The Ride Earth Fellowship was broken yesterday as Andy and I said our goodbyes to Mark, who now returns home to the UK.
It seems odd that the journey that took him two months to make by bicycle will be undone in less than 24 hours. The adventures and experiences that we have had within those two months give a real insight into the value of taking the idea of travelling a little slower, and experiencing the journey itself rather than the destination.
We have spent the last two nights at the home of David Klein, a Hungarian climber and philosopher living just outside Budapest in a most unorthodox dwelling for this part of the world. We had not expected to stay in a yurt — or ger — until at least Central Asia! Read more about this traditional nomadic dwelling structure.
Previously, in Vienna, I had got in contact with David through the Couchsurfing Project. This is an incredibly useful tool for all kinds of travellers who are open to meeting new and different people. It acts as a means by which willing hosts and willing guests can find each other all over the world. This was the first time I had made use of the site, and I hope to continue using it to find hospitality throughout the journey.
You don’t always need to use something like this to find hospitality, however — just the previous night, we had been loitering outside Budapest station in the evening when we got talking to a flamboyant Hungarian batchelor. Next thing we knew we were all crammed into his tiny city-centre bedsit, watching old Japanese samurai films whilst suffering from food poisoning in what will surely go down as one of the most bizarre nights of my life!
These kind of displays of hospitality are unforced, natural encounters, and they are almost invariably rich learning experiences both for us and for the kind host who has offered a patch of land, garage floor, sofa or spare bedroom for us to stay the night on.