What a YEAR! Never in our wildest imaginations did we expect a year like 2020! It definitely had its ups and downs…
It was a wonderful blessing to take the time to visit with most of our family in Idaho. We ended up spending about a week with nearly all of Chantil’s brothers and sisters and had some wonderful memories. I was pretty busy getting things set up on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and our website for sharing our motorcycle travels via viajarMOTO.
Final preparations for our departure! It was a busy time as we made sure our storage shed was all packed and everything we needed to go with us on the motorcycles was ready for our flight to Germany at the end of the month. It was sad leaving Aaron and Chantil’s family in Idaho, however, we were excited to be starting our dream of full-time motorcycle travel!
What an insane month! We arrived in North Rhine-Westpalia, which was the epicenter of the Coronavirus cases in Germany. Thanks to our wonderful friends, the Munns, who picked us up from the airport, and the Palmers, who stored our motorcycles over the winter and let us stay at their home until we were ready to travel.
On the 2nd of March we starting the adventure we dreamed of over the last five years! Little did we know it would come to a screeching halt in just a few weeks. We rode through Germany, France, and into eastern Spain. Our original plan was to catch a ferry from southern France to Morocco, but the Morocco borders were closed before we got there. We decided to continue traveling through Spain. We made it to the Murcia region before Spain issued a complete lockdown and travel ban for the entire country.
We where fortunate to have found an Airbnb and a courageous hostess, Maria, that allowed us to stay in her guesthouse in the countryside. Although we weren’t allowed to leave except for shopping, we used the time to make YouTube travel videos, hang out with Maria and her three sons, work-out, and play A LOT of Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Switch.
More YouTube videos, chilling with Maria, working-out, and playing video games. By the end of the month, Spain was allowing local travel within regions so we would explore Murcia. We even rode a portion of the Trans Euro Trail (TET) and documented it so we could write our first article for UPSHIFT Online. Check out the article here: https://www.upshiftonline.com/magazine-issue/november-2020
After 92 days of travel restrictions, we were FINALLY allowed to leave Murcia region. We continued south and then east along the coast of Spain. We enjoyed the whitewashed buildings of Spanish towns, the majestic Alhambra, hiking the Sierra Nevadas with Angela, and historic cities like Granada, Córdoba, and Málaga.
We continued along the coast of southern Spain and then into Portugal. Spain highlights included: Júzcar, Ronda, Seville, and the Wharf of the Caravels. In Portugal, we stuck to the coast to avoid the hotter temperatures and enjoyed: Faro, Benagil Cliffs, Sagres Fortress, Lisbon, Sintra, Porto and many other wonderful spots along the way.
This month started by parking our mules and going for a week-long hike along the Camino de Santiago. We started at the Spanish/Portugal border in Tui and hiked the 117 km (73 miles) to the city of Santiago. A much shorter bus ride returned us to our motorcycles and more adventure up the western coast and into northern Spain.
At this point we had to figure out our plans for the next leg in the adventure. Our travel visa was set to expire for most of Europe and our only options that would allow for future travel were Morocco, UK, or the Balkan countries. Morocco would have been great but they were pretty strict with previous lockdowns. The UK is expensive and not an ideal climate in winter. The Balkans had multiple countries open to US passport holders, costs are generally less expensive, and the coast of the Adriatic Sea has weather much like Southern California. Easy decision – off to the Balkans!
We left Spain and rode quickly across France and northern Italy. We stopped to enjoy the Alp mountain regions and to spent a day in Venice.
With 90-days to enjoy Croatia we took all of it! Although Croatia is not that large, it is diverse. The coastal regions are vastly different from the northeast. We enjoyed taking our time and exploring the culture and beauty of this wonderful country. Since UPSHIFT Online published our article on riding some off-road in Spain, we decided to ride the TET in Croatia as well. We even followed up by visiting with the linesman, “Dooby” Primorac, who was responsible for establishing the trail. Check out the article here: https://www.upshiftonline.com/magazine-issue/december-2020
We never expected the weather to continue this late in the year. It has been our dream to charter a sailboat in the Mediterranean someday and the opportunity presented itself in Zadar, Croatia. The combination of a great week of weather and inexpensive charter costs was too much to pass up. We chartered a Beneteau 36-foot sailboat and enjoyed a week of island hopping along the beautiful Adriatic Coast.
We slowly made our way down along the southern coast of Croatia enjoying the islands and slower pace of the late season. The weather was pretty favorable the entire time. We stayed in the touristic coastal town of Dubrovnik for a few weeks where we enjoyed walking among the old town streets and beauty of the Adriatic Sea. We also got some dental work done which was much less expensive than Western Europe or the United States.
A new country – Montenegro. Although much smaller than Croatia, there is still a lot of diversity here. We’ve been impressed with the coastal towns and the mountains of this Balkan country. We even ventured into the eastern portion of the country where we enjoyed a week of hiking and riding in the snow. We are currently enjoying a relaxing Christmas and New Years in the coastal town of Budva.
A Busy Year!
In addition to writing for UPSHIFT, we also produced 34 YouTube videos showcasing the first section of our motorcycle trip from Germany, through France, and along the eastern and southern coasts of Spain. Binge watch all the episodes here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL51FYkArD2Bvo8KzJaTdfyqZu0tIWyDr2
Looking Forward to 2021
We’re excited to see what 2021 brings us. Of course there is a lot of uncertainties but there is also a lot of wonderful places we still have not discovered for ourselves. More adventure to come…