Hitchhiking trip from Portugal to Romania

Hitchhiking trip from Portugal to Romania


This time it’s not my story to tell.  Septimiu, one of my best friends, has an awesome story to share. Just scroll down slowly 😉


Date: 15.06 – 21.06.2017

Route: Aveiro, Portugal – Targu Mures, Romania

Costs: <50Eur

I had the chance to spend a few months in Portugal. Very soon I realized that the end of my stay would bring me the opportunity to fulfill one of my oldest wishes: to go hitchhiking through Europe. I had this idea for the past 5-6 years, but I never got to… make up my mind and go. I knew right on the spot that I should not miss this chance. Was I scared? Yes, I was a bit. I’ve been hitchhiking for 7 years now, but I’ve never traveled more than 250km at a time. Aveiro, Portugal is 3500km away from my home, Targu Mures, Romania.

A quick look at the map, just to get the main idea.
A quick look at the map, just to get the main idea.

I was going to bed at 2am on 15.06, after I was done packing and cleaning the room I rented. I was planning to wake up at 5:30am. While waiting to fall asleep I was expecting to be stressed out, anxious about what’s about to come. But I wasn’t. I guess I got used to the idea and all felt natural, like this is what I am supposed to do: go home, hitchhiking. Big deal. At 5:30am, I was as ready as I could ever be.

I made this travel journal as a token of gratitude for the people I met on my way back home. Those people were the highlight of the journey. I was in a hurry to get home, in order to finish my MSc degree, forcing me to spend most of the time on the road and not having the chance to visit many new places. I met all kinds of people, of all ages and professions, but nevertheless, good people.

I also hope to inspire some people, mostly people I know, who thought that hitchhiking such a long distance is a bat shit crazy idea. Hitchhiking can be a risky business, it’s a well known fact. You need to be social, to act fast, to make decisions on the spot, pay attention to details and trust people you’ve never met, who may want to harm you in various ways. Hitchhiking can also be very rewarding by having the chance to meet very interesting people with amazing stories or by making friends and experience pure freedom. And the most important of all, you get to know yourself better. It gets you out of your comfort zone and we all know that’s where life really starts to happen.


This is how it went:

Day #1

Aveiro, Portugal

"How do you spell Spain in Portuguese?"
“How do you spell Spain in Portuguese?”

Just when I got out of the car near the gas station that I chose to be the place from where I would start my trip, I realized that I’ve forgotten to make the very first cardboard sign for my next destination. While my buddy was laughing her ass off at my clumsiness, I hastily started to write ESPANHA (Spain) on a A4 piece of paper. The phone on my left was there for me to make sure I was spelling it right. Of course I didn’t at first, just notice the mangled piece of paper on my right which was my first (or second) try. I guess I was a bit anxious, I was about to make one big jump into the unknown.

"OK. Which way do I actually have to go?"
“OK. Which way do I actually have to go?”

One last look at the map, trying to memorize the first part of my itinerary. I bet my ass that I’ve forgotten the names of the first three cities that I had planned to get to that day, like right after 5 minutes. That’s why that map was always in my pocket, while I was hitchhiking, no matter what.

"Am I really ready?"
“Am I really ready?”

I got ready (as much as one can get). All was set ( I hope I have enough undies). Let’s go! (what the f**k am I getting myself into?! )

Ines from ESN - Aveiro
Ines from ESN – Aveiro

Ines, my awesome Erasmus buddy, who was always there for me during my months in Portugal, gave me one last ride outside Aveiro. She may have a wide smile here, but she was very sad that I was leaving. Sorry bud, gotta go! 

Even the gas station is closed.
Even the gas station is closed.

Last place suitable for hitchhiking before the entrance to the highway. Cloudy morning, please God don’t make it rain! Luckily it didn’t rain (for the next 6 days!!!) Here I waited 2 hours and a half. After one hour a car stopped on the other side and the driver told me he’s going to Spain, but apparently he was going to Santiago de Compostela, to do the pilgrimage. I needed to go east, not north. Got back to my spot and I started waiting again and laughing at people’s reaction when they were seeing my cardboard sign with “Espanha” written on it. Come on people, Spain it’s just 250km away!

