Retired Prostitutes, Mountains and Gypsy Weddings

The following events took place in the Summer of 2014.

Retired Prostitutes, Mountains and Gypsy Weddings. My Return to the Road

Just before leaving the Transylvanian wilderness I did climb to the top of the nearby mountain ridge. I in-fact spent a night up there freezing my bollox off. I was also convinced there was a hungry bear quite rudely clawing on the door of my circular metal hut too. The pathways have these huts scarcely scattered for stranded hikers or tourists.

Anyway the bear paranoia, freezing cold and howling wolves managed to keep me from counting any sheep. I instead sat there huddled in a ball with my legs tucked inside my rucksack shivering and watching the door of the hut which I had secured shut with my shoelace. Should I have an unwanted guest I was prepared to hurl fireworks in ill taste at the hairy cunts, some old Romanian men gave me the fireworks while I was hitchhiking.
It so happened that my train of thought that night was mostly my ex. Jaysus I could do with her body heat now I reckoned, but it wasn’t’ to be, choices had been made, some words said and I was now single and ready to hit the road hard. All that freedom from plans and attachments, I was looking forward to the road again, even if I would be missing some limbs from frostbite.
Dawn did arrive eventually though, and I welcomed it like a child welcomes Christmas. The sun meant warmth but not just that. Looking out over Transylvania as the sun rose was in a word, epic! That’s why I had climbed here, and I wasn’t’ disappointed. To this very day I still consider Transylvania possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been, definitely the most medieval, with it’s castles, shepherds and old fashioned farming methods.

Two days later after some good sleep back in a bed I set out for the road once again. An old Romanian who liked to listen to Italian music dropped me into Brasov, he offered a ride all the way to Bucharest but I was content in Brasov. The real starting point of hitch-hiking journey number 2!

In the two nights I spent at a hostel in the town of Brasov, Romania I;

  • All too briefly meet a lovely girl
  • Got my first invitation to a gypsys wedding
  • Became acquainted with Brasov’s best Rapper
  • Meet a lovely retired prostitute turned backpacker
  • Washed my clothes

An eventful two nights. For the purpose of not wasting everyone’s time I will address each story separately and briefly (except the clothes washing as I really had little influence over this event).
Ok so first the lovely girl, I wont be going writing any poetry about it soon but still I was very much interested in the girl. Who wouldn’t be though? She was gorgeous, Polish, good conversation and she wrote her name and number on a postcard which she left on my bed beside the borderline unconscious me. It was very cooly done in my opinion, a wee smiley face and all to decorate my postcard! More on this later when I happen to be in Poland.
Just a couple of hours earlier then the departure of the Polish girl from the hostel (about 7am from the hostel). I was in the street drinking with gypsys. I had originally went out for some Palinka shots with a hot Hungarian tom-boyish girl and a gobshite Danish guy who pretty much sulked because his tinder date never showed up (first world problems eh!).

I lost them though and ended up talking to the other people who were last to leave the bar and I got invited to their wedding, how lovely. I absolutely promised to go before I left of course without getting the details or their names. What do you wear to such an event anyway? One of the girls did make some sort of advance on me I believe, not to toot my own horn or anything but she did ask her friend who spoke English to ask me to fuck. Wouldn’t of got on her to see over a wall though if I’’m honest.
Even just a few hours previous to all this I had meet the best rapper that the Romanian town of Brasov had to offer. He got up on the mic in the bar and spit some ryhmes in Romanian and all the girls bounced their asses like they saw on MTV. Strange experience really, the hood meets Soviet Europe. Not what I expected, throw back some Painka shots and its alright though.
Finally the retired hooker. I meet her the night after everything I just mentioned happened (sorry about the inconsistent Pulp Fiction style timeline here). She was an older lady, in her forties though still quite attractive if not all that fresh, like pizza leftover from the night before if you know what I mean. Back in the day ( twenty five or so years previous) she had been a professional call lady, working through newspaper adverts and such. She had an agent and all and raked in the cash before the Eastern European girls arrived. She spoke about the whole thing as if it were just whatever, a real interesting lady with some crazy stories. Now she backpacked a lot with her money and never felt embarrassed about being in her forties and staying in hostels or couchsurfing. Guess you haven’t got much care for the younger girls judgement when you probably shagged their daddy’s for money.
That concluded my two nights talking to strangers in Brasov. I heard from a friend who I had hosted in Budapest through couchsurfing that he was having a birthday party in Odessa Ukraine soon so that is where I began for. Undeterred by the news of pro-Russia rioting and the threat of civil war I was bound for Ukraine and a party.

