Week 13: The stories we can tell

Sometimes things happen that make you want to quit it all. You are scared and alone and tears are flowing down your cheeks and everyone you know and love is so far away. And in the moment you find yourself wishing for the comforts of home, or the last hostel you were in that felt safe and where you made friends. But you get through it and it becomes a story, one that you will be telling and laughing about for the rest of your life and you realize it’s one of the reasons you are doing this. And last week was one of those stories.

I left my hostel in Slovakia late, I miss-timed myself at breakfast and ended up missing my bus. I’ve learnt not to worry too much about these things. I was traveling on my interrail ticket so I could just get a later train, not a big deal. But somehow the bus got me into Poprad in time for my train and I jumped on it thinking the hard part of the day was over. Yes, I had a lot of traveling to do that day. I was heading for a small city in Northan Romania that had come highly recommended but wasn’t all that easy to get to.

I had chosen to break up the journey, this way there would be no hanging about train stations in the middle of the night. My first day had 4 trains, the first an easy domestic trip from Poprad to Košice, I almost missed the train and then it was running late. The interrail websites travel plan left me with only a 12-minute connection. We arrived into the station after my next train was due to have left but it was sitting there waiting for us.

This train was heading onto the Ukraine, and so was I. It was hard to understand why I needed to make this particular detour but so far the interrail website had never done me wrong, why would it now. The place I was heading to was called Chop, it sits right on the border with Slovakia and Hungry. I sit on the train staring out the window at the passing scenery, Every km there is a marker post counting down to the border. The ticket collecter checks everyone has a passport on them, she isn’t satisfied until she has seen it.

I start to get uncomfortable, maybe a stopover in the Ukraine isn’t the smarted idea after all. We reach the border and scary-looking guards board the train and check everyone passport, I haven’t had mine checked since I flew into Norway almost 3 months ago. We are held at the border to ages before being allowed to move on. We reach chop and hour before I think we will, I forgot to factor in the time difference, the ticket collecter hurries me off the train, three of us get off, we are met by an angry seeming soldier who shouts at us to hurry up as she is waiting.

We are lead into the customs hall, I get my passport checked and stamped and then another soldier asks me what I’m doing here. I say I’m waiting for a train connection and I’m let through into the station. By this point, I had been to a few ex-soviet countries, but this train station felt like I was back in the ’70s. it was large with benches down both sides and a rather oppressing feel to it. Two old women in aprons stood watching the comings and goings of the few people who sat on the benches, I felt incredibly conspicuous, a young girl on her own with two backpacks, one, as most people have been kind enough to point out, almost as big as I am.

I sit watching the time and writing in my journal. Everything is written in the Cyrillic alphabet and so the only thing I can read is the arrival and leaving times of the trains. They all seem to stop at the station for half an hour or longer which seems odd until I realize that they are keeping them so they can do the border checks.

I watch a queue form in front of the customs office door. The time that my train is due to arrive is approaching. I think I need to be in the queue too. I join the line and look around me. I want to ask someone if this is where I need to be, but I’m not sure who. I see people walking about with massive wads of cash, it makes me a little uneasy. The man next to me is with young kids, I decide to ask him.

I ask if this is where I need to be for Hungry, he looks confused and it’s clear he doesn’t speak English. I get out my phone and show him the name of the town I’m heading to. He grabs me by the arm and practically drags me to the ticket office window. I’m a bit taken aback but he talks to a woman who appears to be his daughter and she turns to me and speaks to me in English.

She asks me what I’m doing here. I tell her the trains sent me, I’m heading to Debrecen in Hungry and the website told me to come this way. She can’t seem to believe that a website would do that. It makes geographical sense she says but you don’t come to this bit of Ukraine without a local who knows the system, they still do things the old way here she tells me.

She asks if I have a ticket, I show her my interrail card. She tells me that’s not going to get me out of the country, to leave you need a ticket with a signature and stamp on the back. She asks if I have money, I have euros and my card I tell her, she shakes her head, that won’t work here. She shows my pass to the person behind the ticket office window. No, that won’t get me out of here. She calls her dad back over and they pay for my ticket (3 euros), it cost 90 something Ukrainian hryvnia, the price printed on the ticket is 66. in this part of the world, you still need to pay a bribe to get anything.

