random sharing

Music I Love
Kris Kristofferson - From the Bottle to the Bottom

Book I Enjoyed
Franz Kafka - The Castle

Music I Love
The Cure - Pictures of You

This time, it will be difficult for me to remain objective, but I promise to try. Then again, what is objectivity, really? A wise friend of mine once said that objectivity is just multi-subjectivity. In other words, the more subjectivity there is, the more subjective attitudes, and the more everything as a whole becomes more objective from the various points, including the smallest and narrowest ones, that people view it from. Another friend of mine denied this idea pretty accurately. But I’m forgetting the main point here. I’m supposed to be writing about the trip that took a whole year for me and my friend to plan.

It was an amazing morning in 2010. I met up with my companion. We were both extremely excited. Two years ago, in 2008, I had visited the Aalborg stadium in northern Denmark, where a group of local football fans was holding up a poster with the phrase "Historien er skrevet nu". History is being written now. I couldn’t stop picturing that poster before this trip. Back then, my companion and I had no idea what events would become part of our history.

We were soon on the road and a man picked us up in fifteen minutes. He managed to double our optimism. I’d probably need a whole page to describe him. In short, I’ll just call him a cool, fun man with lots of experience all around the world. We were dropped off in Marijampole with enough vitamin C for the whole day after hearing how the driver had no idea where he was going, or where his wife was, and after hearing the detailed story about how he punched a man for trying to kick him out of a bathroom.

Once again, we were standing under the scorching sun. After a while, a Swedish man appeared who was also looking for a ride. The sun had already burned through to our brains, so we began to stop cars using a slipper we found. After all, it’s always fun to demonstrate to a foreigner how crazy Lithuanians can be. The Swedish man just responded to our nonsense with a forgiving smile. An hour or two later, we decided to head somewhere else. We walked for an hour, gradually finishing up our small supply of water. After a good hour, a man stopped and took us to Kalvarija. We felt pathetic. It was already 7 pm and we had only managed to travel 70 kilometers. Well, a good start is just half the work. We joked that maybe we should just go back to Marijampole and drink wine by the store for a week with the money we had for the trip. However, after getting some refreshments at the gas station, we were back on the road.

Not a single car stopped for a good half an hour. Again, we laughed at ourselves. Luckily, a man with foreign license plates ended up stopping. At first, my friend tried to ask him in English where he was going but after a while, it turned out that the man was also Lithuanian. When he asked us how much we were willing to pay, we just wanted to slam the car door in his face. But when it turned out that he was going all the way to Brussels and considering the distance we had traveled up until then, we just got in the car. Inside, we talked and decided that for 10 euros each, the man would take us to Berlin. With an aching heart, we gave away a large part of our very limited resources.

In the early morning, we were dropped off in one of the autobahn lots. After exploring our surroundings a bit, we set up our tents and instantly fell asleep. In a few hours, the sun softly woke us and our guitars up. We tried to rehearse a bit for the first time throughout the trip. I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions, as could be expected. First of all, I realized that I hadn’t succeeded in my attempt to run away from all of the problems I had back home. Second, it was weird to get used to traveling with someone and doing everything with someone, as opposed to being alone. However, this was actually my main goal for the trip - to learn how to work and live in a team. So, without wasting any time, we began to hitchhike at the exit of the lot. The sun got the best of us that day. It was one of the longest and hardest parts of the trip. However, after five or six hours on our feet, a driver of a small bus offered to take us to just outside of Berlin. Thanks to him.

We were dropped off near the autobahn, so we hiked through some wheat fields to get to Berlin. We laughed that only Lithuanians could do this. On the way, J. found a German flag, so a good hour later, we used it to try and stop a car. Again, we weren’t very lucky. All we saw were tons of fancy cars and the gloomy faces of elderly Germans. However, an hour later, a polite German man stopped for us and took us to Berlin, although he clearly became much more cautious after we told him that we were Lithuanians. He even offered to buy us lunch but we kindly declined. Thanks to him.

We were in Lithuania just the night before and now we were happily strolling through the streets of Berlin. In the German capital, we were supposed to meet up with another Lithuanian we knew very well, who was taking the same means of transportation to Europe. However, after four hours of hiking toward the city center, we realized that we weren’t going to reach it that day, so we agreed to meet up tomorrow. We fell asleep next to an apartment building.

It was another great morning. We headed to Lidl, where we bought some food and what would soon become one of the symbols of our trip - a Lidl bag. In the city center, after a bit of misunderstanding, we finally met up with H., who was the perfect addition to our duet. Our friend had already explored the city, so he recommended a place for us to play our music. We had fun washing off our sweat with some lawn sprinklers and split up again until the evening.

