Hostel Milingona

This place deserves a separate post!

Hostel Milingona (not Milonga, as we thought at the beginning :P) is a truly magical place much different from impersonal big hostels I am used to. Milingona means ant in Albanian and I think there is no better name for this small, cozy place.

Hostel Milingona

Hostel Milingona

 

Even though it is next to the city centre, is quite tricky to find, as it is located in one of these narrow streets in the old district and has no sign (apart from an ant painted on a front door). But as soon as you find it, you feel like you´re back home thanks to very homey interior design and, above all, very welcoming atmosphere created by the owners of the place.

Backyard

Backyard

 

We arrived there (after some struggle) way after midnight and we apparently woke half of the guests and all the stuff up. But still, we we were received in a very warm and welcoming way.  We put our tent in the backyard and enjoyed a moment with a beer after a long and exhausting trip. The fact that it is possible to camp in the backyard for lower fee is an excellent solution for backpackers traveling on a budget, as ourselves. Especially, that in the morning we were surprised with a mouthwatering Byrek for breakfast, included in the price.

In the living room

In the living room

I think there is nothing we didn´t like about the place: the design with some old-fashioned furniture and walls covered with stencils, the relaxed and friendly owners (it´s a family business) that were treatig travelers rather as friends than customers, Yoga – the cute dog that bravely protects the property and all the guests, other travelers that fit in the chilled-out atmosphere of this magic place and of course the old district full of bazaars and lively cafe´s.

Stencil

Stencil

Yoga

Yoga

 

Tirana

Tirana

 

I know it looks like a comercial, but it´s just our way to say thank you to all the people we met at hostel Milingona!  You´re magical!

 

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Tirane

The capital of Albania is a very special city. We arrived there at night, but the streets were still full of people, lights, cars and open fast food restaurants.

We had a ridiculous small map to arrive to a previously recommended hostel. First, we stopped to eat something and get some power and ask for the address. Everybody we asked was very helpful but surprisingly no one understood our map. Another interesting thing about Tirane is that they use the streets numbers randomly, it´s like a lottery. Finally we managed to find the other hostel, the “Backpackers” but it was full. Luckily  the guy in the reception was very kind, he gave us a map and shown the best way to arrive the Milingona hostel.

It was already 12:30 and we still had to cross half of the town. Tirane is organized in a special way. It has big avenues that start from the city center and all the rest are little streets usually unpaved, not straight at all and with all the electric cables from several blocs hold by a wooden post. We found it really charming.

Creative electricians

Creative electricians

When we arrived close to the hostel we asked about direction in a grocery shop and it turned out that the guy was studying Spanish on his own (he has quite a good accent), so we were talking for a while. Then we asked again a baker who was already working  and he closed his business only to come along with us all the way until the hostel´s door. We finally arrived around 01:30 to the Milingona (that means ant in Albanian) hostel.

Milingona Hostel

Ant Hostel

Another peculiarity is that at least a third of the cars on the streets of Tirana, a proper Muslim country, are Mercedes Benz. In general they like luxurious cars, which  makes a big contrast with the surroundings. A lot of Albanians are working abroad so most of the plates are from other countries, specially Germany and Austria.

Busy street

Busy street

The last thing I would like to point out from Tirane is the wealth of markets and little street shops with desirable fruits and vegetables. You can also buy tobacco, clothes and, in fact, everything, everywhere. Great city and helpful people.

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Streets of Tirana

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From Ohrid to Tirana

Ohrid-Tirana

Ohrid-Tirana

We walked to the only high way at the end of the town. It was a little bit hard because of the heat, but at least we discovered  different kinds of neighborhoods, not touristic at all.

