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  1. #1
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Looks like we are Europe bound.

    Recently posted a thread about what it is like to ride in Eastern Europe. My wife's skills, appears all go to live in Europe 2-4 years. ESL teachers are in great demand about the world.
    So once she completes her 'international certification' she will be in demand in many countries. With investments, we can do an early retirement. and work overseas for awhile.
    We want to be replaced anywhere from Portugal to Romania. I will take a bike maintenance course and want a fun job. With those skills, I hope my future will offer a new 'fun job.'
    A bike acquaintance retired and bought a condo in New Zealand and spends our winters there. as I understand she works for an international bike touring company and she leads a really charmed life for a cycle fanatic, as she is. In the summer she summers in California and Europe. What a life.
    We want to follow her lead. What do you think.. anyone lived in Europe. do we need think of purchasing a car or do bikes rule. ? I will miss our beloved Coastal California, but we hope to be back; unless we join our nephew who will do a really early retirement in Australia, which is also bike friendly, I think.
    Will soon get a lab top and hope to post our travels in our new land here at Bike Forum.
    A concern. Getting my four bikes to Europe. Thinking of getting there by freighter. Cleveland to La Havre. that way I can go down into the hold and check out my bikes.
    anyone else done this kind of thing. Your feelings about your adventures. think our lead choices for our new home will be Czech Republic.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Ummm ... not to put a damper on all the plans, but if you are basing "early retirement" on your wife's possible teaching position(s) overseas ... well, maybe that might be possible, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

    I, too, have done a lot of research on that, and my conclusion has been that the amounts these companies tell you are possible to earn, are quite exaggerated. Sure, I think you can earn a living doing that sort of thing, and in about 4 years, I hope to be doing that too ... but I'm not thinking early retirement, I'm thinking about earning enough to pay the bills and maybe see a little bit of the area where I'm working.

    Have you ever been to Europe, or Australia? Just a suggestion ... before you plan to move to one or both of those places, how about travelling their on a vacation and checking it out. You may discover you love it ... or it might not be for you. Maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't sound like you've done much travelling at all.

    As for Australia being bicycle friendly ... it's about as bicycle friendly as North America. I found it to be very much like Canada (more Canada than the US), as a matter of fact, except they all drive on the other side of the road.

  3. #3
    TLN
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    I cant tell you about Eastern Europe but I can about western. The answer is this... "depends on what city". Some cities are great to bike in, others not. As far as what Machka said, I would agree....dont hold your breathe about early retirement. My last job was one of those "you should be able to make well over $100,000/year. But the thing they didnt tell you until after you took the job and finished with the testing was, you had to work all 12 months in Thailand or Singapore 16 hours/day 7 days/week in pretty nasty work environments. Well I dont think being away from your spouse 12 months out of the year is actually good for a marriage, or so Im told. That along with the job being more hazardous than a firefighter and a higher divorce rate and alcholism than the police department... kind of makes $100,000/year not worth it.
    Instead of listening to a company/employer, I would recommend talking to people who have actually done the job.

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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Being an ESL teacher isn't the best paid job in the world. Teaching in Eastern/Central Europe is a competive business with many "schools" focusing on pumping out certificates for their students with little or no reguard for the teachers. Everyone I know who has taught in these parts of the world has horror stories.

    Does your wife have a job lined up already? Is she willing to work 10-12 hour days for a fraction of what she earned in America? What are you going to do?. These are questioins that you need to ask yourself.

    If you go tattoo this phrase on the back of your hand so you don't forget it; this is not America. Things are done differently there.

    As for shipping four bikes via ship, forget it. They'll most likely be damaged. You have no idea where you're going to live. Have you ever seen a Soviet era apartment? Unless you're independently wealthy you'll be liveing in one of these tiny "block houses". Four bikes my foot, they won't fit in the damn apartment.

    Feel free to PM if you would like to discuss this further.

  5. #5
    TLN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas
    If you go tattoo this phrase on the back of your hand so you don't forget it; this is not America. Things are done differently there.
    Perfect! There are some that need that tattooed on their forehead with a large mallot!

  6. #6
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    I have to agree with some of the above sentiments. It does not sound like you have done your homework. And frankly, bikeforums.net is probably not the best place to be looking for answers.

    It doesn't sound like you even know where you are headed yet. However, as for getting your bikes there, I would recommend having your bikes packaged up in a bike box and taking them with you on the plane. This will be cheaper in the long run, and you will have them as soon as you get off the plane, as opposed to waiting however long you might have to wait for the ship to come in. Also, by taking them on the plane you will avoid any customs fees that you may have to pay -- yes, even on your personal items. Just check with your airline to see what their specifications are as to how the bike(s) should be packaged.

