True Adventurers: AEGEE Hitchhikers Across Europe

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For many AEGEE members hitchhiking is the ideal way of travelling. You travel for free, you meet interesting people and you create unforgettable memories because every trip is an adventure. The Golden Times spoke to three AEGEE members who hitchhiked this month across Europe: Anna Pykhtina, Andrés Merayo and Dawid Cegła. Enjoy their stories!

Anna Pykhtina, aka Smailikova (23), AEGEE-Kyїv: Discovering the Balkans

Hitchhiking Anna PykhtinaGT: From where to where do you go on your hitchhiking trip?
From Hungary to the Balkans.

GT: Why did you choose this destination?
I was always curious about the Balkan countries and after visiting almost all parts of Europe I’ve realized that this summer is the right time to discover this destination!

GT: When did you depart this month and when did you arrive?
We started the trip on the 14th of July and on the 27th I was back in my office at work, dying of sadness.

GT: With whom were you travelling?
With my boyfriend, Greg Frolov, member of AEGEE-Moskva.

GT: Tell a story of something interesting, remarkable or exciting that happened during this trip!
We crossed the border of Hungary and Serbia in an old BMW with a driver who looked like an old killer and who had experienced many, many stories. He was smoking cigarettes and telling the stories about his past, saying that one of his Russian friends was a bandit in the 90s. I’d film a movie about this charismatic guy! Another time the couple almost missed the show they were going to attend as they wanted to help us and went for more than 30 kilometers than planned to get us to the gas station. And my favourite was meeting Dragan, the Serbian track driver, who could barely understand English, but stopped to buy us a beer, took us to the bus station with his small car, helped us to find the bus and buy the tickets – and was a really helpful and kind person!

Hitchhiking Anna Pykhtina2GT: How long did you usually have to wait till you get a new ride? And how are the drivers like?
The shortest waiting time was around 20 minutes, the longest almost 4 hours. It all depends on the country, the place you hitchhike and the daytime. The drivers are always so different, but it’s like a game when the first image can tell everything about a person or vice versa.

GT: Did you just try to arrive as fast as possible or did you use the chance to stop somewhere and look at the cities and nature?
We had a plan to follow, but at the same time were ready for adventures. So once we had to stay in the small Serbian town Palic, we couldn’t reach our planned destination point and enjoyed the nature. In the end the place to stay doesn’t matter, but the company does.

GT: Do you have a lot of hitchhiking experience?
I was hitchhiking to my first Agora in Mannheim in 2013. This was my second experience.

GT: You do hitchhiking for the money or the adventure?
Both. It’s an amazing way to meet people and it’s absolutely free of charge!

Andrés Merayo (23), AEGEE-A Coruna: The SU Competition

Hitchhiking Andres MerayoGT: From where to where did you go on your hitchhiking trip?
I went from Kraków to Zakopane, because now I am in the TSU of AEGEE-Budapest and AEGEE-Kraków. The name of the TSU is Adventureland, so we are really adventure people, and this was one challenge as part of the SU programme. Everyone participated.

GT: How long was the trip?
It took us 4.5 hours, we started in Kraków with some advice from the organizers and we finished in Zakopane at lunch time.

GT: So did you win the competition?
We weren’t the first, but we were like 6th! We were not far behind the winners, only one hour of difference. There were some people who needed around ten hours…

GT: With whom did you travel?
I was travelling with Fenna, a friend from the TSU, because we travelled in pairs. We had to choose a paper with the name of a person.

GT: Tell a story of something interesting, remarkable or exciting that happened during this trip!
It was so funny, because at the beginning we wanted to go in the opposite direction, but we solved It and started again. Some people of the TSU realised our mistake, but we told them that this was our plan! Then we started again and we waited something like 40 minutes and then a car stopped, we were around 20 minutes with them. When we continued the autostop, in one hour not any car stop, so we decided to put on some funny clothes and started to dance and do some stupid things. People laughed, but no one stopped, but finally two nice girls, who didn’t speak English stopped. They got lost a little. Then we stopped a microbus. It was empty and the bus driver laughed a lot and finally we arrived at our destination!

GT: Do you have a lot of hitchhiking experience?
It was my first experience, because in Spain people usually don’t do It. We did it because we are real Adventureland people!

