Thursday, July 21, 2011

In summary...

SO! Why this trip!?
First, the idea was to go enjoy the outdoors and travel in a way that puts us in the “deep end” – only simple mobile phones as modern technology, sometimes no maps to guide us, we wanted to be speaking to locals for a taste of their ways and hospitality. Helping travellers in need is good for Karma right!?

Second, coming from one year of intense learning about sustainability and leadership, we wanted to see how sustainability projects are realised in different places and at various scales. We were excited about some field learning and also to “teach” whatever would seem appropriate.

Except riding bicycles, in what way(s) did your activities relate to sustainability?
We are talking about sustainability as defined in the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD), or “Natural Step Framework”, in which there are three principles for ecological sustainability, and one for social sustainability. The latter is based on the idea that everyone on Earth should be able to meet their needs: Subsistence, freedom, identity and so on.

From this perspective, many activities we took part in had a strong link with these principles. The Berlin Kulture Karnival is a great display of peoples’ identities, participation, leisure, freedom, etc… as basic human needs. In Karlskrona (Sweden) we organised a dialogue with the local community about cultural diversity. In Prague we had a workshop for cross-pollinating ideas, giving input and feedback on different local sustainability projects. We were also lucky to meet activists from Prague and Budapest who are working on making cycling easier in these cities. So all this is focused on people, their environment, their health and morale.

Why this particular outlook?
The reason why we chose to look at these projects through the FSSD is that it provides a functional definition of sustainability and ways to move organisations and communities towards sustainability. Coupled with social technologies designed for large-scale collaboration, the FSSD is a powerful framework.

Our adventure revealed a small but golden sample of what collaboration and initiative can bring: connecting people, sharing ideas and hopefully energising some great projects!

Sounds great, where can I learn more about all this?

For more information about: 

You didn’t pull it off alone did you? Who helped you??
Please see the “special thanks” page by clicking on the tab above, and thank YOU for reading!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Say hi to Ride for your Right, say good bye to our bikes..

It has been over two weeks since we officially finished our "Ideas on tour", Sweden to Serbia bike trip, at the opening ceremony of Ride for your Rights (RfyR). It seemed the joy of completing our quest and the relaxing atmosphere of European summer have kept us away from blog posting :) By the way, this trip cannot be completed without us recording the story on this blog about the final moment in Novi Sad, on July 3rd, 2011. And now it is time...

Back to Novi Sad, Serbia, on that morning of July 3rd

After we had been enjoying very pleasing two-night stay in Novi Sad, hosted by Svetlana, RfyR coordinator) and her friends. We also met riders from Ride for your Rights. They came from many countries, including Serbia, Bulgaria, and Finland. New friends and good food took away completely all our fatigue of a week-long biking since Vienna. By Sunday morning, we were well rested and ready for the final show.

We gathered at the main town square, in front of the city hall, at around 10.30 am. There we met all the 13 riders and the support team. Also present were  Aleksandar Kravic - city counselor for Sports of the Novi Sad City Council, Miroslav Veskovic - rector of the University of Novi Sad, Wojciech Wolf - vice-president of Campus Europae who each delivered a short speech in front of local media and news agents. After that came the speech from Julian who is a member of the core team and one of the main rider who will ride all the way to St. Petersburg. He also presented the bike of honor to the city counselor to sign on.

With riders and staff

 The opening ceremony

And finally, after months of preparation and a month of perspiration on the road from Karlskrona to Novi Sad, it was time for Xavier and Nanond to present themselves in front of people of Ride for your Rights. We made a short speech which, due to our excitement, we couldn't remember much the detail of what we spoke. It was a good message that included a note to thanks to our friends and BTH for their support. 

The hard part was when we had to hand over beloved bicycles. We had found a bound with them during the trip so it was a bit sad to give it away. Anyway, we knew that it would be used for a good course, to support the young students with similar motivation on their quest to support student mobility. We wish you good luck! (See their Blog here)


The next day we met a group of people doing a small chalk graffiti on the town square. Interestingly, part of the writing on the ground was about educating children about environment, so we asked for a small space to write about our trip.

'til we meet again

Monday, July 4, 2011

Final Raid!!