    If you have the money (and it sounds like you do), then you may consider investing in plastic bike containers instead of just packing them in cardboard bike boxes. One container will run you about $400, but that may be worth it to you if whatever is inside it is worth thousands.

    As for a car, this depends on where you are. Are you prepared to pay the high costs of petrol? If you think gas is expensive in CA, just wait until you get to Europe. Bikes most certainly do NOT rule. Think drivers are inconsiderate in the US? Try Italy, Romania, or Poland. Add to that the horrible (and I do mean HORRIBLE) pollution in a city like Bucharest, and you are not exactly in a cycling paradise.

    As for bike maintenance, be prepared to deal with most things yourself. And be prepared to wait LONG periods of time for replacement parts. Be prepared to deal with a mechanic across a language barrier. Bring some basic tools, extra tubes, a good lock, and maybe even an extra headset and/or bottom bracket.

    And I would forget about 4 bikes. Bring 1 or 2 bikes and make sure they are in great working order. Make sure the drivetrain is PERFECT. Simplicity is key here. Bring a bike that wont break. If you have a problem with your hydraulic disc brakes or the head tube on your CF road bike is cracked, dont be surprised if you get a "sorry, you're out of luck." Furthermore, if you do bring 2 bikes, it would be ideal if they were similar so that if the need arises you can swap out a wheel, headset, or whatever and just keep riding.

    Another alternative, depending on where you are... just buy a bike there, then sell it before you leave.

    Dont mean to rain on your parade here but you've got some work ahead of you. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Machka. We have been to Europe 18 times.. My wife traveling in ESL crowds. We know one Mona who taught ESL in Prague for two years. Loved it there. Don't expect to make a lot of money. Would be nice to make just enough to pay the bills so don't have to dip into our US pension.. Understand my wife's salary to be about $9000, that is ok. Visitors who visited Prague tell us it is very inexpensive.
    ESL certification agency that grants accrediation to schools, also sponsors the tests for applying ESL teachers to become 'internationally' certified...They help with placement once a teacher is certified. My bike tours in Western Europe made me very comfortable with biking in Western Europe at least.
    Travel Arragements by "Trave L by Freighter.' we accompany our stuff on the ship and travel along with our stuff..We it arrives we are with our stuff. We ourselves can pack our stuff in a cargo box and unpack it on the other end.. Professional movers tell us these cargo boxes can hold up to 5000 lbs. Sounds like enough room for four bikes. I mostly wonder what biking is like in Czech Republic. Think that is where we favor being. Checked out couple visa application process' in Western Europe. You have to locate an employer to sponsor you and then you apply for a visa.
    Mona tells us there is a fair need for US English speakers even in Western Europe.
    as to me. Love hanging about bikes/ bike shops. once been accused of working at a given shop and store manger thanked me for selling an item for them..I hope with my pending bike school my skills will find me a place.
    A bike acquaintance who I toured with retired, bought a 'summer condo' in New Zealandand works with an international bike touring company to promoting international bike tours.
    In our case, money should not be too important. Just like to make enough to pay for 'local bills.'

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    Mona tells us there is a fair need for US English speakers even in Western Europe.
    In Europe British English rules. Even more so after the Iraq war.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Ok, just one more thing then ... have you looked into the immigration rules for the country(ies) you are considering?

    For example, you mentioned Australia ... Australia is not a place where you can just show up and be given a job. You have to meet all sorts of criteria with regard to education and experience.

    Your wife might be able to enter these countries and work ... but will you be able to?


    As for the Czech Republic, just don't bring any valuables with you. A friend of mine cycled through there to visit relatives a couple years ago. He was robbed twice, and the home of his relatives was broken into once while he was there. They told him that was a pretty common occurrance ... but they didn't have anything of value to take (anymore?), so they just sort of shrugged it off.

  10. #10
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Machka. On our list of countries we are interested in Romania was one listed. Romania had reported to have a crime problem. That is new to me about Czech. Rep. Talked to 3 who have either visited or worked there. New to me. they loved Prague.
    yes, we have started the Visa process. The school my wife is going to attend helps out in the visa process.
    even in western Europe , we have read of a need for ESL teachers. In France, you get a sponsor for certain occupations, you can apply for a work visa. The sponsor has to help you in the application process to show a need for that worker. We have lots of friends in France. From our home stay exchanges. our friends tell us there is a need for English teachers, but probably would only get a sponsor should the worker be needed part time.