She gives me my ticket with the stamp on the back and tells me to stay with her. I’m beyond grateful. We pass into the customs hall and they check the back of our tickets and then check our bags. The customs officer finds my citalopram, he takes it out and starts waving it about.

“Box! Box!” he shouts at me.

Fuck. I don’t have the box.

“I have a doctors letter!” I tell him,

“Box!”

“Doctors letter!”

“Box!”

“I have a doctors letter!”

“Doctor?”

“Yes, I have them from a doctor!”

And with this he lets me go.

I get my passport stamped again and finally, I’m on a train heading to hungry. We cross the border and at the station, the Hungarian border guards come on and check our passports and bags. “Why are you here?” one of them asks me. “Tourist?” Yes, I nod, I’m a tourist. I get off the train and realize that it shouldn’t matter why I’m here, I have an EU passport, I can be in Hungry for whatever reason I want.

By the time I reach my hostel in Debrecen I’m tired and hungry and just want to eat and sleep. But when I get there it’s not what I expected. It’s just a one-bedroom flat with bunk beds in and there isn’t another woman. I don’t like this.

I dump my stuff and go out to find food. I haven’t really eaten anything proper all day.  I end up in a cafe and have cake for dinner, it doesn’t help. I don’t want to go back to the hostel. I don’t want to sleep in that room. I decided to just get my stuff and find a hotel or something, somewhere I have a room of my own. I get back and then can’t get through the gate to the hostel. I ring the doorbell but no one comes. I stand waiting and pressing the bell over and over. A man comes out another flat I have no phone signal or internet so he tries to call the hostel for me, we get thought and someone says he will come, the man leaves and I carry on waiting.

No one comes to the door, the man comes back with a woman. They try to call again. I start crying, these people are being so nice to me and I’m stressed and tired and I can’t hold everything in anymore. I finally get into the hostel, the owner sees that I have been crying. They get me to sit down with them in the kitchen, I don’t want to, I just want to leave but I’m ushered in. They ask me what’s up. I say I don’t like the lack of women. It doesn’t feel safe to me. They listen and can understand what I’m saying, there is a small privet room, it doesn’t have windows but it has a lock on the door, I can sleep there if I want to. I start to calm down. If I have my own room I will be ok. I stay and sleep ok, but I’m glad to leave in the morning. I just want to get to Romania now.

The journey the next day is easier. I get to Sighetu at about half 4. I walk to my accommodation. When I get there I’m greeted by a middle-aged Romanian woman. She doesn’t speak English but she seems like a nice person. She shows me around the house and then gets her daughter (who organizes everything) on the phone. We have a quick chat about what time I want dinner and then I hand her back. I’m given soup at half 5, then the rest of my meal at 8.

For the next few days, I’m treated like a queen. The area of Romania I’m in is really interesting and I enjoy looking around. My host is amazing. I get my washing done and get a 4-course meal every night. On the second day, a Canadain woman comes and we eat and chat together, it’s perfect.

After the stress of getting there my time in Romania is better than I could have hoped for. It feels like a different world. I see gypsy camps by the side of the roads and horse-drawn carts. Most people don’t speak English and I have to use google translate if I need to speak to people. Everything feels different and I love it.

On Saturday I have to leave, I have booked an overnight train from Baia Mare to Bucharest. Armed with a bus timetable to Baia Mare I confidently set out to the bus stop. I hypo on the way and when I get there I’m feeling a bit shit. There some old woman waiting for the bus. “Baia Mare?” I ask. They shake their heads and point at the time table, it looks like the bus I thought I could get doesn’t run on a Saturday.

I go into the train station and ask if I can get a train, the woman speaks English and shows me on the train map why I can’t get a train. She says the bus might come. I go back out and wait for it. Nothing comes. I start to panic. There are taxi drivers standing around, the keep staring at me and leering, I don’t want to need to get a lift with one of them. I try phoning, Dragos, my Romanian friend but he doesn’t pick up. I go back to the train station. The woman sees me and phones a taxi company to ask a price to get me to Baia Mare. She organizes one for me, it feels safer this way.

