Hitchhiking

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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From a gas station near Verona to another gas station near La Turbie

Verona-La Turbie

Verona-La Turbie

I woke up early, when it was dawning. I had a good feeling, I was finally on the highway, on my correct way and in very nice gas station to hitchhike. With this good energy it didn’t took me to long to get a ride. I don’t even remember having my coffee so it should have been in the early morning. I can’t remember the driver neither, just that it was very similar as the one from the last day, also an Italian middle-age guy working in sales. In my mind even the car was almost the same, a dark comfortable premium one. In my memories I mix both cars and drivers, so what I have written in last post can be applied for this one too.

Gas station near Verona

Gas station near Verona

Anyway, we were supposed to go together until Milan, but he explained me that the net of roads around this city is really huge and I could get easily lost. Instead of that, he advised me to try to go by another highway that started at the height of Brescia and was going to the south-west. It was a complicated decision. In the one hand I had the possibility to do many kilometers and be in Milan early, from where I could expect many cars and trucks going to France; on the other, do a few kilometers with this guy and put all of my eggs into one basket trying to find a long-distance truck going to the south. I thought that in any case it was better to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, but in the correct highway that in a big city as Milan. So I told him to stop me some kilometers before Brescia. As he knew well the route he left me in the last gas station just before the detour to the south.

It was a very big area with a huge Autogrill restaurant. I remember it well because I spent many hours there. However, at this point I was still quite confident about my day. It was definitely not more than 11 am, because I remember having my breakfast when I arrived. I even found a Moroccan family with a french plate in their car who apologized to not have a place for me. After the break, I went to the exit of the gas station, just in front of the restaurant and I started again.

Gas station near Brescia

Gas station near Brescia

At the beginning I thought that it was just a question of bad luck and soon or later some one was going to pick me up. Well, it was later than sooner. It started to get hot but not as in the previous days. I ate something quick in the other side of the bushes where I was standing. I also went at least twice to buy a coffee in a plastic glass. As the hours were passing I was getting more and more pessimistic. It was not a bad place to sleep, but I was very far even from France and It seemed to me that I was going to be in Italy forever (I was thinking to buy a pair if sunglasses to be more integrated into their culture). Every time a trucker was entering to the bar I was trying to convince him to take me with him (this sounds weird). In the afternoon the area was full, at one moment something like ten small Romanian vans carrying people and goods in long semi-trailers arrived. Also other people with french plates and a couple of Spanish truckers, but none took me.

Then, around 4 pm, I saw a big red truck coming and parking just in front of me. I checked the plate and it was french. Suddenly the door opened and I saw a guy without shirt coming down. He was not specially tall but definitely well-built and with an impressive tattoo covering all his upper-body. Sincerely he looked like a psycho-killer. Anyway I couldn’t let any opportunity slip so I addressed to him in French. It turned out that he was Spanish and, despite his look, he was a very nice person. A little bit crazy to tell the truth but a really interesting guy. He accepted me in the truck without any hesitation but first he invited me to another coffee and a cigarette.

Once in the truck I started telling him my story but I understood that, as a good trucker, he also liked to speak, even more than me. He was going to France, specifically to Nice. It was perfect, I had a stroke of luck. During this 5 hours together we smoked a lot and he explained me most of his life. Including his two previous accidents with a truck. He try to reassure me telling that both accident were due to the tiredness and now, with someone to talk with, he was feeling very awake. We drank another coffee in our way and it started to get dark when we were approaching the border. We were passing by a very beautiful area with the sea on the left and the mountains on the right. I really wanted to reach France this day but he explained me that he was going to leave the road just after the border taking a secondary road toward Nice.

He stopped me in the latest gas station in Italy. It was a very small area surrounded by small hills. I couldn’t see much more but the lights of the seaside were just in front of me. For a moment I had the crazy idea of going down to the beach and have my last adventure. But as I was very close to France and I knew that is one of the easiest countries to hitchhike in western Europe so I decided to have a try even being so late. Somehow knowing the language and being familiar with the country encouraged me. I started to ask to every person in a french car and after two or three attempts a young guy agreed to drive me for some kilometers, to first gas station in France. I didn’t want to go further because I was very tired and it’s more probable to find a long-distance ride in the morning.

After less than 20 minutes in his car he let me in a huge area for trucks. It was probably the biggest gas station I had seen in my whole trip, full of wide pieces of grass and a lot of parking for cars and trucks. It was close to La Turbie (one hour away walking to Montecarlo according to Google Maps. I didn’t know it). I had a big dinner with all my leftovers, I drank some beers and I went to sleep. For the first time I was able to choose where to put my tent. I could hide myself but it seemed safer to me to be close to the entrance. After so many days sleeping with the sounds of the cars in the background it would have been strange to be in almost complete silence.