  11. #11
    TLN
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    Good point Machka. I person I know was drugged and robbed in Prague. He was in the markets and drank something. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the alley with his underwear and socks. The police asked him what he was wearing...blue jeans, nikes, nike watch, nike shirt...stuck out like a sore thumb! The doctors checked him out and found an "almost" lethal dose of something or other. They told him that if he would have finished his drink, he might have been finished himself.
    About Australia.... right on the money about that. Unemployment is kind of high and is almost impossible to show up and get a job if you arent an Australian citizen or if you know someone.

  12. #12
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    Uuuugh! *shudder*

    Never, ever, ever drink anything that isn't in a sealed container!

    Koffee

  13. #13
    jur
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    Just rock up in Oz without a passport, you'll be put in a holiday camp where you can cycle all you want, in a square around the inside perimeter of the compound.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    Machka. On our list of countries we are interested in Romania was one listed. Romania had reported to have a crime problem. That is new to me about Czech. Rep. Talked to 3 who have either visited or worked there. New to me. they loved Prague.
    yes, we have started the Visa process. The school my wife is going to attend helps out in the visa process.
    even in western Europe , we have read of a need for ESL teachers. In France, you get a sponsor for certain occupations, you can apply for a work visa. The sponsor has to help you in the application process to show a need for that worker. We have lots of friends in France. From our home stay exchanges. our friends tell us there is a need for English teachers, but probably would only get a sponsor should the worker be needed part time.

    Well, from what I've heard about Prague ... there isn't a lot of really violent crimes (i.e. murders) but there is a lot of petty crimes (i.e. theft, break and entry).

    It's good that your wife's school is going to help out with the visa process ... and you will probably be able to get into the country with her ... and maybe you've got enough money to live off of yourself so that work isn't a really big concern ... but I would be very surprised if you could get a job in a bicycle shop in Prague like you seem to hope . . .

    I will take a bike maintenance course and want a fun job. With those skills, I hope my future will offer a new 'fun job.' ... Love hanging about bikes/ bike shops. once been accused of working at a given shop and store manger thanked me for selling an item for them..I hope with my pending bike school my skills will find me a place.

    For one thing, there will be a language barrier. Do you speak Czech? Or some sort of slavic language? Or even French or German (they might help a bit)?
    And for another thing ... I don't know, but they might do business quite differently than the average bicycle shop in California. Are there lots of bicycle shops there? Is that sort of thing in demand?

    I assume you've been here: http://www.czech.cz/ and read over all the information about working in the Czech Republic.

  15. #15
    TLN
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Uuuugh! *shudder*

    Never, ever, ever drink anything that isn't in a sealed container!

    Koffee
    You'd be surprised at how many people dont know that....let alone to NOT drink the water in Mexico....and that includes the ice cubes.....Im amazed at how some of these people are still alive thanks to dumb luck.

  16. #16
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Machka. Traveled extensively in Western Europe. Do need a crash course in French , Spanish. Having traveled there, not too worried should we be lucky and end up there..
    But Czech Rep is new to us. My wife speaks German so she should cope just fine with Czech Rep. Hungary offers special interest to us. But even that language bothers , even My wife. Well, must be easier than Greek? Wonder if Hungary has a crime problem?
    As I mentioned my cycling acquaitence works for an international touring company. seems she was not very bi-lingual; but then New Zealand is english.
    by way. I disagree with comment western Europe is all Brit English. Our French friends do not get along with Brit and Brit English. I hate to be the one to stir the international boiling pot. BUt read Continental commentary about Brits when the continent plays England in WOrld Cup soccer. they view the Brits as drunken sops..
    Heah, I believe what I read. ? Saw such comments in Sports commentary in 'L Equipe".
    But, the French may disagree with our wars, but they do not take it out on AMericans. I have come to believe they are fascinated by American ways and respect our ways, even if they would not want some of our values inflicted upon themselves.
    I am told the French want to hear American english and its being less common and we being the bigger trading partner, makes for a need to understand our dialect.

