Hitchhiking from Ecuador to Peru

Hitchhiking from Guayaquil to Piura,

An Irish, Indian, Viking Lost in South America,
September 2015hitchhiking peru to ecuador

I had taken a nice wee rest for two nights in Guayaquil with my couchsurfing host. My host was a local photographer who was happy to show me around the busy city (which has a higher population than the Ecuador’s capital of Quito). Guayaquil might be bustling and noisy but it also had some lovely architecture, a huge dark rain-forest coloured river, its own Barcelona football team and a cool, free zoo. Though it does not really offer as much to do as a tourist as its fancy brother Quito.

In order to hitchike towards Peru I took a local bus from my host’s house to the main bus terminal without any plan. I resolved to just walk East, crossing the bridge which links both sides of the river and the peninsula which divides the two tributaries which feed the river Guayas before its brief journey to the Pacific

A view from Guayaquil’s main bridge.

It was a long walk in the searing heat so I resolved to try hitchhiking at a set of traffic lights. After a minute or two a bus driver waved me onto his bus, it was empty and returning to his station. He told me I was crazy to try walking out of Guayaquil in the heat, but instead from where he stopped on the east side of the city that I could catch a cheap bus to the town of La Troncal for a dollar. Uninterested in tackling the dense Guayaquil City I opted to pay the bus fare to La Troncal. This plan at least guaranteed I would be hitchhiking the open roads towards Peru before lunch time

After the quick bus ride to La Troncal I jumped out in the towns center which comprised of a roundabout and began walking South West towards the next town on the way to Peru called Naranjal. Hopefully named after the town’s abundance of free oranges growing from every tree. I noticed the stares of people in La Troncal, curious stares, it felt good to be the only blonde in town as I trotted along the footpath with my life on my back.

After twenty minutes or so of walking I started to thumb as I walked, there was a dirt track for cars to pull over and I was near enough to the outskirts of La Troncal to catch the attention of  mainly traffic which was leaving town.

After ten minutes a pick-up pulled over, two brothers who were returning to their home in Naranjal with construction stuff. Friendly guys who asked plenty of questions about Europe. They showed me their home, it was a small brick bungalow with a flat roof on the South-side of Naranjal, their pride and joy and they seemed happy at the prospect of a getting some work done. Luckily for my drying lips they threw me an orange as I jumped out and continued walking South for Peru, good old Naranjal.

I really enjoyed the way my desert camo boots camouflaged my feet in the sandy dirt of Ecuador. Maybe they worked too good though as I continued walking on past a traffic jam which was built up behind a broken down car without getting waved onto the back of anyones pick-up. Then after about thirty minutes I meet Angel, I will never forget Angel, his wife (I think) and his Mother. To do so would mean forgetting probably the best conversation I ever had in Spanish or with strangers who have picked me up.

I first tried to jump on the back of his pick-up but was waved into the back seat. Angel drove (man in his late forties), his mother sat up front too and beside me in the back was Angel’s wife (I guess).

“Gringo, where do you go?”

“Towards Peru”

“Have you any Cocaine”

“Nope”

“Why not, good price in Peru”

He started to laugh and his 70 year old mother punched him, I knew I was going to be interviewed for the length of this drive, as always I didn’t mind. He explained to me how in Ecuador there are three types of people and I will summarise. The Indigenous who live in the Sierra and Jungle (his mother piped in to say they like eating Iguanas). He called them Indios. The black people who live in Esmeraldas (his mother piped in to say they like eating coconuts), he called them Negros. Finally the Europeans or people of European descent that he called Espanoles. Now he wanted to know what I was, so I said

“I’m just Irish no foreign blood that I know of”

“A, you are an Indio of Ireland. What kind are you Indios?”

“Well no, we don’t have indigenous tribes people” (I tried to explain in Spanish)

“There is no such thing as just Irish. Who was in Ireland before the Europeans came to colonise”

“Ireland is in Europe, we are European”

“O so you are not native Irish, you are European, but the people who were there before you what is their name?”

