Garda Lake – Ljubljana
I resume my journey without difficulty. An Italian couple first takes me to Venice, then Peter and his daughter Lila are driving to Hungary and agree to drop me off at a gas station a few kilometres before Ljubljana. There, I find a last ride to reach the capital.
It may be hard for a visitor walking around Ljubljana today to believe that the country was still part of a communist state less than thirty years ago. Slovenia is the wealthiest and most developped country of former Yugoslavia. The omnipresence of Austro-Hungarian architecture almost makes you feel like you are in Vienna. As for the large greyish residential buildings you typically find in Belgrade or Sarajevo, they are almost missing from the urban landscape of the Slovenian capital.
It’s already 9 PM when I enter the city and start looking for a hostel. The first I find is fully booked up tonight. I look in the Internet for another one, only to find out that not a single bed is available is the whole city. It might have been expected as today is saturday in the middle of high season. What’s beautiful but also problematic about hitchhiking is that you never really know where you will end up at the end of the day, which makes it quite hard to book anything in advance.
I meet Rob outside the hostel. He’s a dutch guy travelling around the Balkans by himself. We get along well and spend the evening in Metelkova, an autonomous cultural centre of the capital. As I haven’t found anywhere to sleep, I decide to get some rest for a few hours in a park before heading off in the morning. Yet when I wake up I realise that one of my bags is gone… Someone took advantage of me sleeping to steal the bag containing my camera (and all the pictures taken so far), my laptop, my passport, etc. It’s quite a blow. I’ve only been travelling for two weeks and I’m already facing a major problem. Luckily, I still have my national identity card and my credit card. Therefore I can keep travelling all the way to Istanbul where I will make an extended stop and apply for a new passport. I will also have to buy a new camera and a new laptop. It goes without saying that my tight budget will become even tighter.
Ljubljana – Belgrade
After this mishap, I am eager to leave the city and resume my journey to close this unpleasant chapter. What’s more I’m in a hurry to reach more affordable places given my meagre finances. I start hitchhiking again on the following morning with a clear goal in mind : make it to Belgrade. To do this, I need to cover over 500 kilometres through Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.
I struggle to get out of Ljubljana and need to go to a better gas station. It’s already 1 PM when I find a Serbian truck driver willing to take me to Zagreb. From there, a car takes me all the way to Slavonski Brod near the Serbian border. I only know a few words in serbo-croat and my driver barely speaks English. Our conversation is not very elaborate to say the least. And yet we spend over two hours together so we try to communicate as much as we can. As I realise he knows how to say “good” and “bad”, I ask him his opinion about several cities of the region:
Only 150 kilometres to go until Belgrade! However it’s 6:30 PM now and the darker it gets, the harder it becomes to find a ride. I get lucky and meet a Romanian family on the way to Bucharest who agrees to take me and even makes a lenghty detour to drop me off in the centre of Belgrade.