From Portugal to Turkey - Travel through 17 Countries, 10,000 km on Foot

Tourism | November 11, 2019, Monday // 16:32|  views

Hello! Tell us more about yourself. Where are you from? How old are you? What do you do?

We are crossing the south of Europe, from the most southwestern point to the most southeastern point of the continental plate, from Portugal to Istanbul.

We were both engaged in exciting professional lives, but also demanding, not to say invasive. Nil is 33 and he is a fashion photographer and Marie is 31 and used to be a Human Resources Manager.

We felt too often that we were missing the point, not spending our time and energy on what really mattered. This trip on foot is a way to get back to a healthier, more natural pace and live according to our own tempo.


How did you come up with the idea of this challenge? Tell us more about the trip. 

Living a childhood dream, being an epic hero, taking the time to live, enjoy today before tomorrow, better understand our continent... By deciding to cross Southern Europe on foot we had all these things in mind and many others.

The project is called Deux Pas Vers l’Autre, it means Two Steps Towards Others. Our main objective is to use the walk to meet people and places that we could not have discovered with any other mean of transportation.

Beyond the athletic challenge, our approach is above all an act of sharing. It is also a digital challenge as we write, photograph, film, edit and publish our discoveries and encounters on the go.


Why did you choose Europe for this travel trip?

We realized that we were much more familiar with places located on this other side of the globe that with some very close countries. Europe is our home and there’s so much to discover here!

From the media, we’re able to name several streets of New-York even if we’ve never been there but who can place every single European country on a map?


When did you start and when you expect it to finish?

We started on February 5th 2018 in Sagres, Portugal and we expect to reach Istanbul end of January/beginning of February 2020.

We picked those two locations as symbols. They are the West and East tip of Southern Europe.


Why did you decide to make this challenge by feet?

Traveling on foot came out naturally for a multitude of reasons:

- Freedom first. Even if we do not move quickly, we can go everywhere hiking, and especially we can avoid roads. No path is too narrow or too rugged, and almost no mountain inaccessible.

- The vulnerability and slowness related to the position of the hiker also seduced us a lot. To take the time to discover every meter of the way, just go to meet people and let them appreciate the effort that is for us to reach them.

- The preservation of the environment. We could not imagine a trip so close to nature while having a high carbon footprint. Beyond moving us at a low "ecological cost", we thought we could go further. When hiking, we often regret finding garbage of all kinds everywhere. In addition to the visual pollution, we wonder how in beautiful and unspoilt places, people may not think about the consequences of their actions. That's how our "1 kg for the planet" project was born.


10,000 km thru-hike across Europe. This is a very long distance - how did you prepare for this?

We prepared this trip for almost 10 months full-time. We prepared the itinerary, looked for sponsors and partners, started our social networks and launched our website… We didn’t want this experience to be a 2-year vacation. We wanted to build something so we put a lot of energy into the preparation.

Physically, we didn’t do anything special, we were too busy with the other aspects!


What is mission and what do you want to accomplish?

With Deux Pas Vers l’Autre (Two Steps Towards Others), our greatest desire is to give a voice to all those people we do not hear in the more conventional media and that we would probably never have met if our itinerary had not led us on their doorstep. This is the reason why we have so much sharing media. We want to make sure to reach as many people as possible.


What are the biggest difficulties and how you deal with them?

At some point, the weather has been really challenging. Crossing the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro in winter was quite tough but with the appropriate equipment and some preparation, we made it!

In some countries and some places, the language and the communication with people isn’t a piece of cake! We both are fluent in French, English and Spanish. On the way, we’ve learnt some Portuguese and Italian. After 5 months in ex-Yugoslavia, we learnt some basics in those slavic languages but not enough to have a proper conversation. But whenever the person in front of us is willing to communication, we manage to make it work! Body language, Google Translate, etc we know some tools!

The logistics of this trip can be difficult to handle, the parcels to get our winter equipment for instance can get delayed or even lost and it can be really challenging to deal with this kind of stuff in a foreign country, but globally, we have been dealing with this quite well.

We didn’t have a single real problem on the road related to people. The most difficult situation was probably in Greece when Marie’s family joined us for a week in Pelion. The trails were abandoned and not maintained at all and we ended up stuck without any water left. But everything ended up well!


One year on the road - describe a regular day of yours.

We wake up in our tent or at someone’s place, if we have been invited for a homestay. We usually don’t set up any alarm, we wake up with the sun. We answer all the messages we received during the night, then we have breakfast and we pack our stuff, we need 1 hour, 1 hour and a half to be ready. Then we start walking! We hike most of the day, taking pictures and filming what we see. We usually hike between 6 and 8 hours a day, sometimes less, sometimes more.

Maybe we’ll meet someone at 1:00PM who needs a hand in his garden and our hiking day will be very short, maybe we will sleep at his place and maybe stay one more day because we are invited to do so and the company is great… It depends!

