Mountains

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 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

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