved to tears when the waitress offered to put some ice in our waterbottles, oh the joy of little things that become hugh pleasures!

Somehow we actually made it to lake Bled in one day! We entered through village Bled, a serene quiet place slowly getting conquered by tourism horror. It was build in 1947 as a getaway for Josip Broz Tito, the charismatic giant of post-war communism. Politically he gained great respect for standing up to Stalin in 1948, developing his own mix of socialism and capitalism and for pursuing a foreign policy of non-alignment. When he died in 1980 Slovenia was the first of the Yugoslavian countries to challenge the system and after some politics and a short war declared independence in 1992. Slovenians nowadays are proud they shook of the Yugoslavian era and have moved on into the European Union and the Eurozone. I read there’s a stereotype saying that Slovenians are always eager to someone outside to rule, like before it was Vienna (as part of the Austro-Hungarian empire), then it was Belgrade and now it is Brussels 😀

This information wasnt known to us at that time though; Joyce and I both hadn’t read into where we were going, nor did we see any pictures, so when we got our first view of the lake we couldn’t believe that is was real! So beautiful!! We started laughing out loud, hugging each other and felt the pain in the jaws from smiling so hard 😉 Off the bike, and into the water, yihaaaaaaa
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There was a whole group of college students sitting along the water who apparently had been wanting to enter the water but needed some inspiration to actually do it. In no time there were about 20 people in the water with us, lovely 🙂
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We spent some time in the grass, did some situps and pushups (you really get a lot of energy from sunshine, physical exercise, great company and happiness :p), biked along the lake and made our way to the campingsite. When we got there it looked very sad though, so many tourists, everybody laying on their towels at the beach, big big camping, ugh. We decided we didn’t want to stay there so we moved on, trying to find a better place to stay, a place to secretely pitch our tent.
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We cooked some dinner at the stove, enjoyed the sunset, played the harmonica and layed our sleepingbags under a tree. We didn’t even bother to pitch the tent, just lay in our sleepingbags under the stars, accompanied by fireflies, with a great view over the seventeenth-century white castle up on the mountain and the Church of the Assumption on a small island in the middle of the lake. History and religion are considered two of communism greatest enemies, but here it was all around us 🙂 Slovenia sure shook it wings. At night I enjoyed the fireworks at the top of the mountain 🙂 (Joyce somehow slept through it :p)
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Making friends with mister Swan and mother duck and her youngsters
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We had two more days together so we decided to take our time and slowly find our way back to Ljubljana. We took it very easy in the morning, climbing this beautiful tree, jumping in the water a couple of times again 😀
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enjoying some live Slovenian (good!) music
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We unexpectedly found a beautiful cycling route right through the forest, it was heaven!
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One big climb wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be and we treated ourselfs to a cold beer and some icecream right on the top of this hill, it tasted better than ever 😀
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That day we made it to the city of Kranj.

I had send a request on warmshowers to Maja to stay with her, but i had not received a reply yet. We decided to go and try to find her place and if not, we would bike along and do some more wildcamping. We entered the street Maja lives in but we had no clue which numbre. So we started looking at the names, i just ran the doorbell of some Maja and at the first shot it was her!! She had no hesitation and immediately welcomed us in her house, letting us camp out in her garden, isn’t that amazing?! Maja and her husband are both professional skydivers and they biked all over the world, showing us great books and telling beautiful stories. I was very happy Joyce got really inspired (I already was :p), and i hope we can bike again someday. She assured me she loves it a lot, yeay!! At night we walked around the beautiful historical and very quiet town and had a drink at the church cafe (interesting). The Slovenian wine was aweful (I tasted some very good ones at Ali’s though) and we switched to hot chocolate, which was more like a liquid chocolate bar than a drink, very thick, sooooo gooooood :D:D:D

We slept under the stars and Maja even made us polenta for breakfast. When Joyce was still sleeping, Maja showed me a video of a french couple biking in Mongolia, ooooowwwwwiieeeee, one day.. one day… 😀 (listen to Huun Huur Tu- Orphans Lament to get inspired)

The last day of our honeymoon had already arrived 😦 we biked back to Ljubljana,
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bought great tasting and smelling strawberries from this beautiful lady in the middle of nowhere
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had lunch in Tivoli park with this beautiful sculpture (free the bird!)
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spent some time riding around the city and enjoyed some spinach Burek (so tasty!!).
While eating this gift from heaven we got into contact with a guy on the streets (David), who happened to be working at the tourist office, offering us some help. David and I exchanged numbers to meet up later. But first we had to bring the bike back to Ali and I walked Joyce to the busstation, before she really had to go 😦 just before leaving we found a quadrifolio
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and I hope it will help us to always keep following our dreams and hearts. Joyce is a person who really understands how to do that. She made a very good point by putting it into words that we are the kind of persons who make changes not because we weren’t happy with our old lives (which somehow everybody seems to assume) but because we are ready for something else which might just be as nice as the life before or maybe even nicer (or worse, thats the risk you’re taking)! You don’t have to feel miserable to make big changes. Thank you Joyce for spending these absolutely perfect days with me, for being such a warm positive energy, I love you so much and I am sure we will make our paths cross again..

