Posts Tagged With: Border

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 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 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.

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

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