Thumb #17

From Gyenesdiás (Hungary) to Budapest (Hungary) – 194km

Mr. Wilfried was not willing to let us hitchhike to Budapest (“it was unsafe”…), so instead he advised us to take a bus from a town nearby directly to the capital. We agreed, even so bitter-sweetly. Forty-seven rides in the end, we thought.

Right after the last sightseeing stop, at the city palace, our Hungarian grandfather drove us to the supposed bus station/stop, to which he had never been before. The bus venue was nowhere to be found… and we ultimately agreed that it was too late to catch it. Before turning back home (Gyenesdiás) to look for the next bus, I told Mr. Wilfried we could just hitch to Budapest! We had come all the way from Vienna the day before, so how hard could it be? He sighed, but readily drove us to a spot right before the highway entrance. Fare-wells behind us, we put our thumbs in the air for one last time.

One final cardboard

Ride #48

Our ultimate ride! As usual, few cars drove by, some noticing us, some just flying by as if we were invisible… A high-end Audi passed by super fast and I immediately made a snarky comment to my sister about the “typical driver” of cars like this one. If only I knew that right in the nick of time the car turns around to pick us up! Shamefaced me.
Father and son, heading straight to Budapest. We talked little to nothing, but they were kind enough to drop us off where I asked for. We got to Budapest even faster than if we had taken the bus we intended to.




When we went separate ways, already a month ago, Mr. Wilfried gave us a little business card of the guesthouse he runs with his wife in Hungary. At the time my sister and I didn’t think much of it, but as days went by, I came to the realisation that it could be a good idea to show up in his town before finally heading Budapest.

And so we did! Gyenesdiás, a town right next to the city of Keszthely, on the northwestern tip of lake Balaton, was the perfect place to rest in between all the hustle and bustle of urban living…

Once we arrived to Mr. Wilfried’s house, I was quite apprehensive, thinking “Maybe coming here was a bad idea… What if he doesn’t recognise us? What if we have to pay to stay here?” [sorry, but it did cross my mind…]. These thoughts vanished pretty fast… Maria, his wife came to the gate, I handed her the business card and albeit being a bit suspicious, she went to get Mr. Wilfried, who was very surprised to see us there. We were incredibly pampered… delicious food, cozy bed, invigorating swims at the lake. It felt like being at my grandparents’. In Hungary.

A selfie at Festetics Palace, in Keszthely

Thumb #16

From Vienna (Austria) to Gyenesdiás (Hungary) – 285km

Ride #42
At the petrol station to where we headed, on the outskirts of Vienna, we were actively hitchhiking, meaning that we approached the drivers instead of just waiting for them to be considerate. It paid off immediately: a young Slovenian couple, heading back to their homeland, took us. They had come to Vienna to search for a place to live as they intended to move there, but were unlucky so far.
Before the highway split, one way heading to Slovakia and the other to Hungary, we asked to be dropped at the last highway.
Good luck guys, hope you can find your dream Viennese dwelling!

Ride #43
A ride promptly appeared.

Official HH spot

A blue-collar worker, living in Austria, from some country to the east which I cannot recall anymore. He seemed quite sad with his life, but it didn’t refrain him from wanting to talk, so moments of pure silence, when you are more eager to be lost in your thoughts contemplating the landscape running outside the window, did not happen. Got of near Győr, while he was driving further away…

Ride #44
We waited way longer than we expected… Traffic was heavy, there was plenty of space for cars to stop and still we seemed invisible to everyone… At last one stopped. A local man, going to the city in the direction we were heading. We exchanged a few words, but the wear and tear of travelling for more than a month already was hitting me. My sister and I actually fell asleep. We woke up when we got to Veszprém.


Ride #45
Another ride with a woman! It’s something not that common, as we experienced from our hitchhiking adventures.
We were still quite dizzy from our nap when she (sorry, names are not my thing, as I have written in the past…) immediately stopped to pick us up! What a cheerful and caring person she was! 😀 A grandmother, she was very keen to practice her English, as she had one of her sons living in the UK, which resulted in having his English friends over at Hungary, at the peaceful Balaton area.

Sweet Lady

Ride #46
Already on the northern lake Balaton side, we were just a straight (still long) line away from our goal. Golden hour came in quickly, so we had time to play a little while we waited… And to get tattooed as well!
Eventually a car came to a stop. We hopped in and hoped it would be enough to get to Gyenesdiás, but our expectation soon faded. This Hungarian man, a former hitchhiker, was going to some friend’s party a bit further ahead, but was still willing to help us.

