2 Euroopa maakat Lõuna-Ameerikas

Pärast kahte väga pikka aastat säästmist ja Hanna magistrikraadi lõpetamist jõudsime me lõpuks oma unistuste reisini Ameerikates (Põhja-, Kesk-, ja Lõuna-). Eelnevalt oleme me ainult reisinud Euroopas, kuid mitte kaugemal. Sügisesest Eestist oktoobri lõpus lahkudes saabusime me Argentiina kevadesse, mis temperatuuride poolest meenutab pigem Eesti vägagi sooja suve. Need kaks nädalat uue kliimaga harjumiseks olid liiga vähe.

Meie esimene peatus oli London, kust läks meie lend Buenos Airesesse. Olles äsja just Inglismaa tolmu jalge alt pühkinud, ei olnud see just meie unelmate sihtpaik. Tasapisi hakkasime aga juba siis tundma Ladina-Ameerika iseärasusi: lennujaama piirikontrollis küsiti mult lisaks ID kaardile ka passi, mille ma pidin kõigi oma asjade alt seljakotist välja õngitsema. Igas valuutavahetuspunktis seisis umbes 4-5 inimest, kuid ühtegi klienti silmapiiril näha ei olnud. Lisaks avastasime me Londonis valuuta vahetuskursse, mida pole enne näinud. Müügi ja ostu väärtused erinesid mõnes valuutas kogunisti 40-60%. Sim kaarti ostes aga märkasime, et eelnevalt tuntud 99 penni maksnud kaardid on nüüd väljas 20 naela eest. Midagi, mida ootaks arengumaades.

Buenos Airese rahvusvahelises lennujaamas inglise keelega aga jäädakse hätta. Valuutavahetuspunktides töötavaid ametnikke oli kõigest 1, kuid talle olid seltsiks 2 relvastatud turvameest. Ja erinevalt Inglise omadest, seisis nende putkade järjekorras hunnikute viisi inimesi. Sim kaardi ostmine läks üsna muretult. Sul tuli kõigest näidata oma passi ning valida oli vaid 1 pakett ja 1 variant. Passi näitamisega me harjusime lõpuks ära toidupoodides, kus seda küsitakse iga kord kui sa kaardiga maksad.

Argentiina on hetkel väga odav. Viimatised majanduslikud probleemid ja kõrge inflatsioon on sundinud argentiinlased lõpetama välismaale reisimise ning soosib pigem kõiki muumaalasi. Meie suureks üllatuseks olid rongid väga odavad. 700km Cordoba linna maksab kõigest 10 eurot (kuid võtab umbes 13 tundi aega) ja paar peatust linnavahel on 10 eurosenti.

Buenos Aires on suur, kuid äärelinn on tohutu. Ilmselgelt ei olnud meil aega terve linna jaoks. Minu isiklik mulje oli ¨nagu oleks Musta mere ääres¨. Erinevalt Euroopa linnadest, polnud seal väga midagi ajaloolist. Enamus tänavaid on sirged ja üsna samasugused. Lõputud paneelmajad. Me tulime siia ootustega näha Lõuna-Ameerika Pariisi ja me pidime pettuma. Ma ei ütleks, et seal on väga midagi vaadata ja kindlasti ei tasu sinna  reisida üle ookeani lihtsalt selle pärast. Õnneks meie ka seda ei teinud.

Majutuseks valisime me kohe alguses Couchsurfingu. Meie jaoks oli oluline kohaliku elu, süsteemi ja inimeste tundma õppimine. Kuigi nüüd sellele tagasi vaadates, tundub, et meil läks õnneks, et üldse koha noorte inimeste majas leidsime. See oli 2-korruseline maja, kus noor paar elas all, tüdruku isa üleval, ning tüdruku ema kõrval majas. Majade vahetus läheduses oli veel kolmas hoone, kus tüdruku lahutatud vanemad koos poodi pidasid. Äge oli see, et tüdruku ema oli samuti Couchsurfingus ning meie kohaloleku ajal majutas ta üht saksa paari, kes samuti just alustasid oma Lõuna-Ameerika reisi. Teisel õhtul sõime me kõik koos õhtusööki- empanadas, mis on väga populaarne eine üle kogu riigi.

Et lennujaama jõuda tuli meil võtta rong ja buss. Linnarongides näeb kohalikke väga veidraid asju müümas ja kitarri mängimas. Me suutsime valida veel nii hea koha, et pillimäng toimus täpselt meie kõrva ääres. Buss aga ei peatunudki lennujaamas nagu pidi ning me pidime 3 km kotid seljas tagasi kõndima. Meile öeldi, et see on uus lennujaam sõjaväe vanal lennurajal. Kohale jõudes nägime me terminali, mis nägi välja nagu spordihoone riietusruum. Lennurada oli rohtukasvanud ja lapsed mängisid lennuraja ääres jalgpalli. Ei mingeid karme reegleid inimeste või kottide läbiotsimisel. Inimesed ootasid oma lendu õues muru peal.

Santiago rahvusvaheline lennujaam Tšiilis on suur ja uhke, kuid on peaaegu võimatu wifit või inglise keelt kõnelevaid töötajaid leida. Tavaline linnatransport sinna ei lähe, kuigi lennujaam on üsna linna lähedal. Nagu ikka, spetsiaalne buss linna maksab umbes 3x rohkem, kuid on vähem mugavam kui liinibuss.

Meie aeg Santiagos juba algas sekeldustega. Me saabusime reede pärastlõunal ja pidime minema linna teise otsa. Me ei saanud päris aru, kuidas ühistransport töötab, kuid üks kohalik lennujaamas ütles, et ühistransport töötab nagu tavaliselt. Kui me aga linna jõudsime, tuli välja, et kõik võimalikud asutused on kinni, kaasa arvatud ühistransport. Olime jõudnud täpselt reede õhtuse protesti ajaks. Ei liikunud seal ei ükski buss ega metroo. Üks vanem meesterahvas, kes meie kõrval väikese laua taga istus, hakkas meiega rääkima. Inglise keeles ja puha. Ta ütles, et bussid sõidavad, aga mitte kesklinnas. Sujuvalt läks ta üle aktuaalsetele teemadele ning hakkas seletama, kuidas ta üritab noori protestijaid peatada. Mitte, et me ei oleks tema seisukohtadega nõus olnud, kuid see polnud aeg ja koht, et seda arutada. Me olime võõras linnas ja juba hakkas pimedaks minema. Kui me lõpuks tulema saime, tuli välja, et bussipileteid bussis ei müüda ja selleks on hoopis vaja kaarti, mille saab ainult metroost (mis on suletud). Mõtlesime peas juba välja, mida kõike bussijuhile öelda, kuid nähes kümneid teisi inimesi lihtsalt bussi sisse ja välja hüppamas, unustasime selle sootuks. Meie sihtkoht oli natuke kahtlane naabruskond, kuid mis oli väga rahulik ja vaikne. Meie majutaja elas veel väravaga suletud alas, mis seetõttu oli äärmiselt ohutu. Meil oli jällegi suuepärane kogemus Couchsurfinguga. Meie majutaja rääkis väga head inglise keelt, ning oli samuti hüdroinsener. Seda nüüd küll iga päev ei juhtu! Nii muuseas mainis ta, et tema majas on palju skorpioneid (kui sa vaid oleks Hanna nägu näinud), kuid nad ei ründa, hüppa, roni, ega ole mürgised. Tuleb vaid oma jalanõusid, riideid ja kotte enne kasutamist kontrollida. Kahjuks ei näinud me ühtegi. Järgmisel hommikul nägime me hoopis ühte ämblikku, kuid seegi polnud mürgine. Tšiili tundub selles suhtes olevat üsna hea alguspunkt lääne turistidele. Kuid me saime ka juba tunda Tšiili natukene hirmutavamat poolt. Ühel lõunal süüa tehes kuulsin kummalist mürinat. Mürin läks muudkui suuremaks ja suuremaks, kuid ühtegi masinat ma aknast lähenemas ei näinud. Mürin läks seejärel sujuvalt üle kergeks värinaks või vappumiseks. Hanna tegi veel nalja, et see on maavärin. Pärast põgusat naeru saime aru, et see ongi maavärin ning ruttasime kiiresti majast välja. Jah, tegemist oli üsnagi väikese, kuid vägagi tuntavata maavärinaga. Majast välja vast poleks pidanud jooksma, aga see oli meie esimene maavärin. Mida muud me teha oskasime?

