City

LAST DAY: From a Gas Station near La Turbie to Barcelona.

La Turbie-Barcelona

La Turbie-Barcelona

Following the tradition of me lonely travelling period I woke up very early, however, there were already a lot of things going on in the huge gas station. I realized that I really was too close to the entrance because with the daylight absolutely everybody entering in the area could notice my tent. Anyway, If nobody had told me nothing by then everything was OK. When I finished packing my things I entered the main building, located just next to the gas station in itself, with a cafeteria and a souvenir shop. I went straight to the bathroom. Because it was a stop for truckers I was sure that they were going to have showers. Indeed, there were two cabins but unfortunately both occupied and with three guys ahead of me. I paid for my turn and I waited outside drinking a coffee and evaluating the situation.

During this time I saw at least two Spanish trucks, I was starting to be confident. After a long while I could enter to the shower,consisting in a single space no much bigger than a square meter of surface. That was enough for a truck driver that could enter only with a towel keeping all the other things in his truck. But In my case, I was carrying all my belongings, including a big backpack, a guitar and a cat. Finally, all this things (and animals) took the shower at the same time as me. It took me at least twenty minutes and I remember than the guy who was waiting to enter after me was not very happy, what a pity.

Most of my things were completely wet and I had to hang my towel in one of my backpack’s hitches but I was feeling very well. The sensation of taking a shower after many days without doing it is one of the life’s great pleasures. It seemed to me that I was lighter. There was no doubt that my possibilities of getting a ride were going to increase with my new good-smelling style.

I decided to change my technique of simply going the exit and try to do traditional hitchhiking, since I speak French and I was clean. I wanted to enjoy myself, so I leaned my items against a wall of the building and I started to talk with the people that was filling their tanks. The gas station was so big that I had no time to notice every car, but there were two special lines for trucks on the left side moving slower. Two trucks were getting filled and another two were waiting behind. I talked with all of the drivers but none agreed to drive me. I continued asking among the cars while waiting for new trucks.

At one point I saw a Spanish truck entering so I immediately approached. I tried to be extremely polite because I really wanted to start as soon as possible. I knew that it was almost impossible but I was dreaming to arrive in Barcelona that very day. The trucker was also very polite but refused to drive me alluding the laws and so on. Anyway I asked how many kilometers I had from there to Spain and one or two more irrelevant questions just to start a small talk and get along with him. Then I left, thanking him for the information. I knew that the guy was going to be there for a while since he had at least two other truck in front of him waiting for fill the tank.

Meanwhile, I continued with my strategy rotating between car drivers and new trucks arriving. In some point several Spanish trucks from the same company arrived but my experience told me that truckers travelling together don’t pick up hitchhikers. I asked the first one and I avoided the others.

I had been trying to get a ride for at least 1 hour but the general impression was good. At least three persons apologized to me for not having space in their car. I was also going regularly to check how Pulguita was, walking around with her cage hanging on my shoulder from time to time. A little bit later, when I had already forgotten about the Spanish truck driver I had been talking with, I saw him entering to the building. In this moment he looked at me and from his glance I had the feeling that he was finally going to let me in. Indeed, he did it. Ten minutes later I was sitting in his cabin.

He spent the first half an hour apologizing for not having picked me up at the beginning, referring to all the dangerous things happening on the road. He was probably right and I understood his point. It was a good guy, the kind of person you can guess what is he thinking from his face. When I asked him where was he going he was not clear, like trying to be defensive once again so I decided just to be sympathetic with him and lengthen the ride as much as possible. We didn’t stop talking for a single moment. It turned out that he was also from the north of Spain like me which allowed us to switch to new topics of conversation. We talked about food, other countries, cars and many other subjects.

Somehow, when I checked the signals on the road we had already passed Marseilles and we were approaching Montpelier. It was necessary to make another stop. By this time, the driver had already agreed to drive me to Spain but he was still waiting for the confirmation of his way depending on many factors. The following conversation was about this topic and I found it actually very interesting. He was going from Italy to Lisbon, but the headquarters of his company were in Madrid. He was constantly talking with the controller by the radio taking into consideration the traffic, the weather, the price of the fuel and the places to sleep in order to determinate, not only his itinerary, but also the one of the younger colleagues in the road at the same time. I really enjoyed being part of the discussions and even giving my own point of view.