A Dumpster Diving Community in New Orleans

Dumpster Diving in New Orleans

Is dumpster diving disgusting you might ask?

Yes I guess, but if you spent even a day with the dumpster diving community in New Orleans your perspective would be subject to a sharp u-turn.

Think about all the food thats wasted in the US, all that out of date food which is really still very much edible. The pizza no-one collected. The bread with one tiny spec of mold.

I was familiar with the comcept of dumpster diving for a while before New Orleans. The book “Evasion” by Crimeinc gives a great introduction.

I was a rookie at the sport however compared to Tom and Marc.

Tom has built a hut out of materials he has found in dumpsters and bamboo while living on dumpstered food and rainwater.

Marc had a job as a delivery driver. At the same time he constantly scouted the best dumpsters such as whole-foods to provide himself with a healthy three meal a day diet of free food. A soda could be got as he demonstrated in Burger Kin by finding an empty cup in the bin and availing of the “free refills” policy.

Did they ever get sick? No

Did I? No

And they arent the only ones availing of free food, the punk concert are full of dumpster divers who group around campfires sharing their finds from their eveing diving in dunpsters with headlamps on.

On top of all this they both drank rainwater.

A way to eat good food for free, and it helps the enviornment too with all that reduced waste. Probably dosent work so good in less wasteful countries though of course.

Tom´s property is even on Air BnB, come stay in a tent and the food is free.

Hut made from dumpster dived construction materials with mud walls
Hut made from dumpster dived construction materials with mud walls
Dumpstered Food
Dumpstered Food
Dumpstered Drinks
Dumpstered Drinks
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted


Boating the Mississippi in an Inflatable Boat

Boating the Mississippi in an Inflatable Boat

 Huckleberry Finning It – March 2015

Looking back at the title of the page I realize how daft it sounds. Of course my mission was doomed for failure right from the beginning, it was a lot of good fun though along the way.

So the back story was that it was the morning after my 23rd birthday and I was in Cape Girardeau on my way hitchhiking from Chicago to New Orleans. I was somewhat tired of the road and a bit more intrigued by the romantic notion of boating the Mississippi Huckleberry Finn style. I had no boat nor raft material, Walmart does however have inflatable rubber boats for about $30, why not? After-all it was just my Birthday.

So I grabbed a boat, pump plus two plastic oars, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, tins of tuna and a couple liters of water.

Boating Mississippi
The beginning

Day 1

I set forth in the afternoon with high hopes for a new adventure, no longer on the road but on the water. I instantly came under scrutiny from a helicopter and fellow Mississippi sailors on barges. Some looked annoyed and some laughed, few seemed to respect their fellow sailor in his little inflatable boat. Like I cared! I was taking the Mississippi one meter at a time and hugging the Missouri coast line.

The water was reasonably calm, I dodged a few swirl pools here and there but never was too close to flipping over even when them barges passed creating big waves. A flip would of wet everything, including my rugsack containing my passport and other less important stuff.

I must of gone about 15 miles (felt like 100) before I decided to camp for the night on a sandy beach area before dark. Beer cans loitered my new paradise however and I could hear rednecks firing their guns in the surrounding woods. I slept soundly though with my boat inside my tent now doubling up as a mattress.

Boating Mississippi

Day 2

I awoke around 8am took a piss and went back to sleep because it was windy outside. A half hour later I was awoken by the sound of two men talking. I had neighbors now so I peaked out and spotted two fishermen, one white and one black trying to catch catfish. We had some chats about the US and fish, then they headed off and I sat around waiting for the wind to die down, it was far too much for my boat.

One of my fishermen buddies
One of my fishermen buddies

A couple hours later as I sat there reading my book a small fishing boat pulled up with three rednecks in it. There outboard engine had failed and they were pulling her in. I sat with one of them fishing while the other two went for their truck. He started a campfire by just throwing gas everywhere and setting fire to half my beach in through redneck fashion. I didn’t care though because he gave me a fish. A sturgeon which I cooked up in the fire real nice.

They talked about hating everyone and guns and pickups and the usual stuff. Asked me how I put up with my life in the socialist and nudist eutopia called Europe. They asked about the strange item wrapped around my neck too (a scarf because I was cold). The rednecks had enough tattoos to keep their arms warm underneath their wife beater vests however.

Finally around 6pm the wind had died down and I packed up my shit and got back to floating. Maybe I got about 10 miles before it was getting dark and I pulled in again, on another sandy bit behind someones house. They never spotted me though, must of been watching telly.