Dawid Cegła (24), AEGEE-Katowice: From ACDC to Polish Woodstock

Hitchhiking CeglaGT: From where to where do you go on your hitchhiking trip?
We started from Warsaw and we went to Kostrzyn nad Odrą. We were not going there directly, we wanted also to visit Miedzyzdroje on the sea side. Our final destination was Przystanek Woodstock Festival.

GT: When did you depart this month and when did you arrive?
We departed on the 25 of July and we arrived on the 28 of July.

GT: With whom are you travelling?
I’m traveling with my friend Aneta Bałchan, who is also PR Responsible of AEGEE-Katowice.

GT: Tell a story of something interesting, remarkable or exciting that happened during this trip!
Well… we started from Warsaw because of an ACDC concert – it was a really exciting introduction for our adventure. During travelling to Miedzyzdroje we meet a truck driver from Ukraine who took us to Torun. He didn’t speak English, we tried to communicate using Polish and he answered in Ukrainian. After a short stop in Torun we met local hooligans, who took us near the main road to Bydgoszcz. I have to admit that it was a short but a little scary trip. Near Bydgoszcz, we meet a guy from Zabrze, my home town, who took us to Szczecin, close to Miedzyzdroje.

Cegla destination
Destination reached!

GT: How long do you usually have to wait till you get a new ride? And how are the drivers like?
Usually we wait something about 15 minutes. The drivers are different: from truck drivers and hooligans to quiet, normal men about the age of my father.

GT: Do you just try to arrive as fast as possible or do you use the chance to stop somewhere and look at the cities and nature?
We arrived to Międzyzdroje to visit the seaside, but also to meet with our friends from AEGEE-Katowice who are working there during summer.

GT: Do you have a lot of hitchhiking experience?
To be honest – it’s my first time! Aneta is more experienced, she travelled across Europe.

GT: You do hitchhiking for the money or the adventure?
I could say for both, but more for adventure.

AEGEE-Dresden’s Daniel Fonseca Pilzecker: Hitchhiking to 8 cities in 9 days

Hitchhiking Daniel Fonseca PilzeckerGT: From where to where do you go on your hitchhiking trip?
Daniel: I’m making a circle: Dresden-Krakow-Poprad-Budapest-Bratislava-Vienna-Brno-Katowice-Dresden.

GT: Why did you choose this destination?
Daniel: Checking out central Europe before leaving back to Portugal!

GT: When did you depart this month and when will you arrive?
Daniel: I left on the 22nd and will be back on the 31st – hopefully!

GT: With whom are you travelling?
Daniel: Jura! A Lithuanian girl I met three weeks ago during an Erasmus+ Project in Spain where AEGEE-Dresden participated. We had this crazy idea and just did it!

GT: Tell a story of something interesting, remarkable or exciting that happened during this trip!
Daniel: Well, crossing Slovakia was a real challenge, only locals passing by and taking us bit by bit. There was one guy who took us till the border, who didn’t speak a single word of either English, German, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Lithuanian, Russian or Polish – so we were using just our hands to communicate, really interesting! Afterwards we had to cross the border by foot and arrived at our hostel at 1 am, so it was quite an adventure.

Hitchhiking Daniel Fonseca Pilzecker2GT: How long do you usually have to wait till you get a new ride? And how are the drivers like?
Daniel: I had everything from 3 hours up to a driver stopping before we even tried! The drivers are always really nice people, mostly foreigners though.

GT: Do you just try to arrive as fast as possible or do you use the chance to stop somewhere and look at the cities and nature?
Daniel: The idea of the trip is seeing central Europe so we always check out the city we stop in.

GT: Do you have a lot of hitchhiking experience?
Daniel: Not at all, it’s my first time for a multi-day tour!

GT: You do hitchhiking for the money or the adventure?
Daniel: Definitely the adventure! Sometimes I even think to myself it would be worth way more to take a cheap train than waiting so long, but it’s just too much fun and a great challenge.

GT: A few words about you: what’s your age, studies, antenna?
Daniel: I’m from awesome AEGEE-Dresden, 21 and studying mostly the Erasmus lifestyle – mixed with a bit of Computer Science.

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