“No I am the Indio of Ireland and I am European at the same time”

“You have mixed blood”

“No, shit, em Celts do you know the Celts” (I tried celtico and celto attempting to find the Spanish word for Celts)

“No I never hear of these people”

“Hmmm eh Vikings too”

“A you are a Vikingo!” he exclaimed with sheer delight.

“Eh sure yes” I didn’t want to disappoint now and be a mud-blood European.

“How amazing”

He proceeded to ring some friend and starts bragging on the phone about how he found a genuine, tall as a tree, blue eyed Viking wondering around Ecuador. When all was said and done I had my own question.

“So what are you Angel? Indio, Negro or Espanol?”

“None I am Ecuadorian”

“But you said… Fuck it, never mind”

We pulled over for dinner and had deer (I think), Angel insisted on paying even after I offered my share. Back on the road I decided to ask where he was going since we had been on the road for hours.

“The border with Peru tomorrow, tonight I need to stop at my brothers and work, you can help”

“Sounds good”

We eventually got to some town in the dark and then I helped Angel and his brother load boxes of tiles into a pick-up which we drove out to the desert in. We unloaded the boxes into an empty house under construction with a trailer of fresh melons outside and moved some stuff around, I became aware of how the lifestyle of sleeping outside and never knowing the time of my next meal was withering away my limited muscle mass. No wonder all these South Americans keep wanting to feed me, being so skinny and tall on a continent of short, heavy men. I also had one of those moments too, the one where your sitting in a desert in the dark eating fresh melon after hauling boxes of tiles up a stairs in a house with no roof in exchange for bed and a lift out of town and you wonder how the fuck did I get here.

Angel’s brothers house had a pet deer which I think belonged to Angel. If I understood his story correctly he found it sick one day and nursed it to health. It then ate a 20 dollar bill which belonged to him. He then decided he would kill and eat the deer because he believed the meat would be “rich” with flavour (he laughed as he told this part so I’m guessing rich was a pun because the deer ate his money). He had a change of heart though and decided to keep and name the deer. So I’m in this house having a beer with Angel and his brother while Angel’s wife (I think) makes supper. Everyone is cool and chatting and seemingly not noticing the wild deer falling around the kitchen as it struggles to grip its feet on the tiles.

The next morning we drove onwards to Peru and I answered more of Angels queries, he seemed shocked that Ireland couldn’t grow coffee, mangoes, rice, bananas etc. What a poor country he kept saying, he nearly cried laughing when I told him that in Ireland both Guinea Pigs and Iguanas are considered pets. By the time he reached Peru he was convinced that Ireland was a barren wasteland where people keep stupid animals as pets (the man who owns a “house” deer that eats money).

The border crossing was quick once all the border police returned from their lunch, which they all take at the same time, I got a three month visa without any questions. Angels wife however never showed her passport to the police I noticed, she instead snuck across the border by walking past the police (the police stay in a little shed rather than outside on the border bridge where there is no shade). She probably just couldn’t be bothered actually getting a passport I guessed. Angel then drove me onwards to Sullana in Peru and left me on the edge of town before going wherever he was going in Peru.

Missing my new friend but excited to be in a new country yet again I starting walking, the hitchhiking was slow and Peru wasn’t impressing me. I got a lift after about 30 minutes though straight to Piura with an elderly man in a pick-up as is the usual in South America, he was less of a character in comparison to Angel but still a good guy. Peru just seemed like a whole load of desert so far and definitely poorer than Ecuador. I jumped out in the center or Piura and decided to chill for a while, maybe sit on a bench have a smoke and eat one of the three melons angel had left me. The Vikingo was in his third South American country!

Angels pet deer
Angel and his Mother
Random house I saw on the outskirts of an Ecuadorian town.

 

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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)

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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 Sarajevo to Belgrade, an Epic Journey

Hitchhiking from Sarajevo to Belgrade

Hitchhiking from Sarajevo to Belgrade was definitely one of the longest and best remembered days I have ever had on the road.hitchhike belgrade

Hitchhiking at least 10 different cars with fishermen, farmers, business men and all sorts of interesting characters from Bosnia and Serbia.