Day 3

So I floated on the next morning and decided to reach a town since my water had run out. I could see a bunch of houses across the Mississippi on the Illinois side. I had always been hugging the Missouri coast until now and hadn’t ventured into the middle of the river at all in case of a barge running me down in its hastiness. I was driven to cross however in this instance and get some supplies.

I began paddling across and initially began grand until I was nearly halfway, then the boat just stopped moving towards the Illinois coast and began pushing me straight down-stream. I paddled and paddled every which way but was going nowhere except where the river wanted me to go. Some people in the small town I was aiming for must of spotted me and started gearing up a fishing boat to come get me.

Miracle of all miracles though at the expense of my arms I managed to diagonally move with the river and also slowly towards Illinois. Eventually I got to the opposite side about a half a mile downstream from where I started. I climbed up on the muddy bank and left the boat tied up as I walked into the town.

All he houses were the very same, small bungalows and everyone had a square lawn. Then there was some RVs too parked by the water. These communities creep me out in the US. No charm or history. All the houses are the same and there is no like statue, pub or old church to just kind of look at.

I approached the first person I saw, an old lady doing some gardening. I asked her where the nearest store was and the old banshee just turned away from me and walked back into her house. Bitch!

I found a friendly guy a couple of square houses away fixing his pick-up and he refilled my water bottle. The nearest store though was 7 miles away, a gas station by the interstate. The little town didn’t even have a shop. On the other side of the river where I just came from there’s a small town behind the hills about a 1 mile walk. For Fucks Sake!

I didn’t want my boat anymore. My seafaring days were done before they started. After that horrific ordeal crossing the Mississippi I really didn’t fancy boating back across. There was a bridge nearby for freight trains and there actually was a train sitting there right now stationary. I resolved to hop on the back of one of the grainers and try hop off again on the other side. Needless to say about 5 minutes before I climbed the steep hill up to the tracks the train suddenly started moving again. I waited two hours by the bridge but no train slowed down again and I didn’t want to catch one on the fly (i’m not experienced with trains) or walk across the bridge. There was cameras everywhere and it was a long bridge I could just imagine me walking across and two trains coming in opposite directions at once to flatten me. So I returned to my boat.

Boating Mississippi

My boat now felt a bit deflated, I gave it another pump and I couldn’t hear any air exiting, then I took off again. About halfway across the boat became harder to paddle once again but not as bad as the first time. Maybe 3/4s of the way though I noticed water splashing on the boat each time I paddled, I was slowly going down.

I fell off the boat as gracefully as I could and began swimming. I near froze my balls off and pulled my boat along behind me so as to keep my stuff dry. I made it though narrowly I would imagine and cursed my boat. I stripped off my wet clothes (now too heavy to carry) and left them on the bank with the deflated boat and paddles. Back to the road.

Boating Mississippi
The end result

I walked back to civilization by someones mansion and hopped over there electric fence (I was breaking out I guess). I wasn’t pissed off anymore. It was a failure in the sense I never got far but I still had an exciting time and got some good memories from those three days.

I would recommend it but just be able to swim, always hug the coast, don’t expect to get far on an inflatable boat and have some sort of waterproof bag too.

A friend of mine called Marc that I meet later in NOLA canoed the Mississippi, Pittsburgh to NOLA, check out his blog here.

Boating Mississippi(1)


Is Craigslist Rideshare Safe?

Is Craigslist Rideshare Safe?

In the 21st century there is pretty much an app for everything for everything social. If you want new friends, partners or advice you can get it without the trouble of having to meet a “stranger”.

The same applies to hitchhiking, there is hitchhiking groups on Facebook where you can find a hitchhiking partner. Websites exist to finding rides, the most prominent (at least in the US where regular hitchhiking is illegal in some states) is Craigslist’s Rideshare. On the website anyone can post either a rideshare offered from A to B or a rideshare wanted from A to B and a little about themselves.

I have used the service three times, Boston to New York, New York to Boston and Chicago to St.Louis. Three males, one White, one Filipiono and one Black of varying ages. In cities that are difficult to hitchhike out of. Has it been safe each time?

Yes without a doubt, I have ended up grabbing a beer with two of the guys actually because they were just great people who had a long drive and were looking for company, also maybe trying to build up some good karma. Would it be safe for a girl though?

Probably safer than regular hitchhiking because you could in theory request the persons Facebook first through the Craigslist emails and their car’s registration plate so at least you know who’s car your getting in to. I know girls who have used rideshare to get places but never hitchhiked normally.

