Interview with Adam Ostaszewski and Izabela Targosz: cycling across Europe

Interview with Adam Ostaszewski and Izabela Targosz stopping in Budapest on their long distance cycling trip across Europe
by Bike Infantry,
recorded in Café Zsivágó: 2018.11.23.;
final (edited) version: 2018.11.27.

PART I

BIKE INFANTRY /// You had several interesting journeys before knowing each other. By bicycle or without. How and where exactly did you meet? Since when are you having this current trip together?

Adam /// We've met a year ago, a little over a year ago at my sister's wedding in New York City. I was in the middle of travelling, came home for the wedding and that's where it happened.

B.I. /// Why did you go to the same wedding?

Izabela /// I went to the same wedding because I knew Adam's sister. There we got along very well and eversince we continued talking. Soon I had a holiday and figured that I will go to South-East Asia. We met up and I was very inspired by Adam's ongoing journey. I really wanted to take a gap year and cycle myself.

B.I. /// But in Asia you didn't cycle together?

I. /// No.

A. /// We travelled together about 2 months, but not by bicycle. We met up in Thailand, later in Cambodia, where we've spent about a month. Later again in Bali, Indonesia together as well.

B.I. /// Who infected who with the idea of long distance cycling?

A. /// When we came to…

I. /// We went to the Philippines where Adam actually continued his bicycle journey. At that moment I kinda figured that bicycles are a good way to travel.

B.I. /// And the journey you take together is the result?! All the way from Istanbul?

I. /// Actually all the way from Paris to Istanbul, yeah. We moved to Europe at the end of July together, because of my cousin's and another wedding. We went there and my parents as a surprise brought me a bicycle. Everysince we've been cycling! For me it's the first big touring trip.

A. /// So bascially since the beginning of August until now we've cycled from France to Istanbul! And along the way we stopped and did some volunteer projects.

B.I. /// The Greek island?

A. /// Yeah, we've spent about a month on the island of Lesbos. Before that 2 weeks in Tirana, Albania. Did some volunteer work there as well. Lesbos was definitely a highlight in terms of the arts programm we have worked on.

I. /// For one month we were organizing a community arts project. A mix of workshops and mural painting. We picked free spots and worked together with the refugees of different nationalities, sexes and ages to paint 3 different huge sights and the camp! We made the camp a happier place to stay. It worked out! We've put together a group of artists and they were able to guide the community and make something.

A. /// Now we are trying to make this project live on. And we do support this organization called Art is Duty, which has been doing this type of work in refugee camps, in war zones, in other conflict areas. Very poor and depressed areas. Working with the depressed and oppressed populations to bring art / community art projects used as a tool for ailment and for healing. They've been doing this for the last 10 years all over the world.

Art is Duty is based in New York City, so they are the sponzor of the project. We planted the seed and we gonna pass it to them and they gonna be the farmers that make it grow.

B.I. /// How should one imagine one of your journeys by bicycle? What is the current section? What was the most difficult part? And which particular route led you to Budapest?

A. /// For me – before we cycled in Europe – India by far was the most difficult part to journey. In every possible way! Really difficult country to cycle trough. The things that you see in India are just difficult psychologically to wrap your head around. Huge contrasts! Inequality in excess. But then also very beautiful things of culture. Really challenging in many ways. What about for you?

I. /// Well, for sure travelling through Europe is different in terms of challenges, because you are mostly going through beautiful places… but then… I don't know… there is something very beautiful about the bicycle itself, how much freedom it gives you when you are actually off the road, off the beaten path. We got to travel trough quite a few villages for example in Albania and those were gorgeous moments. When the locals wave at you and salute you at every corner. And just, you know… human little interactions that made our days! As supposed to big cities where we very often were a little bit of a problem to people passing through.

B.I. /// You use Warm Showers, right?

A. /// Yeah, we did. A mix of Warm Showers and Couchsurfing. But I think we both prefer Warm Showers, just because they get it / understand what it means to be on a long cycle tour. And they've been really welcoming and understanding. Just really eager to connect.

B.I. /// Actually I have a little experience with this receiving stories from a friend of mine. She travelled through the Balkans by bicycle on her own and got accomodation everywhere through Warm Showers. She then went to Japan to research. Even there she was hosting people. From their story / from your story it seems to be a good thing.

A. /// We had a Warm Showers host here and there are many I think in Budapest from what we saw. Are you part of the network also?

B.I. /// Currently not, because I'm not travelling. I didn't travel for 7 years, except going on a business journey or teaching or to Vienna to see relatives.

A. /// Have you done any cycle touring like that?

B.I. /// Yeah, cycle races we started establishing with our veteran bicycle association lately or even walking to a great length, but not thousands of kilometers on the other side of the globe. The time factor.

A. /// Yes, time. If you have time – which we did at this moment in our lifes – it's a wonderful way to travel! I think you can't beat it! It gives you so much freedom and flexibility! And the people that you meet along the way, the places that you go through along the way are not the ones that the average tourist will stumble upon. Because you are really going through so many small little places along the way from point A to B… you find beauty.

B.I. /// That's the difference between a mainstream tourist and an open minded traveller. Right?