Salamanca, Spain

Me, Justus, Daniela & Ricardo.
Me, Justus, Daniela & Ricardo.

Awesome people that picked me up from that gas station and gave me a ride all the way to Salamanca, Spain. Justus is PR manager and he was going together with his girlfriend, Daniela and Daniela’s brother, Ricardo, to pick up a dog from Salamanca. They invited me to have breakfast with them and bought me a full breakfast menu even when I insisted that they don’t have to, because I had breakfast right before leaving. Thank you, guys!

"Damn, it's hot."
“Damn, it’s hot.”

A small gas station on the highway near Salamanca, where I slowly melted for 2 hours. A few cars passing by every 5 minutes, mostly locals, not the best place to hitchhike. I was kinda stuck. Luckily, 2 nice people stopped, Cema and his father, and told me they can give me a ride to a better place for hitchhiking, a roundabout near the entrance to the highway. I gladly accepted. Sadly, I didn’t got a picture with them, I had to get out of the car fast so they wouldn’t mess with the traffic. Thank you, Cema.

Valladolid, Spain

Me & Roberto
Me & Roberto.
Roberto stopped a few minutes after I started waiting. He was going on holiday in the northern part of Spain, to surf and chill. Really nice guy, he was driving a small van, a camper van equipped with everything you need for spending some nights in it. He drove me to Valladolid, where we got lost when trying to get off the highway. We found a nice spot for me to hitchhike and after dropping me, I started melting again for 2 hours and a half, almost giving up hope and calling it a day (it was around 7pm), thinking where should I spend the night.

Burgos, Spain

Ana, Sara, Paula & me
Ana, Sara, Paula & me.

I was tired, sweaty and thirsty, but got lucky when these three cool girls picked me up and gave me a ride to Burgos. Med students, stressed about the upcoming finals (classic), were nice and fun people to share the road with. Although only Ana spoke English (or the other ones were to shy to say something) we managed to understand each other and have fun. To be honest, I was pretty surprised that they offered me a ride. Anyway, thanks a bunch, girls.

Cathedral of Burgos
Cathedral of Burgos, Spain.

Burgos was nice. Pretty town with a lot of parks and beautiful old buildings.

A park in Burgos, Spain
A park in Burgos, Spain.

One nice alley where I did my „evening walk”. Couldn’t find a cheap place to sleep, it was a bit too late, almost 10pm and also because I didn’t put in too much effort, so I decided to camp in a park area near the river that was passing trough the city center, in a nice and safe spot.

End of day #1.


Day #2

Miranda, Spain

Me, Daniela & Vivian.
Me, Daniela & Vivian.

I got up at 5:30am in order to get to the entrance to the highway as early as possible. After 30 minutes of walking, I found a nice spot to wait. It didn’t take long and these two spanish women stopped and told me that they’re going near Miranda, a small spanish city, which was on my way to the border with France. They didn’t speak English, I suck at Spanish, but we managed to understand each other somehow. Daniela seemed to be a really nice woman, she went the extra mile to find me the next ride, in a sort of unsafe manner: almost causing an accident on the highway when she suddenly pulled over near a rest area to ask a truck driver if he can take me to France or blocking a lane to a highway tax booth when she got out of the car to ask another driver on another lane, if he could take me to France. In the end, without any luck, they dropped me near Miranda in a place full of parked trucks. …and a lot of police. That made me a bit uneasy because some spanish guy told me hitchhiking is forbidden in Spain. Bullsh*t, I tell you. Anyway, thank you Daniela!

"Can that be called a crag?"
“Is that wall climbable?”

The view from the place where the truckers usually stop. Luckily, it was still cloudy and not raining. My waiting was now a lot more bearable.

Riding shotgun.
Riding shotgun.

Look at that! First truck that I get a ride in this trip! I like riding shotgun in trucks. Even if it.s going slower, it.s cool to have the high ground on the highway.

Irun, Spain

Me & Pedro.
Me & Pedro.