Categories: Beach, Gas station, Hitchhiking, Mountains, Wild camping | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From a gas station in Fauglis to another Gas station near Verona

Fauglis-Verona

Fauglis-Verona

As well as other days during my trip where very exciting and many things happened, this was probably the most boring one. I also forgot to make pictures, perhaps because nothing was worth to do it. I have fuzzy memories.

I woke up early as I had been doing for the last mornings. I packed the tent, I played a little bit with Pulguita on the grass and I started my duty. About this long period before being picked up I just remember my regular walks from the signal where I was hitchhiking to the shadow and, as it was getting warmer, to the bathroom to refresh myself. It was quite hot. I am not very sure but I seem to remember that around 12 I was already very hungry, and Pulguita too, so we had a quick lunch under a tree that didn’t last more than 20 minutes.

After this, in some point in the early afternoon a car gave us a ride. I cannot remember the car neither, I would swear that it was an Audi or at least a good car. I remember quite well that the air conditioning was on the maximum and the difference between the outside and the inside was tremendous. I also remember that my driver, a middle age Italian guy, was working as a sales representative so he used to travel a lot. That was probably why he picked me up, because needed some conversation. We were actually talking all the time and it was a quite pleasant trip. He was staying in Verona so I told him to leave me in a gas station a little bit before. Finally he was kind enough to drive to a gas station in the other side of the town so I could avoid the highway exit to the south, making my job easier for the next day. It was just in front of the airport, on the other side of the road.

When we arrived It was getting dark. I tried to hitchhike a little bit more but if in Italy it was difficult during the day, at night it should be almost impossible. I did the exact ritual as the night before, play with the cat, dinner, open a beer or two, read my book and sleep early. This was the more exciting part of that day.

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From a church in Villesse to a gas station in Fauglis

 

Villesse-Fauglis

Villesse-Fauglis

When I woke up around 6:30 am it was still dawning but few minutes later I could realize how beautiful was the field where I was sleeping, the grass was perfectly cut and the church steeple was quite nice. I finished the sandwiches from the previous night, I smoked a morning cigarette admiring the church and I came back to the bar to have my pre-paid coffee. My friend was not there, he apparently used to go a little bit later. I thanked again to the young waiter, I said goodbye and I returned to the roundabout where I had so bad luck the day before.

My tent under the church

My tent under the church

 

My garden

My garden

Once there I confirmed that It was definitely not a good place for hitchhiking, there was not to much space for the cars to stop and the narrow sidewalk was taken by wild grasses. I arrived around 9:30 am after 15 minutes walk that seemed shorter than the previous night. I had been trying to get a ride for a long while but not even a single car stopped. Just the driver of a van that was going to another directions tried to encourage me to abandon and go the train station. Around 11 am I decided to have a rest In the middle of the roundabout where the road passing above was giving some shadow, Pulguita also needed to run a bit. Then I started again without much hope. I was trying to cover my head with a minimal piece of shadow coming from a ridiculous traffic sign, anyway the intense hot was destroying my skin.

From where I was, I could see a big new roundabout still under construction but the work areas was forbidden for pedestrians. On the contrary, cars were allowed to cross this area to join the highway in a steep new driveway with several line intertwined. Despite the signals, I decided to do all the detour and go until the top of the entrance through the works. It took me something like 20 minutes, jumping some fences, walking on the dust and passing 20 meters away from the big “No autostop” signal. At least from there every car was going in my way. I was very disappointed when the first truck stopped, again, only to tell me that it was forbidden to be there. I tried for another 15 minutes, more focused on not be seen by the “Carabinieri” than in the road. None stopped. Finally, I thought that it was too much stress for me and I quitted.

At this point I really didn’t know what to do. I had memorized from the map that the highway split again in two directions several kilometers away, so in a desperate action, I decided to walk on that direction. I went to my favorite roundabout again and I followed the road to Palmanova. Few meters away I saw a signal where it was written “Palmanova 16”. I was exhausted, burned and breaking the law, but this was only the beginning. I was walking on the side of the road, literally on the white line because there was not sidewalk and the cars had to do a slight movement to not run me down while I was hitchhiking without looking back.

Surprisingly, the third car stopped just at my side but when I turned my head I realize that it was the police. They rolled the window down and I discovered two slick-haired agents both with black sunglasses looking at me with a mixture between disgust and cockiness. They ask me some questions but their only reaction to my answers was looking one to the other in a disapproving way. They settled the conversation telling me that I was not allowed to do hitchhiking nor be walking in this road. I really wanted to ask them if they believe that I had the power of teleportation but I refrained from having more problems. This was undoubtedly the climax of the day, nothing could get any worse.