So she left.. and I was on my own again. She really refueled me though and I felt again so strong and happy, ready to conquer the world!

The next days I spent half and half with David, who was my private tour guide through Ljubljana and with Matic, my warmshower host, who was my private tour guide for the southern part of the country, where we would go by car everyday to these amazingly beautiful places to either go biking (with no luggage, yeay!) or hiking through the great great forests and canyons. He took really good care of me and we enjoyed so much, because we have the exact same idea about how to live and enjoy live. Into the wild!! As much as time in nature as possible, mountains, no people, talking to the birds, screaming from the top of our lungs (that was fun :p) and jumping in the freezing water without hesitation, aaaahhh that feels so good!! So alive!
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crossing the border
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swimming in Kolpa river
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many waterfalls in the canyon we were climbing
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very romantic 😉
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High steps
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Great colours on the rocks
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Big mushrooms on the trees
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We got very fresh water from the mountains and were picking strawberries and these other red berries (dont know the name) along the road 😀
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So good!!!

David and Matic both really knew where to take me and I felt so so spoiled and lucky 🙂 David told me about the city, the country, the history (thank you!), the dragonssssssss…. He took me around the city, up the skyscraper, to city hall, on a boat tour along the river and we drank beers high up on the castle wall, watching the thunder over the city, that was very special. I realize now i took very few pictures of Ljubljana, but believe me, it is worth visiting! I dont really like the big cities, but this city doesn’t feel big, there is a very relaxed atmosphere, good vibes. A beautiful river right through the city with many bars and restaurants on both sides, everybody outside enjoying the wheather and the life.

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This river, called Sava, which i came to follow into Croatia later on, originates in the Julian Alps and grows to become one of the significant rivers of Central Europe, forming the northern border of Croatia and Bosnia and swelling to join the Danube in Belgrade.

Matic is a dreamer and we had great conversations dreaming about building a house in the middle of the forest, growing your own vegetables, keeping bees, spending winters in Costa Rica (his biggest dream), etc, etc. It was a lot of fun. I like to dream. Dream about a more simple and quiet life, lots of sunshine, lots of nature. Could I ever go back to my very serious job, work so hard, in such a cold country, where everybody lives inside most of the year, I’m starting to seriously doubt this.. Slovenia in June is the perfect place to think about these things 🙂 I’m not done travelling yet, so much more to explore, but Slovenia will be in the back of my mind, for sure.

In the mean time i was happy to hear from Nino, my host in Trieste. We were having great talks about dreams as well and my presence and questions got him to think about his again. He told me he always wanted to sing, but he doesn’t like his voice. When in Slovenia, he sent me a message that he booked his very first singing class though! I was so happy to hear this! And also, he was looking for a sailing boat to do some trips around, sail to Sicily (where he comes from) and maybe around the world! Wow. I couldnt believe it. In Ljubljana things got even stranger. Matic told his boss he was quiting his job, after spending time with me for two days. He always wanted to do that and go to Costa Rica but he was pessimistic about his abilities to make his dreams come true. I was the last drop, he told me. I had told him he could at least try to make them come true and if it doesn’t work out, he can easily go back to his old life.. Oops, i didnt realize it would have such a big impact. Oh god, I have to be careful with my dreams and questions..

