Cycling Europe Day 29: The Stuff of Nightmares

It’s not important to be the fastest or even to be fast. It’s not important to be the

This Italian hamburger gave me just enough energy to keep looking for a hotel.

This Italian hamburger gave me just enough energy to keep looking for a hotel.

strongest or even to be strong. What IS important is to be determined and persistent. Remember the story of the rabbit and the turtle? I’m a turtle. And it’s working for me just fine.

It’s the stuff of nightmares; my nightmares. I roll into a town I don’t know and can’t find anywhere to spend the night. Although unlikely, it COULD happen. I could have as one of my destinations a town so small it does not have hotels. What do I do then? I dread the day if it comes.

While I was organizing this trip, I researched hotels and campsites in and near my planned destinations. For every destination, with the exception of perhaps five, I have the address of somewhere I can stay. If it’s a campsite, I check its website the night before I arrive to make sure there is a restaurant in or near it. If not, I head to the nearest city. If it’s a hotel, rarely do I actually look for it when I arrive. My system has been to find the city center and book into any suitable hotel there.

But things are never that straight forward. Sometimes I can’t find the campsite or it turns out it doesn’t exist. Other times I get there and it doesn’t have grass plots so I can’t pitch my tent or it doesn’t have food nearby. Sometimes, like today, I can only find one extravagantly priced hotel in the whole town. There must be others but I can’t find them.

I don’t really have a backup plan. Wild camping is not an option I want to consider. Different countries have different laws regarding wild camping and I haven’t researched those laws to know where it’s all right and where it’s not. My main priority is always getting enough food. I don’t have the right kit to make my own food nor can I afford to add the extra weight to my bike. Wild camping would mean leaving my bike next to my tent all night somewhere it won’t be properly secure. And more importantly, I’m a woman on my own. I’m not entirely comfortable finding somewhere on the side of a road and setting up my tent for the night.

So every single day I arrive somewhere and start to panic about finding a place to stay. Usually I find a place within a decent amount of time. Today I didn’t. I was so hungry after spending too much time searching for a hotel that I decided to eat first and think later. After I had food in my belly, I decided I’d look for a hotel for a bit longer, and if I did not find one I’d start cycling toward’s tomorrow’s destination. That worked. I ended up negotiating a semi- decent price for a room in a highway hotel.

Italy turned out to be more expensive than I expected. Spain was heaven. Everything was cheap there. I once stayed in a very nice four star hotel for 27€. You can’t get a two star hotel in Italy for that price. I haven’t been able to anyway. I’ve discovered that I’m not a good budget traveller. I have “standards”. Food has been one place where I haven’t been able to compromise. My stomach can’t tolerate junk food. After a long cycle, I want to – I NEED to – sit down somewhere and eat a proper meal. I need three proper meals a day. Proper meals are expensive when you add it all up.

I can camp almost anywhere. I enjoy camping. But because I’m not carrying food with me I need a camp that supplies food. Not all of them do.

As for hotels, all I need is a clean bed and toilet. I could consider sharing a toilet if necessary. I’ve done it before. But so far I’ve focused on finding ensuite hotel rooms.

It all really does add up. At least I’m saving on transportation and shopping. Can you believe I haven’t once had the urge to buy stuff (other than food)? Not once. No trinkets from tourist spots, no pretty summer dresses, no nice shoes. I couldn’t carry it if I did get the urge. But I’m very proud of myself for not wanting to buy anything. See? I’m not all that bad – despite all the money I’ve spent so far.




  1. I like this account. Food it a big thing when cycling. You can’t carry a lot, it is not always easy to find and you need a lot of it. I admire you travelling alone. That too is a challenge. Kudoos to you.

  2. Hey Nadia, Day 29!!!! Fantastic achievement… I am with you each day, your writing transports me to your side 🙂

    Italy IS so expensive, I know..if you need somewhere around the Ligurian coast, please just ask 🙂 even if it’s afterwards en famille.

    Keep going and have a great day.


  3. Hey Nadia, please don’t make such shocking headlines for your blog post. 😉
    Was thinking something really really terrible must have happened when I read it first.
    But I’m glad to see you well and your wonderful and inspiring trip continues.

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