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.

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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.

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Bribing Border Police in Romania

Bribing Border Police in Romania

Ever forget to buy a Romanian Vignette? We didn’t forget to buy it, we just didn’t bother because we are a special kind of idiots.

A Vignette Tax is a compulsory road tax which is needed in many European Countries such as Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. You need to buy one if you drive through each of these countries. Usually they are bought at any of the petrol stations near the border and can be bought to cover you for one week, a month, a year etc.

We never bought one this time in Romania, only remembering the vignette just a few days before driving to Bulgaria. We decided to chance it and see what happens since we had already been driving around Romania for a week without any police-officer noticing a lack of a Vignette displayed on the car’s windscreen.

We approached the Romania/Bulgaria Border near Ruse in Connor’s Peugeot 206, there was little traffic so we drove straight up to the first checkpoint.

The police-officer lady asked us for the car’s documents, that’s the log book or some form of proof that Connor owned the car. She also wanted to see proof he had Insurance, his regular UK insurance covered all countries of the EU so a printed sheet with the details sufficed.

Next she wanted the vignette… shit. So we played dumb.

“What? Who? We don’t speak Romanian”

We were ordered to pull over to the side and summoned into a little office by another police officer, this time male.

“You have no Vignette”

“What? we were unaware?”

“You need Vignette, No Vignette then pay”

He wrote out €260, and pointed at the numbers.

We kept on looking surprised and saying stuff like, “what we were never told” and “we are students, haven’t got so much money” etc. Every lame excuse under the sun not to pay. This went on for about 10 minutes, until the guy was getting seriously annoyed. Myself and Connor were prepared to stand around all day though, so then our officer left to get his boss in a huff.

A woman in her forties returned, pencil skirt and shirt. All business like and she wrote out €260 on a piece of paper just like the guy did.

“What no, we are students” and so on we began talking nonsense again (we weren’t students but were fairly broke).

She then wrote down €50 on a piece of paper.

“For you, but normally this (pointing at paper saying €260)”

Connor then produced US $50 from his wallet, she didn’t look too amused but took the money from his hand.

She then warned us that the police in Bulgaria would not be so nice and told us to leave.

Another day hustling in Eastern Europe, but it could have all been avoided by just buying the stupid €10 Vignette in the beginning.

I hope this story however demonstrates the fact that you can bargain in Eastern Europe over anything (including fines). I have no doubt that $50 went into her pocket and we were marked down as having the Vignette to begin with. Everyone wins and cash is king.

My advice would be to buy the Vignette anyway.

 

Chopping Wood in Transylvania, Workaway Experiences

Workaway Experiences

I got free board and food in Transylvania in exchange for five hours of work each day.

I landed this gig through Workawayinfo. Simply sending a message to my host Andras wondering if he had any vacancies for a labourer.

I was happy to stay there for a month, one of my positive workaway experiences, because I was deep inside the Piatra Craiului National Park but still not far from Zarnesti. On the weekend I would go hiking up the mountains which surrounded the location.

The work involved cutting up fallen trees with a chainsaw, maintaining the chainsaw, chopping the wood and staking it for the winter. Straight forward labour but hands-on so I was kept happy tipping away for five hours in the morning in the good Romanian weather. I was never expecting to do more than the five hours.

The food was fantastic, the house itself was a B&B so all meals were well prepared (three a day). Usually Romanian or Hungarian food, Goulash Soup being my favourite and sometimes a shot of Palinka after.

There were two other guys working here too, one painter and another labourer so I was never too bored. There was only internet though for maybe two hours in the evenings when the electricity generator was switched on. Showers had to be taken during this time too.

As with most Workaway hosts you have to be prepared to work unsupervised, if you are then the host will develop trust in you. A bad attitude will land you in an awkward situation fast. One other Workaway volunteer was more or less asked to leave, being unimpressed with his task of scything in the garden.

