Hitchhiking from Montanita to Guayaquil

 

Hitchhiking from Montanita to Guayaquil

Burnt Intestines, September 2015

 

Montanita’s a cool little party town, the aroma of weed fills the air and every corner features dreadlocked hippys from Argentina selling bracelets and pipes. One such hippy invited me to visit him someday in Buenos Aires. I gladly accepted the invite, jotting his Facebook details down and continued building my network of friends on the Latino Continent.

I only stayed one night however (in a 5 dollar hostel), the drive to keep moving having consumed me and my next to empty pockets. Completely unsure of my final destination or goal I resolved to keep moving and practicing my Spanish each day with the kind commuters of South America.

The Beach in Montanita backpacker
The Beach in Montanita

South it would be to Peru, but first I planned to stop over a night in Guayaquil. A local had offered to host me on Couchsurfing but not for another two days. As always, I kind of had a poorly planned plan.

hitchhiking montanita guayaquil

While digging through Google Maps, a daily activity these days, I noticed a town (being generous with the term town) called Banos de San Vicente. “Banos” being the Spanish word for “baths” I deemed this place my next humble aboad for a night in my hammock but first I needed to rest my aching backpacker shoulders in the thermal “Banos” I expected to find there.

Walking from my hostel to the only main road (a five minute walk as Montanita is tiny, perfectly tiny, no drunk could get lost here unless they were really intoxicated to a substantial level). I encountered two hippies also hitchhiking, a dread-locked couple from yes you guessed it? Argentina. We exchanged pleasantries as hitchhikers do in South America, I offered some water they took some, they offered a drag on a joint…. Best friends now, but not forever, the couple departed for the bus station complaining that there wasn’t enough traffic, and that the locals are too uninterested in tourists here. All true but, yes no one said it’s easy… Amateurs I guess, or maybe it was the girl, she appeared impatient once the stray cat got bored of her attention and wandered off to resume its torture of the local lizard wildlife.

I strolled down the main road since an hour of thumbing in Montanita had achieved the grand total of fuck-all, except slightly more sun-burnt shoulders. However I have faith in Ecuador at all times, and with good reason too. A relatively small by South American standards sized country with not only an abundance of homegrown delicious food but friendly people too. I strolled down the road with faith that by giving up the comfort of a cheap bus to Guayaquil I would be rewarded with a lift directly to some hot muddy bath in San Vicente.

I could be the 40th person to dump my body into that unhygienic bath of dirty mud later that day. In a country where 4 dollar hotels don’t provide warm showers (does any country?) I couldn’t care less about the hygiene.

Eventually I encountered a petrol station after walking for about half an hour away from Montanita, I came to the conclusion that joyfully pestering locals as they refuel would be my noble task for the day. Hoping to encounter people like the young couple from Guayaquil who brought me to Montanita.

These small coastal towns see very little traffic, often just locals in their pickup trucks who might expect payment after you ride on the back. Your best bet for a free long distance ride are the cars of holiday makers from the cities of Quito or Guayaquil.

“Good Morning”, I positively exclaimed to a middle aged man and his teenage son in a jeep (in Spanish of course).

“Hello, what are you doing?”

“Hitchhiking, I’m going towards Guayaquil”

“Where are you from?”

“Ireland”

“Ireland?, how far away.”

“Yes very, where do you go?”

“Guayaquil”

“Could I go with you”

“Yes, of course”

“Much thanks”

And that’s all it took, some quick chats and a smile, in I jumped on the back seat and we chatted. About an hour into the drive the father (roughly 50 year old chubby Ecuadorian) told me his son studies English. I spoke to his son in English for a while too (nice chap, around 18, seemed the studious type).

I asked about the town Banos de San Vicente and they confirmed that there were indeed baths there and that they could leave me there if I want. Happy days. It was maybe 2 miles from the main road to Guayaquil but they didn’t mind doing me the favor.

