At 7AM the alarm went off so I would have enough time to get ready and go catch a ride early. After I ate a bit and got ready, I went to the balcony to take another look at the view and I saw the Sun rising from behind the hill! It was my first sunrise that I saw from Lisbon. After that I got ready to walk towards the good spot for hitchhiking towards South(according to hitchwiki).
Right after I closed the apartment door after me I realized that I forgot my battery charger… I said to myself “Great! Now try to wake somebody up, at this time!” and turned around. I managed to do that in a few minutes.
Now that I’ve got everything I was walking with a lot of confidence and excitement through the streets of Lisbon. At one point I found a lovely place, of which I took photos. I was so confident that I’ll catch a ride soon that I stopped for some shots. After a few minutes of walking I got to the spot and settled with my sign saying “SUL”(eng: south). Half of hour later, I realized that I was a bit too confident and over-optimistic. I say that, not because of my lack of lifts, but because I was wearing a pair of jeans… the Sun was shining, and it was right in front of me.
After a while, a nice lady picked me up, but she said that she will only cross me the bridge, if I want.(the bridge is part of the highway). Being excited and wanting to be on the road again I accepted. Later on I would find out that it wasn’t a good move.
She dropped me off after the exit, in the city. From there I found my way to the entrance to the highway. I sat there for a few hours with no luck. I changed from the “SUL” sign to the “FARO” sign(Faro is a big city in the South of Portugal). At one point I was approached by a very well intended lady who was speaking to me in Portuguese and asked me to follow her. After a very short trip, to what I thought it would be a better spot for hitchhiking, we arrived to a bus stop. She told me that there are buses that go to Faro but I explained to her, using my hands of course, that I don’t have money.
I returned to my previous spot, but after a while I looked around for people to ask for directions. Because I saw that I wasn’t lucky with the highway I decided to go old style, on the national roads. I found someone who explained to me where the road is and I started to walk in that direction. Basically that road was crossing the whole city so I had no chance of hitchhiking there. The walking was the only option.
I think one or two minutes after I started walking through the city, following the national road, a guy roughly my age approached me. He asked me if I’m going to Faro, because he saw the sign that I was carrying. We had a small talk from which I found out that he will go in the same place, on Sunday. He told me that he will hitchhike from a gas-station that is somewhere around the place I was trying to hitchhike. I thought of going back, but I decided to follow my instinct and follow the road.
A few more minutes after, in was approached by an old lady and her niece(I guess). She was asking me if I go to Faro. After I said yes, her niece told me that they know someone who already went that way…
These 2 interactions really got my spirit high after so much waiting so I got some energy from it and I had a huge smile on my face.
After more than half of hour of walking I got to a place where I could hitchhike. It was the entrance to a gas-station. For me it was a very good spot, because it was in shade (don’t forget that I was wearing long pants!). I stayed there only for a short time because I was picked up by a nice family who had a big van. The adults weren’t speaking English and the children were too shy to translate. Right before we entered the city I told them which way I was heading and they stopped the car, almost in the middle of a busy intersection. The driver told me which way Faro is and where so hitchhike.
The place he pointed out to me really seemed a good one and with a lot of potential. It was a 2 lane road, with a huge emergency lane where cars could stop. I stayed as close to the intersection as I could, so the car wouldn’t go too fast. Although it seemed to be such a marvelous place, it wasn’t. I waited for quite a while there, but without any luck. I moved around that road for a while and tried different spots but without luck.
Around 2:30PM I got a call from my host who was waiting for me, to ask how and where I am. I told her that I managed to travel only 60km and she asked me not to come too late. I explained to her that I will try my best but I also told her to keep in mind that it’s not up to me.
Because I wasn’t lucky at all I decided to start walking towards my destination, even if that was 200km away, and I was hoping that someone will pick me up.
Luckily for me, I had a bottle of water with me that I bought right before I started following the national road. The water was pretty warm already, but for me that was not a problem.
After I walked for more than an hour I got to a village and I saw a bar across the street. I entered there and I tried to ask in Portuguese for some water but it was obvious that the lady did not understand me. I took my backpack off my back and I just shoved my, almost empty, bottle of water to her face saying “agua”. She refilled it and I thanked her a lot!
With fresh energy I continued my trip towards my destination, knowing that if I want to get there by walking it will take me somewhere around 2 weeks or so.
At one point I felt exactly like Christopher from “Into the Wild”. I was somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, walking alone on the side of the road, whit a huge backpack on my back, looking at the street. I started laughing and telling to myself “oh my god!” in excitement.