The taxi driver comes, he speaks a bit of English. We drive through the mountains, the clouds are low and the roads wet. This doesn’t seem to bother him, the roads around here feel a bit like wacky races, everyone overtaking each other whenever they can. He also has a habit of taking his hands off the steering wheel, crossing himself, then putting his hands together in a prayer every time we pass a church. I can’t help but wonder if God, if he/she exists would priorities road safety over arm gestures to accompany the prayer?

I reach Baia Mare and get a phone call from Maja making sure I’m ok. It feels nice to know that even though I am hundreds of miles away I have friends who are there for me when I need them. 67422537_2730329900311740_5562428354256175104_n67441410_2730329966978400_1319010282239950848_n67457290_2730330116978385_2682688696804704256_n67466576_2730329940311736_4846806405249761280_n67494240_2730330016978395_3392004465589485568_n67627029_2730329770311753_5958473546387685376_n67643480_2730329746978422_1888455626372153344_n67731746_2730329633645100_7471197672699854848_n67785497_2730329536978443_8270152668832333824_n

I know this was a long one so if you got to the end thank you, I hope you enjoyed it!

With love,

The girl with the braid in her hair xxx

 

Week 10: Tents, Trains and Towers

I wake up at 7am after a fun night that seriously lacked in sleep. I pack my bags as quietly as I can and leave the hostel. The streets of Berlin are already full of people heading out for the day and I debate with myself on whether or not I should go to the bakery for a coffee on the way to the train. Despite my new resolution to be more relaxed the time conscious part of me wins and I head straight for the train station.

There is a sign on the platform which I can’t read so I simply board the first train that comes to the right platform and wait. It sits there for 5 minutes which I find odd but since my German is only up ordering a coffee level I have no idea what is going on so sit and wait. When the train finally does start moving it’s in the wrong direction, a good indicator of how my whole day will go. Luckily I get chatting to a woman who understands German and also got on the wrong train together and she navigates the disruption for the both of us making it much easier for me to manage it all.

By the time I’m heading to Berlin Ostbhanhof I’m convinced I’ll miss my intended train and very glad that I’m on an interrail ticket and so I can just find another one. When I reach Ostbhanhof its less than two minutes before the train I want will leave but seeing it sitting one platform across from me I hurry down the stairs through the tunnel and back up to the platform and somehow manage to reach the train less than 30 seconds before the doors shut.

I spend most fo the short journey to Hannover dozing. It’s supposed to be a 9 and a half hour journey to Zurich but only 2 trains and after the 18-hour epic I took from Bodo to Oslo it’s not too bad. At Hannover I get a much-needed coffee while I wait for my next train direct to Zurich. When the train, 20 minutes late finally arrives it turns out it’s not direct to Zurich anymore. The train they sent instead is smaller than it should be and all the reservations are void. People are standing along the corridors looking fed up and cramped.

I find a small space on the floor between two seats in the bike area. All things considered, having a patch of floor to sit on is pretty good going. Often situations like this bring out the best in people and despite the cramped conditions and the rapidly increasing delay on the train, I enjoy the journey. I make friends with a Swedish man with his two kids who are also interrailing across Europe and a French lady heading home. Me and the two adults chat for a while shearing travel stories and desperately trying to understand the announcements the train crew are giving.

After an hour or so the Swedish family start playing cards and soon me and the French woman join in. We sit on the floor getting in the way every time anyone wants to get down the carriage, the only people to be enjoying the journey. We play games till the French woman leaves for her connection and the train empties out. When they leave, after 5 hours together the young Swedish girl gives me a massive hug and looks sad to be leaving. It feels nice, it could have been hell but we made the hours pass and enjoyed each other company.

It takes 2 more trains to reach Zurich and I’m glad for the couple of nights rest I get there. I stay with one of my Mum’s friends and marvel at more sharing a room with other people and being able to wash all my clothes. It’s a perfect oasis of calm after 3 weeks on the go.

My train to Munich is a calm affair, I sit knitting for most of it. I reach the city and make my way to the hostel-come-campsite that I’m staying at. I meet people on the bus to the hostel and get chatting with Gillie an English girl interrailing for a month. I check-in, pitch my tent then buy dinner. The whole place has a very friendly and relaxed vibe to it and I chat with Gillie for a while before joining in a card game and not getting to my tent till almost midnight.