The baths were well, run-down looking, but if you go to a lake hungry to catch some fish do you care if the lake is dirty?

Maybe but that’s not the point, I enjoyed chilling in the thermal baths anyway. For so long in fact I got a case of the runs but then when I sat on the toilet all I could release was pure steam. My insides felt like a pressure cooker. I bid San Vicente fairwell and politely turned down the old lady standing outside her restaurant trying to usher me in.

How do I explain that I cooked my intestines today and don’t fancy supper in Spanish politely?

Walking along the 2 miles or so back to the main road to Guayaquil I signaled a pick-up down and asked for a lift. No problem but they were bound for Salinas not Guayaquil. No bother I jumped out at the main road. Decided to wait it out for dark (only about an hour at this stage) and camp out here in the desert by the main road to Guayaquil so I could arrive early and safe in the morning.

Around 8 the next morning I began walking alongside the road, thumb out and got collected by the first truck to pass. A friendly, chain smoking, curly haired and heavy Ecuadorian of around 30 years of age. The truck struggled the whole way to Guayaquil and I was nearly flung into the windscreen every time he changed gear. I’m still always grateful for any lift though.

I jumped out on the outskirts of Guayaquil and caught a local bus for a couple cents to the main bus station where I could get some wifi to contact my CS host. Now for a days rest and then onwards to Peru.

The Banos de San Vicente Entrance
The Banos de San Vicente Entrance, to be honest I would recommend a stopover. The bath was like 3 euro for the day and massages could be got for like 10, I just hung out in the bath though.
Where I splet for night near Banos de San Vicente. Notice how I used a random anmal bone I found to help secure my hammock strings from cutting through the cactus.
Where I slept for the night near Banos de San Vicente. Notice how I used a random animal bone to help secure my hammock strings from cutting through the cactus.
Guayaqil backpacker
A picture taken after I arrived in Guayaquil, way cooler animals hanging about the greens than Squirrels it has to be said.

 

 

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Hitchhiking from Colombia to Ecuador

Hitchhiking from Colombia to Ecuador

 Hitchhiking Buses in Ecuador – September 2015

The time had come to leave Colombia, I was bored of pretending to be an English teacher, plus trying to learn English from an Irish man is like trying to learn to ride a bicycle using a unicycle.

Even though the locals were friendly (I got the nickname “El Gigante Amarillo (The Yellow Giant))” I meet a lovely chica (shout-out to Gabby). I wasn’t staying as long as I had intended but I still had made a little cash and had learnt a lot more Spanish to help me along the road.

Leaving Ipiales I was technically an illegal immigrant since my Colombian visa had expired three weeks earlier. I had simply went across to Ecuador on the day of expiry, got their stamp and came back into Colombia living on an Ecuador stamp. The border between Ecuador and Colombia is extremely relaxed, you can walk across without stopping to talk to anyone.

hitchhiking ecuador colombia

So I got up early and walked to the border from Ipiales (took me about an hour). Then I skipped across the border and began hitchhiking on the Ecuador side.

No luck. Borders are always shit for hitchhiking and especially here with the way people fear drugs, the news in South America has people convinced their goldfish are dangerous.

I walked a couple kkilometers until I reached the turn-off for Tulcan and stood around hitchhiking on the main road for Ibarra.

A Colombian had told me that Ecuadorians eat dogs. Colombians from Ipiales didn’t seem to like Ecuadorians though since they cross the border with their superior Dollars and buy stuff in Ipiales causing inflation of the Colombian Peso. I disregarded the rumour as nonsense and passed the time trying hard to spot a stray dog walking around Ecuador.

After 45 minutes I was giving up hope and decided to pick up my backpack and try walking. While hitchhiking its always good to carry your backpack and walk where possible. People feel more sympathy when they see the rucksack on your back and are more likely to pull-over especially in Ecuador.

