Biker Jean-Denis Schul in ARCHELON
ARCHELON met Jean-Denis, a 27 year old Belgian traveller who, in September 2014, started a 10 month bicycle trip around Europe. He also become ARCHELON volunteer at the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada for a month, (from 15th of February to the 15th of March 2015). Below you can find his story along with some answers to questions regarding his volunteering period in ARCHELCON.
“How did you decide to come in Greece in the middle of the winter? And especially by bike?
As my trip was quite long, I wanted to spend winter time in the Mediterranean countries. Thatʼs why I spent October and December in Spain, January in Italy and February in Greece. I guess it was a better idea than to be in Sweden around Christmas :). Cycling in Greece is funny during winter time: the weather is not awful and the country is not invaded by tourists. People on my road were surprised to see me riding during winter here, especially in the mountains around Tripoli, but they were very nice and helpful with me!
“How come you decided to add in your trip the volunteering in ARCHELON?”
I didnʼt know much about sea turtles but I had a huge interest about environment and wildlife protection. So I started looking on the internet about a project to work for one month in the south, during winter time, and the most interesting I found was clearly ARCHELON.
“How was your experience as a volunteer in ARCHELON?”
Itʼs a lifetime experience. The work with the turtles is extremely interesting; I acquired much knowledge after being here for a month. On the human point of view, this experience was also positive for me. Living in this international environment is so exciting and intense. Iʼve met here people that I now consider as friends.
“Do you consider to come back?”
Of course! Now, I will come back to Belgium by bike, but who knows if I can be there again in the future? Thereʼs so much to do and to learn here, and the atmosphere make the stay very pleasant. The beach projects seem also very interesting, so thatʼs something I definitely consider to do in the future!
This is his journey...
Hello Jean-Denis, where are you now and which countries did you go through?
Hi. Iʼm leaving Greece for Skopje, After the end of my volunteer placement in ARCHELON Iʼm taking a train from Athens to Thessaloniki, as it will a bit faster.
I started biking on the 1st of September 2014 from Belgium. I crossed France for a month, then I did a trip in the Iberian Peninsula. After that I decided to take a boat from Barcelona to Roma, crossed Italy, and finally arrived by boat in Greece. At this point I will have cycled around 8000 km. I was planning on doing 10000 km but I think I will probably do more than 15000km!
Why did you choose to travel by bike?
This may surprise you but I have hardly ever ridden a bicycle in my life! I like the fact that the bicycle is respectful for the environment; itʼs also a very pleasant mean of transport, because of the low speed. I can take the time to travel and meet people from the countries I go through. I prepared an itinerary of the countries that I wanted to go to, but I also travel with my feeling of that moment. Itʼs also a good occasion for me to practice what I know of the local languages. With the winter and the short days, I ride around 60 to 70 km per day but in the summer, I can make around 110 km per day.
How did you prepare for this trip?
My preparation began 5 month before my journey began. I had the idea in the back of my head for a long time, until the day I started to plan. This 5 month allowed me to search for farms to spend some time doing wwoofing (volunteering in organic farm) and to find some more information about ARCHELON! I also gather most of my stuff during this time: bike, panniers, camping gear… Iʼve written an article about my material at this address: https://europavelo.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/ma-liste-de-materiel-pour-10-mois-a-velo/
What are you doing for sleeping?
I do some wild camp most of the time. I also sleep at peopleʼs place or using websites like Couchsurfing to contact locals. If I camp somewhere, I always try to leave the spot as clean as I found it when I arrived. Itʼs nicer for the next.
After 5 months of travelling and 1 month at ARCHELON, what are your best memories?
Iʼve seen amazing landscape. Iʼm thinking about Portugal, Puglia in Italy or Cabo de Gata in Spain. But at the end, my best memories are always related to the people I meet. Each encounter is unique in its own way, whether itʼs just a coffee taken with someone or a truly exceptional human experience like the one I had during a month at ARCHELON.
ARCHELONʼs volunteers, right to left: Vicky, Elodie, Ramon, Niels, Alan, Floriane (front) and JD
You can find all the information about Jean-Denisʼs project on his blog: www.europavelo.wordpress.com.