Watermelon fountain at the outskirts of the city

Watermelon fountain at the outskirts of the city

We stopped at a gas station and we started to hitchhike. As in the rest of Macedonia, the people around did not care at all about us. After 5 or 6 cars, whose drivers always apologized, one stopped. It was a young small guy with a “tuned up” car. It was clearly a wrong choice. I do not have any complain about him as a person, he really wanted to help us, but he could not keep the car on the line, specially when he spoke with Aleksandra who was on the back seat.  I had to advice him for three times that we were going to die. The ride was initially to be 10 kilometers long but he insisted on driving as five kilometers further. In ten minutes I lost 3 kilograms. When we finally arrived,  we restarted to hitchhike at the entrance of a small village, just few kilometers before the border. After we had to decline around ten taxis, a small van stopped. He was already carrying another hitchhiker couple from Czech Republic. We exchanged some experiences and tips as fast as we could because we arrived very fast to the border. Because we are educated hitchhikers we let them catch the car first, so we lost some time but we felt good. We went some meters away, already on the Albanian side, and after twenty minutes we saw them passing by. The sun started to go down and we were a little bit worried, all around there were only taxi drivers, gipsy families and kilometers of mountains. Fortunately, another Audi with Italian plates stopped. They were two Macedonian guys going to have some fun in Tirana, it was Friday. Before getting in we clearly explained that we had no money and they seemed to accept the fact. We had a quite pleasant trip, switching between German, Italian and Elf language. Unfortunately once in Tirana we got disappointed, when the passenger asked again for money. We had no troubles, but the goodbye became kind of weird. Fuck you, you did not got our sticker.

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Ohrid

Ohrid is a beautiful city. Before coming here, we heard some contradictory opinions about it. “It is a really nice city, you have to see it”, versus “It is so turistic, it is  hard to stand”. Now we really have to see it, we thought, and decide on our own what we think about it.

Just when we got here we already knew it is a little bit of both. Just us we got of the car, we got “attacked” by the locals offering us private accommodation. With every step the price got lower. The cheapest offer was 5 euros per person, not a bad deal, but not at all attractive for us, we felt still fresh and clean after having the last bath in the river, and we wanted explore some cool camping spots in Ohrid.

When we got to the city center we got honestly surprised by the beauty of this small city. We  did not expect a typical mediterranean town with small white houses spread around two bushy hills. With a beautiful view on the Ohrid lake. The water in the lake has color as lasure as the mediterranean sea at the Lasure Coast, but with refreshingly fresh water.

Ohrid lake

Ohrid lake

We were so charmed with the city, we couldnt get bothered with looking for a place to camp before the dusk. We just sipped some beer admiring the views and wondering what is waiting for us on the other side of the lake ( we could see the hilly Albanian shore of the lake).

somewhere in Ohrid

somewhere in Ohrid

When we finally decided we should look for some place to camp, it took us about   ten minutes to find a good place to camp, quite remote from the houses, with a lot of trees around and some flat places to put a camp on. When we already decided where we wanted to stay, we saw some men with torchlights. Our imagination started to produce macabre images  in our heads, of serial killers hunting for victims in the forest. We had to run.

At the bottom of the, on the cliff coming down to the lake, we found a nice church with a pretty an appealingly flat lawn. There were still people visiting the orthodox church, some couples making out and some kids drinking probably their first beer, and the church was pretty illuminated, but we decided that this is our place. We took out the guitar and practiced a bit our travel song.

In the morning we knew it was a good decision:  the views were better than in any other place, there was a stone bench with a great table, where we could have  our breakfast of champions, and a potable water point, were we could refuel our water supplies and even (a complete luxury) clean our teeth and faces.

In the house of our Lord

In the house of our Lord

The Church

The Church of St. John at Kaneo

One of the best breakfast spots!

One of the best breakfast spots!

Just below the church, there was a small beach, where we spent our whole afternoon.  The most of our attention drew a local wiseman with a long white beard. We didnt actually understand what he was saying, but he spoke with a such a low, deep voice, all he said sounded as words of wisdom. To contrast his general appearance, his actions weren´t so sophisticated: he was gutting small sardines and storing them in an empty Marlboro box. He was accompanied by identical twins, two local sirens with long tanned legs and heads full of lovely wavy hair. We suspect the local authorities send these three to the beach as a tourist attraction.

wiseman and his marlboro sardines

wiseman and his marlboro sardines

In the lake

In the lake

Another special detail of the beach was a couple of hairy cats from a local bar. One was completely grown and was a fierceful hunter of all the insects. Other one was just a baby, learning the art of catching small animals. He was such a dutiful student, he followed a dragonfly all the way until the bottom of the lake. Once everybody saw this pitiful animal, all wet and shivering, it got more affect and attention than all the sun, beach, lake, drinks with umbrella and all the touristic crap all together.

