It is my eleventh day on the road now and I finally find some time to write something for my English-speaking friends/readers. As expected, the trip has been amazing. There have been many kind people who picked me up with no hesitation and also shared parts of their life-story with me. Even though I sometimes had to wait for some hours, I have been basically very lucky – and once you get a car, the whole delay is forgotten.
My route until now went like this: Munich (Aug. 15th) – Ljubljana/Slovenia – Balaton/Hungary – Budapest – Krakow/Poland – Warsaw/Poland – Suwaltki (border Poland-Lithuania) – Riga/Latvia – Tallinn/Estonia (only a few hours, though) – Helsinki (by boat) – Turku.
I met many people on the road, in the Hostels and by Couchsurfing (thanks to all of you great hosts!), so I just want to note some personal highlights:
-the way to Ljubljana went pretty smoothly, even though I passed an exit and had to take a Taxi from Salzburg to get back to the highway. In Ljublajana, I met four female Polish students who hitchhike every year in the summer, this year around the Balkan. I felt very amateurish, hearing that.
-from Hungary to Poland, a Turkish trucker took me with him. He was speaking German and gave me insight into how truckers manage to live on the road. It was very fascinating to see how somebody can have a double life that does not feel like one. He and his friends invited me to have lunch and tea at their truck. Very kind people.
-in Poland, I met plenty of young people who told me how their country is evolving. To Sulwaki, two potheads took me with them. They smoked weed while driving and made some crazy maneuvers to overtake other cars. Priceless how we went into the city with Michael-Jackson-songs playing and us smoking cigarettes while enjoying the Saturday afternoon sun
-in Lithuania, my driver threw me out in the middle of the highway, where I had to walk a few kilometers to get on the right track again. I also had to hitchhike in woods or very rural places, which tends to be exhausting because of the waiting time, but beautiful because of the landscape.
-in Latvia, an older blond lady (makeup-artist) took me with him who told me she liked I was German because she had two German shepherd-dogs. They are called Giorgio and Armani. The lady also said she had done Astral travels in space.
-I met some other hitchhikers on the street, a French couple, for example, and Jan from Czech in Poland. He went to Finland to see a girl there, an “Erasmus thing”, as he told me with a big grin.
-in Helsinki, I did not find a place to stay, which is why I had to travel on to Turku in the night by bus. Though this was not a pleasant experience, it is good to know there is always a lot of room for improvisation.
Not even half of my journey is over, which feels crazy, because so many things have been happening. My beard has been growing, so has my confidence in being on the road. It is a bit of stress to keep the blog and to get to the highways, but at the same time, there are quiet and simply beautiful moments. My feet are full of blisters, my body sometimes aches in the evening and I tend not to get many warm meals – but still it feels so real, so here and now, so alive. And I feel very grateful for that.
My shadow stays with me, as we leave it all far behind.