After three days in Ljubljana it was time for me to leave David, Matic and Ljubljana behind and get on the road again, direction Zagreb. I biked beautifully along the river Sava to my next warmshower hosts: Marjan and Branca and their three children.
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They live absolutely amazing in wide open space, no fences, lots of fireflies and stars, lots of nature around. They are both very nice and interesting people I can really relate to and I felt at home from the very first second. That’s very special! They are both active and sporty people who like to travel a lot, but at the same time so peaceful, relaxed and funny, i want to be like that! We had great talks and I could play their guitar. It was so nice that I asked to stay another night, get a little rest after these crazy days in Slovenia with almost no sleep, taking time to write this blog post. He eve got me a little on my way the next day 🙂
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Taking my hosts advice, my last day brought me biking all along the river Sava up to Silvo and his fantastic ecological farm. I took an outside shower, we picked vegetables and fruits fresh from the trees and plants, he made me fantastic vegan dinner, i played some harmonica in the hammock and on his friends birthday party, spontaneously dropped into a jazz concert and he really inspired me with the way he arranges his life.
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Tomorrow I will leave the country, follow the rest of the river Sava and find my way into Croatia, to visit Zagreb, and then go back to the coast where I will meet with my father the end of the month. Yeay, I am so happy he is coming! I surely am the happiest girl in the world again 😀

Italy – part 2 – Milan to Trieste

Even though the northern part of Italy is very flat with an incredible lack of interesting scenery, and even though i had many disrespectful request to have sex or kiss with complete strangers in the streets (oh all these Romeos and Casanovas.. i learned some good Italian swearing), Italy has been treating me very well!! I have reached the next level and I’ll tell you what happened.

I unfortunately had to leave Como to get back to Milan where the parts for my bike had arrived. I treated her to a new fork and rack and got the hell out of there 😉 Yeay, for being on the road again! Sad for leaving the wonderful Fabio behind though :/ I guess it’s part of my new life..

I made it to Bergamo, which has an amazing historical centre high up the hill. It was worth the climb by bike during the day and as a bonus level, the least to say interesting Micaela took me up hiking at night. I arrived at her house and was immediately taken by all the things laying around, hanging, standing etc.
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Her house is like a museum/trashpile where you discover new things everytime you look around. Micaela is the kind of woman that doesnt give a shit and sure knows how to follow her own path, very inspiring. Even though she is very energetic and sportive, she lives of chocolate, coockies, coffee, beer and wine only. But looks great! So i was very lucky she made an exception and took me out to have an actual meal: pizza. I tried my very first Calzone! And so did she :p Oh, how wonderful to share first times together 😉 (verdict: too much dough, we prefer regular pizza)

With not much biking going on in the previous days, I decided to do a long run all the way to Verona the next day (130 km). During breakfast, which consisted of coockies and coffee –of course-, I had no clue what crazy adventures were awaiting me that day! I biked through wonderful cities, like Brescia, along the wide open Gardalake up to Verona, which is the city of Romeo and Julliet.
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All the way from Brescia to Verona there were many people along the road, yelling, cheering, clapping, smiling, partying, shouting `Brava’ and `Complimento’, taking my picture.. Wow! I was the Queen of Italy! What happened?! In my mind i was thinking of all my friends, considering who could have been responsible for this very warm welcome? Thanks guys! Everytime i got a little bit tired from the long roads and many kilometers, there would be people cheering me up, supporting me every mile of the way 😀

(see the video on my facebook!)

Ok, so back to earth. I had found myself in the middle of the Mille Miglia, a historical car race in the open streets. Beautiful cars passing me by at high speeds all the way.
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Being a bikerchick, missing racing my motorcycle down the racetracks.. I love the sound of speed! When I finally made it to Verona i had to slap myself in the face, what just happened today? It was great!

In Verona i was welcomed by two Portugese cyclists (my age) who happened to stay at the same hosts, so nice! Gloria and Gianni were great hosts and we spent a wonderful meal together:
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Even though I biked 130 kms i wanted to see the city by night, so I went out. So romantic! I looked for my Romeo, but I couldnt find him.. :/
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So i waited for midnight for something magical to happen.
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Nothing happened.

Instead i had some good conversations with my friend Dante
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And this stunning angel, ready to fly off. Jealous!
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The next day me and the Portugese went around the beautiful walled city, visiting this amazing first century arena! (still in use!)
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Gorgeous churches
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Julliets house (if you look closely you see all the tourists touching Julliets breast; she was 14, you perverts!)
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We cooked dinner for Gloria and Gianni and for dessert Gloria took us on the fastest citytour ever, including running up the stairs to see this great view
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Being disappointed for not finding my Romeo (somebody told me he committed suicide, but i refuse to believe that), Gianni knew something to cheer me up. He let me in on his secret, he had been mysterious about for the past two days. I had told him i had four days to get to Venice to meet with my friend Floor who was coming to visit me there, yeay! From Verona it was just a one-day bikeride, and Gianni showed me a fantastic detour. I followed his advice and biked (with the Portugese) back to Gardalake, where they went north and i headed south, following the river Po all the way to its deltas in the sea. That was awesome! There was some offroading involved, which i only followed because Giannis voice was in the back of my mind, assuring me this road was actually going somewhere, even though it was getting more and more rough.
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The good thing was that i didnt see a single person the whole day and i had plenty choice to choose a great camping spot. It was wonderful, under the starry sky, with lots of enlighted friends visiting me at night: fireflies everywherimage

e!!

