🚲A Year-Long Cycling #Travelogue. Rosie’s #Bookreview of Bicycle Odyssey by Carla Fountain.🚲#cyclinglife #yearlongtravel #travellingthroughtheworld #travellingchallenge

Bicycle Odyssey: An Around-The-World Journey of Inner and Outer DiscoveryBicycle Odyssey: An Around-The-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery by Carla Fountain

4 stars

Bicycle Odyssey is a travelogue from American husband and wife cycling duo Carla and Dermot, who took off cycling around parts of the world for eleven months in the 1990s. They focused on Europe, Africa, India, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Bali.

Although they used aircraft and some public transport to get to destinations, the main focus was on travelling by bike. At the end of the book Carla listed miles cycled, alongside a budget and packing advice for others thinking about this style of travel.

Occasionally their plan was to visit friends and family, but mainly they wanted to get a real feel for a country and its people. They particularly enjoyed interacting with the locals and staying in places away from the main tourist trails. The slow pace of cycling also allowed them to see places that could easily be missed when rushing past in a car, train or plane.

Cycling in cities was often the hardest with all the fumes and traffic; their safety at these times became paramount. Remember, this was thirty years ago; many of these cities will now be even more congested.

Other aspects have also changed; place names and tourism as a whole are different now in some areas. For instance, Carla and Dermot entered Vietnam at a time when there were no diplomatic relations between America and Vietnam; it was a risk. However, you could argue that all travel is a risk.

There is a basic map at the beginning of each new country, but the pair visited so many tiny unknown places that it was often hard to follow. I quite enjoyed this nostalgic armchair travel experience, but I am aware that much has changed in the years since their trip.

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When author Carla Fountain set off on her year-long cycling journey, she expected new discoveries about the world. But she hadn’t anticipated a shocking rediscovery of herself.
Bicycle Odyssey, a travel memoir, follows Carla and her husband, Dermot, as they embark on a challenging bicycling adventure that not only tests their survival skills, but ultimately their relationship. Armed with a will to persevere, they face unexpected danger and a cultural learning curve that nearly costs one of them their lives.
In a time before modern conveniences, these two travelers off the beaten path lived disconnected from all communication. No cell phones to call home. No ATM for quick cash. No internet cafes to send a message. Relying solely on themselves, and a few helpful angels along the way, they experienced the lush beauty of Uganda, the welcoming people of Vietnam, the isolated mountains and hill tribes of Thailand, the terror of traffic in India, and the magic of Bali.
Their journey did not end the moment they stepped foot at home. In fact, it continued for almost three decades as the couple digested the trip and acted on the lessons they learned. By telling their story, they hope to inspire and give confidence to others in pursuing dreams. Told with vivid observation about the world and the people in it, Bicycle Odyssey shares the story of a rich and enlightening pilgrimage.

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Dual #Autobiography The Backpack Years by Stefanie And James Wilson.

The Backpack YearsThe Backpack Years by Stefanie Wilson

3.5 stars

The Backpack years is a dual autobiography from the authors of this book and is about their early adult years spent travelling in Asia, Australia and parts of Europe.

It begins a couple of years into the 21st century with separate accounts of how Stef and James came to be backpackers and where they met. Following chapters detail their times together and their struggles with work, relationships and travel.

The book is written in alternate chapters from Stef and James, so at times there is an overlap of a situation or a tale. These are the memoirs of two young people making their tentative steps into adulthood and all the frustrations and responsibilities that a life as a couple brings.

As a memoir about an important era in their lives, I believe that this works well and I’m sure that close family and friends may well enjoy reading this as it will fill gaps in their knowledge of the couple.

However, if you picked this up for its backpacking and travel content, do remember that events took place 15-20 years ago. I’m not sure that I was the right audience for this book, I enjoy armchair travel, but some of the things that these young people saw and took part in made me quite sad.

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Part travel, part romance, part failing at life, The Backpack Years intertwines two memoirs, charting Stef and James’s six-year journey from happily wandering to miserably settled and back again.

Straight-laced Stef left America to study abroad in Spain, letting loose and falling head over heels for two things: a handsome local and travel. Travel won out.