My tent was an emergency amazon buy and not the best one I’ve made, it has some serious flaws, such as breathing at all causes condensation to run down the inside and soaking you as you sit up or more importantly your down sleeping bag. While I’m comfortable on the floor with my mat and bag the tent is making me nervous and with the heavy rain promised for the next few nights I move into indoor accommodation, a giant tent with 200 beds in it.

After sorting waterproof accommodation I head into the city and mett Gillie for lunch before going on a walking tour. The guide pisses me off when he tells us how much to tip him at the end. Most of the time there is an understanding that young people traveling around tend to be able to afford less than older people on holiday. His attitude puts my back up and I enjoy the tour less because of it.

In the evening a large group of us play cards, I lose badly at cheat and by the time the rest head into town am ready to go to bed. I don’t sleep much though, a room with 200 people in is hardly quiet and the next morning I get up unrested. I go into the city but am too tired to enjoy myself so head back to the hostel for a nap. I know I have pushed too hard and need to rest.

The next day I leave Munich for Prague. I find a carriage on the train and am joined by other young travelers. We chat happily talking about our respective trips and then laps into silence reading, writing, scrolling through phones. it’s a nice mix of social and relaxing until two very loud women join the carriage, they are a part of a big group and sit watching videos with very loud audio and drinking what looks like champagne. There is a collective sigh of relief when they leave.

Prague has been really built up as a totally amazing place and I feel a little underwhelmed by it all. It might be because I’m tired and it’s the 6th city I’ve visited but I don’t fall in love with the place. Yes, the buildings are nice, and the castle is very impressive. The astronomical clock is cool but it just feels like another city in a long list of them.

I’m also exhausted and need a break from sightseeing. I can feel my body crying out for rest and know I need to stop if I’m going to carry on enjoying the trip. I’m 2.5 months in now. I can afford a little me time.

66665300_2682370341774363_5384808246563307520_n66771146_2697775746900489_3597459362974531584_n66814093_2697775526900511_3617638983346946048_n66824694_2697775506900513_7658598194019827712_n67035771_2697775636900500_4161512568940134400_n67094002_2697775716900492_596398480117727232_n67366838_2697775630233834_6342038044593356800_n

I hope you enjoyed the week’s story,

With Love,

The girl with the braid in her hair xxx

Week 9: Flying high

After a week of spending most of my time on my own, I was really needed some human company. Traveling to me is about seeing new things, meeting new people and coming out of my comfort zone. I was managing two of them easily but a week almost solo somewhere I didn’t know had left me wondering if the best part was now over,

Gdansk is a lovely little city, steeped in history and an easy place to spend time, but the best part was at my hostel there were people who wanted to talk. It wasn’t the best hostel I have ever stayed in, but it was friendly. I spent my time in the city on walking tours and visiting the war museum. I made a friend and on my last night, we walked around the local supermarkets, giggling like crazy, on the hard task of spending my last zloty coins, a full 3.69 of them, about 78p in UK money (I managed to buy food to make lunch for my train).

My trip to Berlin was an easy one, I had to get up at 6am, but I had hardly slept due to the noise of the traffic and people having sex in my dorm room (WHY???). I had an old fashioned train compartment to myself most of the way and was able to sit with my music and knitting, enjoying watching the forests pass by.

Berlin is somewhere I had always wanted to visit. As a kid, the second world war was one of my main interests and I studied the cold war in history at school. I have always been a bit of a history nerd and so I couldn’t travel through Europe without going to Berlin. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the city. I have been told lots of different things, (it seems to depend on who you talk to whether you hear about the amazing history or have ideas hinted at you about the subcultures).

I was maybe expecting somewhere a bit like London just with ex-soviet architecture in one part and modern glass buildings in the other (I have no idea where that idea came from, an autistics mind view on capitalism versus communism). But as I am notoriously bad at picturing new experiences in my head it wasn’t a surprise that the picture I had was drastically wrong. Yes, there is a lot of communist housing blocks, especially in the area I was staying in but within the time I had walked from the train station to my hostel I was starting to get a feel for the place.

I enjoyed the history of the city, I enjoyed walking about the place. I saw the Memorial to the murdered Jews and the Berlin wall. I went on a couple of free walking tours and museums but the best thing about the week was the people I met.

