Exactly one year has passed since the day of the great departure. A departure into the unknown, on a journey that was more intense than I could have ever imagined. A journey that took me 36,000 kilometers through 44 countries with their capitals and highest mountains, past seas, beaches, lakes, national parks, villages and giant metropoles, different cultures and even more different people. And exactly three months ago I returned with a backpack full of adventures, encounters, emotions, thoughts and insights.
Instead of putting all my adventures, stories, insights and messages together again in a long blog-post, I'd rather share them with you at a multimedia-show. The first date is fixed:
January 12, 2023, 19:30 at the Veloplus branch in Emmenbrücke. Free entry (door collection) followed by an aperitif. More information, as well as additional lecture dates will follow soon via newsletter and on this website.
The three months since my return have also been filled with adventures and new beginnings. I have started my studies in Health Sciences and Technology at the ETH in Zurich, and if you think I will be able to just sit there and listen quietly, you are mistaken. The following pictures were all taken in the last couple of weeks, I'll just leave it at that....
I am looking forward to welcoming you at one of my lectures!
204 days, 36'000 kilometers, half a million meters of altitude, 44 countries, 44 capitals, 43 highest mountains, numerous lakes, seas, national parks, forests, encounters and simply unimaginable (and this is really meant seriously - I think it is not possible to imagine the whole thing) many experiences, adventures, encounters and emotions.
This project was the hardest, most exhausting, most beautiful, most enriching and most profitable thing I have done in my life (so far) and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my "Friends", sponsors, family, actually just everyone who supported me here in any way. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
I will need a few more days, weeks, maybe months to process everything that has happened in the last few months, but there will definitely be a more detailed blog post and in the longer term a series of presentations... Cheers! :)
I really wanted to finish this project on Mont Blanc. But the current conditions simply do not allow this at the moment. The mountain is officially closed, who wants to go up, pays 15'000 Euro deposit, which you get back when you are back down, in the not so unlikely case that this never happens again, you have already pre-financed your rescue, respectively funeral...
On the one hand, I'm sad and disappointed that I've come so far and now only the last piece of a gigantic puzzle is missing, so to speak. On the other hand, I am happy, relieved, and grateful, maybe even a little amazed, that I have come this far at all. One doesn't even want to imagine what could have happened during all that time out there on the road, in the cities, in the mountains, or wherever....
I decided to climb the Gran Paradiso - with 4061m.a.s.l. the highest mountain, which is completely in Italy - and I will do the Mont Blanc when the conditions allow it again - probably in September as a 3 day tour from Lucerne.
The Gran Paradiso I trusted myself alone, after all, the glacier is bare and snowfree so that you can see the crevasses well and the climbing difficulties are also absolutely within limits.
The feeling of standing all alone on the 46th national peak within a few months is indescribable! And I'm sure that it will work out with the Mont Blanc soon and then I can complete this project properly...
Slowly but surely my trip through all 47 countries of Europe is coming to an end. In the last few days and weeks I was somewhere in the highest mountains of the alpine countries and it feels more and more like home. For me, the Alps are a place where I feel safe again, I'm not afraid of wild animals - especially dogs - anymore, the tap water is drinkable again and I can effortlessly communicate with people again.
I would like to continue this blog post where the last one left off, namely in Croatia. But because it is very intense for me at the moment not only physically but also mentally and I hardly have time to process all the impressions, I would like to share here once again a little more pictures instead of text:
In November, a young man - Charles was his name - ran after me in Porto (Portugal) to ask me why I was traveling with ice axes. Then, in March, he invited me to his home in Paris and showed me around the city. Then he left by bike himself, recently slept in my bed in Switzerland, and then we met again in Split. I was on the road together with him for two days and it was just fantastic! Croatia has just sooo much more to offer than the incredibly touristy coastal region!
Slovenia was the very last country that was still missing for me. Ljubliana the last capital. From then on, it was all about the highest mountains of the Alpine countries! Triglav Nationalpark is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the alps!