I can understand why he didn’t want to Scythe for the next few hours when he wasn’t being paid. Workaway in Romania and other Eastern European countries isn’t a chance to relax though because your host at the end of the day could hire a local professional labourer for the cost of feeding you each day.

Once you do five hours and are social when around the host’s family then you should be fine to stay for a couple months. The ability to go without electricity was needed here too, I could hike during the day and read a book in the evenings, so I was happy.

Have any Workaway related questions then just leave a comment below.

 

Hitchhiking from Hungary to Romania

I was in a hurry to get out of Budapest (even though I love the city) since the Sziget festival was starting the following day and so all the Hostels were booked fully. I had arrived in the early evening after hitchhiking from Bratislava.

I quickly caught the metro line 3 and caught the bus to the airport, I figured this would drop me at the edge of the Eastern side of the city and I would find a hitchhiking spot. I was wrong, the motorway can’t be walked and the nearest reachable petrol station really only served local traffic. To people looking to hitchhike east from Budapest I can’t recommend starting at the airport.

Overall Rating : Waist of time.

Waiting Time : Dont care to remember.

Since it has gotten late by the time I got back into town from the airport I merely dumped by bag at an Irish pub I used to frequent when living in Budapest and hit the clubs. Luckily they are open until the early morning. I partied through the night then headed off again hitchhiking the next morning without any sleep.

My new tactic to get east was to head to Nyugati train station and catch a train right outside the city. A 2 euro ticket got me to Üllő in about 30 mins, from here I walked through the village until reaching the main road and heading left (east) until I came to a roundabout (past two small petrol stations). There is a petrol station by the roundabout but its clearly never busy.hitchhike budapest romania

From here I began hitchhiking with the thumb out, I figured the fact I was away from a motorway meant I would be better off hitching with my thumb for some farmer type guy to pull over probably mistaking me for a local.

I got picked by Andras, a farmer (I presume) with no English. Nice guy in a banged up old car, the worst moment was when he stopped the car to share a shot of his homemade Palinka with his new (extremely hungover) Irish friend. Somehow I managed to hold in last nights largers and kebab and smiled gratefully before tanning a shot.

Overall Rating : OK, but local traffic mainly, could be good for Debrecen and Romania with patience and not looking hungover.

Waiting Time : 30 mins with thumb out.

Unfortunately Andras was only driving locally as most of the banged up cars usually are. He dropped me off at Pilis a village on route to Szolnok. I didn’t see a petrol station so just kicked back on the pavement for a while watching the traffic. I was contemplating taking a nap in a nearby field but decided to give hitchhiking an hour.

I decided to make a sign from cardboard and wrote RO for Romania, I tought my chances were unlikely since I was still far from the border but I needed to rest badly and a long car trip seemed ideal. One or two Romanian registration cars passed amongst the Hungarian cars without paying me attention. The traffic is quite slow here seen as it’s not a motorway so they definetly saw my sign. I was getting depressed

After a while I spotted a Romanian taxi approaching (I knew the yellow Dacia taxis from being in Romania before). I started waving the sign and smiling estatically. He nodded and pulled in down the road.

Overall Rating : OK again not much different to the previous spot, possible to get to Romania or Debrecen with a sign and patience.

Waiting Time : 40 mins thumb out then 30 mins with sign.

The taxi driver had no English but he spoke Italian like most Romanian men, which wasn’t much use to me but he understood I wanted to get to Romania and he was destined for Oradea. From what I understood of his story he had been at the Budapest airport that morning dropping off a wealthy Romanian and was returning home. I don’t care to imagine what a taxi fair from Oradea to Budapest is (over 300km) but I bet the guy would be pissed off if he knew I got back that way for free in his taxi. The taxi driver managed to get lost on the journey too, seriously Romanians have to be the most random drivers.

Hungary and Romania have a border as Romania isn’t Schengen, it’s relaxed enough although the possibility of getting a quick search on either side is high.

I want to mention an odd Hungarian town I passed through near the Romania border called Berettyóújfalu. Nowhere else was like this place because everyone was cycling here, I didn’t even see a single regular pedestrian on foot. Thought that was weird to be honest, maybe it’s just me.