There was always someone to talk to and people were always inviting me to do things with them. Often I like to go out during the day on my own, not having to worry about what anyone else wants to do is a freedom in itself but I enjoy human company too and so having people to interact with when I’m back in the hostel is important too. In Berlin, I had the perfect mix.

On my first day, I went out with Lillie and Gabriele, two girls who were volunteering in the hostel, they taught me the rules of the public transport system as well as being good company. Most of the people in the hostel were partying at night, not my thing, but as most of them didn’t go out till 10sih I never felt like I was missing out.

On my third night, I went out with Lillie and Gabriele and some other guys staying at the hostel. The falafel place we went to was in one of the cheaper districts that I never would have gone to on my own. We sit outside chatting and eat a huge amount of food for hardly any money. Afterwards, we go to a bar. I don’t go out much. It took 8 months for me to start going out some Saturdays after work and I have never gone out in a city I didn’t know well.

It’s an amazing feeling. This confidence that I find when I leave the bubble of home, when I’m in places I’m not afraid to be myself. We talk about as we walk, for me, it’s much easier to be confident when I’m traveling as all the relationship with other people are short term. It doesn’t matter what people think of you, if you get on great, you might even stay in touch and see each other again but if you don’t who cares, you will go your separate ways.

That night I’m up till 1am, chatting with people and feeling free. I’m full of joy and last weeks loneliness if left forgotten.

For my last night in Berlin, Lillie and I have a sleepover in the hostel lounge, one of the guys in the room snoring really loudly and I was up for several hours the night before due to the noise. We both have to be up early to catch trains and need to sleep so obviously stay up chatting for ages and giggling together, it’s like something out of an American teenage girl’s movie and we both love it.

66102898_2684409304903800_2983452723829014528_n66393845_2684409254903805_1525294383191031808_n66461443_2684409148237149_2168896258993815552_n66581180_2684409091570488_4814040262957334528_n66800972_2684409001570497_7666565826505342976_n

I hope you have enjoyed this last episode!

With love,

The girl with the braid in her hair xxx

Week 4: ‘Trainee police officer accidentally kidnaps British tourist’

I have been away a month now. I’ve found a comfortable routine on the farm, working in the garden, picking leaves for herbal teas, packing teas and spice blends on rainy days. Life is easy here. Time has run away with me and it’s hard to believe that I have less than two weeks on the farm before I move on south.

I have seen all season, it’s been winter, then autumn, then summer then spring. It has been beautiful sunshine and I have worked in a T-shirt and sun hat and it’s snowed. Some days you can see for ver from the top of the mountains and other days, like today, you can hardly see the mountains at all. I have lived simply, most days with little incident, just amazing scenery and nice people.

I have discovered how easy it is to hitch-hike and that most people seem to want to help you out. (Christiane, one of my workmates on the farm, says I’m doing so well because I look so sweet and innocent. It’s a good job looks can be deceiving otherwise I would be in trouble).

After exploring most of the local area, ie, where I can walk to from the farm, I have been setting my sights a little further afield. Now living 4km from the main road and have blood sugar leaves that insist on be stupid no matter what I do means I’ve been having to plan my trips quite carefully. Getting to the main road takes about 45mins by foot then you have to hope to get picked up.

On my last day off I took a trip to the coast. The plan was to walk from Eggum to Unstad. A path that follows the coast on the north side of the island. The clouds were low and it was raining on and off all day. Standing on the Eggum road sticking out my thumb to every car that passed I was ready to accept it might not be a good day for a lift.

Luckily I wasn’t there too long when someone offered to take me part way, I was a little unsure as if I couldn’t get a lift the last part it would mean walking back again but decided to take the chance. My lift, deciding Eggum wasn’t too much further than he wanted to go ended up driving me all the way and I was left full of the joy that comes from kindness.

The area around Eggum is dramatic, steep mountains rise up seeming straight from the sea, the clouds kept the tops to view and the waves crashed angrily on the rocks. There weren’t too many people out due to the poor weather and I enjoy my walk, scrambling over the rocks, standing under waterfalls and watching the clouds roll in from the sea.

