The Sleepy Backpacker has moved…to a New Website!

Please visit me at http://www.thesleepybackpacker.com

My new site has every article from this site and tons more, with new articles, tips and travel advice being added every day!

Thanks for visiting me and Happy Travels! :)

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Everything is Changing!

I am currently in the process of setting up TheSleepyBackpacker website which will be accessable via http://www.thesleepybackpacker.com or http://www.thesleepybackpacker.co.uk

This should take around 2 weeks to get everything sorted out then I will be primarily using that site only and not this one…meaning this site will slowly fade away. On the plus side there will be a lot more content on my proper website so come back and visit the sleepybackpacker.com in a few weeks and see what we have!

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Photo of the Day: No I haven’t just robbed a policeman…they let me hold these!

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Helpful Police help us to Budapest!

24th May – Day 15

Got stopped by the police this morning, well…the local transport police. What resulted was a strange morning.

After our encounter with the Unidentified Running Monster the previous night, it was a bit of a sleepy start to the morning but tent packed up we headed back to the main road.

It didn’t take long for a car to stop but much to our surprise they were police, or rather transport police. Despite a lack of English we managed to communicate what we were doing and then they offered to take us to the local train station, despite us telling them we had no money for trains.

One of the men asked if I would like to sit on his lap as there was only a little bit of room in the back but with one look to Clare we decided between us that she would sit on my lap! Although light, she wasn’t the most comfortable thing to be sat on you in a car with limited space. Sorry Clare!

At the station Lojo & Tibor arranged for us to catch the train all the way to Budapest for free, but we had a few hours to kill before it arrived.

After a cup of coffee they soon started to show off their handcuffs and gun and we soon found ourselves handcuffed, but only to pose for a few photos. They seemed to be having a lot of fun, suggesting different photos we could do, but Tibor kept saying, don’t tell my wife, like we were doing something naughty or dodgy! He was a bit pervy at times and wanted lots of pictures, but we managed to keep him at bay.
When the train arrived it transpired that he would be travelling with us for a few stops so he helped us on and found us some seats. Here he allowed us to hold his gun. I’ve never held a real gun before and I must say, it was weird to do. You automatically want to aim and fire at something (not something living!) just to see how good you would be.

Soon the handcuffs came out again and he was completely surprised when Clare managed to slip out her small hand and essentially escape. Then it was my turn and to ensure there was no repeat escape he did mine up a lot tighter. In retribution after he unlocked the cuffs I quickly swooped, caught him off guard and handcuffed him to the train. Suffice to say I can now say I could totally take on the Hungarian transport police.

A few stations later and we finally said our goodbyes. We certainly felt more relaxed and enjoyed time to watch the beautiful countryside pass us by, with fields full of poppies and flowers, enjoying the slow but bumpy ride.

It took three hours to get to the outskirts of Budapest. By this time I was started to become exhausted. The past two weeks were starting to catch up with me and it was showing.I thought I was going to drop in the intense heat, 36 degrees Celsius and a large backpack do not mix. Outside the station it took ages to catch a lift to a park next to a bus/coach station and the motorway. Roland & Tibor, our driver, advised us this would be the best place to hitch from.

Being so homesick and feeling so ill we thought it wise that instead of hitchhiking right away to attempt to blag a lift on a coach back to England. We didn’t get anywhere with this and had to head back out to near the motorway and hope we could find a way to either get to Bratislava or Vienna.

Our next ride was with another Tibor, (what is with that name today?) who was German/French who drove us through Budapest to the outskirts so that we would have a better chance of getting another lift. He pulled up next to other hitchhikers, a popular stop, who eagerly came over when we got out to try and blag a lift. He quickly drove off after we thanked him, maybe he was worried his day would consist of simply giving lifts to hitchhikers!

The other hitchhikers were great. Turns out a group of friends just suddenly decided they wanted to go to Paris that day despite having no money so broke off into groups and agreed to meet up in Paris.