After finding the spot H. had recommended, it was clear that our friend didn’t quite understand our request. The street was similar to Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius, filled with luxury stores and banks, and lots of buzzing cars. We wandered around like a couple of homeless guys trying to decide what to do next. We didn’t want to play music in all of the noise but we also weren’t going to keep wandering around Berlin for the rest of the day without finding a decent spot. What the heck. We tossed our stuff on the ground and started to play. Gosh, we felt absolutely blessed. However, after a while, we realized that people were paying zero attention to us, except for two young Polish girls who cheered us up by taking a picture with us and having a short chat. After a few more songs, we were finally convinced that this spot was unsuitable, so we packed up our instruments and headed somewhere else.

After a while, we reached our beloved patch of lawn in the middle of downtown Berlin. We just sat next to it, waiting for H. It was a shame that we hadn’t been successful with our music today. Once H. showed up, we decided to go to Lidl and get some wine to drown our sorrows. We had no idea what a night was awaiting us.

We returned to the same patch of lawn, lay down and drank our sangria and wine. We were just three drunk young men discussing many different topics and cheerfully running around in the grass. It started to rain lightly, so we moved to a nearby canal, under the trees. It was getting dark. This was when it all started.

We began to philosophize. At first, we were just having fun but then we began to get deeper and deeper into the subjects. After a while, H. was more on the sidelines of the discussion. The subject of the discussion changed. J. claimed that only three-dimensional space existed, whereas I strongly believed that four-dimensional space was also possible – for instance, in mathematics. In my opinion, it was just one of the many things that weren’t clearly visible to humans. To me, this was just a fun thing to do in Berlin beneath the starry sky, in the rain. However, with every passing minute, J. was getting more and more frustrated and even became quite aggressive. Some of the epithets coming from him were becoming more and more inappropriate from my point of view. H. got tired of us and just lay down under a bridge. I continued the discussion but after another flow of swear words and epithets aimed toward me, I just put on my shoes and ran through the pouring rain.

I heard that I was being chased. At first, I wanted to run until I dropped but after a while, when I was already completely soaked, I stopped at a bus stop. J. stopped too. I thought that what we were doing was fascinating - a heated discussion in Berlin in the middle of the night, then lots of frustration, and finally, a run through the night. After being silent for a while, my friend started to swear at me and once again continued to argue that there could only be three-dimensional space. My gosh. I continued to run from him but quickly stopped at another bus stop. He instantly began to run after me again. I tried to explain to him that it didn’t matter who won the discussion, it was just a game, but he just got even more furious and aggressive in trying to prove his point. For the first time, I got angry myself. But my anger wasn’t aimed toward J. Perhaps it was aimed toward me, for not getting to know this person well enough. Or maybe it was just aimed at how stupidly stubborn people, including myself, can get. I continued to run through the rain. We stopped by the columns of some kind of building. I told him that I was disappointed that he couldn’t play such a simple game of wine and philosophy. After a while, he calmed down. For a good three hours, we just relaxed there, beneath the building’s small roof. In our own thoughts, our own worlds. Nobody was at fault for this rage or other fights we had throughout the trip. They just happened. We’ll just leave them in that time, in those places, to the people that witnessed them, and we’ll forget they ever happened. After all, we need to be objective.

Completely soaked, we headed toward H., who we found sound asleep under the bridge. This was pretty funny considering that just hours before, he had told us that he’s always alert when sleeping in places like this. Now, he wouldn’t even move if we kicked him lightly in the butt or stuffed a bottle in his mouth.

In the morning, we were woken up by a cyclist who rode right past our feet. Three deeply asleep young men in the middle of Berlin were probably a pleasant view. Lithuanians abroad. There’s no other way to call it. After such an eventful night, the morning was extra calm. We just sat on a bench and relaxed. In the distance, I saw a black man playing some basketball, so I ran up to him and we played a match. After a while, J. and H. joined us. It turned out that the black man was also a great guitar player. The American began to teach J. the secrets of playing the guitar, whereas I left to explore Berlin.

My gosh, I had already forgotten what it was like to travel and wander around alone. I was overwhelmed by freedom. After a while, I stumbled upon an artsy courtyard. Although it was very strange, it certainly didn’t fail to fascinate me. I went to a store and bought my favorite travel food - some soft waffles and chocolate milk. They are so cheap abroad. It would be a sin not to have them. I sat down on the steps and indulged myself. However, I needed to get back to my friends. At the basketball court, I didn’t find them or my stuff. According to the American, they went somewhere 10 minutes ago. We played another match and then I headed off to search for my young Lithuanian friends. I found them in our favorite square. After wandering a bit around the city, H. and I read some poetry by Charles Bukowski (thanks to L., who agreed to bring us the book from Warsaw just a few days before the trip), who H. was absolutely fascinated by, although he hadn’t really read much literature or poetry until then. In the evening, we headed to a square where the semi-final of the World Football Championship was going to be broadcast.