With Craigslist’s Rideshare are you expected to pay though? is another thing I wondered. I personally have not paid for gas on any of the three rides. Usually if its a Ride Offered gig you are responding to where the persons asks for money towards gas you can negotiate a deal whereby its still much cheaper than getting a bus or just say straight out, hey I’ve got no money and explain why. Say your a broke student or a tourist without many bags and you will still probably get offered a seat.

The important thing here is to demonstrate what a regular human you are. In your rideshare wanted add or in the response to an offered rideshare put in the extra effort to make this person want to sit with you for hours in a confined space. Post a nice photo (very important), your age, name, story (why you are going from A to B) and some stuff you like (music etc.), volunteer work you have done. A link to something else like Facebook, your Couchsurfing a/c or Youtube channel etc. will boost your chances too. I usually offered to send a scan of my ID too if they wanted (one guy requested it).

Then you exchange numbers and organize a place to meet in town at a certain time.

Simple as that and probably more safe than regular hitchhiking or in some cases I bet even riding the bus.


Hitchhiking from Chicago to New Orleans

Hitchhiking from Chicago to New Orleans

The snow in Chicago helped me decide that I needed more sun and for that I was always going to head south. hitchhiking chicago new orleans

Getting out of Chicago was going to be tricky, hitchhiking is illegal in the state of Illinois (yes I know, how fucking ridiculous is that?). I used Craigslists Rideshare section to find a ride. A young Filipino guy by the name of Mark took me to St. Louis for free and I hopped out in the downtown area.

St. Louis arch thing
An RV Camp Party!

Nothing much was happening in St. Louis so I decided to head for the outskirts of the city and start hitchhiking towards Memphis or Nashville the next morning. I was standing outside a Walmart in East St. Louis because of the
rain, when an elderly guy approached. He warned me about standing around in East St. Louis “Your going get trouble” he worryingly claimed and told me to head a mile up the road and camp at the local RV Camp. I didn’t really fancy walking in the rain but after a minute or so a young lady pulled over and offered me a ride, she never picked up a hitchhiker before (I wasn’t even trying) but didn’t want me out in the rain she claimed and I got dropped off at the RV camp.

I tried to then sleep at the RV Camp but the locals were too kind, I was going to be allowed stay for free and be bought a pint too. Next came a belter of a session with a bunch of rednecks in some dive bar where every guy wore a bandanna with a cowboy hat over the bandanna.

When I did finally get to the road again I started at an on-ramp to the interstate in the Memphis direction (on the Missouri side of town). After an hour of thumbing the only people to stop were two police officers wondering what I was up to. I kind of thought the whole raised thumb was a dead give-away but then I had to explain to them I was merely hitching a ride as they plugged my name into some computer then pissed off.

Just as I was contemplating jumping in front of a car, one pulls over, at last. A young, friendly guy, and he drove me a few miles to a better spot and got me some dinner at the catering place he worked. He picked me up because “I was clearly a European because I was wearing a scarf”. I generally wear scarfs because I’m cold not because I was born in Europe. I think he was gay but yea who cares, maybe wear a scarf if your hitchhiking in St. Louis and you will get picked up by him.

The next spot was an on-ramp again but further out of the city where people might trust. Still all the black folks passed by looking at me like I got two heads and an axe, one group of white frat kids blew there horn and shouted cock or something…. hilarious. Then an old banger pulls over with two women in the front and a guy in the back, very rough looking but genuine I thought. She rolled down the window “You aint got a weapon?”, nope I replied a bit surprised by the question and hopped in the back seat.

Chain smoking and complaining about the government, my kind of people! The woman in the passenger seat had a scar on her face where she had gotten shot before in a failed car-jacking, that memory will remain with me I think for years to come.

They left me off on the interstate and I began hitchhiking again, right on the interstate this time instead of an on-ramp since the shoulder was definitely wide enough for a car to pull in. An animal vet picked me up, real quiet fella who wouldn’t normally pick up hitchhikers but did today, “paying it forward brother”, a very christian guy from my impression. He left me at a truck stop and I decided to find a place to camp since it was getting dark, I strolled up some country road and went into the trees behind a house, I figured the community watch was probably watching telly or something.

I woke up the next morning (on my 23rd birthday by the way) to an angry barking dog and scrambled away quickly and back to the road. I began asking people at the truck stop for rides. The truckers are useless in the US, they always just claim insurance won’t allow them to pick you up. A guy in a pick-up though agreed to take me no questions asked. A veteran, I have found these guys to be very useful for hitchhiking in the South. He brought me further down the interstae and then my next ride took me to Cape Girardeau and I got out there to go sit at the Mississippi River and grab a coffee since it was my birthday after-all.