Apart from this routine, we also have our “office days”. A few times in the month, we need to stop for one day or more to edit our videos and photographs, work on our website, make contact with our sponsors, study the itinerary of the coming weeks...


What do you carry in your bags?


Our backpacks are not the typical hiker bags. In order to complete this adventure in the way we’ve imagined it, we needed a lot of stuff!

Of course we have our hiking and camping gear: tent, mattresses, sleeping bags, clothes, a rope, harnesses, crampons and snowshoes in winter…

But we also carry a lot of electronics: a drone, a laptop to edit our videos, two cameras and lenses, a GPS, cables, chargers, batteries, solar panels… This represents the biggest part of our equipment in terms of weight.

We have a little alarm that proved to be very useful for shepherd and stray dogs! Our GPS device is connected to satellites and has an emergency system that can send our location to the rescue services in case we need it.


1 kg for the planet - tell us more about it.

This is the challenge we have set ourselves: to leave the places that cross cleaner than before our passage, a way for us to give back to these countries that welcome us and it is also a more global challenge that we launch to all hikers and nature lovers concerned about a better future.

We had 1,000 reusable bags made from recycled plastic bottles and we each have one on our backpack. We collect the waste found on the way that we carry to the next trash (sometimes for days). In truth, we are just putting words on what many people are already doing and any reusable bag would work just as well. But we felt that having a name and a logo encompassing many individual actions could motivate more people.

We send bags from our base camp in Paris to all those who request it in exchange for a simple promise: helping us to make live this initiative, by talking about it, by organizing collections around their homes, posting photos of their pickups on Instagram with the #1kgfortheplanet and on the Facebook group 1kg for the planet.


Which was the dirtiest place you have visited?

The dirtiest place we’ve came across was probably in Kosovo. There, you can tell that they don’t have an efficient waste management system, there’s probably a lack in terms of environmental education and they’ve reconstruction so many places after the war, that they don’t really know what to do with all the construction rubbish.

This is difficult for us to tell globally which country is the cleanest and which one is the dirtiest as we’ve only seen some places in each country and we’ve crossed some of them entirely covered with snow!


Now you're in Bulgaria. What were your expectations and what did you know about our country? Which places are you going to visit?

Bulgaria is actually the main example we take to illustrate that we know so little about some European countries. We know some major elements the history of the country but we have no idea of what looks like the daily life in Bulgaria, either in Sofia or in more remote places.

We arrive from Greece, so we will start our crossing of the country in the Pirin mountains until Bansko, then we’ll hike in the Rila National Park and then We will climb Vitosha. We will stay a few days in Sofia before heading to Serbia.

From Serbia we will come back to Bulgaria in Belogradchik and will hike the Kom Emine on the Stara Planina. Probably we won’t go until the sea and will head South a bit before to reach Turkey.


What kind of people did you meet on your trip? Were they supportive?

We meet all kind of people! From the refuge keeper in the Alps, to the olive oil producer in Portugal, President of association in Bosnia, hikers, artists, journalists, old and young, people who invited us to stay at their place, people who came hike with us… We never imagined that we would meet so many generous and amazing people during this journey.


What are your plans after you finish this adventure? What's next after Istanbul?

Well first, as it took us two years to get there, we will enjoy a bit Istanbul ! :) After going back home, we will edit a documentary about our project, maybe prepare a book, photo exhibitions, lectures, etc.

And at some point, we will need to decide where we want to live and what we want to do for our living! We want to live in France but probably not in Paris anymore, definitely closer from the mountains!



What is going to be the first thing you are going to do when you go back home?

Hahaha we’re actually uncertain whether it’s holding our family in our arms are eating a huge plate of French cheese :)


Where we can track you, read your travel articles, watch pictures, videos?

We wanted on purpose  to make this adventure as modern and interactive as possible. This is the opportunity to make people who cannot, travel with us somehow.

On our YouTube channel, you will find all our videos, which we film, edit and publish during the trip. We do one episode per country, every 200 or 300 km, we publish a log in which we talk about our experience, as soon as we meet an interesting character and we speak a common language we interview him or her and we publish also reviews of our material.

On Instagram you will find our most beautiful photos, reflections on the countries we cross and our material and the Instagram stories are a good way to understand our daily life.

Facebook  is probably the most complete media since you will find photos, videos, articles.

On our website, you will find our blog on which we publish an article by country as well as on other subjects related to the trip.

The site is also a mine of information about our equipment, the list of our sponsors, the people who came walking with us…


Wish something to our audience!

The adventure is everywhere, you don’t have to go far away or for a long period of time to feel it! It is 100% reachable as long as you want to! Follow your dreams :)


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Tags: travel, on foot, Bulgaria, #1kgfortheplanet


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