In fact, two cars later a nice middle age couple picked me up. They were going somewhere on the countryside but I told them my story and my problems to get out of this area and they agreed to deviate a little bit from their way. They drove me to Palmanova because there is big highway crossroad there so I could at least try to find a car in my correct direction. I asked them to leave me in the entrance to the highway, but they told me that there was a Police station nearby. They also adviced me about visiting Palmanova and something about the town been built in a star-shape but I didn’t pay to much attention to it. As they told me, just before entering the town we crossed several police cars and then we passed under the city wall getting straight to another world. They let me just there, on the other side.

Palmanova

Palmanova

The atmosphere was extremely calm. The building were all quite similar with two or three storeys with plain facades and many windows. The long street ended in a distant square and was decorated with a kind of medieval flags. Some meters away I noticed a touristic panel so I approached. Indeed it was true, I was in a Renaissance city build in the shape of a perfect 9-pointed star. The structure of the streets was also exactly symmetrical, like a spider net, with radios going to the main square in the center and and concentric circles around.

Palmanova (source: wikipedia)

Palmanova (source: wikipedia)

It was around 1:30 pm so as it happens in Spain (a little bit later) everybody was eating at home and the streets were empty, not even tourists. I started to walk through the Strada Borgo Aquileia toward the central square, Piazza grande. But a moment later I saw a bar with Wi-fi on my left so I decided that the same Pulguita as me deserved a break. The bar was called AB Bar and we remained outside in a small attached table where, after receiving my coffee, I made myself a sandwich with the leftovers. I searched for my position in Google maps, then I checked the road and I confirmed that I must take the A4 toward Torino. Approaching the map to the maximum I noticed a gas station around 6 kilometers away, close to Fauglis, this was going to be my objective for the next few hours.

Piazza Grande

Piazza Grande

Then I went to the deserted central Square, I made some pictures and I turned left looking for the north-west exit of the town. I crossed the walls again and the ensuing pit overlying the outside, there I found this signal:

Il parco storico dei bastioni

Il parco storico dei bastioni

My calculations were wrong so I had to come back following the outside path to reach the road that continued to the west. Once there, walking under the shade of the trees I enjoyed for a moment the beautiful and quiet Italian landscape. But twenty minutes later I found another obstacle. The road was going up crossing the highway from the top of a bridge. When the street started to be steep two crash barrier appeared on both sides forcing me to decide either walk on the inside, with the cars, or on the outside, with the wild-grasses. I chose the latter. But once on the higher point, above the highway, the situation became even more complicated. On this section there was an enormous metal fence separated from the crash barrier (that were also higher there) only by something like half a meter. It was not enough space for a normal person and definitely not for someone with a big backpack with a mat and a tent hanging and a cat’s cage.

The road was also narrowing and the cars were more numerous in this pass. Finally I decided to try a few meters to see if it was possible. Everything is possible but it can take more or less time. Those 20 meters took me at least 10 minutes, fighting with the metal bars and swearing in every language. The detail of my burned skin didn’t help me at all. Few meter away I found another section of the same kind but this time a few centimeters wider so with my recently acquired technique I crossed it without much problems. On the other side there were only fields for a while, the sun was still high so I was trying to find a shadow. It should have been almost 5 pm. My only intention then was to enter in the highway, even if it was for a few kilometers.

Fauglis

Fauglis

I arrived to an intersection and I continued toward Fauglis on the left. I didn’t know exactly where the gas station was so I tried to be as close to the highway as possible. After few meter the road split in two again, the main road was going straight to Fauglis and an even smaller road was going to the left. I took this one because it was closer to the highway and was surrounded by big trees in both side giving a great shade all along. The view was magnificent and after almost two hours walking I decided to stop in a piece of grass, eat something and let Pulguita play a little bit. Not a single car passed. When I restarted I soon arrived to an intersection where the road finished, I considered both sides. I could see the highway on the left but the road was just crossing it without any visual sign of the gas station. Instead of this I went to the right until the small village of Fauglis from were I could ask and buy some food and beer for the evening. I walked on the main road across nice houses until I reach what it seems to be the center of the village. There, I asked to a countrymen if there was any shop nearby. I followed his instructions and 5 minutes later I was in a little “Spar” shop.

I bought provisions and I asked for the gas station but they presumed that I was going by car. I didn’t insist. I went out and I arrived to the other side of the village where I saw a men in a small tractor. I thought, this is my man. This time I explained myself well and he showed me the way, he also told me that the only entrance to the gas station from the outside is a small door that was not always open. A little bit scared, I did my way in the small path and I was there in 15 minutes, around 6 pm. I found the metal door and it was luckily open because the fence was quite tall. I glanced around the area to be sure that it was possible to camp there and I ran to the far end trying to catch a car and escape from there as quick as possible. No luck. At 7:30 pm I decided to keep my energies for the next day. I a had a dinner with Pulguita, we played a little bit and then I read a little bit. I went to sleep quite early.

Categories: Animals, Countryside, Gas station, Hitchhiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From a gas station in Ljubljana to a Church in Villesse

I didn’t die.

