From A to Bul. A mini adventure stretching from London to Istanbul
It was April Easter holiday from uni 2015. I had a week off to study etc, I chose etc.
A I got into myhead that it’d be a good idea to try and hitch to Istanbul- I’d never been there.
Journeys like this are of course enjoyable but I feel they’re always better when shared with an old amigo- a motley crew member was recruited;
ME - Hey Ed you gotta free week?
ED Yeah what you got in mind?
ME - Fancy hitching to Istanbul?!
ED - …..
ME - Great! Get the bus down tomorrow and we’ll hitch out of London and away - it’ll be a breeze!
So the merry Yorkshireman made his way down south form the mighty North and I scoped the best hitching spots surrounding Central London.
A location on the outskirts of London was selected using HitchWiki (yes a Wiki exists for more or less everything) and on Ed’s arrival we gave it a bash, for several hours, to no avail. This is when I found out that a megabus to Brussels only cost £15 and left that night. The hitch had begun (and technically ended)
We had a few consolatory lagers as we nursed our wounds on the train back to mine to watch Star Wars and regain our strength for the outbound journey later that evening. This plan was temporarily thwarted however when I realised in the hast to hitch I’d locked myself out.
10mins of head scratching and lager refueling later, a convenient window was found to be open on the first floor (thanks Greg) and a break (back) in was made. Star Wars was watched and much fun was had. The clock struck 9 and off to Victoria coach station we went.
Memory fails me now but some sort of journey juice was concocted in excitement of the adventure ahead and it was consumed jubilantly on the back seat of the musty automobile until the wobbling of the ferry halted our pursuits. I vaguely remember waking up in Brussels but I only really came to when I saw a motorway sign fly by reading 30km to Cologne. Cologne it was then I muttered. Having wound up in cologne on a hitch to Berlin the year before I was aware it had a very good chocolate factory to offer but not much hope in the way of hitching onwards. On arrival I discussed options with my colleague and it was quickly decided that a short bus to Frankfurt would be our best option. Then we would start hitching. Promise.
We finally left our little bus in a car park in the middle nowhere and walked yet further into the unknown, following semi-understandable advice from our driver that a petrol station where we could perhaps get a ride was on the ‘autobahn’ on the other side of the woods that skirted the town. Laden like pack horses with completely superfluous joke goods like an inflatable beach football and a tent with noooooo poles we strode into the bush.
After half an hour of walking and seeing wild deer and the like we were still feeling jubilant and so stopped for a spot of lunch in a field from which we could just make out the hum of the motorway. I then discovered the robot toilet which self span and cleaned it’s bum piece - it blew my mind.
We reached the petrol station in the early afternoon and proceeded to take it turns guarding the bags and pestering the customers for lifts. Relatively quickly one of Ed’s advances proved fruitful and through non-existent German on both sides, we found ourselves in the company of half of a pair of Romanian businessman who had driven just the previous night all the way from Romania to Amsterdam to buy a white van for their hotel laundry services company. 28 hours without sleep later they were now driving it back, one in their car and one in the van and we loaded our bags into the car and hopped in with the initial pretence that they could only take us as far as Nuremberg.
The miles rolled on and broken conversation jaggedly flowed until they had sussed that we weren’t completely nut jobs and offered to take us all the way to Budapest as it was more or less on the route home! Flattered by the offer but worried by our driver’s drowsy tone we accepted and force bought strong coffees for them at the next service station.
We then drove through the night and the kind gents dropped us off half an hour out of their way at Budapest airport where we wished him all the best with not falling asleep at the wheel on the final XX hour leg of his colossal laundry fueled journey. Being a schmedic Ed only had a week off whereas I had a luxurious 2 so we concluded it’d be fun to do something other than sit in a car for his holiday and hopped on a train into the city.
We then proceeded to have A LOT of fun in the cobble stone metropolis, proving the old adage that it does indeed all end in beers.
Weary after a couple of days of sightseeing & culture, it was time for Sir Hart to leave me Hans Solo as he had to fly back to the rolling hills of Yorkshire and revise for his coming exams. Being a semi-art student student (I studied arts AND sciences I’ll have you know), I didn’t see the same beckoning call to arms that the lit fires of Gondor’s library, so our journey together came to an end to follow our now diverging missions.
It was now time to press on to Serbia alone...
You can see the video of our antics on my Youtube here: https://youtu.be/yaWe_vUMJ6w