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  1. #1
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    6 months in Europe

    I'm planning on taking about 6 months next year to bike through Europe. I have a rough idea of the route I'd like to take, but I have no idea if it is doable. Has anyone done a trip like this? I'd appreciate any advice, especially route information. I'd like to hit Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, possibly Austria, Germany, Belgium, possible Denmark, the UK and Ireland.

  2. #2
    Training Wheel Graduate twodeadpoets's Avatar
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    Lucky!
    "Ride Like an Orca!" ~tdp
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  3. #3
    Gordon P
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    Yeah I’ve spent about 3 years travelling/working in Europe and I spent about 7 1/2 months of it in the saddle. I did one trip that lasted 5 months and at 4 months I was tired of being on the road.

    Definitely do it, just take it slow and easy as adventures like that don’t come along very often!

  4. #4
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    Gordon, thanks for the advice! Any suggestions on when and where to go? What was your route like during the 5 months? Did you have any problems with the Schengen Act parameters? Sorry for all the questions, but what bike do you tour with?

  5. #5
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    In europe there's virtually no border. Some countries might check for drugs near borders but that seems to be about it. While in Spain it might be fun to spend some time on the Camino de Santiago, it's a walking and cycling route from the pyrenees to Santiago on the west side of spain, but you can do it in either direction. Along this route there are many places to stay for under 10 euros a night(you'll be in a giant room full of matresses and other people on the Camino.) You'll generally meet a lot of cool travellers there. If you want to be a bit more isolated while traveling stay away from the camino. Pretty much all of europe is very much cycle friendlty in Spirit. The physical reality may be different. Many cities can be kind of scary to ride in. For instance madrid traffic is insane. As is the traffic anywhere in any italian city. Keep in mind though that the fact that their driving is erratic means that drivers keeps their eyes open and will probably notice you. I've often found that the most dangerous aspect of american traffic was that fact that american drivers can really think on their feet and get startled the moment an unusual situation presents itself. Also, you're generally only aloowed 3 months at a time in any country, so if you were to enter through the netherlands for instance, travel around for 6 months, then exit through the netherlands you will have to explain that you didnt spend the whole time in the netherlands. If they don't believe you they could ban you for 5 or so years. (A friend of mine got banned, but thats because they checked her diary and in it she wrote about her employment in amsterdam, illegaly, for nearly a year.) Since there are no border checks you wont have any evidence in your passport of having travelled to other countries. Im sure if you can show some photographs around europe or keep a good diary of your trip, and the fact that you might have cycling gear with you you'll be allright though.
    You could plan a route, which would be usefull if you want to see certain events at certain times, like the running of the bulls, or the tulips in the keukenhof in the netherlands or maybe the odd festival, but really, you could just go get lost in europe for 6 months. It's all pretty safe, and most of us love to see cyclists. I remember that I got the best reception from truckers. they loved to see me hauling my gear up mountains. I'd often see them parked at the next cafe or restaurant ready to greet me and ask where i was going. Travelling salesmen in Spain gave me free Chorizo. The whole thing was great. In cities they wont give too much of a **** about you though.

  6. #6
    Gordon P
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    France is amazing - it is like cycling in a large garden! There are these small roads that crisscross the countryside that are more like paved footpaths. Spain is one of my favourite countries due to the variations in landscapes, the people, the history and it is affordable. England is also great and it has a well established network of cycle routes and great youth Hostels. I’ve spent a few months in Denmark and it has great cycling infrastructure but I was always there in the winter and did not do any cycling.

    I had no issues with visas and borders are seamless.

    I always travel with a converted MTB because I like to travel on gravel roads but a road touring bike will work fine if not better. For maps use the Michelin 1 – 250 000 series.
    Stay away from the big cities and get lost as often as you can!

