Lions Ask is a series of interviews with fellow motorcycle adventurers. We ask about all aspects of motorcycle touring, preparation, the early days and unique insights from a two-wheel traveller’s daily life. If you would like us to interview you, please get in touch!
Look Around the Globe is a Polish couple on a mission of going around the world and exploring the most beautiful places on our planet. We reached out to them with a few questions to get to know more about them and their travel – more than what we can see on their Instagram, Facebook, Youtube channel and website. Marta and Łukasz have been travelling together since 2015 and are currently on the third part of their trip around the world.
Let’s meet Marta and Łukasz!
Marta: Hello, hello! Hi. Welcome! Marta and Łukasz. Say hello Łukasz.
Marta: We’re recording from our tent lying on the beach. Somehow there was no opportunity to record in the helmet before because all the time spent crossing borders and always something, something, something… and now we’ve got a moment of peace, so we will answer the questions you have because some of them are pretty cool.
Your first motorcycle trip together. How did it start, Łukasz?
Łukasz: Bornholm, Denmark – August 2015.
Marta: August 2015 we went to Bornholm for the first time and it started…
Łukasz: A short weekend trip. Actually, we had an extended weekend. I remember that some public holiday was on and Monday we were off as well, so we found that this is an opportunity to go somewhere together a little bit further.
Marta: Actually, we arranged this trip together over the Internet. A week earlier, we met for the first time in real life, before that, we only talked through a messenger because Łukasz was on an expedition in Georgia and Armenia. After my little motorcycle accident, I just wanted to practice riding a motorcycle with him… that is how we met. Even though my motorcycle has already been picked up from repair, Łukasz suggested that I should get on his motorcycle as a pillion and go to Bornholm together. It was our first trip for a few days, the so-called long weekend. It was also the first time I was sitting as a passenger on Łukasz’s motorcycle.
What made us go travel full-time?
After this trip to Bornholm, we spent almost every weekend together. Not only did we live in two different cities, because I lived in Poznan and Łukasz in Wroclaw, but we always organized everything in such a way as to get away and travel around. First somewhere in Poland, then we started going further, I remember… Europe, Ukraine, we were in Chernobyl, Moldova, Italy, Slovenia.
Łukasz: Up to 2-3,000 km actually…
Marta: Oh, and the Grossglockner.
We rode as much as we could and in 2016 we managed to arrange 3 weeks of vacation for us at work. Łukasz planned a trip to the Chinese border, the Pamir mountains. We went to Central Asia. Then, when we were coming back, it was a huge challenge in general. It was a well-planned trip and an elaborate journey – very quick, too.
‘Within 3 weeks we did 14,500 kilometers, and it made us feel challenged a little bit.’
When we were coming back, on our way through the steppes of Kazakhstan, Łukasz made up his mind that…
Łukasz: …we’ll go on. In the beginning, I wanted to go to Mongolia, which I have always dreamed of, and I continue to dream about it. Apart from the countries we have visited so far, Mongolia unfortunately still remains only on the list of dreams, but we hope to get there soon.
Marta: Yeah, but we were on the steppe and you made up your mind that…
Łukasz: On the steppe, because we bypassed the Charyn Canyon in Kazakhstan, we said that we would go to…
Marta: Don’t do two things! Łukasz is just playing with camera shots and like every guy, he can only focus on one thing at a time. Okay, then I’ll finish… because we’ve bypassed this canyon, Łukasz came up with the idea that maybe he’d send his resignation papers to work by email and he’s not actually going straight back to Poland anymore, he’d just keep going.
But when I heard that, I turned off my intercom and thought that he has probably lost his mind a bit. We didn’t talk for some time. For me, such a decision was really difficult.
Eventually, we came back home after that 3-week trip. Soon after, there was an opportunity to send a motorcycle to Chile, that is to South America and we thought: well, well, in that case – I mean, Łukasz initially proposed this option and within 3 months we organized everything so that we could close our full-time jobs, filing our notice.
We planned to leave for about half a year, but it was going to be about half a year of ‘full-time’ travel. It got extended, as you can see, for a little longer. [Marta and Łukasz have been travelling on and off since 2015]
To conclude this question, what made us travel full-time? After this 3-week trip, we decided that if we want to see something more and stop again and again to look around, then we are not able to fund it by taking so much time off work.
Łukasz: We felt unsatisfied all the time, in fact. We kept going, we tried to figure out, at all costs, how to find resources, get support and just keep travelling.
Marta: Well, we knew that during such weekend trips, with maybe an extra few days of excursions, that we couldn’t go anywhere far, and realise that we didn’t see much in Europe! We are leaving it to ourselves for the so-called ‘end’ when we get home, then there will probably be an opportunity to jump out here and there. Now we have decided to travel a little bit further.
