The departure

Hello to my first blog ever! I bet you all expect some adventurous story about the trip so far. Well, I’m gonna have to disappoint you right away. People say the hardest part of the thing we’re doing is actually leaving. Well, been there, done that! Although of course it didn’t go exactly as planned. 

We decided to go on this trip for about a year and a half ago. Since then we’ve been thinking, reading, buying, selling, adjusting and talking about it. In the back of my mind I have had this voice telling me: “Do this now, so you don’t have to do it the last minute!” 

So I did. And even though emptying the house took a little more time than anticipated, and work on the motorbike was never done, or so it felt sometimes, all was going well. And the 1st of May 2019 was slowly getting closer. 

For the last five weeks we didn’t have a house to live in anymore, as we ended the lease contract and we lived with my father. Luckily he was on holiday when we moved in. If he would have seen the house then, he would have died from a heart attack. Because we still had loads of things to sort out. What tools to bring on the bike, and which to use for the last adjustments? So let’s just bring them all, including the workmate. Which clothes to wear the oncoming year, and which on our wedding day? Things that still needed to go to our storage box, bags we needed on the bikes, tyres we needed to change, food and herbs from our kitchen, and so on. Oh, and we still had to sell two cars and a motorbike.

But the pile grew smaller as the date came closer. On April 12th we both had our last day at work. We were spoiled by our colleagues, with presents, surprises and some good fun in a pink dress. The 14th I had my bachelor party (Klaas had already had his two weeks before), which was also good fun, again, although partially, in the pink dress. 

I think by then we had just arranged the catering for the party. Which was the 19th, and also at my dad’s house. He wondered out loud every now and then: “How can you live like this, doing everything at the last moment…?” In our minds it was all at the right time! First things first, then on to the next. 

On the 15th we had a workshop at a jeweler and made our own wedding rings. The guy wasn’t there at the time of the appointment, due to some emergency. But as I said to Klaas, “I’m not going to leave without the rings!” And we didn’t. It was a relaxed and fun day, with beautiful results. 

Then three whole days with nothing planned, before the wedding- and goodbye party. Yeah right. Of course there was some shopping to do, a hairdresser to go to, a small job on the bike in between and sleeping. Because I didn’t want to be exhausted on “the big day”. Which wasn’t the 19th by the way, because this had to be May 1st! 

Still, the 19th was a great day. It started with blue skies and high temperatures. By the way, I’ve never had any thoughts about my wedding day, but if someone would have told me years ago, we would go by train, from the place I was born, I would have laughed at them. But that’s how it went. And it was fine. 

When we made the appointment at the city hall, the guy told us not to expect too much from the ceremony. But we had a nice lady and she made it fun. Afterwards we had lunch with our witnesses and nieces. All was relaxed and gezellig. And sunny!

Back home there was wedding- and goodbye cake, made by my sister, and prosecco and decorations and a little later family and friends and Thai food. We had a great day, even though we had to say goodbye to most people for a whole year! I still couldn’t imagine.

Only 10 days left for departure! On Saturday we cleaned the house, not really worth mentioning, but on Sunday, Easter day, we took two bicycles from the shed and went for a ride. It was still really nice weather and it felt so good to do something normal. We ended up on a terras and sat there for a while. Doing nothing, but enjoying ourselves. 

Sadly, on the second day of Easter, we went to Antwerp to say goodbye to a great guy who went skiing with us a few years ago. He passed away on May 1st. I’m glad to have gotten the chance to know him. I’ll never forget his passion for life. And the way he went down the slopes dancing and singing.

Days went by and I can still hear myself saying to Klaas: “I want to be completely ready the day before we leave. I don’t want to have to do anything that last day.” 

Surely it didn’t happen that way.

On Saturday, the 27th of April, I went to our friend Erik, after a bad night of sleep, which I blamed on the nerves. Even though I didn’t really seem to have them.

Erik helped me adjust the windscreen, which still made too much noise around my ears. And he welded a brace to keep my fuel can in place. So far, so good! But then, things started to change…

On Sunday we would pack all our stuff to the bike, take a nice route to Drenthe (in the north of The Netherlands) and stay a night at a campsite for practice. Where on Monday Albert would give us an off-road training and take a look at the load of the bike and the adjustment of the shock-absorbers.

So, we did pack our stuff on Sunday. Only it took forever! We still had to sort out some things, what to bring and what not. Then I put most things in one bag, in which almost everything actually did fit, and I was left with two almost empty side bags. Rearrange!

Then we had to put everything on the bikes. By the time we were ready to go I was so tired and stressed. We still had to drive for at least an hour and 45 minutes, on the highway, and we didn’t have dinner yet. And the thought of having to unpack the tent and all we needed for camping, which we all just hung on to the bike… I didn’t see it happen. 

We left at seven thirty in the evening, drove for half an hour and stopped to eat. But the restaurant was already closing up. Bad luck. On to the next restaurant. They did want to feed us. We booked a bed and breakfast and just before final check-in time we arrived, at five to ten. 

When I woke up the next morning I felt like I had a hangover, but without the drinking. I’d rather stay in bed than do anything with a motorbike. Let alone ride in the mud…

But we had an appointment at ten and we still needed to ride 45 minutes to get there. I told myself, just keep breathing, get through this day and then you’ll have some rest. The training was fun and useful. It gave me a little more trust about handling the bike in off-road situations.

On the way back, we went by Klaas’ parents house. I was shivering and had to fight to keep myself awake on the motorbike. We kept the visit short and back home it took about half an hour to get warm again in a really hot tub. Bummer, I was getting ill. Bad timing!

And indeed, on the day I turned forty, April 30th, I was shivering with fever and couldn’t do anything but lay on the couch. Departure was delayed for sure…

Still in the evening, my brother, his daughter and her mother, my sister and her eldest daughter and a good friend came over for my birthday and to say goodbye for real now. My friend showed us a presentation with pictures of the 19th and pictures of previous adventures with friends and family. And a lot of people had a nice video message for us. It’s great (and a little emotional as well) to see we’re loved and will be missed by so many people. Thank you all! We’ll miss you too!

Wednesday I was still ill and Thursday it went a little better. We brought the last bit of the pile to the storage box (and luckily found my bikini, which I had mistakenly put in a box) and went out for dinner with my father. It was a good night. 

Friday morning, May 3th, I was still a little shaky and coughing a lot, but we had decided to leave anyway. Erik came our way, to ride with us for a few days. And my sister with both daughters came to wave us goodbye. 

So, that was it. We were finally on our way! We didn’t finish our list of things to do. But they seem less important once you’re on the road. And other things we can still do anyway. Like building an interesting website. It will grow, like the journey will grow on us, I guess. 

At the moment we’re in Budapest. It’s raining and cold. Perfect moment to write a story. So far we went through Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and now Hungary, mostly via curvy roads and a few bumpy ones. It still feels like we’re just on any other holiday. But we’re still on quite familiar ground. Soon this will change and I’m looking forward to a little more adventure and new experiences. 

Originally posted: May 5th 2019

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