Our little friend

Our little friend

After the beach, we hade a lunch and decided to continue our journey.
Ohrid is a nice city, but one day is enough.  And being constantly on the move is for us an addiction we can´t (and won´t) give up.

Cooking in the centre of Ohrid

Cooking in the centre of Ohrid

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From Skopje to Ohrid

Skopje-Ohrid

Skopje-Ohrid

Hitchhiking in Macedonia is like taking a taxi. We had three different drivers and we waited in total around 5 minutes. In the whole Balkans you can see the city where the cars are from on the plate, so if you want to get a quick ride you should wait for a wanted destination and ask the person to join the ride, that’s it.

Ohrid

Ohrid

The first was JJ, a guy with a big Audi who used to work in Switzerland and speaks German. Aleksandra could refresh a little bit her German knowledge. He was so nice that he called his friends that drove us from Tetovo to Gostivar. They where three black dressed big guys, that looked a bit scary, but they turn out to be also very nice. They spoke English so I finally could spend a trip speaking.

The last one was an old young man (that kind of person very difficult to guess his age). He didn’t like to speak too much but he did his job, quite fast by the way.

The first thing we saw in Ohri: wonderful market full of colours

The first thing we saw in Ohrid: wonderful market full of colours

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More about Matka

Just a few more words about Matka Canyon. It is a beautiful place just twenty kilometers from Skopje. It is easily reachable by the city bus (number 60) That takes you just to the place in about an hour. A price of a ticket is 35 Macedonian dinars, which is about 50 cents. This is a really low price for getting to the (relative)  wilderness, an oasis of nature with a refreshing river in the middle of the canyon, a paradise for thirsty, dirty and tired of city noise hitchhikers.

The river (O, dobra rzeko, o madra wodo.)

The river
(O, dobra rzeko, o madra wodo.)

It is a great place for one day getaway (as a hike to monastery that we did), as well as a starting point for a few days mountain hiking trip.

Admiring the views with the pedo cap

Admiring the views with the pedo cap on

The monastery

The monastery

Mountains

Mountains

I was personally absolutely charmed with this special place. Maybe that is way I got furious when I saw locals shamelessly littering the area and, even worse, throwing plastic bags and bottles to the river.

 Our place by the river. Sadly, full of rubbish when we got there.

Our place by the river. Sadly, full of rubbish when we got there.

First fire!

First fire!

But I guess it is a matter of lack of knowledge and information about environment. We thought it might be a nice idea to make some kind of environmental voluntary project there.

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Matka Canyon

Skopje-Matka Canyon

Skopje-Matka Canyon

We arrived to the Matka Canyon half past nine in the night. Even the bus driver asked us why we were going there so late. Good for us, we had someone waiting for us, a little dog that we called “Pulgi” (pulga=flea), who stayed with us until the next evening.

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Pulgi

Because it was dark we couldn’t realize how beautiful the place  was. One kilometer away we find a small path near the river and then a lake between the mountains. It was impressive to find that in the middle of the night. Unfortunately at some point the path passed through a Hotel’s restaurant and the waiter told us that we had to pay 5 euros each to continue because the way was private. He also offered us a room for 30 euros. We had no doubt, we are hitchhikers, so we turn back. Pulgi also agreed.

It was a little bit scary because it was completely dark and deserted, but finally we found a nice spot to sleep after hiking a little bit, and crossing some goats.

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Our home

The next morning we had a coffee in the only bar to charge our mobile phones and camera. I got very amazed when, “Caballero” a Julio Iglesias song sounded in the speakers, the weirdest and cheesiest singer and song ever. That’s my style, I like the place!

Then we were hiking for an hour and a half with all our stuff to reach a monastery on the rocks (St. Nicholas Monastery) . It was worth seeing. Pulgi stood there, probably praying for bones or some other delicious snack.

