We finished our 5 months bike touring trip after 7000 km in Tokyo. Tokyo was a bit overwhelming after the calmness and quietness of the rest of Japan. But we enjoyed it nevertheless, what an immense city with so much to see and experience. If you are in Tokyo we highly recommend going to the TeamLab Borderless museum. What a unique and impressive place!
The last hurtle of our trip was getting ourselves, our bags and bikes to the international airport. After a three day bike box hunt we finally found a few (thanks to Y’s Road) and prepared our bikes for their flight home. We then put all of our stuff in two duffel bags and went out to the train station. It must have been quite a site, two people walking on the street with a duffel on their back and a daypack in front carrying two bike boxes. After ‘surviving’ Tokyo main station, a transfer to the sky-train and a bustransfer we made it to our hotel next to the airport, ready for our flight ‘home’.
We had a pleasant first flight and after an three hour stopover in Moskou we boarded the plane to our final destination Amsterdam Airport. We arrived their ahead of schedule but due to a problem with the luggage we still had to wait more than an hour on our bags & bike. As we finally exited the airport we were welcomed by my mom who would drive us home and my sister (her nickname ‘the whitch’, which explains the sign) and her friend. It always feels good being welcomed home after you traveled.
We left Tokyo at 10am and arrived jet lagged at 3am at my moms house, our ‘home’ & base camp for the next couple of weeks.
The next day after a night sleep in a proper bed (which didn’t slept that well as we were used to our sleeping mats) we planned a welcome back drink with the family of Nadine. Nadine’s mom was so sweet to host it at her place, so we enjoyed spending time together in their beautiful garden. And Nadine’s brother and girlfriend had some big news, as they are aspecting a child at the end of the year.
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Someone once said to me that people always walk with you for a while. This can be a day, it can be a week, it can be a year or the rest of your life. Sometimes you hope to be able to walk with someone for a longer period of time, but it's not for you to decide. I am very grateful for the 32 years that my father and I have been able to walk together. And how I would have liked to do that much longer. On Tuesday 12th June 2018 we had to say goodbye to each other, he died a day later on the13th of June. In the process of saying goodbye we shared a last letter with each other, with words of gratitude, love & memory. His concluding words to me: "I have enjoyed every moment in my life and have no regrets. I wish you the same! With a heart filled with gratitude, a big smile and a big tear, these words touch the essence of my life. At the end, all that remains is love… You are greatly missed, Dad!
Being back in June had another reason as on 13th June my dad passed away last year. So we wanted to be home around that time to spend time together. We had planned a weekend away with my family and my sister organised it. It turned out we went on a safari trip to the Beekse Bergen, a safari park in the Netherlands. Not quit a usual place in the Netherlands as we woke up with zebra’s and giraffes in our backyard.
Friends and newborns
Being at home provided us with the opportunity to ‘maintain’ our relations with our friends and loved ones. In the last 6 months that amount has increased with six, as six newborns where welcomed in this world. So besides visiting our ex-colleagues at Voys & Spindle, having drinks and dinners with friends we also changed diapers, gave bottles and cuddled with those little wonders.
Preparing for departure
Besides all the social activities we had to prepare for the next chapter of our trip. It meant that our gear needed maintenance and we had to prepare the Vletter Van for our European trip. So we spend an afternoon in our storage unit for example to sort out our clothes and stuff. Nadine got a big smile as she discovered she could bring more like a dress besides her Goretex clothes.
We enjoyed our time in the Netherlands and it was a special experience to realize that you have no reason to be home. Because no house or work that binds us to the Netherlands at the moment. It was also a big transition from being on a bike and sleeping in a tent to being back and living again in a house. It took us easily 2 weeks before we got over our jetlag and touched down a bit after our bike touring adventure. So June really was just a pit stop for us, but it also confirmed very clearly how important friends and family are to us and how nice it was to see them and spend time with them.
And now we continue
Nadine just finished a week of bike touring together with a friend who is cycling to Rome. I traveled to the German mountains with a friend for a week of hiking. Last friday we met up with Nadine’s family with whom we are spending this weekend camping nearby Kassel, Germany. Tomorrow we will travel further to Scandinavia with our van which is from now on our home for the next couple of months.
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The first week of travelling with the VletterVan in Europe is a fact… at least… I walked in the mountains of southern Germany (the Allgauer Hochalpen) with Revi, whose new hiking boots were welcomed by a 9.5-hour hike. It is a wonderful area with high mountains and of course half litres of German beer and apfelstrudel. A great combination! 🍻 Nadine just hadn't had enough of cycling and paddled about 500 km (from Roermond to Oedheim) with Karin in the direction of Rome. The first days they were accompanied by Berber, Erwin and baby Abd and enjoyed the luxury of their camper van @boris_the_bus_and_us ! After that, they slept shoulder to shoulder in a little trekking tent, sheltered in bus shelters and frying eggs on a single gasstove. Biketouring as it is meant to be! 😁 It was wonderful to undertake such mini adventures with friends! And it was great to meet up again after a week. 🥰 We are now enjoying the black forest and are slowly getting used to our new home and the fact that this will be our life the next couple of months. We have some days left in Wolfach before meeting up with Nadine her family in the middle of Germany for a short holiday next weekend. #vantravel #vwcalifornia #vwvan #vwvanlife #roadtrip #worldtrip #oberstdorf #hiking #biketouring #travelgermany #blackforest #schwarzwald #allgäueralpen #nebelhorn #travelwithfriends