    I’m thinking about cycling the TransAndalus in southern Spain for February 2010!
    Gordon

  7. #7
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovelo
    and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europea...distance_paths (cycling may not be allowed or possible on all of these walking routes but only sections)
    These are pretty well sign post in my limited experience and take nice routes, take the pressure off map reading if part of the route goes the way you want.
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  8. #8
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    Many European countries are part of the Schengen agreement, which lets you travel in the member countries for a total of 90 days within a 6 month period. If you want to keep traveling after 90 days, you would have to either move on to countries that are not part of the Schengen agreement, or accept the risk of overstaying your allowed time. I don't think you're going to have any trouble if you keep a low profile, but it's something to be aware of.

  9. #9
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    My understanding is that you can stay 90 days in one country.
    If it applies to the whole schengen then where would you apply for a long stay visa? I don't think you can can't apply for a "schengen visa" so would you just apply to one country and it would be good for the entire schengen?

  10. #10
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    No the 90 days is over the entire schengen region. So you can't do 90 days in France then pop to Spain for 90 days then to Italy for 90 days e.t.c http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...en&context=all

    However I think because the UK is not in the schengen agreement I think you could do 90 days -> Uk -> back into the schengen area but I'm note sure the article above has more info.

    EDIT: I am partially correct but the details are above in the link.
    Travelling without inertia

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  11. #11
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    So if you were to stay in europe for over 90 days where would you apply for a long stay visa? I know my visa when I came over was good for the entire schengen, but it was a pretty specific visa.

  12. #12
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    http://www.schengenvisa.cc/

    I don't think US citizens have to apply for a visa, there are different requirements for citizens of different countries. At any rate, the limit appears to be 90 days in a 6 month period within the entire Schengen zone. This is for business and leisure travelers, anyone working or studying in these countries (or any country) would apply directly to the country they wanted to stay in for a working or student visa.

    I would suggest that the OP and anyone else lucky enough to be planning such a trip google on "Schengen Visa" and "Schengen Countries" and start doing some research.

  13. #13
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    If your spending as much as 6 months may I suggest going over to eastern europe as well. The visa for EU would be solved by popping into either Turkey and Istanbul or Ukraine. This part of Europe offers much more variety than Western Europe and nothing exciting ever seems to happen in the west when you been to eastern europe and balkan. Apart from friendly people and lower cost it is also easier to find camping since its not so crowded. Roadconditions are suprisinly close to the west as well.

  14. #14
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    is 6 months in western europe a bit much? I live in the UK and when i went on a tour this summer all i wanted to do was to get in to earn europe and the balkans, as the people are much friendlier there, its much cheaper, easier to camp. western europe has a lot to offer, but frankly the people are not as nearly as friendly as those in the balkans.

    if you have 6 months why not ride down to turkey,syria and jordan as well, thats where it will actually be inetresting

  15. #15
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    European cycle route planner

    Hello

    I saw your question about a good cycle route through Europe, and I wanted to show you this:

    http://www.fietsrouteplanner.eu/content/view/104/109/

    I am webmaster of several websites about cycling holidays in Europe. Because of this, I got many e-mails about which cycle route to take to cycle from Amsterdam to Paris and from Sevilla to Tallinn. That's why I made this cycle route planner for holiday cyclists in Europe. The planner combines long distance cycle routes in Europe to the route you want to do. So you know easily where are the routes, and which guides or maps you have to buy.

    Especially in Holland, Germany, Belgium and Austria, many long distance cycle routes have been signposted, but also Estonia, Finnland, Norway, Hungary and other countries contains much cycle routes signposted or described in English. Most of them (nearly all) you can cycle using only the maps, not the texts. So also if the route guides are in dutch or German, you can use it.

    If you have any question about a specific cycle route, just send an e-mail, or post it here.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for all the suggestions and ideas. I think eastern Europe is a great options. And it'd give me a chance to get out of the Schengen countries for a bit. How much of a problem is being monolingual traveling through all these countries? I've started to learn greetings and basic phrases in several languages, but I'm a bit concerned about only really being able to speak English; valid concern?

  17. #17
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    in my opinion its fine going to eastern europe only knowing english. far from everyone speaks it but people are friendly and willing to understand. bodylanguage and drawing (for example a hotelroom with a bed for two will be drawn as a square with two linear people in it) helps a lot. More often than not there is even people around that speaks a little english and will help you if then see that you are getting nowhere.