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Monastery

When we came back to the riverside, the place seemed like Jersey Shore in Macedonian Style. It was full of people, including families and groups of teenagers. To be sincere it was full of rubbish too. We were kind of upset to see how they don’t care about such a beautiful place. Even though it still remained interesting for us to see how Macedonians spend their Sunday.

We had our lunch on the river and  the Macedonians started to light their barbecues on the early evening. When the sun started to go down we walked to the nearest corner shop. The owner was the typical old woman you expect to find in a place like that. With a permanent smile on her face she managed to communicate with us with means of signs. She even gave us two chair for the time she spent to look for our change.

DSC01048

Matka Kanyon

Then we came back praying that no one had been occupying a perfect hidden spot we had seen in the morning. It was a magic place just near the river  but only accessible by crossing a bridge and walking 10 minutes trough the bushes. The perfect place for a wild camp. We got it, and just when it became completely dark we lit a fire in an already prepared fireplace. We drank some beer and we also started to write a song about our trip (soon worldwide available).

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“The body”

The next morning we said goodbye to this special place with a morning naked bath in the river. Once clean and fresh we returned to Skopje and charged our food handbag in another strange shopping mall. Then we started to hitchhike.

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Skopje

Skopje is quite an interesting city with great differences between districts. The downtown is modern with lots of fashion cafes with wifi signal everywhere. The riverside is quite  monumental with (in my opinion) too many statues placed with no aesthetic sense. Then there is the old town, very touristic and full of appealing Muslim restaurant. And a little bit further you can find the street markets that is a mix of soviet and Arabic style. In addition of all of that, there are enormous shopping malls breaking the balance, but making the town still more special to the foreigner eyes.

Typical Macedonian horses in their natural environment

Typical Macedonian horses in their natural environment

Pregnant women  sitting on a fountain

Pregnant women sitting on a fountain

We had the impression that it keeps a kind of organization on the Chaos. The best example of all that contrast was a situation we had in the central bus station, that’s under a grey bridge underneath the train station. Every gate had the number of at least 3 different buses (I guess between 1 and 100) but every bus stopped in any place but indicated. Watching that craziness we asked about the schedule to a group of teenagers. They intermediately checked it in their I-phones and we had the answer in half a minute. By the way, in turned out to be wrong. Skopje rules.

Chillin' at the bus station

Chillin’ at the bus station

But the weirdest (and finally funniest) situation I have experienced in Skopje happened when I was sitting alone on a bench with the backpack waiting for Aleksandra. I saw a strange old woman walking in my direction and looking right through me with her crazy scary eyes. She crossed my personal space and without asking took our bottle of lemonade we just bought. I started to speak with her but she didn’t answer. She took a large sip from it, but she was not satisfied. So with any shame she put down the bottle and took our bottle of water, repeating the same action. By this time the people from the nearby cafe were already laughing (they probably knew her). Then she left with no sign of worry. There she is:

Lady in red

Lady in red

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Macedonia, first impressions

Macedonia is probably the most exotic place where we are going to hitchhike. We heard before about the mix of ethnicities and religions, but it is Skopje where you can really observe it.

As proper hitchhikers, we passed the border walking. There are two control barriers to cross the Serbian and the Macedonian border, the space in the middle looked like Mordor. The Serbian customs policeman laughed a little bit at us asking if we where part of the mafia (he probably heard about Spanish politicians). The first thing you see arriving to Macedonia is a lot of gipsies trying to get money from everybody. They didn’t insist too much with us because of the hitchhiker appearance.

Then we got a ride from a very friendly Macedonian trucker with that sort of huge cabin (we were missing that kind of conversations with experienced truckers who knew at least one word in every language, because they had traveled everywhere). We went down just on the outskirts of Skopje.We asked where to take the bus to the owner of a little corner shop. There we discovered one of the Macedonian people characteristics, they are very helpful. The man showed us the way so we took the bus to Skopje.

Welcome to Macedonia!

Welcome to Macedonia!

