First off I apologize for not writing a blog entry for a while now. I have been running around like mad hence the title of this entry. Lets then bring all you readers up to date. I did end up going in to the Austrian country side with my CS host Fabian only to later check my email that night to find out Ticket Online Austria actually managed to get me a ticket for the sold out Frequency Festival. This meant I had to then hitch the next morning back into Vienna and then to the festival itself which would start at 2:00pm. Amazingly I made it on time, with plenty of extra time actually, to the festival. Unfortunately I tried several times to call the random CSer that had offered me a tent to stay in, but there was no answer. Thus I made a sign which read, “Looking for a tent to sleep in tonight. I am Canadian and a nice guy.” Within 2 minutes I had 2 British and 3 Austrian guys in front of me, and a little drunk, offering me a tent to stay in. Ended up they were all super nice guys and I enjoyed the whole festival with them (Liam, Niel, Thomas, David, & Michael). The festival highlight (and the reason I went) by far was alternative rock band, Radiohead. After seeing them they were immediately put on to my top 5 live acts I’ve seen so far. After the festival I made my way to Frankfurt to meet up with some fellows, Nicky & Bastian, I actually shared a ride with going from Vienna to St. Polten (the town where the festival was). I got to spent three days just outside Frankfurt at Nicky’s place and it was quite a good time. We mainly hung out with his friends and did various things such as, swimming, football, etc. Then I flew back to Dublin were I currently am located right now. The first day I found it really hard to find a couch, but eventually found one with a guy named Rory. I couldn’t arrive to his home till quite late though so I caught Inglorious Bastards, a classic Quentin film! Yesterday morning I finally found a “permanent” couch with a host named Stuart, a classic music slash painting enthusiast. We went out for a night of Jazz and today was mainly a day for relaxing, BUT I am about to head out the door to see one of my favorite bands, Wilco. Should be amazing. I look forward to telling you all about it.
And there I was at Sziget. To give you an idea, roughly half-a-million people on one island less than 2km long with a lot of good music. Pretty much Europe’s biggest festival… okay it is. I made it to this fabulous event on Tuesday night at around 9pm and wandered around looking for the Couch Surfing camping area. I had an idea where it was and that there was flags and banner marking the area, but still no luck. I eventually found some tent space with two British guys, Dan (Slim cause we was fat) & Steve (Lofty cause we was short), which was an enjoyable experience due to their vulgar sense of humour. The next morning I woke up to check the free Internet that was available at the festival to discover I had been searching for CS in the wrong spot. Ends up the camp was only 20 meters from Dan & Steve’s tent. So I went there to find my originally planned tent surfing buddies, Laurent (Reunion Island) & Lauren (Malaysia). I spent most of the first half of the festival hanging out between Lauren and Mathidle (Australia) and another British couple Jason and Christie and one night with a random girl from Baltimore, Stephanie.† On Friday for Pendulum and The Prodigy I was told there was a CS flag on the left of the stage so I investigated. Ended up being people from the other camp (there were multiple CS camping spots it turns out). So I moshed harder than I have in a while a then spent some time chilling with these new people, Sanne, Natasha, Caroline, & Hitto (all from Holland). We all got on really well and I ended up chilling with them the rest of the festival.† So on and so forth the rest of the festival was stellar and I had a wonderful time and now I have a place to celebrate my Birthday in Holland with my new found friends! Now I am in Vienna and just got the super lame news that the company who was holding my tickets for my next festival (w/ Radiohead, an amazing band) have sold my ticket. Apparently it was only on hold for two weeks something they completely neglected to tell me a month ago. Well I’ll have to see how it works out, if it doesn’t I’ll probably go into the nature with my current CS host, Fabian. We’ll have to see.
That is right, only a week in Romania and all the weight I lost (only about 10Ib) has been gained back. This puts my at a healthy 165pounds (or 75kg for those EU readers), actually five more pounds then when I left. Trust me gaining weight is important when your thin guy like myself. Truly though my week in Romania has been much more than food, it was a well deserved break from the constant moving around of the travel life. A week in a real bed, with real food goes a long way. This week was also great because I got to see my Romanian extended family yet again. I originally met them two years ago on my family’s Euro-adventure so it was great to be able to reunite so soon. I have pretty much spent my time in between Sibiu, which I mentioned in my earlier post, and Cimpeni, Nicholas and Jenni’s home town. The first few days were mainly spent discovering the town of Sibiu, 2007’s European Cultural Capital. It’s quite a pretty town with many old buildings (most older than Canada). I mainly just explored the town by foot, but also checked out a few museums and churches. In Delia’s free time we would mainly take short trips out of town to visit the surrounding attractions. This weekend was spent in Cimpeni which was quite nice due to the familiarity. This is the town my family and myself spent pretty much all of our last stay in. Prior to Cimpeni I had only seen Delia, Bogdan, and Nicholas, so it was especially nice to see the rest of the family. So in short this week has been a relaxing one that mixed sightseeing, eating, reuniting, and sleeping all together into one nice package. Thank you Romanian family!