I walk enjoying the solitude and the weather. I have just finished a tricky bit of very slippery scrambling when a woman stands up from under a rock she had been huddling from the rain beneath and asks me how far we are from Eggum. We chat a little about where we are planning to go. I said I walked from Eggum and am heading to Unstad and then will try to hitch a ride home, her reaction to this is to offer me a lift as she is parked at Unstad. We walk back not quite together, both of us enjoying the relative solitude of walking, and when we reach the end of the trail she asks if I still want a lift. I say I do and we chat the last part as we head to the car.

We drive back to the main road chatting easily. It’s always nice when I meet people that not only offer to help me but are easy to talk to and make you feel welcome in their space. She is a trainee police officer from Oslo doing her year away in Lofoten to be able to spend time in the mountains. I ask what kinds of crime happen here (there can’t be much, we keep the door of the house wide open most of the time and the cafe door is never locked) she says mainly drugs. It’s a quiet place around here.

We reach the main road but then turn in what I think is the opposite direction to where I want to go. I sit looking out the window unsure, I don’t know the roads here that well but I’m almost 100% sure that we should be going the other way to get to where she said she would take me. After a bit of indescion, I look at her and say ‘I think I need to go in the opposite direction to this’. I assume she will just let me out but she laughs and finds a place to turn around.

As we drive on she laughs, “It would make a good headline” she says “Trainee police officer accidentally kidnaps British tourist!”

Turns out she was just on autopilot and was heading home.

As with most of the people, I have met her she goes out of her way to help me out a drives me all the way back to the farm. In return, I give her a tour and cheese tasting.

 

62077722_2615679451776786_7906667022476378112_n62035388_2615679585110106_7598516746919608320_n61976316_2615679668443431_219256895049826304_n61866965_2615679531776778_4811762646095233024_n61839549_2615679821776749_3859089202775851008_n61797930_2615679725110092_8364464812008144896_n61713419_2615679855110079_2372712068009689088_n61625531_2615679351776796_7468791039315148800_n61625155_2615679611776770_8203801759185895424_n61631165_2615680015110063_441256513265205248_n

I hope you have enjoyed the story of my latest adventure!

Lots of Love

The girl with the brain in her hair xxx

 

Week 3: The kindness of strangers

I often feel incredibly lucky, something that other people seem to struggle to understand. And yes medically I haven’t done too well in many ways and I would never wish my lovely mix on anyone else but all the same, I feel lucky. This feeling normally surfaces after interactions where people show the better side of humanity, the one the newspapers and media seem to forget about or just don’t want you to see, the times we are good to each other for no reward, the times people have gone out their way to help me out. It happens more often than I would expect.

Maybe some of the feeling is because in London everyone is always in a rush and more often than not plugged into headphone or scrolling through their phone and yes when I’m commuting I have often been guilty of the same thing. Sitting on a crowded tube is hardly anyone’s idea of fun, plug in and get it over with. But it’s more than that, in London I often feeling like nobody has got time for each other, The constant grind of city life takes over and we are all cogs in this much bigger machine.

But for three weeks now I have been away from it all. A small farm 4km from the main road in Lofoten is about as far removed from life in London as you can get, and I’m LOVING it. It’s no surprise, I love mountains and lakes and being outside, I’m not a city person, and, for the first time in years, I have been able to do something totally for myself without having to worry too much about pesky illnesses.

My time in Lofoten is the first stage of 5 months of traveling, most of which, I will be on my own. Before I left for this trip and was telling people about it one of the questions I was most often asked was who I was going with, many people seemed shocked that I was going alone. But I love traveling solo. To me it’s easier and much more freeing than going with someone else, I am the only one my plan has to suit, no one else needs to be consulted, no compromises need to be made, this trip is entirely for me.

And it’s not like I don’t enjoy the company of other people I do, I just perfer to travel on my own. The other thing I find is I’m more confident when I travel. Part of this is having no one else to rely upon but a bigger part is knowing I can be utterly myself at all times because the interactions that I’m having with other people are all short term. I don’t worry about making the right impressions as often in a few days it won’t matter anyway.

I have always been an open person, often it seems in daily life too open. I don’t always censor what I say the way that is expected, I talk about subjects that are still, in some places, seen as taboo without even considering that it might not be appropriate. This has got me in trouble at times but I find when your traveling openness makes like easier and gives you opportunities that would otherwise be left undiscovered.