Vaatamisväärsuste koha pealt oli Santiago sama pettumustvalmistav kui Buenos Aires. Kui välja arvata pilvelõhkuja ja Andide mäed, siis polnud seal väga midagi vaadata. Võib olla Santa Lucia mägi kesklinnas, kuhu meil õnnestus vaid ühel päeval korraks minna, kuna tavaliselt oli see samuti protestijate valduses. Kuigi linn ise pole midagi vaatamist väärt, on see üsna eriline selle poolest, et see on väga kuiv. Kui sa tahad oma aias rohelist muru näha, tuleb sul seda ohtrasti kasta. See tähendab ka seda, et kella 11-18 on üsna raske jalgsi ringi liikuda, sest kuumus on lämmatav.

Meie teine majutaja oli grupp noori õpetajaid, kes olid väga protestimeelsed. Iga päev pärast tööd läksid nad tunniks välja meelt avaldama. Nende meeleavaldused olid aga palju rahulikumad kui need, mis kesklinnas aset leidsid. Iga üks haaras kaasa mõne pilli ning mängis lihtsat rütmi ta ta tatata. Inimesed jäid tänavatele seisma või ühinesid autopasunaga. Noored kasutasid seda kui võimalust kohata samameelseid inimesi, kellega hiljem koos õhtust süüa, kokku lüüa või suitsetada.

Meie eesmärk Santiagos oli aga auto osta, sest igal pool mujal tundus see liiga keeruline ja aeganõudev (kui mitte võimatu). Esmaspäeva hommikul läksime me koos agentuuri, mis on spetsialiseerunud autoga reisimisele. Pärast kuude pikkust ebaõnne õnnetust meil siiski auto leida. Eelmised omanikud olid prantslased, kes jätsid terve hunniku asju autosse. Näidikul seisab 370k km 20 aasta peale ja loodetavasti see Toyota suudab veel 200k km. Roolivõimendit sellel autol ei ole ja ma tahaks näha, kuidas Hanna seda pargib. Isegi mul on võhm väljas. Kahjuks tuli välja, et see oli kõigest kerge osa pikas kadalipus. Nüüd tuli hakata paberiasju ajama. Pabereid, mida on palju, mis maksavad palju, ja mille ajamisel keegi väga inglise keelt ei räägi. Ilma agentuuri, tuttava või eelmiste omanike abita oleks see olnud üks suur nali. Eriti arvestades, et protestid jätkusid, mis tähendab seda, et 2 tunni töö saab tehtud umbes 2 nädalaga.

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Lõpuks saime me paberid aetud ning nüüd on meil kaasas üle 8 dokumenti, mis lubavad meil selle autoga sõita ja piire ületada. Lõplik omaniku tõend aga tuleb alles 3-8 nädala pärast- lihtsalt üks kood paberil, mis lamineeritakse. Välimuse poolest tundub, et 6-aastane suudaks selle järele teha umbes poole tunniga, kuid ametnikel võtab kuu või 2. Ja seda ilma protestideta.

Teine nädalavahetus Tšiilis polnud meil väga midagi teha, kuna ootasime agentuuris paberite järgi ja otsustasime seega linnast välja Maipo orgu minna. Me lahkusime linnast üsna hilja ja plaanisime öö veeta tee ääres. Keset ööd aga kuulsime koputusi autoaknale. Kohalik politsei küsis meie dokumente ja väitis, et see piirknd on liiga ohtlik siin parkimiseks ja öö veetmiseks. Meie õnnetuseks polnud meil veel auto pabereid ja kui need politseinikud oleks vaid natuke veel surkinud, oleksid nad sellest ka teada saanud. Õnneks väga väga halb hispaania keel päästis meid. Sellest hoolimata ei saa me siiani aru, miks nad väitsid, et see piirkond oli ohtlik. Järgmisel päeval pakkus üks kohalik talunik meile oma aias varjualust, sest päikese käes oli lihtsalt liiga palav. Esmaspäeval saime me lõpuks kõik vajalikud paberid kätte ning kihutasime juba Argentiina poole. Meil oli plaan mõned asjad autos ära parandada ja lisaks muretseda. Sest Tšiili, eriti Santiago ja selle ümbrus, on meile üllatuseks  väga kallis. Samuti ei vastanud tõele väide, et Tšiili teed on väga heas korras. Ma poel kindel, millised on ameeriklaste standardid, kuid eurooplaste jaoks ei olnud see kindlasti ’väga hea’. Isegi ukrainlased ei oleks sellega rahul olnud. Tšiili teed on väga auklikud. Ja mitte ainult. Sa hüppad pidevalt autos üles-alla nagu seilaks merel. Vahel näed sa seda ette tulemas, vahel mitte. Nagu ülejäänud infrastruktuur saksa või jaapani perfektsionism on siin üks suur utoopia. Korralikku dušši või toaletti meil samuti ei õnnestunud leida.

Sellised olid meie esimesed 2 nädalat. Üsna stressirohked ja mitte nii nauditavad, kuid selle eest huvitavad. Mõned teist ja meie ise ka tõime juba enne reisi välja, et see saab olema üks korralik proovikivi meie suhtele. 24/7 terve aasta koos olla paneb igasuguse suhte varem või hiljem proovile. Isegi, kui eelnevalt on juba läbi elatud nii mõndagi. Nüüd ma võin öelda, et see tuli pigem varem. Esimesest päevast alates, kui aus olla. Loodetavasti on see vaid stress.

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2 European rednecks in Americas

After very long 2 years of tough saving money and her passing a masters degree we finally got to do our dream trip around the Americas. Previously we have only travelled a bit around Europe but never any further. Now from Estonian late autumn (0 and dark) we went into the beginning of South American summer (25+ and sunny) and two weeks were not enough to adapt…

Our first stop could not have been any more dreamed than that. London. Yayyyyy! Things that you expect in Latin America would hit you right away there. Our flight from the EU to London was already shifted into the overseas section, English border officer with my ID card in his hand asked my passport too so I had to pack out my whole backpack and let the line behind me feel that it ain’t so easy to get on this dream island, currency exchange offices had 10 times more employees than customers with rates varying by 40/60% between buy and sell! And sim cards with stickers 99p as a whole country flat rate were sold for 20£. Walking out of the airport to the nearest store with sim cards lead me into a jungle full of mud and weird looking taxi drivers within just 200m. Just about what you can expect from a developing country. On the other hand, the pleasant difference was, everyone spoke English.

In Buenos Aires international airport English was rather scarce though. There was just one exchange office, it had 2 armed guards and a hell of a line. Obtaining a sim card was not a problem of the price, rather than of other means. Passport was required and you would not get a contract nor just a prepaid card, you only could choose a one off package and you could only choose from one option. Eventually passport was required also whenever we tried to pay with a card in a shop. Is this Cuba or what?
Argentina is quite cheap now. Recent economic problems and high inflation pulls Argentinians back from travelling abroad and favours incoming foreigners. By far cheapest thing we found in our humble two days were trains. 700km ride to Cordoba for 10e (although taking for example 13h) or a city train for 0.10e.

Buenos Aires town is big but the urban area is just huge. We certainly have not gone through the full size. My personal feeling from the city was “like from around the Black Sea”. Without much of history that we are used to in European cities, most streets and blocks are straight and same looking. Endless panel blocks almost never two same next to each other gave me at least a feeling of colourfulness, which it isn’t there actually. Panel blocks look like their planning and construction was not heavily centralized like in our countries. We came to the city with the expectation for Paris of South America – and were disappointed. I would not say sightseeing can offer much and definitely not to travel overseas just for that. Well, for our good, that’s not why we’re here.

