I was travelling for nearly six month now and I felt like it's time to get back home for a little while. Also time was running out somewhat because a few month ago my father asked me per e-mail if I want to join him and my little brother for a two weeks vacation in the German alps. I agreed of course it's a beautiful place and I don't want to stay on the road without seeing my family the whole year anyway. So the 22.7.2012 sounded like a good date to give my timeless journey a little break.
The previous four weeks I stayed around Antalya and spent most of my time with a wonderful girl the couchsurfer introduced to me.
While staying longer and longer in Antalya I noticed that the time to get back to Germany until the 22th was suddenly running out.
I at least wanted to have a first impression of the Balkans before, so I set a date till when I will for sure have to leave. I think I broke this date twice but when I finally left I had not more than three weeks and about 4000 kilometer to go.
I made up a route which would lead me through as many Balkan countries as possible and started with a huge step from Antalya to Istanbul. As I didn't travel a lot the month before and as I thought that it would be a great thing to go all the way back to Germany by hitch-hiking I decided to make some kind of challenge.
The basic rules were:
-To get to the next city I'm not allowed to pay for any ticket.
-To escape the main traffic inside the city it was allowed to use public transportation which goes to the end of the city to get started with hitch-hiking to the next place.
-when I already made the kilometers to the north by hitch-hiking it was allowed to use public transportation to get to a city which is located south from where I've been. When I for example used the motorway from Zadar to Rijeka in Croatia it was okay to take the bus from Rijeka to Kraljevica 20 kilometers down the coast road again. (This was actually the only time where this rule was applied and I didn't even pay the bus because of a blind guy showed me the way and made me go by bus for free!)
During the following three weeks there was not a lot of time for relaxing and after four days in Istanbul my way led me through:
Sofia in Bulgaria, to Pirot in Serbia, to Kumanovo and Skopje in Macedonia, followed by Durres in Albania from where I got to Podgorica in Montenegro before I went through a tiny part of Bosnia-Herzegovina to Kraljevica in Croatia.
After having two of the best days of my entire journey I started hitch-hiking to Hinterstein, a tiny village in the German alps on the 22th of July. It was about 700 kilometers to go and after having problems to get started I wasn't sure if I'm going to fulfill my promise and make it the same day.
I was lucky because after some time a woman stopped and drove me the whole way from Rijeka to Salzburg in Austria. I was hoping for such a long ride and guessed that when I make it to Munich till 8:00 p.m. I would have a chance to arrive the same day. I better should because up here the temperatures decreased and I didn't have the equipment for spending a night in the cold anymore. Two Bosnian guys dropped me of close to Munich at 19:56 so I was still in time and now full of hope that I will make it without spending a night at a service station or something compareable comfortable...
It was incredible but the first woman I asked at that gas station was going exactly in my direction and although her car was full packed with stuff she found some space to drive me till a city called Memmingen. Meanwhile it was getting dark and the village I was going to was still not in walking distance at all. But today my streak of luck shouldn't end anymore and although I thought something like "Ok...here it's over for today" when she dropped me of on a nearby entrance back to the motorway I got a ride very fast and got to a better point. Three or four rides later, and I never had to wait for more than 10 minutes, I got out of the last car whose driver drove me a loop way of about 15 kilometer before he dropped me off just in front of the holiday house, where my father and brother were already waiting for me.Yes, down there in Bavaria hitch-hiking works even better than in Turkey.
It was of course great to see someone of my family again and I was looking forward to meet the rest of them.
After this two weeks vacation from all that travelling I packed my stuff and started at the same time as my father and brother to go back to Bergkamen which is located about 650 kilometers from there.
The only difference was that they took a taxi/bus from a booked tour and I was hitchhiking back. My father already offered me some weeks before that I can also go by bus with them but I told him that after making the whole way from Antalya to the south of Germany by hitch-hiking I would feel strange going the last step by bus and cause a higher expense than the the whole way before. So now I had a challenge in the challenge! I wanted to be faster by hitch-hiking than they by bus!! .... it didn't work, however.^^ At the beginning I was clearly leading but getting closer to my home I took some wrong decisions and lost a lot of time.
When I was finally standing just a few meters in front of the place name sign of Bergkamen-Oberaden it was clear that they already arrived. I didn't care about that at all, because it was just one more step to go before I would have made the whole way from Antalya to Bergkamen by hitchhiking.
Before I took this last step I thought back to the day where I left Antalya and made up this challenge. Now there was a way of over 4300 kilometers behind me. I crossed 10 borders, met incredible people and NEVER got into trouble! I can not even count how many times I got invited by strangers who gave me a ride, how many times I've met people for whom it was normal to drive me a loop way. I thought about the road which led me through the seascape of Montenegro, about the coastline of croatia, about the beautiful girls in Serbia and about the generosity and good nature of my hosts.
I realized that all what this challenge included was just a tiny part of my trip. There were only five weeks between the day I left Antalya and the day I arrived back in my hometown.
Altogether I was on the road for seven month... but for this sentimental retrospection as an ending of this report it doesn't really matter. :D The message would stay the same:
Travelling is not dangerous! Travelling is not expensive! Travelling is incomparable!
If you really have the desire to see and to get to know the world you should stop reading somebody's blog, go out there and start to make your own experiences! ;-)
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