Sidecar riding in Europe through the lens of Romania’s coolest traveller

It’s been more than two months since Mihai Barbu started his (so far) Eurotrip with his family and Zair, his Ural sidecar motorbike. If you’re not following him on Facebook, read on and get a short preview of what you’ve been missing. And follow him!

The journey has nothing to do with the usual hotel check-in’s/check-out’s and various leisure tourist activities. It’s freedom, daring and a lifestyle being passed on from one generation to another, from mother and father to son. There couldn’t possibly be a greater gift parents could make to a child (although I’m sure Vladimir has a motorbike on his wishlist).

The sense of community built around the family is reminiscent of the positive, encouraging, celebratory atmosphere on the Humans of New York page, something popular local Facebook pages such as Oameni ai Bucurestiului (Humans of Bucharest) or Bucuresti Optimist have yet to achieve. Meeting Mihai along the way has been a highlight for other people’s trips, as well as a more than welcome happening for some of his hosts.

The connection between the three is more than striking in every photo, even though Mihai is usually the one “behind the scenes”. Seeing Oana and Vladimir candid moments together sometimes feels intrusive, but it surely strikes the “God, damn, I wanna have some babies with the love of my life and discover this beautiful world together” cord.


“Who the fuck is Mihai Barbu?”

Mihai is an awarded photojournalist and also the first Romanian traveller who used crowdfunding to fund his solo motorbike trip to Mongolia (in 2009, Kickstarter had just been launched and the term “crowdfunding” didn’t even exist in Romania).

He split the 21.000 km route into 500 km segments and sold each of them for 50 euros to finance the fuel for Doyle, his bike. In exchange, Doyle carried the supporters’ names on stickers attached to his windshield, and Mihai offered to each of them the story of the segment they had bought, through a letter, photos and a rock.

Check his interview with Catalin Stefanescu at Garantat 100% to find out more about the Mongolia trip.

The result? An awesome travel journal, available here, which got published again recently. You can find the fifth edition of “Vand kilometri” (“I’m selling kilometers”) at Carturesti and other bookshops with new covers. They were created for free by two fans of Mihai, who rose to the challenge he posted on his Facebook Timeline.

I hope we’ll have the chance to gain new insights into Mihai and his family’s Europtrip in a new Garantat 100% interview or, even better, in a DoR issue. It’s surely a story worth knowing, which brings into perspective travelling for the sake of it, unlike much of all I’ve recently seen in terms of travelling on social media these days.

This trip, like the one to Mongolia, as far as I can see through my passer-by eyes, is a trip with an honest purpose and no sugar coating or loud support of some higher purpose for the wellbeing of our tormented society. Moreover, the photos aren’t the usual perfection aspiring selfies. They don’t leave you with “I wish I could be like that. But I’m not pretty/happy/successful/etc. enough.” thoughts. On the contrary, they plant the wonderlust seed and inspire healthy thinking: “I could do that! Why am I not doing it?”.

I suggest you follow Mihai’s trip on Facebook, especially if you reached that milestone when you’re figuring out what’s truly important and of priceless value in your life. It might help your introspection.

*All of the photos belong to Mihai Barbu. A click will lead you tot the Facebook/website page I took them from.
The Google Maps was made with location pins, using Mihai’s check in’s and photos on Facebook and might not be up-to-date or perfectly showing the trip route.

5 thoughts on “Sidecar riding in Europe through the lens of Romania’s coolest traveller

    • You’re right. I wanted a word that would mean “down to earth” + “inspiring” + “real” – “cool” was the closest to those, in my not necessarily rich English vocabulary.
      I’m really happy you’re doing what you’re doing, I hope I’ll have the courage to do the same one day, soon.


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