The Buskers Guide to Adelaide
December 8, 2015
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March 10, 2016

Drifter Interview – Olayo Reynaud (Spain)

On top of all that Romain was nowhere to be found! Thanks god I was in Iran and some people invited me to warm up by their stove. I found a place to stop and eat. (I almost couln’t walk when I entered the restaurant, because I was completely frozen) I stayed by the fire for more than 3 hours, and where I ended up finding Romain, who was actually behind me the whole time.
We met Ollie in Kuala Lumpur and quickly became good buddies, even though he is not a Busker he became The Buskers Guide’s son, the one to take our place and run the events we had set up once we left Malaysia.
At the age of 17 Ollie has Cycled to Iran from France (6500kms!) mostly on his own and was waiting in KL for winter to pass so he can recollect his bike from Iran and finish his ride to West China. After hearing his journey we felt it was an absolute MUST to share as he has a similar journey to ours but has way bigger balls.

*Olayo speaks French, Spanish and English we have kept the original article as original as possible but have made a few amendments to the grammar and spelling of the interview.
What is your name, where are you from and what do you do?

My real name is Olayo Mateo Reynaud, but I have a lot of nicknames. I'm Yayo when I travel on bicycle and I’m Ollie for the buskers!
I am from a little town called Soto del Real, in Madrid's northen mountains (Spain), about 50 kilometres away from the city centre and am of french origin. I finished my high school exams on June 2015 and I decided to travel around before I start university, after that I will start a career in Industrial Engineering.

How long have you been travelling and where were the best places?

I left Spain on July 25th, and I went with my familly to Gap, France where I started my bicycle trip on July 31st.
For me the real trip started when I left Europe, entered Turkey and then Iran on the 22nd of December. Those were my favourite countries, mainly because of how frendly the people are and how beautifull the unknown landscape and culture is.

What made you want to travel?

When I was a child my parents and I became friends with a guy named Miguel Ángel who travelled on bicycle from Madrid to the Himalayas when he was 28 (he is now in his 50's).
Not much later Miguel opened a cyclist organisation called ‘Icimudo' which means 'bycicle-world' and amongst other things organised public presentations with pictures and videos of famous cyclotourists like "Alice and Andoni", a couple who travelled for 7 years, some of them with kids; or "cicloclown", whose goal is to travel around the world, giving free clown shows in poor countries for the disenfranchised, underprivileged and speciality kids (who haven't had the opportunity before) to make them smile, laugh and have the chance to enjoy a show. The organisation finished when I was around 14, but there still some people that do presentations in some places in Madrid (and I will for sure do one when I am back, and encourage people to cycle the world!).
Since that time, I haven't watched any presentations but I knew I wanted to do something like that, and I had the feeling that I couldn't wait to long until I did it either and instead of forgetting it just grew bigger and bigger. The need for new people, new places, the need for experiences, to disconnect from one life, connect to another and go on an adventure! So when I finished high school I did exactly that.

An overall explanation of where you have been with traveling, how you would normally travel and where you would normally stay.?

I travelled to Mediterranean Europe for about 2 months then through the countries of Itay, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Makedonia, Greece and then European Turkey, although I stayed very little time in Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina. I only cycled for 3 days in France before Italy, so I consider Italy as my first country.
There is a community called “Warm Showers” that is like couch surfing but only for cyclists, and I used it a lot in the beginning, it was hard to plan every day and I didn’t always have wi-fi so I did’t use it from Croatia to Istanbul.
In Italy, since it was my first weeks I was still a little confused and scared, I didn’t do any free-camping and I stayed in some hostels when I didn’t have a Warm Showers host (which I do not recommend, because Italian hostels are normally very expensive and made without any love). After Italy I did free camping 99% of the times; I only stayed in 2 hostels, one that sucked, in Rijeka, Croatia; and one that was awesome and I really recommend in a little town called Tivat on Montenegro’s coast (called Hostel Anton). I met an Agentinan guy with whom I cycled for about 2 weeks, until Thesaloniki, Grece (very cool city by the way, may be good for busking). I would say about 75% of the time I just sleep on the beach, without a tent; so the Mediterranean has been my shower and toilet for many days!
In croatia people very very rude and unfriendly, which made me feel very lonely, because for 3 weeks I had very few communication with anybody (only with tourists!), for example, when I walked in a supermarket and said hello in their language, they would just look at me like I was annoying them, and sometimes I would ask directions or for things I already knew just in order to talk with somebody. After I went to Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, and Grece, and I found the friendly and happy southern-european spirit!
The trip until Istanbul was about 3700 Kilometres, and I did about 70kms a day on average, counting some resting days (not many, maybe 5 in total).
I took a big rest of 10 days in Istanbul and then went to Teheran for around 2 months. I met a French man called Romain in Albania, and I travelled with him until we split a little before Tehran, so I crossed Macedonia, Grece, Turkey, and Iran with him him, and we became pretty close. Crossing Turkey on bicycle may very well the best month and a half of my life; the whole county is super friendly and with out even trying we became friends with so many people from members of the Kurdish guerrilla, to military soldiers, as well as shepherds teachers, students, businessmen, and even a Syrian refugee… To start a friendship with somebody, turkish people normally invite you to a tea, so we ended up drinking getting invited to tea multiple times a day! But my favourite part about the country is the landscape, as soon as you get out from the rainy Black Sea you find the most beautifull landscapes, and some places that absolutely nobody knows about and are the best I can remember seeing.

