The Way to Feet Freedom
MILAN'S LUNA ADVENTURE: CHAPTER 1
"Together, we were about to embark on an extraordinary expedition that would test the limits of minimalistic travel and redefine the boundaries of storytelling"
Berlin, summer 2020. As I stood in a bustling outdoor equipment shop in Berlin, ready to take on the famous 800km pilgrim walk of Saint James in Spain, I sought advice from the experts on the most essential item: shoes. Little did I know that this seemingly simple question would lead me down a path I never expected.
With anticipation in my voice, I asked the vendor, "I want to walk the famous 800 km pilgrim walk of Saint James in Spain, what shoes do you recommend?" The response was predictable yet practical, "You need some heavy footwear, and it's important to protect the ankles." It was a sentiment echoed by nearly every expert shop on hiking gear I visited.
But here's where my story takes an unexpected turn. I had initially envisioned myself conquering the pilgrimage in my beloved, albeit slightly stinky, Birkenstocks or perhaps with a new pair of hiking sandals. However, as I listened to the knowledgeable voices around me, my confidence in these unconventional choices began to fade. In the end, I bought a pair of fancy hiking shoes that came with a hefty price tag of 250 Euros.
"Little did I know that this seemingly innocuous decision would evolve into my greatest remorse throughout the forthcoming journey."
Little did I know that this seemingly innocuous decision would evolve into my greatest remorse throughout the forthcoming journey and captivating film project, "Compostela without any luggage." Yes, you heard it right – no cumbersome backpack to weigh me down, only armed with a trusty credit card, a reliable toothbrush, and an extra pair of underwear. By my side stood my travel brother and filmmaker, Muammer Yilmaz, with whom I had ventured to the farthest corners of this world.
Together, we were about to embark on an extraordinary expedition that would test the limits of minimalistic travel and redefine the boundaries of storytelling with a smartphone. Stay tuned as we unravel the unexpected revelations that awaited us on this audacious quest through Spain's timeless landscapes, defying the norms of conventional travel and capturing the essence of a world in flux.
Before that, let me introduce myself shortly.
My name is Milan, and let me take you back to 2014, the year that changed my life forever. It was then that I embarked on a challenge that nobody believed was possible: "80 days around the world without money." The purpose behind this audacious endeavor was simple yet profound—to showcase the inherent goodness that exists in people across the globe.
Teaming up with my dear friend and now older brother figure, Muammer Yilmaz, a French adventurer and filmmaker, we embarked on an incredible journey. We hitchhiked our way across continents, hopping into cars with friendly drivers, military vehicles in Pakistan, fisherboats in Thailand, and even managed to secure free flights and sponsorships for the California Zephyr train, which whisked us across the vast expanse of the United States. Along the way, we were never left stranded on the streets; instead, we were welcomed with open arms into the warm and cozy homes of strangers turned friends. This transformative adventure left an indelible mark on our souls, igniting within us an overwhelming desire to give back.
Inspired by our experiences, we raised approximately 8,000 Euros through our non-profitorganization, "Optimistic Traveler," to support the NGO "Haiti Care." For two months, our team of volunteers dedicated their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of those in need.
My journey as a filmmaker and adventurer had only just begun. Since then, I've had the privilege of crafting stories for television, cinema, dreamers, inspiring artists, and non-profit organizations around the world. But it wasn't just about making films; it was about leaving a lasting impact on the lives of others.
The seed of compassion that was planted during our around-the-world adventure continued to grow. Our second adventure, titled "I Have a Dream Africa," took us on a mission to fulfill the dreams of individuals across eight African countries. Through the proceeds from our book and the support of our incredible community, we set out to make a tangible difference in the lives of those we encountered.
In all this travels and the minimalist digital nomads lifestlye, there was one crucial element missing in our setup at the time—the incredible freedom that comes with outdoor sandals.
I vividly recall moments in Iran and India, where scorching 40-degree weather forced me to remove my leather cowboy-like shoes while hitching a ride in a car. I naively believed that the smell was tolerable, but Muammer quickly reminded me with an elbow nudge that it was far from acceptable. During those years, I prioritized a cowboy aesthetic over the liberation of "free feet." Unfortunately, this meant I couldn't fully enjoy running, a passion of mine, even though I had completed several full marathons in my life. Our choices and gear define us as digital nomads and travelers, enabling or limiting our experiences along the way.