Here we waited a while. In my desperation to get home I decided to ask a few people stopping at the service station if they could help. Seeing a big land rover I took my chances and asked. The lady was going to Bratislava and agreed immediately. Two of the guys hitchhiking to Paris, Arun & Shoma, also saw the same opportunity and as it was a bit car decided to ask as well. Next thing we know is we are all snugly packed into the car and on the move to Slovakia.

We dropped the lads at a service station just before the border where we stopped for a quick toilet break, an odd place where you had to pay to use the loos, but where there were free loos right next door to?!

Arriving in Bratislava, Tunde stopped at a huge shopping centre where we decided to stop and camp up next to. With hours to kill until sunset we went inside to see if we could blag some food. Vladis, a nice chap in the ice-cream shop treated us both to an ice-cream and when we went up to the food court Lucia, one of the managers seemed fascinated in our adventure and not only provided us with a local speciality dish, but provided us with food for breakfast and arranged for some of the employees to take us back to the employees flat so we had somewhere safe to sleep and somewhere to shower.

We were simply overwhelmed with her kindness. She told us about how her husband was due in England soon for another attempt to swim the channel and told us about her life in Slovakia.

When the employees finished work they took us over the train station to this huge block of flats where we had to take turns to squeeze into the tiniest of elevators to get up to the flat. Not easy with a huge bag!

Everyone welcomed us kindly except for one odd guy in his dirty boxers who eyed us with caution. Joe, the man who took us there showed us the flat and then proudly showed us a 3D ultra scan picture of his unborn child. He explained that many people came from the poorer parts of Slovakia to the capital to find a job with a decent wage. They would use the flat for free and go home for a long weekend. He was such a kind hardworking man and so proud of his family and it was fascinating to hear about his life in Slovakia.

That night Clare and I shared a huge comfortable bed which was very welcomed and finally enjoyed a night of proper sleep.

Categories: Hitchhiking, Hungary, Slovakia | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo of the Day: They seem to have everything in Subotica!

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From Serbia to Hungary and an encounter with the Unidentified Running Monster!

Spent the day trying to get out of Serbia. Not easy!

Woken early in the morning to someone opening the bathroom door onto our feet. A disgruntled lorry drivers head peered round the door followed by a look of amusement and surprise. I don’t blame him; I don’t suppose it’s normal to find two female hitchhikers sleeping on the bathroom floor of a Turkish lorry stop!

Our task that morning was to head back up to the outskirts of Belgrade and around, taking the road north towards Hungary. As we planned this walking towards a bigger road we came across the most gigantic snail that I have ever seen in my life!

Our first ride this morning was a beautiful and big Chrysler. We got in and the driver introduced himself in a deep resonating voice. “I am Yueg. I am 2 point 2 metres. I need big car”!

Yueg and his deep resonating voice dropped us at a service station where we stayed for hours, unable to hitch a ride. The station staff were quite unpleasant and even had a go at me for smoking, just a way off from the station, even though they were smoking themselves…right next to the gas pump!

Thankfully after our 3 hour wait a man named Darko picked us up. He was a student of Psychology and told us how disappointed he was to find out that day he was turned down for a tourist visa to the US. Darko took us 20km up the road where we stuck out our thumbs to attempt to hitch our next ride.

Our next ride was with Alexander, also known as Sasha, who drove us for hundreds of miles through Northern Serbia past Novi Sad up to a border town of Subotica, a nice, clean town around 3 miles from the Hungarian border. He pretty much stopped outside his home in a large colourful block of flats and gave us some advice. He then said goodbye and headed upstairs to his wife and 9 month old daughter.

Outside we waited for a while with no luck with a lift, though we did manage to find huge ants to watch climbing a tree as we waited in the boiling sun. Giving up on this spot we headed on up the road where we came across a service station where we decided to refill with water.