Hitchhiking in Romania Tips

Hitchhiking in Romania Tips

Capital : Bucharest

Population : Around 20 Million

Languages : Romanian

 English (Many but not all younger people)

 Hungarian (Parts of Transylvania)

 Italian (Common amongst the Guys)

Difficulty : Great for Hitch-hiking.

Money : Leu (Cheap)

Hitchhiking in Romania is quite easily done, especially on the countryside roads of Transylvania (see hitchhiking in Transylvania).

People often say that you will need too pay for rides in Romania but that’s simply not true. I hitchhiked over 20 lifts in Romania (cars and trucks) and was only asked for money once in the middle of nowhere near Zarnesti. I just said Nu Bani (no money) and offered a cigarette instead.

Romanian truck drivers are especially helpful and often speak Italian or Spanish.

To flag a car down you can either hold your thumb up or point at the ground while making eye-contact with the driver.

Most male drivers tend to drive a bit more recklessly then in other parts of the world, and two of my drivers managed to get lost too in the countryside.

Complimenting Palinka “the local home-made alcohol” is usually a good way to get off on the right foot with your driver. Speaking highly of your Hungarian friends is not recommended at all. Many Romanians will claim all of their neighbours (especially Bulgaria and Hungary) are not worth a visit and might even try persuade you not to cross the border. There no need to listen though, rivalry between neighbouring countries is common in Eastern Europe.

It’s a good idea to try learn some Romanian too (Multumesc meaning thank-you), since it’s a Latin language it’s not that difficult for anyone who knows Italian, French or Spanish too.

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Van driver I hitchhiked with.
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Scenic roads in Transylvania
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Truck driver I hitchhiked with for two days.

Hitchhiking in Transylvania (Bears and Vampires)

Hitchhiking in Transylvania

Country : Romania

Cities : Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu

Languages : Romanian, Hungarian

 English (Many but not all younger people)

 Hungarian and German are common in some areas

Difficulty : Great for Hitchhiking.

Money : Leu (Cheap)

Up for Sunrise in Transylvania
Up for Sunrise in Transylvania

Hitchhiking in Transylvania can be like travelling back to the Medieval times or travelling through Middle Earth.

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The Transfagarasan Highway is a stunning route to hitchhike.

The roads meander through beautiful mountain routes. Many villages still have very traditional living with little electricity and Gypsy-carts for transport. Wild animals such as bears, wolves and boar populate the forests and great castles and forts are scattered around the province.

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Romanian truck drivers are great! Get talking to them at petrol stations at the borders. Most speak Italian or Spanish too.

Hitchhiking around is relatively easy (see hitchhiking in Romania), payment might be expecting on a rare occasion since the locals do it, just say nu bani (no money) and the driver will understand.

It’s possible to hitchhike the gypsy horse-carts too but they are very slow.

Language

Some villages are Hungarian speaking but most speak Romanian and often these villages are but a mile or two from each other.

The Hungarians usually speak Romanian too but the Romanians rarely speak Hungarian.

German is a little common too as some villages are of Germanic origin.

Hiking

Going hiking in the Piatra Craiului Mountains National Park is the highlight of Transylvania. The best access point I found to be Zarnesti which is easy to hitchhike from Brasov. 

There are small metal huts scattered along the mountain trails for trapped hikers and shepherds to rest in but I recommend packing a tent and definitely a sleeping bag, plenty of water too. It get’s very cold on the ridge and there’s also no water sources up there, make sure to print-out a map and don’t get lost.

Bears

Bear’s do roam wild here and the local Romanians will tell you stories about spotting them rummaging through bins and crossing the roads. Your chances of seeing one aren’t that high unless you might go tracking them and sneak up on one.

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Visible Bear tracks on a hiking path in Transylvania

If you do meet one then don’t panic, try making noise or running downhill (I heard they don’t chase down hills).

