The Silkroad

In the second century B.C. the Chinese emperor sent a small delegation to a small kingdom far away situated in the west (near what is now Afghanistan).  This, according to experts, is the famous Silkroad, which grew from both sides, establishing lines of communication between the people from sides of the map.

It’s not about ‘one’ Silkroad but a bunch of them, or moreover a net of commercial routes via land and sea which connected, more or less since the time of the Roman expansion towards the Middle East in the first century B.C.,communicating the Mediterranean and Chinese worlds,  and also the countries in between.
Luce Boulnois,
La ruta de la seda, Dioses, guerreros y mercaderes.

For centuries this net of routes were a meeting point for diplomatics, merchants, travelers… a place for interchanges not only of the famous silk but also of spices, precious stones, perfumes…and the most important; knowledge, culture, religion and traditions. It was also the protagonist of a series of fabulous chronicles like those of Marco Polo or the rihlas (travel diaries) of the Moroccan traveler, Ibn Battuta.

This flow of information and knowledge favored the growth and improvement of new technologies, as much in naval as in cartography, displacing the route more and more towards the sea, avoiding intermediaries and saving time and money.

A lot of time has passed since then, and the configuration of the political world map has changed so much that it’s almost unrecognizable if we compare it to the map from 2000 years ago. Wars, reunification, pacts, separations, the iron curtain, the bamboo curtain…the old route isn’t a main artery anymore, not even a secondary one, but actually the complete opposite. There is however, a thin dotted line existing of places, cultures and people who stand the pass of time and resist, fragilely, in middle of the international political tornado and systematic robberies sponsored by Western museums.

This thin dotted line is what we will try to find and follow from the 1st of September, as many others have and continue to do; from caravanserai to caravanserai.

 

Our route

It’s important to remember that the following adheres strictly to conditionals and shows only our intentions: touch wood!

We could depart from Venice, like the Polo’s, or start in Istanbul because it’s the door of the orient, but…we like the idea more of a transect which leaves from our house, feel slowly each and every change in geography, languages, faces, food…from ‘bon dia! (Good Morning!)’ to “早晨好!”.

This route is a patchwork made to measure from books and suggestions.

Barcelona-Beijing (by bike) 17.400km aprox.
Beijing-St.Petersburg (Trans-Siberian Railway)
9.259km
St. Petersburg – Barcelona (by bike) 4.700km aprox.


See in a larger map.

So where does it start?

On a map, the finger moves faster than reason.

In 2001 a couple of Norwegians who were visiting through the l’Ateneu Candela in Terrassa (Barcelona), decided to return home on second hand bicycles, which seemed a Jules Verne idea, a crazy plan which somehow sparked something which has kept growing till today.

Without meaning to and without knowing exactly how, you put your finger on a map and you start to see that it’s not just two crazy Norwegians, that Heinz has spent half his life pedaling to all the corners of the world, that Álvaro deliver out smiles on a bike, that Claude doesn’t stop expanding horizons on two wheels, and you enjoy the chronicles of Fernando, of Imma and Pep, Gabriel, Eneko i la Miyuki…basically…you start to move your finger in a direction. And it doesn’t stop; one book leads you to another and the books of Ibn Battuta, Kapuscinski, Krakauer, J. Michael Fay (who crossed the heart of Africa wearing flip-flops), Luce Boulnois, the travels of Marco Polo, all start piling up…and blogs and webs…and you try to prove yourself on a bike and until you realise that you have everything ready.

And you know that the only ay to stop your legs from shaking and your knees knocking is to start pedaling.