14 July 2021 – Ruse, Bulgaria
After I have been “chipped up” from Moderna 🤪 and the two weeks waiting for my daughter have been enough for her to catch the plain, we are finally ready to start. I’m going to hitchhike with my daughter for weeks! Good help me! 😆
My old backpack, which is not mine anymore, kind of looks like a baby backpack to me now… 🤔🙈🙉🙊
You can also fallow the trip in Polarsteps and not to overload the post with pictures, most of the photos you can find at the end of it divided into galleries.
15 July 2021 – Bucharest, Romania
A little late start for the day (7:30), coffee on foot on the way to the Danube bridge and a brisk walk to Romania.
Nobody stopped for us. Therefore there were a lot of people lined up to explain how it is impossible to cross the bridge – one that they will not let us in, the second that it is very busy and very narrow with no space for pedestrians…
Well, it wasn’t enough to stop us – there is no problem without a solution, right!?
It turned out that they were generally right, except that they did not think about the narrow space provided for the maintenance workers of the facilities. Quite enough for a calm and safe passage. Well, in the last section in the Romanian part, getting around with backpacks (especially mine with this enormous volume) was a real challenge, but after quite bunches of “Fuck!!”, we finally arrived on the Romanian coast.
It was already noon, the temperature – the modest 33 °, backpacks weighed twice as before and our host in Bucharest was waiting for us…
Shortly after the border, luckily for us, Aidan stopped and took us directly to Bucharest. The conversation was pleasantly amusing with my modest, recently acquired, knowledge of Turkish. However, he was used of communicating with foreign-speaking foreigners, as he has international business, so it was not very difficult to understand each other.
Our only hitchhike for the day left us in the city centre, at a bus stop with a large selection of transportation. Well, there was no option for hitchhike cars, so we walked to Kalin’s house – another ~8 km, to the already covered ~12 km. With backpacks on the back at 33 °+ heat… Beauty… 🤪
17 July 2021 – Exploring Bucharest, Romania
After Thursday’s marathon, on Friday I felt like I was having a hard time drinking – my brain was shapeless jelly, and my body was simply refusing to perform more complex operations than the life supporting. I think it was the sun, that took its price…
I spoke to Calin, our host, to stay an extra day and we spent Friday in bed.
Fortunately, the next morning, after so much sleep, we were as fresh as radishes.
Hold on Bucharest, we’re coming now!
Calin drove us, we parked not far from the center and the tour began.
I haven’t seen many cities so far, but of those I have, Bucharest leads the rankings. I think I’ll need more than a week to go and look around.
A wonderful city, shown to us by a wonderful person!
Calin, in addition of being an amazing person, interlocutor and friend (I dare call him that), is also an exceptional guide. He spoke with dates, facts, and events about each building, monument, park or church we saw. Without him, we would never have seen it all this way. Thank you so much, Calin!! (I think I’ll need navigation between the photos when I get home and take them off the camera, though…).
We met relatives and friends of him, received a beautiful roses as a surprise and after 13 km full of impressions we returned for a short break and a dinner, then we went back to enjoy the night Bucharest. Incredibly beautiful and more lively than during the day. For the finale of the evening Calin had prepared a surprise and we found ourselves in a cocktail bar in the heart of the nightlife.
An amazing day so full of impressions and emotions! Thank you so much, Calin!!! 🤗
18 July 2021 – Braşov, Romania
Surprises are not always pleasant. In these cases they are called lessons...
It was uneasy getting up this morning. A difficult one. (Going to bed at 2:30 am doesn’t help, but it was worth it!)
The morning routine, gymnastics, packing and waking up our midnight guide. After the coffee comes our last “tour” with his car to the other end of Bucharest and the exit to Brasov.
Once again – thank you so much for everything, Calin!!
Not long after we got to the highway, Adi (Adrian) takes us on his way to Ploiesti. Along the way, we speak the international language “hands and feet” and, although with some pauses, we understand each other well enough. Adi is a truck driver (surprise!) and shares his impressions of the Bulgarian traffic police – if there is a problem, 20€ and the problem disappears…
Ionut picks us up from Ploiesti and because of his good English and similar views of the world, the conversation is going fast. He recommends us to see Sinaia because of the old beautiful castles there and leaves us in the city center.