At the end of the day a bear dosen’t want to meet humans, (they dislike our meat) so making noise as you walk around should suffice to keep them away.

If you do want to meet them then I heard of a professional tracker in Zarnesti who takes tourists out tracking bears and wolves. There is also a sanctuary near Zarnesti for the Bears.

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Selfie on a mountain ridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castles and Forts

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Bran Castle

Transylvania has a scattering of Castles and Forts all over the countryside and in most towns.

The most famous of them being Dracula’s Castle in Bran.

I hitchhiked there one day and wasn’t overly impressed.

Bran Castle is really quite small and packed full of eegits with selfie sticks.

If you do go however then make sure to check out the nearby Fort and cave in Rasnov.

Sleep

The bigger towns like Brasov and Cluj have hostels for around 7 or 8 euro a night and couch-surfing is definitely possible.

When the smaller villages then camping is probably your best option but be wary of stray dogs. It’s a good idea to ask for permission to camp by someone’s land if your not in the woods, I doubt anyone would refuse you permission, Romanians like camping themselves. I guess a small B&B wouldn’t cost more then 15 euro though anyway.

Hitchhiking from Brasov to Zarnesti (Piatra Craiului National Park)

Hitchhiking from Brasov to Zarnesti

Many bag-packers staying in Transylvania want to experience the Piatra Craiului hitchhike zarnesti brasovNational Park or go to the bear sanctuary near Zarnesti.

I stayed for a month in Zarnesti using Workaway and would hitchhike in and out of the town (the train is only about 1 euro but takes nearly an hour).

The spot I used to come from Brasov was at the edge of the city.

hitchhike brasov bran rasnov

 

Overall Rating : OK

Waiting Time : 30 mins

Zarnesti is quite small so you can jump out anywhere, easiest place would probably be the train station then you can stroll through the town onto the Strada Toplita. This road leads straight into the National Park.

hitchhike zarnesti

 

It is a few km before you will reach any mountain trails or the trail to the old Orthodox Monastery. When walking along the road into the National Park keep your thumb up to passing traffic to make the journey quicker. Since its an old dirt road without any markings don’t expect much other then tractors and horse-karts however.

 

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Photo I took on a trail. The fork on the main (dirt) road can be seen in the distance (keep left).
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A cave nearby the old Monastery near Zarnesti, the trail to it is signposted on the road into the Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep left at the fork in the road along Valea Crapaturii to get to the best trails. A map of the trails can be got here.

Remember you can’t make a camp-fire except for in special locations (you can be fined).

When hitchhiking back the way to Brasov you can simply start anywhere around the train station is in the direction of Rasnov.

Hitchhiking from Bulgaria to Romania

Hitchhiking from Bulgaria to Romania

Hitchhiking from Bulgaria to Romania and across to the Hungary border at Nadlac took me a total of two days. It was hitchhike veliko tarnovo bucharestan enjoyable journey across Romania, one of my favourite countries to hitch-hike.

I began in the morning in a village a couple of kilometres from Veliko Tarnovo called Samovodene. I had been staying at my friend Cliff”s place called Trinity Rock’s Farm.

I began thumbing on the northern side of Samovodene and got collected by a young Bulgarian guy who spoke English from working at holiday resorts.

hitchhike trinity rocks farmOverall Rating : OK

Waiting Time : 1 Hour

He brought me to the border at Ruse and turned back. I was quickly told by Bulgarian security that I wouldn’t be allowed cross the border (a big bridge) by foot.

So I began talking to truck drivers and the third guy (Turkish) nodded to me, he had no English but knew I wanted to cross the border and had no problem with me ridding shotgun.

Once across the border he stopped for some Turkish tea (Chai) with his other Turkish trucker friends (Turks love tea). I got offered plenty of tea, biscuits and bread by the three Turkish truckers then they set off again with my guy driving to Bucharest.hitchhike bulgaria romania

He dropped me off on the outskirts of Romania’s Capital near Jilava on a ring road that goes around the city.