Michael brought me to the Cape town.

I got talking to some locals around the coffee shop including some eegit frat types, a cute student girl and a wealthy lady who owned shares in the towns hotel. In the end I set up a date with the student girl for later and got offered a room in the hotel for free with a buffet breakfast (which I really abused, leaving the hotel with heavy pockets). Turned out to be a great birthday really, anythings possible in these smaller towns that tourists don’t frequent with an accent.

The next morning I didn’t feel like hitchhiking though and walked to the nearest Walmart instead and bought a rubber dingy boat. Inspired by the Mark Twain tales of Huckleberry Finn I was bound for Memphis on a $30 Walmart inflatable boat.

I spent three wild days floating on the river passing barges, meeting rednecks and camping until my boat sank (in the middle of the river) and I was back to the road. I’ll write up a full report of the river happenings soon.

Floating the Mississippi
Floating the Mississippi

I meet a guy trash picking on the road outside his house, after some chatting (I complimented the hand gun he carried on his waist) he brought me into his home. I meet his wife and he recalled the childhood sweatheart story and then dropped me back over to the interstate. Memphis here I come!

My lift back to the interstate
My lift back to the interstate

After maybe a half hour standing on the interstate thumbing a grown-up family pulled over to let me squeeze in the back. They were all crazy rednecks, but again friendly enough to leave me at a good truck stop. Again I tried the useless truckers who just wanted prostitutes it seems, hanging around after dark I made some friends including two Hobos also travelling the interstate. They were pretty negative about shit though and smelled bad, I reckoned they were never gonna get a ride or weren’t even trying so I left them to drink beer under their tarp and hung about the petrol station. A worker began chatting with me, I pretended to agree with his narrow minded opinions to gain trust and my cunning plan paid off when he said I could use the truckers showers. Great! But then I spotted an old Mexican pulling in with a cowboy hat and pick-up.

Mexicans are very useful on the road especially the ones who look like they used to hitchhike to work back in their Mexico days. He didn’t speak any English, like literally none, not even hello but had been living in the US 30 years, mostly in Texas. My broken Spanish managed to get me a ride the whole way to Memphis that night. I arrived on the outskirts of the city real late and slept beside an RV Camp. When I say slept beside I mean outside the perimeter of the property under a tree in my sleeping bag so as not to pay the $25 camping fee (ridiculous price!) then sneaked in at 7am for a quick shower and over to the nearest petrol station.

The very first guy I asked for a lift into the city center was a Korea Veteran on his way to the veteran’s hospital. He had a veteran’s license plate on his pick up so I asked him straight away and no questions no problems he dropped me by the downtown. Gave me a bible too. Why do Americans think hitchhikers are automatically sinners?

I kicked it in Memphis for just one night then I was bound for New Orleans. Mark the guy I originally got a rideshare from Chicago to St. Louis with was in town after being in Nashville for a couple days (I knew because we exchanged facebooks). He was driving to New Orleans the next day. I shot down to New Orleans so on the next morning and slept out by the train yard in the 9th ward where I knew there would be other travelers. I got a great sleep on some wooden crates under the stars in the heat not even caring about the mosquitoes the slightest bit. The snow of Chicago was a long ways away.

Waking up in New Orleans
Waking up in New Orleans

Istanbul Strip Club Scam with Tourists

Istanbul Strip Club Scam with Tourists

I completely realize my actions were dumb on the night in question and I was asking for trouble, yet I was drunk and held myself well in the confrontation. Maybe the story will serve as a warning to other drunk tourists in Istanbul.

I will mention the fact that I had suit pants, black shoes and a nice shirt on with my hair slicked back. Even though I was hitchhiking at the time I still had got to a hostel and cleaned myself up that day, I definitely was walking around “looking” like a tourist who had money to spend and not a hitchhiker or student.

So on the night in question I was sitting with my pal Connor from Scotland at a Hookah Bar in Istanbul, well there was a girl there too. An Asian chick chatting with Connor, I got up to leave them some privacy because I’m a top drawer wing-man. I also really needed to use an ATM. The ATM in question was a little walk away, maybe 500 meters up the road.

After I withdrew cash a guy pulled up nearby on the road in a nice saloon car, the type of car in question I can’t remember. I was already drunk at this stage.