How much are our travels planned?
Marta: I like this question very much.
Łukasz: It’s very spontaneous and I think with planning it… it’s hard to call it planning, but we know something for a week ahead. We know point A and we know point B.
Marta: When we are planning expeditions now, considering they are quite spread out in time and yet long, we know more or less which countries we want to visit and we know in what direction we are going, We are checking beforehand only the routes and possibly ferry crossings or what the chances are of changing continents.
In fact, only rough plans. By sitting on the Internet, we are not able to predict and plan everything. In fact, everything changes like the inside of a kaleidoscope during this trip. We are already planning ahead a few months, it is like Łukasz said, the initial outline at the beginning and the direction. Then actually the whole trip is shaped on an ongoing basis and very often, we have already learned, there is no need to look through everything at home.
The reality during the journey is completely different and actually our plans sometimes flip 180 degrees, but we stick to, let’s say, a schedule that, as Łukasz said, one week ahead, two weeks ahead. We know what we will be doing, and this is also a question of how we have to get our visas.
How much are they scheduled?
We know that this 3-week trip we had to Central Asia was practically planned on a daily basis. We had very limited time and now, we travel full time, so we don’t have so much unlimited time, but we can afford to extend it a few days in one direction or the other. It doesn’t make it a problem that we’ll stay longer than we planned because we don’t have to stick to the plan in such detail.
What is worth remembering as good advice?
Marta: If we are going somewhere, it would be good to see if all the visas to the countries on our route are attainable and can be done in the embassies on the way. There are countries where visas need to be done in the country of origin, for example – a visa to Nigeria, it is best to do it in Poland for us. The probability that we will be able to do it on the route is negligible.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but we remember many cases where it unfortunately ended in a fiasco and then this trip has to be interrupted or another route has to be taken.
So, with planning… if there is no plan – it’s a good plan, maybe not necessarily all the way. At this stage we are on now, we are more spontaneous, as you can see. The proof of this is where we are now. We were not supposed to be on the Arabian Peninsula at all, we were supposed to be in Pakistan or India at the moment.
Today, currently in Oman. Why?
During our journey – I think we were in Turkey back then or we were already hitting Iran. In November 2019 it turned out that Saudi Arabia had opened its borders and you could enter without any problem. Last year, when we wanted to come here there was no chance, and now there was a possibility, so we decided to change our plan and meet up with the Arabian Peninsula.
It is a question, what will happen next, because of the coronavirus?
Borders are being closed and there is a growing threat that this is spreading. We have to take into account when planning our next destinations, it is no longer dependent on us anymore, and we must always have some kind of plan B and in the back of our heads have something else to do, as if plan A had totally fallen through.
The most beautiful places?
Well, okay… This is a question we don’t know the answer to! The amount of beautiful places, depending on what measure we take, is huge. Certainly, Łukasz and I will have different ones.
Generally, the interesting thing about us is that Łukasz likes mountains very much, but I like water, sand, beach, and sun. So we have to somehow reconcile our tastes together and try to find such places to be a bit here and a bit there.
At the moment, as I said, we are on the beach in Oman, but the most beautiful places, Łukasz, maybe like maybe 3 of your choice…
Łukasz: Peru, as the country, South Africa… Why? Because of the most diverse conditions. Here’s how… I wanted a desert, I had a desert. I wanted a jungle. I had a jungle. I wanted to see the ocean, I saw the ocean.
Marta: And there are high mountains in Peru, right?
Łukasz: Peru has been amazing in terms of mountains. From a level of 5,000 meters, we were able to descend to 0 within a few hours.
Marta: Okay. Peru, South Africa, because there’s a lot of differentiation in South Africa too, and what else?
Łukasz: And nothing. I leave it open.
Marta: Łukasz picked countries, so I might… hmmm… pick a place. The most beautiful places for me were in Africa. I could be close to animals that don’t exist everywhere else, so I would say African countries, Tanzania for sure. Also, Panama and the Caribbean in general. I would add to that the National Parks in the USA. It is true that the Americans have it perfectly prepared for tourists. Not so much in the big cities, but it is the National Parks in the USA that have enchanted us.
And one of my favorite places from Mexico, Lake Bacalar. A lake with a beautiful, white, limestone bottom, so the color of the water when the sun is reflected there is just so beautiful. What else would I throw in? Glacier Perito Moreno. Okay, I forgot about Salar de Uyuni.
Marta: Well, you see, still Alaska! We can’t answer which places are the most beautiful, because our planet is…
Marta: Well, there’s still Zanzibar. Our planet and nature is wonderful and can create landscapes that simply remain in our memories forever and cannot define the most beautiful places.