While waiting for almost 2 hours in the truck parking lot near the road, this guy shows up and asks me where exactly I was going. Again, fu*k my broken Spanish. In the end we agreed if no one takes me while he’s having his break, he’ll take me near the french border, close to Irun. Awesome, I didn’t even bothered to look for other cars. My turn to have „lunch” (a few spoons of Nutella) and call home. In the meantime I saw a parked romanian car, rushed to it and ask the driver where he’s going. Apparently, not far. I wished him good luck and walked away. After a few minutes Pedro and me left for Irun. Pleasant ride, didn’t talk that much. In the end Pedro gave me two bananas for the road. Nice guy . Thanks a lot, Pedro!

Toulouse, France

Me & Philipe.
Me & Philipe.

During my wait in a gas station near the french border, I met 2 romanian truck drivers (driving the same truck, one at a time) that were going to UK. We didn’t talk much. After eating the bananas that Pedro gave me, I started waiting again for the next ride. A lot of movement but apparently no one around who wants to take me to France. Damn. At least it.s full of choppers and adventure motorcycles and I can feast my eyes every time a bunch of them pass by. After a few hours this guy shows up, named Philipe. A french accountant coming from a presentation somewhere in Spain. He speaks English enough to have a small chats for the next hours on the road to Toulouse. Yey, France, at last. Thank you, Philipe.

"I've got an idea!"
“I’ve got an idea!”

After getting to Toulouse, I realized I made a big mistake. I didn’t imagine the city to be that BIG. I knew right away I will have a hard time getting out of the city next morning. I started looking for hostels, all were pretty expensive and far away from the place where I was. I decided I will go towards an entrance to the highway A61 and find a spot to camp along the way. So after 25 minutes of walking, I stumbled upon this parish. *light bulb lights up*

My mini-camp.
My mini-camp.

While I was inspecting the surroundings through the fence, I saw this old dude driving in the front yard. I went straight to him and started asking if he speaks English. He only spoke French and Spanish. Great. He will have to put up with my crappy Spanish. In some weird way of talking and making basic hand signs, I managed to ask him if I can camp in the backyard. He seemed to agree and started asking if i needed something else. No, I just need a place to camp and that.s it. He agreed. Awesome. I started to get ready for the night. I did a bit of planning for tomorrow. Didn’t care it was only 9pm, I was wasted. Later I realized it was full of mosquitoes, like hundreds. I made myself like a mummy with the aid of my sleeping bag and a buff. Managing somehow the mosquito issue, I was about to discover another thing that turned out to be a pain in the arse: a bright watch light above one back door near my camp site, that went on every time a cat (I guess) was passing by. Guess what? I learned that apparently cats don’t sleep and just roam around. All. Night. Long.

Michele & me.
Michele & me.

This is Michele, the priest from the parish where I camped. You could easily feel that he’s a good guy with a big heart. Thanks a lot for letting me sleep in your backyard, Michele.

End of day #2.


Day #3

Toulouse, France

Don't hitchhike here. Really.
Don’t hitchhike here. Really.

On the morning of day 3 I got up at 6 am, a bit later than I planned , but due to the fact that I was only 15 minutes away from the highway, I slept a half hour more. When I got to the entrance ramp for the highway, I told myself: “Crap. I will rot here waiting for a ride. No place to stop safely, not so many cars passing by, and just a bit of shadow.” I sucked it up and start doing my thing. After an hour and a half I gave up and start walking to another entrance to highway A61, 30 minutes away.

I've got another idea.
I’ve got another idea.
While waking to another hitchhiking spot, I stumbled across this. Hmm… should I make a small detour, like to the moon or something? How cool is that, hitchhiking into space! Badass. I was dreaming with my eyes open.

Carcassonne, France

Me, Orlene & Simon.
Me, Orlene & Simon.

I got to the other entrance ramp to the highway A61 and after waiting a while, I decided to change my sign from „Nimes” to plain „A61”. While I was writing on my cardboard, a car pulls over and rolls down the window and a guy with a broad smile asks me:
– Hey, where do you wanna go?
– To Nimes, but even if I get onto the highway A61 is perfect!
And then I head the most pleasant words ever:
– Hop in, we’re going that direction!
Awesome! I got into the car, squeezing trough lots of stuff and realized that the stuff I was trying to push away was… climbing gear.
– Guys, are you going climbing by any chance?
– Yeah, were going near Carcassonne, to a nice crag.
I knew from that moment on that it’s gonna be an interesting ride. We talked about climbing all the way to a gas station near Carcassonne. Guys, I hope you had an awesome day at the crag.