“Hey, excuse me… do you speak English” he shouted.

“Ye sure, will you drop me back to my friend” I answered.

“OK but do you know where the something hotel is?” Obviously he didn’t say “something” but I can’t remember the exact name he said to be honest and I didn’t know any directions.

Anyway we chatted for a few minutes then he dropped me back, he claimed to be from Kazakhstan and work for Andrea Agnelli (the Italian who owns Juventus F.C.)

When I got out of the car he offered to bring me and Connor to a party and the hotel with many “bitches”. I knew this was a shady deal but Connor was also drunk now and the Asian girl wasn’t sticking around so we were ready for adventure.

Half an hour later we pulled up at a strip-club. This clearly wasn’t a Hotel but I didn’t car because our new friend claimed he would take care of us (i.e. free drink and food). A Turkish guy approached him when he got out of the car and they haggled in Turkish (at least that’s how it appeared) over the price of parking the car in the certain spot.

In we went and sat at a booth, bottles of wine were brought, nuts, cucumbers, you name it. The party ensued and three ladies joined us each drinking from the wine too and sharing our cigarettes.

The place really appeared legit, there were many other Turkish customers sitting and chatting to girls, none of which were topless. Maybe it’s just Muslim strip-clubs but I can hardly call it a strip club when the girls were pole dancing with their tops on.

My girl claimed to be Ukranian, I said how are you in Russian and she looked confused (red flag #1). I told her Connor and the Kazak guy were my business friends, she looked annoyed when I said this (red flag #2, she obviously knew the Kazak guy had picked us up because he’s done this before).

Now I kind of knew what was up but I kept playing along, figuring I couldn’t leave (big bouncer at the door) so I might aswell drink as much of their wine as possible.

Eventually the time came for them to try and fuck us over, Connor was happily flirting away with his girl and I with mine when the bill arrived. 10,000 euros apparently, the Kazak guy turned to us and asked for our cards, the bill was getting split 3-ways according to him.

“”Fuck off, we havent any money”

“Why would you come here with no money? Do you know who I am? Of course you pay, you think your mafia or something?”

I couldn’t believe he was pretending to be Mafia, the Kazak really was pathetic. Next thing he punched me right on the chin as I sat there. Anyone from Ireland has been punched on a night out, this guys punch was really crap (and he was being careful not to leave a bruise I quickly noted). He specifically aimed for the chin.

Another punch, this one to my ear (again nowhere that would leave a bruise).

He hadn’t hit Connor at all, I guessed it was because Connor is huge and I was the cheeky one.

Anyway next thing Connor pulls out his cash €200 in fifties,

“This is all we have”

What the fuck I thought, he’s not getting our money with gay punches like that, I quickly snatched the cash and stuffed it into my boxers. The Kazak went crazy at this and demanded the money.

“Fuck off, you think a few punches is worth €200, I’ll give you €10 at the most for the shitty wine”

Now the Kazak was losing it, the bouncer quickly arrived over telling him to calm down (though it was obvious they worked together). The strip-club manager soon arrived too demanding to be paid the €10,000. I knew they wouldn’t create a scene in front of the customers so I kept on winding the Kazak up, I can remember even claiming I would petrol bomb his car. Meanwhile he threw a few more punches, so I stood up, as did Connor (who is also over 6 foot) and squared up to him.

The manager called me aside into the corner not wanting a scene. He gave me the “what are you doing here” bla bla bla treatment. He demanded my bank card.

“I haven’t got any money, I’m in Turkey because I was in Bulgaria and its cheap, I’m not here to see Mosques”

He demanded to see my wallet, (I had emptied it while at the couch into my pocket and stuffed one of the fifties into it, I figured this would be a fair price to get out on.

He cursed in Turkish, taking the fifty and told me to leave immediately. Outside the same guy from earlier whom the Kazak had haggled with was standing by his car to make sure it wasn’t vandilised.

That’s that, we got away with just spending fifty quid (about 3 bottles of wine drank). I never panicked however and kept the rest of the cash in my boxers, the only way I would of produced it is if they had a knife, which they never did.

I bet they have scammed big sums of money from other tourists doing this though. The important thing is to just stand your ground and exhaust them, also be a young guy so you can convince them your only a student.

I was annoyed at the fact there were other legit customers in the club though who knew this was happening to tourists and didn’t care in the slightest.


Do You Need a Return Flight to Enter the US

Do you need a return flight to enter the US

I done some research on whether or not an ESTA tourist visa holder needed a return ticket already booked to get through US customs. Since I plan on travelling onto Canada or Mexico via hitch-hiking I didn’t have proof of onward plans and I needed some answers.

