My first big adventure travel has just unfolded - hitchhiking Up North on an extremely tight, almost unexciting budged, with no return date, actually with no plans at all... So, stay with me and lets see what the cat will bring... 🙈🙉🙊 (part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5)
You can also fallow the Up North trip in Polarsteps. Not to overload the post with pictures, most of the photos you can find at the end of it divided into galleries.
Up North: 25 August 2021 – Sofia, Bulgaria
That trip is going to be my first big adventure. Just start hitchhiking Up North towards the Netherlands on an extremely tight, almost unexciting budged, with no return date, actually with no plans at all…
So, yesterday I spent almost the whole day packing, unpacking, packing again and again…
Started with 33 kg backpack without the water (the problem of the bigger backpack – it can hold more things 🤭). With lots of efforts and some not very polite words in the name of my lacking donkey helper, the weight has been reduced to 26 kg (28 with the filled water).
And yeah, I have had some help and advice through the whole process. Thanks a million, Silke! Not only for that, but for every time you have been by my side. I am so fortunate I got to know you two with Jan!!!
So, today the hitchhiking was a bit slower than usual. Or maybe I got spoiled with too much luck lately? 😜
Nevertheless, around 2 pm I was dropped off at the capital center in front of the flat, I was going to spend the night at. At the moment I got off the car, the sky just cracked open and poured tons of 🐈 & 🐕 (cats and dogs) … 😆
My friends weren’t even at home, but managed to supply me with a key and warm welcome at their home. Thank you so much, Bo and Mira!!
What better than a huge cup of hot tea in that rainy weather?! Warm and cozy start of that adventure, isn’t in?! 😉
Up North: 26 August 2021 – Petrich, Bulgaria
After the wet welcome and all night of thunders and rain, Sofia sent me away on water in the morning. My friend and host for last night, came to see me for just minute and drove me out of town. Far enough to escape the rain.
And he did not stop having fun at my expense and especially at the expense of my backpack. 😁😁
I still haven’t solved the dilemma about using my heavy camera tucked in my heavy backpack. So while walking, I only photograph the beauty around with the phone. And, as you can see, after the rain, even Sofia looks beautiful…
After being given a ride by an ice cream truck (LOL, not like the ones in the movies!), there was quite a wait at the highway. My load is too heavy this time and I try to walk as less as possible – even my masochism has its limits. 😉
After assembling a backpack stand, which included a guardrail and a walking stick (this seems to be its main application, though), it was not a problem to wait. At least until the clouds started to gather again, and I ran out of patience.
I spent the rest of the way with Plamen – an extremely pleasant interlocutor. His firs attempt was to put on the mouth mask... 🤦🏻♀️ He said: I don’t care, but it’s because of you, as I don’t feel very good today.
Boy, should we go to the hospital if someone around sneezes?! And what’s the use of that f****ng mask anyway?!? If you are sick, the virus is all over the car and I have got it at the moment I open the window and spoke to you… That’s just a madness around!… 🙊🙉🙈
So, we agree that the mask is completely useless at this case and spend the way engaged in a nice conversation.
He has been grown up in the area and knew it perfectly well, so became a great guide. Apart from that, instead of going to Samokov, he extended his way to Petrich and dropped me off right to the address I was going to.
So, at the end of the day it became clear that today I was definitely lucky! 😃 Thanks!
A friend from my childhood was waiting for me in Petrich, so we made a short tour round the toen and ended the day with a glass (or several 🤫) of wine and lots of memories.
Up North: 27 August 2021 – Melnik, Bulgaria
The day started with a search of someone to repair my shoe, as it gave up after the yesterday’s walking and decided to make my life just a bit miserable.
Not only we found who to do so, but my unfaithful shoe was sent back to work in just a minute, but I have been given a spare part in case some of the others decide to follow the same pattern.
Not to forget mentioning that the price for all that was just a smile!
After that we went for a quick, but really pleasant tour to Rozhen monastery, Melnik and Rupite with the hot mineral baths.
Thank you for the great time, Kache!! Thanks, Done!