"Try to pose cool. Try to pose cool. Chicks gonna love this one!"
“Try to pose cool. Try to pose cool. Chicks gonna love this one!”

Boredom and extreme heat leads to.. crappy photo session. Tell me, would you stop to give this hitchhiker a ride? I would. He seems cool.

Montpellier, France

Me & Paulo.
Me & Paulo.

It took maybe 50 minutes to get a ride from Carcassonne, thanks to Paulo, from Portugal! “Boa tarde, como esta voce?” Working as an engineer, he setteled in Toulouse. Good english speaker, we did have a nice chat, mostly about random stuff, golf ( he LOVES golf) and sports. He took me to a gas station near Montpellier. Muito obrigado, Paulo!

Me & Nico.
Me & Nico.

After I did a bit of shopping ( I bought the most expensive bread ever! 3,5 Euro!!! ), I was about to have lunch when I spot this guy, with a tent and a camping mat strapped to his big backpack. Yeap, no doubt, another traveler looking for a ride. I wave at him and sign him to join me. Nico, a young french guy was also hitchhiking to a town near by. We shared some bread and stories. He had a different approach to getting hitchhiking rides, he was going from car to car and ask for one, I chose to sit before the exit ramp to the highway with a sign where my destination was written. After wishing each other good luck and safe travels and, of course, the mandatory selfie, we took separate paths. God speed, Nico.

Le Luc, France

Me & Tica.
Me & Tica.

It took me again roughly 2 hours to get another ride. This time I spotted a romanian truck pulling over for a break. While the driver was parking I was acting like a numbnut, trying to show him the romanian flag, hopefully he’s going to or near Romania. Of course he wasn’t. It was a kind of a long shot, but still, it was worth trying. He got busy with his lunch and I left him alone. In the meantime a badass biker pulled over so I was able to drool while waiting, just by looking at the Harley Davidson cruiser. Then out of the blue, the truck driver shouted at me:
– Hey, I can take you near Le Luc if you want. Wanna come?
– Hell yeah, kind sir!
– Hop in, time to go!
For the next 350 km I talked with Tica, about everything that 2 guys can talk about. He kept saying I was way to crazy for doing this trip. Am I ? Really now.

Trucks are cool.
Trucks are cool.

Riding in a truck again, woohooo! Multumesc, Tica!

 San Remo, Italy

Me, Coco & Roberto.
Me, Coco & Roberto.

Tica dropped me in a gas station near Le Luc. Damn, it was hot. I was waiting for another ride under the shadow of a stop sign, enough to cover my head. I got bored pretty soon and I thought to try Nico’s approach and go ask people for a ride. There weren’t many cars, like five or six. No luck, I didn’t even bothered to ask the driver in the last carbecause he seemed too busy and not likely to leave any time soon. I got back to the cover of the stop sign and after a few minutes, guess what? The guy who I thought to be very busy, stopped and asked me in spanish where I wanna go. Damn, spanish again. Luckily I had the map and showed him roughly the direction. He told me to get in. This is Roberto, a spanish guy, owner of a small company that makes sprinkles, he was traveling to Italy together with his dog Coco. He knew only spanish and italian. I knew only english and a bit of portuguese. I have no ideea how we did it, but we talked all the way to Italy near San Remo. Crazy shit! Awesome guy, he insisted to buy me food and drinks and even looked for an extra bed for me at the hotel where he booked his room. We part ways in a gas station near San Remo. Muchas gracias, Roberto!

Arma di Taggia, Italy

Me & Max.
Me & Max.

