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Katie_Louise "The only people for me are the mad ones" - Jack Kerouac

Turkish police, Turkish Universities and Roma Gypsies

MACEDONIA | Monday, 16 November 2009 | Views [861] | Comments [2]

Hello all.

Apologies on the lack of writing on this blog. The last time I wrote I was in Paris. Since then I have been to a music festival in Leeds (classy weekend ladies). Home. Amsterdam (again, classy times. CAF). Then back to Paris for a week because I couldnt get enough of it for the first time. Since then my travels have taken me through Northen and central Italy for a month...Riding scooters through the streets of Florence at night, Taking Italian lessons, looking at alot of renaissance art (where we discovered a woman who looks alot like me was present at the death of Jesus according to alot of renaissance artists...odd)flying to Sofia, Bulgaria then hitched to Bucharest, Romania to go to a Halloween party and hang out with a friend for a week.

This new section of my blog is for the last part of my trip. Its a mission of mine to hitchike from Istanbul, Turkey to Copenhagen, Denmark. Going through about 11 countries in less than 2 months to revisit friends I have made.

So far it is proving to be a rather eventful mission.

Had a fantastic time in Istanbul. I really want to move there ! Me and Jenny were staying on the Asian side with a rather lovely Turkish fellow who happened to be a male model. We met some very nice couchsurfers and had some pretty crazy nights out in Taksim (which then led to playing guitar next to lakes at 4 in the morning and sleeping on strangers sofas) and a rather amusing/terrifying encounter with a 50 year old Turkish woman in the Turkish Baths...I feel violated...Violated but clean.

Our first hitch was a disaster. We were aiming to go from Istanbul up to Sofia, Bulgaria in the day but it didnt happen.
It basıcally went lıke thıs -
9.00 -  me and Jenny left Gokhans house to go to our hıtchıng spot on the cıty outskırts.
12.00 - We arrıved on the cıty outskırts and stood next to a road leadıng to Edırne (whıch ıs a town exactly on the border).
12.05 - Picked up by a man who says he ıs goıng to Edırne.
12.15 - Thıs man took us to see 2 nıce polıce men... We dont know why. Next thıng thıs man drıves away and leaves us wıth these 2 polıce who are shoutıng at us ın Turkısh...Possıbly askıng us what we are doıng hıtchıkıng. We try and explaın that we enjoy hıtchıng. It all gets very confusıng and the man wıth the machıne gun phones the Brıtısh consulate. They tell us to go see them and that they wıll gıve us money for a traın or bus goıng to Edırne or Sofıa. We explaın that we enjoy hıtchıng and have done ıt all over europe wıth no problems. They laugh and tell us the polıce are beıng nıce.
Stıll confused by what ıs goıng on, the polıce put us and our bags ın the back of the van and gıve us bottles of water.
We speak to the brıtısh consulate agaın and ask them why on earth we are ın a polıce van and why we cant go back to our road and contınue hıtchıng agaın?
The polıce are fascınated by my Turkısh vısa ... We later fınd out that we dıdnt need one and ıt was just a border offıcıal beıng moody and makıng us get one !
1.45 The polıce say goodbye to us and put us ınto a car wıth an old muslım lady that we have just watched them pull over.
2.05 The muslım lady drops us off at a petrol statıon on the road to Edırne.
start hıtchıng agaın.
2.10 Pıcked up by a man who we assume ıs goıng to Edırne as he nods at the sıgn. After speakıng to thıs mans frıend on the phone we dıscover that he ıs goıng to Edırne ... But not tıl tomorrow. He drıves us to the bus statıon and offers to buy us tıckets to Sofıa.
2.40 - After refusıng hıs offer of a bus tıcket he hands us over to hıs frıend.
3.00 - we actually reach the moterway and arrıve to a few KM down the road from our actual startıng poınt !
3.30 - Thıs man drıves us for a whıle. Buys us water...Accordıng to hım 'Katıe ıs many sweet'  and 'Jenny ıs many beautıful'
3.50 - We get out of hıs car as he ıs goıng another way.
4.00 -  Pıcked up by a lorry. Drıver Turkısh delıverıng bottled water to Azerbaıjan. He speaks no englısh and has an extremley hıgh pıtched voıce. He ıs also obsessed wıth germs and makes us take shoes off and offers us many hand wıpes and germ kıllıng gels !
5.00 - The Turkısh man drops us off on the road to Edırne where we are then pıcked up by 3 men ın a movıng van. There ıs no room for me and Jen ın the van so 2 of the men move to the back lorry sectıon and me and Jen get to sıt up front.
7.00 - We arrıve ın Edırne and go to a mall to hıde from the nasty thunder and lıghtnıng storm whıch ıs ın full swıng !
7.10 - We are sat ın cafe drınkıng caramel coffee and usıng wıfı to emergency search a sofa on couchsurfıng. Joın a last mınute Edırne group and gıve Jennys phone number out.
7.11 - We get a reply from a man called Fatıh who tells us ıf we fınd no where else we are very welcome wıth hım. It turns out that he ıs actually a frıend of a frıend . Our Sweedısh frıend Magnus stayed wıth hım a few weeks ago, and emaıled to tell us how lovely Fatıh and hıs frıends are. Also turns out our Turkısh frıend Ozan who we met wıth Magnus ın ıstanbul goes to unı wıth Fatıh and they are studyıng for an exam together ! We decıde stayıng wıth Fatıh wıll be a good move sınce he comes so hıghly reccommended lol.
7.15 -  Jenny gets alot of phonecalls on her mobıle from a Turkısh number.
7.20 -  2 Turkısh men show up at the mall and say they saw our emergency post and they can host us. We tell them to go away and they do. However contınue to text jenny wıth ınformatıon such as 'we have a car'.
8.00 - We eat alot of chıcken at the mall