James had a future in England he felt he’d already destroyed. Fueled by debt and a deteriorating relationship with his father, James fled to Australia and found something better.

After language mishaps in France and a topless night in Tenerife, an awful offal job in Warrnambool and a kidnapped manicure in Bali, Stef and James meet at an Irish pub in Sydney.

Though their adventures are pulling them in different directions, they ditch the single life to forge a path together.

Can the two navigate their way through red-tape, relocation, miscommunication, and a last ditch, make-or-break trip to try to save their relationship, or will this be their last adventure as a couple?

Spanning thirteen countries and four continents, The Backpack Years is a story about how far we’re willing to go to be with the one we love.

My #BookReview Of Unusual #Travel #Memoir- Hit The Road, Jac! by Jacqui Furneaux @Bulletjac

Hit the road Jac!: Seven years, twenty countries, no planHit the road Jac!: Seven years, twenty countries, no plan by Jacqui Furneaux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hit The Road, Jac! is an unusual travel memoir.

Jacqui Furneaux was fifty when she took off travelling for seven years on a motorbike. Not just any motorbike, but an Enfield. For anyone (like me) who is not aware, the Enfield (or Royal Enfield) is the longest-lived motorcycle design in history, though sadly no longer built in England; they are now manufactured in India, where Jacqui proudly bought her own bike at the start of her journey.

A little back-story: needing to get away from a post-marriage break-up, Jacqui met up with Hendrikus, a Dutchman with a motorbike who she’d met backpacking in Asia. Having kept in touch, Hendikus asked Jacqui to buy her own motorbike and go travelling with him. She’d previously owned motorbikes, so was open to this suggestion.

What follows is a wonderful journey through some amazing places, encountering generous and kind humans of this world. Jacqui’s route took her through Asia, Australasia, South and Central America. There were hardships, difficult times and painful partings, but these were balanced with the beauty and wonder of the natural and manmade world. Jacqui learnt to fix her own bike or accept help when it was offered. She survived a broken leg, numerous border crossings, dealt with complex documents for both herself and her bike, slept out in the open and went where the flow of life took her. She may have felt she was running away from one life, but she created another one which most women in their fifties would never dream of.

The narrative is written from Jacqui’s memory and diary entries, sometimes snippets, other times as longer passages. There are a few delightful pictures, but I found myself easily picturing much of Jacqui’s journey from the words on the page. I like unusual travel memoirs and this was an enjoyable read. Yes it could do with another proofread, but I was happy to overlook the errors to enjoy the ride.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys a travel memoir. This would make a great gift, perhaps for friends celebrating a significant birthday.

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Book description

“Read this and you’ll want to go on an adventure. Jacqui’s tale is not just obviously inspiring, but her story makes you think about the pleasures of nature and simplicity; about taking the time to just stand and breathe life in, something we all quite wrongly think we don’t have the time for. Her words reminded me of myself as a child, being inventive, imaginative and at times pretty cheeky to get what I wanted. Though clearly tough and dangerous at times, her journey seemed to create joy, a self made joy. Nothing better. I’m a huge fan of her trip, it’s made me think…… I bet it will make you think too….!” SUZI PERRY

About the author

7 years, 20 countries, no plan.
How it started…

In 1998, after bringing up a family and being a nurse and health visitor, I set out on a year’s journey, on my own for the first time ever. I started backpacking in Thailand and explored many South-East Asian countries armed only with wide-open eyes and a guide book. Six months into the trip and feeling quite the adventurous explorer, I went to Pakistan and India before returning to the UK.

But I found I really liked travelling and although at my age I really should have known better, I set off again, this time combining my love of travel with my other passion … motorcycling. I’d owned various Japanese motorbikes over the years since passing my test aged 24 but had never had an Enfield!


Picking up my brand new Enfield from the showroom in Chennai, India.
Exchanging guide books for road maps, for my 50th birthday I bought a 500cc Enfield Bullet in India and rode it, initially alongside the Dutchman who had suggested the idea. None of it was planned. I would not have dreamed I’d be having this chance of a lifetime when I should have been saving for my retirement. But life’s too short not to take a chance. 

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