Everything started in an abandoned mine, 60 km from Prague, where we were with Jacob (adventurer, traveler and unauthorized disability parking space owner),and decided to take a short hitchhiking trip from Istanbul to Ukraine.
Idea was catchy, cheap one way flying tickets (40 € one way) from Budapest to Istanbul were quickly ours, as well as time off at work, which for Jacob ment working overtime an a couple days ahead, and for me to get fired. (this is not the first nor the last work of which I was kicked out, so I will leave the explaining part blank).
The plan was also to earn money on the road with busking (playing music on the street). I practiced this part a week before the trip in the streets of Prague.
We are already hitchhiking from Prague to Budapest, two hours without success. Jacob is cold, overworked and demotivated, and I remain alone.
A moment of hesitation, but the arguments were clear … Weather in Prague is really shit, tickets are bought, plus I am really disgusted of how many good plans died last year as soon as the initial enthusiasm dissapeared. In 3 hours, I am sitting beside my guitar in a bus to Budapest.
Arrival 22 30, a little walk around town, looking for a place where one can play the guitar, I meet a couple of gypsys with measuring stares, but no conflict happens. Finally, I arrive to the center, some square with a fountain, I really do not remember the name. (For me as a Slovak citizen, Hungarian language is close to Elfish)
I asked security guys, whether I can play the guitar. The answer is yes, but not for money. Fuck it, I’ll tell you … It is a shitload of time till the morning, flight is at 1130, and I`m not going to pay for the hostel, I’m here for the reason of adventure, and I have a very limited budget.
I started playing the guitar and different musicians start to join in, gypsies first, then the “whites”. Gradually s group of +- 10 people is created, each of whom plays guitar or sings. We played differen (not only)rock songs, mostly in English language, sometimes even some Hungarian classic, lyrically quite similar to what Frodo had written on his ring.
This night was very luxurious, Hungarians are nice and lively, their women are also good looking, when they speak English, you can even understand what they say. There were 4 people who survived the night till the morning with me, after the fun part was over, they pointed me to the airport.
Exhausted, I have flown to Istanbul, while sleeping in the plane, on the Asian airport Sabina Gocchen it was about an hour and a half to downtown, 20 minutes from there to the station Vezinziler where I had to meet with my Couchsurfing Host Taoufik, with whom I had equipped with a bed. It was raining and I had still about three hours time, I roamed the streets aimlessly around, until I met some college students who were interested in the guitar, and we sang a few songs.
In Istanbul I spent about four days, I played mainly in the area near Taksim Square, where is a street with the highest number of tourists and street musicians in the world. (probably)
Competition is really big, you need to grab a good spot, or join forces with someone who knows at least a little English.
Actor and singer Egemen knew. That’s my man I realized as soon as I saw the guitar John Lennon described passwords, and heard distorted rock singing voice.
My host, Taoufik (28) was from Morocco, cool guy who really takes it easy, and plans to waste time sometime soon traveling around East Asia. I was his first couchsurfing guest, as well as he was my first host.
Near Taksim square is the largest street with lots of shops with musical instruments, the most I’ve ever seen, I counted them over 30, but I heard that there is much more. Carefully I cried over all the guitars that I couldn`t afford.
(Check wall full original Gibson guitars)
I left Istanbul by bus, up to about 100 km distant city Saray, where I got in the evening. It was already quite late, I tried to communicate in English, but noone seemed to know. Without a possitive result, I tried to get accommodation for a reasonable price (read:”for free”). An english teacher from Saray gymnasium saved me, after I told him that I am probably going to sleep somewhere in the park on a bench. He suggested I slep at his place.
(We watched together Turkish idol, listened to the Turkish band Pentagram, his wife made tea, we discussed mainly about rock music and our favorite bands)
The next day he took me to the school, where I told stories from my travels on an English lesson, and of course, played the guitar.
I felt a little like a rock star, kids were doing selfies with me, girls from the 4th gradeprepared my lunch and I was additionally asked to facebook friendship plenty of Turkish girls with an average age of around 12 years.
Hitchhiking through Turkey was very fast, after 5 minutes, I hitched a bus, that drove me free me to a place, where a debate between Turkish drivers happened, an another driver, which drove the next bus to the city Kirkraeli took me also for free.
Here I had a little rest, for about 4 hours in a cool local Karaoke bar, where I originally planned to connect to the wifi, but since the owner, along with his brother occasionally go to Burgas to have some fun, they decide they go all the way and take me as a guest. Cool guys.
On the border with Bulgaria to the customs, officer liked the guitar so much that he didn`t really want to control our other stuff. Strum a few chords and let us. No bribe, no bullshit, we passed through the EU border.