The next night I stayed in the great impossible-to-bike historical town of Ferrara with Rudy and his friends. He treated me to Spritz, which is drunk either with Aperol (sweet) or Campari (bitter). I love Campari! In Elzas they drink beer with Campari, in Switzerland wine with Campari and here it was Spritz, prosecco with Campari and an olive ;). Of course they all think the other habits are weird :p

Along the Po i was thinking of Fabio who went down this river on his raft, noticing the pollution in the water and thinking how it would be very hard to find a place to get to shore. Good job, Fabio!

After leaving Rudy i found a warmshower host which was actually not that far away, but somehow that day i kinda forgot i was on a bike and took so many detours that i ended up biking 140 kilometers, in 32 degrees. Yes, i got burned, but it was great! There was an actual cyclepath (quite rare in Italy), no traffic at all, and almost noone there. Me, the trees, the river, the sunimage

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. 🙂

The long day brought me to the friendly family of Alberto. We spent a nice dinner together. Alberto is very calm and gentle, has a great garden full of vegetables and fruits, and a donkey! He gave me my own bed- and bathroom and let me sleep in, hot coffee and breakfast awaiting me outside, wow. Everytime i am so surprised and touched, trying my best to make my hosts feel good as well..

Anyways, I was so excited, the day of days had finally come! The day i would arrive in Venice and meet with Floor, yippie! It had been impossible to find a place to stay in Venice (everybody gets so many requests..), but finally we managed to find something through the help of Fabio from Milan. We could stay at the B&B from his friend’s (Elena) boyfriend (Finn). Finn found me on the street and we spent a great afternoon on his rooftop (didnt even take off the biking cloths :p), drinking great quality prosecco from a plastic bottle :), before we picked up Floor from the busstop, so she coimage

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uld join us 😀

It was the start of a couple of days great fun.
Elena and Finn live with their flatmates Mika and Mario, who joined the parties, we were all having lunch and dinners together, and they showed us their favourite spots in Venice. We looked at Berlusconis instagram page (a must see, hilarious!)

and
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at pictures of what Axl Rose looks like nowadays, fantastic 🙂
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We had fun!

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Floor and I spent two days basically just getting lost in Venice, which was great. No pre-reading, no clueimage

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where we were, we discovered awesome places!

One night, we went to a Vivaldi concert (he’s from Venice!), where the rain and thunder outside during ‘summer’ gave the concert its extra dimension 😉 Fransesco, who i met on the couchsurfing network, joined us for the concert, which was followed by a nice walk around Venice by night. I would highly recommend! While there are tourists everywhere during the day, there is almost nobody during the night. The streets are sparesly lit by dimmed lights, which gives it a spooky and romantic glow. A completely different vibe! Very nice.

Floors last night we stayed with a couchsurfing host –Roberto- on the island of Murano, which is well known for image

its glass industry. Roberto simage

howed us his workplace, look at this glass eagle!!

And the incredibly hot ovens

Roberto joined the whole group for dinner in a famous fish restaurant, before we headed off on his boat (yes, living on an island you need a boat, yeay for us!) through the canals of Venice, picking up his drunken friends who were good singers and getting us some midnight snack, which in Italy means: focaccia. Sounds pretty unreal, noimage

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?

Ayay captain, land in sight! What shall we do with the drunken sailor? And so on…

Roberto was nice enough to bring us to the airport by boat the next day, even though it was raining. We had a blast! The way bigger and faster watertaxiimage

s created waves we couldnt possibly avoid, which made the ride like a rollercoaster, yihaa!

And then it was time to say goodbye to Floor :/ (please come back!) Party-weekend was over and we all went back to normal life.. Although, I’m not sure I can call my life ‘normal’. I spent so much time wondering what just happened, wondering whether I’m not dreaming (living the dream :p), not getting psychotic, loosing touch with reality, did i actually bike here? Did i really meet all these wonderful people? I feel so alive, but am i really? Is it possible to feel so high of happiness all the time? Well, that last question is an important one.. I think i hit the ceiling and fell over the edge.