  18. #18
    Primate Metzinger's Avatar
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    ^Of least concern in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. In other countries, English is more often spoken the closer you get to large centres.
    Places that cater to tourism almost always have English speakers. Many non-anglophone Europeans revert to English when travelling in places where they don't speak the local language.
    English is definitely the best language for travel.
    If you have the ability to point at things in a bakery, you won't starve. Bring good maps.

  19. #19
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    English will get you a long way, and German is good to know as well. German tourists seem to be everywhere in Europe, and a big chunk of western Europe (Austria, Switzerland, parts of northern Italy) is German speaking. When I was cycling in Sicily, a lot of people just assumed that I was German and spoke to me in German.

    Greetings and basic phrases will go a long way, people will appreciate your efforts and reciprocate. Carry a phrase book or use the list of phrases in the back of most travel guides, and don't be embarrassed to look through the phrase book before you approach someone or walk into a shop.

    Whatever you do, don't just walk up to someone and start speaking English (unless you're in an English-speaking country) as if you expected everyone to learn your language. I used to cringe whenever I saw Americans doing that!

  20. #20
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Might get some ideas here...
    .
    http://www.ecf.com/14_1

    EuroVelo, the European cycle route network, is a project of the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF). The project is sponsored by the ACCELL group with its bicycle brands Batavus, Koga, Sparta, Hercules and Winora.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living









    ^ Since June 16, 2011

  21. #21
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    You should bare in mind that higher mountain passes can suffer from snow, rain and fog and are not generally regarded as cyclable until May. Southern Mediterranean regions have spring in March which is a great time for riding and can get uncomfortably hot in mid summer. High Northern latitudes (Scotland/Scandinavia) have a midge/mosquito season around Aug and hardly any night-time in midsummer.

    You should plan your wanderings accordingly.

  22. #22
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    The only places I've been to in Europe that didn't speak English (or in my case, French or Spanish) were in Slovakia or Hungary. And it doesn't really matter. I remember once asking a train station employee if there was a lost luggage area by showing a photo of one from my camera.

    There are only four phrases really worth memorising: "Hello", "Do you speak English", "Thank you" and "Sorry". I generally find that if people don't speak any English (and if you show the right attitude) they're somewhat apologetic about it, and willing to work with you while you scramble through a dictionary together.

    And getting directions is a lot easier if you don't speak *any* of the language. You simply say the name of the place, and start pointing in random directions until they start nodding. It's much worse if they speak English and try and give you 50 sequential directions to get there, most of which turn out to be wrong...

  23. #23
    I'm not a newbie!
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    I just come back from a trip in Europe last week. I'm a Canadian and I stayed 5 months in the Schengen Space without any visa. Customs never ask me question, even "what are you doing", or "where are you going?" at the airport. Except one time when I cross a river on a little ferry from Portugal to Spain, a police officer and some other police man carrying big guns ask me my passport but they let me pass. That was the only time police forces ask me for my paper.

    Country I did in order: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Danemark, Holland and Belgium.

    I speak French and English.

    Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Czech Republic hardly speak English (except big cities).
    Danemark and Holland speak very good English.
    Germany, Switzerland and Austria is OK with English.

    My trip was amazing.

    You will have lots of fun. Bring a good camera with you because there's lot of think to see.

    If you have any questions, please ask and I will answer my best.

    You can see the exact road I took this summer on Google Maps or Google Earth: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...0229e976598b86

    My blog about my trip (french): europeenvelo.blogspot.com

  24. #24
    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    The distance in 6 months isn't a problem.
    My Travelogues: http://thomasontour.de (currently only in German)

  25. #25
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by univegator View Post
    in my opinion its fine going to eastern europe only knowing english. far from everyone speaks it but people are friendly and willing to understand. bodylanguage and drawing (for example a hotelroom with a bed for two will be drawn as a square with two linear people in it) helps a lot. More often than not there is even people around that speaks a little english and will help you if then see that you are getting nowhere.
    Most people under 30 in Eastern Europe speak English quite well. Hell, the other day I met a Polish copper miner who spoke excellent English....

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