We arrived to Bourgas in the evening, we had a dinner, and spent some time in Neptun bar at the beach, but when the brothers left, I stayed and talked a bit with the local cover band, and went looking for a place to sleep.
A Pier (quite nice) served very well. Except early morning tide I was afraid of potential theft, so I hid a little. Fishermen woke me pretty early. I talked with one and went north.
I walked about 10 km along the coast, through the communist salt factory, met two guitar-grandpas, and I got to the hichhiking point.
It was quite complicated to take a hitch, time between tracks was quite long, so I only got in the evening to Varna, where I slept on the beach, at the now depopulated resort Golden Sands. Morning hygiene in the pool, the water was still quite warm, security did not show any visible interest of kicking my ass out of this place.
Story goes on, and from Varna I got Constanta, Romania, the most interesting driver on my way was a man, who wrote a book about how he hitchhiked for 100,000 km.
I planned to pass whole Romania in one day, so I didn`t even change money.
It did not happen. In the evening, I found myself in Galati, which is the last large town before the border of Moldova. I therefore changed 5 euros to Romanian money, and went to a pub with rock music, and a lower price range. It was a wise decision, because I found a host, Cyprian, who offered me a bed, as well as some people, who song songs with me till 4 am.
One Romanian girl even offer me sex if it’ll play Babe I`m gonna leave you by Led Zeppelin. It did not happen, but later in the night, I found a Romanian bill in my underwear, so at least some earnings.
Ciprian works manually, but knows surprisingly good English. He likes rock music and sings quite good. Also he has a habit of saying phrases such as what the fuck or shut up very loud, in a deep voice, similarly to the Duke Nukem overvoice. Really a cool guy.
When we arrived to the flat, Ciprian was a bit drunk, reheating my dinner and went to his chamber, where suddenly porn sounds started to come out. I told myself that I will give him some privacy time, but after about 20 minutes, I heard a loud voice: Grab your dick and watch some porn!
Well so while watching the porn together, my friend didn`t feel a strong need for privacy. Not that I have anything against lesbians porn,(it’s really my favorite genre) but I was very tired, so I decided to lie in the bed and try to count lesbian sheep before I fall asleep.
IN the morning, his mom came to visit, I tried to explain my journye, to what Ciprian said: “Do not waste time, my mom will never understand this life of yours”.
Cyprian is very specific nature, little loafer, a bit of an amateur philosopher, a bit of a showman, certainly one of the most interesting people I’ve met along the way.
While his mother does not understand excesses, such as my life, but in the morning she went somewhere by taxi and took me with her. The taxi driver pointed me towards Moldova. I hitched a border-guard so the borders between Moldova and Romania were no problem. Following border with Ukraine was a bit harder.
However, when they realized that I am really going to Ukraine without side purposes and there are not any weapons or narcotics in my guitar case, they had to let me go.
At the border, there was a soldier calledy Yuri, who among other things has persuaded a truck driver to give me a lift to Odessa.
The driver was quite similar to the last James Bond. He taught me along the way probably all the necessary swearing words in Russian language in conjunction with the word Putin. Blyať, job tvaju mať, putin chujlo, pizdets etc…
Along the way, we went through Transnistria, a non-existent country, which is only recognizes by Russia. You know you are in Transnistria (sometimes called the Little Moldova), when there are suddenly soldiers on the road, who don;t want anything in Particular, except of some bribes every now and then.
In the public transport bus at the edge of Odessa, I met two drunk soldiers who wanted to play the guitar, so we are on the road in a very uncomfortably jumping bus, while playing. We recieved some applause, which made me quite pleased especially because the applauding ladies are a high quality export article.
In Odessa I lived among the CouchSurfing hosts, most of which were artistic kind, students of sculpting etc.. The apartment looked a little bit like a squat, but it was probably by will. Most of the people played on a musical instrument, travelled, or did some other interesting activities.
In the city I spent about three days, I really liked it there. Friendly people, beautiful women, many musicians, cheap goods and services.
In the surroundings of Kiev, where I arrived in the evening, there was only one thing on my mind. Crap. I could endure it no longer, I ran into the first building with a sign “Lombard”. I tried to explain my problem in English, then in Slovak. The pressure was high so I used Russian Translator, and a sentece came out:”Ja chaču srač”.
(Which means I want to shit)
After the initial laughter, the officer explained, they have a strict regime, cameras, and sent me to a nearby forest.
After making the necessary, I went to a store to buy something for dinner. In a small supermarket I met Vadim, 50 year old man from Sevastopol, Crimea, who wanted me to play guitar, for which he bought me a bag of about 3 large sausages. He took my telephone contact and during the trip called me about 3 times.