  17. #17
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    Machka. Traveled extensively in Western Europe. Do need a crash course in French , Spanish. Having traveled there, not too worried should we be lucky and end up there..
    But Czech Rep is new to us. My wife speaks German so she should cope just fine with Czech Rep. Hungary offers special interest to us. But even that language bothers , even My wife. Well, must be easier than Greek? Wonder if Hungary has a crime problem?
    As I mentioned my cycling acquaitence works for an international touring company. seems she was not very bi-lingual; but then New Zealand is english.
    by way. I disagree with comment western Europe is all Brit English. Our French friends do not get along with Brit and Brit English. I hate to be the one to stir the international boiling pot. BUt read Continental commentary about Brits when the continent plays England in WOrld Cup soccer. they view the Brits as drunken sops..
    Heah, I believe what I read. ? Saw such comments in Sports commentary in 'L Equipe".
    But, the French may disagree with our wars, but they do not take it out on AMericans. I have come to believe they are fascinated by American ways and respect our ways, even if they would not want some of our values inflicted upon themselves.
    I am told the French want to hear American english and its being less common and we being the bigger trading partner, makes for a need to understand our dialect.
    I notice you interchange "Brit" with "English" which to me as a Scot seems unfair given the comments you make re the drunkenesss of English fans. The French are not fond of the English it is true but do like the Scots. On my first trip to France 35 years ago I was advised by the Patron of a campsite to change my car sticker from "GB" to "Ecosse" so as to distinguish us from "le rosbifs."
    Re your plans, my wife and I lived in France for three years and my wife taught English with a EFL qualification (she is a teacher by profession). It is true the French regard an American accent as chic but do not expect too much re security and pay and the methods taught in the EFL courses in teaching English have no relevance to the methods used by the French system. Good for topping up a pension but the main drawback in France is health insurance as private insurance is expensive. Good luck with your plans!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    I disagree with comment western Europe is all Brit English.
    I was referring to the former Soviet block where I live and teach English in both the public and private sector.

  19. #19
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    The French are the exception to British english. They just don't like english period. Other than that, it's British english whenever I've heard folks in the European countries talk... unless they have a thick native accent.

    Koffee

  20. #20
    Senior Member ChiliDog's Avatar
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    The old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is." likely applies here.
    Ride like a kid again...out the door, not a care in the world~

    2005 Trek 7300fx; 2010 Fuji Saratoga 1.0 crank forward

  21. #21
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    In Scandinavia, English is spoken largely with an American accent.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by islenska
    In Scandinavia, English is spoken largely with an American accent.
    But do they use American or British grammar structures and spelling?

  23. #23
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    I don't hear the American accent... I've been to Sweden about 6 times to visit friends, and I just hear accent... but not American. I don't know what it is.

    Y'all are just screwed up!

    Islenska, I want to get to Iceland at some point. I've only passed through (flying Iceland Air to Sweden), but it sounds like a beautiful country.

    How's the cycling there?

    Koffee

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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    I don't hear the American accent... I've been to Sweden about 6 times to visit friends, and I just hear accent... but not American. I don't know what it is.

    Y'all are just screwed up!

    Islenska, I want to get to Iceland at some point. I've only passed through (flying Iceland Air to Sweden), but it sounds like a beautiful country.

    How's the cycling there?

    Koffee
    Maybe you don't hear an American accent because you are American?? The "accent" you are referring to is probably just a Swedish accent. What I was referring to was the fact that English in Scandinavia is spoken with an American accent as opposed to a British accent. This goes for grammar and spelling as well. However, there are plenty of Scandinavians who speak English with a British accent. It really depends on how/where their English was learned.

    To put it mildly, the cycling sucks here. It is a beautiful country, but the roads are terrible, the weather is crap, equipment is nonexistent or EXTREMELY expensive, motorists are insane, and there's basically no bike culture whatsoever. Its REALLY, *REALLY* windy here. A day without wind is a rare gift. On most days I feel like I am pedaling into wet cement. And, as you might have guessed, its cold. Here it is July and I'm still riding in full tights, long sleeves, vest, etc, etc. When I see ppl who have clearly come here on vacation to go touring I scratch my head and wonder why in the world they didn't go to France or Spain, or even Denmark. There are no bike lanes here, and on most roads there is no shoulder.

    On the plus side there is a good network of (paved) bike paths in Reykjavik. And this time of year we have nearly 24 hrs of daylight, so that makes it much easier to fit in those 3+ hour training rides! The mountain biking is ok -- nothing great.

    Icelanders aren't really into cycling. They like their cars. The bike is just not a very good form of transportation here because the weather is always so bad (wet, windy, cold, dark, icy). Unless you are absolutely determined to bike in Iceland, I would leave the bike at home and come here for the hiking/camping. The beauty and diversity of the landscape here is staggering, and unmatched anywhere else in the world.

  25. #25
    Guest
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    Hmmmm... perhaps a trip with a mtb would be best, then.

    The weather might me terrible, but those pilots sure can fly! I've always come into Reykjavik in the dead of winter, and even in the craziest storms, they claim it's a beautiful day to fly... and they mean it!

    Flying through the northern lights into Iceland is just...trippy. Trippy good. You get the acid trip without the acid, man!

    Koffee

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