Łukasz: It would be hard to find 10 places on every continent, which are our TOP, let alone…
Marta: And the best part is that we haven’t been everywhere yet, so the whole of Asia, the whole east of Asia, has yet to be discovered. Australia, too. Today, we entered Oman and we’re enchanted too, so it’s really a very hard question. We’d have to define some TOP20, then we’d still fit in.
How do you manage to be in each other’s company all the time, 24 hours a day?
Łukasz: We just love each other very much.
Łukasz: Why are you laughing at such a serious question?
Marta: Well, that’s another one of the questions I’ve read and thought that we can write books about it. We still don’t know how we’re doing it, because…
Łukasz: We just love each other very much and we’ll stick to that.
Marta: <Laughter> The thing is that if you travel, you focus only on surviving and have a common goal. There are just the two of us, we have to cope on our own and any unforeseen quarrels or arguments don’t really help, but only interfere, which makes us only waste time. We have already reached such perfection of quick reconciliation, even if we have a completely different opinion…
Łukasz: …and this is the most important
Marta: Yes, this is very important. So, these quarrels are, of course, very intense but short.
Łukasz: Rarely. Rarely. We’re working on it.
Marta: We can separate tasks in this way, everyone is responsible for something, even though we had to work out all this before, and above all compromises. Normally, each of us has their own strong character and their own opinion, and none of us would normally suspect that we would give up so easily. During the journey, it looks completely different.
Interestingly, it looks quite the opposite when we are on such neutral ground, somewhere at home – then it is not so easy for us to reconcile and it is quite funny. We have laughed many times that we have intercoms and when one of us upsets the other, we just turn it off and then there is a moment of silence. Then, sooner or later, one or the other must simply speak.
There is no option to have so-called ‘quiet days’, so that, as I mentioned earlier, during the journey it looks a little different and the willingness to argue and the energy that would be unfortunately wasted on an argument, we would prefer to use it for something else, because it makes no sense at all.
Marta: Okay, after a short break, the picture has just been accepted, because Łukasz is editing pictures at this point.
Łukasz: I’m sorry, but I just have to…
Marta: But you were supposed to focus on two things… Oh, outside… we’re here on a beach with a little house or a canopy above us, there’s a little restaurant next door, a playground, a light at the top. All lit up and nicely paved. In Saudi Arabia and Oman, we noticed, that people spend their evenings here and we are not alone on this beach. If there’s some music played somewhere from afar, it means that some crew came to have fun. Although they are having a very good time and everyone respects their privacy.
Łukasz: Everyone respects everyone. This is cool.
Which was the best road so far?
Marta: Interestingly, as I sit as a pillion most of the time (sometimes we change, but most of the time I sit in the back) I feel all the beauty around us in a completely different way, so we may have different opinions, but I think that just like Łukasz said before: Peru and the high mountains?
Łukasz: Yes, but I can’t answer that question. There’s no ‘most beautiful road’ for me. We can certainly find something from every country. We can’t answer that question, at least I can’t.
Marta: Well, I don’t know. Pamir was so special too, right? When we were driving through the Pamir Mountains, where it happened that I just sat down on the road and said that I wasn’t going any further. It was 40 degrees, the road was so dusty, and we were afraid to keep going there, because of the slopes… on the left side a high mountain, on the right side a cliff and a river! Nothing was good for us then, but now you ask about it, and I find that it was maybe not the best one, but the one I remember most.
Łukasz: These are also our beginnings, so our knowledge about the journey or what we have to deal with during the journey was practically non-existent. We were rather used to comfortable travels before, more like all-inclusive hotels and this kind of deal.
Marta: Well, maybe not with a motorbike, but we used to spend our holidays like this before. It was the first holiday when I came back to work, sat down at my desk and said that I needed another week off to rest. We were doing 700 km a day at the time so it was also very intense.
Which is the best road so far?
The road in Peru, I remember exactly what we were told about ‘death road’ in Bolivia. After all, it wasn’t so terrible!
I think that it was the roads in Peru at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters with such cliffs that were more scary and dangerous for us – the road, I don’t know, 1.5 meters wide, maybe 2.5 meters wide? was supposed to accommodate 2 cars. Łukasz was driving up to the left, even though there was traffic on the right side, so I remember this too.
It’s really hard for us to say now what else, because there are simply plenty of these roads in the world, beautiful, scenic, with beautiful views.
What was surprisingly simple and what was demanding on your trips?
Marta: Maybe not surprisingly simple, but with our current level of experience, the multitude of borders we have already come through and how many documents we have already managed to fill in. We have already dealt with so many people along the way that we have found many useful ways to sort things out. Some things seem surprisingly simple to us now, just because we have learned how to do it in a clever way.
What helps us a lot now?