The weather at the Grossglockner did not look really good. Quite spontaneously Andreas "Rambo" Ropin has agreed to go up there together. He used to be an alcoholic, gambling addict and chain smoker, but quit this lifestyle 15 years ago and is now an extreme athlete and ultra-trailrunner. In the end we had a fantastic day despite not too summery weather!
There is not much to say. The Zugspitze is scenically a beautiful mountain, just has far too many people there. And if the very first thing you see on the summit is an elderly gentleman in a walker, then you feel rather like in the wrong movie... Actually wanted to be at sunrise on the summit, but could not start at night due to thunderstorms ... Was still beautiful.
Somehow life is just better, if you don't sleep more than 1 hour :) Especially if it is because of a beautiful sunrise stroll with Maximilian!
The feeling you get and the emotions you go through when you are back in the most beautiful country in Europe after about 35,500 kilometers through 47 countries in just under 200 days and can even call this country "home" is pretty indescribable. For me it went once across the whole country, over Oberalp Pass, Furka Pass to Zermatt and later through the whole Valais, over the big Saint Bernard to Italy.
2 years ago I wrote my Matura thesis under the title "Tour dör d'Schwiiz". Thereby I visited all 250 cities of Switzerland by bike and climbed the highest mountain in all 26 cantons. In doing so, I covered about 7'500km and 100'000 meters of altitude in 38 days. In any case, as part of this project, I have already been to the Durfourspitze - itself the highest point in Switzerland at 4634m.a.s.l.. In one day from Zermatt to the summit and back down again. But since I did not want to do the same tour again, I decided this time to climb the Dom - with 4546m.a.s.l. the highest mountain completely within Switzerland. Another excellent day, together with Martin Anthamatten. And after all the other things I've already done with Martin, it felt like a morning walk from Randa up the Dom. And we were back down in time for lunch.... :)
The last few weeks through the Balkans have been absolutely crazy! It started in Albania with a wild chase by 3 gigantic shepherd dogs with a bloody end, which almost meant the end of this trip. It continued in Albanian and Greek hospitals and with a few mechanical problems on the bike, but from then on it was actually only upwards.
The Balkans is scenically fantastic! Soooo many mountains, breathtaking roads on the Mediterranean coast, gorges, forests and lakes, just fantastic. And above all it has hardly any tourists! In addition, I saw many run-down villages, abandoned gas stations, vehicles that would already be in museums here, questionable road conditions, flourishing cities and much more. The people are mostly poor, but seem to be happy with the few things they have and are very warm and hospitable. I couldn't quite always identify the food, but it usually tasted good... :)
Since the countries here are relatively small, I came every few days to enjoy a mountain tour to country highlights through wild mountain landscapes.
Now I'm in Croatia, more or less back in civilization. With my "better half" I just spend a few quiet days on an island near Split. It was really funny - almost boring - to wake up twice in the same place. The last time this happened to me was in Stockholm about 25 countries ago. Now, when I stop for a moment, I realize only slowly how intense and eventful the last weeks and months have been and I suspect that it will take quite a while until I have really processed everything.
In any case, here I am preparing for the very last stage of this project, which will take me to the highest peaks of the Alpine countries (Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtestein, Italy, France, Switzerland). Whether I will be able to complete this trip as planned in just under 3 weeks (early August) on Mont Blanc is not yet clear, as the conditions on the highest mountain in the Alps (or depending on your view of all of Europe) are quite catastrophic right now, but we'll see....
Until then, the best way to follow me for daily updates is on Instagram!
This blog post I write in a beach restaurant on the Greek Mediterranean. And because it's over 40°C hot here right now and I can hardly think straight, here are just a few keywords and plenty of pictures of the last weeks.
Countries since the last blog post: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece.
-Germany is a very "comfortable" country by bike.
-Berlin is worth seeing
-Dresden I liked almost better
-Prague is probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but not recommended on Saturday afternoon of a long weekend (unless you like gigantic crowds of tourists)
-Czech Republic, for the first time since Finland half an eternity ago, I climbed something that was more mountain than hill.