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Inđija to Skopje

Inđija-Skopje

Inđija-Skopje

Upon leaving Inđija, we had some coffee and ice-cream for breakfast. One scoop was a size of three normal ones and cost 40 dinars – 0.35euro (I might have mentioned that before, but I’m still in owe). Although my banana flavour tasted like lemon, it was still really good. Coffee (70 dinars = 0,50 euro) was crap, but you know, you can’t always get what you want.

Our ice-cream. So big, so cheap, so good!

Our ice-cream. So big, so cheap, so good!

So let’s go back on the road! Next stop: Skopje! (?)
This time it wasn’t so easy. We had to walk all the way from the city to the pay toll. It seemed much less in the car. And with Igor complaining all the way, it seemed even longer. OK, we are here. Let’s begin.

Part1: From pay toll to Belgrade. Waiting time: 20 minutes.
A really nice, but a bit crazy driver from Zadar took us. wanted to make sure he’ll leave us at a right place, so he called his wife so that we could explain here where we want to go in English. Really fun ride. By the way, as it turns out, it’s completely normal to use rear gear at Serbian highways :).

Part 2: Belgrade – Vranje. Waiting time: 30 minutes.
After a short while Marian, a Serbian truck driver stopped to take us with his truck. He was going to Vranje, a city close to the Macedonian border. We felt bad all the way we couldn’t communicate well. We tried some Polish-Serbian mix, but it which worked more or less, but it wasn’t enough for a decent conversation.

We got out at the outskirts of Vranje. It was already late and dark, no way we could continue today .Marian left us at the exit to Vranje, so we had to walk about 500m to the gas station. The way wasn’t illuminated and we didn’t have any reflective bands. Tip for backpackers: it’s really important to have something to be visible at the road, better safe than sorry. It’s decided – it’s our next purchase.

We slept directly at the gas station. By now, we don’t care anymore about hiding.

Our camping place next to Vranje

Our camping place next to Vranje

Dinner: Noodles with bread crumbs - Yummy!

Dinner: Noodles with bread crumbs – Yummy!

The next day everything was going quite smoothly. We arrived to Skopje in two goes: first we caught a ride to Serbian-Macedonian border.

We passed the border walking. We were so busy arguing, we didn’t even realize we are stepping on the Macedonian land.
We were stopped by the policeman, who concluded we are Polish-Spanish backpackers mafia. He let us through anyway.

Upon crossing the border we already knew that gypsy beggars were ruining our business. We decided to try our luck. Fortunately we look (and are) too poor to attract them. We waited about 20 minutes, but it was clear people were annoyed so they either didn’t want to stop or and drove away in anger. Apart from that, strong smell of piss was hard to bear.
We had to move. We moved 20 m away and all we had to wait to catch a hike was 5 minutes. A Macedonian trucker, Igor stopped to take us to Skopje. He knew some Russian so we could communicate mixing Polish, Russian and Macedonian. After 30 minutes we were in Skopje. Trip Inđija – Skopje in 24 hours.

Could be better, but you know, it’s all about the journey!

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Belgrade

Belgrade

Belgrade

I’m not really an easy person to impress, but I sincerely loved Belgrade. It’s nothing concrete, I loved absolutely everything. In my personal opinion this city had some kind of soul that I didn’t find for long time now, so I’ll try to explain it.

Imagen

City center

I found that Belgrade caught the best of its general influences, Soviet, western European, Mediterranean and their own Balkan one. You can find those big and cold Soviet building as well as stately ones. You can also find a cobblestone little streets and markets hidden in a cute spots with very eastern style full of small corridors, stairs, different levels and, above all, amazing fruits (specially grapes and wild berries). The city was built in the confluence of two rivers (Sava and Danube) with soft hills all around, so the surroundings are also great.

Another pro about that discrete lovely city are the people. Every Serbian who we talk with, was helpful and hospitable (I’m writing this from Ohrid and we can extend that to Macedonians), in a way very rare to find in western Europe where everybody distrusts everybody . They are open and talkative, but not in the excessive way as we do in Spain, actually the city is lively but pretty quiet at the same time. I specially liked to see people from all range of ages on the streets and parks . Grandpas with children eating popcorn and ice cream, young people drinking beer and whole families in a rock concert (we went to the Belgrade beer festival, with free concert all night long). Apart from that, there are tourists (we are in August) but it’s not the Barcelona’s overwhelming craziness at all.