Ljubljana-Villesse

Ljubljana-Villesse

As I was still alive, that day I woke up with a lot of energy. It was a sunny day, still early in the morning and I was in a perfect gas station to hitchhike. I was planning to arrive as further as possible in Italy. After packing and drink my coffee, I checked that the others hitchhikers were still sleeping and I went to the end of the gas station to start my work. I wrote “Italy” in my cardboard and I waited with my thumb up, every now and then I was doing a round around the trucks but none offer me a ride. Finally, around midday a young guy with a old car stopped, the rear seats were folded and all the space was full of things including a bike. He was a very nice guy. He explained me a lot of thing about Slovenia and told me that it was a shame I couldn’t spend more time there because is full of nice places to climb and hiking.

My idea was to cross the border through the south part but my driver was going to a village close the northern border, near Gorizia. I checked the map and It looked also a good place to hitchhike. He assured me that it was a very common pass for truckers. In fact, it was a huge industrial area full of trucks. Then I learned that it was a kind of check-in center for European trucks. He let me in a gas station from where I could see the border with Italy. I was quite confident about the future because of the great amount of trucks. I tried to hitchhike for more than one hour but none stopped. A lot of Slovenian truckers were turning back to Slovenia and the ones with long distance routes, generally coming from the Balkans, used to take the southern way.

Slovenian-Italian border gas station

Slovenian-Italian border gas station

Around 3 o’clock the sun was burning my skin so I decided to eat something and have a little rest. No more than half an hour later I was already trying to hitchhike again. Some people stopped but any of them was going to Italy following the highway. A little later a friendly Italian guy told me that it was a complicated point and offered to drive me to the train station from where I could take a train to the south, to somewhere close to the main highway. I accepted. I arrived just 5 minutes before 5:30 pm when the train to Monfalcone was leaving. I was trying hard to remember the map from my mobile phone. The train was going more or less parallel to the highway so I decided to stop in Sagrado, the second stop, in order not to waste any more time.

Unintentionally, my day was turning more and more complicated. Once in Sagrado, I was a little bit disoriented so I went to a coffee shop and I ask for the closest entrance to the highway. I learned that I was quite far from everywhere and they advised me go to Villesse, “only” 5 fucking kilometers away. I started to walk. I was worried because the sun was already going down and It was going to be complicate to hitchhike at night. My only hope then was to enter again to the highway and sleep in a gas station, even if it was not far from there. During my walk, I tried to hitchhike but none even slowed a little. I had heard that Italy was a difficult country to hitchhike and I was starting to check it. After an hour walking I saw a highway entrance under construction on my right, at least I was not far. I arrived to the village soon later.

Villesse

Villesse

Following the signals, I crossed a bridge over the Highway and I arrived to a roundabout with a sign pointing Udine and Venice. That was my way. But I also found this:

No autostop! No fun!

No autostop! No fun!

It was around 7 pm, I tried to hitchhike the best I knew but none stopped. It was getting dark and I didn’t have any place to stay. At 8 pm I surrendered and turned back to the village. I forgot that I was in the north of Italy where the schedules are more European. I only crossed a couple of persons that led me to the central square. I found a hostel on the way so I asked for the prices just in case, strangely, they told me that they were full. I still don’t believe them. They also advised me to go to the main road where I could find a big hotel. I passed by the main square with a church where only one small bar was open and I continued my way to the right. I was more focused in find a piece of field to put my tent than in anything else. I saw one or two nice spots without fence but I wanted to ask in the hotel mainly because I needed a shower. I didn’t see a single person in my way since the central square but surprisingly, the Hotel bar was full. They had a terrace with Caribbean style and trendy music. There was even young people in there. I asked to a waitress and she told me to speak with the girl on terrace-bar because she was supposed to speak in Spanish. I asked her for the prices but it was too expensive for me (more than 1 euro) so I turned back to the Village.

Caribbean terrace

Caribbean terrace

I checked again the piece of field I had seen before but I thought that having a beer in the only bar opened in the whole village was a good idea. I wanted to see what kind of people were living there and envisage if they were going to shoot me in the morning or something like that. When I arrived to the central square I realized that the main church was surrounded by grass without any fence but it was in the offing of several houses indeed. At that very moment an old man carrying a bucket noticed me. In order not to appear rude I approached him and explained that I was looking for a place to sleep. I was not very confident about his reaction but as if it was the more logical thing in the world, he ask me if I didn’t like the church field. I answered him that for me it was more than enough but I was concerned about the neighbors. His answer was still better: “if you have any problem, tell them that I told you to sleep there”.