It’s really beautiful, but we’re actually disappointed, as it turns out to be a touristy crowded place. After a bit of “street research“, some tips and some hesitation whether to stay in the crowd, we still decide to risk and head to the cheapest hotel (10 €/person). There are no fee rooms…
We have been warned about hungry bears in the area coming down to the city because of the tons of garbage produced by the tourists, so the tent is not an option and we decide to continue to Brasov. We head to the exit of the city, when out of nowhere emerges the person who previously offered us a private accommodation for the same price and asks us if we want to see it. He doesn’t look trustful to me at all, but he was recommended to us by someone else I could trust.
Decided to see the place anyway and nodded positively. We are tired since yesterday and we want to take our backpacks off asap.
So we go with him and find ourselves in a small ground floor room, “slightly” miserable. We look at each other wondering if we can swallow it for just one night.
I take off my backpack and at that moment I remember that we don’t have that much cash – we usually pay with a card. Not that we can’t withdraw in a minute, but the guy’s behaviour is getting more and more unpleasant, and that solves the dilemma for me entirely.
We tell him that we don’t have that much money with us and prepare to leave, and we are shown the door with a rude tone and aggressive gestures – visibly angry about the slipping 20€. After a remark to be careful with his behavior, I lift my backpack and turn to leave, as he starts cursing us (don’t need to know Romanian…). I can feel my adrenaline rising rapidly, but still manage to control myself. Until he starts pushing me rudely and tries to push me through the door…
Somehow reflexively a loud slap is landing at his cheek. After a second of disbelief, he makes the mistake of hitting me back and opens the Pandora’s box. In a flash my backpack ends up on the couch again and the result is a broken mouth and a lot of blood. Surprisingly it turned out I had a pretty good right thrust!
The only consequences for me were the body trembling caused by the adrenaline hitting the roof, and the unpleasant taste in my mouth – I have never liked getting physical…
We headed towards the next town. Didn’t even hitchhiked. We (especially I) needed some time to calm down, so we just walked by the street.
Right at the exit of the city I saw a car parked in front of us with an open trunk, in which a smiling lady were moving some luggage from the back seat. She looks at us a few times and says something, but she is still too far away to be heard. When we get to the car, the lady repeats her question – do you need a ride?
Renata and her husband Boto travel north (past Brasov), seeing us on foot with those big backpacks leaving the city, have instantly decided to make room and take us! We haven’t even hitchhike at the moment, just taking some photos and didn’t even noticed them passing by… Thank you so much, guys!
Life is so full of unexpected turns and contrasts!!
19 July 2021 – Exploring Brasov, Romania
After a necessary change of the place for the night, we settled at Downtown Hostel – a nice place with a good location, clean and quiet (although it’s the cheapest possible one), and the lady at the reception is the most smiling person I have met recently. (and I meet a lot of people...)
Overall, the day was leisurely. Due to the requirements of check-ins and checkouts, we could not move in the morning, of which half the day was irretrievably lost. So we spent the afternoon walking in the center of Brasov and nearby attractions.
20 July 2021 – Bran, Romania
Lightning tore through the sky all night, and was raining cats and dogs.
It was still raining in the morning. However, we were determined to go to Dracula’s Castle in Bran. We got ready and waited for a moment without rain to leave – once on the road, the rain is easier to bear.
Meanwhile, while I was wondering whose clothes were stretched out in the rain, their owner Emily appeared and, with quite unhappy look, began to put them away. I offered to give her one of my ropes to stretch between the beds in the room, and from word to word the hitchhikers to Barn turned three today. 😆
As I expected, it is difficult to find someone to stop for three hitchhikers, but it is not impossible at all – a bus traveling to Bran stopped us, which cost us as much as 5 Romanian lei (~2 BGN.).
The rain did not pass us by – it started to rain as soon as we left. At one point, we were forced to hide under a building’s roof until it slowed down enough. So it happened the same in Bran – the perfect backdrop for Dracula. 😜
(All the photos in the gallery at the end of the post)
20 July 2021 – Râşnov, Romania
After Dracula, we still had the strength to see Rasnov, and although the weather was not very smiling, we raised our thumbs one more time.