Wednesday the 29th we left Budapest early, our host Viktor went to work and we started pedalling at 8am. Leaving the city wasn’t too bad even though we were initially on the main roads that split into the various highways and motorways out to the country. Changing lanes, going up and down ramps and bridges, keeping an eye on the street signs and traffic lights surrounded by traffic was actually a really fun precision game and we made no mistake (at this point!). We arrived in Keckemet with light tail wind at around 1pm and had a huge lunch – so  good in fact that we had to stop from the bikes after about 20minutes to let the food go down. It’s been a trend on this trip that we always reach some kind of hill within 10minutes after lunch!!! Anyhow, we were moving fast and decided to push till Szeged, 170km in one day… arrived with no maps but luckily a keen cyclist saw us and helped us finding the town’s camp site on the East bank of Tisza river.

Since we had done so much distance Wednesday we thought we'd take some time to see this Hungarian city: most of our Hungarian stage was a race so we would arrive in Serbia on time. We enjoyed the campsite's thermal pool then went sight seeing, had the famous fish soup recommended by Viktor and took off towards Subotica. Barely out of the city we bumped into an american girl, Erin, biking around the world! Unfortunately we couldn't ride together because she was going towards Romania, and we had a rendez-vous with a Serbian rider the next day at mid-day. 

Soon after we parted on route number 5, rain started and we hit the motorway, with no other way towards Subotica, a mere 20 to 30 km away!! We knew there would be a train from Szeged to cross the border, so we back-tracked to the train station, but the next train was Friday morning. The weather was not promising so we decided to go back to the camp site and catch this train the next day. It was a good decision!! Rain all day and super windy. 

Friday was action packed!: short train to the border, train change and border control (finally a stamp in the passports!!!), ride out of Subotica to Backa Topola where we had rendez-vous with Sasha from "Ride for your Rights". Unfortunately he was going slow because of headwind, so we agreed to meet in Sirig instead, closer to Novi Sad - our final destination. This last day was so fast, strong tail wind allowed us to be in top gear all the way, so we arrived in Sirig real fast, waited with ice cream and bolted arrived in Novi Sad quite relaxed. Big thanks to Sasha for guiding us into the city, there we met the coordinator of Ride for your Rights and friends and had a couple of beers to savour the ending... Stunned / stoked.

20km/h !!!

Next post: Novi Sad and handing over our bikes at Ride for your Rights !!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Danube Baby!!

Guess what!?!? (and Mums dont kill us...) we got to Bratislava Sunday evening after a sweet ride along the Danube.

There a guy on a bike approached us and changed the course of the trip... He was riding his bike, and asked if we were really going from Sweden to Serbia, so we had a chat and he pointed us to a hostel on the river nearby. It turned out to be a paddling place ( and the owner dared us to kayak down to Serbia on the Danube... Of course we laughed our heads off at first but he insisted, saying that people went till the Black Sea like that and it would be awesome for us. Damn straight it would be... after long hesitation and arguing we decided to work out a deal for the bikes and got ourselves two kayaks for THE REST OF THE TRIP!!!

Oh man... the guy guided us on the river on Monday and explained everything about the Danube: current, boats, damns, etc... the photos are from Xavs camera which is waterproof - battery is dead right now and we are in an internet cafe so we will post them asap!!! Crazy stuff and dont know where to start...

We had told Ride for your Rights in Novi Sad that they could have our bikes for their trip, plus we had other plans for july so of course we didnt start paddling to Serbia on the Danube (hehehe, do tell if you bought the story!!). Ok so to tell the real stuff, Bratislava and the whole ride to Budapest was great - but we were always very close to the Hungarian border and apparently that doesnt really represent Slovakia. In fact our Hungarian couchsurfing host just told us that Bratislava was the capital of Hungary for centuries (check wikipedia for the history lesson). We went along the Danube the whole day to Komarno on Monday, with tail wind the whole way, except missing the turn to the right bridge (we couldnt see the river from the track) so we lost about an hour there and made it to Komarno at 8pm. Massive Pizza, camp site, shower, dead.