Imagine getting to the US and then having to turn around and return home because I never showed proof that I wasn’t planning on finding a job in the US and staying.

From what my research of the rules told me was that I couldn’t say I was travelling to Canada or Mexico or any island of the Caribbean after the US unless I was a citizen of one of these countries. In fact a booked flight to any of these countries would not suffice to enter the US. Custom’s would think I was scouting for work then flying to Canada and sneaking back over the border into the US.

The rules don’t specify that you must have a return flight to your home however, so I booked the cheapest one possible that wasn’t Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean. It was Miami to San Salvador for €60. Hopefully it would count as proof I was leaving the US (even if I didn’t plan on using the flight).

To get to the US I flew from Dublin to London and then to Boston. At the airport in London when I checked in with Virgin Atlantic at their desk a lady asked to see my return flight ticket. I think she works for Virgin Atlantic’s security team.

I told her I was backpacking central Europe then flying home after that, she asked to see the flight details for my flight to San Salvador which I had printed out.

She was satisfied with this and my boarding pass was printed. She did study the flight details for a minute or two first and asked a couple questions about why I was travelling alone.

In the US the customs fingerprinted me and asked me what my plans were. They didn’t ask to see my onward flight details here.

Then I was in, I saved a lot of money not having to buy a return flight to Ireland.

Without the printed flight documentation for San Salvador I don’t think I could have got onto the Virgin Atlantic plane in London. Best to be prepared if your planning a similar journey.

Making the News in Georgia

“Its pishing rain still”

“I know”

I sat on the edge of my bunk bed, Connor was sitting on his. An old friend from when I lived in Scotland, we were travelling together these days and currently in a backpacker hostel in Batumi, Georgia. Not the Georgia in the USA but the one beside Turkey for all you geographically challenged people.

It had been raining now for two days straight, pelting down. The kind of rain that would make Noah build an arc.

“What’ll we do?”

“Buy a boat”

I said, half joking but half serious.

“Alright then”

Connor said seriously.

A half hour later and we’re soaked to the skin standing in a toy store that had a boat in the window a couple of blocks from the hostel , I spotted a picture of a blow up boat on a box.

“Boat, how much?”

The shop assistant looked confused, a curly haired, middle aged lady. She walked over to the window and pointed at the boat used in the display. Then she drew a 30 Lari (13 Euro) with her finger on her hand. We bargained with her and got two plastic oars for free and off we went, feeling chuffed to now be sailors.

Myself and Connor sailing
Myself and Connor sailing.

An hour later we were drinking beer and floating up and down the flooded street outside the hostel. The locals were splitting their sides with laughter when they seen use, shouting encouraging words in the strange Georgian language and taking photos. At one stage a Georgian Student around my age arrived on the street,

“Want a boat ride?”

Connor and I had an old-school boombox travelling with us, he put on some romantic music and I pushed my new Georgian friend, a pretty girl with curly hair (all Georgians have curly hair) around the block on my boat. I held an umbrella above her and it was all Venice style in the rain. Some elderly lady came up to me with a glass of home-made white wine and all, really setting the mood.

Then Connor got pulled around town in autopilot by a local in a jeep and I retired my oar, I was bloody freezing.


Someone must of sent footage of my sailing to the local news.

If you watch the youtube clip I’m in the first clip after the presenter finishes talking to the camera.

Croatian War Veteran and Truck Driver

I was by a petrol station, where I spend most of my time hitchhiking in countries with motorways. I was in Slovenia trying to hitchhike from Ljubljana to Zagreb. There wasn’t much people around, just a few cars getting petrol and none with Croatian license plates. Behind the station there was some space for trucks to pull in and I spotted one of these trucks reversing out of its space, so I ran over waving before he pulled off. It had a Croatian plate.

I hadn’t yet hitchhiked a truck before (this was back in 2013 and before Croatia joined the EU), so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but he rolled down his window to hear me.

“Hey, speak English?”

“So, So”

“Austostop to Croatia, Please!”

“hmmm, I can take you to border”

He didn’t seem thrilled but he was happy to drop me off at the border, so I climbed into the passengers seat and threw my rug-sack onto the bed behind me.

We did the standard introductions and what-not. An elderly Croatian man (sixties I presume), his English was great and he seemed to enjoy the fact I was Irish. A bucket of tobacco sat on the floor in between us and I watched him reach down, grab some tobacco and roll himself a cigarette with one hand (filter and all) while steering the truck. I was impressed to say the least.