After that, I told him that I was thinking to go to the bar to have a beer and he insisted to go along with me. In the bar there were only four people, a middle age guy playing on the slot machine, the waitress that was a young girl, my new friend drinking a expressssso and me. He was the typical tall, good looking and stylish Italian man with very kind blue eyes. I ordered a beer and the young girl joined our conversation. They seemed very interested on me and I like to speak a lot so by this time I was already engaged to tell all my adventure. At the end, he invited me to another beer and he paid me a coffee for the next morning in advance. I thanked him a lot before he left then the waitress, infected by this charity atmosphere, gave me also 6 small sandwiches that were left over. When I finished my drink I also thanked to her and left, it was before 11 pm.

The backyard of the church was shared with a row of flats where most of the lights were on. In soite of this, everything was in a confusing silence (or maybe it was just my impression because I am from Spain). I tried to put the tent behind a ridiculous tiny tree but, obviously, everybody could see me anyway. Later on, I smoked my last cigarette and I saw someone on his balcony doing the same thing, we looked at each other but none said nothing. I went to sleep quite soon. I was feeling safe because god was taking care of me.

Villesse central square (Church and bar on the left)

Villesse downtown (Church and bar)

PD. Man from Villesse, If you are reading this, thank you so much for everything and I apologize for not remembering your name.

Categories: Church, hiking, Hitchhiking, Village, Wild camping | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Zagreb to a gas station near Ljubljana

Zagreb-Ljuljana detail

Zagreb-Ljuljana detail

I woke up around 8 o’clock when a lot of people was already on the queues for the first flights of the day. I got surprised when I saw that Aleksandra wasn’t there, I checked that Pulguita was OK and packed everything quickly. The airport was already full of people and I discovered that the wiser sleepers were on the second floor that still remained quite empty. The only visible socket was engaged by someone so I went straight to the coffee shop and asked for a big coffee to wake up, there I could charge my mobile phone and look on Google maps for the nearest highway. Apparently the closest highway entrance was at 8 kilometers from the airport so about hour and a half walking.

Zagreb Airport exit

Zagreb Airport exit

I started my walking as soon as I felt awake, unfortunately I got confused in some point and I did an unintentional touristic tour around a village called Gradići. In total, I made an extra 5 Kilometers but at least I found a LIDL and I have to say that people was specially kind with me in this village.

Gradići miners tribute?

Gradići miners tribute?

Then I undertook my way back having to stop every 15 minutes because the sun was starting to burn and also taking advantage to feed Pulguita. After an hour and a half I arrived to a place that looked as a highway entrance so I decided to have another coffee in a gas station before start the hitchhike but the waiter informed me that the road was under construction, still not open, and that it remained me half an hour of walk to reach the main entrance. I was exhausted but I hadn’t any other option. When I arrived to my destination it was already around 3 o’clock, the place was not very good to hitchhike but at least there was a traffic light lowering down the cars. At first, I wrote down “Spain” in my cardboard but I realized that the Croatians didn’t share the same sense of humor as me so I tried with “Ljubljana” (yes, I had to check the map to not misspelling). After an hour a car stopped, I’m so sorry but I can remember the car or the driver even though I’m quite sure that he or she was nice. Anyway, the mysterious driver took me to a gas station just before the border with Slovenia.

Gas station close to the Croatian-Slovenian border

Gas station close to the Croatian-Slovenian border

There I had my third coffee of the day and I made a quick friendship with the waiter, he was a young guy originally from Algeria (I think) that spoke french and was also traveler, we had a short by intense conversation. When I started again my hitchhiking I saw three guys coming down from a car with a strong hitchhiker looking, I decided to approach them, I was right. There were two French and a hippie guy citizen of the world, I spoke for a while with them specially to be sure that they were not going to steal my preferential place but they were respectful hitchhikers so they agreed. Soon after I saw a middle age guy with a friendly face and I had a feeling that he could be my lover driver, I was right again. He took me from that gas station to another one just to the height of Ljubljana, a really big one. At this time it was already 6 o’clock so I had my fourth coffee very quick and I crossed the whole place to reach the opposite side trying to get a ride before the sundown. I didn’t succeeded but at least I made those amazing pictures:

Amazing picture I

Amazing picture I

Amazing picture II

Amazing picture II

Then, I asked to a truckers if there was any cheap supermarket around the gas station and he sent me to the village through a small path. After passing a group of houses I arrive to a riverside full of trees and I got to an even smaller path with bushes at both sides, it was dark and a little bit scary. On the other side I saw the big sign of the supermarket so I run to arrive on time. When I got in it was 7:55 but the supermarket cashier didn’t let me in…, stupid bitch!  Anyway, I keep walking because from there I could see a LIDL signal a little bit farther but when I arrived It was also closed. In my way back through the deserted industrial park I found a caravan selling kebabs and burgers, the guy was the only person in a square kilometer so I decided to stop there. He was Turkish, we were speaking for a while and I spent 4 euros for a beer and a tasty kebab, then I bought another beer just in case and I traverse the tunnel of terror back more relax because of the alcohol.