A difficult task with three thumbs, but achievable and soon we were delivered at about 1.5 km from the Rasnov castle. Since the rain was threatening to pour again at any moment, we decided to take advantage of the services (a little expensive – 5 lea) of a tractor. 🤪
Uphill a disappointment was awaiting for us – the castle was closed for repairs. Well, we saw what we could, we climbed the walls with signs “don’t climb the wall” and other such… 🙈🙉🙊
It was 7pm in the afternoon when we headed back. Our luck smiled in the face of Aurelia, who picked us up almost as soon as we got out on the main road. Extremely nice and sociable lady who assured us that if we need any help on our stay in Romania, we can count on her. Thanks, Aurelia!!
We returned to the hostel tired, but happy that we did not allow some water falling from the sky to ruin our day! 😉
Unfortunately, our trip seems to have to be shortened. I have a problem with the wrist of my hand, which makes me want to scream at the slightest twist, and although I have my daughter to help me with putting on and off my backpack, that doesn't fix the issue. My assistant, on the other hand, began to limp more and more. Even though she was doing surprisingly well and without almost any complaints (something I did not expect!), for such performances you need serious training. Or at least an excess of stubbornness! 😆
21-22 July 2021 – Arriving at Sibiu, Romania
After the rainy day/night, the morning was promising even more rain for today. We left the hostel (where our food was constantly and shamelessly stolen) a bit late – about 10 am and headed to the main road to Sibiu.
We had to walk long way to pass the city and all the junctions, but finally Stefan has stopped for us. He saw us from a distance and took a turn to pick us up. Not only that, but he passed through his town/destination to take us at the next one – about 60-70 km ahead!! Thank you, Stefan!!
After that Ana took us ~20 km close to our destination and dropped us at a gas station. There we decided to wait because the weather was threatening to pour down once again.
It was Bogdan who took us not long after and delivered us at the exact spot 200 meters from our hostel. An interesting guy and a pleasant company to chat with.
It poured down a heavy rain at the moment we entered our room. It was already afternoon, so we checked in, took a little rest and went to walk around after the rain.
And the next day was a leisurely one spent walking around the city and some pleasant meetings. We met again a Chinese couple – Mianmian and Job, that we met in Brasov before. It turned out they are going to Bulgaria afterwards, so we invited them at home if it happens to pass by.
We also met Young – a traveler from the hostel in Brasov. I met him quite briefly before, as I was on a hurry packing and getting ready to leave, but now we have plenty of time to chat over a coffee. He turned out to be a owner of my dream vehicle… 🥺😜
23 July 2021 – Goranu, Romania
I was woken up by my daughter’s alarm (but it did not wake her up!) at 5:50 am, something uncommon because by this time I’m usually out of bed. Not only did I have a hard time waking up, but I generally feel exhausted. No more dough for us as we have had too much the last 2-3 days!!!
Routine things – yoga, backpacks, coffee, quarrel (not necessarily in that order) and, as usual, departure at 10 o’clock… 🤦🏻♀️
Shortly after we left the center, on the main road to the exit of the city, a truck stopped for us. At a time when we didn’t even hitchhike. The door swung open and Mihai shouted from inside – Get on, no one will stop for you here, it’s not a good spot! We barely pushed our backpacks into the crowded cab of a work car to get off 10 km later on the highway outside the city. Thank you, Mihai!!
As soon as we set foot on the road, we noticed that the cars were slowing down more and more and a long column was forming, which was crawling past us. Due to the traffic jam, all the cars had moved to the left lane and only truck after truck was passing us by, so it was pointless to stop. We continued with a brisk step and soon saw the reason for the formed “stopper” – a crashed truck turned on the road.
Shortly after we passed the accident and the traffic returned to normal, Daniel stopped by us and in the next ~80 km stopped at two hostels and a campsite to find us shelter for the night. Although to no avail, his efforts were greatly appreciated. Thank you, Daniel!
After leaving us at a gas station at the fork for Bucharest, Daniel continued on his way, and we popped at a nearby hotel to ask for a toilet.
As soon as we set foot on the alley to the hotel, a smiling young man walked towards us with a brisk step, as it turned out later – the owner, and directed us to one of the rooms, not yet prepared for guests. Coming out again we met with his friendly smile and insistent invitations – “Come, come with me. Free coffee! Come inside.” But of course we did, who refuses a free coffee?! 😉
We sat down outside to chat and he turned out to be an great interlocutor. A former engineer who gave up the boring work in the office and took over the hotel left to him by his father, along with his brother. The motorbike parked in front of the entrance hinted at that part of him in love with the road and adventure. We were joined by his wife – no less smiling and friendly person, radiating a special warmth that seems to envelop you.