It all worked out for the best in the end though. We had a fantastic time in Edirne. We even ended up teaching a class at a Turkish University. We had to speak to a class of about 30 20 year olds about our travels. Tell them all about Couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.org for more information) and hitchiking. Then answer any questions they may have such as "what football team do you sipport?" That was fun to explain Nottingham Forest, then listen to the teacher translate to the class that Forest used to be good but no so much anymore =P

When we finally left Edirne the hitch to Sofia was alot more successful. We met 2 unemployed Bulgarian teachers whose job is now to drive to Turkey often to get cheap ciggerettes and sell them back home. A lovely truck driver who gave us oranges. Then finally an obese man dove us into Sofia city.

When we were in Sofia we met up with Lissa who has flown out to join us for the last month of this trip. It was amazing to see her again! Wifeyyy!

Once the 3 of us were ready we hitched from Sofia to Skopje, Macadonia. Fun trip. Met a cool man who drove quick, spoke english and was blasting Limp Bizkit. Crossed the border on foot. Were told by the Macadonian border police that we need to register our stay with the police in Skopje. We decided against this as once we arrived in Skopje we would be staying with a charity organisations house in a friends spare bed...We decided against the police and took the risk of the 1000 euro fine. 

The last lift into Skopje was with 2 mental driving yet charming Macadonian boys. They needed to stop the car every 5 minutes to pee at the side of the road. Just before we entered Skopje they got a flat tyre. Instead of kicking us out to find a new lift they actually called up there brother to drive out and pick the 3 of us up and take us to where we needed to be, was very thankful to them and hope they got their tyre sorted !

First stop once we arrived in Skopje was to a party. Very multicultural. There was a rather crazy Estonian boy there who spent the whole night trying to teach us how to speak in "broken English" I was rather good and progressed to level 2 =P ("I am a retard...What are my options ?")

We were staying with a charity group in Skopje who publish magazines for young people about life in Macadonia for the youth and help out with Roma Gypsies. We had some great nights drinking wine at an ancient fortress and hanging out at the house jamming and drinking Rakia (lethal).

Skopje itself has a lot of character. Its so pretty but at the same time an eye sore with lots of building work.
On sunday we were ambushed by a group of 5 Roma children begging for money which of course we didnt give them. After this they followed us for a while trying to get into our handbags and pockets. Luckily my hand bag was to well protected for their sneaky little hands. Unfortunatly one of them managed to get in my pocket and take one glove. Just one.
It was later given back to me though (bless the little horror). I guess they have no call for gloves. It makes thieving harder !

Today we left Skopje and hitched to Kosovo (Prishtina, home away from home). Its so great to be back here even though its strange not to be with all the same people. We had no trouble passing over the Macadonian border despite not registering. We hitched with a speedy german man who spent pretty much the whole trip on the left side of the road (wouldnt have been a problem except that in Macadonia they drive on the right!). Then once passing through the Kosovo border we got a lift with a woman with a prosthetic leg. We stated to them from the beginning that we had no money and were hitching. However we did run into some difficulty when trying to leave the car, the woman wanted money from us . After a rather heated confrontation we walked away giving her the equivilent of 2 euros in macadonian denar.

Wow what a post. Will try my best to update the blog until I get home in December.

 

Tags: borders, bulgaria, hitchiking, kosovo, macadonia, police, roma, turkey

Comments

1

I love you and Jenny so much and wish I could be there too - sounds like you're having a blast!

That was the funniest thing I've read in yonks.

xx

  Kell Nov 21, 2009 5:28 AM

2

Oh wow! You do have some adventures hitching!
incredibly jealous of you girls and missing you muchly - you better bring us all presents back from the Christmas markets :P
xxx

  Katherine Nov 30, 2009 4:39 AM

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