About Jacob and Christina
The young couple decided to exchange their everyday working life in Munich for bike packing through Europe for a year. Christina is a teacher and Jacob is a Chemist and although they are active in their everyday lives, they admitted “it is nothing compared to now.”
Although their original plans changed due to the pandemic and not knowing what travel would look like they chose the more environmentally friendly option of getting from A to B: cycling and staying in Europe. They embarked on this exciting journey in August last year and are about half way on their journey now, having left Portugal just after New Year’s, despite it being a hard destination to leave. They are currently planning to stop in Valencia and then visit Majorca, France, Belgium, Netherlands and some Scandinavian countries in the summer before heading back to Munich by the end of August.
They wanted to stress that “We know that travelling is a luxury and we feel very privileged to be able to do so, yet alone for such a long time! With the fundraising project we want to share with people that live in a less privileged part of the world and hope many more people will think the same way.”
“UNICEF is currently running a project that transforms plastic waste into bricks which are then used to build classrooms in the Ivory Coast, West Africa. This way, children are not only able to learn with a roof above their heads, but also about matters of hygiene, how to create and take care of a school garden: sustainability and education in one.” Jacob further explained that “the Ivory Coast has a lot of waste, particularly in the form of plastic and there is a company from Columbia called “Conceptos Plásticos” who are transforming the plastic waste into bricks in the Ivory Coast which further gives people the opportunity to work there.”
Christina added that “For me, as a teacher, I teach the children in my class how the use of plastic is not as good as they may think and how we can take care of our planet as well. This project is not just about the opportunity to be educated but for children to learn about their planet and how to be proactive in making the world a better place as well as learning about hygiene.”
“The fact that we live a more or less plastic free life over the last five years was what initially inspired us to choose this project and it is something we are both passionate about so our aim is to raise €16,900 for this project.”
Aim of their Journey
They told me that: “We are disappointed that governments do too little to avert this climate crisis so we, the common people, are the ones to act and we are trying to encourage everyone to make the world a better place. We think that everyone has a choice and can take action even small everyday choices could make a difference. For example, refusing plastic bags at supermarkets and bringing your own bags from home instead or taking public transport or walking more instead of using your car as there are different ways of getting from A to B. We are all in this together and yes, we are dreamers!”
Cycling through Portugal
They had not visited Portugal prior to this trip and Jacob told me “I had always wanted to go to Portugal and it ended up being a big destination for us during this tour. We originally planned four weeks in Portugal and within the first we decided we would want to stay longer and ended up staying there for 10 weeks!” Christina added that “From the first day, we thought the people were so friendly and relaxed and we really liked the nature and even the tiles on the houses. We really felt at home and we decided to cycle all the way along the coast.”
“We chose this route because we do not like cycling through mountainous terrain, despite this, Ericeira, Sintra and Lisbon had some steep parts and was still a challenge and we usually cycle three or four days in row before having a rest which is important to us as we want to visit tourist places.”
I asked the couple, what places really stood out to them on this trip and Christina told me that “We really liked the big cities of Porto and Lisbon but we also enjoyed nature a lot and so we really enjoyed the landscapes and beaches in the Algarve and stayed there for four weeks. For us, Cabo São Vincente, really stood out to us, especially to do that by bike.”
The Experience as a whole
Christina told me that “We have learnt that work isn’t everything in life and we enjoy having the flexibility of choosing what to do every day, what makes this different to other holidays is that we can stay longer in a certain place which is a luxury.” Additionally, “We notice nature more and the different things in each country and we wonder if this will change our outlook back in Germany. We also feel that Munich is definitely different to Southern Europe because people spend so much more time outside than in Munich which we absolutely loved and we did not feel restricted in traveling and found the experience in Portugal very positive as people are caring to one another.”
For more information about their fantastic journey and fundraising efforts please see https://cyclingforplaneta.com/ where you can donate to their project and also click “Polarsteps” where they post every “step” they have taken on this tour. They also have a YouTube Chanel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4H4Kokzdnmyf8RBfhO3fRQ where you can find videos of their time in Portugal which summarises their trip nicely. Finally, you can follow them on Facebook by searching “Cycling for planet A” and on Instagram @cycling_for_planet_a to keep up to date with their travels.
Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.