If you like Girl on Bike and my Bike Stories idea, you can support it here via Polak Potrafi – a crowdfunding platform.
Below you can find a few words of explanation, why is it worth to support me and what you will have from that 🙂
From Warsaw to Istanbul on a bicycle – why not? It sounds like a journey into the unknown, but not to discover the new lands, rather myself. But most of all it’s a journey that aims in writing a book. A book with stories of the people from Balkans that I’m going to meet on my way, who are going to host me and who I will spend some of my time with. A book where I will be the ear and the people I will meet on the way will be its authors.
I want to talk, to learn, to listen – about the important and unimportant; about the big and little joys. I’m interested in a single person story, especially in the context of the mainstream media narration in Poland, but also in usual associations we have with this region: a war in Bosnia, Serbia or Kosovo, financial crisis in Greece or bunkers in Albania. I’m going to look for the answer to the question: What is the story of the person I have just met? Because I believe that we all have the stories!
The route will lead me from Warsaw via Cracow – Vienna – Ljubljana – Zagreb – Belgrade – Sarajevo – Tirana – Athens until Istanbul.
Altogether I’m going to cycle about 5 thousands kilometers.
Start: Warsaw, 15 September 2015
The route on the picture, that is where I’m going to cycle through
Who am I, that is a few words about myself
My name is Katarzyna Zwolak and I’m a traveller and a cyclist (actually I’ve been a city cyclist so far). I come from the Pomerania region in Poland, I studies in Cracow and then moved and lived in Warsaw. In the past 15 years I’ve visited over 30 countries on four continents. Outside of Poland I have livd in the UK, Kenya, South Africa, Portugal and recently in Israel. Before I decided to spend my time on meeting people and getting to know their stories in the Balkans and in the Middle East, I’ve been active in the governmental and NGO sector, mainly in the global development, but also women rights and gender equality area.
My team, a very special group of people who made it all happen
Nikodem Szymański, that is my right hand, without whom there wouldn’t be Girl on Bike! The author of all the graphics, most of the pictures and the promotional video. Profesionally also a graphic designer and a photograph. In a private life: an owner of Szmatek the Cat and fan of the video game “The Witcher”. And a fan of the TV series.
Katarzyna Zagól, there are no impossible things for her. She is helping me out in the moments of the worst doubts, believs in Girl on Bike with her whole heart and spends hours with me on planning what, where, when, which way and why. And how are we going to do this. Profesionally marketing specialist. In a private life: a fan of new technologies and workaway (so am I!).
Beata Lechowicz, the second photographer that documents every steps that we make. And the first fan of Girl on Bike! She is the author of my profile picture because only she knows how to make me laugh so much when having the pictures of mine taken. Professionally a marketing & CSR specialist. In a private life – a photographer and a fan of lying down in a grass (just like me), presented on a picture!
Paula Butlewska, energy vulcano and the biggest fan of the project, who react with “yes we can!” to my every new idea and adds one thousand of hers. Profesionally communication specialist. In a private life – a traveller and a hitchhiker, who travelled a piece of South America together with me. With no bike that time.
Budget, that is what I need the money for
- bike equipment: bike bags, new bike saddle, bike helmet, a tent, professional tyres and the maps of the regions I’m going to cycle through
- a book: bilingual (Polish-English) editing and proofreading + graphic design of the book
Defeat harvest above, that is what will happen if I will collect:
- 1000 PLN more (6000 PLN altogether)– the equipment I’m going to buy will be more professional than less. And probably a bit safer as well.
- another 2000 PLN more(8000 PLN altogether) – I will also publish several paper copies of the book książka
- another 1000 PLN more (9000 PLN altogether) – I will buy a gopro camera and not only will I publish a book, but I will make also a documentary video
- even more! – all the funds will end up in a piggy bank, where I keep the money for the travelling expenses like food and some unexpected sleeping costs + another adventures that will surprise me (and I’m sure they will becasue they always do). And if there will be anything left, I’ll spend it on the next planned travel, the continuation of this one, that will be called “Back to the Middle East” and will probably look more or less like this:
Crowdfunding, that is why I want you to be part of this story
I believe that the stories have been invented to be narrated. To the others. This is why I’d like you to have a chance to listen to the stories similar to what I have heard recently in the Middle East, like a Newzealander girl has found herself suddenly in Cairo and thanks to the help of friends from Israel and Europe she has eventually found a safe place in Athens; or whether it is possible to find a father in the Middle East, being a European and knowing only his name; or why is it worth to leave everything and open a hostel in the middle of the desert. And how to do it.