Zoran – the manager of the service station, compelled by curiosity, came over to talk to us. Fascinated by our trip he let us use the internet and charge up my phone and before we knew it we soon had in front of us a feast! He had kindly cooked us each a Ham Omelette with chips and salad. Suffice to say the food disappeared quickly, having been our first hot meal in quite a few days. The strawberry juice was gorgeous and he topped up our bottles with it and sent us off with rolls for our breakfast the next morning, but not without treating us to a coffee before we left. We were so thankful for his kindness.

With the sun started to set we stuck out our thumbs hoping to make the Serbian/Hungarian border before nightfall. A customs official called Svalko stopped and took us 1km down the road (any lift forward is better than no lift) so that we were at a better hitchin’ stop. We were not there long. A lady, Hajualka Szenci, soon stopped for us having noticed we were English. She was happy to have us as she had just passed her English exam and it gave her a chance to practice. She dropped us at the border.

At sunset we crossed into Hungary on foot. It was now dark and only a handful of trucks and cars went past. We did try to ask in a place that looked like a guesthouse on where best to camp but it seemed ominous and deserted. Giving up we decided to go down a country road where out of sight we set up camp next to a forest.

This is where we heard the Unidentified Running Monster in the night! This was the one and only time we were scared on the whole trip.

As we went to sleep we heard twigs breaking and a large heavy footed animal running straight towards us. It stopped right next to the tent where my teammate and I lay in deadly silence, our panic alarm to the ready and penknife open as a backup.

Scared and exhausted we both eventually fell asleep. We still don’t know what it was but if anyone asks we always maintain that we totally took on and fought a rogue bear!


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Photo of the Day: Settling in to our 5* Serbian bathroom bedroom!

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Where better to sleep than a bathroom floor in a Turkish Lorry Stop in Serbia!

22nd May 2011 – Day 13

Awoke early in the morning in Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘The Birds’. Crows were everywhere! We had to be very careful to avoid being pooped on as we dismantled the tent.

We spent the morning with our new friends having a orange juice at the local café, now quite the celebrities with the locals and then headed out to do a little souvenir shopping. I ended up with a awesome bunny pirate top which I love. Our new friends had bought us some of the local food for us to sample, dumplings and pork which was delicious; we were certainly getting a taste of the real Bosnia.

In the day we also came across the smallest puppy we have ever seen and after a ten minutes of cuddles we soon realised it was late and we had to move on. We were so sad to leave Bosnia as the people are so friendly and with our final thank you’s and goodbyes we headed through the border and back over the bridge to Croatia.

With a small lift closer to the motorway we soon found ourselves walking back along the deceptively long road towards the motorway, much to my despair. After a half an hour waiting we thought we were in luck when a car started to slow until we realised it was a police car!

The police got out and in broken English explained that ‘autostop’ (hitchhiking) is illegal on the motorway. They were quite unsure as to what to do with us as they couldn’t leave us by the road but couldn’t take us with them either. We had to quickly show our passports and explain we were heading to the next service station to try and hitch another lift.

The situation was resolved when the police stopped a random coach and asked them to take us to the next service station 50 miles away! The coach driver seemed less than impressed but we thanked him and sat back in the reclining chairs enjoying our good fortune until we reached the service station. As we got out the people on the tour tried to get out also for a break but the driver refused to let them asking us to leave as soon as possible!

We had a long long wait at that service station. We were stuck there for hours. To kill time I pampered myself to a wet wipe bath and was horrified to find that in the process I lost half my tan. Now that was a lot of motorway grime!

Hours later, as darkness fell we managed to stop a two lorry convoy of Turkish BGL Lorries. They said we could come with them but had to go in one cab each as they are only allowed one passenger. Knowing this is not a safe thing to do we thanked them but refused to be split up. They seemed to understand and let us both in the first lorry. Our lorry driver was Selclik from Istanbul who talked about his lovely girlfriend back home. At the next lorry stop we met the other driver, Fevzi, also from Istanbul who spoke proudly of his children going to University.

We had previously been warned about Turkish lorry drivers but found the ones we met to be very friendly and respectful. They explained how they hated being away from home so much but that lorry driving bought in good money for their families and they were grateful to have a good job.