Thus my epic hitchhiking trek has ended and I have arrived in Romania, but let me bring you up to speed. When I concluded my last entry I was yet again searching for another place to set up residence for the night. After some searching on the Internet I finally came across a huge artist squat which makes its home in central Ljubljana. Surely I would find accommodation with a group of young, open mined people. My hypothesis was proven correct. I went to the squat, backpack and all, and started looking for friendly people. I finally decided to approach a group of rastas, since I figured the tweenypunk/hair metal kids probably wouldn’t be much help. They ended up being a mix of guys of African†birth†that had found refuge, from various conflicts in their home†countries, in Slovenia. The main “boss rasta” was a guy they called “the King” (he actually had a thrown) who was quite suitably the squat’s local marijuana dealer. Very nice guy. When I let him know my situation he was quick to help. He introduced me to a “Canadian loving” Slovanian girl who happened to be a ex-CSer (a fight with her roommate stopped†her from hosting for now). Fate would have it she had with her an American, Mike, who had recently joined CSing. After we all went to an African drumming gig Mike offered for me to crash on his hotel room floor. I kindly accepted. The next morning I woke up, had a real shower, and then joined Mike at the hotel’s free, and really good, buffet and¬†stuffed myself silly with all sorts of yummies. Then I was off to catch a†train to Budapest. Yes, I realize this adventure was supposed to be all hitchhiking, but I was getting tired and†23EU was a really good price. I slept for the whole ride with the exception of having to get up every two hours to switch to a different train or bus (this turned out to be the reason it was actually cheap). I made it to Budapest in the evening and met up with a Columbian girl†in the bus station and got some room in her tent for the night. Yesterday was pure hitching as I made it all the way to Sibiu, Delia and Bogden’s new home town. After one sort ride and one very long ride, 5 traffic jams included, I made it here at 11pm and got to sleep in real bed… heaven†I tell you. Today I should be checking out some of Sibiu and just chilling at D&B’s new place, which is very nice I might add. As said above, here and happy.
So the new sleeping spot ended up being the same sleeping spot, but with extra cover. We still managed to get wet. This dampness did not stop Jill and I from having an excellent last day and a half with each other though. When has the wet ever stopped me! And Jill for that matter. Anyways Jill has off to Paris, then home, and I was off to Romania. Since departing I have met some interesting people and experienced many language gaps. My first day of hitching only got me from Nice to Genova. The first ride was with two very nice Italian men (which I found out is quite rare) and my second was with a Moroccan truck driver… WHO WAS ABSOLUTELY NUTS! Let me elaborate, first there was him trying to get money even though I was clearly hitching. Then the lengthy yelling matches with his wife over the phone (this guy couldn’t have been over 23), matched with him handing my the phone to talk to his wife who couldn’t speak a word of English. Finished off with loud music with equally loud random explosions of sound from him. Oh ya, he couldn’t speak English either. When we finally stopped we met up with two other Italian hitchers, David and Catherine, who could actually tell what he was saying and they suggested I bail out of sleeping in his truck and further rides. I† happily agreed and joined them to sleep on the beach. Luckily no ‘extra’ water at this beach. It was a private beach though so it included beds that we used. Don’t worry we got permission to sleep there, as long as we were gone by 7am. The next day the hitching was better and I got all the way to Trieste. One of the rides was a quick one with a nice fellow from the Netherlands and then I got a major ride from a Romanian family. They dropped me off at a huge gas station just outside of Trieste and it was getting late so I start perusing for a good spot to sleep, this was when I stumbled upon a tent. Inside the tent were two dread lock brothers, Yuan & Yanice, from, I believe, Reunion Island just east of Madagascar. They were super chill and invited me into their tent because they were concerned I’d get mosquito bites. Today was one nice ride to Ljubljana. I have been here since just checking out the city, which is quite pleasant. Still looking for a place to stay tonight though? I’m sure I’ll find something, I am getting better with these sort of things. Peace and Love, Taylor.