The amount of security at the entrance to the viewing zone gave us the impression that we were going to watch an important match in an actual football stadium. We had extra fun watching our bags being checked. Underwear, toothpaste, smelly socks - the guards were probably delighted with their findings. Unfortunately, they couldn’t let us in because of our razors and deodorants. We headed to a nearby forest to hide our “dangerous” belongings and successfully entered the fenced zone at our second attempt. The atmosphere wasn’t too impressive because Germany wasn’t one of the teams playing in the semi-final. Well, at least we got to feel the true spirit and culture of football.

After the game, it began to get dark, so we decided to set up our tents in one of the small nearby forests. After looking around a bit, we found a somewhat private spot. We settled down and quickly fell asleep. After a good hour, my heart dropped. I heard that someone was walking around mine and my friends’ tents for a while. However, once we gathered the courage to step out of our tents, our stalker, or stalkers, quickly hid in the bushes. H. grabbed his knife, screamed out some funny (at least now they seem funny) remarks and tried to find our guests in the bushes, but unsuccessfully. We spent a good half an hour trying to decide what we should do and finally decided to head to our favorite square that was pretty far away. Now, all of this is just a fun thing to remember but back then, my pulse was getting higher and higher with every small crack I heard in the forest. Exhausted, we packed up our tents and hiked through dark Berlin. Once we got to the grassy square, we went to its far corner, bundled up in our sleeping bags, and fell asleep.

It was a sunny morning. Without wasting any time, we decided to leave the German capital and get back on the road. We hiked all day and were once stopped by the police for hiking along the autobahn. Finally, we decided to head to the airport, where we planned to stay the night. It seemed that Berlin was just not ready to let us go.

H. got some bad blisters on his feet, so he had to leave us and get to the airport by bus. Meanwhile, J. and I watched the World Football Championship and got to the airport when it was already dark. However, we didn’t find H. there. As it turned out, our friend tried to fall asleep in some underground passage. Still, we managed to talk him into coming to the airport, where we decided to spend the night on a few sofas of a cafe. The huge amount of homeless people sleeping there forced us to decide who was going to keep guard first. And it’s a good thing that we did. A fellow homeless guy next to us managed to get a nice punch in the face from a few other men.

As the sun was rising, we headed toward Prague. We approached the entrance to the autobahn, where a young man was already standing with his thumb held up. After we split up with H., J. and I began to eagerly watch every single passing car. After half an hour, H. was picked up by a person who was going straight to Prague. Soon, we were sitting in a car that was headed to Dresden. Quite paradoxically, the young man who was already standing there before we arrived was left behind with his thumb up.

I can’t clearly remember the good man who was driving us in his fast car through the autobahn. The monotonic scenery made me sleepy, so I slept through most of the trip. We were dropped off by a huge shopping center, each drank a large milkshake, and headed for a hike through Dresden, which pretty much felt like a desert as it was well over 30 degrees Celcius. We reached the other side of Dresden in the evening but this place certainly wasn’t suitable for hitchhiking. After two or three hours, a young man stopped and offered to take us to a spot 20 kilometers away which was supposed to be more suitable for hitchhiking. Although the German was a very nice companion, he took us to some small town that was even worse. We managed to get back to Dresden within about two hours. As the sun was setting, we tried to stop a car in the Dresden streets just for fun, but we weren’t successful.

Before choosing a spot for the night, I suggested we split up for a short while. J. didn’t like splitting up throughout the trip because he often felt uncomfortable in unfamiliar places but to me, alone time was true bliss.

A bridge. Around me were lots of helpless lights shining in the power of the night. Below, I heard passing cars. I played my out-of-tune guitar on the bridge and felt amazing. My gosh, I wondered why I wasn’t traveling alone.

I went back to J. We chatted for a while and fell asleep on an electrical substation, gazing at the stars. In the morning, I was awoken by the sound of lawnmowers. The workers were joking around about us and about where we chose to spend the night, although we couldn’t really understand them. We headed to the same dreadful hitchhiking place but after spending another two hours in the extremely hot sun, we were forced to take other actions. However, we didn’t yet know what those actions were going to be.

Eventually, we decided to take a bus to a small town that was near the autobahn 15 kilometers away and to continue hitchhiking toward the Czech Republic there. We got on the bus and asked for the price. The driver sad 5.5 euros. For a few minutes, we tried to explain that we were only asking for the price of one ticket and once it was clear that nearly 20 litas (former national currency of Lithuania) was the price for this very short trip for one person, we were shocked. Well, this is what it’s like to be Lithuanians abroad:) We had to get off of the bus. However, after thinking about it for a while, we realized what a pathetic situation we were in, so we waited for the next bus and gave away a huge part of our already short savings. We had no idea how grateful we would be later that night that we decided to spend those 5.5 euros each.