I entered Iran, and people are even more friendly, you can do couchsurfing with out even trying! Some times people saw us on the road and invited us to their houses, which let us know and became friends with some very interesting people and discover more about their culture, I even learned some Persian! (although I already forgot all of it haha) I learned that Iran is not at all like we westerners imagine.

We decided to never pay for sleeping, something that I would recommend to everybody independently of your budget, it leads us to the best adventures and memories (which might suck at the time, but it is awesome when you reflect on it later). In the middle east, the distances became a lot bigger and less touristy. It would be very hard to sleep in a hotel or hostel every day but every now and then, people invite you to their house where you can enjoy the first shower in 1 or 2 weeks. The only thing that made us suffer a little was the cold, we did eastern Turkey and Iran in November, and the altitude was rarely bellow 1000m, specially in Turkey, so our mornings were normally around -8 degrees celsius and everything that had a little beat of humidity was completely froze in the morning but as Romain once said 'Would it be an adventure if it was too easy?!

Tell us about your best and worst travel experience?

This is a very common question but also one of hardest! Once you start biking you see that every day is a little adventure but not many days are really much harder or much easier than the day before. But just to answer the question, I would say that my worst day was also in Iran: we woke up at around 7:30 am, as usual (I was still with Romain, back then), Romain left before me as we did everyday, he is faster folding the tent and I am faster on the road, so I normally just catch up to him. This day as soon as I put a foot on my pedal it started raining crazily, the temperature was between 0 and 1 degrees celsius so we also had snow. After a couple of hours all my clothes were completely wet, even under my vest, and it turns out that my water-proof gloves weren’t that waterproof at all, also my waterproof shoe-cover broke some days before and my foot felt like it was in a swimming pool (I had to stop and put plastic bags on them, which is an awesome trick by the way). On top of all that Romain was nowhere to be found! Thanks god it was in Iran and some people invited me to warm up by their stove soon after I found a place to stop and eat (I almost couln’t walk when I entered the restaurant, because I was completely frozen), I stayed by the fire for more than 3 hours, and there I ended up finding Romain, who was actually behind me the whole time.
Once again, thanks god we were in Iran, and that night we got invited somewhere to sleep (this guy opened a “tourist house” where you can stay for free if you are tourist! It had useful information, hot showers, electric stove…) we knew that If we would have had to camp that day, we would have suffer much more for sure!

And now the best experience: For me doing a big bicycle trip across beautiful countries is already the best experience I could have. But if I had to say the best “moment”, I it was between Trabzon and Ezurum (Turkey), we had been climbing for about 3 days, from sea level to around 2000 meters in about 150 kilometres; it was small, beautiful road in the mountains, and in the middle of that slope, I see a Lynx in the distance, I told Romain and he did’t believe me, until we got closer and he saw it as well, he was only about 10 meters away from us in the woods, looking at us like we were communicating somehow, and we stayed there for about 30 seconds, staring at him and him staring at us, a huge grey cat with round face and pointy ears. Romain moved to take a picture and he left disappearing into the woods. It sounds stupid, but those where very cool moments, that I probably not live again; I had no idea that those animals lived in that part of the world.

What do your friends and family think of you traveling?

My parents are also in the world of bicycle touring, they do small trips in Europe every summer, and they know some big Cyclotourists. They were happy about me leaving and seeing what the world is about, to gain experiences and mature‘’I would be very proud of you", my mom said once.
On the other side there is my friends who just think that I'm nuts, they were betting where I would die or be kidnapped, "I will say goodbye like it is the last time I see you". But in the end they are just joking (or at least some of the times!)

Do you have any current plans to travel in the future?

My plan was to travel from France to China, following the “Silk Road”, but I had to stop in Teheran until the coldest part of winter is over. So I will go back to Iran and continue thought Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazahstan, Kyrgyzstan and then China (I don’t know exactly where I will finish).
Also, it is very likely that I do an other trip in Turkey in the future, because I feel like I haven’t seen everything, maybe try it on roller-skates!

What have you learnt and adopted into your life from travel and on a whole?

One person I met 2 days before arriving to Tehran told me that everybody has to age, a physical age and a mental age and I fell that in terms of mental age I have grown way more than 5 months in the past 5 years, doing big trips helps you understand what the world really is and where you ft into it.
Also being away, when you are alone you have to search for a solution for every situation with out asking help from your mum or friends (something that in my opinion, most Spaniards need), and I feel like after doing a big trip like that, you can do anything if you really want to.

What is your advice for anyone looking to travel?

My very first day I just wanted to quit, and I called my parents and sister, they told me that it is normal to be nervous the first day and to just stick with it, so I tried and didn’t stop since!. Therfore, my first advice it is to not think about it too much and just go!
There is some very good days, good days, normal days, and bad days. When you feel bad or you don’t want to continue, just take some rest and the next day everything is clearer, remember that it will be an unforgettable experience but most important is don’t rush, you are not trying to go anywhere because every day is a trip and wherever you get to was the new finish point, if you try to go to fast, and reach a physical ending in a tight timing you will end up missing the best things and experiences.
If there is a country that you don’t like, go faster, and if there is a country that you love, stay longer, because what is cool about riding a bike is that you are 100 percent free! Who cares if it is slow or fast, we are no in a hurry!
My last advice, a lot of people are going to tell you that you're crazy, like my friends did and that may push you down a little; remember that anything is possible and don’t really listen if you don’t want to. Enjoy your trip!

Thanks Ollie, be sure to give this guy a a shower, cup of tea, a feed or a kiss if you see him riding around and if you have any crazy experiences, good advice or just want to drop us a line, you can say g’day at [email protected]

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