We have girl friends that can leave us way behind on the track, girls that can teach us how to make a jump on a mx track, and female riders friends that have put more kilometers on their bikes than all the slick city racer boys. One girl of this kind is Ioana from Out and About, who in just two years after taking her motorcycle license, managed to go along with Christian on some of the most beautiful and picturesque roads in Europe.
I’ve read your blog, I’ve let myself carryied away by your trips, however for the ones that haven’t read your stories and now find out for the first time about you, what is Out and About and how it was borned ?
“Out and About” is made by Christian and I, Ioana. We had this idea in April 2016 when I started the motorcycle riding school. We wanted to share some of our experiences with our loved ones and others. In the same time Christian was keen on photography. Why we choose this name,“Out and about”? Because for us it is really important to take some time off and be out and about and do something interesting.
1. I guess you already had the passion for travelling before and we all know that motorcycles and travelling go hand in hand, how things evolved in your case ? How did you became a motorcycling girl 🙂 ?
The passion for travelling was there before for both of us. The issue was that we are the type of people that can’t travel alone, but also we hardly find travelling companions without to many headaches, so until we found eachother in 2014, we haven’t seen the world as we wanted. When I met Christian, he was taking classes at a moto school. Having no particular opinion about bikers, I did not really care about it. He had a 125cc Varadero (which he could ride without a license in UK), after that he got his moto license and he came to me with 650cc V-Strom. Then I said this is some serious stuff. I was initially intimidated by the size of the V-Strom. Let’s be serious, it’s a huge motorcycle. I took good moto equipment, while I was getting more and more embarrassed by the whole thing.What if I ride on a motorcycle and I will not like it? What if I hadto sell all the equipment on Ebay after two days? And thousands of other questions. I still did not understand why people would be attracted to this. All of this until we left for a weekend in Italy, where Christian rented a scooter and we rode it around. It was a good and relaxing introduction. To conclude: he is to blame.
2. From what I saw on your site in 2016, after you took your motorcycle license, you increased your fleet, so to speak, and Ceebee appeared, a 2015 Honda CB500X. The story of how you got the motorcycle is interesting itself and those who want can read it here . We know how it feels the first time you go on a motorcycle, the first time you go to school, the first time you are a passenger, but when you are alone for the first time on your own motorcycle is something special. How it was the first ride on your own motorcycle?The first bike ride was quite catastrophic, especially because Christian chose to “impress” me with a sudden acceleration. The V-Strom is comfortable and has a pretty good position, which in a very short time made me feel good there in the back. It did not take long, and the real problem came up: how much luggage can we put on a motorcycle, and I hardly gave up on those “essential” things like 3 creams, 2 shampoos and 5 clothing layers. So I began to fancy having a one-day course in the UK that could allow me to drive up to 125cc. It was a traumatic experience. I, the only girl from the course,with a motorcycle, and three guys, all scooters. Of course they were doing turns around the cones and slalom in 5 minutes, and after half a day I was still struggling to change gears, I had dropped the bike 1000 times, and I had cracked two clutch levers. All this, until I got out of the polygon, on the street, where the instructor said it would be the easiest. Aha. It was awkward, I stopped the traffic… The funny thing is that he gave me the certificate, and the good thing is that I didn’t start ridding after. Six months later, I went on an intensive riding course. The entire experience was filled with misadventures let’s say, in the first week I picked up the polygon, then in the second week I hurt badly one foot , and during the city ride exam I did a lot of nonsense and I dropped the exam twice. The system is different in the UK, first you take the polygon and then the city. If you fail the city, you do have to take the polygon exam again, but only the city.
My big dilemma was what bike to buy, being rather short (165cm) and wanting something more “adventure” and also to be able to touch the ground with my feet, not too heavy, comfortable enough, etc. At that time, we were listening to a Canadian podcast where the Honda CB500X was mentioned as the new adventure bike, cheap, small, and how it can be modified with an English kit. I started looking for details, I hardly found one in a showroom in Germany (because I had moved in the meantime …) The rest was just a fixation: I want a CB500X. I found one in northern Germany, near the border with Denmark, used about 4000km by an instructor. We went there by train and by bs bus after her, with the money in the bag (so he wanted a man). When they pulled her out of the garage, I tested it, I realized that I had to walk about 50m through fine gravel to the main road and I had never rushed to the right. My heart was made of fleas, I began to swear, plus stuff: “Why am I doing this ?! I needed a motorcycle for me! What am I doing now on the gravel? Why do I need to test it?” Christian and the seller were encourageing me to take it for a ride, but I really didn’t feel like it. I managed to get the bike out in the street, I horned twice instead of signaling, I struggled to come back and in about two minutes, who lasted for eternity, back through the gravel I said: We take it, but you will drive it home!”