I stayed a couple of days more and tried to get back to earth, but i couldn’t. Something had snapped. Somebody opened the dam and my emotions were flowing everywhere. There was a complete emotional overload, for the first time i could not and did not want to control this. I let it happen, up to the point of panic attacks. I was crying so much, big big tears, and then laughing, for no reason, mostly because i couldnt believe it all. Usually I feel so incredibly strong, but now it was countered with episodes of feeling like spineless jelly, nautious, motionless. At first it was too much, then I started enjoying it, with episode of ‘too much’ again. For me it is so easy to always be happy. But I realize it is a little bit a mass too. Now, it feels much more real.

I feel like I have been living a zombie for many years, way overcontrolled, not in touch. These emotions have been hiding inside and I had no clue! What happened? I guess the lack of stress, frustration, have-to’s, schedules, ticking clocks, contributed to the possibility for this to ever happen. And all these inspiring warm people… And I’m accepting that it is ok to be a softy. Me, really? Yes, me. I’m ready to embrace every emotion, both pain, suffering and joy, happiness. I feel i was out of balance, but the breaks have broken and I’m getting swung back and forth. Let it come, I want it! I feel so much alive! I feel like I elevated to a higher level of living, like I ate Supermario’s mushroom, like I unexpectedly went down the right sewer to get into the bonus level (you remember the game :p). I want more of this, Im not sure i like it and im nimage

ot sure i can handle it. But I want to go through this. It feels important. I need to grow up.

Anyways, after the shaking, the crying, the hyperventilating, the laughing, the purest happiness, the anxiety and confusion, I really needed to get out of the city and shake the jelly of my wings. On the road again! And it felt goooood. Like i could finallyimage

breath fresh air again. By the way, this season the air is filled with the smell of Jasmine, so sweet, yummmmmm 🙂

Mika joined me all the way to Treviso, cool! Blapping away we didn’t even notice we had already arrived. The city iimage

s, again, beautiful (get’s boring, no?) and romantic. (the italians that actually do speak english say ‘no’ after almost every sentence, mix up ‘himage

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e’ and ‘she’ all the time, and tuesday and thursday, causing lots of confusion and fun :p).

Even though Mika didn’t want to make out with me in this romantic spot, we enjoyed :p

I continued up north, where I could stay with the wonderful Vania! She’s so nice and she came along by bike for a bit the next day as well, cool!

I made a stop in Latisana with Riccardo and his family, before

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i found my way into Trieste. A large city close to the borders of Slovenia and Croatia. Biking there was very rewarding, since for the first time in many weeks i was climbing hills again and saw the mountains coming cloimage

ser and closer, and oh my, it was so green!! Wow! This is the kind ofimage

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scenery that makes me happy! 😀 I cried..

In Trieste, i could stay with the wonderful Nino, who lives there with his wife and two children. Unfortunately they were not there. Nino invited me to stay at this little house in the garden, cooked me octopus (wow! People from sicily sure know how to cook..)

and took me around town on the motorbike after sunset.

This was an amazing night. All these lights, the speed of the bike and the great conversations with the ever smiling and still dreaming Nino. Fantastic 🙂

I returned to Venice by train to spend a couple more days with Mario. We hung out in the park, played music, went out in Venice, celebrated his birthday and slept on the rooftop. Beautiful days before it was time for me to get back on the bike and say goodbye to Italy. I share one more fantastic lunch with Nino in one of those home restaurants that only open once a month, love it!
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Tonight i will spent my first night in Slovenia. After so strong emotions and connections with the people i met the last crazy weeks, it wont be easy to adjust back to my life on the bike alone, wildcamping somewhere in the woods.. I didn’t sleep in days, couldnt shut off the stream of thoughts and emotions. So strong, i am so tired.. leaving the scene might help me find a good way to handle all of this, while making sure i keep the doors wide open, holding my breath while waiting for the water to calm down, but never closing the tap again.

Thank god, my supernice and always smiling friend Joyce will arrive in Ljubljana tomorrow to bike with me a couple days. Yeay, i can’t wait to give her a biiiiiggg biiiiiggg hug!!

Arriverdeci Italy, grazie mille.. It was very nice meeting you, i will never forget ❤

'So i listen to the rythm of my heart,
To the voices of my soul and to the pumping of my blood,

Every fiber, every muscle, every cell,
I never knew they had so much to tell,
Didn't know i'd hid’ them deep inside,
They were always there in broad daylight

I never saw, my eyes were shut,
my wings are broken, my smile is cut,
i see so many colours, maybe too much,
But oh so grateful for this unique human touch,

The music never stops playing and i sing my song,
All these emotions, they are way too strong,
Trying to embrace i bike along.'