Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Destined to travel alone

Finally (after 2 months spent in Poland) I hit the road. I even found a travel mate to hit the road together! So we left Poland with the plan of exploring the Balkans; for me the remaining countries, for him all new places. Thanks to fabulous Mr Andrzej, who actually invited me to go with him all the way from Poland to Italy, we spent 2 days and 2 nights in his truck, getting 3 meals a day, free bed and loads of conversations. We even changed our (hell, mostly mine anyways) plan and visited Italy for some 5-6 hours before going back to Slovenia. In Ljubljana we waved goodbye and started "real trip".
As usually for me: CouchSurfing, tent, hitch hiking and cheap food was all i needed. Couple days here and there, total exploration of a tiny country of Slovenia, where we've seen probably all the biggest cities, got drunk with our CS host (and now you tell me that Poles are not drunks :>). Later Croatia and long awaited Bosnia, which I always considered a mysterious country. Well, at least until I crossed the border (which was by the way quite a story: Croatian customs ask me about any drugs, booze etc, I deny everything, forgetting a had some specific sleeping pills on me, which happen to be prescribed and of course I don't have any papers for it with me. So they try to fine me with 100 euro in exchange for a jail. Cute. To make 30 min story short, I (of course) got away with it, didnt pay a penny and even saved the pills. And I will definitely remember Croatian police if I ever step on their land ever again.) Bosnia was cool. I love burek and was stuffing myself with eat every day, trying every flavour possible (including Serbia, I've tried 5).

And then, one day, my travel mate says he's going back to Poland as he had (literally) 5 euro on him. So I say "bye, good riddance". I turn left, he turns right (ok, after the last beer drank together) and off I go, alone, again. And then the fun starts. First car, for which I waited 50 min, takes me directly from Sarajevo to Montenegro border, where I jump to his friend car and we go to Budva, on the cost of Montenegro. As it gets real late (like 1am) the driver organizes a place for me, which happens to be a room of his 2 Bosnian friends. Kinda awkward situation to show up at 1am at strangers flat and say "hi, I'm Monika, I'm gonna crash here for a night". Dunno who felt more weird. Them - having a stranger to share a room with, or me - staying with 2 guys. In the morning I was properly welcomed with 2 coffees, 2 cigarettes and a joint (!) and had a nice chat with the guys (and learned what kurcy-palcy means, don't ask me...).
I can actually say I never really hitch hiked in Montenegro, coz each time it was the driver who stopped for me, without me even waving for him. I'm not going to go into details i.e. how I ended up on a local car fair and was "helping" to sell 20 year old car and then wanted 30 pounds for petrol he used to take me to Podgorica (wtf?!). Lesson learned from Monte: a guy who says he's your "friend" means he wants to fuck you. Proved twice (guy never succeeded though).

For some (unknown and unplanned) reasons which was/is a beer-tasting-tour. I tried local beers in almost every country on my way, in different amounts. From one glass to uncountable amounts while pub crawling and clubbing (Novo Mesto, Zagreb, Banja Luka, Plovdiv) and drinking by the river (Polish style, hell yeah) in Nis. That of course caused exceeding my budget, but as they say, whatever makes you smile, you shouldn't regret. So I don't.

In Bulgaria first time ever I left my CS host as he was... well... at least creepy. Thanks to other surfer who stayed with him too, I survived the night (we barricaded the kitchen door where we slept :P), but moved out in the early morning to another one - Szymon Majewski's look-alike.
On the other hand, in Sofia I met a bunch of Greeks, so another party with all stuff included, including shaving half of my head (damn, I still dunno if that was more planned or more booze-caused decision).
About hitching alone: never waited more than 30 min (except that one time in Sarajevo) and even hitched with 3 guys in a car (first time with road builders sipping beers while driving, second with 3 great Romanian guys who I would have definitely gone for a beer if I had stayed in Galati one day more, but I had to leave for Moldova the next morning). One guy (still in Bulgaria) for 15 min tried to convince me to have a 5 min long sex in the bushes and totally couldn't understand why it was a problem for me (he stopped only when I asked him to leave me on the road). Ah, he even offered driving me an extra 30 km further if I agreed. Duh! I read some other blog of a girl who, in this kind of situations, leaves the car asap. Well, I'd rather keep it cool, with no false moves.

Moldova, as people said, was a big countryside but I liked it. I pity the people who work for 150 euro per month or those, whose families live abroad to make ends meet, and visit home once a year. The fisr lift there I got from the customs worker, the second from a guy who dropped me off and after 10 min showed up on the road and saw me eating a yoghurt. Shocked by the fact that I feed my self with a "sour cream" as he said, he invited me for a "normal" food which was prolonged till next morning. I stayed for a day and night in his village, visiting his neighbours, cooking plov in the house with no running water (he had well tough!) and a toilette 30 m away from the building. Lovely ^^ I mean it, I really liked that place. Something a bit out of space even for a person from not so rich country (call it Poland). Tusk (notorious prime minister) was in Chisinau 2 days before I got there! I saw him on the TV and then I saw flowers he put somewhere in the capital. Then I saw Stanislaw Mrozek's play shown in some local theater in Chisinau and that would be it when it comes to little Poland abroad.

And finally! My beloved Ukraine! Again, after 5 years, I'm back in here. And again, I love it from the first sight. I'm so regretting that Crimea is accessible only with Russian visa and I cannot go, but Odessa (where I am now, sitting in CSer-former-squater's flat, drinking 10 cups of coffee a day and smoking damn cheap cigarettes) is great.
Sorry, no photos this time. Need to organize the stuff and put it properly. Even this note is quite chaotic, more like my personal diary. Even though I have loads of free time, it comes hard to actually sit and write a proper post.
For you, not to get lost, that's my route (till now):
Poland-Italy (1 day)-Slovenia-Croatia-Bosnia-Montenegro-Serbia-Bulgaria-Romania-Moldova-Ukraine.

oops, I forgot to add. Someone's getting famous here. It's my article about Brunei published in Polish travel magazine Poznaj Swiat