On my flight from Oslo to Bodo, I chatted a little with the man sitting next to me. He seemed a little surprised to find an English girl on her own going to Lofoten in May but quickly became my in-flight guide, pointing out mountains of note and glaciers out the window. Due to the stress of having my original flight canceled I hadn’t really looked into how to get into Bodo city center from the airport or where the ferry terminal was.

As we chatted I asked about the best way to get to town, he told me where to get the bus from, a little later he turned to me and asked if I wanted a free ride into town in the taxi that his group was hiring. Yes, yes I did. The taxi driver was a little surprised when he took my bag to put it in the trailer, 10 men in their mid-sixties (I think) on a fishing trip and a 20 something English girl with a giant backpack, it looked a little odd. They made a few jokes about me called me ‘free seat’ but I was happy enough, it certainly beat the bus with two backpacks.

I quickly settle into life at the farm, on the second week I get an opportunity to go to the shop a buy a little luxury food for myself and hypo supplies. By midway through the third week, these are starting to dwindle, I had planned to cycle to the shop by the bikes are too big for me to use. It’s 8km away a bit too far to comfortably walk there and back again but just going one way seems ok. On Tuesday, after a sunny morning working in the garden I sit down to my dinner outside by some visitors to the farm, they are American and seem friendly.

One of the ways of getting about advertised here is simply to ask visitors if they are driving your direction and if they can give you a lift. It seems a little cheeky but I thought it was worth a try. I chatted with them for a while and then asked if they were going in the direction of the shop and if there were could I get a lift. They didn’t know where the shop was but offered to take me anyway. I was delighted and when they said they could even drop me home again I was in so much shock my mouth dropped wide open a just hung there a moment while I reveled at my good fortune.

It was a fun outing, Chatting with my new friends and pointing out local landmarks. The scenery around here is pretty much always spectacular and the biggest problem is knowing which way to look.

On Monday we get a helper at the farm for the day, she is a Swedish lady who is traveling in her van and camped out at the farm overnight. We work together on the peppermint bed and chat about travel, climbing and a load of other things. She tells me about Henningvaer. A small fishing town where a lot of good climbing can be found. Having done no research into climbing in Lofoten before I came I’m eager to get down there, at first it looks like she might be able to give me a lift later in the week but this ends up not being possible.

But I still want to go. The best alternative, hitchhike. There is a part of me that is not overly convinced with the idea, how easy will it be to get picked up? Will I just end up standing at the roadside for ages, what if I get to Henningsvaer but can’t get home again? But this trip is about getting outside my comfort zone so I decided to try.

Tove is heading out so gives me a lift to the main road. I stand watching for a car to come for a few minutes (this is the main road through Lofoten but it’s hardly busy). I hear one coming around the corner and thinking ‘here goes nothing’ stick out my thumb. To my utter astonishment, it stops and I get a lift all the way to the turning to Henningvaer.

It turns out hitchhiking around here is pretty easy. People seem willing to help and I have an easy journey. Reaching Henningsvaer I look around the town and then go for a long walk along the seafront by the mountainside. The sun is shining and it’s an amazing day. I take a long walk with a breathtaking view around every corner before returning to town to go to the climbing cafe and get some food.

It’s a nice place and I treat myself to a big dinner and actually spend some money. On the table next to me is an Aussie family. As they start to get ready to leave I ask if I can get a lift to the main road with them, they are happy to give it. They go for a walk first then come back to pick me up from the cafe. We chat easily and it turns out they are heading the same way I am and will go past the end of the road to the farm. It’s a great way to finish the day. They are lovely people and the conversation is interesting the whole way back, they even give me a massive pastry to take home.

Things like this are one of the reasons I like to travel solo. You have to take a few more risks in terms of human interaction and most often you come off richer from the experience. I have always believed the best in people and it’s nice when those beliefs are proved true.

Now please enjoy some of my pictures from Henningsvear!

60712129_2598032290208169_6924143638054174720_n60778705_2598032016874863_2235223232787513344_n60790535_2598032643541467_8059045804939149312_n60814665_2598032230208175_6810468206054998016_n61004690_2598032470208151_6267293141057929216_n61051852_2598032366874828_2253681340073377792_n61186432_2598031980208200_2055267672202936320_n61571046_2598032090208189_231995433042313216_n

Hope you enjoyed!

With love,

The girl with the braid in her hair xxx