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A time of routes and gifts

On December 8th 1933, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out walking from his house. Two years later, on January 1st 1935, he arrived in Istanbul. He crossed Europe on foot, from Holland to Turkey, carrying a few clothes, an Oxford dictionary and a small book of Odes by Horace. He walked across Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Balkans, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. The account of this extraordinary journey was told in his book A Time of Gifts, which was published forty years later, in 1977, and established him as one of the most important travel and non-fiction writers of this century. It was the unhurried telling of the journey upon which he set out at 18 years old. The story of a young man who left home the same day that Hitler had just risen to power in Germany, and during the unstoppable spread of hate speech, and of pointing out differences, in the old Europe. A Europe bent on closing borders and erecting walls. A Europe condemned to conflict.

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Long live the velorution!

"This is paradise for our cyclists", Olivier Theron tells us as he sits in the interior patio of an enormous industrial warehouse at number 6, Rue Benezet in Toulouse. He's surrounded by hundreds of pieces of rubbish, steel, wheels and bicycle parts of all kinds. There are even some tomato plants growing in a tangle with the spokes of old bikes. This is the main centre for operations and the headquarters of the self-managed workshop Vélorution (a French play on words meaning the 'bike revolution'). It's a collective that promotes social change, a change in consumption and a change in lifestyle through bicycles. Olivier is one of the founders of this movement here, in the capital of Languedoc, and one of most recognised activists of this cyclist 'intifada'.

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Marseille: The city of everybody and nobody

"How long have you been living in Marseille?" asks the shopkeeper. I stare at him, dumbfounded. You only need to show up three times in the same grocery store in a week before they ask you how long you have been in Marseille. Perhaps a good answer would have been: "From today and until the day after tomorrow." 

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Portrait of a creative and inconsolable youth

Nikola, Alexandar and Vladimir fly and repair drones; Melanie designs jewellery but she sells bread; Daniel works in a call centre collecting debts from people who can't pay their bills, even though he is a computer engineer; Adelina and her friend speak over eight languages and left their jobs to help refugees in Hungary, Greece and at other European borders; Ivona, Darija, Ana and Jovana are leaders, freelancers and creators, but they still have to face the glass ceiling and inequality in their professions; Simon has a doctorate in politics and promotes initiatives in his neighbourhood, while most of his friends are unemployed.

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24 hours in Vienna with Ahmed

Even though he's been living here in the capital of Austria for less than a year, Ahmed has decided to wriggle out of his six o'clock rehearsal to act as our tour guide for the day and show us around the city. So, we find ourselves jumping from the tram to the underground, from the underground and onto the bus, before hotfooting it through the avenues, backstreets and squares as we visit the most iconic places in Vienna.

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A human catalogue of Europe

Ever since 78-year-old Tudor Tataoaini agreed to pose with his old bicycle in Giurgiu, Romania, many things have happened.

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When the border was nature

Despite the wild eyes, possessed smile, and horns that he has grown, under this mask, Marc Kaczor is a man with tremendous patience. In the heat of July, and with no grasp on the Hungarian language, we have convinced Marc, a 23-year old university student of Geography, to don various ram skins. He is shrugging them on as a sort of masculine petticoat, and showing us how they dress and prepare for his town's traditional carnival.

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Serbia: a school of revolutionaries and festivals

We cross to the other bank of the Danube. We leave behind the lands of the Romanian Banat region, which highlight the fact that borders are purely an invention. Banat, a historical region of these central European flatlands, is once again a cocktail of peoples that settle and live between those lines that states trace as their territory, but which when speaking, when living, when playing, when studying, when working, when marrying, when loving or when trading, are mixed on one side and the other. They speak their own language and that of their neighbour. Or that of their grandmothers. Thus, in Berzasca (Romania) we find Czech, German, Romanian and Serbian communities, amongst others. Or in Serbia we find whole villages whose ancestors were Hungarian and who continue to speak that language.


The videoSummary of the first month and the first 1000 km through Romania of the expedition.


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A country for return tickets

The biggest social minority in Romania today are not gypsies, Hungarians or Jews. They are the three million Romanians who live abroad and suffer the stigma of stereotypes, clichés and prejudice.

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The people of the Baragan

Two words to describe 500 kilometres. Canicula and multzumesc. Language is also a landscape.

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The five routes are now underway from the Biziz touring embassy!

The ambassadors of the five cycling routes of the Biziz touring embassy and its team of colleagues are now underway in Europe. Below you can find out where each route is at the moment.

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Djelem, Djelem: let’s go out to walk and walk!

A couple of days ago Marcel and his son Iacu arrived in Konstanz with our bicycles. Marcel is the lorry driver who has carefully transported them from Donostia – San Sebastian and Iacu is his son, who has joined this journey to accompany his father on the last stretch: a kind of Manolito Gafotas, that charming bespectacled literary character created by Elvira Lindo. So thanks to their help we now have everything ready to become nomads and pedalling ambassadors.

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Let’s celebrate our differences and our similarities!

The people of Europe form its union. For millennia the women and men who inhabit this continent have shaped a mixed-race and diverse, cross-border, plural landscape.

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