Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Adventure Begins... Love, Bikes, History, Music... and Bliss.

Courtney and I have a friend named Joanie. A beautiful, charismatic, red headed Irish woman. Joanie is my boss's sister, and we all worked together at one point, my boss AnnMarie, her sister Joanie, Courts and I. One afternoon Joanie, AnnMarie and I were sitting near each other and the topic of travel came up. 
I have been dreaming of my Great European Adventure since I was fourteen, and when I mentioned it Joanie was instantly excited, telling tales of her travels throughout Eastern Europe with her partner at the time, and the great adventures they had. Staying with and being fed by random strangers, meeting crazy people and seeing amazing new sights. And, she mentioned, all for the equivalent of $8000 New Zealand dollars.  

And there the dream began. 

You will find, quite quickly, that I take organisation to a whole new, obsessive level. And so it is that I very quickly worked out that yes, Courtney and I could afford $8000 plus flights, and that we could do it before the summer of 2011. Oh how I wish dreams were free. Especially since, in the three months since that day in October 2010, the budget has expanded to over $NZ25,000 plus flights. But this isn’t a story of budgeting woes and organisation (OK, a little about organisation). This is grabbing a dream by the horns, and making it happen – any which way we can. 

Courts has been riding a motorbike for as long as I have been dreaming of it and he started teaching me to ride as well. It was only natural that we do Europe the hard way – on a bike.  
It has been said many a time that Europe and Bike tours go together hand in hand. I’m sure they do, but as we have learned, it takes a lot of planning and a lot of money to do it. Weigh that against the freedom to go anywhere at anytime, to stop anytime on any journey, and to feel the rush that only a motorcyclist knows as we fly down Germany’s autobahn, Tuscany’s hills or the coast of the south of France, and I know it will be worth it.  

Heading to Europe in the summer means a lot of things to a lot of people – sunsets, warm air, heat, sand, water parks, cycling trips, and walking tours. To me it also means heat waves bouncing from ancient ruins and thirsty queues for galleries and museums. I studied Classical Studies and Art History throughout school and have read volumes on the topics purely because I love learning about them. One day I plan on continuing my studies and gaining a degree, but for now I want to soak it in first hand. 

To Courtney and me as a couple, summer in Europe also means the season of music festivals, celebrating our passions for music with like minded individuals from around the world. I love rock, especially old school 80’s rock like Guns n Roses and Motley Crue. But I also love pop and R&B right through to heavy metal. I just love music. Courtney is just as passionate, but far from eclectic with his taste. He loves metal, especially power metal, and almost exclusively only metal. Courts is also a very talented singer and guitarist and doesn’t do enough with his talent. For both of us, music is life blood, and the opportunity to experience the European music scene will not go wasted. We have tickets to three festivals - FiberFIB in Benicassim, Spain, which is dance, rock and alternative music; Wacken Open Air in Germany which is one of the most well known metal festivals in the world; and Party San, another metal festival in Germany.  

It was only 10 days after my fateful conversation with Joanie that we had our tickets to FiberFIB and to Wacken. I guess you could say that when I get an idea, I’m one to make it happen.  
Until this point, Courtney hadnt been excited about the trip at all. He said he wanted to go, but he wasn’t invested in the trip, and my excitement was being dragged down by his boyish lack of jumps and squeals. This all changed when we purchased our tickets to Wacken. I was at work and he was at home and I called him. “I’m about to hit submit on our Wacken tickets so this is your last chance to change your mind!”. He hardly thought I was serious, in fact I’m pretty sure that until I actually hit submit he thought Europe was a cool idea, but one I'd forget about sooner or later. Oh how much he had to learn about me and my ideas. As soon as the tickets were purchased, he was excited about the trip. He had a reason to go, this was actually happening – he was fulfilling a long time dream of going to Wacken.  

For anyone who doesn’t like metal, the idea of Wacken might not resonate much. I guess the equivalent might be Glastonbury to other music lovers. Essentially, Wacken is a pilgrimage. Every year, thousands of people from all over the world descend on this tiny village. It’s a right of passage for metal heads everywhere, and one Courts was finally getting to partake in.

And so it is that we find ourselves preparing for the trip of a lifetime – a trip of love, bikes, history, music... and Bliss.