Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ajde ciao trip - PART 2

After quick seightseeing of Kotor and the short rest I hit the road again trying to reach the next place on my list, Herceg Novi. Keeping doing this I met one of the best man in the world -  Mr. Pavlovič. He took me to his house in a small coastal town of Bijela. There fed me and gave a lot of useful stuff. I could refresh myself, take a short nap, pick some lemons from his garden and have an opportunity to spend a while with his friendly dog. And last but not least, use his computer to plan my journey and let know to some people that I'm still alive. Priceless. What's more, he even gave me a ride to Herceg Novi not to waste my time for waiting. Hvala puno gospodine Pavloviču!
Actually, in Herceg Novi I did the same as in Prizren first day. Carrying my rucksack I didn't have a willingless to take pictures and even to visit the town more than in one hour. The town also amazing and what's important, with few thousand tourists less and more calm than previous. Waiting for my next ride, I was a witness of a quite serious car crash. Fortunately nobody was hurt but the vehicles were wasted...seeing this I immediately abandoned the spot not to make more mess that has already been and walked a little bit again. Just few kilometres in searching of this perfect one. After several perfect ones, I was sure that the next would be better what became a vicious circle.
When I finally reached it, an old Yugoslavian-style guy stopped. Talking about old good times of socialism I landed at the Dubrovnik airport. There I waited hopeless for the next car quite a long time. In the end, I received an offer from a Croatian couple who were the owners of a hostel in Dubrovnik. From 20 euros for a room I negotiated 10 and food, and accepted their proposal. Finally I had some more time for visiting. The hostel was located just next to the old town what was good from the one side, but on the other I had a long walk in the morning to find the exit from the city. 

It was hard to go away. I wasted a lot of time because of waiting on wrong way. Then, walking, walking, walking kilometres on full sun without any sense. At least when I finally stopped (in very ridiculous place) a crazy Hercegovin, called Nikola shouted at me aggresively to pack myself into his car very quickly. I absolutely didn't hesitate. And he also, driving a sport BMW at least 150 km/h while taking turns. He ordered me not to skip him during writing my hitchhiking story in eventual survival the ride. We survived, celebrating this with a beer in the town of Neum in Bosnia and Hercegovina. 
One hour spent on asphalt sunbathing and the next driver took me to the place called - the perfect hitchhiking spot. Huge gas station with huge parking with huge toilets and huge benches and tables ideal for preparing the food. I even started thinking about staying for a night there. I prepared a coffee with my coffeemaker. For the first time in my trip. Generally, I cooked everything what lasted in my bag and filled all the bottles that I had with water.

Lunchtime at "perfect place for hitchhiker".

And then I met Denis. A fearless deliverer of cartoons from Zagreb who is not afraid of any kind of job. A guy who helped me a lot. Hvala lijepa Denis i veliki pozdrav! Denis was my perfect road-companion for about 500 km from "the perfect hitchhiking spot" close to Split - to Zagreb. Or I was his companion. Both. Denis offered me an accomodation in his second car parked next to his flat, what for me was a luxury (instead of loitering in the bus station or God knows where). In the morning he welcomed me with a coffee and gave useful tips how to go out from the city. And a very nice souvenir - a DVD with classic well known cartoons, in Croatian.

According to the theory of the balance in the Universe, the next day was very hard. Despite the fact of waiting at the best possible place for stopping cars, after 1.5 hour I was forced to give up and move to another. And again I got a ride in ridiculous and dangerous place. Nevermind. Wheels were rolling again. Not so far but still. I went in the direction of Hungarian border and stopped next to Varazdin, at big "odmorište", a gas station with big parking. These kind of places seem to be the best for hitchhikers. You can find there everything what you need. Water, and primarily - cars! But not there :] Again nobody wanted to stop. At the perfect hitchhiking place! How is it possible? The only who stopped were guys from Hrvatske Autoceste, that is staff from Croatian highways. Taking care of them and keeping order. And picking up hitchhikers from time to time. And before doing this, yelling at them that they commit a serious deliquency and might be caugh by the police because of disturbing the order. So they picked me to the place where I could do it in more innocent way - to the pay toll.

