Discovering the new continent

Discovering the new continent

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We were waiting for the first car in Turkey for about 15 minutes. It was the longest time we have waited for a car. And despite all warnings, when a big bus with five guys inside stopeed for us, we got in without hesitation. One of them could even say a few sentences in English. They took us straight to Edirne. When the car stopped, I jumped out with Darek (my backpack’s name) on the back and my knees crumbled. Wiola jumped out smoothly from the bus just after me, and one of the men moved Jurek with a serious face. And only the twitching vein on his forehead betrayed, that this 15 kilogram makes any impression on him.

We took money from the ATM and went into “Waffle Art” bar in search of the Internet. Waitress frightened of English ran for her boss. The owner told us about his travels to the United States. He gathered an impressive collection of license plates during these trips and he used them to decorate the bar. We drunk lemonade served in my favorite pots (I have seen better ones only in the bar “Enklawa” in Tomaszow Mazowiecki) and moved off toward the hostel ‘Lemon’. We spent the evening talking to a girl from New Zealand and a receptionist who communicated with us with the help of Google Translate. The girl claimed that in the same way he even offered her a massage.

We made quite controversial decision that from Edirne we would go straight to Bolu, leaving Istanbul behind us. The situation in Turkey is unstable and for our own and our parents comfort we gave up visiting the Istanbul. At least now we have a good reason to come back to Turkey. ;) We took a minibus (marshrutka), which was brilliantly stopped by us in front of the police station… Well-built policeman with a big gun on his chest approached us immediately. He asked us about the trip and suggested only to pass around 300 meters, because of his boss. We got a big smile for goodbye and we just left.  We barely managed to sit on backpacks and empty bus stopped. The driver asked us only if we want to go to the bus station or hitch-hike further and he brought us straight on the highway. A few minutes later we saw a white BMW reversing for us.  Turkish man got out to help us with backpacks and for our luck asked whether we speak English. It turned out that he was a former hitchhiker “repaying” a debt of gratitude. Wiola felt so comfortable with him that she asked him a question about our appearance. But he just calmed us down and added only – Do not wear shorts and you will be ok. We learned a lot about politics and the president of Turkey, which our driver described with words – “he wants to be  f****** Sultan!”. Erdogan deserved such words by building a palace in Ankara, which has more than 1,000 rooms (checked info). Once again we landed on the perfect spot for hitch-hiking … we just had to cross the highway. Traffic at the gates was small, so it was quite easy, and our driver took our backpacks on the other side.

We didn’t know yet what comes with our idea to pass through Istanbul. Several cars stopped for us and despite the card with the name Bolu, they would necessarily take us to the capital. In the end, we got with the small truck just before Istanbul and we were stubbornly standing in front of a gas station with a card “Bolu”.After three minutes old Renault stopped for us with a smiling driver inside. Omer was Kurd returning to his home in Ankara. We taught him a phrase “Let’s go!”, which turned out to be quite useful during numerous  stops. Despite the language barrier we became friends with Omer and we were joking for the entire time spent together. Mainly about the condition of his car, systematically overtaken by other cars, trucks, lorries and other wonders. Every time Omer just imitated the sound of a car. When in the end, maybe twice, we overtook a car, we were all loudly cheering. We arrived late in Bolu, so Kurd wouldn’t allow us to go alone to the hotel. In the city centre his Reanult acted like Formula1. After some time we managed to find cheap accommodation, and Omer negotiated a better price. As soon as he became convinced that we are safe, he drove away.