I followed the signs for Pitesti and started thumbing again.

Some young Romanian guys pulled over wanting a chat but they were only driving into the city and a Prostitute seemed to be angry at me for hitchhiking near her spot or maybe because I was a foreigner without lots of cash.

A trucker stopped for me though after about 30 mins.

Overall Rating : OK but not ideal, rough looking area

Waiting Time : 30 Mins

The trucker was a great gut (like most Romanian truckers), he drove along the motorway until Pitesti then radioed the other truckers to ask if anyone was continuing towards Hungary.

He found me a guy named Carlos that was driving that way and let me off, after waiting on the side of the motorway maybe 10 minutes Carlos an old Romanian guy turned up.

He spoke Spanish fluently which meant we cold have some conversation although my Spanish is basic. He drove for another hour then stopped to watch football and put some magnet scrammer thing under his truck then drove for a few hours during the night.

Carlos was going to Arad but had to stop for a few hours in Timisoara first. His truck had two bunk beds and he offered me one while he took a nap in the other. That was my first time sleeping in a truck.hitchike arad nadlac

After a 6 hour nap we headed to Arad and I jumped out on the outskirts of the city and began thumbing for the border.

Overall Rating : Great

Waiting Time : 20 Mins

Carlos had been great company on the road and it was still early in the day so I was sure I could make Budapest before the end of the day.

My lift to the Nadlac border was a young Romanian guy who wasn’t himself crossing it.

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The Hungarian that brought me to Budapest

I began hitch-hiking on the Hungary side and din’t have too much success. All the truckers were planning on resting after the border.

There was a petrol station with very little traffic close by but in the end thumbing near the border paid off and I got a lift directly to Budapest with a Hungarian guy in his forties who had travelled around Europe and Israel in his younger days via hitch-hiking. He was returning from work in Arad.

 

Hitchhiking from Brasov to Chisinau via Iasi

Hitchhiking from Brasov to Chisinau

Hitchhiking is never fun when hungover, the main reason is that you miss out on an early start. Precisely the unfortunate reason I had to cheat on this journey and take a bus near the end when I went hitchhiking from Brasov to Chisinau.

300 of the 400 kilometers were hitchhiked however, and they were eventful too. Being in a near fatal collision and learning all about magic mushrooms. Really all you can come to expect from a days hitchking in Europe’s wildest country (Romania).

Hitchhiking BrasovI walked from the Old Town Hostel (where I had an enjoyable stay) to Strada Harmanului and began hitchhiking just after the roundabout. Its possible to hitch at the bus stop, a sign is recommended (for Bacau) a local actually went and made me one while I was standing. If you get sick of standing too there is a Petrol station maybe 300 meters up the road where you can ask the drivers for a lift.

Overall Rating : Good

Waiting Time : 30 Mins

I was picked up by “Coco”, least that’s what he said his name was. A young eccentric type in an Astra. He took me to Onesti Along a very scenic road through hills with great views of the mountains. His good English allowed for some deep conversation about the world and the necessary changes according to Coco.

He claimed to be inspired by many great movies, such as “Into The Wild“, camping and was in the middle of starting his own business selling fruit juice. Something I noticed about the younger Romanians whom I could speak with was how in touch with nature they are.

I don’t mean in a “hipster” save the world sense, they just seem to love camping trips and making campfires. We discussed magic mushrooms, apparently the mafia runs their distribution and part of the Bible was inspired by hallucinogenic mushrooms. Who knows?

I bid farewell to Coco in Onesti, he was off to romance his girlfriend, I walked on through the town in the Bacau direction.
hitchhike from onesti bacauI crossed a bridge and began hitchhiking again outside a restaurant with plenty of space for a car to pull in, using a sign for Bacau.

Overall Rating : Good

Waiting Time : 20 mins

I got picked up by a gorgeous lady in her forties, would it be rude to call her a “Milf”? There isn’t a doubt in my mind she fit the description anyway, (assuming she had children). She was accompanied by her husband and her brother, a mentally handicapped man. He sat in the back with me playing his game-boy. She was the only one with any English so the conversation didn’t exactly flow.

