Destinations: Berlin, Warsaw, Kiev (almost)
Distance Travelled: 1378 km
Recipes Collected: 2
After so many months of waiting, preparing and packing; of gathering our gear, making sure we packed enough undies and triple checking the validity of our passports and visas, the Spicyroad team finally met together in Berlin and set of on our grand adventure!
Our hitchhiking journey began at the main highway heading easterwards just outside of Potsdam. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before some drivers picked us up. We had split up into pairs, and although some of us had a bit more trouble than the others getting to our destination, we all managed to meet up at our host’s beautiful apartment in Warsaw by the end of the night.
We stayed there for 5 nights, and although sometimes our days were short from having woken up late or spending the time working on our social media pages, they were filled with all sorts of great experiences.
We sat, mesmerised by the beauty of Plac Zamkowy at sunset, ate Pierogi at a traditional Polish milkbar, learned about the fascinating history of the city on a free walking tour, experienced the local nightlife, did a lot of walking around the Old Town, New Town and Jewish Quarter of the city centre (as well as Praga) and watched from a rooftop in awe as a pink sun set over the Varsovian skyline – all this just to name a few!
There were unfortunately a couple of not-so-great moments too, such as getting caught black riding on public transport and paying a hefty fine, as well as travelling all the way to the Palace of Culture and Science only to find out that it was closed – with both of these happening one right after the other! Thankfully, these were far outweighed by the amazing things we tried and did in Poland’s capital.
We also hosted our very first (M)Eat Up! event which was a big success. By the end of the night, we had all eaten our fill of delicious Polish, Catalonian, British, Korean, German and Australian cuisine – there were enough leftovers to last us a week! It was amazing to meet travellers from all over the world and exchange our stories and experiences whilst enjoying the delicious food we had prepared together.
However, all good things must come to an end, and on the 7th day of our journey we left Warsaw and set of on our next leg towards Kiev, Ukraine!
As usual, we split up into smaller groups and waited for a ride on the outskirts of Warsaw. We were all picked up almost immediately and travelled separately until we met up later at the next rest station. It was there that we started to have a little more trouble finding a ride towards the Ukrainian border – especially for those of us travelling in the group of 3. In the end, some kind souls – including a nun, eventually drove us to the border. This is where we met with our second hurdle of the day…they wouldn’t allow us to walk across the border.
Trying to convince drivers to pick up 5 hitchhikers and bring us across the border proved to be a difficult task to say the least. After standing in the sun for over an hour and slowly feeling as though we would be stranded at the border forever, a Ukrainian woman helped us as a translator and convinced some drivers to pick us up and take us across the border.
Phew… Finally. At least that must have been the end of our struggles for the day right? Wrong.
Just as we thought we might actually still make it into Kiev that day, we were forced to wait over an hour again to just pass through the border, with some of us even being asked to come out of the car and ridiculed for being hitchhikers.
Eventually, we all managed to get through the border into Ukraine. Who would have thought that it could take almost 3 hours just to travel a 500m distance?
Still in separate cars, the Spicyroad team pushed onwards towards Kiev! Seeing the peaceful Ukrainian countryside rush past as the sun set over the horizon did well to calm us down after our ordeal earlier that day. Unfortunately, the time it took us to get across the border put a big dent in our travel time, so our drivers kindly dropped us off next to a rest station about 100km outside of Kiev. It was there that we decided to camp out for the night under a clear and starry night sky.
Apart from a few set-backs, Spicyroad’s first week has been a great one! Let’s hope that week two starts off well in Kiev. 🙂