Homes from homes.

In lieu of the next, much delayed blog post, here is a collection of the various nooks and crannies that have sheltered me and provided a more-or-less restful nights sleep during my first 24 months on the road.

I've had some wonderful evenings in hostels and rest houses and with generous Warmshowers hosts along the way. But the most memorable nights, the most vivid,  have been happened upon places.

Unused places that I can slip into unobtrusively for an evening without interrupting the flow of life around me.

A life outdoors.
A disused mosque's mihrab on the outskirts of Al Ain just shy of the border between UAE and Oman: making use of a conveniently flytipped chaise-longue.
The desert foothills of Oman in the lee of 5000 year old Bat Tombs. 
(The sharpe-eyed amongst you will see them peeping at me from the crest)

Invited to lay my roll mat down in an isolated goatherd encampment in A'Dakhliyah province, near Al-Hoota cave: Falling asleep under starlight to the restful sound of shuffling goats.

A cold night on the Lion Mountain near Yazd spent snugly in a fantastical, hand hewn, cave complex.

Outside the caves early the next morning 

After a day spent wandering the burnt remnants of glorious Persepolis I camped quietly in the decaying remnants of the Shah's last hurrah - his tent city.

An isolated mosque two days ride from Isfahan provided some flat ground on which to pop my tent and some interesting charades with the local narcotic anonymous group meeting there.

A crumbling church in the far south of Armenia provided an atmospheric candlelit night.

A freezing first night in north east Iran was spent happily in a Shepherd's lean-to.

Waking the dawns subtle hues cast a magical spell across the land.

Though the rising sun also shone light on the lean-to's roof construction which gave me pause...


The isolated Bgheno-Noravank monastery lost in the woods along the Armenia/Azerbaijan border provided a marvelously Gothic atmosphere
Candle light and a copy of Shelley helped but real authenticity was provided by the bats streaming out at dusk.

The 12th Century Orbelian Caravanserai on the high pass leading out of Lake Sevan.

Over 2000 meters up and with freezing fog bringing visibility to almost naught finding and falling into this stone monolith felt miraculous.

Restored by a pot of porridge, kept company by a good book, and illuminated by the watery light of a waxing moon which seeped through cut outs in the roof I huddled in my sleeping bag against the -8 cold; warmed by imagining all those travelers who had sought shelter here, just as I had, over the echoing centuries. Magic.  

True meteorological magic had been wrought overnight disappearing the fog blanket and revealing this stunning vista

A morning memories are made of.

A night on a stone masons couch might've lacked mod cons but was a generous key hole into a world of skills I, with my suburban background, had little knowledge. And the couch was the more than comfortable enough to send a tired cyclist to sleep.

Bridge adjacent real-estate near the Georgia/Armenia border provided a lovely peaceful spot for a nighttime encounter with inquisitive cows.

A riverside spot a days ride out of Batumi was kindly offered by a local publican and resulted in a memorable evening pint in a deserted bar during a black-out.
Bus stop becomes alpine chalet when I was caught by heavy rain on the last leg of a Georgian mountain ascent.

Who could ask for more? Especially when friendly passing Georgians stopped in to share cockle warming cha-cha.

A night camped in the imposing remnants of medieval castle in a lowland valley of central Georgia. 

A fittingly industrial structure provided shelter from high winds and a nights rest on the outskirts of Stalin's hometown.

A fireside huddle with other bicycletourers in central Anatolia 

Before waking to the gentle Turkish dawn in the fallow field kindly offered by a sympathetic farmer.

The outrageous view from my Cappadocian cave.

 Morning in a quiet olive grove nestled among the fairy chimneys near Göreme I awoke to the unfamiliar sound of hot air other than my own signalling a glorious balloon ascent. 

Out the back and beyond the trees of a Turkish truck stop some quiet and solitude was waiting.

A quiet grove on the outskirts of Ankara where wild radishes grew.

Of course it isn't all idyllic slices of well found quiet. On the long grueling, puncture plagued, run into Istanbul through the seemingly never ending outskirts I fell upon this fallow field well after dark too tired to do anything but sleep.

Leaving the bike maintenance for the morning.

Greek salt lake forests provided a more conventional nights camping.

Majestic Byzantine watch towers dot the heelenic coastline and made for utterly delightful slices of history upon which to pass the night.

Basic? Sure. But wonderful and beautiful and self discovered.

A windswept rock on the outskirts of Adrianople mightn't be everyone idea of an evening well spent but the memory of the sea pounding as dusk fell and the city began to light-up round the bay is not one I'd readily trade for a hotel room. 