I gathered however that her father had passed away the day before (Rest In Peace) and the family were on the way to their home-place. Seems like a depressing time when you wouldn’t stop for a hitchhiker but hey! Romania is a bloody random place.

She dropped me off at the bus station in Bacau because when I told her I was hitchhiking to Moldova she got worried. This is a thing about Eastern Europe which get’s annoying sometimes.

Every country warns you about their neighbours usually claiming that there are lawless gypsys everywhere once you cross the border.

You don’t need to pay heed on these warnings but the Lady (Milf) was fairly stubborn on the subject. It took 5 minutes of tough persuasion and the demonstration that I had a phone before she was happy to say goodbye to me. Sometimes it’s a blessing that men are so much more likely to pick up hitchhikers, women often worry too much and seem to think up every conceivable possibility that could possibly go wrong and then convince themselves it will go wrong.

I strolled across the bridge then confident that I was making hay on my way to Moldova, I came to a Petrom which looked to have only local traffic so I continued along the road past an Hitchhike bacauimpressive Orthodox Church. Bored of walking and tired of my rugsack (hungover) I made a quick Iasi sign and stuck the thumb out.

Overall Rating : Surprisingly Good considering the traffic moved quickly.

Waiting Time : 30 mins.

I got collected by Marcel, and what a character he was, absolutely wired to the moon would be an understatement. He had no English but would scream in Romanian out the window as he drove and wave inappropriate gestures a lot, especially at the Gypsys. One Gypsy lady in fact flung a fistful of horse-shit at the car (a focus hatchback). Marcel truly was a mad old bastard (probably about 55 years old).

He got lost of course on the way to Iasi (not the last Romanian I would get lost with). Blamed his phones shitty satellite navigation (repeatedly banging it off the dash to make it function properly). He asked a man who was gardening at one stage in a village about directions and nearly got in a fight, as entertaining as it was to hear an argument in Romanian it really wasn’t a smart move. The gardener was carrying a massive scythe.

Eventually we got back on the main road to Iasi, after passing through many small villages cut off from civilization almost. With a single local well for water and sometimes (rare) no electricity and horse drawn carts everywhere, I had to wonder how Romania was in the EU. The country is very medieval in places.

At one stage a van pulled right out in front of Marcel on the main road after a fork where to roads joined each other. Marcel had to slam on the breaks after I let out a horrible shout. It was the van drivers fault to be fair, his daughter was standing on the seat blocking his view of the road but he drove on anyway. I will only say this once The driving in Romania is Lethal!.

I did eventually get to Iasi, (late) and began hitchhiking for Moldova. I asked a local where to hitchhike and walked to the spot, however it proved to be futile after maybe 2 hours trying.hitchhike iasi

Overall Rating : Bad

Waiting Time : 2 Hours Unsuccesful.

I guess to head for Chisinau I should of stood at the north side of the city not the east because the border with Moldova is north of Iasi even if Chisinau is East technically east. If I hadn’t been hungover I could of figured this out instead of standing like an eegit for two hours.

An old lady began talking to me and she was happy to walk me to the bus station, and I got a bus to Chisinau for about 8 euro if I remember right.

Hitchhiking from Romania to Germany

Hitchhiking from Romania to Germany

hitchhke romania munich

I was hitchhiking from Romania to Germany because I needed to get to Memmingen Airport quickly for my return flight home to Ireland. I had began this journey in Istanbul and will describe my journey from the Romania/Hungary border at Nădlac to Memmingen Airport via the lovely Budapest.

I walked across the border at Nădlac after hitchhiking a ride there with a local Romanian guy. I should of approached the car’s at the border queueing to cross but I reckoned I could just stand with the thumb up on the other side. A bad decision really as this border proved to be a difficult one to hitchhike.