An interesting thing was that, although Marian has this beautiful motorbike, he was planing to go on a trip one day, but with a bicycle. Yeah, and I was dreaming to have a motorcycle to travel with…
So, every one wants what he doesn't have, right? ;-)
Marian and Zsejke – wonderful people with a rich soul and warm hearts! It turned out that they are planning a vacation in Bulgaria next month, so I hope to see them again.
They practically adopted us. For a start we were accommodated in a room (worth 20 €). “The price is as much as you decide. I do not want anything. Whatever you decide you leave it in the room for the lady who cleans – 5, 10, 20 lei, it’s up to you. I just like what you started to do and the way you travel!“…
Then we were treated to a delicious soup made by Zsejke and “Turta de Malay” (cornbread) – Marian’s first, and successful, attempt to turn the old recipe into live again. The one his great grandmother used at the hungry years, when there was not enough flour.
Their five-year-old daughter Rico, full of energy and life, joined the party and did not want to give up on us.
Unfortunately, we had to part because they had a trip planned. Not before they leave us the last gift though – fresh homegrown chickens’ eggs and vegetables to cook for breakfast!
I can write a lot more about these amazing people, but I will have to stop here.
After a short walk to the city center, the day ended in a “family idyll” in the kitchen❣️
24 July 2021 – Carcea, Romania
We leave finally at 11:30 am… I’m sure now – there are very few people I could travel with without being investigated for murder later on. And my daughter is definitely not among them… 😈
For the first time, my Spanish comes in handy here. I ask a lady taxi driver, what is the best route for our destination. It’s not much, but yet it is enough to communicate successfully, which makes me feel happy and proud of myself! 😉
Ilie is the first to take us. He does not speak a word of a foreign language, but enjoys our international communication with “hands and feet“. Probably because of that he takes us to the end point for the day (at least we thought so…) – Dragasani, which is 60-70 km after his own. Thank you, Ilie!
He leaves us at a nice cool park where we eat our lunch and drink coffee (for which we were refused to pay – thank you!), ask around for a place to spend the night and finally move on outside the city without a clear idea of where we are going and what we will do. It’s already 3 in the afternoon…
Outside the city, Niko stops for us on his way home after a busy day. Nico travels to Caracal. After a quick consultation with the map – we too! 😆
In Caracal we find ourselves next to the railway station. We eat (it’s already ~7 in the afternoon), ask about a cheap hotel and several taxi drivers direct us to “Primavera“. We politely refuse their services and go on foot, raising our thumbs just in case. To our surprise, a car stopped almost immediately. Adrian took care of finding the hotel and taking us to the scene. The place in question does not inspire confidence in any of us. Still we settle in – it’s too late, one night we could handle anyway…
While my daughter goes back and forth for internet passwords and cigarettes, etc., I take a quick shower and wash my sweat-soaked clothes. In a moment she shows up at the door super nervous and tells me she wants us to leave because she has an unpleasant sense about the place. I have the same feeling, but I do not want to risk staying somewhere on the road for the night with her… And yet I agree – if the lady who accommodate us, return our money (we stayed no more than 15-20 minutes), we leave.
It turns out she had no arguments against and it’s already 8 pm when we go out on the road again. The sun begins to hide behind the horizon together with the city disappearing behind our backs. And somewhere in front of us is Craiova…
Almost no cars pass by – people have already returned to their homes. As we go I was thinking – we have water for drinking and enough food. The tent is too small for 2 people and 2 backpacks, but we will still manage somehow. We just have to find a suitable hidden place. But only after it gets dark enough and we give up the hitchhiking.
Just the last traces of the sun were sinking beyond the horizon when a car pulled up next to us. Lucian asked us in bewilderment where we were going at that time. We were in the same direction, so we loaded up with him. On the way it became clear that he had a friend with a guest house DNT in a quiet and pleasant place a few kilometres from Craiova.
The decision was made and, deviating a little from his path, he took us to the hotel (it was 9 pm!), We drank coffee and parted. Thank you, Lucian!