-Otherwise, the Czech Republic was so unspectacular that I have almost forgotten a lot of things...
-Vienna is beautiful
-It's great to sleep under the bridge in Vienna during thunderstorms:)
-There are in my opinion more beautiful cities than Bratislava.
-The Tatra Mountains between Slovakia and Poland are beautiful!
-There I climbed the highest mountain of Slovakia (Gerlachovsky Stit, 2654m) and of Poland (Rysy, 2503m) with a mountain guide in one day, but the tour became a bit too long for the mountain guide :)
-In Slovakia I worked a little bit in a pizzeria one evening, could eat for free and stay in a hotel.
-In the first 10 minutes in Hungary my sunglasses were stolen.
-The highest mountain in Hungary is quite unspectacular, but the capital Budapest is even more beautiful!
-Romania surprised me very positively! Beautiful landscapes, incredibly friendly people and numerous really worth seeing places...
-The road quality in Romania was worlds better than expected, but the street dogs were as feared the pure horror!
- A highlight in Romania was definitely the drive over the Transfagarasan Highway - known in certain circles as the most beautiful road in the world...
- And also the highest mountain in Romania (Moldoveanu, 2544m) was definitely one of the most beautiful country highlights so far!
- I saw a bear and passed it by 3 meters :)
- To call Bucharest "beautiful" would be a lie, but "interesting" is the city for sure
-Poverty, which is found in many places in Romania, has engaged me more than I would have expected...
-Bulgaria I was just passing through to get to Turkey. Will be back to the country soon though.
-Turkey is an incredible country!
-8 nights I spent there, on 7 of them I was invited!
-Turkey also has a lot to offer on a culinary level. I tried a lot of Turkish specialties.
-You can get a kebab there for the equivalent of less than 1CHF. And with a little luck you get food poisoning for free...
-If you combine food poisoning with sunstroke, it becomes rather unpleasant...
-But I'm feeling better now.
-Istanbul is a very lively, beautiful and interesting city!
-In Istanbul I was ripped off by a scammer :(
-When the temperatures don't drop below 25° even at night and it's swarming with insects everywhere, sleeping outside is quite exhausting...
-The sea in Greece is beautiful!
-Olympus (2918m) is one of my favorite mountains!
-On the Olympus I met Toni from the Tyrol. He is 66 years old, cheese master and has never been traveling in his whole life. Since he was a child, he has dreamed of Mount Olympus because that is where the gods are at home. So he recently sold a few cows and drove with the money through the whole Balkans to Greece to climb Mount Olympus in 4 days. A wonderful story!
-It is quite hot on the road at 40°+!
-Athens is a great city!
-The vast majority of people here in the south are incredibly friendly and the food is excellent!
After more than 30'000 kilometers through 36 countries in almost exactly 5 months I am quite tired by now and I am looking forward to arriving back in Switzerland in a few weeks - probably between the end of July and the beginning of August! Until then, however, my journey still leads me criss-cross through all Balkan states to Croatia and from there then still on the highest peaks of the Alpine countries:)
When I was still wandering around somewhere in Lapland in snowstorms at the beginning of May and could hardly brush my teeth in the morning because toothpaste, drinking bottle and pretty much everything was frozen, I had slowly had enough of winter! From Finland I came for obvious reasons not via St.Petersburg (Russia) to Estonia, but with the ferry directly from Helsinki to Tallinn. In the Baltic States I finally found spring. Since I was increasingly on highways and expressways on the road (the offer of alternatives was very sparse!) and the landscape was pot flat, I have in between also times more than 300km a day unwound. In Latvia I was only a few kilometers from the Russian border, but my biggest problem was another: dogs! Already in the first night in Latvia I was barked at and growled at by such a beast in my sleeping bag for over an hour. An absolute horror scenario, since dogs are pretty much my biggest concern on this trip anyway. And if you think that you get used to being chased by barking monsters 5-10 times a day - about every farm - you're wrong. This is just traumatizing! And so the 310 meters high national peak of Latvia was not so easy to reach... All in all, however, a dreamlike country, with many forests, endless meadows and a fairy-tale capital!