For our accommodation we chose Couchsurfing straight away. Getting to know the local life, system, people was pretty important for us. Although looking for it late, we were lucky enough to find a shelter at a young couple’s house. The estate contained a two story house (them downstairs, her dad upstairs), another house (her mom, divorced with the dad) and another house – a store – run by both mom and dad – and it works! JWhat was adorable, her mom is also on Couchsurfing and the second night she had a German couple starting their South American trip just like us, over as well. So we had a common dinner even with the dad. With typical local food – empanadas. Which looks like a thing n.1 beyond the borders. You see them everywhere. Theoretically you can fill them with anything but finding them ready without both meat and cheese is virtually impossible.

After a ride in a city train where we met people trying to sell really random stuff or earn some coins by playing guitar and singing, just in front of our ears, we had to take a bus to the airport that did not stop at the airport and dropped us one stop further so we had to walk 3km back to catch a flight to Chile. Our hosts told us it’s a new airport. Well, perhaps newly opened as a public airport. Otherwise it’s an old military airport where old panel blocks are wearing off, grass grows in between them right on the runway, mechanics are fixing old plane parts right next to the runway and just behind them local boys play football because there is no fence. The terminal looks like a changing room of a big gym, people are waiting for their flight outside on the grass, and security checks as lax as without the scan you’d think you’re boarding a small ferry.

In Santiago de Chile international airport you can see a pretty modern and developed airport, where again, you can’t get a wifi, you struggle to talk English or find information. Regular public transport doesn’t run there although it is not out of the city. A special bus needs to be taken for a triple price and worse comfort than a standard city bus would give.

Our time in Santiago started quite hectic. We arrived on Friday dinner time and had to get across the full width of the city to the other edge of it. We hardly understood how does the public transport work but the guy from the airport bus told us subway certainly works so we took it as the safer option. When we hit the town, everything was closed, because on Friday evening of course everyone went protesting (as for the situation then). And subway – of course it was closed. With her heartbeat over 150 I guess some old man sitting by a small table on the pavement started talking to us. In good English, wow. Well he did help us, he did tell us the buses run quite ok and this and that way it is safe but it took him near to an hour meanwhile the dark was setting. He kept complaining about the protests and was trying to stop young protesters (they were all young it seemed) and inform them about the real problems – environmental ones. Not that us nor many of the protesters disagreed but it was really not the time for anyone to bother. At a point we cut him off and walked to take a bus. We needed a card that could only be purchased in the – closed – metro. So we were preparing a heart breaking speech for the driver but just about everyone else jumped in without checking in, so we did as well. Our final neighbourhood did not look very trustworthy but it was calm and our host lived in one of few communities with a guard that were actually extremely nice and safe. And he proved to be an amazing host, his English was perfect with none Spanish accent and he was a hydroengineer as well. Doesn’t happen that often! He also did mention that many scorpions like to seek shelter in his house (should have seen her look) but they don’t attack, jump, climb nor poison. Only to check our shoes, clothes and bags on the ground before using them. (her look still on). We did not meet a single one but we did meet a huge walking stick and a chicken spider just the next day. Also not attacking nor venomous. Eventually there should be almost no venomous animal in the whole Chile. Chile seems a good starting point for westerners. We also experienced our first earthquake just the second day. What a weird feeling! But can’t wait for more.

In Santiago we were as disappointed from sightseeing as we were in BA. Apart of a 300m skyscraper with the high Ands in its background we found literally 0 building to be worth sightseeing. Maybe a little hill Santa Lucia just downtown. Where we managed to get only after a few days earlier during the day as otherwise it was full of protests, roadblocks and annoying teargas. There are numerous hills around where you can have a great view on a city of no beauty. It isn’t really ugly either, to be fair. What it is, unlike most Europe or BA, it is very dry. If you want to have grass in the garden, you have to water it massively. Most gardens in or out of the city are just bone dry dirt with some resistant trees, bushes or flowerbeds that you water or irrigate a lot. It is the fact that this year is very dry and the summer basically started but the landscape give you the feeling it is not much greener otherwise. Our week in Santiago was very hot and blue skied and it was difficult to walk around the town or drive a car during 11-6 daytime.

Our second hosts were very young teachers that were very much into the protests and so every day after work they went for an hour at least around the corner to stand on the corner, hit whatever instrument they had (bongo, drum, whistle, flute, rock, pot and spoon or brush), maybe a flag or a sign and keep playing a plain “ta ta tatata” all the way. And people around would be joining, either walking by or coming out of the houses or shops and especially cars passing by with honking. All around the city, or perhaps even the country. They would also meet new people up and spend the rest of the night with them by a dinner, drink, joint or else.

Our purpose to see Santiago at this moment was else though. We wanted a car and it seemed not very feasible anywhere else but Chile. On Monday we hit a travel agency specializing on for overlanders and cars for them. After so much online struggle few months before and of trying to get a converted minivan from a previous traveller, we luckily got one anyways just then. The previous guys are French and we learned that there were a bunch of equips before in that car. The clock says 370k km in this 20 year old Toyota and we have to believe in another 200k in this popular and rather reliable car. It doesn’t have powered steering wheel so I want to see Hanna parking with it. Myself I am so out of breath after this workout. Sadly this was the easy part. The hard part was the bureaucracy. You need tons of papers, tons of fees and no one speaks English. So doing it without a help of a friend, previous owner, or the agency we hired, could be a lot of fun. Especially during the striking and protesting time, when a thing that takes 2 hours can take 2 weeks. Finally we got our papers within a week, some others got it faster, some slower. We have more than 8 documents now allowing us to travel with it within some countries but the final one, the document of my ownership, will only come in 3-8 weeks. That paper is a piece of standard soft white paper without any chip or extra protective feature, just a barcode. Laminated in the cheapest plastic cover I have seen. 6 year old kid would fake it for me in half an hour, but the officials take a month or two. If there is no strikes, yeah.

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Second weekend in Chile we had nothing to do in the city so we went in the Maipo valley just outside of the town. We pulled over just next to the main road to sleep. Some cops woke us up asking our documents and sending us away. It was pretty close that they would learn we have no papers of the car yet. Lucky enough, our too bad Spanish saved us. They told us it is dangerous there and anywhere further up the valley even worse. Actually it is most likely the other way around, which we did. Once we were even invited to park in someone’s farm to hide in a shadow. After the weekend we received our papers and took off right away towards Argentina. To fix some bits on the car and to add up some tools and supplies. Because Chile, at least Santiago and around… is nowhere near to cheap. Central Europe prices what we found. We were told that Chile is expensive indeed. But we were also told that their roads and motorways are of an excellent quality. Well, not sure what the American standards really are but regarding European standards I’m pretty sure even in Ukraine they wouldn’t be happy about these roads. I couldn’t imagine what everyone meant by “these South American bumpy roads” could mean because when you open a streetview, you will often see a very decent surfaces. Oh Lord, the roads really are bumpy. They don’t even need potholes to knock you off the road. The roads just simply hop up and down like when you sail a sea, sometimes expectedly more often unexpectedly. Just like with the rest of infrastructure, German or Japanese perfectionism is a giant utopia around here. A decent shower or toilet is something we have not experienced yet either.

So that was our first two weeks, quite stressful, sure not so enjoyable though pretty interesting. Some of you including us would say spending 24/7 the whole year together will test our relationship properly, sooner or later. Although we have gone through a lot together, yes, of course. Well, I can tell you now, way sooner than we would have imagined. Basically we started argue on the very first day. Hoping it’s the initial stress and mess.

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2 evropští vidláci v Americe

Po dvou dlouhých letech těžkého škudlení a její magisterské promoce jsme se konečně dostali k našemu vysněnému výletu kolem Ameriky. Doposud jsme se podívali jen tu a tam po Evropě a nikdy dál. Tak teď z ledového a tmavého estonského podzimu jsme naskočili do začínajícího léta v Jižní Americe (25+ a modro nebes) a dva týdny nám k adaptaci teda nestačily…

Naše první zasávka nemohla být vysněnější. Londýn. Jooooo! Momenty, které by člověk čekal v latinské Americe, ho živě zasáhly už zde. Náš let z EU do Londýna byl už přeložen do sekce zámořských letů, anglický pasovák s mou občankou v ruce hodlal vidět také můj pas, čili jsem musel obrátit svou krosnu vzhůru nohama a dát pocítit ostatním ve frontě, že dostat se na tento vysněný ostrov nebude zadarmo, nespočetné směnárny měly asi 10x víc zaměstnanců, než zákazníků, sazby s rozdílem 40/60% nákup/prodej! A sim karty s nálepkami 99p(pencí) jakožto fixní sazbu po celé zemi napříč operátory se tam prodávaly za 20 liber. Cestou z letiště do nejbližšího normálního obchodu se simkami mě během 200m z letiště zavedly do blátivého pralesa, podél kterého se poflakovali taxikáři, kterým bych nevěřil ani nos mezi očima. Tak nějak to, co by člověk čekal od rozvojové země. Na druhou stranu velmi příjemnou změnou bylo, že všichni uměli perfektně anglicky.