Two argentinian hitchhikers had by this time joined me too. Guy and girl, Franco and Jaqueline, two hippies playing music and selling bracelets to gringos on the road. We set out together in high spirits sharing stories and fags and soon got collected by a minivan.

The old lady and fella were happy to take us a few miles away from the border where we easily caught a ride with the first pick-up truck that passed, Ecuador’s Sierra is beautiful from the back of a pick-up. We sat in the back all the way to Ibarra. A beautiful ride only stopping once at a police checkpoint where one officer quickly asked about our passports.

In Ibarra Franco showed off his impressive road tripping skills. He got us free bread and sugar canes by telling jokes and complaining of hunger. Then he convinced a public bus driver to take us for free across the city so we could hitchhike on the northern side.

“No puedo pagar, pero puedo bailar” (I can’t pay, but I can dance)

And we danced our way onto that bus, at the exit of Ibarra we stood at a traffic light asking the stopped vehicles to let us ride. Quickly we got told to jump on the back of one of the pick-up trucks. The driver sped along at a fierce speed too, so we got to wave at all the cars that refused us (only like 5) as we over-took them.

After that Franco stopped another public bus and got us a free ride all the way to Quito.

Hitchhiking in Excuador was proving incredibly simple in comparison to Colombia.

In Quito we ate a 2 dollar almuerzo and I hit up an internet cafe to locate some couchsurfing, later we hung around the street and got offered free weed. Other Argentinian hippies started to materialise from the walls and drop from the sky as soon as the smell of weed got in the wind. Things were looking good in Ecuador, very good. I bid the now growing army of high Argentinians adios.

In the end I stayed three nights in Quito and then headed for the coast solo again for my first swim the Pacific.

Quito`s a cool city, many gringos and other foreigners, the people are friendly and the water is OK to drink from taps. On the other hand Ecuador is more expensive than Colombia since they use the dollar. Still I love Ecuador though, getting a bus here is completely illogical with all the pick-up trucks you can jump on the back of.

Special thanks to my Couchsurfing host in Quito David.

hitchhiking quito
My Argentinian Friends on the Road

hitchhiking quito

Hitchhiking from Cali to Ipiales

Hitchhiking from Cali to Ipiales

 Llama Land – July 2015

The Colombian adventure continues, an unforgiving country with dangerous roads and torturing sun, Vamos!

By the way my Walmart camera seems to have commited suicide, frustrated with it´s vagabond lifestyle. Hopefully I will revive her soon and get the photos from my latest trip up here (just the photos from my phone for now).

hitchhiking-colombia
The map does not show of course how windy, dangerous and long the road gets as you climb into the mountains before Ipiales.

So I left Cali around lunch time on a Friday not sure how much work was involved in getting to Ipiales. Taking the local bus South to the University area and following the main road south after a kilometer or two I found a bridge to stand under and made a sign for Popayan.

After about 45 minutes a local guy pulled over in an Astra. In his thirties, he was glad to bring me to Popayan and we had the chats in broken Spanish.

I jumped out on the northern edge of Popayan opting not to enter the city but instead to try hitchhiking the ring road that encircles Popayan. A big mistake.

There was next to no traffic, every Colombian was somewhere for the international football game against Argentina. So I walked…. and walked…. and walked some more.

After about 7 km of walking forwards and then backwards with my thumb out when a car happened to pass me I gave up and hopped off the road. Then I jumped off the road, found some trees and flung my hammock up, hungry, thirsty and considerably pissed off.

I started again early the next morning, after another 4 or 5 km (with help from an old local guy who took me about 2km on his moped). I had finally walked to the other side of Papayan, and stood facing the traffic heading south of Popayan.

I gladly let my bag down and began petting some stray horse to get more attention, I had the blues to say the least after all the fecking walking.

“Hey look at the white guy petting a horse!, lets pick him up”

Is what I imagined the local Colombians saying.

It didn´t work surprisingly, I walked on and finally got collected just before lunch time by two nurses.