I even got set-up on a date with one Serbian man’s daughter in one car.

The road was rough for most of the journey with low traffic but it was possible to hitchhike anywhere (at least until the Serbia border anyway).

I hopped from village to village in Bosnia catching lifts in Mk2 VW Golfs and VW Camper Vans which make up 90% of the rural traffic there.

The rides in Serbia were longer and much faster. In either country no-one spoke English except for one Bosnian, sign language and a map had to just about suffice.

I left Sarajevo in the early morning walking along the road to Donja Ljubogosta which goes through a tunnel just outside the city which is dangerous enough to walk but can be done (I did it). The traffic might be less then impressed.

A man in a bus pulled over after the first tunnel to politely shout something at me, when he realized I was foreigner he was a sound ambassador for his new country and offered me a lift. The place where he collected me being marked in red below.hitchhike from sarajevo belgradeOverall Rating : OK, no space for a car to pull in

Waiting Time : Had been walking maybe 15 mins

After getting dropped off near a petrol station at Donja Ljubogosta I strolled up the road 100 meters to the fork in the road. There was a few locals here already hitchhiking and I noticed some Serbia flags hanging from houses from here on, this part of Bosnia is home to mainly Orthodox, Serbian speaking folk who consider themselves Serbian.

I joined the queue of locals hitchhiking on the road over the bridge (at the green mark on the map) looking all natural and not like a bag-packer at all I hope. A sign isn’t needed just wait until your turn to be picked up.

Overall Rating : Great, mostly local traffic. You could try a sign for “Beograd” (Belgrade in Serbian) but its better to take any lifts you get and just to keep moving.

Waiting Time : 10 mins

A man in a van delivering bread to a bakery (mind blowing stuff) brought me a few miles to Sumbolovac. Here I just walked to the edge of the village and stood with my thumb out again where there was space for a car to pull in.

It only took maybe 10 minutes before I was on the road again. If you get impatient just walk along the roads with your thumb out whenever you hear the rumble of some banged up car coming around the bend and hope its a “comrade”.

This pattern repeated itself maybe ten times until the Serbia border. I won’t go into detail on each place I caught a lift because I don’t remember each village and it really dosen’t matter. You can thumb anywhere and walk anywhere.

Some traffic will go maybe two or three villages and most will be going only a few miles, just keep taking lifts. Don’t be bothered if the car has no seat-belts (I gave up checking) or if the driver is chain smoking (most were). Definitely act normal if the driver is drinking beer, I got offered beer in two cars by drinking drivers. Dogs were common too on the passenger seats.

The one guy who spoke English had a very long chat with me and took me to his favourite fishing location. He had run to Italy as a teenager (now probably a hundred) and took a boat to goatAustralia where he worked for many years. He truly had an inspirational life, and gave me his number in case I ran into trouble on the road.

Beside me in the van though was a live goat which he had just bought and planned on killing because he recently got good news. I shit you not.

He began to rant about the divide up of Yugoslavia after the wars and got quite emotional. I sat and listened as he recalled the good old days when there was no border between him and his friends. Not the first or last man I’v meet on my journeys to praise the days under Tito’s Communist Dictatorship. I didn’t meet a single Bosnian who praised the current state of affairs once.

On the road from Sarajevo to Belgrade not only is there some beautiful nature but you will meet all sorts of interesting “Soviet” characters like him, some of whom have barely left their little villages in their entire life.

Some places appeared quite lawless too and one old man asked for money when he collected me, I refused though saying I had none and he understood enough. Offering a cigerette in these situations usually will suffice. Carry a packet even if you don’t smoke because every Serbian smokes.

To walk across the border you need to first walk over a bridge (a river runs along the border). I encountered no problems from the guards and wasn’t searched. I immediately stuck out my thumb again after the border and quickly got picked up.