After a small talk with the italian police that wanted to make sure I know everything I needed to know and I’m not gonna do stupid shit, a small green car stopped right in front of me. I wasn’t even looking for a ride, just casually checking my map. 
– Hey, where do you wanna go?
– To genova or further, it doesen’t matter actually.
– Get in, we.ll figure something out!
I got in and met Max, a french guy who settled in Italy. I had no idea what amazing person I was about know. Max has hitchhiked in South America for 3 years. When he saw me in the gas station he imagined himself during his hitchhiking trips and knew he had to stop. Max offered to host me, but he lives off the grid, in a remote area, together with his wife, growing their own food and enjoying nature in its purest form. Before heading home, Max was planning to take a bath in the sea. I decided to join him and later to find a place to camp on the beach. We went for a swim, watched the sunset, drank some homemade wine and talked about our personal beliefs and values. I was inspired by Max, by his view upon the world and the life experiences he had during his trips in south america and the life style he chose to follow. He’s only 29 years old, but wiser than I would ever imagined. Talking with Max gave an overdose of motivation to keep going forward with my trip and pay more attention to world itself, stripped away of the beliefs that sum up what today most of people call it „the normal/right way to live a life”.Later went to have dinner, to a local pizzeria. Finally I got the chance to try some proper italian pizza. Max and I kept on sharing thoughts and being happy for the simple reason of just having the opportunity to have a meaningful chat. We exchanged contacts and part ways, after showing me a good area to camp on the beach.

Max living the moment.
Max living the moment.

Max, living in the moment, living the life he always wanted. Definitely one of the most interesting person I’ve met so far. Have a good one, Max.

33

The water was perfect. 30 minutes before taking this picture, I had no idea I was going swimming and chilling on an italian beach. The water was perfect, a much needed relief after spending my day in the heat. The perks of going with the flow, no expectations or planing ahead. Freedom. I was amazed and filled with joy.

End of day #3.


Day #4

Arma di Taggia, Italy

Morning with a view.
Morning with a view.

The next morning I woke up with this view. I was worth the search for a decent spot for camping in the dark and sweating due to the heat during the night. I even didn’t need a sleeping bag, used it as a pillow instead. I fell asleep under thousands of stars. One of the highlight of this trip.

35

The sea can be mesmerizing at sunrise. I.ll just leave this here.

Those stairs are a death trap during the night. Believe me.
Those stairs are a death trap during the night. Believe me.

I camped at the end of the beach. Luckily those stairs were there to guide me trough the dark. Even so, I almost tripped when climbing down to the beach.

37

The sun is almost up. Time to say goodbye and go. Where exactly? No ideea yet.

38

Arma di Taggia in the morning.

Imperia, Italy

Me & Nicola.
Me & Nicola.

To get out of Arma di Taggia and get back on the highway, you have to walk more than 30 minutes. If you’re lucky, you might catch an early ride. But on a Sunday morning, around 7 30 am, near a small town/tourist attraction from where only old couples in expensive cars start driving from, the odds are not that good. So I kept walking on the side of the road,until I got to the highway entrance. Done with walking around, let the boredom of waiting settle in. From time to time some fancy car was passing by, breaking the silence, getting my hopes high only to blow them away in a glimpse. I remembered my italian friends warning me about hitchhiking in Itally. Well guys, you were right.
Around 9 something this guy shows up in his old sport car and happily gives me a ride. His name is Nicola. He’s a father of 2. He likes indian music and he’s a really nice guy. He made sure I have everything I needed for my travels, like food, water or money. Nicola was ready to help in any way he could. When he dropped me in a gas station he gave me a picture of Paramahansa Yogananda, to keep me safe during my travels. Thank you for being so nice, Nicola!

Genova, Italy

Me, Coco & Roberto. Again. I didn't have another photo. Amateur.
Me, Coco & Roberto. Again. I didn’t have another photo. Amateur.
Yeah, me, Roberto and Coco again. Why? Because they represent one of the funny highlights of this trip. Fate makes it to meet again the next day after we part ways, totally random in a gas station. As I was waiting, I saw a van coming my way and I tought to myself „Dude, that van looks waaay to familiar”. The curiosity draws me closer and to my surprise I see Roberto getting out of the van to get some gas. I shouted „Roberto!!” He looked around very puzzled, wandering who the hell would call his name out of the blue. He sees me and starts laughing and asks me in spa-nglish how that I got only this far. I told him the sea was nice and it’s worth spending the night there. Without hesitating he offered to give me a ride near Genova, because he knew my itinerary. It was me, Roberto and Coco again, for another road trip.
Me & Juan
Me & Juan.

