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martes, 27 de mayo de 2014

Moscow-NYC


A few months ago, when I was planning my trip, I spent a few days looking for the cheapest way to get to the USA.
I could have never imagined that Moscow was the cheapest and the most convenient one. It was 150€ cheaper than fly from London. And it was a direct flight. Since that day I was checking the prices every day, but I didn't dare to buy it.
Finally I paid not even 300€ for the flight with Transaero.

And finally, I saw myself in Vnukovo Airport, on that Monday, April 21st, ready to get to a new continent. They made check my backpack, book a hostel for the first night and also buy a ticket to get out the country. I wasn't happy with those purchases, but fly from Russia to USA is not easy I guess.

The plane was way bigger that then ones I tend to fly at. I understood that Ryanair is not as good as I thought, specially when I helped myself of drinks and food.
I couldn't sleep in the plane, because the sunlight was following us. Actually, we set off at 10:20 and arrived to the JFK Airport, 11 hours later, at 12:30.

I was so looking forward to seeing the Manhattan skyline from the plane, but the pollution was like a big cloud between the airport and the big apple.

The passports control line was massive, and I waited for almost an hour until I got to the officer. He was, despite was I had been told, extremely friendly, and after a few jokes he stamped my passport.

I took the train to my hostel, in Manhattan. Just in from of Central Park. The metro was old, but it had a charm as any other subway has. There were people singing and asking for money. They were so cool.
When I got out the train, almost an hour later, and got to the street I could see a few big buildings, the yellow taxis and, bigger than I had imagined, Central Park. Finally I was here. It never was the city of my dreams, but after 6 months thinking of that, I was like dreaming.

Flight details.
Moscow Vnukovo-NYC JFK.
Distance: 7500 km.
Duration: 11 hours.
Price: 295€, bought 10 weeks earlier. One way.
Plane: Boeing 777-200











sábado, 24 de mayo de 2014

Night trains in the former Soviet Union.



As far as I had been told, the soviet trains were famous for meeting people and having fun for one night in the train, my experience, however, had nothing to do with meeting girls. 

Lviv-Kiev.

In Ukraine I decided to pay for transportation, for the first time in one month. I had only 6 days to spend in this country, and I didn’t want to waste one of them in the road. The price helped me a lot to make this decision. A night train from Lviv to Kviv, was only 6€, same price as the hostel. So it was really worth it. The train took around 11 hours, for just 600 km.

  • 6€. 11 hours. 


Kiev-Moscow. 

The train from Kiev to Moscow was different. I was a bit nervous, not knowing whether they were going to let me into the country, even though I had my visa and everything I was supposed to have. 
When I got into the train I had to fill a form, which I didn’t understand and nobody could help me out. I did it 4 times wrong, until the lady who worked in the train decided to fill it by herself. She was the rudest person I’d ever known, but at the same time she was kind of flirting with me. She could look at me as though she wanted to kill me and try to kiss me 5 seconds later. 
We arrived to the Ukrainian boarder and they woke us up in a really “nicely” way. They checked if I had drugs, and try to ask me some questions in Ukrainian, until they gave up because it was no possible to understand each other. Just after half an hour, the train started to move around towards Russia. 

We arrived to the Russian custom 2 hours later, and the officers treated Russian people in a different way than they did Ukrainians. When they saw I was Spanish, they didn’t know what to do. They checked my passport page by page. They asked me why I was going to Russia, why I had been to Ukraine. They checked my passport again. Then they checked my visa. And when I thought they had finished with me, they tried to figure out if I looked like the guy in the passport. The officer called two other colleagues to make sure I was that person. They spent at least 20 minutes with me, if not even more. 
Eventually they decided I could come to Russia, and they stamped my passport.
This stop took almost two hours, and they didn’t let us go back to sleep even though they had already finished with us. 


We arrived to Moscow at early morning, and for the first time in my trip I knew where I was going to sleep that night. So I went to my hotel, a really nice one, and rested the whole day waiting for my brother who arrived at night.  

  • 13 hours. 34€. 