This time by a man with one arm and one leg, my jaw dropped when he hopped out of the old merc to open my door. He managed to speed along the road maneuvering with only half a body! He didn’t speak English but I assume he unfortunately stepped on a landmine. He clearly wasn’t letting it hold him back in life though, what a mad bastard he was on the road! Drove like a rally driver I swear.

I got dropped off at a petrol station where my driver hopped out of the car to yell at the attendant in Serbian to find me a lift to Belgrade. Possibly scared of the one legged Schumaker hitchhike belgrade to sabache quickly found me a lift with a guy who was heading to Novi-Sad.

The “not so chatty because I’m always on my phone guy” dropped me at the toll booth on the E70 motorway to Belgrade. An excellent and popular location to hitchhike to Belgrade that wasn’t a completely random spot on the side of the road.

Overall Rating : Great for Belgrade, just stand on the other side of the booth and a driver will collect you after they pay.

Waiting Time : 15 mins

The old man who collected me had no English but quite luckily his daughter did. He rang her up and gave me the phone. What a Gentleman if I might say, I had a date set up for the next day in the city. If you have ever been to Serbia you will know that 99.9% of the girls are extremely hot, so the odds were staked in my favor to land a humdinger of a lady, God I love Eastern European genetics.

All in all it took a full day to make this journey and it was without a doubt my most exciting day on the road that Summer. It was my first experience of the more Soviet parts of Europe too, where lifts are simple to get but no-one speaks any English. Offering a cigerette is all the communication that is needed however to become lifelong comrades.

The Balkan countries truly are scattered with beautiful nature, women and friendly people throughout the countryside.

Very very cheap too, cheap as chips in fact.

Before : Hitchhiking from Mostar to Sarajevo

Hitchhiking from Budapest to Ljubljana

Hitchhiking from Budapest to Ljubljana.

Hitch-hike budapest to slovenia

Hitchhiking in Hungary is not very difficult and I began hitchhiking from Budapest to Ljubljana at a petrolhitchhiking budapest station in the capital of Budapest. It’s an OMV station located beside a Mc’Donalds so it see’s plenty of traffic. Not just local traffic but also Vienna, Lake Balaton, Croatia and Slovenia. I actually used it again on a separate occasion to go in the Vienna direction.

To get there take a bus (8 I believe) from Astoria in Pest (in the city center, tickets can be bought from the ticket dispenser machines for about one euro) and get off at Sasadi ut. Keep walking in the direction of the bus for a minute or two to get to the station. Located on the map by the red marker at Garibaldi Utca.

I never encountered any issues from the petrol station staff the two times I used this spot (although I have heard they can be less than friendly to hitch-hikers).

The best idea is to stand at the exit onto the main road so as to catch the driving traffic aswell as the Mcdonalds and petrol station traffic. You can expect to not be the only one hitch-hiking here so to get an upper hand try asking any of the people in the car park where they are heading. A smile and a sign will give you an advantage especially when there is various traffic here.

When I was hitchhiking to Slovenia I stood at the exit (alone) with a small sign saying M7, this was my first time hitchhiking so it took just over an hour (I was shy and never approached people walking around the car park).

Twice I got asked questions questions by local traffic in Hungarian, I guess I can be mistaken for a local easily enough. Eventually a man around forty years of age stopped in a SUV, no English but he took me past Lake Balaton.

A friendly Hungarian who had long hair suggesting he was once a bit of a hippy. Any people heading for Croatia or Slovenia should take any lifts that bring them along the M7 further and ask to be let off at petrol stations (say Benzien). This provides a better chance of catching truck drivers etc. once outside of Budapest’s suburbs.

Overall Rating : Good, Sign Recommended and also approaching

Waiting Time :  1 hour (Balaton)

My next spot on the way to Ljubljana was a petrol station the Hungarian man dropped me off at as he was leaving the motorway. I only waited maybe 10 minutes here because I ran around quickly asking every person where they were going.