Imagen

Riverside

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Market

I could also gladly feel that the Serbians are still not influenced by all those stupid European rules and laws that tell people what to do, moreover everything remains respectful. I don’t want to drain my limited adjectives background and leave some for the other cities. Anyway that’s an obligatory city to visit or come back.

Nice graffiti

Nice graffiti

Cathedral of Saint Sava

Cathedral of Saint Sava

Branko's Bridge

Branko’s Bridge

Nice patio

Nice patio

 

 

 

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Already in Serbia!

Budapest-Inđija

Budapest-Inđija

Day two.

It’s 9 o’clock and we’re ready to go. But it seems that drivers aren’t. No movement at the gas station. So let’s have a morning coffee (guess, whose idea was that). Surprise! With two cappuccinos we got free chocolate rolls.

This time it was easier. At 12 o’clock we caught a ride. Atilla was going from Netherlands to Turkey and was so nice that he gave me a ride and amused us with a conversion. Our destination was Inđija, a town between Novi Sad and Belgrade. So we took off at the gas station that seem to be the closest: 10-15 km away. Still quite far to walk next to the road under the burning sun with big backpacks. OK, we’ll hitch-hike. We made a banner, again, misspelled! Someone was so nice to tell us that.

Let's try something new. didn't work

Let’s try something new. didn’t work

Nobody was going to Inđija, but a nice young couple in white Reanult 5 (sorry, we didn’t get your names) offered us a lift to the highway exit to Inđija. Waiting time: 5 minutes.

Later, just after passing by the pay toll, we caught another ride, a truck. We didn’t have any common language with the driver, but as I understood from our Polish/Serbian dialog, he was going some other way, but decided to to leave us in the center of Inđija. Hitch-hiking in Balkans IS easy!

Inđija was the first Serbian city we’ve seen. First impression: it’s so cheap!; second: they REALLY like ice-cream!

On a 100-m long street we found 5 ice-cream places. Igor felt a little bit like home with all the bars and „terracitas“ all the main. We easily found home of Igor, our CS host. He had a really nice place, with two lovely kittens and a sweet dog at the backyard. He was also hosting another Polish girl, Zuzia, who was coming back from her hitch-hiking trip from Georgia. Thank you for some traveling tips, Zuzia!

 

After arriving, Igor took us to Belgrade by car, so we could see a little bit of this interesting city. Once I’ve arrived there, I felt a little bit like home myself. There are a lot of small details in Belgrade that reminds me of Warsaw. But I must admit, Serbians seem to have more relaxed and chilled out attitude than Poles, especially those from the capital.

Belgrade!

Belgrade!

 

In the evening we went to a free beer festival (watch out – the security is checking for lighters at the entrance and throws them away!). We drunk some beers and listened to Serbian music. What a great beginning of our trip!

Polish accent in Belgrade

Polish accent in Belgrade

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On the road again!

Budapest-Szeget

Budapest-Szeget

Hitch-hiking is easy they said. It’s like catching taxi, they said. Well, maybe. But first, you have to get there. We started our hitch-hiking trip in Budapest. We checked the spot at hitchwiki.org . We chose the place that was indicated as „easy“, where cars could easily stop to pick up the hitch-hikers. Average waiting time: 20 minutes.

With a bit of a stage fright ( we haven’t hitch-hiked for an year now), but full of hopes, and expectations, we got to the outskirts of Budapest,. We prepared a nice banner „Belgrade –Беорад “ and we started.. Twenty minutes passed by fast – nothing, not a slightest sign of interest. The summer sun already begun to burn our skins, and our feet started to cover with dust.

After 2 hours we felt exhausted and our high hopes vanished completely. We realized that many drivers show us they go somewhere else. We’ve checked the map: our perfect road was situated before the road ring – the cars could go to any direction from there.  We also realized we’ve misspelled “Београд” in our banner, we were so proud of. Oops! We still need to learn a lot about the Cyrillic alphabet.