In Lithuania, the road conditions finally got better again, but not my ideas... The highest mountain of Lithuania - itself with 293 meters height actually no big deal - is only 2 kilometers away from the border to Belarus. And so I thought, if I am already here, then I can go and have a look at it, just the border of course. To keep the story short: I took a picture of the monstrous barbed wire fence there and promptly all the surveillance cameras turned on me. Who cares if they see me, I thought to myself...? Anyway, a short time later I was arrested and taken to a military station that looked like a movie from the Soviet Union! Since everyone spoke only Russian, I didn't quite know what was going on, but at least it had a power outlet, so I could even charge my cell phone there. After a few hours, I had to sign some foreign language documents, delete all the pictures, and then I was allowed to leave....
Maybe not the most glorious idea of my career as an adventurer, but if you can't find the adventures on the 300 meter high peaks of the country, then you have to look for them elsewhere
In Poland I was surprised by the impressive contrasts, the ugly ghettos, the modern skyscrapers and the beautiful old town of Warsaw. And I also liked Berlin quite a bit.
Now, for the first time since Stockholm 6 weeks ago, I took a rest day and switched to summer gear. Now I am definitely ready and motivated for the last 10'000 kilometers!
...away from home. At the highest mountain in Finland, I have reached the northernmost, most remote and farthest point of my journey. The last days and weeks through Lapland in the north of Scandinavia were hard, cold, wintry, windy, wild, lonely and at the same time just beautiful!
I had adventurous days in the highest mountains of Norway, Sweden and Finland, saw many trees and lakes (always interesting!) and was quite often invited by people! :)
But now I'm glad that my journey takes me back south and hopefully into the summer. In the next 7 weeks I'm driving all over Finland, then zigzagging through Eastern Europe down to Turkey and from there over to Greece and I'm looking forward to warmer days, new countries, foreign cultures and all the adventures, experiences and encounters that are waiting for me there...
It's been way too long - 5 weeks to be exact - since the last blog post. There was just always so much going on, so I hardly got to write a few words here. In any case, in the meantime I've been back to 11 countries, many interesting cities, beautiful landscapes, met new people, enjoyed good food and actually experienced almost too many things to share everything here. So here are just a few highlights, facts and figures of the last 6 weeks:
- 7'540km in 38 days
-13 countries (My favorite country among them: Scotland)
-Many cities (My favorites: Paris, Killarney, Galway, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Gent, Brugge, Antwerp, Luxembourg, Brussels, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm and many more...)
- Stunning landscapes (My favorites: The wild Atlantic coast in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District National Park in England, the impressive cliffs in southern England or the endless coniferous forests in Sweden
- Hugged the ground 3 times with the bike (1x of it not out of joy, but because a cat had to cross the bike path in the night exactly at the moment I was there 🤕)
- ignored too many red lights to count :)
- Been invited 6 times.
- Forced to use 6 ferries
- Spent 25CHF for overnight stays
- Showered in every second country :)
- Climbed 9 country peaks, only 3 of them above 1000 meters
- Had 3 flat tires
- Bought 1 new cell phone, because I broke my indestructible outdoor cell phone already on the first day
- Didn't eat a single chocolate bunny, but ate more chocolate, waffles, sweets and coke than in my whole life so far :)
- Overall just had a fantastic time out there again :)
Now I'm staying for 4 days with my family in Stockholm, enjoying a few quiet days with them in the really beautiful capital of Sweden, trying to solve all my problems and recover a little, before my journey continues on Sunday again through Norway and Sweden to the far north and then via Finland towards Eastern Europe...
All in all, I've made about half of the total distance now, about 18'000km are still ahead of me and if everything goes reasonably well, I'm quite optimistic that I'll be able to make it to all the remaining countries before I start my ETH studies in September! :)
And HERE a short radio report from the SRF Regionaljournal!
Adventurer and athlete, soon bikepacking through europe, climbing the highest mountain and visiting the most beautiful cities in every of the 47 countries!