I was also making my calculations and, if he was going to cross the French-Spanish border by Catalonia I could be in Barcelona that night. I called Aleksandra with the good news and she offered herself to pick me up anywhere between the border and Barcelona. To go further would not have made any sense. If I understood correctly the guy had three options, to go by the south of France, crossing Toulouse and entering in Spain through the Basque Country border; to go by Catalonia turning west in Girona toward Zaragoza and then Madrid; or to follow south through Barcelona until Valencia and then turning west toward Portugal.

He had to do the first choice in Narbonne, where he continue south avoiding the French way. At this point I could finally confirm that I was arriving to Spain this very day. I immediately called Aleksandra that was prepared to do her way to the north by car. I told her to wait. The trucker was still thinking what to do, this time including me in the equation. He told me that by the height of the border he was going to decide, so I could call Aleksandra from my Spanish number and tell her exactly where she could pick me up if necessary.

After many conversations with his colleagues and a very stressful time (even if thinking about it with perspective it was not so important but I really wanted to see Aleksandra again now that the situation was turning real) he decided to take the middle way, turning west near Girona. He told me exactly in which gas station he was going to stop, being careful in choosing one close to an exit where it was possible to change the sense, taking into consideration that Aleksandra was coming in the opposite direction. I called her again, still from France, and few minutes later she was in the car heading north. We were closer to that place but going slower, so according to our calculation we were going to arrive more or less at the same time.

The meeting point was a big gas station 30 km north of Girona just after Figueres and around 130 km away from Barcelona. When we arrived the driver went straight to the gas station crossing an area with a big restaurant. From the truck cabin I tried to notice a small green Toyota Yaris but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to call Aleksandra as not to disturb her while driving, but when we were reaching the dispensing area I received a call from her. She was in the restaurant. I told her that we were just arriving and she appeared few minutes later.

We embraced each other and she helped me to carrying Pulguita. I also introduced her the truck driver and we give him together our sticker. The last one for a driver but we still keep some of them. I thanked again and say goodbye to him. Then, we were feeding and playing with Pulguita on the grass for a while and we drank a coffee in the restaurant. Aleksandra let me drive back because after one month being driven I missed so much the feeling of being the one controlling the car. Around 10 PM, we were already at home in Barcelona.

THAT’S ALL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING AND I HOPE IT HAS BEEN USEFUL FOR SOMEONE. BYE.

 

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Zagreb: the last decision

When we woke up at  the central bus station of Zagreb, which had been so calm the previous night, it was already boiling with people walking around with their suitcases and backpacks. Our hideaway was quite good because nobody seemed to realize that we were there, it was already 9 in the morning so we slept around 6 hours. The first thing we did was going to the city center and looking for a photocopy shop to print the check-in. Meanwhile it started to rain and the temperature was quite low  for a summer, making our last trip day even sadder. We were wandering around discovering the beautiful Zagreb streets, then we realize that the Zagreb airport didn’t ask for the check-in in paper, so we decided to protect ourselves from the rain in a cafeteria. We found probably the saddest one in the whole city, it was in a dark passageway, conquered by elderly people from a nearby residence enjoying the fresh air, it was like the Walking Dead but with slower Zombies.

Tunnel of terror

Tunnel of terror

After a long while we decided to go out and visit the most touristic places under the intermittent rain. We reached the Ban Jelačić Square, the most famous place in Zagreb where some tourist where trying to understand the big map placed in the entrance.

Ban Jelačić Square

Ban Jelačić Square

At the time we were probably unfair with the city, because we weren’t in a mood to appreciate the beauty of Zagreb, but now I realize how beautiful it was. It’s a mix between Eastern Europe and Balkan style, with old majestic buildings that remind the ones from Budapest, very modern and very old trams at the same time and the typical Balkan markets with fresh fruits and vegetables. Anyway, the people seemed much more European than anything else.

Old tram vs modern tram

Old tram vs modern tram

We started to walk up toward the old town, some steps further we found the Zagreb Cathedral where there was also a Konzum, we made some pictures (of the cathedral not of the supermarket) and, as it stopped to rain, we decided to eat there.