Roberto left me in the last gas station before the exit to Genova. It was a small, but crowded gas station. Without wasting anytime I got my sign out for Piacenza/Austria and started waiting. After an hour I noticed a goofy guy (like me ) getting out of a car, big backpack and shit, you could guess he was also a hitchhiker from a mile away. I waved at him, to come where I was. Juan from Spain, was hitchhiking to Austria, on a lighter schedule than me. He planed to go to Verona for that day, I was hopping to cross the border to Austria. It was fun to have a buddy, makes the waiting less boring. I remember laughing a lot about any crap that crossed our minds. Fun times. I hope you had a safe and fun travel, Juan! Because he deserved it. Why? Check out the next picture to see how bighearted this fu*ker is!

"Wait, WHAAT?"
“Wait, WHAAT?”

Yeah, I got a ride in a convertible! Who said hitchhiking is not fun, has no idea about he’s talking and for sure never was speeding 170km/h on an italian highway, singing out loud Zucchero’s Baila Morena !
While me and Juan were laughing our asses off,( just because we could), this white convertible Peugeot stops in front of us. We were kinda in awe, barely said hi.
– Hey guys, I would like to give you a ride, but I have only one seat free.
Said the driver. Me and Juan, in a hardly called synchronization:
– No problem, friend. We’re not a group. One of us would love to go with you.
…but which one of us? I only got this ride because my friend, Juan, insisted that I should get it, because I was waiting in the gas station for a longer time than he did and also I was traveling further than he was. I was planning to flip a coin, but I literally had no time to tell him, because he did not hesitated a moment to offer me the chance. Awesome guy, Juan from Spain! Thanks!

Me & Stephano.
Me & Stephano.

This is Stephano, a 25 italian guy, who works as a car painter. That day Stephano, tried to get his faith in humanity restored. Apparently I was the first hitchhiker he picked up in the last 6 years and the second one in his entire life. 6 years ago, Stephano was robbed by the hitchhiker whom he was giving a ride, in the most nasty way. That hitchhiker took Stephano’s wallet and phone and ran away. Stephano tried to run after and catch him. But as soon as he left the car, another guy who was working toghether with the robber, stole Stephano’s car.
Hitchhiking has some certain risks that you have to accept, no matter if you.re the hitchhiker or the driver. How can you prevent this kind of stuff? Most of the people think you should trust your gut. If something does not feel right, it probably isn.t. That.s when you need to get out of that situation. How? Check out
http://hitchwiki.org/en/Main_Page 

Piacenza, Italy

Stephano.
Stephano.

Stephano and his precious car, somewhere near Piacenza. Thank you for the awesome ride!

 Vicenza, Italy

Stephano, Valter, Ricardo, Paulo & me.
Stephano, Valter, Ricardo, Paulo & me.

This bunch of smiling guys offered me a ride on their way to Vicenza. Very friendly people, they told me they were coming from an annual meeting. I didn’t asked what kind of meeting only after we ran out of topics to talk about. Apparently they were to a meeting held in a remote christian community that focuses on helping people with various issues to get back on their feet. I soon learned that all the guys that I was traveling with, all were drug addicts until one year ago. They all seek help eventually in this community, spent almost a year there, praying, doing chores and trying to get their life straight and drug free. Now, they went to the annual meeting, where all the former members of the community meet and spend a weekend together with the active members, as a proof that people can change and make a better life for themselves. A very inspiring group of people, from the left: Stephano, Valter, Ricardo and Paulo. I talked a lot with Paulo about people, society, and religion and because Ii was so into the conversation, I missed the last gas station before their exit off the highway. Stephano the driver offered to drive me further on the highway, but I didn’t want to make all of them spend another hour on the road, so I kindly refused the offer.
Stephano, Valter, Ricardo and Paulo are four examples of how people can change if they get the right support. Well done, guys!

"This is too hot."
“Here. Is. Too. Hot.”

Hot, italian sun and the shadow of a stop sign, the only two companions of mine while I was waiting for my next ride. Very, very, hot and boring two hours spent on the side of the road.

Padova, Italy

Me, Edi & Edi’s friend.
Me, Edi & Edi’s friend.

Edi and his friend gave me a quick ride to the next gas station. Fun fact, Edi was married to a romanian girl and spent some time in Romania. He even knew some romanian phrases. I will not reproduce them here for obvious reasons. Thank you, Edi!