Fevzi particularly took a liking to my name; he seemed to enjoy saying it. ‘Em-MA, Em-MA, Problem? No problem!’ was all he could say, but it’s amazing how you can communicate with anyone through a smile, gestures and a impromptu game of Pictionary!

As we headed towards Serbia we drove through an awesome thunderstorm, in fact two thunderstorms, one each side of us and ended up arriving late in a Turkish Lorry driver stop just south of Belgrade in Serbia, the furthest point of our trip.

Fevzi and Selclik kindly treated us to a Turkish dinner, which was so tasty and then they asked the ladies in the café about where we could sleep. They too were very helpful and we said our goodbyes knowing that they would probably be gone by the time we woke up in the morning.

Couldn’t find anywhere to camp nearby so on the recommendation of the ladies in the café we ended up sleeping on the floor of the girls’ bathroom to the sound of tons of frogs croaking outside…classy!

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Photo of the Day: Our Signed Bench in Bosnia

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The Friendly People of Bosnia

21st May 2011 – Day 12

Set out from Pula this morning with a lift through the small villages of Stanko/Stanislov to Pazin with a lovely gentleman who had to stop briefly with vegetables and strawberries at his mother’s en route. From here a referee picked us up taking us to Reijki. Another ride to the motorway later a German gentleman drove us hundreds of miles back past Zagreb, where we had come from just the other day. He kindly lent us his laptop in the car so we were able to catch up with the World back home and let friends and family know we were ok.

We decided to head towards Bosnia and did not know what to expect at all. A lorry driver delivering cars took pity on us in a quick downpour and drove us all the way up to a crossroad which would let us head towards Bosnia. We were quite lucky with this as you are not allowed to hitchhike from the motorway and we’d gotten away with it so far.

What we found interesting was a amount of birds of prey sitting on the fence posts lining the road. It was almost as if they were guarding the border to Bosnia and gave us a somewhat ominous feeling. By then I was also badly missing my boyfriend and the homesickness did not help.

With no luck hitchin’ a lift to the border we had to walk along what was a deceptively long road, as I nearly collapsed under the weight of my bag. We continued to walk until we came across a service station where we stopped for a break.

The walk into Bosnia was very overcast. This added with the landmine warning signs, blown up houses and bullet holes in buildings gave a seemingly impending doom feeling. We had no idea what to expect from Bosnia, having grown up hearing about the wars there. We were relieved when Rojack stopped and took us across the bridge to the small border town of Bosnia called Gradiska. We decided to go no further into Bosnia and he kindly donated 50 Euros to our charity.

As the sun started to set we wandered a little until we found a bard where the locals let us use the internet and bought us a drink. We asked them about where would be the best place to camp for the night and they pointed us in the direction of the local park.

At the park some locals offered us a place to sleep but with our thanks we turned it down opting for the park instead. After a chill out on the swings we soon found ourselves surrounded by some local teenagers. Soon word spread that there were some English people in the park and we soon ended up with more visitors. The locals absolutely fascinated with us, apparently foreign people usually pass straight through the town rather than stay there.

Some older guys told us if we had any hassle in the park then to tell them and they will sort it out but we should be fine as it was a safe town. The teens practiced their amazing English on us and asked us about home. They even bought us so food to try which was lovely. I couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was to us, Bosnia by far has the nicest people I’ve met whilst travelling. Mid talk a young crow flew into the tree near us. One of the boys picked him up for us to see then we tried to help him to safety. He promptly flew into a swing and then a tree before finally managing to get to a low branch!

Afterwards the locals listened as we told them about Marie Curie and they told us about their charity, the Red Cross. We exchanged stickers and they asked us to sign the stickers on the bench before we left to set up the tent in a park for the night. Before they went I gave Mimi, a girl with very good English who wanted to become a doctor, a spare unused wallet which she loved and they arranged to meet us again in the morning before we left. In the night we heard wild dogs roaming about, but we were too tired to care and soon found ourselves drifting off to sleep.

 

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