In another small town, I stopped in a bus station in order to hitchhike again. I was already feeling exhausted and I figured out that it might work. Not here! I waited and waved to cars for quite a while before I decided to start walking again.
While I was following this road through the town, at one point there was a streetlight in the middle of the town. I think it was there to keep the speed of the cars low. As I was walking by the cars that were waiting for the green light, I was asking for a lift, but they all refused. I was a bit disappointed because it was obvious that they were going in the same direction. I wasn’t mad, but I wanted a lift.
So, as I was walking, I see in the distance a man standing and somehow smiling. I thought about 2 things: he might want to speak with me, or he might have some mental issues. Luckily for me, he wanted to speak with me! He saw me while I was walking, while the streetlight was read and he stopped and waited for me! I was so relieved to hear that, that I didn’t even care so much about how far he’s going.
It wasn’t a very long trip, but at least I was moving faster, and I wasn’t walking. Before he dropped me off, he gave me a map of Portugal! I had some sort of a map, drew by me, with some of the cities that I might pass. This map was a blessing!
From where he dropped me off, the walking begun once again. I was starting to feel more and more tired but I was repeating to myself that I won’t give up!
There wasn’t too much traffic and the cars that was passing me, weren’t stopping. At one point I just stopped on the side of the road and lay on my back for a while. I didn’t care about anything, I was just resting
When my ‘break’ was over, I continued with my walking. At one point a car stopped and I started to run towards it, only to notice that it started to drive again… Very funny, what can I say? A few minutes later, the same thing happened. To be honest, I don’t get what’s funny in that for some people, but who am I to judge?
If that wasn’t enough, one driver pretended to drive into me!!! I was already asking myself if I am still in Portugal and what’s wrong with this people.
I continued with my trip and I felt that I’m close to losing my hope, energy and stop. I saw a car in the distance and I started to wave. When the car was passing me it didn’t show any sign of stopping so I had a “frustration/disappointment” body reaction. As I was doing that I noticed that the car stopped. I said to myself “if this guy will drive away like the others, I don’t know what I’ll do!!!”. He didn’t and he was going all the way to Faro!
Before I got into his car, I noticed that he looked at me from head to toe, but I imagined he did that because of my beard and my looks.
The guy was speaking a bit of bad English and I was trying to speak Portuguese, even if I never learnt it! As we were driving, I noticed that his hand wasn’t always on the shifter, but somewhere between it and my foot.
As we were talking he told me to relax and to sleep, if I want, because I walked a lot and so on. But while we were doing that I was keeping an eye on his hands and also I was holding my map on my left leg. I was noticing how he was trying, in a shy way, to come close to my leg… As we were talking, I told him about my travel and about my volunteering. At one point he told me “I could help you make a little money”. Keeping in mind all his movements and way of acting I told him “nao, seu bom!” (no, I am fine), in my street learned Portuguese. He was silent for a few moments, but then he turned to me and asked “do you know what I mean?”. I looked at him with a smile on my face and while I was kinda’ laughing I said “no” and turned my head towards the road. An awkward silence filled the car for the following 10 minutes or so as we were driving towards Faro. From time to time I was checking the map, to see if we’re on the same road and also to check how to get from the point that he will drop me off to my hosts. He once told me “relax, we are on the right road” and comforted me with a gentle pat on my leg.
We got to that point somewhere around 8:45-9PM. By that time it was already dark outside and I was thinking if I have any chance to get a lift. I started to think that I will have to walk 25km to get to my hosts. As I was waving to cars I made another sign saying “Loule”, the city where I had to get. That was a very good move because in one minute a car already pulled over. What was unusual was the fact that the driver got off of his car. He asked me if I have any ID or something and I was stunned. As I was laughing I asked him if he wants my ID or my passport. Probably because he saw me laughing and he heard my English he then asked me what’s my nationality. At that point I cracked up and I told him “ I am Romanian! I hope you don’t have a bad opinion about Romanians, I am ok. You can trust me!” He looked me for another second and then he told me to go inside.
While we were driving he told me that I look Muslim and that probably nobody would’ve pick me up at that time. He told me that he stopped because he saw “Loule” and that caught his attention. He eventually drove me all the way to the city, but I had to wait for him 10 minutes to go home.
I ended up meeting with my hosts almost at 10PM, so the plan of not arriving late didn’t work… I apologized to them a hundred times, while they were telling me that they thought that I won’t get to them in that day.
Yeah, so basically this was, so far, my weirdest and most demanding trip so far. I never thought I can walk so much with my backpack on my back!
For me it was an interesting trip. It was pretty fun, filled from time to time with nice and heartwarming moments, also with some weird ones and I considered a success because I arrived to my destination in the same day
Take care and see you soon!