Three quoted stories are just examples of many I have heard in those last three months in the Middle East. Now is time for Balkans! And these are going be the stories I’d love to share with you. Stories, every day relations from my travel (which is, so called, “making of”) or any updates about my current location I will post every day on this blog.
Someting more about the concept, that is how come I ended up with this idea (more reading, so only for tenacious readers!)
I’ve been travelling for more than fifteen years already, but until now I’ve been quite conventional in it – every free moment I used to take my backpack, catch bus or train, sometimes a place and I was out to discover the new places. More or less spontanously. This way I have managed to visit over 30 countries and four continents.
At the beginning of this year I decided that the short travels of few days or few weeks are actually too short for me. That to really experience a travel I need to have time for it. So I decided that from now on I want travelling and experiencign to be something I will spend most of my time on. In the next three months I have finished the project I’ve been working on, packed all my staff, placed it in the basement, sent books to my parents and at the end of April I left Poland to spend three months in the Middle East – in a travel I’ve been back from in the middle of July.
This travel changed a lot. Because – for the very first time – I had much more time for other people. And that’s how I’ve spent most of it – with people that have lived in there but also with fellow travellers, who happened to choose the Middle East as their destination, similarly to me. This Middle Eastern experience has made me realize that people stories are extremely interesting and inspiring and so many bizzare things happen to them that it’s really a shame to leave them like this – only to be narrated but not to be written down.
This is why I eventually want to be back in the Middle East – to write down all those (and the new) stories. But before I get there, I’m planning to cross equally interesting part of the world – the Balkans. This time on a bicycle. They say that travel always starts when leaving home and that’s how I want to do it this time – leaving Warsaw, where I used to live for the past four years, heading down south step by step, crossing Poland through Cracow and Katowice, then the Czech Republic to reach and stop for a while in Vienna – which is, in my opinion, a symbolic bridge between Western and Eastern Europe and a symbolic gate to the Balkans. After that the route will take me via Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Greece – to eventually finish this part of the travel in Istanbul – another symbolic place – the end of Europe and beginning of Asia. I myself am very curious how eventually this route will look like – everything depends on what will happen on the way – I’m open to any suggestions, recommendations and contacts.
Where does the bike idea come from and why actually on a bicycle? I’ve been cycling for over 12 years now and a bicycle has been a natural mean of transportation for me. During those three months between Israel, Palestine and Jordan I really suffered through lack of it. And actually this experience of lack has led me to the idea of fulfiling another life dream of a longlasting bicycle adventure – to make the bike not only a mean of transportation, but kind of portable home.
A lot of people are asking me about what kind of bike I’m going to cycle on and how much time it will take me. I decided to travel on my dad’s old worn-out bike, on which I’ve already cycled many kilometres. I will spend this month on several necesarry reparations to help the two of us manage to cycle those five thousands kilometres.
How much time will it take me? It’s slightly more difficult question, but my guess is that I should reach Istanbul in eight months which is early May 2016. I am aware that it’s quite long time, but I don’t treat this travel as a race. I need time to build the relations with people and listen to their stories, which is why I will keep moving quite slowly and most of the time I will spend with the people.
The effect of this travell will be mainly the book I have already mentioned before. The book which will be a collection of stories that I will hear and/or the ones that will happen to me. It’s going to be a bilingual publication, but the blog itself will be written in an English language only – mainly to thank all the people I will meet – for their openess and their time. It’s really important for me that they will have a chance to read their stories. English is also a natural travelling language for me.
The awards, that is the part about what you will get
Global network that is a piece about the project in the Internet
FB: Girl on Bike
Instagram: Girl on Bike
Youtube: Girl on Bike
Contact, that is where to look for me and how to find me
On a bike, personally, you can meet me in Warsaw and in Powiśle (not the Warsaw Powiśle though, but the one between Mazury and Kaszuby – for those who have never heard about – a few word on Polish Wikipedia)
But if that doesn’t work, you can write and/or call me:
FB: Katarzyna Zwolak
Tel./WhatsApp: +48 608 852 256