Hitching Europe Blog #9 Team Thosji in Plovdiv II
Once upon a time, two guys were peacefully sleeping on a chair in a gas station shop near Nis, Serbia. Suddenly, one of them was brutally awakened by a voice saying “This is no hotel! Boss saw you on camera…” And so another amazing night unfolded. It was 4 a.m. when we woke up, and there was hardly any traffic going through the gas station. We did not give up, and ‘guarded’ the exit of the station while also regaining a little bit of sleep.Unfortunately, however, few cars kept passing by, and none of these was both willing and able to take us.
At 10.30 a.m. we finally decided to go for a hike instead of a hitch. We would walk to Nis, which was about 10 km away, over a smaller road, while simultaneously trying to get a ride there. Underway we ran into an abandoned swimming pool which must in better times have been packed with people enjoying their holidays.
A bit further along the road a car stopped. The people inside (Elena and Bojan) offered to take us with them to an international youth camp meeting nearby, but this meeting would be further away from Nis in the wrong direction, and as we had already lost much time at the gas station and wanted to get to Sofia by night, we had to turn down their offer.
We now got to the provincial road in the direction of Nis, and after a short time another car stopped. In it were Milan and Igor, two Serbians who were searching for a Danish factory that should be somewhere near, in order to apply for a job there. We felt a bit uncomfortable at first, especially when Igor asked how much money we had brought on our trip, and when the two kept insisting on going with them to Igor’s home and supposedly having drinks, food and a joint there together. We finally convinced them to bring us to a place from which we could continue our journey to Sofia. There, it became clear that their intentions of hospitality were very genuine. They were in fact among the nicest people we had met.
Milan and Igor had brought us to a place already quite a bit past Nis, from where it shouldn’t be difficult to find a ride over the Serbo-Bulgarian border. We had a coffee together there along the road, in a bar where Milan had once worked. We discussed what is truly valuable in life, and Igor and Milan made it clear that even though Serbia is a poor country life is good there, because people look out for each other.
We made a picture with them and with their allegedly truly Serbian car , which is probably worth -50 euro but still does what a car is supposed to do: drive.
There is no highway between Nis and the Bulgarian border, just the single provincial road we now stood by. This occurs in multiple places in Eastern Europe, and is very useful for hitchhikers, as hitchhiking next to a highway is forbidden in many countries, and for good reasons.
So we started trying to find someone to bring us to Sofia. However, after a short time of trying, we literally saw a very dark cloud slowly devouring the mountains next to us and coming our way, accompanied by flashes of lightning and sounds of thunder. We sought cover in a restaurant, from where we were astounded to see large hailstones falling down outside , the outside temperature at the time being around 25 degrees celtigrade.
When the storm had passed we retook our place next to the road, and shortly after Niv , a New Zealander in the sports nutrition business, stopped and gave us a ride all the way to Sofia. He was clearly very proud of his Audi limousine, as he pointed out its feats to us several times. When going over some bumps in the road, he also talked about his worries for its expensive suspensions. This was funny to us, as just before Milan had given the specific example of worrying about expensive cars to illustrate that money doesn’t make you happy.
In Sofia we found a cheap room in a four-star hotel to recover. The next day we pretty easily hitchhiked to our final destination of Plovdiv. From there, we still tried to get to Istanbul, but we decided to return in the evening for getting there and back would take us too much time. Instead, we have been enjoying a relaxing holiday in Plovdiv, which actually has a surprising lot to offer.
So this is it, I guess. We hope you have enjoyed our stories! We have definitely enjoyed experiencing them.
Groetjes uit Plovdiv,