Hitchhiking is fun and often full of surprises. That's exactly what happened when we went with Maria From Budapest (Hungary) to Ruse (Bulgaria), about 11 hours of no-stop travel if you have a private car; 2 days and a series of adventures, that you wouldn't expect even in 1 year, if you are hitchhiking!
Everything started when Maria got "voluntarily" stuck in Budapest, and after a few days she recognized she was almost late to take her flight from Bulgaria to visit her relatives in Russia, and without money to buy a bus ticket. Knowing I'm an experienced hitchhiker, she asked help to be there in time. And here we go! The day after we leave from Budapest hitchhiking to Bulgaria: we catch quite easily a first ride with a Czech guy going in the south-west to spend his vacation in a Czech town of a minority in Romania. And his wife waiting at home thinking he's on a businness trip... We thank the driver an we stop with Maria in Oravita, a small town where we have to change direction.
Our hitchhiking adventure through photos
It's Sunday, we are still at the beginning of Romania and the roads are almost empty. After 3 hours of trials and changing position without effect, a car eventually stops to offer us help. But it's not for a ride, they invite us to stay at their house, since they saw us struggling without results! The night is about to come so we decide with Maria to accept. This young lovely family offers us a bed to sleep, dinner with traditional romanian food, internet; everything without even knowing us!
After a restoring night we go out in the morning and we start hitchhiking again. A small truck with three people sitting in front stops: we are a little bit afraid. It really looks like a clandestine bus and not reliable at all. But we are in a hurry and we decide to accept the ride. On the trunk there are two small benches, two blankets, no windows and no air. We get in, and one of the guy locks the door. It's completely dark and we have no way to escape. They drive for 40 minutes and we have no clues of where we are going; we get more and more scared. Eventually the truck stops, and we imagine to be in an isolated place, to be beaten, robbed and left there.
A guy opens the door and invites us to go out. Our fears start to fade, and we see a beautiful lake waiting for us! Actually the guys are really friendly
They offer us a coffee in a bar with lake-view and try to communicate despite the language barrier. They are working for the maintenance of the road, and on the back of the truck usually is staying the crew that now is fixing the road not far away, that's why it looks like an immigrant truck!
After the coffee we stop again on the way, they want to show us a beautiful river with a natural spring of water! After visiting we keep going and they are supposed to stop in the middle of nowhere to fix the road, but they decide to drive 30km more just to take us to the main road!
After this lift we take several other interesting rides like the guy from the Romanian CIA, paid less than 300€ per month, showing us picture of "his work": dead bodies lying on the scene of the crime! Or another friendly romanian that insists to give us 4 lei (about 1 euro) thinking that we are completely broken and that euro might be useful for us!
Eventually ride after ride we are almost at destination: it's still early afternoon and we are still in Romania, but less than 40 km from Ruse (Bulgaria). We get a ride in a old Dacia car with an orthodox priest with whom we are able to speak in french: he is going to another town shortly passing through his monastery.
He invites us to visit the monastery but we decline being in a hurry to reach our destination. Eventually he decides to take us there despite our refusal. The place is pleasant, but we are not confortable getting more and more late. A first time the priest gives us a tour of the monastery in french: the church, the chapel being restored and the apartments.
A second time he calls a noun that speaks english and we take the same tour in a different language; the church, the chapel and the apartments!
After the second tour, the adventure is still not finished, because the priest invites us to eat. We still try to refuse, but there is no way to escape. So we eat fast hoping to go back on the road. We wait for the priest to be back, but at this point he also decides to stop and eat!
Before leaving we also get a tour of the "backstage" with a noun sewing liturgical clothes for the priest, and the souvenir shop with some free icons and keychains given as a present to us.
Eventually we are able to leave, and we go outside of the monastery towards the old Dacia car
The priest eventually take control of his old Dacia, and drive some more kilometers to leave us in a gas station. But unfortunately it's getting dark, there is no traffic at all and we have to keep hitchhiking even at night to reach Ruse in time. The place doesn't look safe at all, we are desperate and seeing the police in the gas station, Maria runs fast to ask for help. After a first moment of confusion, in which other people where trying to give us an expensive ride with a private taxi, we are able to solve the situation. A very helpful policeman calls another police car, and they come with us on the road to hitchhike. Yes, they create a roadblock and stop a truck for us, forcing him to take us to Ruse! Eventually we reach Maria's home late at night, but still in time for her to catch the flight to Russia. Mission accomplished!