Jen & Dave along with their pup, Sora, are winners of the Kurgo Live Your Adventure contest.
In April 2015, they gave up their jobs and left their home in Portland, Oregon to cycle Europe from Oslo, Norway to Istanbul Turkey by Fall 2015. For their next adventure, they have their sights set on cycling from Patagonia back to Oregon.
You can follow their journey at Long Haul Trekkers, and read their guest post below!
One of the most common questions asked about our cycling journey is why we decided to begin in Europe. The continent is expensive and not all that unlike the United States in terms of creature comforts..
We choose Europe for a few reasons:
- It’s not all that unlike the United States in terms of creature comforts. With this being our first extended bike tour, we wanted to gauge our own level of comfort while living on our bicycles. We felt that Europe was foreign enough, yet would also allow us to feel a bit at home while we got the hang of cycle touring.
- Europe has the best cycling infrastructure in the world. With thousands of designated and well-labeled, separated bike routes in nearly every country, we wanted to explore the potential that could one day turn the U.S. into a world class cycling destination.
- Third and most important, we wanted to travel in a dog-friendly environment. Europe is well known for being dog-friendly and with Sora along for the ride, we wanted to ensure that she would be accepted where we traveled. Moreover, we wanted to travel where we knew that we would have little issues staying at hotels, eating at restaurants, and taking public transportation.
Public Transportation and Trains
In most cities, dogs are permitted on public transportation, domestic and international trains, and ferries. During our journey, we have taken Sora on several ferries, subways, and international trains without hassle. She is welcomed on the upper decks of ferries and sat next to us on the train we took from Prague to Linz, Austria.
Often, regulations require a muzzle, though we, ahem, ignore the rule and have managed to get by with the Gentle Leader we use for Sora. Everyone thinks it’s a muzzle and no one has questioned us.
Hostels, Hotels, AirBnB, and Campgrounds
We typically sleep at campgrounds or wild camp as we travel, and so far, have only found one campground (in Italy) that did not allow dogs. We often pay a small fee to have her along, ranging from [$1-2]. Further, finding a hotel or hostel that accepts dogs has never been an issue, and we tend to secure lodging within a half hour of arriving in a new destination.
We’ll often start with the local tourism board and ask if they know of accommodations that accept dogs. We have also found that it helps to email the managers ahead of time and ask if we can bring our well-behaved pup along. Staying several nights in a row for well-deserved rest may even reduce the pet fee.
Restaurants, Malls, Grocery Stores
Dave and I take turns staying with Sora while one of us runs into an indoor place that does not allow dogs, like a museum. However, Europe is much more relaxed about permitting dogs inside compared to the United States. We’ve taken Sora inside restaurants, the mall, bakeries, tourist offices, and many other atypical locations without question.
Finding quality dog food has been simple throughout Europe so far. Pet stores are easy to find in most cities and the dog food bags generally list the ingredients in at least 10 languages, including English. We purchase grain-free food with no by-products for Sora in 6-8 lb increments. to make for lighter traveling.
No Dogs Allowed
Despite Europe’s overall acceptance of dogs, we have experienced a few instances where Sora was not welcome.
After pedaling several hours in 95 degree temperatures and completing a major milestone of our route (riding from Oslo, Norway to Grado, Italy), we wanted nothing more than to jump into the Adriatic Sea to celebrate and cool our overheated bodies.
As we pedaled down the beach, we discovered fence after fence of privatized beaches that clearly indicated No Dogs. Even the campsite at which we stayed did not permit dogs (however, we fortunately convinced them otherwise). We eventually found one beach designated as the “Spaggia di Snoopy,” or Snoopy’s Beach, which was great. Except that Sora doesn’t do well with an abundance of other dogs around.
Our only opportunity to spend quiet time on the beach with Sora was in the early morning, around 6, just before departing for the day’s ride.
Similarly, while pedaling through Austria, also in searing temperatures, we came across many lakes. Again, we wanted nothing more than to jump in and cool ourselves, but lake after lake did not permit dogs.
To overcome this situation, Dave and I will take turns swimming in lakes or at the beach, while the other remains outside with Sora. She’s not much of a water dog, anyway.
Though signposts request that dogs be leashed, a seemingly large percentage of Europeans choose to disregard this courtesy in public places. Well-behaved dogs with a strong recall don’t affect us much, however most of the off-lead dogs pose a bit of a problem. Sora is a dominant female who does not get appreciate other dogs sniffing all up in her business.
Dogs will come sprinting towards her from across plazas or in the streets. We do our best to block Sora from the ability to face the dog, while oblivious owners remain seated at their cafe perch, screaming for their pup, who clearly has no intention of returning to its human. For us, this means that we have to be vigilant for unleashed dogs around corners, under tables, and in parks.
Lack of Grassy Spots
Europe’s vintage cobblestone roads are certainly unique in character and beauty, however, we have often found a lack of green space for Sora to relieve herself in many cities and villages throughout our trip. She’s a lady and won’t just pee anywhere. Sora is used to a backyard or plentiful parking strips or parks in Portland.
Getting her to relieve herself on these old stone roads requires longer walks and searching in vain for some gravel or bark where she feels comfortable. In some instances, she has given in, after waiting overnight at times, and gone right on the street, much to her dismay.