At pay toll, another 2 hours of nothing. In the middle of nowhere. Signs, signals, looking like homeless traveler in his 189th day of hitchhiking - everything without result. Guess who I met  there one more time? My old friends from Hrvatske Autoceste. This time they were going straight to the border to check if are there any scratches in the asphalt. And to take me there by the way. At the border, I drank my last Laško Zlatorog. Several minutes later I was already in EU...leaving Balkans...symbolic end of my Balkan rhapsody, entering new lands, and being among people whose language I didn't understand at all. As if closer home, but seemingly farther and farther.

I entered negligently on the highway and exposed my thumb. The first one Hungarian truck stopped in the curve. Luckily still speaking Croatian so we could use "the Slavic Esperanto". 100 kilometres from Budapest I caught a nice ride with a couple perfectly speaking English. Listening to the very bad Hungarian folk from the radio. Suddenly, the guy switched off the radio and put some CD. I expected  something horrible and waited for the execution...but from the speakers sounded nothing but "Clandestino" of Manu Chao. A big smile appeared on my face. The man volumed up and started to jump slightly on his seat and the woman singing all the lyrics from her memory! Relaxed and in very good mood we arrived to Budapest, which I tramped very quickly thanks  to their priceless logistic advices.

In Budapest everything's gone suspiciously too easy what persecuted me all the time. Some force leaded me to the weird places in the city where I have never been. Actually, it was my first time here, not counting transit. In that moment I imagined that I have a chance to catch a Polish truck there and go straight to home. Unwittingly, barely living and exhausted I started to strive for this, simultaneously knowing that the chance is very small. Nevertheless, after bothering several times workers on the night shift at gas station, I constructed a sign consulting this with my friend from Poland (thx Jaron!), because my map of the Balkans ended on Budapest. I started catching cars using sometimes paper with Miskolc, sometimes desperated - with Poland. I was already going to sit anywhere waiting for the dawn, but in the last moment I got some ride. But I didn't know where was he going and I couldn't even ask about that. Nevertheless, Polish with Hungarian can't communicate using verbal way. Waiting for getting out in the Hungarian middle of nowhere (sound scary), I landed exactly there. But at the parking for big trucks too. In that moment I understood all of the earlier signals, signs and coincidences. I felt that some Polish truck was waiting for me there. And I was right. When I came closer, I noticed that the driver probably was sleeping. I unrolled my sleeping bag and put myself to the bench, nervously staring at the truck from time to time, because the guy might have gone and leave me here. At dawn he started to move so I immediately woke up and asked him if he's going to Poland and if I can go with him. After few moments of hesitation, he told me to put my bag inside. I was in the truck to the polish border.

Few hours later, being already in Poland, I called to my mum to ask what is she preparing for a lunch. Right here, I started another (for me very weird) phase of hitchhiking in my country. To be honest, I've never tried this in Poland. How surprise was I, when my longest waiting was about 5 minutes. But distances were very small. 10 km, 15 km, 2km, 5km....etc. 100 km I did using 7 or 8 cars. And then it happened. 60 km from home, I got lost. In my home country and my region. I mixed up roads and landed in very unpleasant place in some cut off the world village. I managed to come back to the main road after taking another 3 lifts (one with a reggae-rock band going for a concert). Waiting in Sokołów Małopolski and keeping a sign with Dubrovnik, I caught my last ride. Straight to home with my sister and brother-in-law, to whom I thank a lot (but it was really not neccessary, I've already traveled 2000 km, so 30 more didn't make a difference).

And that's it. That's the end of my trip and beginning of boring Polish life without Balkans. But there's a hope. From July, possibly the new adventure! This time in Montenegro ;) stay tuned!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Ajde ciao trip - hitchhiking through Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia - PART 1

Such a great Macedonian story couldn't just end. And I didn't want to finish it like that. Just taking a bus from Skopje almost straight to my hometown? Nema šansa. Not so simply. That's why I decided to come back in the only one proper way - hitchhiking. Through the Adriatic Coast of course.
I started just after Djurdjevdan, on 7th May in the morning. Dear and tireless friend Sara dispatched me with some food and bade goodbye. Thank you Sara, your piece of bread, apple and chocolate was priceless ;) That day I planned to reach Shkoder in northern Albania, but through Kosovo, precisely Prizren. I got a ride from northern Skopje to the big crossroad between Prizren and Pristina. From there another car picked me up to some small town, where the driver convinced the bus driver to take me to Prizren for free. Not only was I going without the ticket, but I got also free candies and a seat (later some people who paid were standing in the crowdy bus what was slightly insolent from my side).