One Polish van driver offered me a lift to Ljubijana when he realised I was hitchhiking from Budapest to Ljubljana. He was a skinhead who listened to Polish rap music for the whole journey. Unfortunately he got a call to take a nap and wait for orders the following morning so I ended up at another petrol station (the second red marker) and the last before the Slovenia border I was told (don’t quote me).

I found a lift to Ljubljana quickly enough when a Romanian guy I smoked a cigarette with went and convinced a group of Moldovans driving a van to Italy to take me. They agreed and dropped me off on the outskirts of Ljubijana. They spoke Russian the whole way and generally didn’t talk to me (language barrier) but seemed like decent guys even if they looked dodgy. Don’t know if this route would of been as good for going directly to Croatia as most traffic seemed to be Slovenia bound. Slovenia has no border control with Hungary.

hitch hike balaton

  Overall Rating : Good in both instances but the ability to approach strangers is necessary since the hitch-hiking is done at petrol stations and not on the motorway. A second language would be useful, Italian especially since Slovenia is on the road from Eastern Europe to Italy for travelling workers. A lot of the traffic might not speak Hungarian.

Waiting Time : Under a half-hour in both instances

After : Ljubljana to Zagreb

Hitchhiking in Hungary Tips

Hitchhiking in Slovenia Tips

Why I Hitchhike?

Why hitchhike alone? Most people ask me, aren’t you afraid of every possible conceivable thing that could go wrong?

It was close to midnight and I was stranded at the side of a motorway near the AustriaHungary border. I was standing in an area for trucks to pull in and take a nap, and there wasn’t a petrol station in sight to say the least. The only other people at the spot were two Romani gypsy’s in a Spanish registered Transit van, paying me no attention.

Times like this I curse the road and wonder what I’m at in my life to be here, nowhere and down to my last cigarette.

In the pitch blackness I couldn’t see anywhere ideal to camp and I was depressed, cold and hungry. It all can change so fast though, and suddenly a gesture from another person can bring you onto a whole new high, making the stress all worth while.

I saw a Swizz registered car pull in and out gets a Hungarian looking man to take a piss, he looked in his early thirties, bald and wearing a business shirt. I make my way over.

“Excuse me but I’m trying to use autostop to go to Munich?”

“Hello, where are you from?”

“Ireland, I’m a tourist”

“Yes,  Munich is no problem get in, I am driving to Zurich” .

It’s that simple really, once you remain patient even when at your limit, yet without a doubt the question I get asked most is “why?”. I guess for me there are four main reasons.

1) Saving Cash: The most obvious but not only reason, sure you save money by not needing to pay for transport and if you bring a sleeping bag you might even save on accommodation too. Whether it be sleeping in a truck or in a wilderness far from cities.

2) Meeting People: It is by far the bet method to meet locals when traveling, people who don’t intend to meet tourists and aren’t trying to sell you something. Real genuine people just going about their day who were sound enough to offer a lift.

I have learnt so much history and picked up words of the local languages from trying to string together a conversation with the driver and made many great friends, contacts to help find work and even got set-up on a date with one Serbian driver’s daughter!

Who knows what kind of adventures you can end up on with strangers.
Who knows what kind of adventures you can end up on with strangers.

3)Personal Growth: Every time you talk to a stranger you step outside your comfort zone a little.

“What if I get mugged?”.

All these new experiences meeting strange people will be pushing your fear to the limit.

This will cause change in your perception of the world, after a while standing on the side of the road with your thumb up you will eventually lose any care for what others think of you and the people you will meet along the way will restore your faith in humanity.

“I couldn’t even imagine getting mugged.”

4)The Rollercoaster: the emotional ups and downs as perceived in the opening paragraph becomes addictive. Buses and trains will seem so uneventful in comparison to the randomness of hitch-hiking. IMGA0102

Variety being the spice of life then you are sure to have some eventful stories to tell the grand-kids someday from the road.

Why not hit the road yourself and discover a new adventure every day?

 

 

Leave any questions about hitch-hiking in the comments section and I will be happy to reply.