Na letišti v Buenos Aires to bylo s angličtinou o dost slabší. Našel jsem tam jedinou směnárnu, u ní stáli dva přesvědčivě ozbrojení bezpečáci a nehorázná fronta (která je, pro mě překvapivě, latinskoamerickým standardem). Opatřit si sim kartu nebyl problém ceny, ale procesně rozhodně. Musel jsem předložit pas a dostal jsem pouze předplacenou kartu s balíčkem a na výběr byla jediná varianta. Pas jsem nakonec musel předkládat i v obyčejném krámu při placení kartou. Kde to jsme, na Kubě?

Argentina je teď celkem levná. Nynější hospodářské problémy a vysoká informace přivádí Argentince zpět z cest a upřednostňuje přicestujívší cizince. Jendoznačně nejlevnější věc, co jsme našli v pouhých dvou dnech, byly vlaky. 700km do Cordoby za 250Kč (nicméně to jede třeba 13h) nebo městský vlak za 2,50Kč.

Buenos Aires samotné je velké, ale jeho aglomerace je obrovská. Rozhodně jsme nezvládli se projet celou jeho šířkou. Můj osobní dojem z města byl “něco z černomořského pobřeží”. Bez sáhodlouhé historie, na kterou jsme zvyklí v Evropě, valná většina ulic a bloků je rovná a fádní. Nekonečné paneláky skoro nikdy dva stejné vedle sebe mi aspoň dávaly pocit rozmanitosti, barevnosti. Což tam jednoduše není. Narozdíl od našich krajů je tam ale vidět absence centrálního plánování z doby totality (která tam v době naší normalizace byla taky, ale vypadala jinak). Přijeli jsme tam s očekáváním Paříže Jižní Ameriky – a zklamalo nás to. Na památky se tam dívat bych teda neposílal nikoho, určitě ne přes oceán. No, naštěstí, proto jsme se tam netrmáceli.

Jako formu noclehu jsme bez otálení zvolili Couchsurfing. Poznat místní život, systém, lidi, bylo celkem prioritou pro nás. Ačkoliv jsme se na to šli dost pozdě, štěstí nám přálo a přístřeší jsme našli v domku jednoho relativně mladého páru. Byl to takový malý komplex na sebe nalepených budov, vzadu stál dvoupatrový domek (oni měli přízemí, patro její táta), uprostřed dvorek a další domek (její matka, s tátou rozvedená) a ve předu další domek, totiž obchod, který provozují oba její rodiče vzájemně. Ale funguje to! 🙂 Nejroztomilejší byla její matka, která je taky na Couchsurfingu a druhý večer měla u sebe párek Němců taky začínajících jejich tour de Jižní Amerika. Tak jsme všichni zasedli ke společné večeři, i s otcem. Podávalo se něco velmi typického – empanadas – takové něco jako pirožky. Zdá se, že bez toho ta země a nejen ta prostě nežije. Najdete je úplně všude. Teoreticky se to dá plnit čímkoliv, ale sehnat je hotové bez masa a sýra je skoro nemožné.

Po jízdě městským vlakem, kde jsme také potkali různé lidičky snažící se střelit kdejaké podivnosti, nebo si vykoledovat nějaké drobné hrou na kytaru a zpěvem místních odrhovaček (dost dobrých) přímo u našich uší, museli jsme přesedlat na autobus na letiště, kde nás pan řidič nevysadil, ale vysadil nás na další zastávce, abychom se hezky prošli s plnou polní zpět asi 3km, odkud jsme měli letět do Chile. Naši hostitelé nám sdělili, že se jedná o nové letiště. Tedy, asi myšleno nově otevřené jako veřejné letiště. Jinak se jedná o staré vojenské letiště, jehož betonové panely vypadají jako na strahovském stadionu, ze spár mezi nimi roste tráva přímo na přistávací dráze, hned vedle kteréž se válejí vymontované částí starších letadel a mechanici si s nimi hrají, a kousek za nimi je tráva, kde si už hrají místní kluci s míčem, protože prostě tam žádný plot není. Terminál vypadá jak šatny nějaké větší tělocvičny, lidi čekají venku před vchodem na trávě a bezpečnostní prohlídky byste si ani nevšimli, kdybyste nemuseli projít alespoň tím obligátním skenerem.

Na mezinárodním letišti v Santiago de Chile (které je narozdíl od x v BA jedinné) si může člověk vychutnat moderní a solidní letiště, kde se mu opět nedostane wifi a sotva se domluví anglicky, nebo domákne nějakých informací. MHD tam nedosáhne, ačkoliv to není nijak z ruky z města. Člověk musí nasednout na speciální (horší) bus za trojnásobnou cenu oproti zbytku MHD.

Naše návštěva Santiaga začala celkem hekticky. Přistáli jsme v pátek v podvečer a potřebovali jsme se dostat úplně na opačný konec města. Sotva jsme porozuměli, jak tam funguje MHD, ale ten pán z jedné z těch letištních bus linek nám nakonec řekl, že metro rozhodně funguje a tak jsme se radši rozhodli pro metro, jakožto jistější a bezpečnější variantu. Když nás to dovezlo do města, všecko bylo zavřeno, ano, pátek večer, ale hlavně všichni byli protestovat a nebo se klidit z cesty (jak se stalo zvykem zrovna tou dobou). A metro – samozřejmě mimo provoz. S jejím tepem vyskočivším na 150 na nás začal mluvit jeden starší chlápek sedící za stolkem postaveným provizorně na chodníku. Anglicky a solidně, wow. Informační okno nám pomohl doplnit, to ano, ujistil nás, že busy stále jezdí a tou a tou cestou se bezpečně dostaneme k několika linkám naším směrem. Ale podáválo se to s hromadou omáčky, která vydala tak na hodinu, takže se mezitím setmělo. Hodně si stěžoval na protesty a snažil se zastavovat jejich mladé (zdálo se, že jiní než mladí se neobjevovali) demonstranty za účelem osvěty o těch skutečných problémech – ekologických. Ne že bychom my nebo spousta z protestantů nesouhlasili, ale pro nikoho na to rozhodně nebyla vhodná chvíle. Nakonec se nám ho podařilo utnout a dojít na náš bus. Potřebovali jsme místní lítačku, která se dala sehnat jen v metru, velmi vtipně. Tak jsme si připravovali srdceryvnou story na řidiče, ale v momentě pravdy v podstatě všichni naskákali a naplnili bus taky bez cvaknutí, tak jsme následovali dav. Naše cílové předměstí vypadalo nevěrohodně, ale bylo fajn a náš hostitel bydlel v jedné ze speciálních komunit, které se podobaly spíš venkovu a byly v uzavřené oblasti s bránou a vrátným, kde je velice bezpečno a příjemno. Chlapík byl fakt třída, perfektní angličtina, světák a nakonec i vodohospodář, to se nestává denně. Mj. nás upozornil, že se v jeho domě rádi schovávají škorpioni (její výraz v obličeji stál za to), ale prý neútočí, neskáčou, nešplhají a nejsou jedovatí, jen si kontrolovat boty a věci na zemi (neobměkčilo ji to). No, žádného jsme bohužel neviděli, ale potkali jsme dost velkou strašilku a jednoho pořádně chlupatého velkého pavouka hned den nato. Taky neagresivní a nejedovatý. Ono vlastně v Chile prý není jedovatého skoro nic. Chile se zdá jako dobrý start pro objevování nového kontinentu. Vyzkoušeli jsme si taky naše první zemětřesení. Je to divný pocit, ale už se nemůžu dočkat dalšího.

