to the irrelevant number of people reading this: big news cooking.. i mean, BIG news cooking!
Jan 3, 2014
Oct 4, 2013
[continued from here]
i thought i was gonna get to helsinki and take at least a nap before doing anything else, but after my friend picked me up, we went straight for a walk, then hung out at kaivopuisto park, with a nice view of the sea, and also the ateljee baari on the 14th floor of hotel torni, with a beautiful panoramic view of downtown..
finally rested, i went to the city and saw the lutheran cathedral (tuomiokirko) – a white church, and not too far from it, the uspenski cathedral (uspenskin katedraali) – a red, russian orthodox church, the market square, the finlandia hall, the olympic stadium and the music hall.. in the evening we went to a couchsurfing meeting with some friends, met some cool people, went to a bar and finally home..
and then i got there, the last day of my summer trip.. i went to the very pleasant seuasaari island (not before getting a little lost in the woods) and spent the early afternoon there hiking, enjoying nature and checking out some authentic old finnish houses, stables, churches, boat houses, storages, etc..
at night i went to my friend's cousin's farewell party, mostly with finnish people, and for the second time in 3 days, i didn't sleep before heading to the airport to fly back home to barcelona (with a 30 minute stop in stockholm first).. there's no better excuse for not sleeping than enjoying your last night somewhere!
first thing i wrote on facebook after getting home was "home again, after 24 days and 8 countries, with an empty wallet, a tired body and most importantly, a renewed soul!", and that's a very short version of this whole story you just read..
this time i took my big camera, but i focused on shooting videos and not so many photos. i'll get to the editing as soon as i get a computer upgrade, because mine can't take the load anymore..
more and more, what i take from the experience of traveling are the awesome stories and the great memories i build with the people i meet and connect to. cities are beautiful, cultures are fascinating, nature is powerful, but people are the core of it all. and you might've noticed how many times i mentioned couchsurfing.. it's my main tool..
i can't thank enough the old friends i met and the new ones i made, not only on this trip, but on all the others before it.. i won't stop traveling until i absolutely have to (and i don't see why i would), but if/when it happens, i'll be glad to know i have my mark in people's lives all over the world, and most importantly, they all have their marks in my life, and that's invaluable.
Sep 30, 2013
like all the other cities in this region, riga has a town hall, some important churches and some monuments.. and i get easily tired of these things.. i tried meeting a CSer, but ended up lost and with a dead phone.. so mid afternoon i got my things, found myself a hostel and went for a nap..
at night i met another CSer and checked out the nightlife, like some cool rock bars and a traditional folk bar recommended by a friend from there, called ala pagrabs, which is pretty awesome (we were almost fooled by the humble entrance!).. we also found out that the clubs there are very segmented and strict about their public, mainly in 3 'categories': latvians, russians and tourists..
before taking a bus to estonia the next afternoon, i decided to go visit jūrmala, just 30 minutes by train from riga, where supposedly the longest beach on the northern side of europe is situated. i don't know if it's the longest, but it's dozens of kilometers of fine sand, with a calm sea where you can walk tens of meters into and the water won't even reach your waist..
if on one side there's the beach, on the other there's river lielupe, where you can see people going on ferry tours, fishing, swimming or just hanging out and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere.. the latter being my choice..
i got to tallinn pretty late, almost midnight, and i was welcomed by my CS host and her friend in the new city center, then we went to a park next to vabaduse väljak (freedom square), had some beers and headed home, which was 30 minutes out of the city..
after a lazy morning, we went to the medieval old town, had (again) some beers at snelli park, then climbed toompea hill to see beautiful panoramic views of the old city.. in the evening we were tired, but had some drinks and got on a bus to meet some people in the city, but then…
on our way, we started talking to some guys on the bus, and when they were leaving they said they were going to this university party.. we all spontaneously jumped off the bus "just to check it out".. turns out it was an awesome, huge freshman party, with one of the most famous estonian hip hop groups, a-rühm (not that i care), and we had a freaking blast!
we deserved nothing but doing nothing after the crazy night we pulled off, so we stayed home, watched lion king (yeah, that was the vibe), and at night we had dinner at a friend's place in the city, then went to some more chill bars, and came home around 5 in the morning, where i managed to sleep for 20 minutes before leaving again to take my ferry to my last destination: finland.
Sep 25, 2013
after a couple of shared rides, i got to gdansk by the next night, and still with nowhere to sleep, i went to a mcdonald's (for wifi) and sent some messages on couchsurfing, and luckily found someone willing to host me with such short notice..
gdansk, together with sopot and gdynia, form the tri-city (or “trójmiasto” in polish), on the baltic coast of poland.. they're historically important mainly for the privileged location, and though very close to each other, they're beautiful and enjoyable in very different ways..
gdynia (where i was actually staying) has the beach and the cliffs of kępa redłowska, sopot has the social / night life and the busy monte cassino promenade, and gdansk has the old town (długi targ), with beautiful buildings, the golden gate, street musicians and the motława river bank.
i had a great time there, always with good company by my couch host and his friends, mostly with good weather, and i would've loved to have stayed longer, but the schedule was tight and after a couple of days, it was time to hop on a bus and make my way to lithuania.
