It all started with a meeting. On my way back from Edinburgh, I met Celine, a friendly Belgian woman, on the ferry from Dover to Calais. After chatting a little, we discovered that we both wanted to hitch towards Belgium and decided to make the trip together.

After this brief adventure, I offered her the opportunity to join me on my next trip to Bratislava and we decided to leave the following week.

While I was waiting for her to arrive in Metz, I had been invited by Guillaume and Arkan to eat some fruit and have a beer in front of their shop. I didn’t know it, but this was the premise of our trip. After Celine joined me, we spent a bit more time sharing their company.

During that evening, we decided to change our plans and finally head to Croatia to do some kayaking on a river and so the next morning we set off towards Germany.

After a good start to the day, we headed via Switzerland and not Austria, we arrived just before the Swiss border and, wishing to avoid Basel, we made a sign saying Italy but we were convinced that we would be stuck there for hours. Somehow, the first car exiting the station was Italian and after a brief chat with the occupants, Ciara and Lucia, we decided to join them in Basel and keep going the next day towards Italy and Venezia. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were at that moment.

After an interesting lift to Venezia with Lucia and Chiara, we struggled to hitch a lift at the next station and by the end of the day we had only managed to reach Triestre.

After relaxing at the sea and enjoying the sunset at the beach, we were heading towards an old wagon we saw on the way in a disaffected port area.. An old traveller dream came true and the use of the hammocks appeared to be very handy and comfy at this stage 😊

40082725_1784664294919940_3400391656250277888_nAfter a quick shower at the marina (fellow traveller, this is a good trick, all marinas have showers and are usually easy to access 😉 ), we set off on the road towards Slovenia which would be our last step before Croatia. After finding our lift and struggling to leave Rijeka by walking a few kilometers to get to the toll booth – even though it is illegal to hitch on motorways in Croatia, it is tolerated, we finally set our sign and found a truck driver within a few minutes that picked us up. We didn’t speak the same language but we finally understood each other and our driver dropped us by the exit of our motorway where we disappeared into the bush.

We kept going through the small roads but got stuck 20km away from our destination and camped in our hammock by the village of Ostarije. Unfortunately, we discovered that even if the days were very warm in this part of Croatia, they were also very cold at night and I suffered it. Getting a short night’s  sleep and waking up very early totally freezing I headed up towards the coffee place of the village where I found comfort in the waitress Dora’s smile and a nice cup of coffee.

After struggling to get to Primislje as there was not much traffic heading in that direction, we asked our driver to stop up when we saw the first sign. I could not have been happier that we stopped there as we were basically stopping at Dusan’s house.

After arranging with the kayak company to pick us up there, Dusan showed up and as soon as he got out of the car, you could feel happiness and kindness emanating from this man. Soon after Dario arrived and we discovered that he would be our guide and Dusan our driver. As soon as we headed to the kayaking place, and Dario and Dusan realised we came all the way hitchhiking, the vibes around our meeting were relaxed and as friendly as a family.

Now, I cannot recommend Terraktiv enough as those men are brilliant. On the trip on the river, where there was only the two of us and Dario. We had a fabulous time around the canyon and waterfall and enjoying the knowledge of our guide about the area and also Croatian history.

After our trip on the river done, we met Dusan again at the arrival. He offered to let us stay at his place and we kindly accepted the opportunity to spend more time with him and Dario.

We learned so much from Dusan, who was full of knowledge regarding the plants and their use and had a fabulous time in the evening with him and Dario around some home made Sljivovica and Rakia 😊

Unfortunately, we have to leave the next morning to start our way back, but our hearts were heavy as we wished we had more time to stay here and learn from our host. Before leaving, Dusan brought us to see the beehives he has and we had the opportunity to touch the hives with thousands of bees surrounding us. What an amazing time 😊

I think it is important to mention the war as well in this article as we had insights from so many people along this trip and the area we were staying was marked by it with empty villages left by Serbians. The only thing I would like to mention, is that the general ideas we got from everyone, is that no one really knows why it started.

Finally, the time to leave arrived, and he dropped us in Slunj in front of some amazing waterfalls where we will start to hitch back.

From there we found easily a lift to Zagreb, where this time we struggled to find a lift to Slovenia, but we finally managed to cross the border where the police became a bit suspicious with our driver as he understood we were hitchhikers.

We manage to get to the last station before the Austrian borders, and even with my best efforts with the last drivers that were working at the border control, it was impossible to sleep there – but it doesn’t mean that I will give up on that idea 😝.

It is quite late at this time and we decided to leave the station and head towards Hrusica, which is a village close by, where we tried to find hospitality for the night. After a few attempts, we crossed paths with a local girl, Gaja, who was walking with a friend on a street. After a bit of confusion and hesitation regarding our request, she finally invited us to stay at her place.

Once more, we received way more than we expected, and it is hard to describe with words. Gaja, her mother Damjana and Tamara were amazing with us and the comfort of a warm house and shower were heaven.

After a great evening with them and a great night sleeping, we spent a bit more time together in the morning and my heart grew even more grateful when I heard Gaja say that the next time she sees travelers, she will go and speak to them to invite them to her house.

 

By leaving aside our fears, we open new opportunities to learn and grow through sharing with people.

 

Once more, we had to leave and head back to the station, trusting what life would bring us and the beauty of people we meet. We managed to cross the border and our drivers brought us to Germany about 100km from Munich.

We got picked up by Julius & Beija that were going towards Frankfurt the next day. We made a stop in Munich, where I left Celine who had to take a bus to get back to Belgium to sit an exam the next day.

I would finish the trip on my own and head towards the West of Germany with Julius and Beija the next day. We had some great times sharing about traveling and the differences between countries that we know well and they finally left me close by Karshurle, where I would need two more lifts to get back to Metz.

It was a very intense trip where I came back more grateful towards life and its people and more eager to keep going 😊

Travel the world on the cheap!

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