Ride #47
The sixth ride of the day! We managed to break our record of 5 rides in one day (which was set on day one, from Lausanne to Bern).
An Audi with a Czech license plate, got me to think we would have Czech companionship. Wrong! Inside, an Hungarian father with his blond child in the backseat was our closing lift of the day. Living in Budapest, they often come to Balaton to escape city life.
During our enthusiastic talk, he told us that he also hitchhikes a bit around the area with his son. I was amazed. He already had this cool flair that instantly bumped high above when he disclosed it. In his words, it is a lot easier for cars to stop when they notice a child. Gotta remember that for next time! Kidnap a kid a the beginning of the trip and then letting him go at the end… 😛

Thumb #15

From Budapest (Hungary) to Bratislava (Slovakia) – 201km

Ride #40
Our tiniest card ride yet! A Fiat 500, with two young adults who were going somewhere in Hungary (Gyor, I think)… We squeezed in the back seats with some difficulty and soon enough we were on another highway rest area where we hopped off.

Ride #41
We waited… We had no any plans nor anyone waiting for us in Bratislava, so going first to Vienna soon became a viable option, if we could find a car. So we took another piece of cardboard and wrote Vienna. Each one with a sign, we had just increased our chances of stopping a benefactor. Soon it worked. An Audi coupé slowed and rolled down the window. He was going through Bratislava!
What began as a mild small talk, soon transformed into an insightful and truly engaging conversation. From our travelling experiences down to the purpose of life, we went through it all.

And yes, he was an hitchhiker back in the days, too. 🙂

Thumb #14

From Timișoara (Romania) to Budapest (Hungary) – 317km

Ride #35
We had one of the longest days ahead. 317km to go! It was already past eleven in the morning when our host, Timotei, drove us to a gas station a bit out of the city where it would be easier to get a lift. And so we did. I approached a man who came in to refuel and simply asked if he could take us. He nodded. We hopped in for a 10 minute car ride, until the highway entrance.

Ride #36
Another bimmer, driven by a quite handsome guy. He was a talkative, well-mannered businessman of some sorts. Back in the days an hitchhiker as well. We got to share our impressions of Romania, and how people have plenty of misconceptions regarding the country and its people. We were driving along the highway and the good looking guy had to exit to the town of Arad, and so we did. He had already driven a bit further than he intended. We hopped of on a roundabout in the middle of nowhere.

We were stranded in the roundabout for a while. Very few cars were making their way to the highway. After a while we knew we would not be lucky hitchhiking from that place. I recalled one of the hitchhikers’ golden rules: If you are headed somewhere further on the highway and your driver has to exit before that, make sure to be dropped off on a rest area. Leaving the highway will make it more difficult to go back in.
Mistakes like this do happen and we must be resourceful enough to work around them. I checked my maps app and realised there was a highway entrance closer to Arad. We had to hitchhike back to get to it. We rewrote our sign and soon a car approached us.

Ride #37
A fairly young woman who spoke a little bit of English was our saviour! We hopped in for the short ride ahead of us. Soon she turned the wheel and we went off course… She swiftly drove through a rest area and before I understood what happened we were back on the main road… Eventually she mumbled something like “No money”, meaning that she had just avoided paying the toll. LOL

Ride #38
HELL! The energy drink I was given once we were again on the right tracks to Budapest. I drank it all as we were speeding along the highway heading to Hungary. The two man in the front seats were kind to drop us in the next gas station, as they were not driving to Budapest.

Ride #39
Hopelessness. Thirst. Cars passing by with no space available to take us. The time was running fast and we still had a few hundred quilometres to cover and a hostel in Budapest already paid that we could not afford to lose. Rest areas on the highway are supposed to make hitchhiking easy, but so far it had not been on our side.

Desperately looking for a sign…

Eventually we got lucky. A couple welcomed us into their car, as they were travelling to Vienna for holidays. At first they were not keen on driving through Budapest on the way to their destination, but soon night fell upon and they kindly took a small detour to leave us there.
Besides, they were, hands down, the two most romantic couple we met in our hitchhiking journey.
We also came to know why they stopped. A couple of minutes before that happened, I told my sister to untie her hair. This was the deal-breaker. The woman told us she very much likes curly hair, so when she saw my sister standing by, she told the husband to stop for us. What if my sister had not untied her hair? I guess we’ll never know that…

Coming in
Going in the closet, not out… @Budapest