Upon crossing the border by foot (no issues or search) I began thumbing on the other side immediately. There was a long line of truck drivers queued to cross the border into Romania and a few crossing into Hungary but all of them waved me off. I suppose it was getting late (around 6pm) and they were planning on napping. Many car’s with German registrations passed but none would stop, most occupants looked Turkish also and I have had luck travelling with Turks but people seemed wary here.

The reason for this must of been the amount of Gypsys at the border in French and Spanish registration Tranist vans. They were collecting kids and sending kids back to Romania it seemed but for some reason the adults weren’t going to cross the border. From here in Hungary they could get back to France or Spain without crossing a border so the likely-hood was that they were iillegal living in the Schengen area. This created an air of suspicion around the border. There is also a petrol station a kilometre from the border but it was relatively quiet. So I stood at the border for 3 hours with a sign reading BP for Budapest.

hitchhike nadlac

 

Nadlac (Romania) and Nadylak (Hungary), the red marker is my hitchhiking spot, the yellow marker shows the petrol station. It’s worth a try at the station but I had no luck.

Eventually a Hungarian guy pulled over, he was in his late thirties and was happy to bring me to Buda, he told me all the stories of his life as a hobo travelling the world. He had worked in Israel, Spain, England and France just to name a few. Don’t know what I would of done if it wasn’t for him.

Overall Rating : Bad spot, dosen’t see much useful traffic. I reckon I got lucky considering I arrived late.

Waiting Time : 3 Hours (Budapest)

Once I arrived in Budapest late I rang a Hungarian friend of mine, she agreed to meet up and I stayed a couple nights.

When it came time to head for Germany I was hungover, like every time I wake up in Budapest. I headed for the petrol station/Mcdonaldshitchhiking budapest. This was my second time hitching here and by far the more successful. The more you hitchhike the easier it gets. Description on how to get here.

After about 10 minutes of standing around a Hungarian kid approached me of around 13 years of age. He asked of I spoke IMGA0398English and chatted a while. He asked his Dad to take me to Gyor with them, I was impressed with the kids confidence.

Overall Rating : Best option for hitchhiking from Budapest to Vienna, Bratislava or Balaton direction.

Waiting Time : 10 mins (Gyor)

I got dropped off beyond Gyor at the first petrol station (my second time here), a spot frequented by hitchikers. I soon found another ride  with a Hungarian man who spoke English. He told me the story of the time he Hitchiked across East Germany to Berlin as a teenager in the seventies. He lived in Austria now so his kids would learn German aswell as Hungarian and English (from him) growing up. He believed his effort to make them trilingual was a gift to them.

Overall Rating : Good, there are no busy petrol stations after the Austria border so getting a direct lift to Vienna is highly recommended and worth a wait.

Waiting Time : 20 mins (Austria)

My Hungarian driver took me past the Austria border and to an area where truck drivers park off the motorway about 25km from Vienna. Put “ASFINAG Raststation Fischamend, 2401 hitchhike viennaFischamend, Austria” into Google maps and you will find the exact spot. It was dark now and I couldn’t see anywhere to camp, it was a little car park beside the motorway with toilets and a couple Gypsys. Not sure what I could do I struck some luck when a Swizz car pulled in, and out got a man in his forties.

I asked him as nicely as I could to take me further because I didn’t want to be stuck here. I was lucky he spoke English given the fact he had his two young kids with him and a car full of luggage. He asked if he could see my passport (never happened before) but then its rare people with young children collect hitchhikers. Once he checked over it and was satisfied he rearranged his luggage so I could fit in, we chatted for a while but I soon fell asleep.

I woke up outside Memmingen Airport. Seen as the guy was driving to Zurich he was passing by Munich and Memmingen anyway. I really struck lucky here. If anything this highlights the importance of knowing what registration cars to approach right away.

Overall Rating : OK spot, not recommended as such but it has potential if you want to skip Vienna. Arrive early as there is nowhere to camp.

Waiting Time : 20 mins (Germany)

IMGA0400
My lift to Germany