“I had friends from Ireland”

“Did you? Where”

“When I fight in Croatian Army”

“There was Irish men in the Croatian Army?”

“In war with Yugoslavia, Irish men come here. You are Catholics like us.”

This seemed to explain everything to him, but not to me. I thought the days of Irishmen going abroad to fight had long ceased by the nineties, though maybe there was a couple of Irish men here, possibly ex-IRA men who came to fight with other Catholics. It was surely possible. I even heard of a man from Clonmel (a town near my hometown in Ireland) who died fighting for Afghanistan against the Soviets.

“How many Irish?”

“I knew some, one still live in Croatia I think”

He didn’t seem bothered by the subject of war, and my curiosity got the best of me.

“So you didn’t like Communism?”


“You liked Communism?”

“In Yugoslavia, Yes”

“But not Tito?”

“Tito was great leader”

Now I was confused..

“But you fought to leave Yugoslavia in the war?”

“Yes and before that I was in Yugoslav army”

Really confused now…

“And you liked Yugoslavia and Communism and Tito?”

“Yes, we had many jobs and one month holidays every year, education, doctors.”

“Why did you fight against it then?”

“It is not easy say, I am Yugoslavian but also Croatian. When Tito was leader, no problem, we are all Yugoslavian. When Tito die, problem. Politicians make problems, I am Croatian, and Serbians no longer my brothers. I fight against my brothers because of politics but I am only soldier, no question. After war I drive truck.”

This shocked me really that a man could fight the army he was a part of originally. Also the praise for communism was news to me. I did history in school, I suppose a typical Western education will tell you that Communism was awful and no-one appreciated it except for the corrupt dictators. This man spoke so nostalgically in favour of Communism.

“Is Croatia better today?”

“No, but Yugoslavia is not possible without Tito, I must stop at border for hour. Why? In Yugoslavia we were all brothers, I could work and take my holiday. No holiday now, I never see my children, always driving trucks now. Croatia join EU soon. Good but not good, more tourists but hotels, restaurants all bought by Germans now. Money not staying. Understand?”

“Yes, you don’t see your children”

“They are big now, but I never see them small, always driving. In Yugoslavia you work and take break, now in Croatia if you find job, big if, then you always work. I will retire soon and become taxi driver I hope. Taxi driver is good job.”

He then proceeded to tell me about his house on the hills where he will retire and fix a Lada (old Russian car).

I guess for the man who wanted the freedom to move around Yugoslavia, earn just enough to support a family and still go fishing or fix his car at the weekend then Tito’s Communism must of been a dream come true.

In the end he took me past the border where we chatted for an hour and then onto Zagreb.

I wanted to share his story I guess to remind us all that the best way to learn about a countries history is to speak to someone who lived it.

It might just contradict the history book you had in school.

Hitchhiking in Poland Tips

Hitchhiking in Poland Tips

Capital : Warsaw

Population : Around 38 Million

Languages : Polish

 English (Younger people in the cities)

 German (A lot of the male population)

 Russian (Possibly the older folks)

Difficulty : OK for Hitchhiking.

Money : Zloty (Cheaper than Western Europe but dearer than Eastern Europe)

Hitchhiking in Poland is very popular, many backpackers pass through Poland on their eurotrips and use hitchhiking to get from city to city. The trains aren’t cheap in Poland.

Poland has good motorways between all the main cities so hitchhiking needs to be done by the petrol stations outside of the cities for the best results. The cities are highly populated in Poland though so getting outside of cities can be difficult. Ask around about the local public transport or check hitchwiki’s guides to each city.

Poland’s economy has grown a lot in recent years and is a far cry from communism but the older generation still remember them days well. Older men are likely to offer you a lift but spoken English is less likely. Unfortunately Polish is a difficult language to grasp so just say “Auto-Stop” for hitchhiking and they will understand.

Unless you are willing to approach people at the petrol stations and ask for lifts then you could get stuck for hours just trying to leave a city. You have to make the first move.

Krakow is a nice city but a bit expensive to stay more than a night in. Smaller Cities like Poznan have cheaper hostels (about €5) and aren’t a popular stag night destination for Brits. Krakow’s center is full of annoying strip club pr staff because of this.

Since Poland is in the EU and Schengen it has no borders with Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania. It does however have borders with Belarus and Ukraine, most EU citizens don’t need a visa for Ukraine but the border at Medyka is the only one that can be crossed by foot.

Any suggestions for things to do in Poland? Then comment below.