Thursday, December 17, 2009

If you've a date in Constantinopel she'll be waiting in Istanbul or "Naked girls in the snow"

If you're nice, and read about what a road to hell the last (more or less) 24 hours have been then at the bottom you get to read about the naked girls in the snow. Or, you can be mean and scroll down, but know that the ghost of christmas perfect simple future will come to haunt you if you do.

And now without further ad-woo, I present:

A day in the life of a hitchhiker

5:00 - Piss off, alarmclock, it's still dark out!

6:00 - Ok, fine, let me check when it gets light. Internet says 7:45. Sleeeeeeep

7:00 - Alright, I'll start packing. Grumble

8:00 - Out the door

9:00 - Arrive at the gas station

9:01 - Get ride to Bulgarian border. Sweet! George is a small man with a small car. He voted Basescu, but doesn't really think it matters much. His boss yells at him through the phone. They're being audited, and he bought chicken coops in Spain (like, seriously) for two million euros. and george is the unfortunate driver of the needed documents.
After waiting in the parking lot of his office building while george now gets screamed at in person, he takes me to the border station, where I "can't"cross the bridge on foot, Immediately a truck takes me to the other side, to PYCE. Where stuff is in cyrillic! It's like what, 12 now?

Early afternoon - time unknown - After meeting a few crazy people a Romanian trucker tells me he is going in the direction of Istanbul, but doesn't know when he'll stop for his 9-hour break. Could be 30 or 40 kilometers. I thank him for his time. When he comesback from the gas station I ask if in those 40 kilometers he might get to a better hitchhiking spot. He motions to get in. Turns out he's actually quite far from his break, and might make it to Istanbul today.

16:15 - My Romanian river has made it to Turkovo for his 45 minute break. However, to make sure he finds his way, he waits for some other romanians to finish their break, so we finally get out of this truckstop after about 2 hours.

20:45 - Turkish border. A full hour's queue for trucks. I have to go a different way to get my visa. I pray to the flying spaghetti monster that ten euroswill cover it, but have a feeling it won't. After 5 passport checks, my suspicions are confirmed at the visa register. 15 euros, and of course it's impossible to pay electronically. I pretend to panic, while actually panicing a little. It has no effect. There's "nothing he can do".
I go back, and the guy at the Bulgarian side asks me what's up. I look my panickiest, and it works (Honestly, I am a bit worried at this point). He asks "You have no place to sleep in Bulgaria?" I answer "No." and conviently leave out that I don't have a place to sleep in Turkey either. I do explain I have a friend waitng with a truck and I have a friend in Istanbul. I manage to sad-orphan-face 10 TL out of him. If it's not enough I should come back, he says. I love this man now.
The visa man seems displeased to see me again and sighs as he accepts the mixed currency, which I think only adds up to about 14,50. Now I need to get the visa stamped by the even grumpier speak-no-word-of-English man. It takes 15 minutes or more for him to appear, and he reluctantly does the job he's paid (poorly) to do, and I finally get out of there. It is now 2 hours after we'd pulled into the queue. I wonder if the trucker waited for me all this time. I head to the restaurant where we were to meet and order the chicken kebob.

0:00 - It is official. I have missed him. I took too long with this visa nonsense. As expected a chicken kebob is not nearly the same in Turkey as it is in the Netherlands. Oh well. Time to ask for a ride.
I get out my... ... map? Great. My book of European maps is in the truck. Just what I needed. At least I know there's people on the road and on the way to Istanbul. Or are they?
I walk to the border. Nothing is coming out on the truck side. Nothing AT ALL. I decide, with nothing better to do, I start walking in the direction indicating Istanbul. This is the single shittiest moment hitchhiking I have ever had.
The awesome thing is, it's fine. I signed up for shit like this, and I don't feel any of the desperation I would have felt in the same situation a year ago.
A sign points out something about the lanes changing. I resent, nay I hate the sign. It's mocking me. Rubbing in my face that I'm the only one to see it, even though it's clearmy meant for cars.
Another sign. Deer crossing, in about 5 kilometers. Yeah, I'll watch out when I get there in about an hour.
I never get there, instead I find a spot to lay down my sleeping bag. I figure traffic might pick up in the morning.

3:30 - I wake up with the shakes. Strange, I don't feel cold. Somehow I must be, or I wouldn't be shaking. I try to shrug it off changing positions, but my body will have none of it. It's determined to shake. I start packing, which is difficult with the shaking and the darkness. pack the makeshift pillow, pack the sleeping bag. get moving.

I don't really mind so much, but I feel a bit defeated. My convictions that if worst comes to worst I can always sleep on the road are crushed.
At least there's traffic now. Things are looking up. Two trucks, just in the time it took me to pack. I guess I'll get some water back at the restaurant. Before I get there, a truck already stops for me.
Ishak is a friendly old fellow and he's going to Edinre. It's hard to tell if that's on the way without my maps but I seem to recall the highway to Istanbul starts.

4:45 - 45 kilometers closer to Istanbul, no longer cold, friendly german-speaking turkish people and a good highway with a good spot to hitchhike from. I haven't been this happy in at least 48 hours.

4:51 - Without effort Sami has found me a ride to Istanbul and I get a free tea. We├žel is extremely friendly, trafficing lightbulbsand goes through great efforts to communicate with me even though we share no language.

7:26 - I'm surprised to wake up to sunlight after dozing off in the car. A beautiful suburb of Istanbul wears a huge Turkish flag proudly. This is going to be awesome

This is going to be awesome

Girls in the snow!

Ok, I didnt get the other three girls in this picture but no-one was naked, but I we did have an awesome snowfight in the park. Pics here!

Also, if you're reading this post on facebook, be a dear, crank my ego, visit Surfer Of Couches where this blog is ACTUALLY housed, and potentially click the follow button (if you have a google account)

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