3. After that a trip, to the southern Europe followed,for which many would envy you. 5000 km through Czech Republic – Slovakia – Romania – Serbia – Croatia – Slovenia and Austria. How did you decide to take this trip? Did you have a detailed route from the very beginning or you improvised along the way? At the time of departure, how many kilometers did you have with Ceebee, did you feel prepared for such a trip?
After I got Ceebee home, I made with Cristian tow trips of about 5-600 km in total through the Black Forest and we started packing it for a ride to my mother home in Romania. You do not want to know what discussions we had with our families and how many statistics have been read to us.
I was pretty ok, the only thing was that during the first two trips we had a bit of a fight. I was shy and slow on my way. The curves were strange things, and the u-turns were nightmares. Christian, being more competitive, has somehow pushed me to go faster. Which got me out of piss. I have decided that if necessary, I can close the communication system, calm down and do what I have learned best in school in the UK: when you feel that you can’t do something, when you have trouble, when it’s not safe, stop,take a break and try again. He planned the route, I planned the accommodations.
4. How did you feel when you left, knowing that a long two-wheeled trip is waiting for you?
The hardest moments always seem to me when you pack and you have no place left, unpack, sort, pack again and repeat until you get it right. When I left for the first ride, I had butterflies in the stomach, but also nerves. I had an issue with my motorcycle insurance, that we didn’t sort out. In fact, we did not have the insurance paper, the green card. So we had to take a ride in the city to get the paper. We left late, did not miss a traffic light, and all the butterflies were gone. When we got out of the town and headed for the Czech Republic, everything was relaxed and seemed normal.
5. Along the route, you have seen a lot of interesting things, not to mention that you have checked and rode some of the most coveted roads by motorcyclists, and here I refer to Grossglockner, Transfagarasan. What were the places you liked the most? If you were to make a top 5 to say or what places you would recommend to others to visit?
We do not have a specific favorite, but in the top 5 of the first ride are Route 66 in Slovakia, the ride in the Apuseni mountains that we did with Călin from Carpathian 2 Wheels, Transalpina, Tranfagarasan and Grossglockner (although we paid 50 euros to get there) .
6. How did the motorbikes behave in this trip? Did you have any problems or incidents?
We did not have the slightest problems with them, the traffic participants were pretty decent, and the crashbars helped us not to make any damages to the bikes. Christian is the kind of guy who believes in the service done on time and parts changed according to the manufacturers’ instructions, which gives him some peace and satisfaction.
7. How did you find the romanian two-wheeled experience,compared to other places where you’ve been? Especially how Christian enjoyed it, he hasn’t been previously to Romania, right?
Christian had never been to Romania before. It is very interesting that he, being German, does not see such a large discrepancy between Eastern and Western Europe, as others see. It seems that the Germans are somewhat more adaptable to what is happening in Romania. The transition was easy, passing through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary. The horse carried carts appeared somewhere at the border area between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which originally was a bohemian thing, until Romania became normality. Also it was the same with the way people drive. I met drivers who should not be on the roads till those who make room for you, greet you and smile. I do not know, maybe it was also related to the fact that we had many luggages, the foreign registration numbers, so they behaved differently. But I want to mention that many elders were waving at us through the little villages of Transylvania, which I have not seen before in Romania.
8. So, because ,I guess, you enjoyed so much the Balkans, in 2017 you decided to come back. This time it was Austria-Hungary-Serbia-Macedonia-Greece-Albania-Montenegro-Bosnia-Herzegovina Croatia-Slovenia-Italy. Still about 5000km, but this time, you did this trip in how many days ? What was different this year from your first trip?