Moscow-St Petersburg. St Petersburg-Moscow. 
Just trying to buy the tickets were a nightmare. I tried to book them in the hotel, and the prices were way too expensive. So I went to the train station and bought them without commission. Still, the lady asked for the passports again, check them out, and try to ask some questions in Russian. We got our tickets for the very same day for just 60€ per person two ways, and we got in a train nicer than the Ukrainian ones. 


  • 12 hours. 30€ each way. 


My experience with those trains is really good. They weren't really expensive considering the distances, and that you didn't need to pay for a hostel. 
They were  not really uncomfortable, and you could get a good rest. 


jueves, 22 de mayo de 2014

From Cluj Napoca to somewhere in Ukraine.



The day began with a really nice ride. In a horse cart.

As I had experienced two days before, hitch-hiking in Romania was quite easy. 

My plan was get to Sighetu Marmatiei, and cross the border to Ukraine from this small town. 

I got to Baia Mare after four rides, but I got off in the wrong place, and I waited for more than 30 minutes until a driver game me a lift to the edge of the town. 

Once there I waited 5 minutes until a car stopped. They were going to Sighetu Marmitei, ugly 60 km away, but the road was, yet really beautiful, quite slow and we arrived an hour later. Once in the boarder, the driver asked me to pay him for a ride. When I told him I had no money, he didn't get mad as I was told it could happen. 

I crossed the boarder on foot. They didn't ask a lot, and I entered a new country, and for the first time on this trip I got a stamp in my passport. 

I was in Bila Tserkva. A really small town, with no traffic at all. My plan to get to Lviv that day seemed impossible, but I tried to get as close as I could. 

I got into a really old truck, but I only advanced 5 km. Then a bus stopped. I told them I had no money, but still they let me in. Nobody spoke English, I had no maps, and the bus had the signs in Cyrillic, so I had no idea where I was going. 

One of the people in the bus felt sorry for me, and when he saw me eating a tomato, he gave me some bread. I was so thankful. But when he got off the bus, he gave me some money. He gave me a lesson. I'm sure I had more money than him in my bank account. But his heart was way bigger than mine. I learnt what I already knew. The less you have, the more generous you become. 

I was told that I should get off in Mukachevo in order to get to Lviv the day after. I did so, and I was in a city I knew nothing about, in a rainy evening, and it was already dark. 

I asked a guy for hotels, and he came with me all around the town looking for the cheapest one. I tried to get a night for free in exchange of work in all the places I asked, but it didn't work out, so I end up sleeping in Delfin hotel. I got a really big room for just 15€. 

I got a really nice rest, and I walked around the city a bit before going to the road, heading to Lviv. I liked this city so much, I was surprised about the colorful churches and the cheap prices of the food in the supermarkets. 
The trip to Lviv was also easy. I went in a truck the whole way, but he dropped me off 5 km away from Lviv, in the middle of the highway. It was raining so hard, and I didn't want to walk the whole way, but I thought it was going to be really hard to get a lift. 
Nevertheless, I waited no more than a minute when a car stopped. The driver was Olga. A really nice Ukrainian woman who was the best driver I had so far, and I didn't know yet, but also the last one in Europe. 

She dropped me off in the very center of Lviv, and she introduced me her daughter Sophi, who was the best guide I could ever asked for.










jueves, 8 de mayo de 2014

Autostop de Sofia a Rumanía.

Fantanele.

Dejé Sofia sin saber si ir hacia Bucarest o la parte oeste de Rumania, así que dejé a los conductores decidir donde iba a dormir esa noche. Había empezado muy tarde, a eso de las 3, así que sabía que no iba a llegar muy lejos.

Al lado de Rumanía.
Necesité 2 coches y un camión para llegar a la frontera con Rumania, en Svishtov. Había que cruzar el Danubio en ferry, y tuve suerte de llegar a tiempo de coger el último, a las 7pm. Costaba 2€.

Quería conseguir que alguno de los conductores del ferry me llevasen, pero sólo había dos camiones y un coche. No iban muy lejos, pero aceptaron llevarme a un pueblo cercano siempre que yo pasase el control de aduana a pie.

Me cogieron después del control, y me dejaron en un pueblo llamado Zimnicea, en la que las calles eran de tierra.