V Santiagu jsme byli zklamaní z památek stejně jako v BA. Kromě 300m mrakodrapu s bílými vrcholky And v pozadí jsme našli přesně 0 budov, co za něco stály. Jedině malý pahorek Santa Lucia uprostřed města měl trochu co nabídnout. Tam jsme se dostali jen po několika dnech pozdního vstávání, protože každé odpoledne kolem centra začali kroužit demonstrantni, cesty se blokovaly a vzduch začal smrdět otravným slzným plynem. Kolem města je spousta kopečků nebo kopců s krásným výhledem na nekrásné město. Není ani hezké, ani ošklivé. Prostě jen město. Narozdíl od BA je pro nás neuvěřitelně suché. Kdo chce mít na dvorku pažit, musí ho kropit skoro neustále. Většina dvorků je jinak prach s pár keři nebo stromy, které to tolerují, nebo malými záhony s notným přísunem vody (to se často týká i těch dřevin). Sice jsme se tam objevili na prahu obecně suchého a horkého léta, umocněného letošní suchou zimou, ale nezdálo se, že by to jindy bylo o moc lepší. Náš týden v Santiagu byl horký a bezmračný a přes den to byla fuška chodit nebo jezdit po městě.

Naše druhá štace byla u třech velmi mladých učitelů, kteří byli dost zapálení do probíhajících demonstrací. Každý běžný večer šli alespoň kolem bloku na roh k semaforům, vzali jakýkoliv rytmický instrument byl po ruce (buben, bongo, flétna, píšťalka od rozhodčího, pánev, lžíce, kámen, koště), případně vlajku nebo nějaký nápis a začli dokola a dokola vyhrávat “ta ta tatata”. A kolemj(e)doucí se tu a tam začli přidávat, spousta řidičů zapojila své troubící schopnosti. A takhle to vypadalo podobně po celém městě, možná zemi, mimo ohniska těch opravdových demonstrací. Po hodince pak se lidi třeba rozešli, ale ne vždy úplně a někdy se dali s někým dohromady a strávili zbytek večera s náhodnými spoluprotestujícími o společné večeři, drinku, jointu nebo jamu.

Náš cíl v Santiagu byl ale jiný tentokrát. Chtěli jsme koupit auto a zdálo se, že jinde než v Chile to nebude dost dobře proveditelné. V pondělí jsme zašli do jedné agentury specializující se v pomoci a zprostředkování vozidel a s tím spojených věcí cestovatelům. Po měsících brouzdání internetem a shánění auta od již končících cestovatelů a chození od neúspěchu k neúspěchu jsme právě sehnali auto tou samou dobou. Oni, totiž několik kluků z Francie, to auto nechali náhodou u stejné agentury (ne že by jich bylo hodně, o žádné jiné nevím) a tak jsme si ho tam vyzvedli a nechali agenturu vyřešit za nás byrokracii. Na nábytku v autě jsme si přečetli, že takových skupinek už v této Toyotě Hiace jezdilo x před námi. Tachometr ukazoval 370k km, techničák rok výroby 98. No snad podrží ještě dalších 200k, auto je to tu oblíbené a relativně spolehlivé. Chybí mu posilovač volantu, tak se těším na Hannu, jak s tím bude parkovat. Já si u toho šlapu na plíce. To je ale ta snazší část. Horší je vypořádat se s úřednickým šimlem. Potřebujete bambilion papírů, poplatků a nikdo neumí anglicky. Popasovat se s tím bez pomoci známého, předchozího majitele, agentury, nebo vlastní zkušenosti s jazykem nebo kontinentem se rovná hrdinství. A na to není čas. Zrovna v době masových demonstrací, kdy spousta i úřadů zavírá a prostě nefunguje, čekací doby se můžou řádově prodloužit. Nakonec nám skoro celý proces zabral týden. Jen týden, to je dobrý výsledek. Někteří nás o pár dní předčili, ale některé jsme zase předčili my, i o několik týdnů. Máme přes 8 různých papírů, ale ten hlavní, techničák (malý, velký nemají) dostanu až za 3-8 týdnů. To je, prosím, něco jako průkazka do vesnické knihovny, obyčejný kousek papíru zatavený do nejlevnějšího plastu, žádné vodoznaky, proužky, čipy, nic. Dnešní prvňáček by mi to zfalzifikoval během velké přestávky, ale místní úřady ho budou vyrábět měsíc nebo dva. Pokud nejsou demonstrace.

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Druhý víkend v Chile před získáním našich lejster jsme se utrhli z města a zajeli do údoli Maipo, kousek za městem. No, kousek za městem začíná, končí 150km dál. Za účelem noclehu jsme se odstavili hned u silnice, kde nás ovšem vzbudili policisti a ptali se na doklady. Nechybělo mnoho, aby přišli na to že je nemáme, ale naše zmatenost a jazyková bariéra nám byly strážným andělem tehdy i xkrát poté. Řekli nám, že tam není bezpečno a dál do hor je to ještě horší. No myslím, že je to právě naopak, jako v každé jiné stabilizované zemi, a tím jsme se taky řídili. Jednou nás tam i pozval jeden rančer rovnou k sobě na pozemek, ne kvůli bezpečí, ale protože tam měl kus stínu, tak proč ne. Po víkendu jsme získali vysněné dokumenty a okamžitě pelášili do Argentiny. Opravit drobnosti na autě, dozásobit se. Protože Chile, alespoň Santiago a kolem… vážně není laciné. Asi jako ve střední Evropě. Na ceny v Chile jsme byli do jisté míry upozorněni předem. Ale také jsme byli upozorněni, že narozdíl od ostatních zemí mají v Chile vynikající silnice. No, nevím, jaká jsou americká měřítka, ale co se Evropy týče, ani na Ukrajině by si tyhle cesty nedali za rámeček. Neuměl jsem si přesně zařadit, co měla znamenat ta fráze “ty jihoamerické hrbolaté cesty”, kterých je plný internet. Když se podíváte na streetview, obvykle vidíte hezký koberec. Panenko skákavá ty cesty jsou ale hrbolaté. Tady na to ani nepotřebujou díry jako takové a vylomíte kolo nebo vás to vymete ze silnice pryč. Tu si vystačí s nepochopitelným vlnobitím, občas předvídatelným, častěji ale nepředvídatelným. Celkově místní infrastruktura neviděla pověstný německý nebo japonský perfekcionismus ani z rychlíku. Přijatelnou sprchu nebo záchod jsme taky ještě nezažili.

To byly tedy naše první dva týdny, docela hektické, rozhodně méně příjemné než zajímavé. Někteří, včetně mě, jste si neodpustili poznámku o tom, že trávit 24/7 ve dvou po celý rok dřív nebo později značně prověří náš vztah. Ačkoliv jsme si už prošli ledasčím, souhlasil jsem, počítali jsme s tím, dřív nebo později. Ponorka ale přišla dřív, než se čekalo. Hned od prvního dne. Doufáme, že jde jen o počáteční stres a chaos :-).

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Give way, it’s Christmas!

Restoring faith in humanity, starting from the traffic.

It is first of advent! 🎄 🎉

That means it’s only 4 weeks ’til Christmas and it is officially time to start celebrating with no guilt or shame! Whoop-whoop!

Before we get to the celebrating part I have something on my mind, haunting me already quite a while now. Something that really bothers me. So, when else to talk about those things but Christmas time when people are (at least seem to be) in a good mood and willing to cooperate.

The other day I was cycling home from work and for the 4th or 5th time almost got hit by a car. Why? How? What? I was cycling on a cyclist lane and wanted to turn right. Before a turn i always check behind me to make sure the way is free. I lifted up my right hand as a sign as well to really make sure everyone behind me can see my turn. 2 years of living in UK has taught me to always check twice. So now with my right hand up I decided to check again behind me if I am free to take the turn right. As I was turning my head and ready to start taking the right turn a car overtook me from the RIGHT side. Yes! People really do that. Although I had my hand up, I was already in the middle of the road ready to turn, a car behind me could not wait 5 seconds and overtook me from the right side, exactly where I was about to turn. If I would have not checked twice he would have deffinitely hit me. Fortunately, this time I was lucky and patient enough to save my ass.