A smaller, less imposing, byzantine watchtower still provided a perfect marker by which to camp and read some Gibbons.

The views weren't half bad either.

The golden hills of northern Greece made camping a cinch.

Sometimes you do get the balance wrong. A torturous night sleeping in an alleyway in Pella, the birth place of Alexander the Great, waiting for morning to visit the museum while being variously assaulted by mosquitoes and stray dogs.
Free camping doesn't mean hiding from the world. After all there's no retreating into paid for privacy which often mean chance encounters with the most wonderful people. 

Take Angelo, a 71 year old Macedonian church artist, we bumped into each other while I looked for a spot to camp by the lake his church overlooks. 

The next morning was spent in exultant conversation and trying his home made nettle tea. 


But mostly I sought out quiet unused corners. Is this more admirable than a hostel or a hotel?
No.
Did it work great for me?
Yes.

The harsh fact is that I wasn't contributing to the local economy to the same degree that someone buying souvenirs and staying in paid for accommodation would.

But surely to boil down travel to an economic transaction would be a mistake. Lest only the rich traveler find merit.

Kosovan riversides.
An bombed out hotel on a stormy night overlooking Kotor bay.

A patch of wasteland just big enough to stretch out on and marvel at a singular view of beautiful Dubrovnik. 

A quiet spot outside an abandoned quarry in Bosnia.

(Had to tread carefully with that one)

A quiet church a few hours climb outside of Assisi.

Atop an Apennine pass watching a night of vicious electrical storms swirl around me. 

Then enjoying the morning calm.

A mosquito infested but utterly quiet spot on the banks of the mighty Po. 

A disused hut on the Gotthard Pass gratefully fallen into after getting marooned on a mountain top island in the Alps.

Out macho-ing an aggressive cob swan for the right to this pleasant spot on the banks of the Rhine.

A peaceful meadow in the rolling countryside of the Black Forest.

A lush Alsace floodplain 

Doing my best to pretend the bull behind the barely there fence was friendly

More bovine bonhomie in the cattle shed of a Luxembourgian farmer who took pity on two sodden cyclists during a thunder storm.

A more typical north western European pitch. Lush green fields whose edgings had room enough for a discrete nights sleep leaving no trace.

An unused patch of grass beside a graveyard which, after a polite inquiry, was happily volunteered by its custodian.
My first free camp spot back home in Albion. Not perfect as it was on a dog walking route but I'm hopeful that any small inconvenience I presented was mitigated by the cups of tea I shared with the handful of passer-byes.
Soggy nights in New Zealand south island during winter allowed a slightly broader range of free camping options as less people tend to take a walk in a storm. Making the most of available seating required some creative if unimpressive constructions.

A mossy glade provided the most comfortable night one could wish for in Tasmania.

This beautiful slice of antipodean bush may look like the back of beyond but was in fact the discreet screen for a waste water treatment plant. Didn't stop me making friends with the abundant wallabies and a couple of other free campers who had had similar ideas.

Beside a glistening lake in country Victoria.

Next to a lovely wooden church in Gippsland.

Inside an unused bird watching hide looking out towards Wilson's promontory and the Bass Straight.

Respite from the winter winds atop the southern alps after going through Arthur's Pass

Another chilly but beautiful night in the Southern Alps.

A patch of wasteland looking back at a towering minaret in a small coastal town in UAE.

In search of shade in the harsh landscape of Musandam.

In the grounds of center for Paralympic athletes in Dubai waiting for my flight the next day. Swapping stories and laughs with some incredible people.

Before getting woken by the sprinklers!

An abandoned beach front shack in Oman - fishing net sun lounger included.
Behind a wall on a coast road in Oman.

Unprepossessing perhaps, but hiding this lovely sunset.

There were many and more but for those who made it this far I'll finish with another bridge. This time on New Zealand's south island.

Whether you call it stealth camping, free camping or just being a tramp. Doing it this way isn't about being miserly for me. Its the profound peace of mind that comes with knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that at some point if I keep on peddling I will arrive at a place for me that night. A place I fit. I won't know it till I see it and I wont know who I'll meet or what I'll find but I will find it and I will fit. Beautiful or tawdry it will be worth the finding and remembering.

Itineraries and bookings and cleverly found routes with the necessary amenities are well and good but the sheer bliss of heading in a direction unsure of a destination but safe in the knowledge that one will reveal itself is hard to beat.