I've condensed life's essentials for the next six weeks into two panniers and a handlebar bag and in a few minutes I'll switch off the lights, lock the door and bike down to Brussels Midi station for my overnight train to Berlin. My head is hurting from the scramble over last few days to get ready for the trip but my to-do list is now short enough to spare my conscience.
In the coming weeks I hope I can get from the Baltic to the Adriatic and back to Berlin with enough energy and daylight to document, in some small way, how life along the Iron Curtain looks today, nearly twenty years after the revolutions in eastern Europe. At very least I'll be fitter and have seen some new places.
In Berlin I'll meet some friends who will be running the marathon on Sunday. But for a late ankle sprain (now almost fully recovered), I'd have been on the start line myself. But the doctor and physio agreed that to avoid damaging the ankle I had to choose between one or the other exercise - and I've put too much into this trip to drop it now.
From Berlin I'll travel by train up to Lübeck and then head south under pedal-power, reaching Trieste around what I reckon to be 3000km later. I plan to update this blog daily. I hope I can use it to get across some of my experiences for your enjoyment and edification. Feel free to comment on what I say here!