The most important lesson we learned in the first trip was to stop planning everything for every kilometer and accommodation. Instead, having an idea of what you want to do the next day, a certain route, a list of accommodation opportunities (with addresses and phone numbers, cause you could end in an area without internet coverage), and to give yourself breaks and some flexibility. So you can stay more where you like or deviate from the route. It has happened to us to reach localities where we did not want to stay and we continued our journey. In total we were on road for 25 days. We had 650 km of motorway in Germany and Austria, and sometime we had only 20 km a day in Montenegro. We also had days of 10 hours on the road. This year we stayed a lot longer in the tent, cooked more, we were more relaxed, and started to get to know other motorcyclists on the road. At the same time, our off-road appetite have been opened.
9. How did you choose this route, did you consider what you can see / visit on the way or you consider the scenic roads that are in the area or a mix between the two?
The first time Christian chose the route, the second time he left me to look for where to go and what to do, that’s because he did not have much time. So I opened a few pages with moto tracks and started to focus on every country. We avoided large cities, except Skopje. Sometimes we chose areas where we could go because there were camping sites or were marked “green” on the map. We learned during the last year, that the very touristic areas are not our favorites. Too many people, stress, food and accommodation are more expensive, we stay too much around our motorcycles, having a lot of luggage that is not secure, you want to take a picture and you have 100 people with self-sticks around, plus a lot of litter.
At the same time we read various moto publications, so Durmitor in Montenegro, Teth in Albania and Dolomites in Italy were on our list.
10. In this second trip, which were the most beautiful places you’ve visited and you would recommend them to others to visit?
Since we’ve been back, we tell everybody how beautiful it was in Durmitor and the Piva Canyon in Montenegro, Teth in Albania and the Dolomites in Italy.
11. Has it ever happened in these two trips to be in a more tense situation? Or have you ever had an incident in which you felt in danger in any way?
Frankly, we were lucky and hope to stay that way. The only bloody moments were for us to stand in noisy campgrounds where I could not sleep. Sleepless nights can be really dangerous for those who travel on bike.
12. Now many people will probably read and say that’s great, I will go, but … I have no time … I can not miss so many days from the job … and the most common excuse “it costs a lot” or ” it’s too expensive”. Did you make an estimate, how much did the two trips cost?
In the first year we spent around 1500 euros, that’s because we also stayed at my mother, we stayed for a few days there and made she also made us a small present, believing that this trip is one in a life time. Besides, then we spent more on accommodation and restaurants, plus we went to a festival where we stayed for about four days. So it was about 19 days in total.
In the second year we spent about 2000 euros in 25 days, we had to pay motorway tolls through Macedonia and Italy. Greece, Austria and Italy are also not the cheapest.
We met on the way a couple of Belgians who have rode through the world quite a bit. Spending two days with them, we realized how much money we waste. They actually made jokes that they are getting slimmer on vacation.
Another factor is how we each see these trips in our own way. Some see them without problems, accommodation, food cooked by somebody else, a little pampering and some beer.
We can have beer and restaurants anytime,but food made out, campfire, sleeping in the tent, that’s something we can’t have every day.
These costs do not include “wear” on motorcycles. They were pre-prepared for the road.
13. And since I was talking about excuses, how do you manage to make time for these trips, do you have a more flexible program that allows you longer vacations?
Time related, I have not been working since we moved to Germany, and Christian takes a full vacation every year. It’s very hard sometimes, but we hope the future job is more flexible.
14. We are a site that promotes motorcycle trips, especially in Romania, we would like to know if you would recommend Romania as a destination for an active vacation, like a moto-trip? What would be the reasons you would recommend it ?
Definitely, I recommend Romania as a moto tourist destination. In fact, at the moto meetings we go to, Romania is on the lips of many. Most of them were at least once there. It is the heaven of those who love off-road and especially enduro or trail. Also, Romania is a good source of lamb skins placed on motorcycle saddles. We recommend the Apuseni and Fagaras, both for offroad, but also for the relatively good roads through the mountains and, of course, the landscapes in the area.
15. What are your plans for 2018? What we should expect to see on outandabout.world in the future?
2018 is a more complicated year, a job change, a move from one side of the country to another, and a wedding have kind of changed all our plans. We still do not know where we’re going. It is certain that this year we will start a little more offroad and we want to start doing some of the Trans Euro Trail (TEŢ), there are 34,000 km between Africa and the Polar Circle of unpaved roads. Another idea would be to get to Morocco this year. Other plans, like Azerbaijan or Georgia, have been moved for the next year. The world is big enough and a little adventure does not require to be to the end of the world necessarily.
For more information, please visit Ioana and Christian’s website, outandabout.world and their facebook page.