The internet and the availability of information, the ease of reaching out to different people. There’s WhatsApp, so there’s no problem to ask someone at the other end of the world about anything during our tour. Maybe it’s not surprisingly easy, but we can just deal with any situation and actually overcome any hurdle, get the documents, even solve situations that seemed to be out of the question at the beginning, we are now able to solve, maybe not easily. Sooner or later we find a solution.
Just like people sometimes say on the Internet, ‘Oh dear, this road was so terrible, that Alaska Highway’ or ‘Dalton Highway that goes to Alaska is a very difficult road and hard to get through’.
We go there and it turns out that it doesn’t look that way, that it’s much easier than someone else presented it to us. That’s why we’ve already reached the point with a lot of things that until we check ourselves, we don’t talk about it, we don’t set ourselves up…
But demanding things?
I don’t know, crossing the border with Egypt? We were warned that it was terrible, that maybe we will not make it in one day, that it takes so many hours, that it is really difficult. We went there with a mindset that it will take a very long time, we won’t get through the easy way. We realised that this is one of the worst borders in the world.
We made it, we probably did it because of the help from a person who spoke Arabic and helped us to get in a very long line a little bit faster. We did it in a couple of hours! The satisfaction after a whole day like this is really amazing and it’s actually hard to say now what’s simple and what’s demanding, we’re always positive. What time brings, that’s another matter.
Are you thinking about travelling on two motorcycles?
Marta: <Laughter> We’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Anyway, when we met, there were 3 motorcycles at home. Łukasz was riding his sports motorcycle, I had my own road bike and an F800 GS, which we ride to this day. It already has almost 200 thousand kilometers on the counter, bought for an expedition. Also, that’s when Łukasz and I got to know each other and in order to go on that trip, we sold two other motorcycles, a Daytona 675 and a Kawasaki which I used to ride and we switched to one moto. The reason was, well, a purely economic one; but now, more and more often I’ve been remembering for a long time that I would like to ride my own motorcycle, but we’ll do that lap around the Earth on one for now.
We want to do it on this particular motorbike, both of us – because a new motorbike at this point would cost huge amounts of money and huge on-going costs for us. We wouldn’t be able to afford to travel for such a long time when we would have to service, buy tires, buy a pass, pour petrol into it and still transport two motorbikes between the continents – so we stayed with one.
The plan is that when we come back, we’ll travel on two motorbikes and I will have my own. The other thing is, of course it’s a joke, as long as I’m sitting on the same motorcycle as Łukasz, we have no way to separate. The moment we have two, it can probably happen… well, I turn left, and you turn right, we will meet in 2 days. But we’ll see how it goes. Let’s hope not.
Good advice for beginner motorcyclists
Marta: Łukasz, you’re good at advising novice motorcyclists, because it started with dreams and we just started to make them come true, we prove that it’s possible. Good advice for beginner motorcyclists? Travelling motorcyclists.
Łukasz: Don’t be afraid. Follow your dreams.
Marta: Well, Łukasz is very talkative today. Advice for motorcyclists? You can start with planning small expeditions, see how you feel about what you do. Use knowledge learned from others, we are very open to helping anyone else who is interested in starting such an adventure. The internet is now full of information and advice and there are apps, forums, and groups on Facebook, where people share their experiences. You can boldly take advantage of the knowledge of others and slowly start what you would like to do – not necessarily full-time, but who knows, in small steps, just like us, go full-time!
We have converted and changed our lives, it can happen. But first of all, don’t postpone it until later, fulfill your dreams slowly…
Łukasz: You can go somewhere else later.
Marta: … and slowly set off, don’t sit there, don’t watch everything on TV or YouTube, even after the first turn, somewhere near your house you can discover your adventure. See what it all looks like and what the next day and the next turn will bring.
On a motorcycle, we always laugh that we are curious about what is behind the next turn.
I hope this helps a little. We’ve talked a little. If there are any more questions, go ahead. I don’t know if I have to describe us briefly yet, in a few sentences, as Look around the Globe, you can find us on Instagram, you can find us on Facebook, we also have our channel on YouTube.
We are currently in Oman, on our trip to Australia.
We want to go around Asia and Australia, and Łukasz also dreams about going across Australia. We have planned our next route for about 2 years. We left in November 2019, so now it will be… 3.5 months we are on a road trip and this journey is much slower than the previous two parts.
The first part of our journey, for this full-time, big, long one, is the two Americas, which is the motorcycle shipment to Chile mentioned before. Then we went to Ushuaia, and from there we headed up to Alaska the whole time, so far we went around the two Americas, South and North.
Then we went back to Europe and went to Africa. Round trip to Africa on two wheels from Poland. We came back last year in March, and from Egypt, we sent a motorcycle in a container by RoRo ferry to Alexandria. From Greece we continued straight home to Poland and now we started this last part of our round the world trip – this one is planned for the next 2 years.