A man and woman, both very friendly and chatty with lovely slow and clear Spanish for me to comprehend. They left me by a Viaje (toll stops here in Colombia).

I stood around chatting with a local guy selling water, he presented me with some bible magazine but praying was getting me no-where and I would of preferred one of his oranges. After an hour one of the nearby soldiers ordered a truck driver to take me somewhere else, guess he didn’t like having me around.

The toll stop
Be nice to the Colombian military at the checkpoints and they will be nice back. Often helpful too.

The truck driver left me at the entrance to El Bordo not wanting to take me further I guess, not much going on here. I stood around hitchhiking for about a half hour talking to a little street kid and got offered a ride to Medellin by one truck driver. Wrong way fella but thanks.

Then along came Carlos, he pulled in his truck and waved at me. Then went for a cup of coffee. When he returned I jumped in and we took off.

My truck to Ipiales
My truck to Ipiales

I couldn’t understand a thing he said, and he was convinced I’m dutch.

“Irlanda”

“Olanda ?”

“No Irlanda”

He just gave me a confused look and then started asking questions about the Netherlands. The road to Ipiales especially after Pasto was awful. All curves, dangerous but very beautiful.

We broke down on a bridge and some soldiers came by to direct traffic around the truck. While Carlos tinkered with his truck and waited for her to cool down. I sat around feeding my remaining oatmeal to some famished looking chickens from the local farm that came around to see all the big truck commotion.

The soldiers were friendly too, we smoked and I spoke in my broken Spanish. Everyday the five men stood on this bridge with their machine guns which I weren’t allowed to hold for a photo.

Endles wilderness surrounded the road
Endles wilderness surrounded the road

Two hours later and she was back to life and Carlos tipped the soldiers, it was dark now though so Carlos soon pulled in and I jumped out of the truck. There was no bed so I assumed he would sleep across the seats. He wanted to start again at 4 so that left me almost 6 hours to sleep. I strolled around the petrol station and laid under a statue of the Virgin Mary. Wrapped up in my tarp inside my sleeping bag to keep warm at the ridiculously high altitude.

At 4 a local man woke me up and then the truck driver. They don’t have alarms in Colombia but rather locals guys you give a few cents to and they will lightly kick you at the desired hour. I had slept reasonably well on the concrete under the Virgins statue.

By 6.30 I was in Ipiales (the outskirts) on a Sunday, Carlos would go no further today. I walked into town, wearing a jacket for the first time in months. Ipiales is as cold as Ireland, it’s very high in the mountains. I started to see llamas too and Alpacas for the first time in Colombia. The people too in the Sierra are noticeably more indigenous looking then the rest of Colombia. I stood at least a foot taller than everyone also.

Stopping for breakfast I bought 2 coussants and a big cookie, a grand total of 600 pesos (€0.20). I could hardly believe the cheapness. With the remaining 2000 pesos (€0.66) I bought 40 mins of internet in a cafe, a cup of coffee and a smoke.

Ipiales is nice and cool I thought, a lad won’t get burnt here and it’s crazy cheap. Also there were potatoes for sale everywhere and pretty girls! I have a soft spot for potatoes and pretty girls.

“It’s a shame I have to leave so fast” I said as I walked towards the Ecuador border.

A car pulled over.

“Hello, I speak English, where are you going?”

“Ecuador”

“Come to my house for lunch, I can get you a job here”

Annnd I’m still here, in Ipiales. Taking a break from the road for a month or two to improve my Spanish and earn a little cash teaching English, I got 12 students as I write this to teach later today.

I’ll be most definitely back on the road soon because there’s no pub here, decent wifi or a decent book store either.

Expect some posts about teaching.

Ipiales has a nice Church where the Virgin appeared
Ipiales has a nice Church where the Virgin appeared when she wasn’t busy being my nightwatch.

By the way I completely bluffed everything. I literally put on a shirt and said yes I’m an English teacher (don’t even have a working visa). I would love to work at this Institute. How hard can it be?