Udine, Italy

Constanza, Giovanna & me.
Constanza, Giovanna & me.

These two lovely girls from Udine, had a little chat between them, to decide whether to give me a ride or not. I could see it happening through the windshield as the car was approaching. It was a funny moment to observe their body language. I guess the chat was something like this:
– Hey, look at this guy. Should we pick him up?
– I don.t know what to say. You decide, it.s your car.
– He seems ok. let.s pick him up, are you ok with that?
– Yeah, I guess.
Constantza(left) just graduated, got her batchelors in civil engineering, like me. Giovanna was preaparing for and Erasmus semester in portugal. Oh really? I.m a civil engineer who just spent a semester in portugal with an Erasmus scholaship. Talking about coincidences…
Thank you for the nice ride, girls!

Villach, Austria

Michael, Michael’s wife & me.
Michael, Michael’s wife & me.

Right after I got out of Constanza’s car, in Udine, I barely managed to get out my sign with Austria written on it and thanks to Michael’s wife who noticed me in the last moment before existing the gas station, they stopped to give me ride all the way to… Austria! Mission accomplished. 
During the trip we did not talk that much, mostly because their little daughter was asleep and I experienced some kind of system shutdown after speaking english, portuguese, spanish and now german, I was mixing up words from different languages without being aware on the spot. Only after a few moments I was realizing what stupid shit I was mumbling there.
Anyway, thanks for the ride guys!

End of day #4.


Day #5

Villach, Austria

50

Hitchhiking with a view in Austria.

Graz, Austria

Me & Sergey.
Me & Sergey.

Wake up at 5 30am, have breakfast, pack your things, go to the bathroom in a gas station and be ready for hitchhiking at 6 30am only to realize later that you’ve been waited for 4 hours in the sun. In that time I did everything that crossed my mind and was doable given the circumstances: singing, dancing, playing with stones, wave at passing cars, facebook, cursing, finding the meaning of life, playing with stones again, reading randomly a map, questioning my sanity, you name it.

Eventually Sergey and his father show up and luckily we have a common direction. We agreed quickly where I want to get down, mostly by signs, because my german is pretty bad and I don’t speak russian. Sergey was kind enough to exit the autobahn only to drop me exactly where I needed to go (somewhere near St. Michael junction), because the gas station where I wanted to get off was closed and I had no other option to get off the autobahn. Spasiba Sergey!

Knittelfeld, Austria

Me & Anette.
Me & Anette.

This smiling lady is Anette from Knittlefeld, on her way to pick up her kids from school. She spoke english really well and was curious what why would a traveler like me stop in her small village. Really plesant company for the short ride to Knittelfeld. Danke schon, Anette!

Seckau, Austria

Enjoying the afternoon.
Enjoying the afternoon.

Day 5 was a short day. Around noon I got to Seckau a small village in Austria, near Knittelfeld, where I met some of my mother’s friends and called it a day. Warm meals, normal shower, huge bed and a swim in the lake followed by some real beer, I could’t ask for more.

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A glimpse of Seckau, where I spent my afternoon. A really nice and quiet place.

Hrubert, Niculina & me.
Hrubert, Niculina & me.

Hrubert and Niculina, wonderful people, friends of my mother (since childhood?) who hosted me for the night. Thank you for everything and hope to see each other soon!

End of day #5.


Day #6

Vienna, Austria

Me & Nico.
Me & Nico.

Even if the autrians are warm and friendly people, I couldn’t catch a ride to Vienna or basically anywhere. I was running out of luck. I spent a painful 4 hours in a junction near the highway S36. Nothing. It seemed everyone passing by was a local. A car caught my eye, because it was the third time passing by me. It came again, the forth time, only to stop in front of me and the driver rolled down the window and spoke:
– Hey, i have a meeting in 30 minutes, after that I’m off to Vienna. I’ll be back here after the meeting and if you’re still here, i’ll take you to Vienna myself!
Awesome dude! I didn’t even looked for a another ride. I went inside a gas station, bought myself a cold Coca Cola, and sat in the shadow for the next 30 minutes. Clock work precision, the guy was back after 30 minutes. And we hit it off to Vienna. This is Nico. A father of one, very nice guy. He’s a climber too. We talked a lot about our experiences in mountaineering and rock climbing. He’s also a biker and likes traveling around Europe when he can find the much needed free time.
Nico dropped me near Vienna. After saying goodbye i thought he was going home, but he made sure I was proper hydrated and bought me a bunch of bottles of water/soda and came back soon to give them to me. Thank you, Nico!