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Then another evening I was cycling on the cycle lane while a bus was trying to overtake me. Which I don’t mind, obviously. What I do mind is cars, buses taking over cyclist right before a crossroad, bus stop or a turn. Why? Because right after overtaking me, they need to push the brakes and stop. I have to now stop right behind them as they  occupy the cyclist lane and most of the road. Even though I can see them stoping I never know if the cars behind me can see that and do not try to suddenly drive into me or overtake us both. So here I am squeezed behind 2 vehicles, I cannot see anything behind the bus to prevent a hit and therefore need to wait behind it. Anyone who spends more than 10-15 minutes in traffic daily knows that no one, and I mean NO ONE, will take that time to wait behind you.

It rains a lot in Manchester. And by a lot I mean  A LOT. Despite the rain I still prefer to cycle to work as it is literally 2x faster than taking a bus. And as you can probably sense from the previous 2 paragraphs I am not really into driving in here either. One night when coming back from work, cycling my ass off in the rain I had to face the humanity failing again. I always rather cycle on the footpath or cycle lane instead of the main road. The drivers here do not care about the cyclist, passengers or other drivers and therefore it is always safer this way. Some claim you can get a fine for cycling on the footpath but I would rather pay the fine that get into an accident. So, there I was cycling in the rain, hoping to get home soon AND safe. On Talbot road there is always huge mud puddles when it’s raining. You would expect a city like Manchester to have a decent drainage system but no. So in order not to get covered by mud COMPLETELY I had to either hop on the footpath or turn on the road. As there are edging everywhere I cannot really hop over it, especially when it’s wet and slippery. So, as always I checked the road before even deciding what to do. There was no one coming for another 300m. So I decided to turn on the main road until the mud puddle ends. As it was a BIG ONE it took a little while to overtake. Now guess what the cars did when reaching behind me. Yeah, they started horning at me. Are you kidding? Are you blind? I am in the damn rain. Do you want me to go swimming with the bike or what? They do not have an extra 10sec to wait until I can turn back on the cycle lane, they need to let you know you are slowing them down for 10sec. Disappointing. Is that really how we see each other? An obstacle? An unconvenience? Even when you sit in your warm, dry car you cannot take that time to be a HUMAN.

I see patients after car accidents every single day. And 9/10 times it is because someone did not pay attention in the traffic. Either talking, texting, calling, changing songs. How many people need to suffer in pain, even get killed for us to take that extra time for each other, give way even if you don’t have to, let someone take a safe turn and not rush them. Those people I described are not just English, just foreigners, someone you don’t know. It is me, it’s you, your neighbour, your uncle and his best friend. It is US. Instead of pointing fingers, let’s just make a change starting with ourselves. Yes, we have rules in the traffic and sometimes slowing someone down can be dangerous as well. But I am not talking about motorways or highways here. I am talking about city traffic. All this  is preventable if everyone pays attention. It is a lot easier and safer to be prepared, be patient, be ready than just follow the rules, your eyes closed, braking at the very last minute, hit someone or make someone loose the control over the vehicle when trying to avoid the impact and situation YOU caused.

I am not trying to put the blame on just drivers. I can see passengers walking around their eyes in the phone, earphones on, rolling around in their own bubble all the time. Crossing the streets without even checking what’s going on, stepping on the road or cycle lanes without paying attention, stoping in the middle of the street without realising they block the whole way. Can we just please either leave those damn earphones home or put the volume on a level that if someone behind you addresses you or tries to get your attention it is POSSIBLE. I cannot even count all those times when as a cyclist I have almost hit a passenger when they think they are the kings and they can just either run across the street with red light, stop in the middle of the road, let their dog on a lead occupy the whole road, keep their nose in the phone while crossing streets or simply do not respond to the bell, your voice or anything. To be honest I don’t understand this earphone trend. Why people need to have them on max volume 24/7. Can we at least be a little bit  interactive when in traffic. Again, it’s only for everyone’s safety.

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And last but not least cyclists. They are not the angels either. Especially on roads with no cycle lanes I can see a lot how they are driving between cars, overtake them from the wrong side, think that traffic lights do not apply to them. Again if the driver cannot see you, the accidents are easy to happen. As a cyclist I always try to keep as close to the left side of the road as possible so all anxious and impatient drivers can pass. But I have seen impatient and anxious cyclists as well. They tend to cycle on the right side of the road so when a car wants to make a right turn and they do not look in the side mirror they cut the way of the cyclist. The only accident I have been here was with another cyclist. I was standing in the middle of the road trying to make a right turn. I held my hand up, as always. I saw a truck taking off 100m from me so I decided to take the turn before him. As I was pushing off and getting ready to turn another cyclist came from nowhere and cut my way. As I didn’t have a high speed I managed to brake but he didn’t. He drove right into me. Fortunately with a low speed as he managed to brake. He flew over his bike right in front of me. Apparently he did not see me standing in the middle of the road and didn’t pay attention when suddenly rushing behind the truck. In that case I took the full blame as by the rules he was in right. Could it have been avoided? 100%. Instead of going full speed between cars with limited view, slow down and be prepared that there might be a passenger, cyclist or another car behind the truck in the blind corner.

I admit I have made mistakes in traffic as well. But as I have been a cyclist, a passenger and a driver, I believe I can understand all 3 parties. I’m calling everyone up, cyclists, passengers and drivers to pay more attention to each other, take time to really see and listen to each other, be humans. We want to get home as soon as possible but most importantly we want to GET HOME SAFE. Let’s give everyone a chance to celebrate Christmas!

Happy first advent!

All about Manchester Christmas Markets- naughty and nice!

Reviews of 3 Christmas Markets in Manchester.

I have managed to visit 3 different Christmas markets this year in Manchester- Northern Greater Makers Market, Manchester Christmas Market and the Vegan Market.

The first of them all was the Northern Greater Makers Market. A small cosy market right by the main road in Deansgate. Main things they sell are crafts (which is amazing). I cannot say how much I enjoy walking around in crafts markets and shops getting inspired by creative people. This market I loved especially because I noticed so many things that were related to recycling, sustainability and nature. All the things I love and care about. You can find incredible gifts, ideas and ways to recycle.

From food side they had homemade cakes with 3 vegan options. I didn’t see anything else vegan, though, besides a street food truck. They also had different local cheeses, sausages and sweets. Unfortunately, from drinks alley they had only hard liquer, mainly gins and vodkas. And I am not fan of either of them. The bottles looked amazing, though! Great as a gift.

All the people in the market where so nice and didn’t mind me gadding about with a camera. They also didn’t mind giving me a little background about the products when asking. Made me feel like a part of a community.

The second market was the big Christmas Market on Albert Square. It has obviously bigger variety of shops and products which is not necessarily a good thing. As soon as you walked in, the smell of sausages was overwhelming. Made me super hungry but might be off-putting for vegetarians, for sure.

It was also busier so walking one way or the other took time as people tend to just stop in the middle of the road and…. I don’t know, enjoy their coffee? So it didn’t feel half as nice as the other one.

Another thing I noticed was that the shops where unorganised and you jumped from cheese to plates and from jewellery to sweets. Was a bit disturbing as I wasn’t really interested in any of the animal products. But it’s not the main issue for sure. But when really looking for something specific, can be confusing.

A super awesome surprise was to see that in every hot drink shop they were giving out mugs instead of plastic cups. How cool is that. You had to pay like 1-3 quid as a deposit, got it back before leaving the market and without all this unnecessary trash! Well done!

So when in the previous market everything was handmade and crafts then in this one I noticed at least 3-4 shops with some stupid Made-in-China crap (no offence). Why? Just why? There are so many awesome local companies and they let people to buy the space in the market to sell crap. Just why? Usually it has nothing even to do with Christmas. Just some cheap crap. That got me mad! Can people just try to not think only about money during this time of the year?!

Another odd thing I noticed was how many French, Dutch, German products were available compared to local, English stuff. Again… why? If I go abroad for Christmas and visit a market there I would expect and hope to buy something local. If I want to buy a German sausage, I will go to Germany. Okay?! Give me some British products, for god’s sake! Fortunately among all this… not so interesting stuff they also had some really nice local stuff- leather and wooden bowls/trays, wooden ties, clay mugs (which where very similar to the ones I got for my birthday!!!!), handmade jewellery, Manchester t-shirts, coasters and signs.