Finally, in the 5th hour of waiting, a car stopped. Istvan, a nice Hungarian guy, took us some kilometers ahead. We don’t even know how many, time passed by fast as we had a nice chat.

After having a fast coffee ( apparently Spaniards cannot do without it, no matter the circumstances), we started again. This time level: hard. After some time a few others hitchhikers appeared, all heading our direction.

The first car that stopped was the police patrol. They asked us a few questions in Hungarian, we just smiled shyly showed our banner and said “vacation”. They wished us good luck (that’s what we like to think) and continued to their hunting place, at the entrance of the highway. We’ve soon realized, they try to hunt down cars that don’t stop before the “stop” sign we were standing next to. I guess the locals knew about the trap, because every single one stopped. But as soon as a car with foreign plate appeared, it was doomed. We tried to show them they should stop. But who would listen to us. What happened next looked a bit like a National Geographic documentary. Poor victim passed by clueless and carefree, and just behind her back, a cold-blooded predator came out from the bushes and started to pursue  her. First slowly, to finally catch it with all his speed and strength, leaving her without any chance to survive. Oh well, at least a bit of entertainment for bored hitchhikers.

Meanwhile, we met Ivan, our second driver, who was so nice that he not only offered us a ride, but also came back for one more hitchhiker, who was going to the same city, as he was (Szeged).

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Hitch-hiking spot in Budapest. Perfect for cars to stop.

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Hitchhikers food with Hungarian accent: super sweet cocktail tomatoes and spicy peppers.

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Igor’s first guitar concert ( private, for me and the hedgehog). Szeged.

We stopped at the gas station before Szeged, a town next to Hungarian-Serbian border. 5 PM: We still have a chance to get to Belgrade. 6 PM: It’s hot, we’re thirsty, we will arrive there by night, but we can still make it. 7 PM: Strong need for a cold beer. Nobody stops, we start loosing our cool. 7:30 PM: Screw that, we’re staying here. We went for the beers. On the way we met some two guys from England, also trying to hitch-hike, guess where… yes – Belgrade. By now, we picture ourselves Belgrade as some kind of hitchhikers Mekka. We’re really curious to see it. Anyway, these two fellows had been waiting here from 1:30 PM. We’re not the worst! We told them we found a place to camp, and they are welcome to join, bought the nectar of gods we needed so badly and went to our cute spot, a bit hidden, between the trees, but really close to the gas station and all its facilities. After preparing the campsite, taking out the guitar and opening our beers, all we were missing was a company. “Let’s see what’s up with the Englishmen”. They were gone. Somebody took them Yeah, finally we’re the last. But we have a guitar, beer, cheese sandwiches with some hot Hungarian peppers and a company of a sweet little hedgehog. It’s great to be on the road again!

What the fuck... a hat

What the fuck… a hat

Hitchhiker but stylish

Hitchhiker but stylish

Where am I?

Where am I?

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Music soothes you soul

Just one small observation.

It turns out that it’s cheaper to buy a guitar on spot (35 euros) than take it with you on Ryanair board (50 euros, one way). Igor came back to be his jolly self with his first acoustic  after horrific 1 music-less day. Thank you Orsolya for letting us go through this journey by the sound of music!

DSC00588

Igor without a guitar

Igor already with the guitar

Igor already with the guitar

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Hot & spicy Budapest

Hi everybody,

We spent two lovely days in Budapest, where we were hosted by our friend Aga. We were still in the ”tourist mode”, so not too much of adventures but a lot of sightseeing. I’ll try to make a quick resume, with the more important moments and tips.

Our instant impression after landing was that we finally left behind the crazy humidity of Barcelona, the weather was soft and dry. The first thing you should be aware once in Hungary is the exchange rate. The only office placed in the airport offers the exchange rate at 235 (1euro=235 forints), one shady guy who presents himself as a ”taxi manager” offered it at 250, while in the city center it was around 295. Arriving to Budapest is quite easy, you should take a bus an then a metro, but with the daily ticket (1 person 1650 forints and group ticket up to 5 persons, 3300 forint) you can take as many rides as you want. I personally liked the mix of modern and very old metro wagons and buses. By the way… with the 24-hours ticket you can also take… a BOAT.