12 hours later i was in vilnius, and after a long nap i hit the city. i had maybe a couple of hours, enough time to have a walk/skate around and see most of the old town, but by the time i was going to uzupis district (a more artistic / bohemian area), it started to rain.. then to pour.. nonstop.. i found shelter and after an hour or so i was able to leave, still under rain, and got home absolutely soaked..
in the evening, the weather wasn't completely awful and i could go with my couch host and another CSer to some bars and try some very cheap and very tasty lithuanian beer, and also kepta duona, lithuania's national snack – basically fried black bread with garlic and cheese. it's as simple as it is delicious..
i had to run from the bad weather, so i took a train to kaunas, just 1 hour away, and it made all the difference.. i skated through beautiful ažuolynas park and went to old town, which much like gdansk, was cute and lively.. but the best part was meeting a CSer, getting some beers and watching the sunset right at the meeting point of the two largest rivers of lithuania, the nemunas and neris.
i had to wake up very early and head to the bus station to guarantee my ticket to riga, latvia, and i was there before noon. with nowhere to stay and no plans, i left my backpack at the station, got my skate and went to explore the city for a few hours while i sorted out my accommodation..
Sep 20, 2013
we left home early, found a good spot and tried for 2,5 hours.. no luck. crossed the whole city, found an even better spot, thumbed for another 3+ hours, no luck. and it was hot as freakin' hell!
around 4pm, we took a train to basel, on the border with france and germany, and after getting lost many times and skating with our backpacks for hours, we found a well located service station a few meters after the immigration checkpoint, germany side. but it was almost night and we were exhausted, so as soon as it got dark, we got into our sleeping bags and slept in the parking lot..
new day, fresh and hopeful, but still no one would pick us up, so we jumped some fences and found our way to the weil am rhein station and took a ‘free’ train to freiburg, a supposedly very hitchhike friendly student city. 1 hour later and no luck again, we decided luck wasn't the issue and just gave up.. after a couple more ‘free’ train rides, we made it to darmstadt by night and had a nice, hot home cooked dinner.. we deserved it.
relaxing next day, we booked a bus to berlin, only to be told by the driver we booked the wrong date! back home to consider the options, we found a shared ride with blablacar leaving early the next morning and took it.. got to berlin by noon..
met some friends, skated around both sides of the city, by checkpoint charlie (which used to be the main checkpoint between the two berlins), to the brandenburg gate and the holocaust memorial. got a kebab and went to weinbergpark, in mitte, where families, teenagers, businessmen and all types of people were enjoying possibly one of the last sunny days of the year..
at night i met some other friends and went to a cool comedy open air show in grießmühle, with stand up comics from many countries, and also live painting, bbq, and live music. next day was also relaxing, with more walking around and hanging out at biesdorfer baggersee, a nice lake/pond also apparently not very know by many..
weather was still great, so next day i met a big group of CSers at treptower park for some ultimate frisbee and later on, went to an exhibition of one of the most active street artists in berlin, prost. it was also his last exhibition in germany, as he'd had issues with the police for his “vandalism” and was about to move out of the country (apparently to france).
from here on i was traveling on my own, and my friend stayed in berlin a little longer.
Sep 16, 2013
my original idea, which i had back in 2010, was jus to visit the baltic states. then last year, during the summer buli tour, one of the girls said she had had an amazing experience hitchhiking from poland to finland, so i borrowed her idea and this was my plan for 2013..
considering i had never hitchhiked before, i went on looking for someone to do it with me, and a couple of weeks before the trip, i found a friend with plenty of experience willing to share the adventure.. and with her, more changes of plans.. we decided to start a week earlier in italy instead..
off i went to bologna, home to the oldest university in the western world, and still basically a student city.. considering it was august, most of the locals/students left the city to visit their hometowns or to escape the high temperatures, around 40oc, and with them, the social life of the city..
i managed to couchsurf there, and we were lucky enough to gather a small group of CSers to hang out a couple of times around via pratello, normally the busiest place in town.. other than that, some sightseeing like piazza maggiore, fontana di nettuno, torre degli asinelli and torre dei garisenda.
after a couple of days, it was time to begin the hitchhiking trip.. we decided to go to zürich, took a bus to a busy service station right out of the city, and 2 hours later, we found our first ride to milan.. 3 more hours there and a second ride to the entrance of the saint gotthard tunnel (third longest tunnel in the world, already in switzerland)..
even though there were thousands of cars slowly driving by, we weren’t lucky, and we ended up sleeping between the picnic tables in our sleeping bags.. cold night, hard floor, but beautiful view! next morning we finally made it to zürich, and we had no idea what waited for us there...
it was the street parade, the biggest street event of the year, with around 950,000 people partying and dancing to electronic music all day, all over the city.. it was a beautiful and colorful day.. no sightseeing needed!
we stayed at a friend’s place, and next day we had an awesome brazilian/argentinian style barbecue in ziegelhütte, a nice park, apparently not very well known by the locals and definitely not by the tourists..
next day, the hitchhike nightmare started..