Mosque in Safranbolu, Turkey
Mosque in Safranbolu, Turkey

The next day we arrived in Safranbolu, a town full of houses remembering the times of Ottoman. Even if our guesthouse was only pretending to be backpackers’ hostel, we’ll have good memories from Safranbolu. We couldn’t enter the mosque, so we were discussing our plans in the middle of the street. Suddenly we heard – Excuse me, do you speak Polish? Slight accent telegraphed that he was a Turk, but we were totally surprised. For a second we thought he was typical pushy salesman. We heard a lot about them, but didn’t meet anyone. The guy quickly continued the conversation – Really? Are you from Poland? Come on, you have to talk to me. I must practice Polish. Atahan comes from Safranbolu and works as a tour guide there during holidays, but he lives in Poland and study English in Warsaw. It was nice to meet someone with whom you can speak your native language and Atahan can speak Polish and despite minor errors with conjugation, we almost couldn’t hear a foreign accent. We talked a while and our new friend had to go back to work. We regreted that we have already booked accommodation and we had to move on, because we got an invitation to explore the area together.

Blacksmith shops are still in use in Turkey
Blacksmith shops are still in use in Turkey

We arrived in Kastamonu where we experienced the only stressful situation throughout Turkey (not to lose vigilance). Previous driver dropped us off at an average place for hitch-hiking further, but so far we didn’t have any difficulties, so we nonchalantly sat down on the roadside and waited for the next ride. A bunch of 12-year-olds came to us with a guy with a broken arm, a little older than us. Children teased with us a little bit, in the style that we like to call “young Alvaro” and then just left. But the guy with wrist loop came back and tried to explain to us that we are on the wrong path and he would lead us to a better place. Initially we refused, because we knew that this was another 2km with heavy backpacks on our backs. The guy persisted so we started to walk. I checked navigation every momemnt and everything would be fine if a new companion didn’t start to behave strangely. I felt that he was trying to blow my ear, and when he put his hand on my hip I pushed him a little bit with my backpack. We started to panic, because although a couple of times we tried to lose him, he appeared again around the corner. When he approached Wiola I had to push him again with my backpack and since then we have both knew it was time to evacuate somehow. We just reached the right way and I thought we would catch a car before he goes back. I stopped one car and tried to talk to the driver, but he didn’t speak English. Then in the opposite window I saw the guy with a broken arm talking to the driver in Turkish. This made us even more stressed. We didn’t know what was happening and what he really said. We decided just to get in and drive away even a kilometer. We were surprised, because when we started to get in the car our stalker left. But the driver looked confused, so we got out, hoping that the guy won’t notice. Unfortunately, he returned and when we caught a taxi to simply leave, the situation repeated. But we did not want to continue this  forever, so we took safe taxi. The driver was a little surprised when after 3 kilometers we wanted to get out in the middle of nowhere, but he only smiled. After a few minutes we had already next car. That day we managed to get to Corum with truck driver and three young, nice Turks who have little calmed down our negative thoughts after the first incident on the road.

After a night in Corum we were heading Trabzon from where we wanted to go to Georgia. This time we caught a bus, which was not quite aware that we are hitch-hikers. However, a nice guardian of passengers talked to the driver and got us a free ride after he discovered that we are traveling around the world. It was in this bus took care of us three Iraqi children.

Turcja dzieci z Iraku
Our new Iraqi friend :)

We arrived in Trabzon with a calm Ali. Although he looked quite scary, he turned out to be adorable, warm guy. He took us to the door of the hostel, left his number in case of any problems and was truely worried if everything will be fine with us. The next day when we walked around Trabzon, we wanted to leave as soon as possible. 150 km on a single seat gave us a hard time, but we got really close to Georgia. To say goodbye to Turkey we drove through the city of Rize, where president Erdogan comes from. Each bridge and footbridge, each lantern and any large building was “decorated” with the image of the leader with the Turkish flag as a background. The last driver took us to the border, although he lives 20 km before. We left Turkey, knowing that we will come back to this country of extremely helpful and caring people.

Iza&Wiola
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We've met each other during classes the least associated with our faculty at the university and it couldn't be an accident. Silly grinning at our English teacher telling about his hitch-hiking adventures, we haven't known yet that we will begin to travel together. The series of unfortunate events made us share a tent, a camera and memories. Now almost nothing can stop us from hitch-hiking.

Iza&Wiola
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