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 Somewhere near Vienna. I was getting close to Romania. But for roughly two hours, I had to deal with the heat, there was no shadow in any place suitable for hitchhiking.

Budapest, Hungary

Me & John.
Me & John.

So.. John’s misfortune was my luck. John got lost while trying to go to Budapest and ended on a dead end road near the fence of the gas station where I was looking for a ride. He casually saw my cardboard sign with „Budapest” writing on it and said to himself „this guy knows the way to Budapest”. I had no idea how to get there though, but we found our way eventually, after taking a wrong turn at some point, of course. John from France was on a business trip, selling ping pong tables. The funny thing is that he has no idea how to play ping pong. But who cares? John was a nice guy, we talked a lot all the way to Budapest. Thank you, John.59

I ended up I a shitty gas station near Budapest. I was hoping not to rot here until the next morning. While I was prepping my cardboard sign, I realized it’s the last one I have to make: “Romania”. Damn, time flies fast. During my stay there, found two cars that were going exactly where I needed to go, home, in Targu Mures. But both of them were full. Tough luck. Another car stopped. There was a guy from Romania and asked me how much I would pay him to take me to Romania. I kinda burst out laughing. “Dude, I just traveled 3000km for free, with dozens of people, and you expect me to pay you to drive me a few hundred km? No way, man.” And he just drove away without saying anything. Welcome to eastern Europe. This incident made me a bit moody.
Me & Emil.
Me & Emil.

Around 8 pm I gave up. Very few cars, no trucks either, mostly because they had to stop for the night. I go sit on a bench where a Romanian truck driver was sitting. I was sure he stopped for the night, but actually he was just taking a break. He was wandering what the f*ck was I doing, but in the end offered to take me to a bigger gas station 40 minutes further down the highway. I agree, because I knew I would have better chances there. On the way to that gas station, Emil, the truck driver, starts his radio station and tries to fix me a ride to Romania. Luckily a guy that was coming from Switzerland answers and says he will take me to Ungheni, Romania. Which is 15 km away from home. Damn I was lucky. Thanks a lot Emil, for fixing me the much needed ride!

End of day #6.


Day #7

Ungheni, Romania

Me & Catalin.
Me & Catalin.
There I was. On my last ride home with Catalin, a van driver from Romania. It was almost 10 pm when we passed Budapest. Catalin was a nice guy, we talked a lot, mostly just to make time pass and not fall asleep. I was wasted, I was so tired I had hallucinations when I looked outside the windshield, but I didn’t want to fall asleep just to be able to keepsome company to Catalin. He was tired too, his plan was to drive from Switzerland to Piatra Neamt in one go, that means roughly 1900 km. A very hard working guy, trying to provide everything for his family. But the time away from his family, working as a van drive, took it’s toll and he got divorced. Life is strange sometimes.
When we got in Ungheni at 5 30 am and I had to get off, I was exhausted. You can see it on my face, in contrast to Catalin who was almost fresh. I even forgot his name and had to ask him again to tell me his name and take the photo. Thanks a lot, Catalin!

Targu Mures, Romania

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I had another 15 km to travel to get home. I caught a ride in 20 minutes. There’s no picture with the old man who gave me the ride. I don.t even remember his face anymore. It was a short hitchhike ride and I wanted to keep it all to myself, no talking, no story telling, no pictures, nothing. I wanted to let the idea of this hitchhiking trip sink in, quietly.
End of day#7.
I left from a place 3600km away and got home 7 days later. It got me out of my comfort zone. It made me see the world in a better way. I learned to believe in people more and to read people better. I got to know myself better and to trust my gut and feelings more than I ever did. I experienced a sort of freedom that I never dreamed of and I know it can get better than this.

Go traveling. Go hitchhiking. Meet new people, enjoy new cultures. Fu*k the modern social norms and expectations. Experience freedom. Trust yourself and chase your dreams.
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