Bratislava (Slovakia) to Oradea (Romania) via Budapest.
This journey began in Slovakia in Bratislava. Getting out of Bratislava just like any city can be difficult.
The method I choose was to use Google maps and Hitchwiki to locate a petrol station on the edge of the city and get there in the early morning. By using bus 93 or 95 from the city centre, I got 93 (without paying) and jumped out at the last stop called Vyšehradská.
Keep walking south and cross the big road Panonská Cesta towards the fields and away from the city. Then cross the immediate field towards the motorway as shown in the second map. Follow the black line and you will find a hole in the fence by the motorway and a manky pair of old shoes, a bit further south is a bridge to cross the motorway.
The very first car I approached at the station had a Hungarian registration so the odds were stacked in my favour. It turned out to be a Hungarian couple both fluent in English. They were expecting a child soon and had been visiting a Doctor in Austria. They were happy to drop me off at a petrol station near Gyor even though they seemed a bit nervous at first. A little bit of conversation and flaunting my basic Hungarian phrases did the trick though.
Overall Rating : Great spot but not so easy to get to. The best for heading South East to Hungary.
Waiting Time : 5 minutes (Hungary)
I got dropped off at the last petrol station before Gyor on the M1. I ended up here again a few months later again hitchhiking from Budapest towards Vienna.
You can expect to meet other hitch-hikers here from Germany and Poland as its the last station for quite a while. It is a good spot but not very busy, have a little patience and a direct lift to Budapest is very likely. I caught one with a Hungarian business man and girlfriend.
Overall Rating : OK spot, the truckers are usually sleeping here since its close to the Austria and Slovakian borders. Approaching is necessary.
Waiting Time : 30 minutes (Budapest)
I didn’t however take the lift all the way to Budapest. I decided to jump out before getting there and try the last petrol station before the city’s suburbs on the motorway.
I was hoping for a lift direct to Romania as I had seen some Romanian registration cars on the motorway. My attempts were futile though. Two Romanian registration cars pulled in, one was a man who wouldn’t take any hitchhikers and the second guy was very friendly. A young guy who had made his money working in construction in London driving a nice BMW. However he was driving his family home to Romania so had no space.
In the end I took a lift to Budapest instead of waiting around any longer. Getting a lift to Budapest was simple, a young Dutch couple took me, they were driving to Budapest for the Sziget Festival.
Overall Rating : Good for getting to Budapest centre, bad for travelling beyond Budapest, especially on a Sunday (no truckers).
Waiting Time : 2 hours and fail (Romania), 15 mins (Budapest).
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 out and I had planned on finishing the day in Romania.
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.
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.