Zagreb Cathedral

Zagreb Cathedral

Pulguita and some old structures

Pulguita and some old structures

I found some very cheap beer so I bought it, but once in the checkout I realize that I had confused the price, I came back to Aleksandra quite angry, we really didn’t have any money left. Just when our sandwiches were ready it started to rain again, I was starting to hate Zagreb, we moved looking for a better place to eat, we were very near to have an argue because of the rain and nerves of it being the last day… I guess. We finally ate in a door’s trunk. trying to change the mood, our nerves became in craziness and we start to do stupid things including to offer disgusting marmalade to the pedestrians, at least we started to laugh, it was funny specially because I looked like a real homeless (whit greatest respects to them), here you can see me:

Then we continued our way up  a soft hill, from where we made some pictures of the city landscape, then we turned down and, as it was stopping to rain, we stayed for a while in the Ribnjak park playing with Pulguita and feeding her. Zagreb is quite a green city, it’s full of parks and look at this green in the begining of September:

Ribnjak park

Ribnjak park

Pulguita on the grass

Pulguita on the grass

After that break we went again to the city center, we discover nice spots like this square in the Old street Vlaška, the Zrinjevac park that leads to the Josipa Jurja and the kralja Tomislava parks shaping an impressive boulevard that ends on the Central Rail Station of Zagreb.

Old street Vlaška square

Old street Vlaška square

Kralja Tomislava park

Kralja Tomislava park

Kralja Tomislava park II

Kralja Tomislava park II

At that point we started to be very concerned about what was going to happen at the airport with Pulguita, it was too late to make a special check-in for animals, and we even didn’t know if it will be possible to do it there. We had a similar problem, but no so important, with the guitar I had bought in Budapest in the begining of our trip. As I’m an unstable person my mood was going up and down. Lluckily the sun started to shine, so I relaxed a little bit. We thought about asking people if they wanted to buy a third hand guitar, but it didn’t work.  Then we decided to look for a Cash-converter with the same result. We also asked for the train schedules for the airport but any of them matched our needs, so we had to come back to our starting point, the bus station.

Last and best picture together

Last and best picture together

Once there, we realized that we had no food left for the night, and the airport was going to be too expensive, so I went fast to a big Tesco while Aleksandra stayed on the station with Pulguita. We took the bus with a lot of time to deal calmly  all the problems we expected in the airport. It was very hard to say goodbye to the City, the Balkans and, above all, the hitchhiking. When we arrived to airport the gate were still closed, so we ate something and I started to play guitar in the arrivals door to see if someone wanted to buy the guitar, without any luck. We got into the queue just when the check-in to Barcelona opened very scared about the verdict. Unfortunately the moment arrived and the girl in the counter was very clear, Pulguita couldn’t travel even if we paid. because there was no Vueling office in that Airport. When we heard that we wanted to die, my backpack was already in the scales to check the weight so then I told her something that I will always remember: “Give me my backpack back, I’m not going in that plane”. It was not completely spontaneous, because we had been facing this possibility for the whole day, but not taking it as if it was really going to happen. Aleksandra started to cry, she really had to take the plane because she had to work the next day. We thought about it a little bit, but there was not other option, or we abandoned Pulguita there or I had to come back hitchhiking, we even didn’t think about taking any trains or buses, because we were quite far and completely out of money. We kissed for the last time goodbye in a very emotive hug, then she kissed small Pulguita and went to the plane. The detachment was probably harder for Aleksandra than for me, because she was going to face the real life meanwhile I just had to continue doing the same thing I used to do for the last three weeks. I looked for a nice place to sleep at the airport, I found one just near to a promo car (as I like to do), I tied Pulguita’s travel box with my backpack and I closed it with a padlock just in case, I lied down, read for a short moment and fell asleep.

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Sarajevo Second day

The previous night we had already decided to leave the Titos46 Hostel, so in the morning we took a shower, we packed and we were just on time (at 11:00) on the reception, not to miss the check out.

Tito46 Hostel entrance

Tito46 Hostel entrance

Then, we had a breakfast and decided to leave our backpacks there until we find something cheaper. We started looking on the Internet, we had one or two coffees and we spent a while playing with Pulguita on the terrace.