"Imagine the freedom I felt, walking with just the bare essentials, unburdened by heavy bags and the constant fear of losing anything."
Let’s jump back into the "Camino without luggage" adventure. Imagine the freedom I felt, walking with just the bare essentials, unburdened by heavy bags and the constant fear of losing anything. It was a journey where time was not wasted onorganizing and caring for belongings, but instead dedicated to immersing myself in the awe-inspiring landscapes and engaging in profound conversations with fellow pilgrims. Rain or shine, we were determined to find a Pilgrim hostel that remained open despite the challenging circumstances of Covid restrictions, even dashing through the rain in pursuit of our goal.
Little did I know that even the latest and greatest waterproof shoes would prove vulnerable to heavy rain showers. The rain cascaded down my legs, seeping into my shoes and leaving me drenched and uncomfortable for days. The drying process was excruciatingly slow, and I couldn't escape the pain of serious blisters that plagued nearly every pilgrim. Evenings became a time for comparing our battle-worn feet, adorned with a mosaic of rainbow blistersand emitting a scent reminiscent of aged French cheese. We eagerly shared advice on healing and prevention, with one pilgrim even swearing that "pads" intended for women period can do the job. Who would have thought?
After a month of traversing the pilgrimage, we finally arrived at the highly anticipated Cathedral of Compostela, overwhelmed by a whirlwind of emotions. To commemorate our Saint James experience, we discovered a fantastic restaurant where we eagerly settled at a table filled with anticipation.
As I sat down, a peculiar smell caught my attention. Looking under the table, I spotted a fellow pilgrim who had succumbed to the irresistible desire that often overcomes hikers after hours of walking: taking off his dirty shoes. The aroma was undeniable, leaving me wondering once more if there existed a better solution.
In the following days, I immersed myself in the audiobook "Born to Run," a long-awaited recommendation. It immediately struck a chord within me, prompting a visit to a shoe store where I tried on standard, bulky hiking sandals. Gazing at my reflection in the mirror, I couldn‘t help but laugh at the stereotypical image of a german guy I projected—sandals paired with white socks, except I was not wearing socks. After spending the summer walking in shoes, my feet had become incredibly pale while my legs boasted a sun-kissed tan, creating a rather amusing sight. Besides, the design of these standard outdoor sandals didn't align with my minimalist lifestyle, lacking the versatility I desired for various occasions.
"These shoes marked the beginning of a new chapter, promising comfort, versatility, and the freedom to embrace minimalist travel for extraordinary journeys."
So I continued my journey for an additional two months with my heavy hiking shoes, exploring the stunning west coast of Portugal and the enchanting south coast of Spain, all without the burden of luggage or another film project. There were moments when I relished the sensation of walking barefoot through the sand for entire days, carrying my hiking shoes in tow. It was an invigorating experience that fueled my imagination with dreams of embarking on epic hikes like the renowned GR20 in Corsica, conquering the breathtaking Alps & Pyrenees , and traversing the iconic Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), in sandals.
As autumn arrived, I returned to France for post-production work on the movie. The eagerly awaited LUNA sandals finally arrived, one pair for me and another for my brother Muammer. These shoes marked the beginning of a new chapter, promising comfort, versatility, and the freedom to embrace minimalist travel for extraordinary journeys.
The LUNA shoes captivated me instantly with their minimalist design and megagrip sole. I practiced forefoot running daily for servral months, eager to make the transition. One cold December day, we embarked on a daring "Wim Hof challenge," hiking in deep snow wearing only a T-shirt. It started as fun but soon turned dangerous as my toes grew numb. I humbly accepted my friend's offer of spare shoes, realizing the importance of a backup plan for such experiments. This adventure left me hungry for more, discovering our hidden strength while staying prepared.
The LUNA shoes were more than mere footwear to me—they symbolized thrilling possibilities.
Join me as we explore, push limits, and capture unforgettable moments on challenging trails in the Alps, Pyrenees, Morocco's Atlas Mountain chain, and Corsica. Together, we'll embark on a transformative journey that could lead us to the Copper Canyonin Mexico, running with the Tarahumara. Get ready to step into new adventure with me and LUNA.
More adventures and info for the curious ones
The Way to Feet Freedom
pilgrim walk of Saint James in Spain
Camino without luggage
Want to read more?
Follow us to receive the latest updates and content.