A. /// Positive.


Izabela Targosz

Comments

  • edited November 2018

    PART II

    B.I. /// What's next?

    A. /// What's next?

    I. /// Uhhm… I'm actually going back to Poland and I will spend about 4 weeks there preparing for a South American trip. I think in January I'm going to head off there!

    B.I. /// By bike or without?

    I. /// I'm still thinking about either option actually. Cause you know it's different from being a cyclist together with Adam who can definitely fix my tire and be the navigator… he's doing a lot of jobs! He is doing the heavy lifting actually!

    A. /// You do some jobs too.

    I. /// Yeah… I am. Pro-doing jobs. Then to do it yourself? I think it will be quiet a large challenge to actually cycle through South America on my own. We'll see!

    A. /// Why can't you do it? It's just a matter of choosing to do it.

    B.I. /// Where are you going after visiting Budapest?

    A. /// In a week… in less than a week I'm flying home for Thanksgiving, a holiday that we have in the US.

    B.I. /// I see.

    A. /// I haven't been home for 2 years so that'll be nice! To reconnect with friends and family. And then I'll spend the winter in Colorado. I'm gonna be working part time as a ski instructor on one of the mountains there and the rest of the time I'll be working on writing a book.

    B.I. /// About the 2 year journey? Asia and Europe combined?

    A. /// About the journey and also about environmental issues, which is something I really feel passionate about. It was one of the areas of focus of my journey. There were 3 main areas of focus. First was diving deeper into a spiritual voyage, which started when I moved to California getting into meditation. Learning more about eastern religion, eastern philosophies; opening up to different perspectives in the world. And third it was about understanding environment issues, understanding what's going on on our planet! In all different parts of the world from an environmental sustainability standpoint. What kind of damage is really done… in places like India and South-East Asia. How this works in terms of pollution, water quality, availability of natural resources. Just the way people are. The whole food supply! Waste management! All of these things, which really touch everybody. It was really eye-opening, really shocking in many ways. But also inspiring! Everything that I saw and experienced along the journey made me wanna push harder once I continue to the next thing in my life. I wanna focus on things in detail more. And try to make an impact!

    B.I. /// Twelve years left? (referring to the deadline given by director John Webster in his recent environmentalist documentary movie called Little Yellow Boots / Tulevilla Rannoilla from 2017)

    A. /// Twelve years left before, yes, we all die… so…

    B.I. /// Besides talking about cycling… If you come one weak earlier, I would have taken you to VERZIO as well. It's a Human Rights Documentary Movie Festival with directors, social scenes, NGOs… There I've met Mr. John Webster, who's film I highly recommend if you are into topics mentioned. In fact the festival itself! It's been running for 15 years. In the movie dedicated to his unborn grand or great-granddaughter Webster is addressing many of your current thoughts with care.

    A. /// Aha!

    B.I. /// Ambassadors, UN people, representatives from the Marshall-islands! Everybody is part of the debate having a critical position regarding the last stand. They highlight that. I'll send you the link.

    A. /// Thanks! Writing in the mountains about such agendas will keep me busy in my spare time.

    B.I. /// Meanwhile we in Budapest will practice – like every year – cold weather or subzero cycling! Hungary has it's own microclimate since it's landlocked terrain so temperatures can fall 20-25 Celsius below zero.

    A. /// And some skeeing as well?

    B.I. /// Perhaps that as well. Even if the roads get slippery due to ice, snow in Budapest became a rare sight over the years, unfortunately. Maybe this is also a sign of global warming?

    A. /// Could be possible. Anyway thank you for the recommendations, the guiding in town and the opportunity to meet up.

    B.I. /// Congratulations to your journey! It's been a pleasure to listen to your travelling story guys! Many thanks for the interview by the members and followers of Waffenradforums.net! We are looking forward to receive news about your book! Wish you two a safe trip throughout the rest of the year! And bonne chance for the future regarding Latin-America and the pikes of Colorado!


    Adam Ostaszewski

  • edited November 2018

    ADDITIONAL INFO - links - REGARDING TOPICS, ASSOCIATIONS IN THE ARTICL!E ABOVE:

    Art is Duty:
    http://www.artversed.com/meletios-meletiou-art-is-duty-lesbos-and-the-refugee-crisis/
    https://joelartista.com/syrian-refugees-the-zaatari-project-jordan/

    WARM SHOWERS:

    https://br.warmshowers.org/
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2018/apr/24/warmshowers-why-free-hospitality-for-bike-tourists-is-a-priceless-experience
    https://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/blog/cycling-and-warm-showers-really-what-is-that/

    Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival

    About the festival:

    http://www.verzio.org/en/2018/welcome

    Description of YELLOW BOOTS by John Webster:
    http://www.verzio.org/en/2018/films/little-yellow-boots


    Quote: A cinematic letter to a future great-grandchild weaves together a story of personal loss, family and the difference each of us can make in the world.

    What do we pass on to those who come after us, for both good and for bad? And what difference can one person make in the world?
    Source: vimeo.com

    Films A-Z (2018):
    http://www.verzio.org/en/2018/program/Films-A-Z

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