I'm on a boat!

I’m on a boat!

As we had heard, Hungary is the paradise for the foodies that like the real deal, with sauces, a lot of meat and hot stuff, but you can also find very good fruits and vegetables, as well as delicious wine. It was very funny when we were to buy some food in a family corner shop and I asked them if the peppers standing in a big basket where spicy, and they answered me: ”yes they are for free” (of course they are spicy, we are in Hungary). The thing I like the most about the Hungarians was that they always receive you with a smile, something to be appreciated. I didn’t had too much time to get a clearest idea but they look very relaxed and friendly (I’m writing that from Serbia and I guess that it will be a constant here). We also find people playing music on the street, so I hope to get involved soon.

I won’t write too much about how beautiful is Budapest, because everybody knows it, and Google images is still available, but you can’t lose the view of the city from the Gellért Hill and Matthias Church or drink a beer in one of the several bars on the Jewish district. Apart from that, every single street is equally beautiful in Buda as in  Pest, although they have different styles.

Pest from Buda

Pest from Buda

Lastly, the most recommended place by hitchwiki.org to hitchhike to Belgrade, was not so easy for us. It was a road a few kilometers before the highway, with a perfect ramp to stop, but I guess the problem was there were a lot of cars going to different directions. Anyway we are aware that the first day is always the hardest and we still don’t have this characteristic hitchhiker look, we were probably too clean. Problem solved 🙂

On the Budapest underground

On the Budapest underground

Underground mechanic stairs

Underground mechanic stairs

Nyugati Train Station

Nyugati Train Station

Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út (opened in 1896, is one of the oldest metro stations in Europe)

Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út (opened in 1896, is one of the oldest metro stations in Europe)

don't touch the fucking water

…don’t touch the fucking water…

thongs for giant people

Thongs for giant people

Anker Palace Hotel

Anker Palace Hotel

Lyberty Bridge

Lyberty Bridge

Liberty statue

Liberty statue

Matthias Church

Matthias Church

Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion

 

 

 

 

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First

First fight: check. When you come from different cultural background, you have different timing and different pririties, it’s hard not to bicker. Polish priority: comet to the airport waaay before the departure time and get the best place in the Ryanair boarding queue. Spanish priority: dirnk coffee and smoke a morning cigarette, no metter how late we are.

Fortunatelly, we managed to do both. And, as a bonus, we won a mini battle against Ryanair ridiculous rules: after squuzing Igor’s enormous backpack into Ryanair’s “baggage size check box”, we were denied entering with a sleeping pad (it was 2cm too long, they said). Explanations that it’s flexible and we can (not so) easily fit it, didn’t help. So we did. Ryanair -0, Backpackers-1. We also managed to (accidentally) bring a corkscrew (this deadly weapon) on board.

Backpackers! don’t let Ryanair get you! Budapest, here we come!

In Raynair

happy with sleeping pads and corkscrew on board

train to the airport

making up after first fight

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Introduction

Very rough itinerary of our trip

Very rough itinerary of our trip

We’ ve decided to make this blog about our trip hitchhiking the Balkans because of several reasons.
First of all, we want to show our adventure to our friends, family and rest of the people, so we thought that a blog was the most creative and less boring way to do it. Also the possibility to be updated regularly keeps our parents calm.
Secondly, we hope that the the present blog will become a usefull guide for other hitchhikers, as other blogs had been for a us. There are too many details that you only realise when you are hitchhiking around a specific area, so we find an interesting to clear them up from the field.
Thirdly, this blog is a personal project because of my studies in journalism and my passion for travelling. I’ll try to do my best to combine both interests and get experience to face future more ambitious projects.
Last, but not the least,, we consider the blog a kind of tribute to all the people who is going to help us on our way and as our way of gratitude. Last year, we met around 60 people and majority of them were great and interesting persons, but it is impossible to keep in touch with that amount of people. Other barriers of that commitment is the dificulty to keep a lot of numbers and mails, is because of that that this year we decide to give a sticker with the blog website adress to everybody who helps us, who we meet on the way, who we like and we think they like us.

Peace!

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