The couple behind diariesof
Since the beginning of Rosportlife in 2014 Jorge and Anabela Valente, two independent travellers and creators of the magazine diariesof, have been regular contributors to our Website and thus we thought it was time to do an interview and ask them all the questions that were popping to our mind.
Two on a motorbike must be challenging as far as packing is concerned. Which are your “Essentials”, even if they fall in the category “Nice to Have”? How many kilos of luggage do you carry?
Yes, packing is always a Herculean task, both before the start of the trip, when we have to select what we will take, as well as during the trip, because each object has its spot and needs to be on the right place, like a Tetris game in order for everything to fit in the luggage. For us, the camera, two lenses, a tripod and lately also a drone are ‘Essentials’ that have a guaranteed place on one of the motorbike cases. We consider our laptops and Anabela’s diary also as essentials, as they allow us to work on the road.
We are carrying the tent and all that goes with it (mattresses, sleeping bags, a camping-stove), because in this specific trip there are many countries, where camping is an option. There were a few ‘Nice to Have’s’, which have, in the meantime, turned into essentials: hat our Swiss knife with multi-use functions (we can’t go anywhere without it any longer); a headlight, which has saved us on some dark nights and our inflatable pillows that bring a touch of cosiness to our nights in the tent. Clothes, food, toiletries are packed with restraint, as there isn’t much space left after all the above.
Together we are carrying around 45 kilos (two side cases, one speed bag and one tank case). We pack the clothes in special vacuum bags, so that they occupy less room. We have learnt that the lighter we are, the most comfortable it is to pack and to travel. Unfortunately, as this is a long trip, we have to take summer and winter clothes and this is the reason why (we think) we are a bit heavier at the moment. But as soon as winter arrives, we will be wearing more clothes, and then the bike will be lighter!
What are the advantages and the disadvantages of travelling by motorbike?
There are a few negative things about travelling by bike. We are very exposed to weather, so when it is cold or rainy we do not advance much. We also do not drive long distances per day, because travelling on a motorbike is particularly tiring, especially when the roads are not good. But these end up also being the positive things about driving a bike: as we travel slowly, we have more opportunities to meet people and to visit places. Sometimes we are also able to drive through roads that are not suitable for cars… not necessarily easy, but usually with rewarding views.
Many people are travelling with other means of transport, such as Camper-Van for example. Why did you choose the motorbike?
We think it is a question of passion (Jorge’s passion), because the motorbike is not really the most comfortable means of transport. We can imagine that in some years, when we get older and tired of the motorbike (if ever!), we will switch to a van, which we think is more comfortable. Often, when it rains, Anabela longs for a Camper-van…
Which are the Top 3 experiences of your “Life on the Road”? What are the Top 3 “Rewards”, for which you say “Those are exactly the reasons why it is worth it!”?
1) The feeling of freedom is priceless. And that feeling is very much emphasized by the motorbike; we think that every motorcyclist exactly knows what we are talking about. You feel the wind and you experience the journey with all your senses. Each day, we can decide if we want to stay and further explore and experience a place or if we want to continue our trip to the next place. We can decide if we want to stick to a plan, or if we change it in order to spend more time with someone, for example.
2) We can sleep in places where there are no hotels and enjoy a beautiful place, away from masses, alone with nature. And those experiences are priceless and they are even worth the fact that usually there is no warm shower!
3) We are lucky and spend most of the day with the person we chose to spend our life with, instead of seeing each other at the end of a working day, when everyone is exhausted.
Do you also get to meet other people travelling on motorbikes?
Yes, it is not unusual that we stop on the road when we cross other motorbike travellers. It can be a short stop for just a quick greet or a stop that ends up in spending the rest of the day together. For example, here in Georgia, a Georgian biker stopped while we were checking the map, and when we told him where we wanted to go, he decided to come with us, since it would be a nice ride! It has also happened that, after meeting bikers on the road, we travel together for a couple of weeks. Back in South America for instance, we travelled with two Mexican motor bikers for two or three weeks. It has even happened that we cross the same motor bikers (but also cyclists or backpackers) again on different places along the journey.
Is it difficult to meet new people when you are travelling?
No, driving a motorbike is a guarantee to having people come to you and ask you where you come from and where you are heading. Especially because our bike has an ‘L’ on the licence plate and many people come to us to ask what ‘L’ means. Many think we are from Latvia or Lithuania.
We have had people stopping at traffic lights and handing us their business cards, telling us to call them if ever we need help. Once a man ran to us and hugged our bike! Everyone that loves bikes is sure to come to us when we stop. We also get to meet many people when we stay in hostels and camping sites.
At least every six months you return to Luxembourg for the printing and launch of your magazine diariesof – What pleases you the most when you come back home?
We are always happy to be with family and friends. People are always the best, be it when we are at home, or when we are travelling. Besides that, we also like to hike in the forests of Luxembourg and enjoy the beautiful landscapes and quietness of the countryside. We are also always very happy to return to our favourite restaurants to enjoy a lovely meal.
When you are home, how long does it take before you start feeling the “wanderlust”?
The fact that we are not living at home anymore when we are in Luxembourg (we rented out our flat), and that we are living with our parents, is probably the reason why a couple of weeks after arriving we are already thinking of our next destination 😉
Do you sometimes feel homesick? What do you miss?
After three or four months, we start getting the need to have a break. First because it is physically tiring to move constantly; second because our senses get ‘tired’ or ‘spoilt’ by the amount of information we absorb while travelling. We usually notice we need a break when we do not get enthusiastic about the new things we are experiencing. We remember in Argentina, we had just hiked to a glacier and we were not amazed by it (even though it would have deserved it!), and as we would have been in normal circumstances, because it was a gorgeous view. By then we knew we had to stop and reset our senses.
With so much travelling, you have got to know many different cultures. Is there something that you can say, is typical Luxembourgish. Is there anything that exists only in Luxembourg?
Besides Kachkeis, Grillinger and Gromperekichelcher, Luxembourg has the best walnuts and wild boar patés! These are the things we run after when we are home. Apart from this, we think the country has a great cultural diversity. It is possible to experience different cultures, different languages and different food in a small area. You walk through the streets and see very different faces and hear many different languages from all corners of the world. We love this very much! We also notice, especially when we are abroad, that Luxembourg is a very clean country and the air is not polluted, not even in the city.
Tell us about one memorable experience while being “On the Road”.
Oh, there are many. Last year, for example we were travelling through Portugal, preparing the issue diariesof Portugal when we met a couple that is travelling around the world on bicycles. We decided to wild camp together, in a beautiful, green spot by the Douro River. It was a hot night, and it was late when we went to bed. We were woken up later by a lot of turmoil coming from our neighbours’ tent. They had pitched their tent over a sprinkler, which switched on automatically to water the lawn. We were up all night moving the tents from one place to another, because after the first round, other sprinklers started. We were all wet but ended up having a lot of fun despite not sleeping all night. On top of that it reminds us of this beautiful encounter and of our new friends.
Currently Jorge and Anabela are on the road in Georgia from where they’ve sent us these amazing pictures.
Read more about their adventures on www.diariesofmagazine.com