Confessions of a Novice Cycle Tourist

So, Tenny, what are you doing today, and why are you doing it?

Today? Well now I’m drinking my coffee before I start sorting things out, packing, cleaning the flat, cooking… yeah.

And why are you packing and sorting things out and cleaning the flat?

Well I’m packing and sorting things out because we’re leaving in one week… to have a journey by land which we are going to start from here, Yerevan, and trying to get to Italy by land. Hope it will take maximum 5 days… no… 3 days, maybe, yeah. Well, hopefully – anything can happen! We are taking our bikes and we will try to cycle in Italy and maybe in Spain – we’re not sure yet.

Me and Tenny On the Road, Armenia

Why are we going cycling in Italy and Spain?

Because I want to see Italy and Spain, those are two of my favourite countries. Well, I’ve never been to Spain before, and I’ve been in Italy maximum 2 days, and we are hoping that the weather is going to be still warm, because now it’s August and we don’t want to be late and be there in winter. So we are going to Italy by land, which will be quick, and then cycle.

Why cycling?

(Laughs) Well I’m cycling because my husband is cycling! And I can not tell if I am going to enjoy it 100% yet. I can tell when I’m there and I’m doing it.

You are definitely not going to enjoy 100% of it!

Well I know that there will be moments when I will enjoy 100% but… well, to be honest, the thing for me is like… this journey and the difficulties is for reaching something… which is the destination, which will be England, where my husband’s family lives…

Call me Tom.

Well, you’re Tom. I’m talking about my husband…

…very funny…

…and we’re going to have a very good and enjoyable time there. Yeah. And we will enjoy it better because of the way in which we’re going to get there.

So what are you most afraid of about this whole journey from Yerevan to England?

When I want to go to the toilet and I don’t have the facilities! That’s the most scary part.

Seriously

Yeah.

That’s pretty good – going to the toilet is not difficult. So the rest of it should be very easy.

Well, thinking about my cycling experience before, which was about 400km between Yerevan and Tabriz, the cycling itself was difficult for me because it was my first experience – I hadn’t been on a bike much since I was a child. It was also the communication between us and the people, and I found it difficult being a tourist in two countries where I had lived for 24 years and 6 years. I think this time, when I will really be a tourist and foreigner, I will find it much easier. Mentally it will be easier. Physically I hope it will be easier – I am fitter than before. I hope it’s not going to be very hilly…

Armenia is one of the most difficult countries in which I’ve cycled in terms of the hills – the gradients, the duration of the climbs – so it can’t be more difficult than that. Does that make you feel better about what we’re going to do?

Yes of course it does. And also, as I said, I’m going to see new places, new sights, new scenery, new people – everything new, which I didn’t have in my previous cycling experience. The only new part was the cycling, the action itself. And of course I met new people but there was nothing new about that for me because they were Armenians or Iranians and I could speak the language. And also I was the translator which made it a bit difficult.

You think it’s a good idea to do this short trip in Europe as your first proper cycling experience?

Definitely.

Do you think you will do any more travelling after this?

I don’t know. Well, I will definitely want to do more travelling, but I am not sure if I would like to continue by bike again. Maybe not soon afterwards.

Where else in the world are you attracted to?

I think South America would be interesting. And I would like to go to China, but in that part of the world going by bike makes me a bit scared… I don’t know…

What are you looking forward to most about the next couple of months?

Arriving to a nice city, town, village, I don’t know… and have the opportunity to have a shower, wear clean clothes, and go out walking see places without bike!

So basically everything apart from the cycling?

Well, as I said, cycling is the way by which I can do what I like. So for going to see beautiful places, the bike will be my way of transport. I can’t say that I’m not looking forward to that! It makes things easier when you think, OK, I will cycle this 100km in order to be in a very nice place and be in a normal situation.

How about camping for a few days in a row?

I like camping. To be honest if we have water and food I really like camping… especially because this time we are going to have a bigger tent for 2 people, I am really looking forward to it. I mean, I sleep much better when I camp rather than stay in people’s houses. Well of course that’s going to happen and it’s good to meet nice people, but I don’t mind about camping as long as I camp in a place where I’m not disturbing anyone and nobody is disturbing me.

Do you have any ideas or images of what Italy or Spain might be like?

Well I am not sure if I can say in words, but of course, everyone has images about everything. So I have an image about Spain which is that it’s yellow, it’s red, it’s hot, hot-blooded people, hot food, beautiful women, dance… yeah. Just very colourful and nice. And Italy… black-haired men, again hot-blooded, not stupidly modern. I mean when I watch Italian movies, I enjoy everything – houses, the way people decorate their flat – it’s not posh, it’s not modern, it’s… I don’t know… oh and beautiful shoes. And lots of good artwork, which I hope I will have the chance to see.

Anything else you wish to say before committing yourself?!

Er, no, nothing to add. I just hope that my family will encourage me this time. Hope everything will go normally and I am not going to get stressed. Thank you very much!

Thanks and good luck!

The journey recounted in this archived post is now the subject of the award-winning documentary film Janapar: Love, on a Bike.

Click here to watch the trailer in a new tab →

7 Responses to “Confessions of a Novice Cycle Tourist”

  1. Liz Allen

    Ah 🙂
    It made me laugh!
    Hope to meet up with you and your husband somewhere en route.
    Have a wonderful time.
    Take care.

    Go girl, go!

    Lots of love xxxxx

    Reply
  2. Fearghal

    Best of Luck to Tenny and her husband, whoever that guy is?

    Reply
  3. Richard Allen

    Great script! I did laugh! I could hear Tenny actually speaking these words!
    (Have a lovely trip x)

    Reply
  4. Andy

    which one is the novice?

    Reply
  5. Marija

    Loved it…. Go Tenny, go 🙂 Good luck with it all! Looking forward for follows up. Enjoy.

    Reply
  6. Adrineh

    I could hear Tenny speaking those words too! Highlights for me were: ” going to the toilet is not difficult. So the rest of it should be very easy” (Tom) and beautiful shoes in Italy (Tenny) 😉 Tenny jan, why would you be afraid to cycle in China? A large country where more people cycle than in Armenia! :))) I’m sure you’ll be fine. So envious! Have a safe and rewarding trip… miss you guys already ;(

    Reply
  7. srinivas dasu (DS)

    Tenny why dont you come to our india.. where people love people… and ride cycles too… but this time with out cycles…enjoy the lovers paradise kashmir, 7th wonder of world TajMahal…well come
    once to India…heartfully wellcoming you both…we miss you both…

    Reply

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