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Category : Bärbel’s Reiseblog

cycling with my dad

my dad came to meet me and to cycle with me for one week from skopje to belgrade! oh it was such a good time and so so beautiful to see my beloved dad after 30 moths!
here is what he writes about his adventure to come and travel with me in the balkans:

My Trip with Barbara

guest article by my dad Werner Graf


happy together

What an experience!

Cycling means getting into contact with people. It started from the first moment of my journey, at the Südtiroler-Platz. Even before the driver managed to store my bike between all these things, that I never imagined people would  take with them on a bus, I had already learned from all the passenger waiting in the station, where they´re going and what for. And entering the convenient bus of a Serbian agency, I felt like with one foot already on the Balkan. The few passengers were all from Serbia, Macedonia or the Kosovo and the TV-set accompanied us with dancing and singing of popular hits with that typical oriental sound. (After two of these songs, you feel you know them all ; ) ..

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over 100 solo women on wheels!!


for all those who think i am crazy – and for everybody who wants to be inspired – check out how many other beautiful and adventurous women are out there – currently traveling the world by bicycle!

the women on wheels wall, set up by loretta henderson, shows the adventures of over 100 solo cycling women!!

short update

hello dear ones!

again i am sorry for this long silence. since i am in europe time seems to be flying again. but the same time sooo many things happen, which i would like to write about.

after leaving greece i headed north towards macedonia, where in skopje i  met my dad again!! we had a great time cycling together for one week across serbia towards belgrade (i still hope he will write this long promised “guest article” about how it was to cycle with me ; )

in belgrade i met up with the feminist caravan again for a 4 days programm “lesbian spring” – to celebrate the existence and 25. anniversary of organized lesbians in serbia and to keep pushing for lgbti humain rights in the balkans. the 4  days of exchange, exhibitions, film screenings and discussions ended with the first lesbian march through the center of belgrade! – which i am proud to have taken part in!
here some news about it: telegraf, gaycitynews

after almost another week in belgrade, which i spent mostly in the “inex film squat” i continued riding north to novi sad, where i stayed at “dc squat”, met great people and enjoyed relaxing at the danube and the castle with my friend, who came to visit me from belgrade.

in order to get to bulgaria, where i had signed up for a 10 days meditation course called “vipassana” – i hitchhiked back to nis. it wasnt’t very easy with the bike – so i finally decided to make this detour only by light weight : )
i left my bike and most bags in a friends house in nis and continued thumbing towards the east. with much better luck this way i went to sofia and on to central bulgaria in no time!
in the middle of rural bulgaria, on the edge of a small village, i spent the last 3 days together with my hitchhiker friend anita, whom i had met in tehran in the little cottage of an inspiring warmshowers host, who builds recumbent bicycles and many other useful things from trash materials.

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stani, – world traveler, who just returned to his village – to turn his parents little land into a paradise

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my dear friend anita, – on the road by thumb

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upcycled solar waterheating system – and his self – constructed recumbant bicycle – only some of the nice stuff he builds

perka community garden/land squat

what was once a military basis – is now a sprouting community garden. a big areal on the edge of thessaloniki, which has been squatted since 4 years in order to protect the area from being built on, to create gardens by local people and to promote sustainable horticulture. i went to visit the project on the first sunny sunday after a week of rain. goerge kastanis, one of the local activists, gave me a little tour and later i joined their general assembly.

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2 weeks in salonica

of course it was ways too fast. and it seemed to have taken over a week until my soul finally caught up with my body again after having travelled such a long distance by bus and ferry. but i was so bussy – suddenly part of a living community – joining actions, meetings, assemlies, cooking, cleening, organizing and drinking beer ’till late night -  that i didn’t even have the time to be upset for having left asia so upruptly.

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arrival in thessaloniki.

