I just came back from a small trip to Kavalla in north-eastern Greece and Ayvalik, a small fisher town built by Greek people on the Turkish Aegean coast. It was good to be on the road again for a while, eat some dust, camp out and get the kick of the car slowing down for you.
Along the way I was picked up by several old men in trucks or vans (only speaking Turkish/Greek), a burek baker delivering his stuff to the border station at night, a car trailer van (an interesting breed of drivers), a German couple driving a huge caravan with a tiny dog inside (caravans never stop usually, but this one I overtook a few times in faster cars, and the third time they thought that is quite amusing and picked me up), a young accountant paying the ferry for me (thanks again!), two times a police man off duty (one going to attend the heart transplantation of his four year old child, the other driving to the funeral of his sister), two bus wind shield technicians speeding down the roads carrying four wind shields 1000 EUR a piece and a gas truck driver (“When this blows up there is nothing you can do, but to drive away very fast. Several square kilometres will be wasteland.”).
The border crossing into Greece was somewhat special (I had to leave and re-enter the country to renew my tourist visa after 3 months). It was dark already when I walked the last few kilometres towards the border and an enormous wind made it almost impossible to walk. There I was, flying around the empty straight road, slowly advancing forward, mummed up in my clothes, trying to hitch-hike while being pushed off the street. It must have been a frightening sight for the — very few — cars passing by. I had my fun and played with the storm until the baker man stopped and gave me a lift. The structures at the border station were shaking in the wind, toll bars breaking, things were flying around. Everyone had expressions of “yey, there is not going to be school tomorrow” in their faces and waved me through without hassle.
The night on my way to Ayvalik I was stuck at some petrol station in the middle of nowhere. There were about 150 km to go, so I camped on a field behind a little hill. The next morning, I walked down to the street, literally the first car stopped and brought me all the way to Ayvalik. Insert some cosmic energy here please. 🙂
Hitch-hiking worked very well during the trip, as soon as I was standing at the right spot I never waited longer than half an hour. But to get to the right spot sometimes took a few kilometres of walking. After Bengue joined me on the way back from Ayvalik to Istanbul today actually waiting times dramatically reduced to minutes and usually one of the first 5 cars stopped.
Oh, about the headline: It’s my birthday today and on Friday I will have a little party at the Tuenel art cafe in Taksim, Istanbul. Come along if you read this!