Sup Bro
Sup Bro

 

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.

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St. Louis arch thing
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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.

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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

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 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.

IMGA0397
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 Turkey to Bulgaria

Hitchhiking from Turkey to Bulgaria

Hitchhiking from Edirne in Turkey to Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria proved quite difficult, mainly at the Bulgaria/Turkey border.

hitchhike edirne veliko

I presume the Bulgarians were a bit less trustworthy of strangers because of the amount of Syria refuges sneaking across the border at the time.

I had camped in Edirne the night before after travelling from Istanbul and began thumbing beside where I had slept.

The first car to pass by collected me, a Turkish fella and he brought me to the border then turned back, don’t really know where he was going originally.

Overall Rating : Greatcamping edirne

Waiting Time : 5 Mins

I had no luck what so ever at the border though. I waited nearly an hour just after crossing it then another hour on the immediate highway but with no luck (the traffic is scarce yet moving fast).

After walking along the highway though about a kilometre I spotted a hole in the fence that led down towards some service stations and restaurants for truckers. I had a bite to eat then continued walking from here towards Svilengrad.hitchhike svilengrad

After walking another 2 or 3 km I got collected by an old man who dropped me at a good “autostop” spot in Svilengrad for travelling north towards Veliko. I was very grateful for that lift after the hardship of the border.

At my new hitch-hiking spot it only took about 20 mins to get back on the road again.

Overall Rating : OK (Not very busy)

Waiting Time : 20 Mins

This elderly man had no English but I believe he claimed that he regularly picked up hitchhikers from all over Europe around the border.

He was only going to Cherepovo so I jumped out before then and tried for another car. There is no need to point out the specific locations because this route I took is full of small villages and it’s possible to hitch-hike anywhere on the road.

The next car to pass was a pair of Gypsys in their thirties with a banged up old Dacia, some part of my brain said to ignore them but my aching feet were happy with any ride so I stuck the thumb out and caught my first lift with Gypsys.

It turned out to be just fine like I expected (wouldn’t of thumbed otherwise) and I got let off in Polski Gradets. I walked out of the town and started hitch-hiking again on the side of the road.

My next lift took maybe an hour to arrive but I was glad in the end because the (mafia looking) guy drove ridiculously fast, and he had a mercedes with comfortable leather seats. He was only going to Radnevo though.

By now I was a little confused as to my location but I knew I was still heading in a northerly direction.

So after hitchhiking in Radnevo I arrived in Stara Zagora and since it was after getting dark I decided to sleep, I pitched my tent up by a small lane-way which was to the side of the E85 motorway just outside Stara Zagora. To me it looked like a Mechanic’s Garage was maybe at the top of the lane, I couldn’t tell in the dark.

After maybe one hour of sleep though I was awoken by a flash-lamp and the sound of a dog. I opened my tent to find four fully armed Bulgarian soldiers looking at me (more on this later) but luckily one spoke English and I talked me way out of the situation. Apparently the ground was Bulgarian secret service territory (some spy I would be).

I walked down the motorway another 500 meters and found a secluded spot in a wooded area without soldiers.

In the morning it was raining heavy but I really wanted to get to my friends place in Veliko to get tidied up and showered so I began hitch-hiking anyway. An elderly guy in a truck stopped for me even tough I was drenched (some people are just great) and he brought me to Kazanlak explaining in broken English how I had went wrong on my way to Veliko.

The road from Nova Zagora to Veliko by Gurkovo is much faster and used by the Veliko traffic no the Stara Zagora route. When coming from Polski Gradets I shouldn’t of veered west to Radnevo. He helped me get back on track by radioing other truckers too and found me one in Kazanlak for Veliko, and that’s how I finally got there in the end. Getting lifts in trucks can be a slower method of travelling but will often proove rewarding since no-one knows the roads better than them.