Shortly before that, we narrowly missed a crash, which, however, injured my hand, which was already causing me problems. This necessitated ice packs and intensified anti-inflammatory gel rubs. Fortunately, this time I have a masseur with me! 😆😜
The hotel did cost us exactly 10 € (50 lei), the other 20 were given to us earlier in the day. “Because I like you and I like what you do, let the next night be on me!“. I deliberately do not mention the man, it was his wish. Yet we will always be grateful to him for the generous gesture!
Thank you many times!!! 💖
25-26 July 2021 – Craiova, Romania
Surprisingly, this morning I slept till too late – my daughter’s alarm woke me up at 7:30!
There was no need to hurry, in fact. The owner of the hotel would take us to Craiova around 11 o’clock, so by then we were free.
After the coffee on the swing we took the opportunity to enjoy the pool as well. A quick shower followed and ~11:30 am we were already walking from the outskirts of Craiova to the park. There we planned to wait for our host for the evening from the couchsurfing – Andrey.
We are back from the mountains and it’s again 30+°…
27-28 July 2021 – Belogradchik, Bulgaria
Our host had to leave early in the morning. Luckily that was good enough reason for mom’s baby to get up on time and save us the last morning arguing. Andrei gave us little bags of lavender and lavender water as a gift. Then took us to the exit of the city, showing us the best spot where there are regular hitchhikers.
He was right, of course, there were many of them (us). The drivers themselves asked with gestures in which direction we were going (the road forked a little further) before stopping.
However, first we need coffee! We would about to split one. Had our last 2 lei and there was no point changing money as we were leaving the country. Well, we were not allowed – the man, understanding the situation, just gave us the second coffee for free!
While we waited with our thumbs up, a smiling gentleman came to us with two cans of iced soft drink. Just like that, to freshen us up!
Not long after, a car with an elderly couple pulled up next to us. With gestures and a mixture of Spanish (me) and Italian (they), we agreed that they would take us a bit further as they are in our direction, but will stop far before Calafat. No problem, of course, for us every kilometer counts.
Yes, but after some dialogue (They were Romanians who live in Italia, so they spoke a mixture of the languages and I was able to catch some words.), Niko and Tena decided to take us straight to Calafat – about 70 km (one direction) after their oun goal!! Thank you very much!
Since our destination was the border crossing point just before the city itself, we had to go back a little. Without much hope we raised our thumbs and just the second car stopped for us! We couldn’t take pictures – it wasn’t allowed. Elie turned out to be a border policeman going to work and delivered us straight in front of his shift colleague. Well, the colleague itself was not one of those with whom you would like to deal. At least he quickly got rid of us and sent us to the Bulgarian part.
We continued towards the bridge on foot. At least here there is a pedestrian part and walking is easy, although not very pleasant at 30+°. After about a kilometer, however, a car slowed down next to us and a lady called out the window if we wanted to get on. But that was a rhetorical question, of course!! Yaizhe and Alexandra (whom I was about to meet again a few days later touring in Bulgaria, but still didn’t know about that), a Polish couple who was on a trip to Bulgaria, left us shortly after the border, as they turned to Vidin to see the Baba Vida fortress.
Less than 5 minutes after that a van, again with Polish registration stopped a little behind us and blinked with headlights for returning (we had already passed the appropriate place for a car to stop). We went back a bit and continued with Marchi, who was traveling to Turkey to pick up his family after the holidays. There were several extremely pleasant hours in his company with interesting conversations on various topics. Not only that, but we found ourselves on an unexpected trip to the Belogradchik rocks. A place I have wanted to visit for so long!
We had to turn down (with really great regret!!) the invitation to join him for the wild camping by the lake at night. S0 he took us (again long after his own goal!) to the train station in Montana.
The traffic was insignificant. The temperature was above 33-34° in the shade. And on the main road there was no convenient place to stop. Add to that fatigue + some physiological complications, and the decision to catch a train seemed more than logical. Although we were quite hesitant to give up the hitchhiking at the very end, we had to.
Well, as a consequence we started to regret, but that's life - when you win you don't know what you lose and when you lose you don't know what you gain...
Eventually we arrived home early at the next morning tired but satisfied, after exactly two weeks of travel. 🥳
And the plan for the next day – the nice Chinese couple we met in Brasov, then again in Sibiu and finally would meet at home. 😉