In Kiev I stayed at a flat of Olexander, a photographer and journalist. He was very friendly, I spent a couple of days in his house. We went to some party, where he who took me on a visit to Pablo’s, activists and journalists, an interview with whom you can find in our Slovak economic newspaper, Hospodarske Noviny.
Kiev is a bit expensive compared to Odessa, and people are a bit more standofish, as it is always in the bigger ciries, on the other hand, women here are absolutely top class. I didn`t honestly spend enough time roaming the streets, except the last day with Olexander, so I can`t say more without using google.
In a bus from Kiev to the next hitchhiking checkpoint, I met the Ukrainian army. The guitar was helpful again, it made one soldier give me 100 Grivna, which is aproximately 7 euros …
Another checkpoint was Zorya village near the city of Rivne. I spent 2 nights here in the family of Olexander, a writer suffering from haemophilia, which is friends with Pablo.
He was also very friendly and helpful as well as his family. I spent a lot of time in the woods, where I practiced new songs. (Playing the same shit over and over gets really annoying) After two nights, his brother arranged a truck ride to Lviv for me.
In addition to discovering hot dog with mayonnaise, dill and onion, I found that once again I have nowherre to sleep. It seemed that I will just take next train somewhere outside the city, because I had not enough money for the hostel, and it was raining. Again, the guitar helped and some girls just persuaded me to play, so I did, and again, onother musicians appeard amongst the group. My voice was really shouted out at the moment, so luckily, there was one guy singing really good, especially in Ukrainian. (I only remember some rockabily song about chernobyl.)
In the morning , local girl Anastacia brought us to a restaurant with a very interesting theme. If you remember movies where the door is always closed, until a small window opens, and then they et you in, so there was something similar… The man in the window said “Glory to Ukraine”, and you should say “Glory to heroes”.
(Note:I heard, thatt the place is popular amongst tourists.)
In the morning I discovered that the train to Uzhhorod, where I was going, costs about 12 Gřivna, which is about 70 cents, so I took it, ride through the Carpathian Mountains with a stopover in Mukachevo and I found myself on Slovak border.
I arrived at night, the only pub open till the morning was a karaoke bar called Polo, which suited my purposes very well. There was quite a lot people singing patriotic songs in Ukrainian language, even the army guys, as well as people who fought in the conflict in Lugansk, etc..
One even told me that he already killed some separatists in the east. Another party till the morning night …
After Karaoke walk to the border, where I quickly realised, that you can cross the border only inside a motor vehicle. I finally fulfilled my corruption dream, and the last 27 Gřivna (less than 2 euros) symbolically I gave to the guard to arrange transport to the other side.
So it was, in Slovakia I could not resist, and had two hours of a nap at the bus stop.
In the morning, a man came to me, a local Grandpa, that offers me coffee and wants to satisfy his curiosity. I drank coffee, ate 2 rolls and heard his version of oppinions about this world. When suddenly, some elderly lady went around , which he began somewhat mockingly shouting at. Then explained to me that this is a single mother, which had probably somehow justify his behavior. (In other words typical judgmental behaviour in small villages of Slovakia)
I hitched some gypsy, which was trying to tell me some crap about their religion of apostoles, and that he helps me, because jesus wants him to. I tried to explain him, that we atheist don`t eat babies, and that we also help each other, but it was very hard, and I was really disgusted from the crap that falls out of my mouth, so I stopped. I also hitched official driver of Slovak group Pentagramcek playing comedic pop about good satan helping little children. In Kosice, after a heavy rain and even harder hitchhiking situation (Plus unbeatable desire to be on Friday night in our village pub), I decided to give up the hitchhiking, and went by train to the village where my momma is living, and of course my pub is waiting for me.
Trip facts and sidenotes: Altogether, I went around 2000 km by hitchhiking, the trip lasted 20 days, during which I spent only about 80 euro. I did not drink a drop of alcohol, but in return I have developed a little bit of nicotine addiction. If you watch news(even if it not very valuable source of information), Ukraine is currently going through difficult times. Having gas is optional, as well as having hot water. Anyway, people are very friendly, even when they do not have, they still give.
Emotions are very strong, due to everything that is happening. People like their country, sing the songs that remind them of their independence from the Soviet Union. Putin here has a reputation of modern Hitler, wherever you come, people will be happy to sing the song “Chujlo Putin” (Putin is a dick)
And it would probably be it. I’ve wasted several time writing the blog, as well as translating it, so I hope reading it will somehow entertain or inspire you. I do not have much of will to read it again for corrections, so I apologize for any errors. I am a selfecentered arrogant bastard, which explains why my face covers most of the total photos area. If you are interested in trips like this, or joining forces for busking on the street, feel free to contact me. Maybe we will arrange another legendary trip, or form a street band that will dominate some tourist are. Life is way too short, not to make stupid spontanious decisions.