Up North: 28 August 2021 – Skopje, Macedonia
Nora and Donka insisted to take me all the way to the border in the morning, for which I am extremely grateful, as we were the only car in that direction.
I passed smoothly on Macedonian soil, but this did not increase the traffic at all. Lately it turned out that it’s kind of big religious holiday, no body works and almost no one is out, especially in the morning.
In the first village I stopped for a sip of water in a church’s yard by the road and went out with a candy, packet of cookies, warm smile and sincerely wishes for a good trip.
Who has asked where the good people are?!
I was just leaving the village when a tractor caught up with me. I greeted the driver with a laugh and raised my thumb through laughter.
He laughed and raised his hands pitifully. Almost passed by and at that moment his smile widened, he stopped the tractor and waved towards the empty trailer. Bursting with laughter, I barely climbed on the tow-bar and spent next 5-6 km, enjoying and laughing to tears.
Life is good!!!
Until that moment I did have my doubts about this adventure. Yes, I was scared, if I was not, it won’t be an adventure, just a vacation. Yet I was not sure am I ready for this, can I handle it, is it the thing I need to do, is it the right way of doing it… and so on and so on…
On that tractor trailer I found the answer – yes, it is my way and I am doing the right thing!!!
Then for about 2-3 km I rode with a smiling man with two children, who were quite stressed by the strange foreigner with a backpack twice as big as them. 🤦🏻♀️
After I got picked up by Srdjan, I realised that I know Serbian! 😆🤪 Nice company for almost whole trip to Skopje. In addition, he turned out to be a motorcyclist with a Honda Transalp.
In the meantime, we stopped in Strumica for a quick bite and I found out with surprise that Macedonia is actually in a different time zone and is 1 hour behind.
After Sarjan, with great reluctance, left me on the highway to Skopje, Ivan (with an emphasis on the first I), also a fan of motorcycles, picked me up. And he almost adopted me.
He gave me his SIM card to use the internet on the way and look for a place to spend the night. Then just took the phone from my hands, started calling around and booked me a hotel.
I shivered at the thought of how much it would cost me and asked him what price he had negotiated, to which he replied – it’s not of your concern – you have two nights with breakfast, the rest is my business.
I left speechless and couldn’t find enough words to thank him!!
We drove around the city and Ivan showed me some of the main sights to return to later (as I did) and took me to the hotel (just outside the city) to accommodate me.
After we drank a coffee and had a nice chat, he took me back to the city and helped me buy a travel card (one more for my collection!), He did explain me which bus to take and where from, then went about his business. With a few hours delay than planned…
Just don’t think that Ivan is a jerk with a fancy car, who is wondering what to do with his money! Those kind of people wouldn’t stop for a hitchhiker in first place.
Ivan is a modest man with a small business of his own and a really huge heart! And another friend I met on the road! Thank you, Ivan!!! ❣️
29 August 2021 – Ilinden Municipality, Macedonia
As usual, it turned out that on Sunday there are no business to the hotel, which is outside the city. How did I find out?
Well, when I didn’t find any sign of a bus stop around, I raised my thumb again. Just to ask for help, because there was no one in sight.
Luckily, the first car stopped and Marian explained the situation to me as he drove me to a stop, 4-5 kilometres ahead, where were some buses even on Sunday.
And that dog… Did you see it? The lady just put the bag with all the beers on the ground and started walking. The dog with no hesitation took it and went after her… I was just laughing in amazement!
I think I need to order one “beer dog” too! 🙊🙈🙉
30 August 2021 – Struga (Lake Ohrid), Macedonia
Change in the plan and I end up at Lake Ohrid. It is because I was strongly advised to cross the border to Albania south. Not sure why, but I listened to the advice and felt like I should do it.
So I unplanned arrived at the lake. Haven’t seen Ohrid though, as it’s quite expensive staying there and the guy who gave me a ride was travelling to Struga, so that solved my dilemma. 🤷🏻♀️
Tomorrow – Albania… Well, maybe, who knows… 😉