 Before : Hitchhking from Istanbul to Edirne

 After : Hitchhking from Veliko Tarnovo to Nadlac via Bucharest

 

Hitchhiking out of Istanbul towards Edirne

Hitchhiking out of Istanbul towards Edirne

This is bloody difficult (it took me two days) unlike general hitchhiking in Turkey. Istanbul is just too dam huge.

I began near Ataturk Airport (jumped in a taxi with a friend from my hostel who was getting a flight) and walked west, my plan was to get to Silivri then work my way up to Edirne off the motorway so that I could hitchhike. After there I was heading to Bulgaria.

hitchhike istanbul edirne

On the first day I walked for the whole day. It was a late start (like 3pm) and I was too hungover to bother talking to drivers so I never really thumbed either. I must of walked for maybe 7 hours following the D100 then camped in a field by the road putting my tent up after dark. The area was still residential and I spotted the local security guard who gave me permission to camp.

On the second day I kept my thumb out as I strolled along by the side of the D100 road and got picked up a couple of times in various locations. After maybe three lifts I was in Corlu and things were looking good to reach Bulgaria and in one of the cars the young Turkish guys were smoking some weed.

I however got into a bad situation when this other guys wallet fell out of his car when he let me out, (see Facing Arrest in Turkey). That wasted another two hours at least and it was getting dark.

I was however by then in Babaeski. I walked to the edge of the town and turned left at the hitchhike edirnejunction to get onto the D100 again. The traffic was moving very fast but I got collected quickly without even a sign. I really thought this spot was useful.

Overall Rating : Great

Waiting Time : 10 Mins

In Edirne then I walked through the city center. The place looked a bit dodgy to camp in (Refugees trying for Greece and Bulgaria around).

I found a nice place to camp though. A sort of park camping edirnejust after the bridge (marked in red), it had a friendly security guard who was working all night and had no problem with me camping on his grounds.

In the morning I hitch-hiked directly beside my park on the road just after the bridge towards Bulgaria and got collected by the first car.

After : Hitchhiking from Edirne to Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)

Hitchhiking from Poznan to Wroclaw

Hitchhiking from Poznan to Wroclaw

My end destination was Budapest so I wasn’t bothered howHitchhiking Poznan to Wroclaw I got there once I went south.

I only got to Wroclaw that day however probably because of a late hungover start and the fact I didn’t have the best luck in Poland.

I began hitchhiking at the Rataje roundabout recommended on Hitchwiki but had no luck what so ever, I even made a big sign out of a plank of wood cast nearby for but no-one stopped.

Overall Rating : Bad

Waiting Time : 2 Hours, no lift
hitchhking poznan

After this attempt I got tram 5 (8 and 14 are good too) until Górczyn then caught bus 103 to Szreniawa (the bus number seem to change often though so make sure and ask). I got off at the bus stop Szreniawa (it looks like the middle of nowhere) and began thumbing.

Overall rating : Averagehitchhike poznan

Waiting Time : 30 mins

I got collected by an elderly guy who only spoke Polish but he took me as far as Steszew.

In Steszew I walked through the village keeping left towards Leszno and hitchhiked again at a bus-stop.

After 10 minutes another old Polish guy collected me and dropped me off in Leszno. I began walking out of the town towards Wroclaw immedietly looking for a hitchhiking spot but didn’t see one. I kept walking along the motorway maybe a km or 2 (there’s forestry on either side and no room for cars to pull in) and found a restaurant.

Here there was two cars pulled in and a lumberjack having a fag, I began talking to the hitchhike lesznolumberjack. He used to work in Dublin and was very friendly. He spoke to the people who owned one of the cars, an elderly couple ( who I doubt wanted to take me) and convinced them I was a decent fella.

The old couple agreed to take me to Wroclaw with them, by then it was getting dark so I decided to find a hostel in Worclaw for the night

Overall Rating : Good (but maybe I was lucky)

Waiting Time : 5 Minutes

 

After : Hitchhiking from Wroclaw to Bratislava