Barend Dronkers – First Time Solo Cycle Tourist: A Macedonian Encounter

Walking back from Skopje’s Turkish bazaar, I crossed the old stone bridge that separates the old and new regions of this impressive Macedonian capital city. And there, at the end of the famous stone structure, I spotted a man with a fully-loaded bicycle.

He was writing in his journal and doing his best to ignore the child pickpockets running around him and his bike. He had a full beard, was rail thin (just like me), and had obviously finished a long day of riding. Another traveling cyclist for sure!

I approached and asked, “Do you speak English?”

“Yes” he replied. And for the next few minutes I talked with this twenty-three-year-old from Canada who was traveling on a Dutch passport for three months through numerous European countries.

Barend Dronkers was his name and he’d be in Skopje for just two nights before continuing on to Bulgaria and Turkey.

Each of us having seen not a single other solo traveling cyclist for the past few months, we decided to meet up the next day and explore the city together.

After meeting with Barned the next day and seeing the major sights of Skopje, we strolled back to the apartment I had rented in the center of the city and conducted an informal interview in which I asked Barend:

  • What has it been like to travel all this time by yourself?
  • What do your parents think of you doing this trip?
  • What has been your favorite place you have visited thus far?
  • Where have you been sleeping at night?
  • What kind of food have you been eating?
  • And do you think you will ever go on another bike trip like this again?

To hear what Barend had to say about his first three-month long solo bike tour through Europe, just watch the video below.


0 thoughts on “Barend Dronkers – First Time Solo Cycle Tourist: A Macedonian Encounter

  1. Will says:

    I like the article, and the Interview, pretty cool that you guys met up.

    Just out of Curiosity, what kind of bike was Barend riding?

  2. Andy Solaini says:

    That was quite an interesting interview. It sounds like both of you are having a really good time too. I totally agree on the too many clothes comment. I did that and too loads of stuff, 2/3 of which I never even got out of my pannier!

    Oh and he looks a bit like Jenson Button (F1 driver).

  3. Barend says:

    Hi Will!

    I’m using a ‘Winsor Tourist’ which is almost identical to a Fuji Touring bike, but slightly discounted. I bought it on

    I’m also using MEC panniers with waterproof liners. Great combo I find!


  4. Brenda Holscher says:

    Hi Barend,
    Great experienec! You make me jealous, spending 10 hours a day in a building trying to earn some money for a life that might not even come anymore.
    Whish you fun and all the luck you need. Hope to hear your stories once we meet.
    Bets regards, Brenda

  5. Barend says:

    Hi Brenda!

    I just heard today from the parent’s you commented! There’s always time for everything if you make it 🙂 I hear you may be coming to Canada with the family? Look forwarding to seeing family!


  6. Aart Dronkers says:

    Easy to speak my mind on this: I am happy to see that the world still produces people who appreciate life to the fullest and share the ability to see our diverse and unique world through a local perspective!

    Cheers to Barend & Darren from a city slicker

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