No Visa, No Entry – Hitchhiking around a country.
Someone has to make up the 0.1% in statistics when they say “you have a 1 in 1000 chance of something going wrong”, I am that 0.1%.
Some funny things have happened to me in the last 4 years on the road, luckily no permanent damage. Since I have been traveling with Alya there has been less disasters, but funny things still happen. Here I will share some of those stories with you.
NO VISA, NO ENTRY
One of my favourite things traveling in Europe was meeting up with all my friends that live in this part of the world. Alya went home for a while and I was traveling alone in Europe. While I was in Budapest, Hungary a good Italian friend Federica was going camping at Kobarid in Slovenia to go kayaking for the weekend. This did not look too far from Budapest and I decided to meet up with her. My plan was to take a bus to the capital, Llubljana and hitchhike or bus the last couple of hours through the countryside to Kobarid. I bought a ticket for the next morning, my bus left at 05:30 giving me plenty of time to make it before dark.
This disaster started the night before, I met some people and ended up drinking way to much beer. I only made it back to my backpacker’s about 3 hours before I had to start moving to the bus station. Half dead I navigated through the city by public transport, sipping on a cup of coffee. I was very relieved when I made it to the bus in time and fell asleep immediately. Bliss, I had six hours to sleep before worrying about traveling the last little bit from Llubljana to Kobarid. I woke up very surprised and confused after about 2 hours’ drive, we were at a border post about to cross into Croatia! When I bought the ticket I thought we were crossing from Hungary straight into Slovenia, both Schengen countries, not driving through Croatia to Slovenia! Even with my cognitive abilities severely impaired by too much alcohol and a lack of sleep I realized that I had a whole list of problems. The most immediate being that I did not have the appropriate visa. There were 2 more South Africans on the bus, 2 young farmer’s wives on a European holiday. They planned before to go to Croatia and also had no visa, now I was not sure, maybe we don’t need them anymore? The bus stopped and an official started collecting our passports. The 2 girls in a similar dilemma for some reason made me feel a little bit better. My strategy was to smile, play it cool and pray for a miracle. One of the officials called about 5 of us, neither of the girls, to ask us some questions. I explained my situation, that I was going to Slovenia and was not aware that the bus was passing through Croatia. They told me to get back on the bus, nobody offered any explanation. I was very happy when the bus started moving, it was very hot outside and sitting in the air conditioned bus I thought my requested miracle had happened! I started worrying when I realized that we were driving in the wrong direction. We entered a small town and the bus soon stopped at a bus station, so much for my prayer being answered. The bus driver told me to get off and unloaded my backpack; I argued without any success for a refund on my bus ticket. The bus left and now I was in a bad situation. Tired and hung-over in the heat with no busses going around Hungary to Slovenia, hitchhiking was my only option.
I started walking out of the little town and got a ride to the freeway quickly, things were looking up! From here my hitchhiking nightmare can become a long, boring story about all the places that I stood for hours next to the road. Since then I have hitchhiked very long distances in many different countries all over the world and this was still my worst hitchhiking days ever. I packed a bottle of water and a sandwich that I finished early on. Starving, sunburned and hung-over I made slow progress one short ride at a time. I did not have internet so the Google Maps on my phone was of limited use. I went into coffee shops in small towns with internet to use their wi fi to navigate with my phone. Along the way I walked long stretches, 5 to 10km at a time to get to spots with better hitchhiking potential. I finally arrived in Llubljana at about 2am, checked into backpackers and started moving again at 5:30am. It was another long day of hitchhiking with few cars going to this beautiful remote destination in the mountains. I will never forget the amazing ride that ended this painful trip. I was standing next to a bridge on a narrow road winding through the mountains when a big tourist bus slowly crossed the bridge. I turned around as it went past me. I was looking away when I heard someone shout ‘so are you coming or what?’ The air conditioned bus was filled with young guys, a Llubljana University Football team going on a team building weekend! There was a great vibe in the bus,music was playing, they gave me a Red Bull and some snacks and the bus dropped me off in front of the gate of the camp site where I was heading!
*The 2 South African girls probably did not have problems because they had multiple entry Schengen visas. My problem was not that I did not have a visa for Croatia, it was that I had a single entry Schengen. I would thus not be allowed back into the Schengen zone after entering Croatia.
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