When I arrived again to the gas station I was exhausted, it was already around 11 o’clock so I fed Pulguita and I decided to put my tent anywhere in the huge pieces of grass. In that moment I saw another tent and people partying around but I was too tired to join them and instead of that I thought that it was good idea to settle a little bit far away. When I was finished all the process of fixing the tent and keeping things inside, I sat outside to drink my beer and I saw again a couple of guys that I had been seeing the whole evening. They were going from the bottom to the top of the gas station and sometimes to the other side of the road with an old Volkswagen Golf approaching and speaking to all the truckers. They were definitely doing something suspicious, that night I decided to use the small padlocks for the tent’s zipper because I had a bad feeling about them.

(You will know if I died… in the next post… chacha!)

Categories: Gas station, hiking, Hitchhike, hitchhikers, Hitchhiking, Wild camping | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Donji Vakuf to Banja Luka to Zagreb

Donij Vakuf-Zagreb

Donji Vakuf-Zagreb

When we woke up, we were quite cold because even in the summer the temperatures drops near to zero in Central Bosnia due to the elevation and the steep terrain. We also had to wait for a while till the tent dried from the dew.

Bosnain dawn

Bosnian dawn

Tent drying up the dew

Tent drying from the dew

Then, still in the early morning, we started to hitchhike just on the main road, but we had to wait at least two our to get a ride.

Hit the road Jack

Hit the road Jack

Meanwhile I was filling up the time improving my invented song “Land mine, wild camping” (coming soon), finally an aged man took us in his old truck. He was the typical old person with the body wasted because of an entire life working,  but with those bright honest happy eyes, I really liked him. It was Sunday so, as we were going to learn, Bosnian people drink during the whole day. The old little man offered us a beer in the truck, then he stopped in a small bar and invited us to another beer and just before let us in the road he passed throw his house to show his wife that he was carrying foreign hitchhikers, it was touching. We started again to hitchhike (I can’t identify the exact village in Google maps, it was probably Babin Potok) in front of a big house with children playing and the family members staring at us.

Somewhere in central Bosnia

Somewhere in central Bosnia

Somewhere in central Bosnia II

Somewhere in central Bosnia II

We needed again some time to be caught but a little later we were carried by two young heavy metal Bosnians that were also drinking in the car. We were talking about music and then they insisted on hearing me playing Spanish music with the guitar so I had to play “Nube the pegatina” the song I used to keep for that kind of situations. They dropped us in the entrance of Jajce, a very beautify city famous because of its waterfalls where the Pliva River meets the river Vrbas. We were in a busy crossing so we decided to walk a little bit, following the road that borders the town to the north. Happily some meter away we found a very nice view to the waterfalls, but unfortunately all the gaps were in that left side of the road and any of them in our direction.

The waterfalls are just after the cabin... I swear!

The waterfalls are just behindthe cabin… I swear!

...OK, just a little bit further...

…OK, just a little bit further…

We kept walking and started to feel hungry, but any shop was open. After a quite long walk we found the first suitable place to hitchhike in kilometers but a local suspicious woman was already taking over the place. We tried for a while to share the space with her but she “suggested” us to go away so we obeyed, scared about her threat. A little bit later we were so tired that we started to hitchhike in the first small gap we found on the road.

Overview of Jajce

Overview of Jajce

Overview of Jajce II

Overview of Jajce II

The uncrowded roads and the fact that it was Sunday was making our day harder, we also started to feel thirsty, very hungry and worried about the chances to be on time in Zagreb. After one or maybe two hours a young strange guy stopped and agreed to drive us to Banja Luka. As you probably already guessed the guy had the car full of beers (It is definitely a Bosnian tradition), so we recovered our hope in this long day full of ups and downs (this was still nothing, keep reading).

When we arrived to Banja Luka our driver stopped to fill his fuel tank in the first gas station and we decided to stay because we saw a big supermarket and we really needed to eat something. Before saying good bye we insisted on inviting him for a coffee in appreciation to the beers. The guy was in a hurry so he swallowed his coffee at a gulp and left two minutes later.

Filler Pulguita's picture

Filler Pulguita’s picture

We ran to the supermarket like malnourished dogs, but  again the luck got us in the back. We bought a big peace of cheese, a bag of sausages, bread and some garlic. I don’t know how to explain it, but we both really wanted to throw up. The sausage was disgusting, but the cheese…. the cheese was the worst thing I have eaten in my life, the producers should be in jail, not even joking.

 Therewith, we went again to the supermarket to buy some juice or something to cover the taste, but it was already closed so we decided to eat pieces of garlic instead. After that we still wanted to throw up, but at least for a different reason. We where tired and with a slight diurnal hangover but we didn’t have any other option than keep hitchhiking to the north, because our fly was going to take off the next day at midnight. Banja Luka is the second biggest city of Bosnia, is quit big and interesting but we didn’t have any more time for tourism. We followed the road searching for a place to hitchhike but we were exactly in the southern entrance of the city and we wanted to go to the north.