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womens-march across the city
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joining the feminist caravan

once again many things happened in a short time. the biggest news first:


from turkey straight to thessaloniki in greece. pretty crazy – but I am working hard on getting used to it – and, – after the first shock – i am  already enjoying the best sides of “good old” city-life: squats,  self-organized collectives, social centers, free university-  food,  computer-access, free-shops, pastries from the dumpsters, community gardens, libraries..

after marianne had gone back to austria, i continued cycling by myself towards izmir. there i met up with the “world march of women” and –absolutely overwhelmed by the good feeling of being suddenly surrounded by a bunch of powerful women – i spontaneously decided to join the “feminist caravan”.

eventhough i had imagined myself – cycling gloriously across the bosporus-bridge to europe – i felt like this time i should allow myself to let go of my strong ambition and enjoy this opportunity to spend some more days with the girls. from another perspective it felt perfectly fitting to undertake this crossing from asia to europe in the midst of a movement which aims to empower women in their fihghts and struggles and strenghten solidarity across borders.
so i swapped my lira for some euro, bough beer for the last coins, stuffed my lola and her carriage in the trunk and jumped on the bus full of feminists.  Next stop thessaloniki!|

march and demonstration in izmir – “WOMEN ON THE MARCH UNTIL WE ARE ALL FREE”

after the demonstration there was life-music and traditional performances by local women-groups



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my journey across turkey

mount ararat was welcoming me, as i crossed the border at dogubajazit. finally taking off the scarf – a freeing moment!

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAbefore coming to turkey i was very ambitios and excited. after all the good time – in the end i felt it was time to leave iran. my first plan was to maybe find a place to stay for a while, dive into the culture and lern as much as i could from the language – how great would this be- to learn turkish and be able to communicate better with my neighbors in vienna! but then it came different. first of all it was really cold. yes i knew it. but this didn’t help. the first 2 weeks i experienced the coldest days i have ever spent on my bicycle. it was so cold that even my tights were freezing – which, probably because of their movement,  are usually the last to resist when all limbs were frozen. anyway – i got pretty excited by seeing my snot freezing instantly when landing on my jacket (still can’t perform a proper open-air-snot-blow out while riding) and the snow!! created by my own sweat inside my fantastic non-breathable chinese “goretex”  jacket – which was falling out in flakes when i took it off.
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i wanted to ride on today. but as i was quite tired after my over 120km long and about 1000m elevation ride yesterday. so i followed my hosts invitation to stay another night and to join his english class. it turned out to become a really good extra day.

first of all – staying with Adnan, a passionate cyclist, who advocates locally and internationally to improve and empower cycling in turkey, was a great pleasure – with the delicious “side-effect” of a full-on turkish breakfast together together with his wife, Hatice.


breakfast with 4 kinds of olives and tahin-pekmez (my favorit dairy-free bread spread)! turkish coffe and vegan cake made by Elif Hazal, Adnans daughter!

by the way – Adnan Cangir has started a great resource- website about cycling in turkey! which shall soon include a lot of route suggestions and already features an awesome – bike-parts glossary. you can also find a little article with some more pics about my visit in mugla.

later we rode to school to meet Adnans students. i wasnt in class for the first time. mostly talking about my journey. but this time i really felt it meant something. that i had reached some of them… Read More…

8 march women’s day in fethiye

being hosted by two awesome sisters (the first femail-hosts since our journey across turkey) who came to live, work and study here in fethiye, a small coastal city, which is full of mostly english tourists and other holiday guests in summer..but fortunately for us rather calm in the current off-season, – we were really inspired to go out and do some action to celebrate our international-women’s day together. so we got on our bikes and headed to the city center, where we rode around with a big WOMEN”S DAY sign. surprisingly we met a group of women, who had organized a little stand with a exhibition to FIGHT VIOLENCE  AGAINST WOMEN. happy to finally have met some turkish feminists and touched by their warm embraces – we joined them. we played music and wrote our own little contribution to the exhibition on small pieces of paper which we pinned to the wall.

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eating roadkill

whenever i see a dead animal on the street – it makes me sad and angry! such a beautiful life- such a precious body! wasted for the sake of fast transportation. kicked aside and left alone vegetating without anybody noticing them. during my travels i saw so may animals. birds, dogs, cats, deer, rabbits, snakes, mice and even camels! i look at them and and tell them that i see them in their misery, that i see what has been done to them. and i wish for them that they find peace and freedom wherever they might go to.  sometimes i lay them aside in the grass  and sometimes i consider eating them. or using their skin to make leather or fur out of it.

in the following i want to explain more about this practice. please DON’T READ FURTHER if you don’t want to see photos of processing DEAD ANIMALS.

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