Europe

Here you’ll find lots of articles about my hitchhiking and kayaking travels in Europe. As you may know, Europe is my ‘homing’ continent where I’ll – like a stinky pigeon – always return to even if I’m trying to stay away from it. And to be honest, it’s not bad; there’s always more to explore.

I undertook many of my trips around Europe while at university in Maastricht (the Netherlands) and Aarhus (Denmark). That’s why I dropped out. I honed my hitchhiking skills here and set the most personal records and firsts such as:

  • First solo hitch: from Kirkenes Airport in Norway to Kirkenes town with a military guy with his son
  • Longest distance hitched in 24 hours: ~1200 kilometers from Maastricht (the Netherlands) to somewhere east of Lubljana (Slovenia)
  • Most hours in one ride: 3 days with one British driver with a rental car in southern Spain and Portugal (his contract said he couldn’t take the car across the border)
  • First plane hitch: over Malta (A to A)
  • Longest sailing yacht hitch: from Corfu (Greece) to Malta, which was 340 nautical miles over 2.5 days. Here’s my CrewBay profile

Besides hitchhiking, I also kayaked a long distance in Europe down the Danube river in an inflatable canoe named Zucchini. But before I did that trip with my partner Jonas, I returned to university to finish my degree to erase my student debt. Thesis here.

As you can see, it’s not always a fun continent for me; it’s also the locus of worry about the people and pets I’m close to, of bureaucratic fuckery, and of most of my childhood memories. For most of my life, Europe has tied me down. Now I’m trying to experience it from a place of choice and freedom.

If you are not interested in the Danube trip, you can click this link to not show the Danube posts.

Chernihiv to Kharkiv via Sumy by Thumb (Ukraine)

These events happened on the 19th and 20th of August, 2021. We were hitchhiking in Ukraine. The first day, we hitchhiked from Chernihiv to Sumy. On the second day, we finished our trip from Sumy to Kharkiv.  Contents1 The Plan2 Day 1: Hitchhiking from Chernihiv to Sumy2.1 Departure to the hitchhiking spot2.2 The angry lady2.3 Hitchhiking to Kulykivka (Sasha)2.4 Kulykivka to M02/E101 intersection at Nizhyn (Vladimir)2.5 Intersection to Bilopillya (Sergei + Valery)2.6 Bilopillya to Sumy (Pyotr)2.7 Exploring Sumy (until it rained)3 Day 2: Sumy to Kharkiv3.1 Packing up, again. Uklon to the hitchhiking spot, again3.2 To Kharkiv? No, butContinue reading

My First Time Shooting Guns: Glock 19, AK-47, Sniper Rifle, and Shotgun (Kyiv, Ukraine)

These events happened on Tuesday, the 3rd of August, 2021. We had booked a shooting guns activity at a shooting range outside of Kyiv. This is what to expect from this activity and the four different guns we fired. Note that this was my first time shooting guns and that I do not know the correct terminology for a lot of actions/gun parts. If you have corrections/mansplanations, please drop them in the comments! Booking the Activity After booking our trip to Chornobyl, Jonas found out that you can also shoot Kalashnikovs in Kyiv. This is something he has wanted toContinue reading

Celebrating My Birthday in Kyiv, Again! (30th)

When booking Ukraine, I knew that I was gonna celebrate my 30th birthday in Kyiv. This happens to also be the same town where I celebrated my 22nd birthday back in 2013 during my first medium-sized hitchhiking trip. A few things have changed: I’m not a happy single anymore but a happy partnered individual. And as a partnered individual I am also not hyper-poor and on the brink of developing scurvy anymore. I believe they call this ‘progress’. Jokes aside, quite a lot has changed. My interests have changed. And though I think getting blind drunk, getting banged on theContinue reading

How (Not) to Get a SIM Card in Ukraine (Kyiv)

When traveling to Ukraine, it’s a great idea to get a SIM card for independent travel. Though we arrived at Boryspil International Airport (KBP), we didn’t buy one there because the shop was closed. Mobile data is neither expensive nor cheap in Ukraine. Here are our learnings from getting a SIM card in Ukraine on our first day in Kyiv, so you can avoid the mistakes we made. And ooh boy, we made a lot of mistakes! FYI, the country code for Ukraine is +380 Contents1 Our Experience Buying a SIM Card in Ukraine2 FAQ SIM Card in Ukraine +Continue reading

Well Hello, Kyiv?! Uzbekistan to Ukraine (Semi-Live Blog)

These events happened on Sunday, the 25th and Monday the 26th of July, 2021. We hoped to fly from Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport (TAS), Uzbekistan to Boryspil International Airport (KBP) nearby Kyiv, Ukraine. I’m trying to update this blog as a sort of semi-live blog while on the move. Quick update because I need to sleep. We arrived well in Kyiv but the long wait for check-in to our apartment was excruciating. Peace out I’m gonna catch some zzz’s before finishing this Contents1 Monday, 26th of July: Shattered in Kyiv1.1 Train to Kyiv, killing time1.2 Arriving at Kyiv Boryspil1.3Continue reading

Transnistria: A Time Capsule of Soviet Nostalgia between Moldova and Ukraine

After stumbling across Heidi’s blogs about Transnistria and Gagauzia on A Southern Space Cadet, I (Iris) wanted to invite her to write a guest post for Mind of a Hitchhiker. I really enjoy her love for unrecognized or partially recognized states. Enjoy her guest post, learn something new, write a comment, and make sure to check out Heidi’s blog and give her a follow on social media! Featured photo: House of Soviets: Tiraspol with an appearance from Dieter the Panda, my travel mascot Contents1 Transnistria’s time capsule2 What is it like to visit Transnistria?3 Is Transnistria safe?4 How do youContinue reading

Hiking and Urban Exploring at Devínska Kobyla, Bratislava – with Pirate Kitty!

During our stay in Bratislava, Jonas and I planned a day trip to Devínska Kobyla – the highest point of Bratislava. The peak is at 514 masl and there’s an abandoned missile base there. We planned to go hiking in the forest and see if we could enter the abandoned buildings by means of urban exploration. This happened on Friday, October 11th, 2019. To skip to the map and route of the hike, click here. Contents1 Background2 Taking a Bolt up the Mountain3 An Uphill Forest Hike4 The Military Installations at Devínska Kobyla5 Pirate Kitty at the Summit6 Charming theContinue reading

Paddling the Morava River – A Day Trip from Bratislava

We finished our kayak trip down the Danube in Mohács. After that, we traveled back to Bratislava – our favorite city on the Danube – to work for one month. One day, we wanted to do a day trip with our kayak named Zucchini. We chose the tributary to the Danube named the Morava. Here’s the story of how we paddled part of the Morava River on Friday, October 4th (2019). Want to do it yourself? Here you can find the route details and the interactive map. Contents1 Plotting and Planning a Kayak Trip around Bratislava1.1 The Idea1.2 About the Morava/March River1.3 DoingContinue reading

Danube Kayak Trip Interactive Map

This is the fully-operative map of our Danube trip so far! You can use the left-side panel to summon or dismiss the information you’re looking for. I included information about the route, the distance, the obstacles in between, the places we’ve stayed at, which stretches require a permit, and which parts we (had to) skip on the Danube. Each paddle day has its own related blog post you can read. I’ll update this map the more we travel this majestic river with our inflatable canoe. Click in the upper right corner of the embedded map to open the map in GoogleContinue reading