I was responsible for route planning and navigation for the trip. I initially toyed with the idea of heading east from Frankfurt and following the Danube bicycle trail to Romania and subsequently making our way down to Istanbul following the coastline. That route would have taken us through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria.
The alternate was to ride down EuroVelo 15 alongside the Rhine river from Germany to Basel, Switzerland. Eurovelo, by the way, is a network of bicycle routes that zigzag across Europe. From there we would take a train across the Alps into Northern Italy. Once in Italy we would ride to Venice then on to Slovenia and follow the Adriatic coastline to Greece. After some discussion, we realized right away that we both favored the southerly route. We both wanted to see Venice and ride the Adriatic coast.
We estimated that by riding 50-70 miles a day and taking the train and the ferry whenever possible, we could be in Istanbul within 6 weeks of our departure. However, because of unforeseen reasons, things didn’t quite work out according to our plans and we had to deviate. In hindsight, even if we had managed to follow through with our planned route, I don’t think we could have made it to Istanbul in 6 weeks; that was quite an optimistic estimate.
Anyhow, that was the rough plan for the route. We would camp for a few days and then check into a hotel for some R&R. We didn’t care much about the details; we would take it one day at a time, and decide accordingly. The bottom line is that we wanted to have an adventure, and we figured we couldn’t have one if we planned for everything ahead of time.