The only picture of Banja Luka we made

The only picture of Banja Luka we made

After one hour or more we had one of the most unpleasant experiences in our trip.  Just after passing a gas station we were walking on the big avenue and we heard a big riot. Right after that we saw a group of young people shouting and walking in our direction, and when we approached a little bit closer, we realized that they were raising their arms just as the unfriendly German dwarf with a funny mustache used to. I imediately took Aleksandra’s hand and I told her to turn around and go to the gas station as fast as possible. In addition of our hippie traveler look we had painted an anarchist “A” on Pulguita’s travelbag, so we had a lot of chances to be in trouble.  Luckily, we reached the gas station’s cafeteria, we sat in the most hidden table and ordered a coffee. From there we could see some of the retarders going in and buying cigarettes but none of them seemed to realize about our presence. We stayed there for a while a little bit scared and very desperate, because the sun was going down, and we really wanted to leave Banja Luka to, at least, wild camp somewhere in the countryside. When we ensured that the road was clear, we went out. The roundabout with the Zagreb highway exit was only some minutes away but we had a very few sunlight left so we did it as fast as we could. During the walk we realized that our Nazi friends were probably coming from the nearby football stadium, were intellectual people normally have their meetings. Once there, we tried to hitchhike the best as we could (if there is some technique) but no one stopped.

Filler Pulguita's picture II

Filler Pulguita’s picture II

The day was turned to be the hardest in our trip but, on the other hand, that is the point of hitchhiking, to never know what is going to happen and be able to overcome all the adversities. Anyway, even if we had had good references about Banja Luka, we really wanted to be out of there quickly so we decided, not without arguing, to take a bus somewhere to the north and we started looking for the bus station. It wasn’t too far, but atsome point we took the wrong way so it took us around one hour to get there. At least something good happened: we discovered that there was a night bus going to Zagreb leaving at 22 and the station minimarket was still open. We ate something and we waited for the bus, it was already completely dark.

Filler Pulguita's picture III

Filler Pulguita’s picture III

When we got to the bus we had again some troubles, it looked that the day was endless, we had bought the ticket and spent all the money we had left in the shop, but the driver wanted to charge us an extra amount to put our backpack in the trunk of the van (yes, it was a van). I started to argue with him but thanks to a friendly guy who got in to the conversation, the driver allowed us to put the backpacks in the van with us. By the way, we were hiding Pulguita at the same time so we didn’t feel relieved until the bus left the station. The next challenge was to cross the European border going into Croatia. The bus was stuck there for at least half an our, everybody showed their documents. From all the passengers, we only had one loss, an innocent young girl who was probably an international terrorist carrying guns into Europe to kill our children. The important part – we smuggled Pulguita in. 

Filler Pulguita's picture IV

Filler Pulguita’s picture IV

Anyway, we arrived to Zagreb on time, around 2 am and some of the shops at the bus station were still open. It was a big station with a huge space with seats on the first floor, and even if the gate´s entrance was open the whole night and there was no security guards, it looked quite save… or not, we were too tired for quibbling. We had a quick sandwich (actually it was a disgusting old greasy Burek, fitting quite well to our days menu) and we found a perfect hidden space in a corner, so we settled with the bags at the bottom and we finally had a deserved sleep, it was a round 3 am.

Categories: Animals, Hitchhike, Hitchhiking, Mountains, Valley, Wild camping | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

From a random Croatian beach to Mostar

Now, after checking on the Internet I know that we were somewhere between Srebreno and Mlini, a little touristic villages five kilometer before Dubrovnik. We walked from the main road down to the sea following a narrow stairs through a forest and we arrived to a seafront promenade full of hotels and restaurants, but quite calm and depressing at the same time. To give you an Idea, a mature man was singing old american country and soul hits in a very peculiar way, while the people his age applauded him . We had spent the days before quite intensively, so we were tired and the ambient didn’t help, whole families staring at us as we were from a different planet. We had our traditional ham and cheese sandwich with beer, and then we moved to a park near the sea with perfect hidden and flat places to put our tent. We did it carefully because we were warned that it was going to rain. Indeed, it started to rain at some point of the night and it didn’t stop until the late morning, including thunders and lightnings. It was the first full exam for our new tent and it passed it quite well. The terrain and the position of the tent on a slope also helped. The next morning we decided to leave Croatia straight away, it was so touristic and expensive, and we had to return to Zagreb Anyway. Before leaving, we got to one last (and first) Croatian cafe. There, Aleksandra got a delicious frappe, while I drank a disgusting espresso and then we started to hitchhike. We didn’t have to wait to much and a nice Croatian guy (Paul) who also worked in the tourism sector gave as a lift from there to an intersection, where we could catch a ride to Bosnia. On the way we saw Dubrovnik from the car… so sad. Suddenly a grey morning changed to a very hot afternoon. We were hitchhiking for a big while and we already started to be worried, when we saw a strange van full of colors approaching us quite fast. When the guys from inside the van saw us they jammed on the breakes and stopped literally a few meters from us . It was an old English school van, decorated with colourful graffittis.

