Early bird catches the… ride!
The first few golden beams of early sunshine were gently caressing the shiny drops of morning dew on the grass, birds started to sing their melodies to say hello to the new day and those f*cking goddamn giant metal church bells (from the end of part three) were doing their best to wake us up from our sweet, sweet dreams, cause us a heart attack and crack some windows and glasses with a sonic wave in the process.
There is no chance of falling asleep again, so we start packing our sleeping bags. There are some people at the church parking lot nearby, giving us weird and confused looks, but we don’t mind. We buy food in the Lidl supermarket nearby and have a picnic on the grassy spot in front of the main entrance. After eating, we indulge ourselves in the creative activity of producing a new hitchhiking sign.
“Those overly altruistic drivers are probably very common here in Poland,” I think to myself as we’re sitting in a car driving north, not even 20 minutes after finishing the breakfast. The driver was coming from a side road when we crossed his path. He noticed our sign on Viki’s backpack and offered to take us halfway to Białystok. He might have been expecting some jolly young folks to talk with while driving (he was alone in the car), however, I fell asleep after 5 minutes of the ride. We get out in some random small village after about 1,5 hour ride. Viki tells me she fell asleep as well. It felt kinda awkward and I started to feel sorry for the driver.
The next car took us straight to Suwałki , the last city before the borders. It was a beautiful dark green mercedes coupe from the 90’s. We get in the car and join a cheerful couple, thirty-something years old, going on a trip. They are pretty talkative and the time in the car passes fast. We make a small stop in a town called Augustow to get an ice cream, where we also get to meet their friends with kids, who are traveling in a second car all the way with us.
In Suwałki, we immediately locate the best burger kitchen. The place is called Wół i Buła. Lunchtime was a couple of hours ago, so we order the biggest burgers with fries. Mine is with peanut butter, kinda unusual, but surprisingly good. They also make sweet potato fries!
Getting to Latvia.. uhh I mean Lithuania!
At the north end of the city, we stumble upon something like “official hitchhiking place” marked with all kinds of traveler stickers. With a simple sign saying LT, we soon stop an old, russian-speaking man in a quite old car. He’s from Bulgaria and used to work as an engineer for airplanes. He keeps smoking and talking, so we’re just looking at him and nod, trying to understand what’s he saying.
It’s already dark outside, when we arrive to the second biggest city in Lithuania – Kaunas. The driver asks where are we staying for the night. We say that we only have a tent, so we agree to get off somewhere among the fields and villages on the outskirts.
Sleeping in Kaunas suburbs
He leaves us near some motel on a parking lot. It seems that the motel is abandoned. Actually, the whole location looks very abandoned. There are huge clouds of fog moving around, so our headlamps are useless in here.
We walk further towards the town through a dark forest. There is some recently established and still growing settlement of new houses and villas. We find a sign at the entrance to this neighborhood, but we can’t understand shit in this weird language. After a while, we found a nice place under a tree, great for camping! I’m ’bout to unpack my tent, when we notice a pair of eyes staring at us from the dark. It’s a really big German sheperd dog, only about 10 meters from us. He casually walks away when he sees us and disappears in the nearest street. That was quite unsettling, but we are still determined to camp here. Suddenly, he walks out from another street behind us. Okay, let’s not mess around with this doggo and go away.
After like 30 minutes of walking through another forest, we get to a settlement with small blocks of flats from the soviet era. We find the utmost block and set our tent in a small grove next to this block. It is a really nice place, I’m glad we didn’t stay in the previous one to play with our four legged friend.
The next day starts as we go to get some goods like a canned salmon at the Mega shopping center in Kaunas. They also have a biggest aquarium with sharks there. I don’t like shopping centers much, but this one is cool.
After having a brunch on a bench in the shopping, we move to a nearby petrol station. The first truck driver we ask agrees to take us to the Latvian borders. His name is Tadas. He is a young 28 years old dude, speaks english, and generally, it’s a fun ride with him, he has lots of stories from traveling around Europe with the truck (even though he admits it’s a dull job and wants to quit soon..). Viki sits in the back and hides behind the curtains from time to time, when we pass the cops.
As we are getting closer to the border, Tadas changes his mind and decides to take not only to the borders, but straight to Riga (he didn’t want to, as he was afraid of getting a fine at the border, but he seems to like our company 😀 ).
We say goodbye to Tadas at some station near Riga. Soon we hitch the last short ride of today, which takes us straight to the city centre. Viki managed to book us a hostel in Riga while we were in the truck. This one is more expensive than in Ukraine, 5€ per person!
The awesomestestest city
After the first hour of walking around this beautiful city, I’m still in awe. This is so far the best place we’ve visited on our trip. The architecture is very different than in the previous countries, it has something like a Scandinavian, or maybe northern style. There are so many narrow streets where you can aimlessly wander forever. Also, there is the river Daugava in the centre, which is especially beautiful during the sunset. There are not many tall buildings or skyscrapers around and the city feels very spacious thanks to that. Cozy small coffee shops can be found on every corner. The city gives a very vibrant and lively impression. We even stumble upon some students parade on one of the squares. They are marching with torches, huge drums and all that stuff. It’s no wonder that almost 1/3 of the Latvian population lives in this awesome city.
Oh, we still didn’t have a burger today!
As you may have noticed, we are really keen about trying a burger in every country. I don’t want to sound so biased towards Riga, but even the burgers we had in here were the best ones on this trip.
It’s already dark outside and the city lamps, along with all kinds of small lights hanging from literally anything, start to shine. We check the tripadvisor to find the best restaurant for a reasonable price. It was a mistake. The restaurant is underground, huge and overcrowded. They are pretty expensive, starting at 8€ for the cheapest meal. We quickly leave this place and move on. Just a few steps from there, we find a real burger lovers’ Mekka. It’s a small place called “Late Night Munchies”.
The cook, the owner and the manager are probably one person. The whole place is probably not bigger than my dorm room, it can fit around 10-15 people, but looks awesome with polaroid photos of the owner with happy customers all over the wall and a shiny neon sign on the opposite one. We get our burgers soon. If I think of the taste of my burger, the words like fairytale, heaven, wonderland and paradise come to my mind.We finish the night sitting by the river with the bottle of wine from Ukraine.
Tomorrow, we plan to go to Tallinn, which is 300km up north. So far we hitchhiked over 1200km from Uzhhorod, so this should be a piece of cake. You’ll read all about how we got to Tallinn and back home to Slovakia (with a day stop in Krakow) in the last part of this series, coming out soon!
Till then, how about pimpin’ up your facebook wall with some share links to this blog? 😉