Tito46 Hostel terrace

Tito46 Hostel terrace

Finally we spent the whole morning there whereupon we decided to go out and search from the field. We where quite relaxed, we started to wander about, seeing again the city, this time in the daylight. We could see the markets with tempting fresh fruits and vegetables, the old stately buildings and the mix of Muslim, Serbian Orthodox and Croatian Catholics even from the separates cemeteries. We crossed the river and we ended up eating in a park without any pressure.

…It’s MY food!

Sarajevo central market

Sarajevo central market

Jesus Heart Cathedral back

Jesus Heart Cathedral back

Then we came back to the city center and I don’t remember well how we finished in a Muslim hostel with an advert on the frontwindow, where you could see a garden with camp tents. We came inside, and it turned out it was exactly what we were looking for- a cheap private camping 5 minutes walking from the city centre. The receptionist called for us and we made an appointment with the bakcyard´s owner in the nearby “pigeons´ square” one hour later. Meanwhile we where supposed to pick up our things from the previous hostel.

Doves square

Pigeons´ square (Guess why?)

We were surprisingly on time, the owner was a very talkative and friendly middle-aged guy who had prepared a weird map for us, without any streets names but with arrows “right” and “left”. He was right that it was quite tricky to arrive to the camping site, but not impossible. The garden was part of a big property where, apparently, more families lived. It was a quite spacious piece of land with apple trees, 3 or 4 levels and space for several cars and tents.

Garden

Garden

We realized that there were also many kittens and we wanted to see Pulguita’s reactions to her relatives.  The other cats didn’t care too much about her until we gave her food, then she had to fight a little bit against a bigger (but still small) kitten. We were sooo proud of her bravery.

Pulguitas VS killer cat round 1

Pulguita VS Killer Cat : Round 1

We put the tent and we remained in the backyard for a while playing with Pulguita and enjoying the beautiful view drinking a beer. Then we went again to the city center, thanks to the invaluable help of our new map. On the way down we could see closer the impressive Muslim cemetery because, as I said before, the cemeteries are separated by religion (we didn´t know that before). It was quite distressing to see the ocean of white gravestones, knowing all these people died at the same time, not so long ago, died with no peace, figthing with their neigbours.

Muslim cementery

Muslim cemetery

We walked around the city again, discovering new things like for example the Serb Orthodox Cathedral. But, finally we ended up in the same park we had eaten during the day. There we drank more beer and I played some guitar, but it was getting colder so we decided to come back. We got lost a bit in the small streets, but finally we arrived to our private garden.

Serb Orthodox Church

Serb Orthodox Church

Sarajevo at night

Sarajevo by night

Al Jazeera Balkan headquarters

Al Jazeera Balkan headquarters

War memorandum monument

War memorandum monument

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Sarajevo First day

From the outskirts of the city we took an old charming blue tram to the city center, catching people’s eyes again with our big backpacks and our foreigner faces, but specially because of the Pulguita’s meows. However, we started to realize that Sarajevo will be one of the more multicultural places we were going to see (and not talking about tourists).

Old charming blue tram

Old charming blue tram

The Tram left us in the city center. We wanted to look for a cheap place to sleep. We had heard about private backyards to place the tent and we also had the address of a hostel from the previous landlady from Mostar. We wandered around  the city center that is the Muslim neighborhood, made up of narrow streets with maximum 2 floor buildings, full of cafés, souvenir shops, mosques and people everywhere, looking for the tourist information office.

Mosque

Mosque

Arabic Souvenirs Shop

Arabic Souvenirs Shop

Arabic Souvenirs Shop II

Typical coffee shops

After spinning around a little bit we got a map with some hostels marked in, we decided to try with the one we were recommended but in the way something change our plans. In one of the main squares of Sarajevo just in front of Jesus Heart Cathedral and in one of the most trendy cafés of the city we met… Habib again.

