Heading to somewhere pretty soon!
Athens? Dublin? Paris? Madrid? Cherokee?
Heading to somewhere pretty soon!
Athens? Dublin? Paris? Madrid? Cherokee?
Ahead of Christmas I came home to find this in the mailbox.
Written in German and addressed to me and my sister:
Liebe Catherina, Lieber Viktor, viele liebe Grüße aus sendet Euch Wilfried + Maia aus Ungarn. Danke für Euren Kartengruß gut zu wissen, dass ihr gut wieder in Portugal angekommen seid. Zu den Feiertagen alles Gute und ein gesundes Neue-Jahr 2018.
Mr. Wilfriend wrote us!
My friend Mafalda and I bought the plane tickets to the city of Love without much thinking. It was one of those “let’s do it now or never” moments. It would be a weekend getaway to celebrate her 23rd birthday.
Early on Saturday morning, while the city still slept, we found ourselves at Lisbon Airport.
Our adventure had already began the evening before, with Mafalda celebrating her anniversary with a late dinner at a Nepalese restaurant (quite a good one!). Of course, the candles were only blown once the clocks announced midnight.
Once we landed, off we went straight to the Eiffel Tower. Going up was not in our plans (I have been already) since it was quite expensive and we were on a low-cost mindset. Paris’ recent history with terrorist attacks, the city was on defensive mode… plenty of military strolling around, the ground area around the Eiffel was limiting the access only to paid visitors who had to go through a tight security check. We’d better enjoy the view from a bit further.
We crossed the Seine to the Trocadéro area. Sun was high and warm. Laying down on the grass, treating ourselves to a sunbath sounded plausible, but we had to keep on going. Resting only once we’d be back in Portugal!
We try to chase down all the freebies. Checking out my square and avenue was one of those. Arc de Triomphe soon followed.
From the top of the Arch, I saw a skyline of high-rise buildings further down one of the main boulevards (later learned to be part of the Axe historique). In between those glass towers stood the Grand Arche de La Défense, a modern, 20th century reinterpretation of the famous old Arch. Having a knack for modern architecture and having heard of it before, I immediately wanted to go there.
Soon it was time to grab something to eat. We found a supermarket where we bought some goods and went towards the cube. Along the way we found a park, Bois de Boulogne, were we decided to stop. I put out my blanket (one of the perks of flying business class…) and we had an healthy meal together. The only things missing were baguette, cheese and wine, in order to make it extra French.
With our energy levels restored we walked down 5km to La Défense. This modern neighbourhood was bustling with people, commerce… life! I have always been fond of modern architecture, having in the past the dream of becoming an architect even, so I felt welcomed in this place, trying to breath in as much as possible. Once we cooled off (we had walked for long under the Parisian heat) we headed to the subway to get to Montmartre.
Mafalda had always been hooked on Amélie but so far she never had the chance to visit the café in Montmartre where the protagonist worked as a waitress, le Café des 2 Moulins. A beer kept us company while we enjoyed people watching.
Beer glass empty gave us an extra boost to keep on exploring the area. We walked up to Sacré-Cœur where we were crammed with hundreds of other passers-by. Rubbing sweaty shoulders with one another was definitely leaving me uncomfortable. Down to la Place de la Bastille, we had the time to do some window-shopping and to count dozens of African hair-salons in one single street. How does one try to differentiate from the another one next door?
€35 poorer after being fined at the Métro, we got to the square where once stood the Bastille prison, destructed at the end of the 18th century, during the French Revolution. The kebab I had for dinner was no help to my cranky mood. Mafalda introduced me to the Algerian couple, Med and Karima, she had met during the summer in one of her hitchhiking trips.
A few beers by the Seine accompanied by the ukulele played by the passionate Med helped to lift my spirits a bit. The evening was already long, but our day was far from over.
We sad goodbye to Med and Karima and promised to be back in a couple of hours. We took the L1 subway heading east until we reached the final station, Château de Vincennes. We walked for what it seemed like forever by the curb of a road that crossed a dense forest, or something alike. It was around 2 a.m.. and we were presented with the creepiest episode: an old man slowly pushing an old woman in a wheelchair. I have to remind you that we were kind of in the middle of nowhere at 2 a.m.. Scary encounter aside, we moved on and soon reached our intended destination. Mafalda met the French and off we went to Rouen, a short 2,5 hours drive.
Rouen is a beautiful, picturesque city that reminded me a lot of Germany with its cute wooden houses. We walked around, had lunch, walked a bit more and soon we had to catch the bus.
Back to Paris. We met again with Med and Karima for moules et frites at their cute little one-room apartment. The perfect ending to our Parisian getaway.
Wanderlusting facts & figures
- 2 siblings
- 41 days
- 13 countries
- 2 flights
- 4599 kilometres travelled
- 2763 kilometres by hitchhiking (48 rides!)
- 1836 kilometres travelled on 7 trains and 2 buses
- First time hitchhiking on a truck!
- 40 nights
- 10 nights Couchsurfing
- 5 nights with friends and families
- 9 nights wild camping
- 2 nights on a campsite
- 12 nights on hostels and guesthouses
- 1 night sleeping (or trying, at least) on a bus
- 1 night sleeping under the stars
- Black riding dozens of public transportation
- Lost (& not found)
- 1 mirrorless camera in Geneva (Vitor)
- 1 shirt in Vaduz (Catarina)
- 1 t-shirt in Verona (Vitor) – deliberately…
- 1 pair of swimming trunks (Vitor) – deliberately…
- 1 bottle of water in Venice (Vitor)
- 1 hoodie in Budapest (Vitor)
- Stranger things
- We saw an accident live!
- Thought we were going to be kidnapped by a Russian in Albania
- Climbed 11 mountains/mounds/hills.
- Wrote twice on a complaint’s book
12 messages from my mobile service provider welcoming me to each of the 12 countries visited. Yeah, in the end it was 13 countries. But in one of those I did not turn on my data plan… Can you guess which one?
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.
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.