So when I left Byron and Luke we had finished up a solid night of B-day celebration, which included classic Bavarian meals and beer… of course. The next morning I woke up nice and early to start my hitching down to Avignon in Southern France. This did not go so well. Unlike my past experience hitching in Europe, which as only brought me to places 1 or 2 hour past the normal driving time, it took me 32 hours to make it to my destination. This included some sleeping time just off the highway. Really though, be very assertive when telling people where to drop you off, super important. Anyways I finally made it to Florent’s and had a wonderful two and a half days. We spent some time revisiting some of the places I had been to when first in Avignon and saw some new areas as well. Florent had another friend visiting, Sunny, and his brother was visiting from out of town so it was a packed house. I also totally forgot how much I adore the way the French eat their meals. Yum…. fromage. I truly had a great time with Florent and his family though, uber hospitable people just as expected. Can’t wait to visit them again. I met up with Jill yesterday in Nice after an easy few hours of hitching. Jill is also, like the Rotgens, a friend from Victoria/Kelowna and Younglife. Last night was quite adventurous as yet again CS failed us. Jill is also a CSer and this time it was not my fault not getting a host… hehehe. Who’s the villain now? Not Jill… the hosts of course. Thus we slept outside. We began the evening by making ourselves comfy at a nice park with some wine, cheese, and a baguette. I know, tres Francias. This was quickly rudely interrupted though by the sudden presence of sprinklers. Needless to say stuff got wet. Therefore the logical solution to our sprinkler problem was to move to sleeping on the beach, which, despite the presence water, you normally don’t get sprayed by if you are† at a far enough distance. This morning at around 6 am Jill and I were awoken by the heat of morning sun. Naturally we sat there sitting and conversing about life. This when a boat emerged from around a blind corner and doused us with a fire hose. You could imagine our disbelieve. Yes a giant floating sprinkler attacked us, literally. So yet again we were wet. We have now dried and are enjoying our day by watching naked French people on the beach. Note: some people should always wear clothing. Tonight a new sleeping area! But where?
P.S. Dear Jill’s mom, just so you know† outside is code for hostel. Kids and their slang.
So I did eventually find another place with a really chill American ex-pat named Adam. Yes, I know, found an Adam after losing an Adam. After finding my new Adam I was able to relax a bit (just a little though, still needed to find a way to my next festival). I actually saw a little of Amsterdam, which was a change. It is another great European city; it kind of reminded me of Venice and Berlin mushed together, hence my new nickname for it, Bernice. As far as this next festival, Melt Festival in mid-East Germany, two guys who I had met earlier unfortunately ditched out after saying they were going. That was okay, it just meant an early start for a long day of hitchhiking. I left Amsterdam Friday about 9:30am, slept in a bit, and amazingly made it to the festival by 6:30pm! The festival was easily the best I have been to so far. Great vibe, great set-up, great people, but the first night was sort of an adventure. I planned to meet up with other couchsurfers at the festival and tent surf again. When I arrived in the camp ground I didn’t really know were they where, only that they were in the caravan camping. I started to wander. Eventually i saw a bunch of international flags on a pole (one of them being Canadian). I assumed this was CS so I walked over and asked. I ended up being a German guy named Stephan who lived in Canada, on and off, for 10 years because he loved it so much. Anyway after a good conversation I was off o find my CS friends. I eventually found them, but unfortunately they did not have a tent space for me. They offered me a place outside on a platform under a bunch of camping canvasses. It was fine with me if the weather was good. As I headed to the music grounds I met up with Stephan again and told him what my sleeping situation was. He graciously offered a place in one of his friends tent if there was any problem. Fast forward to 4:30am, I have just got back to the campsite after a long night of music, it is pissing rain, everyone else is still dancing, my bag is locked in a van, and my sleeping bag is under the camping canvasses that collapsed over my accommodation due to wind. Off to Stephan’s campsite I went. After staying in one of his friends camper for a while I finally got a sleeping bag and tent space, yay! I ended up staying with† Stephan and his friends the rest of the weekend, occasionally visiting the CSers, and had a great time staying up late and seeing great live shows (I’ll spare you all the band names).
The last few days have been spent with some YL friends, Byron and Luke, from back home, in Munich, Germany. These days have been great. Funny story though… I was supposed to find CS accommodation for the 3 of us, and trust me I tried, but by the time we met up, no place to stay. Sooooo it was enough of a nice night so we slept outside in some bushes in a park. Now we are at a campsite/hostel so all is good. Yesterday was spent in the BMW museum (Dad feel free to be jealous because you should be, amazing) and in Olympic park. Tonight is Byron’s “Birthday” (he was sick on his real Birthday a few days ago) so all 3 of us going out for a nice dinner on his parents. Heading to Florent’s house, near Avignon, France, tomorrow. Woot life! Hope all is well on the other-side.