When I arrived to the place, I consumed stuff which Sara gave me, additionaly spreading some 'pashteta' on it for 50 cents that I found in my collection of foreign coins. It was already very hot, nevertheless I looked around the town but without even taking my camera out. I was too lazy to unfasten my bagpack...that's why I don't have any photos from there.

A guy who was transporting 57 bags of potatoes (in fact it was much less of them) took me from there to Kukes. It was hard to move from there, because the only reasonable spot to hitchhike was few kilometres outside the town, after a long bridge. In the meantime I had a paranoia that Albanian mafia is following me in the black mercedes. On the bridge a group of Albanian teenagers asked for a lighter to put a fire in something they were smoking. I tried to explain them, that I'm not going to Poland on foot, but it was not so easy. Anyway, I raised in their esteem. Finally, an elegant BMW stopped and nice Albanian couple (I received some food and beverages from them, faleminderit for this) picked me about 100km. In the middle of the way something unfixed from the front of the car and we had to stop several times before reaching the destination. My next ride was a father with his son, going by an old car with terrible smell inside. A dead body is in the trunk? - I thought. Maybe just food for aquarium fishes or a pig was transported before me. I don't know. The most important was that in the evening I was in Shkoder and the fact that I was taken as Algerian didn't thwart my plans.

There, in Shkoder, I felt quite confident. I was already here and I knew where NOT to sleep (after a horrible night spent with Manu in the city park next to swamps, previous year) and where to eat for the last Albanian lekes a cheap and better than Italian pizza. It was already almost dark, but full of enthusiasm I moved on though. And didn't have to wait for the effects because a crazy band of Albanians in a jeep lifted me to the Montenegrin border. I knew a good place to put a tent there from an another trip. Meanwhile, spoke with weird, little bit drunk Montenegrins coming back from a pub. I finished my day in the tent, on the egde of the forest.

My home next to the forest in Sukobin

The 2nd day didn't start so good. The traffic was poor, what's more a Montenegrin Albanian cheated me. He offered me a lift to an another road, because the normal one was under construction. After the communication breakdown it turned out that he was driving me straight to Ulcinj (about 25 km) for 20 euros. I discovered this somewhere in the halfway and told to stop the car. The guy was pissed off and started to be aggresive. After rough negotiations, I had to give him 8 euros, that was all the coins I had in that moment in my minute later I was already sitting in another car to Ulcinj. There, another lift to Bar with a man delivering press to newsagents. Quick snack in the town and hit the road to Stari Bar, which finally I tramped on foot...visiting the old town of Bar was like a travel in time. Absolutely outstanding place. The old fortress, destroyed in 1979 by earthquake. I walked a little bit up, where almost nobody walks and took a bath in the mountain stream. With turtles. The freezing cold water gave me a lot of energy (I drank half of the stream by the way).

I came back to the city, which seemed to be countless kilometres farther and the bus stop which I found good to hitchhike from, was even more far away. Anyway, a truck drove me to Sveti Stefan - town with a beautiful island joint to the land with a pier.

In Sv. Stefan, I was lucky to have a perfect hitchkiking place. Unfortunately, without cars. Here,  was the first and the last time when I paid for a public bus during this trip - 1 euro to Budva.

A perfect spot for hitchhiking: just next to the road, a bench, shadow and tap with running

In Budva no seightseeing and no pictures because of overwhelming tiredness and falling darkness. I had no idea where to sleep as well. Finally, I found it here - between a road tunnel and a cliff.

Morning, day 3.
After a calm and safe night next to the tunnel, I departed to Kotor. Again, walked a little bit. Few kilometres in searching a place without curves to stop a car. Two nice Serbians took me to the crossroad close to the Tivat airport, from where I caught another transport in 2 minutes. An American was going with his son to pick up his dog from the boat. The same boat where I could leave later my backpack and go to visit the town (thx to Jeffrey). Brief seightseeing one of the most amazing and magical places I've ever seen...Kotor...

The rest of the story I'm leaving for the next time, not to exaggerate with all of this stuff.