Today we were on the road in Hungary. With no extra space of the road side, we kept focused on the road and didnt see much of the landscape! AND its so good to have tail wind... only since Vienna we had that since Sweden!! Probably thanks to it we covered around 100km in 5hours. The last 20km were quite intense with fast downhill stuck to the side of the road and quite some traffic!! In the end the city is beautiful and our host is really cool so we-are-happy!!

From now, 3 more days to Novi Sad!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

in Vienna, off to Bratislava

We were in Vienna since Friday, and after exploring the city, meeting up with university friends, visiting the Green Expo 2011, eating a lot of food and bouncing around the Danube festival, we'll be on our way to Bratislava in about an hour. More details and photos coming soon - this is the last week to ride to Serbia!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Forced idle...

Our first couple of days in Prague were action packed and we were stoked to make the Pro Action Cafe happen, however some facts of life kicked in and we have to stay here a little longer than planned. 

Nanond still needed a Visa for Serbia, so we went to the embassy last friday and they told us that with completed forms and an invitation letter from Serbia by monday, we should have it by thursday or friday this week. "Ride for your Rights" were really supportive in sending us an invitation letter very quickly: we are very greatful for that. Back to the embassy yesterday it turned out that after examining Nanond's student visa for Sweden, a visa for the few days necessary in Serbia could be issued on the spot!! No doubt the supporting documents still helped. 

For his part Xav got ill, not to the point of being stuck in bed, but he's not to get back on a bike to do 100km for days in a row just yet... 

SO, to keep to our schedule of arriving in Novi Sad by July 2nd, we will have to take a train to Vienna... it's really a "bummer". In our bad luck we are lucky though - we are staying with family and we will be with MSLS (Xav's master's programme) friends in Vienna where another workshop is in the making. We can also spend some time adding content to our new pages in the tabs above, and finally, some "Riders for your rights" also contacted us to ride our last day with us in Serbia, big thanks for that and we are so looking forward to it!!!

More Czech stuff coming soon: looking forward to explore more of stunning Prague and be back on the road! 

PS. We would like to take this opportunity to say that we didn't mean to offend anyone in saying the "average" (what a word to speak of people anyway!?!) german doesn't speak good english! This was before arriving in Berlin where:
  1. We actually spoke to more people and,
  2. our german friends waved their finger at us when evoking this comment ;)
Morale of the story: don't generalise! PLUS it's not for us to speak: we only learned a few words like "thanks", "turn left" or "go straight" in Polish, German and Czech so far! We'll add local specialties to our vocabulary!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Workshop in Prague!

Finally the time has come, thanks to Evi for coordination and Will for the spacious office in LOCUS workspace and his participation, we recieved an overwhelming support from more than ten other participants during the Pro-action Café workshop.

Here's a brief overview (see the workshops page for more details):

As a conversational process, the Pro Action Cafe is a collective, innovative methodology for hosting conversations about calls, questions and projects that matter to the people that attend. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between cafe tables, cross-polinate ideas, and offer each other new insights into the questions or issues that are most important in their life, work, organization or community. (Art of Hosting 2011).

During almost 3 hours in the workshop, which went by so fast, we were overehelmed by the degree of participation and interest the people put in. The projects brought up to the café tables included civic movement of people in Prague 10 and the quest to rise more and more awareness and involvement in taking care of public area and facilities. This is a real example of people movement against what otherwise could become another "tragedy of the commons", and make there voice heard. Thanks Libor for his interesting project. Iva and Vitek of AUTO*MAT presented their projects about improving conditions for cyclists and pedastrians in Prague and the works the NGO is doing. Finally, we also discussed a project Will has in mind, to combine his passion in sustainability and his co-working office business.

The workshop served as two-way lerning for both us two and the participants. At the end of the workshop, we received valuable comments for our improvement. We hope that it served its purpose of inspiring the conversations and provide a good start for the future.

No less exciting and inspiring were other activities from others participants we talked about during the dinnner after the workshop, with traditional Czech beers of course!

Once again, we would like to say thank you to all of you who joined us. We really appreciate the friendship and inspiration form everyone of you. We wish we would have a chance to meet or work together again.

Pics to be up soon :)

In preparation on June 18th, we had a meeting with Evi, our contact person from Prague Green Drinks. We are so excited!

The workspace