Mi abuela rumana. 
La gente me miraba como si no hubieran visto un turista en su vida. Pero me ayudaron a encontrar la carretera principal hacia el siguiente pueblo, puesto que no había hoteles allí.

De camino a la carretera principal, un grupo de chicas vinieron preguntando por mi número de teléfono, pero no hablaban inglés, así que no pude conseguir alojamiento con ellas.

Después de 10 minutos esperando, un coche paró y me llevó hasta el siguiente pueblo. Allí llamaron a su hijo para que tradujese que si quería que me llevasen a la siguiente ciudad, tenía que pagarles. No tenía ni dinero ni ganas de pagar por moverme, así que les pregunte por un parque donde dormir. Pero no había en el pueblo.

Alex.
Les ofrecí trabajar con el ganado al día siguiente si me dejaban dormir en su casa, y aceptaron. Cenamos en casa de la abuela de Alex, y tomé una cena deliciosa. También me enseñó el pueblo y me presentó a sus amigos.

Al día siguiente, fuimos a casa de la abuela a desayunar. Patatas fritas con huevo y vino a las 9 de la mañana.

Fui a la carretera sobre las 10:30, dispuesto a llegar a Cluj-Napoca. A unos 550 km.

Fue bastante bien, necesité 7 vehículos distintos. La carretera estaba sólo regular, y uno de los camiones tardó una hora en recorrer 40 km. También fui en un taxi que se enfadó cuando le dije que no tenía para pagarle, pero aún así me llevó 100 km.

Llegué a Cluj por la noche. Un larguísimo viaje desde Sofia, pero una gran experiencia. Gracias Alex, espero verte de nuevo en España.
Reparando las luces. 






Adelantando con línea continua en una curva. 





Hitch-hicking from Sofia to Romania.

Not far away from a new country. 
I left Sofia without knowing whether going to Bucharest or the west part. So I let the drivers decide where I was going to sleep that night.

I started the trip too late, around 3 pm, so I knew I wasn't going to get far away.

I needed 2 cars and one truck to get to the boarder between Bulgaria and Romania. I was in Svishtov, but to get to Romania I had to take a ferry which crosses the Danube. Luckily, I arrived on time to get the last one, at 7 pm. It cost 2€.

I wanted to get a lift from the people who were traveling in the ferry, but there were just two trucks and a car.
They weren't going far away, but accepted to drop me off at the closest town, as long as I crossed the boarder on foot.

After the custom they picked me up, and drive for 10 minutes until we got to Zimnicea. A really small town, where I could only find sand roads.

The people stared at me, as though I was the first tourist they had ever seen. But they were friendly, and helped me to find the main road, since there were no hotel in that town.

Fantanele. 
On my way to the "big" road, a group of girls asked me for my telephone number, but they didn't speak English so it didn't work out.

A car stopped after 10 minutes waiting, and they gave me a lift to Fantanele. Once there, they called their son, on order to translate that they could drop me off in Alexandria, a big city, 40 min away, if I paid them. I didn't have money, and I wasn't willing to pay for transportation. The weather was nice, so I asked them for a park where I could sleep, and get up early to keep going the day after.

My Romanian Grandma. 
They told me there were no parks in town, so I offered to work with their animals if they let me stay in their place.
I think they felt sorry for me, because they accepted. We went to Alex's grandma, and we ate a delicious dinner. He showed me the little village he lived in and he introduced me to his friends.

The day after, we had breakfast in his grandma's. French fries with eggs and wine at 9 o'clock in the morning.

I went to the road around 10:30, ready to get to Cluj-Napoca. 550 km away.

It went pretty good. I took 7 different vehicles. The road wasn't good at all, and one of the trucks took 1 hour to cover 40 km. I also went into a taxi, who got mad when I told him I had no money, but he drove me for 100 km anyways.

I eventually got to Cluj at night. Such a long trip from Sofia. Over 800 km in two days, but meeting Alex was a great experience. I really appreciate your help, and I hope I can see you again in Spain amigo!


Alex!

Overtaking at a dangerous curve. 








Repairing the lights.