And last but not least Vegan Christmas Market. Unfortunately, that was only 1 weekend in Manchester but I believe there are similar ones on different weekends in other cities. Unlike the pervious 2, this one has an entrance fee of 3 pounds. Now, as I had to pay 3 quid, I went there to come back with some vegan cake. Now, guess what was the one thing I didn’t find.  Yep! Vegan damn cake!

It was in a hotel which means it was soooooooo crowded inside. It was almost impossible to move around free. As soon as you walked in, the crowds led you the way. You could find anything from homemade juice to vegan leather bags but no vegan chocolate cake. There were doughnuts and chcocolate, burgers and candies but no cake. Yeah, I was disappointed. I couldn’t really understand the idea of paying 3 quid to go to a market and buy a burger for another 7 quid that you had to eat there. Does that make sense to you?

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Well as I had already paid the 3 quid I decided to find at least couple of things that were worth the money. And something as close to the cake as possible. I found a body scrub with a smell of a dream, an organic cotton bag for washing the small items in the washing machine, 1 bottle of Jamaican juice and 2 doughnuts. Although everything was quite over priced I still think all the things I decided to buy were worth the price.

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As a regular customer in a health shop I know what vegan cheese costs and therefore also notice when it’s over priced. And man, how pricy everything was! Which again was disappointing as naive Hanna thought she’s going to find some good deals. However… there were some really nice things. Especially if you have the coin to spend! I was trying all the flavours of vegan cheese there was. It was just sooooo amazing. Unfortunately, my company already noticed that Christmas bonus will be 15 quid so I cannot really afford buying 8 quid cheese for 2 sandwiches. They also had some really nice homemade liquer. I am not really the fan of liquer, I am more like a cocktail kinda-girl.

I don’t have many pictures of it as people, for some reason, where not letting me take any. What? Why? I don’t know. Sometimes I simply just don’t get people. But who am I to judge.

There are many other Christmas markets around the town so you can check them out as well. I guess the message to take with is that be aware of the prices and make aware decisions. Know where your products are from and who they are produced. Spending a little more for a good cause is worth it. Especially during Christmas time. Merry Ch…Ch… Chr… yeah, I can’t, it’s still too soon. Merry Sunday! 😉

Norwegian series LAST part 5: ‘Final destination Lofoten’

Hitchhiking in cold and rain, about some drivers and the turn of luck.

Before arriving to Lofoten I didn’t know anything about it. I tend not to ruin my expectations by checking online for pictures or read loads of recommendations… well Tom does that for me. When we arrived I could barely see anything as it was quite a rainy evening. I saw just couple of mountains peaking through the fog.

Already before going on the ferry I noticed that suddenly we were surrounded by several other backpackers. Right after arriving I was a little scared of the competition in hitchhiking but it came out that noone besides us really used that option. Therefore, we got the lift pretty fast. We put the tent up on a wonderful foot of a hill, enjoying a perfect view from each side of the tent. Mountains in one way, waves the other. A-mazing (the name of the place is A). You see what I did there? Yeah…

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Next day after breakfast hitting the road again and hoping to see as much as possible in as little time as possible. Yeah… mission impossible. The lifts did not want to come…. at all!!! We waited quite for a while just to get 7km ride to the next village and to a viewpoint. Why? Everyone said it’s going to be so easy up there and it…. just wasn’t. I have no idea what was the exact reason behind it, though. Even when it was pouring rain we were standing by the road over half an h, cars just passing by. I enjoyed every view we had but I must be honest, it was damn cold to stand on the road with the rain. I reckon it was 10 degrees or so, windy, rainy…. ahh. But I guess that’s what Lofoten looks like most of the year anyways. So, if you are planning to go there, pack some warm and waterproof clothes and lots of patience.

I took couple of pictures in the first view point. The bright colours of the boathouses flattered the wild nature behind it in such an amazing way.  As I said it was damn cold so I don’t have tons of pictures. But enough, I guess. After the first viewpoint we stood on the road again… for a while this time. It just kept pouring rain, cars passing and nothing. We were wearing bright yellow and green to be visible and still nothing. Big backpacks and still nothing. A wide smile and nothing. Until finally a car stopped and gave us a lift  fo 5-10km but those were sooooooo helpful. At this moment I just wanted to get in a car to get warm. As long as possible.

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The next ride was a German-Korean couple on a holiday. We spent good couple of hours with them as they seemed to not mind spending time with us. And who am I kidding, we needed lifts. They were so nice and I really did enjoy the conversations. As it was their last day on the islands, they had already plans and couldn’t drive us too far. But far enough to get us finally going. For some reason this muggy, wet weather suited with the landscape so well. It just didn’t suit my clothes and body temperature.

So with a speed of light we were driving through most of the islands, trying to see as much as one possibly can. One last stop before finding a camping place was Unstad. A lovely beach in a valley. we got a lift from a Finnish physiotherapist working in a town nearby. Of course I used the chance to ask EVERYTHING about studying and working in Norway. Unfortunately, Finland is part of the Northern countries so all the rules that apply to them might not apply to me, Estonian. However, working as a physiotherapist in Norway seemed still like a one damn good plan.

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As always we were looking for a nice quite private place for the tent. What we didn’t know is that during the season it is a mission impossible. There are simply too many tourists and other campers. So yes, we had to share a spot with 3 other tents. Not as romantic as one could prefer but it was still a lovely place. You just need to be aware of where everyone goes to toilet so you do not put your tent anywhere near there. Disgusting people have managed to even ruin Norway. Sad!

The next and also the last day in Lofoten was spent mostly in cars again. Well, in cars or waiting for one. Couple of times we got stuck again, thinking that’s it. We need to walk home. We got lifts from locals, Norwegians on a holiday and even refugees. Now I need to tell you that every single person you meet is not going to be ‘your kind of people’. You do meet occasionally people that you feel like you have known for half of your life already but you also meet people that you do not connect with. And that is okay. We saw a lot of different people with different backgrounds, heritage, culture. Now, one of them…. made me feel so uncomfortable. Well imagine this: You finally get a ride after waiting for couple of hours but the person just gives you a bit weird vibes. I don’t usually take it personally or anything as people are different and we just ‘klick’ with some of them and not with others. So, he was one of those I just couldn’t really understand or ‘klick’ with. Tom was sitting in the front, me on the back seat. Every hitchhiker knows that the one in the front seat usually takes the lead in the conversation and on the backseat you simply answer the questions when asked. This guy, however, kept asking me questions all the time. Even after hearing that we were a couple, he asked me if I wanted to go to the front seat instead to ‘see the better view’. Why? I have no idea. You can see why someone would be a bit confused. Then we made a stop at a viewpoint and again he kept asking me questions like ‘what’s your name?’, ‘what does it mean?’, ‘do you like life?’…. yeah the last one creeped me out. I was like… what? Doesn’t everyone… like… life? And praying he’s not going to kidnap me. Obviously he didn’t. He didn’t make a move either but the questions where so uncomfortable considering we were complete strangers that I just kept wishing to get out of the car. Now, when thinking back to it, I am not sure if it was simply because of his cultural differences or he really was a sleek. The question ‘do you like life’ I cannot defend anyhow, though. Can anyone?

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After terribly short rides in Lofoten we finally got one long one- straight to Narvik. Well, near Narvik. We spent the night 20km from Narvik and decided to check the town next day. Town as any other, to be honest. Would not be a final destination or a reason to go to Norway, for sure. We wanted to have a proper meal in a restaurant for the first time but when seeing the prices and hearing they have no local fish in, we decided not to. Instead, we started hitchhiking towards Lapland.

It was freezing cold and again we just couldn’t catch any rides. We decided to spend the night behind the national park in the woods. For some reason I had an idea stuck to my head and I was too scared to fall asleep. I kept thinking there are bears and as we had fresh fish opened in the tent i was sure they are going to come for us. After looking the seiling of the tent for an hour I decided to google if my fear was reasonable. Well, not sure how evidence based the site was but it said there is no reason to be scared of brown bears in Europe as they are simply more scared of you. Usually, they can smell you way before and simply change their way before you can even see them. Great! Good night!