Jesus Heart Cathedral

Jesus Heart Cathedral

He was very glad to meet us  (we like to think so), because his friend had already left him, and  so were we, because we didn’t have any plans for a Friday night in a so lively city as Sarajevo. He invited us to drink a beer and we´ve decided to meet up again for later that night, hewanted to to show us the Turkish cuisine.  After the fast beer we had to continue looking for the hostel we knew, we walked for a while so we could see how the city changes when the old town becomes a new business area with big skyscrapers, cinemas and fast food restaurants with some 5 or 6 floors old building still wounded from the war. Anyway, we found the hostel and it was full, so we did the same way back looking for any hostel in our way, we were quite tired, Habib was waiting for us and we saw the prices didn’t vary too much in Sarajevo so we ended up in the hostel Tito 46, guess the street and the number. It was a huge hostel with different types of rooms, a big living room with a kitchen and not-too-friendly receptionist. We took a dry shower (i.e. no shower at all) and we went to meet Habib in the city center.

Tito46 Hostel view

Tito46 Hostel view

Again in the Arabic area, he led us to a street where we chose one of the several Arabic style restaurants, in all of them the specialty was, without any doubts, the Ćevapi, so I had one as well as Habib.  It is a typical Bosnian (Balkan) dish made from minced meat (pork, lamb or beef) usually served with with chopped onions, sour cream, kajmak, ajvar, cottage cheese, minced red pepper and salt. Aleksandra had a great Mediterranean salad (with feta cheese and black olives) and all together we shared a baked potatoes with sauce.

Ćevapi

Ćevapi

Habib

Habib

After that blow out we really needed help our stomachs digest, so we decided to go to one of many tea houses, usually placed in typical Arabic patios in the middle of the block of buildings, where we had an authentic Turkish tea accompanied, of course, by a water pipe. We had a very nice night and we are very grateful to Habib, thank you!  

Typical Arabic patio

Typical Arabic patio

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From Mostar to Sarajevo

Mostar-Sarajevo

Mostar-Sarajevo

We started very close to the hostel we stayed in, on the only road that goes to the north from Mostar, in the town. We didn’t wait too much and a local woman with her two children drove us to the main road where there are big commercial areas on the outskirts of Mostar. She let us in a very nice spot in a huge gravel shoulder with a small typical fruit shop. Pulguita had been very calm during the small trip, so we where quite confident.

Fruit road shop

Fruit road shop

Pulguita on the car

Pulguita in the car

We waited a little bit, around half an hour, and a car stopped, it was a nice guy who worked selling computers around Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was a very interesting driver, because he spoke perfect English and he knew the land well. The road led all the time by the river Neretva, so we were almost all the time in a narrow valley with very steep cliffs around that were shaping an impressive landscape.

Neretva Valley

Neretva Valley

The driver explained us that in the north of Herzegovina (that is more or less the south of the country, being Mostar the capital) is very typical to eat roasted lamb, and he showed us all the restaurants preparing it on the road.

Roast lamb restaurant

Roast lamb restaurant

He was going to let us in Jablanica because he was supposed to meet his clients from Sarajevo there, but as they were late, he decide to drive us a little bit further, to Konjic.

Konjic downtown

Konjic downtown

Heavy weapon marks

Heavy weapon shot marks

Heavy weapon marks II

Heavy weapon shot  marks II

It was a small town in between the hills, where you could see a lot of old buildings full of holes remaining from the war. We decided to walk a little bit following the river and in 15 minutes we were out of the town and stopped in nice spot suitable to hitchhike again. Before that we decided to feed Pulguita, that surprisingly stayed calm and seemed to like to be in cars.

Crossing the river

Crossing the river

Pulguita drinking

Pulguita drinking

After a while a big truck stopped, he told us to go in but first we wanted to show him Pulguita’s travel box. At first he said “no way, no animals”, but he finally agreed when we showed him how small Pulguita was. Once we got to the truck he put the music so loud that we couldn’t even hear him, then we started to ask him some questions and he finally decided to turn down the radio  a little bit .

Bosnian typical landscape

Bosnian typical landscape

At some point of the ride we let Herzegovina behind and we entered Bosnia region and then to the city of Sarajevo. The day was cloudy but in the end we arrived to Sarajevo in the evening and the sky was covered in beautiful colors, we had great expectation for that city. The trucker left us in the outskirts of Sarajevo but close to a Tram station.

Hello Sarajevo

Hello Sarajevo

Categories: Animals, City, Hitchhiking, Sightseeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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