Istanbul – Maastricht in 60 Hours: I Hitchhiked Home for Christmas!

I made it home in time for Christmas! Remember my post when I announced I’d try to #HitchhikeHomeForChristmas from Istanbul to the Netherlands in 48 hours? Well, it took me 60 hours to arrive in Maastricht. Not great, not terrible. And definitely on time for family visits and admiring my mom’s tree.

So… what happened? Well, I had a flying start on the 19th of December. My buddy from Istanbul paid for a taxi ride to a public transport stop so I could get further out of the city. I started hitchhiking to the Bulgarian border at Erdine. Through Bulgaria was fast. Then at the border with Serbia, it was already dark. My truck driver said he wouldn’t clear customs and immigration very fast, so I crossed the border on foot and caught a ride on the other side after some time.

It was a ride with an empty coach/long-distance bus. There were three men managing the bus, but only one of them could drive it. They were driving between Bulgaria and Frankfurt, Germany. But they went via the Hungarian route and they would need to take a long break for the driver to rest at some point. So I decided to get out a little beyond Belgrade at a junction from hell.

In Belgrade, I had trouble hitchhiking around the city in the direction of Croatia. Eventually, I caught a ride with some people going to Italy. The border crossing with Croatia was a bit slow. They dropped me off where I thought would be a good gas station outside Ljubljana in Slovenia. I was optimistic, but no one was driving northward from here to the Karawanks Tunnel. I caught a short ride with one guy from Kranj, but ugh, he had the wrong idea.

Eventually, I managed to get closer to Jesenice close to said tunnel. After hours, it became dark again and I was walking around until someone gave me a ride onto the highway to drop me at the gas station right before the tunnel. This was the key to getting the hell out of here!

During my next ride through the tunnel and through the waist of Austria to Munich in Germany, the lack of sleep caught up with me. I crashed energetically. But I was getting closer.

Germany was a breeze again, but it had now been more than 48 hours. It still took me some effort to come to Maastricht in the Netherlands. The clock stood at 60 hours when I disembarked from my final ride.

With no one to host me in Maastricht, I decided to take a night train to my mom’s home. But the train stopped in Eindhoven and that was that. So for the next four hours, I hung out with some Italian traveler and other random people affected by the half train ride. It was one of those nights filled with conversations and shenanigans. We played music. We were kicked out of the train station because it also closed for the night. And we wandered around Eindhoven until the trains ran again.

Daybreak.

On the train to Hilversum near my mom’s home. Perhaps I hadn’t hitchhiked the final bits in the Netherlands – I think hitchhiking here isn’t that great – but I did manage to cross eight countries in 60 hours. Istanbul to Maastricht in 60 hours really isn’t bad.

 

 

#tree (at A 27)

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