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One of the main goals for me was to see reindeers. I have always been fascinated by them! Here they are wondering around, doing their own business, occasionally giving you looks. Not sure why this one is white, though. But just look at them! So cute!

The next night we wanted to spend in a warm bed and we managed to find a couchsurfing in Äkäslompolo. Unfortunately, it was a loooooooong way up there and we weren’t sure if we can make it. We made a fast stop in Kiruna. Again nothing special. I think maybe during wintertime the towns would have completely different feeling. It was far in the North and hitchhiking was supposed to be so easy, but it just wasn’t. Again waiting for rides for hours and getting one for maybe 30-40km. It was 11pm, we were standing by the road in the dark, smiling and hoping someone will give us the final 40km lift. And there was noone. NOONE. WHY? So close yet so far. We were wearing yellow?! How dangerous can a person be who wears a yellow raincoat? We were that desperate that we asked the host to come and pick us up for some gas money. And fortunately, she was sooooo kind to really come in the middle of the night and pick up 2 strangers in yellow raincoats. We had lovely time in Äkäslompolo and I for sure would like to go back in winter. I can already see me falling in love with the nature.

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The bad luck, unfortunately, followed us all the way to Rovaniemi. Lifts were short and we had to wait for a long time for one. Of course, I appreciate every single driver that did stop and took us. However, the faith in humanity was restored when we got 900km lift from Rovaniemi to almost Helsinki. That is a long time to spend with someone so I am super thankful for that guy who tolerated us the whole freaking day. With that one lucky ride we made it to Helsinki almost 1 day sooner than expected or planned. Probably if not catching the long ride we would have been in a rush! Oh, and by the way. They tell you on the website and over the phone that in order to change your ferry tickets you need to do it 24h in advance. Yeah, you don’t. Just go to the port and hope for the best. It worked for us.

That’s briefly about everything from our Norwegian trip. As you can see, there is s much going on in every trip that is nearly impossible to write it all down. I might try to find a way to get the stories out without all the unnecessary boring text in between. I just don’t know yet how to do it in order the stories to still make sense. I wish I had wifi and time during the trip already so I could do it in a dairy format. Would that be better? HELP!

All things considered, I sincerely recommend visiting Norway. It’s such an incredible and unique country with a spectacular nature. If you haven’t been there yet, GO! NOW!

NORWAY 🇳🇴 series part 4: Lost and found

Getting lost in the mountains and wonderfully generous people.

As always right before you need something, it breaks. So that’s what happened to the hiking poles. So now I had just one pole to climb the damn mountain. I left the other one down near the tent stucked in the soil.

As always the further up you climb the mountain the less people you meet. Again my magic boots helped me to do the tempo so we passed like 3 couples on our way up. Yeah that’s how competitive I am. It was one of the rockiest hikes we have done so far but kind of suited me. It was so hot while hiking but as soon as you stopped the wind got the best of you. I guess it’s kind of good way to keep you going and not waste too much time on resting.

While I was enjoying going up then whenever we had to go a little downhill I was thinking ‘oh sh**, I’m going to break my neck’. And of course I managed to slip and fall on the rocks. I sprained my ankle and fell between the rocks. I was lying there in an awkward position, my ass up in the sky and all I could think was ‘Now I am in the middle of nowhere, about 2h hike away from the closest road…. I cannot break any bones in here’. Well fortunately, that was a bit dramatic as I didn’t really break anything. Just a little scratch here and there, nothing major, but still. Why me?!

We made it to the top… well almost to the top as for the highest peak of the mountain you had to literally climb the ridge. And everyone knows even if it was safe I could never do that. So we stayed where everyone else was, down on the plateau. And there were way more people in the top than I expected. As always, Tom heard some Czech and started talking to them. It turned out to be a bus full of Czechs climbing some mountains around Norway. And again they insisted on taking a picture of us. Well, why not, I guess.

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So far no knee pain, passing all the people on the way, I was more than confident. Tom decided to take a little detour down and get some fresh water while I was supposed to just follow the track and continue the way down. As I knew approximately where to go, I decided to not follow the signs and just go with the flow… Yeah, worst idea ever. While I was focusing on passing people and doing it as fast as I could…. just because I could I got lost. Suddenly I was on the edge of the mountain, nowhere to go. Not a good feeling when scared of heights, I must say. Fortunately, going back just a little bit was enough to find the track again. I was really scared for one second, though. But I guess I am one of those people who just don’t learn from their mistakes from the first time. So I made the same stupid mistake when trying to find the car park. The track led to a tiny road by a cliff and I was ‘hell no, I ain’t going there!’. So I decided to go up and take a detour by myself… and managed to get lost again. What the hell?! How is it possible? I can see the car park but for some reason all the tracks are leading pass it. How am I supposed to get down then? So I just made my own track, wondering around like a lost lamb. If I didn’t have the magic boots I guess I would have had to make that 3km detour, go to the tent and get to the car park from the road, which was RIGHT THERE. Unbelievable! Now I was pissed, tired, hungry and hoped the toilet will not have 10minute queue. It didn’t. I drank some fresh water, hugged my tour guide (who I apparently need by my side 24/7 in order not to get lost) and it was all forgotten.

We packed the tent and hitchhiked further. We got the lift pretty fast which was nice. While driving down I noticed a traffic jam on the road. So this is what happened. If you  have been in any mountainous area you know the roads there. The same bus full of Czechs got stuck on one of the turns. Not sure if something happened to the bus or the driver simply didn’t know how to take those sharp turns. The bus was stuck in the middle of the turn causing a huge amount of cars waiting behind it. I think we were waiting like at least for 15-20 minutes before we managed to get further. Fortunately, as soon as the driver kicked everyone out of the bus he dared to take the turn and keep driving.

I guess we had been way too lucky for the day as it started raining…. well pouring. A German couple gave us a ride and let us hide in their camper van until their ferry arrived. After they took off we decided to have a dinner in the little waiting hut in the port. I wanted to use the chance and wash my hair and face in the sink. You would be surprised how nice that can be. Okay, this is something I need other people’s help. Especially the ones that are not born with perfect skin. How do you keep your face clean? Mine just hates me for not keeping the regime on the road and shows it off BIG TIME. I really hope it is just my stupidity and not the price I need to pay for travelling. HELP!

As soon as we saw another ferry coming in we decided to pack and try to catch a lift further. No one stopped although it was raining. We had been out for couple of minutes and I was already soaking wet. No one stopped until the last car from the port passed us and then reversed back. It was a local farmer with her daughter. One of the nicest people we have met on the road. They insisted us staying at their house as it was pouring rain outside. How nice was that?! First time during this trip we had a shower. Shame I had just washed my hair in the sink. We spent the whole night just talking and discussing all the issues going on in the world and sharing our travel stories. The amazing hot tea, good company and warm room made it perfect. I guess it was like in a movie or how you imagine hitchhiking to be. You meet a stranger and you get along right away and they are just way too generous by turning a hitchhiking trip to a full comfort trip. As you can imagine I slept like a baby that night. In the morning she even showed us around in the valley. Woods and everything. I must say, not a bad place to live in. Not bad at all.

Although the morning started well we got stuck on the road nearby. Waited for the next lift for an hour or more. Next 2 days were dedicated again simply to hitchhiking. Meeting lots of awesome people and having long conversations. You would be surprised how close you get with strangers when spending couple of hours together. In one of the cars we spent half a day and got to know the guys so well that I forgot that we just met. We cooked together, shared our experience and opinions about travelling, Norway, studying, life etc. We shared the food. That’s how close you can get with someone you barely know if you just give them a chance.

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When we arrived to Mo i Rana we did decide to take the coastal road as every single (local) person suggested that. Was it nice? Yes. Was it worth double amount of time spent on driving? I am not sure. Maybe my lack of excitement was because of the weather and the fact you couldn’t really see much through the fog. Anyways, if you really wanna see EVERYTHING, go take the coastal road from Mo i Rana to Lofoten, otherwise if you reach Lofoten from the highway, you haven’t missed out on anything.

LAST STOP LOFOTEN!

To be continued…