English school hippie van

English school hippie van

Attention to the sign on top

Attention to the sign on top

Three big blond guys came out from the van and invited us to go inside, they were clearly “happy”. There was also a girl who turned out to be a girlfriend of the most drunk one. We instantly received a beer and we tried to get in their mood as far as possible, I started to play the guitar while the craziest one decided that pissing from the van door while it was driving, was a cool idea. Of course we were stopped at the border, but there’s nothing that money couldn’t fix. By the way, they were Australians travelling around the world.

Australian people

Australian people

Their intention was to jump from the Mostar bridge and mine was not to die. When we arrived, it started to rain again but we already realized that Mostar was a very beautiful place, and also, that Bosnian people don’t like drunk foreigners.  The first thing that caught my attention was all the walls with bullets marks from the war.

War survivor wall

War survivor wall

Sad but very interesting. The “aussies” wanted to have a dinner in a restaurant so we joined them, but we only had a beer. In contrast, they ate a big meat grill plate that looked very tasty, as well as the bill. Then they moved to an open space out of the town and went to sleep. We were used to start the party at that time of the evening but we didn’t have more choice than to put our tent near the van and try to sleep. Unfortunately it was not a very good place for that, it was full of rubbish, stones and cars doing strange movement and in addition to all that it started to rain. This time we couldn’t put the tent so well so the front top got wet. Tent 1 – Rain 1. It was probably the worst night in our trip, but still interesting to remember.

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From Kotor to a random beach in Croatia

Winter was coming

Winter was coming

After two days we were looking forward to be in the road again. We started to walk by the exit of the town which leads to the north. Some meters away we found another hitchhiking couple trying to get a ride. It was a Spanish-German couple. Kotor is definitely the most “hitchhiker friendly” town we found in our trip. Unfortunately it started to rain, so we decided to hitchhike from under a little corner shop’s roof. It was not a very good place but we needed only a few minutes to catch the first car. It was a middle aged woman (Vesta) with a good car and a perfect English that drove us to Perast, a little bit further than her destination. During the short journey the sky started to cover up in a very scary dark gray color.

Raining cats and dogs

Raining cats and dogs

I didn't care about the rain

I didn’t care about the rain

The heavy rain was waiting for us so we had to run to the nearest cafe. We didn’t have time to admire the view and that little village was really charming.  It was much less touristic and smaller than Kotor, so instead of big cruisers you could see little fisherman’s boats and transparent water, with the same crazily beautiful mountains around. We stayed in a cafe at least three hours.  It didn’t stop to rain all that time. I tried to bargain with the owner to exchange my guitar to another exposed in the bar as a decoration but my efforts didn’t have any reward.

Come on, sell me the fucking guitar!

Come on, sell me the fucking guitar!

After the storm a beautiful sunny color impregnated the whole bay, it was a magic moment. In the way back to the main road we had the time to make some beautiful pictures of the bay and the little fisherman boats.

Beautiful landscape

Beautiful landscape

Already there, we realized that there was no place to hitchhike in our direction, so we tried out the more risky hitchhiking mode: “the reverse hitchhiking”. It was fucking hard… That’s not true. We needed two minutes for a car to stop.  That’s when we met one of the main characters in our trip story: Habib. At this time he was with another Turkish friend, Emir,  and he drove us from Perast to Herceg Novi. He also gave us two CD´s of Turkish music: Burhan Öçal & The Trakya All Stars  and Gönül Sayfam . Once there, we stopped to buy something to eat in a very small corner shop with a smiley old woman that actually give as a tomato for free. She was so nice that we decided to hitchhike few meters away not to block her entrance. Soon other hitchhikers arrived to this place, leaving us in a less advantageous position. Anyway, we were caught before them by an interesting Montenegrin guy with a ruined old Golf. He drove us to the border with Croatia and, by the way, with the European Union. We crossed the border walking again and there we found another of our animal friends. We very originally called him Pulgui 3. There he is:

Pulgui 3

Pulgui 3

He was specially trained to bark furiously and try to attack all the car that ignored us, specially the Germans. We finally got a ride from a very friendly Bulgarian couple whose car was already full without us. From Christian (the driver) we learned about “Dubioza Kolektiv”, a Bosnian band that we liked a lot. They wanted to leave us in a proper Camping site but we didn’t find the way to explain them that we were wild camping. After leaving them we felt a little bit upset, because we had the impression that they wanted to spend an evening with us (If you are reading that, sorry anyway). We finally were in Croatia but we weren’t very sure where exactly.

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