Tuesday 24 April 2018

'I expect challenges' - meet the Irishman walking to Turkey to prove the world is safer than you might think

Ben Klaasen (50) has taken a break from his career as a software tester and instead decided to walk across Europe (Image: Twitter)
Ben Klaasen (50) has taken a break from his career as a software tester and instead decided to walk across Europe (Image: Twitter)

Zainab Boladale

An Irish man has been walking from Ireland to Turkey to prove that “the world is a safer place than people believe”.

Ben Klaasen (50) has taken a break from his career as a software tester and instead decided to walk across Europe.

From his house in Drimnagh, West Dublin, on March 12 he began the journey by foot to Rosslare where he took the ferry to Cherbourg and started walking across northern France.

“I walk for three to four days then take rest days, this isn’t a personal race….I do expect challenges,” he said.

Ben Klaasen (50) has taken a break from his career as a software tester and instead decided to walk across Europe (Image: Twitter)
Ben Klaasen (50) has taken a break from his career as a software tester and instead decided to walk across Europe (Image: Twitter)

Walking for up to six to seven hours a day and covering 18km on average Ben explains he isn’t sponsored or doing this for a charity. He is, however, trying to influence how “charitably one can relate to other people in the world”.

When asked about when he gets tired or feels like quitting he said:

“It’s not strenuous, I feel calm when I'm walking even if I'm sweating and getting eaten by insects. Walking revives my brain, it makes my problems melt away”.

At night Ben faces the problem of finding a bed.

“I was expecting to pay my way through my journey by offering people technical support in exchange,” he said. Since leaving he’s only had to do this once.

“An English couple in Normandy put me up for two nights and they let me fix their computer in return,” he said.

On many occasions, there have been nights where he chooses to “sleeps rough” to save money and has been “sneaking into fields unseen to pitch a tent”.

Only occasionally, when in big cities does he spend the night in cheap hostels.

His most dangerous experience to date while sleeping rough has been unknowingly camping near “wild boars in the forest while trying to sleep in France”. 

“They let me be but they were very close, they were making a fuss grunting very loudly because they knew I was there, I was very scared,” Ben said.

Ben has been documenting his journey on his blog titled “Tramping across Europe” as well as his twitter, @trampeur. His first post dates back to August where he details his trial run of timing how long it would take him to walk from his house to Rosslare, the walk took six days.

He’s has been in Germany and plans to cross the Alps at Salzburg, Austria into Slovenia. After that, he’ll be walking across the Balkans into Bulgaria and by the end of the year he plans to have reached his destination by walking into Istanbul, Turkey.

His travel backpack consists of basic necessities such as food, water, clothes, toiletries, a gas stove, a pot, cutleries, sleeping materials, navigation items, an e-reader and a camera and a phone.

“The idea is to carry no more than 10% of your body weight,” he said.

At the end of his journey, Ben plans to return home and readjust to normal life and a new job.

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