The bus took us to a small town through a side road. We decided not to look for the autobahn and with the help of a few more cars that we managed to stop on that same road, we finally reached the town of our dreams - Altenburg. This place was simply divine. At least it seemed so that night, considering how tired we were, how much we had gone through to get there, and the beautiful scenery of the town. If only we could feel this way forever.

We visited a local market located on a large cliff. A perfect market in a perfect town. We dug up some of our savings, bought some beer, and headed toward an Altenburg campsite. Once we got close to it, we hid our guitars and backpacks in a nearby forest and went for a swim. It truly felt salutary. We reached a body of water. Our surroundings were absolutely perfect and there was even a slide, so our inner children completely took over. After chatting a bit with some locals, we headed to a more remote spot to enjoy the amazing view, nightly conversation, and beer. We didn’t see the point in looking much farther for a place to sleep, so we just set up our sleeping bags near a bench and quickly dozed off.

Unsurprisingly, we were once again awoken by the hot morning sun, just like almost every day. We could no longer enjoy the beauty of Altenburg because our pockets were almost completely empty, so we needed to reach Prague and try to earn at least a bit of money. We received a text from H. that he was no longer going to meet us in Prague because according to him, there were too many dangerous men and homeless people and nearly nowhere to sleep. Meanwhile, we kept walking and getting closer and closer to the Czech Republic. Once we were near the border, we began to hitchhike. However, an hour or two of smiling at passing cars didn’t prove to be successful. We decided to cross the border on foot. Of course, we were stopped by the police, who checked our IDs. From their comments and smiles, we figured that we weren’t the only ones to recently cross the border this way.

The Czech Republic. We decided not to hitchhike anymore and to walk to a town that was about 10-12 kilometers away. After about 3 kilometers of walking, a red car stopped by us. At first, we thought that the driver might offer to give us a lift for the rest of the way but, oh boy, were we wrong. A shaved man stepped out of the car, gave us one euro, and kept explaining something to us. We figured that he might want us to exchange the euro into Czech kroons, so we told him that we didn’t have any. But he wouldn’t calm down and kept shoving us his euro. What I did next was pretty stupid, but I didn’t see any other option - I pulled out my wallet and demonstrated the mere 5 euros and some litas that I have left, and the fact that I had no kroons. J. demonstrated his savings as well. Although J. had slightly more than me, he also barely had any money left. Once we saw how interested the man was in our litas and once we’d had enough of his suspicious behavior (although “suspicious” probably wasn’t the correct word to use because it was obvious that he had clear intentions), we put our wallets back and J. told him that we had to get going. Barely understandably, the man asked us to wait for him for two minutes and drove off. We realized that once he’d come back, we could lose all of our money or even worse, so we jumped into the bushes and waited to see what would happen next. That same red car did come back a few minutes later. Actually, it just slowly drove by. This is how we were greeted by the Czech Republic.

We traveled with extreme caution. No matter how beautiful the scenery was, particular aspects would always worry us - for example, a prostitute near an obviously corrupt police station. As we were nearing Teplice, a man fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a street sign right in front of our eyes, completely destroying it. A man and a few women stepped out of the car. We asked several times if they needed help but apart from being in slight shock, all of the passengers were fine. We were greeted by another prostitute sitting by the road at Teplice. We walked through the town and began hitchhiking. Spending the night there definitely didn’t sound like a fun idea. We hitched for a few hours, then hiked the rest of the way to Prague. After about 15-20 kilometers, our brains pretty much lost function, so we just laughed at ourselves nonstop. The sun was about to set, so we stepped back on the fateful road. We put our thumbs up. Nobody stopped. However, an hour later, a car did stop for us. We couldn’t believe it. We asked the woman where she was going, and she said Prague. We couldn’t contain our excitement when we were in her car. The nice woman was a truly interesting person. She was an advertising designer if I remember correctly. She told us a few of her interesting life experiences which, unfortunately, I can’t share with you. Once we arrived in Prague, she stopped at an inn to buy some weed. She asked us if we wanted some, but we kindly declined. Finally, she dropped us off in the center of Prague. Thanks to her.

Our first impression of the Czech capital was worse than we expected even after receiving H.’s text. The moment we arrived, we saw how a black man was harassing passing women in the middle of the road, all while another black man kept shouting nearby, offering his product - "Buzz, buzz". There were tons of homeless people all around us. As it was already getting dark, we began our search for a place to sleep. After a good hour, we climbed up an exhaustingly high hill from which a spectacular view of Old Town Prague opened up. After enjoying the view and chatting for a bit, we found a remote spot for the night. We were a bit anxious because the branches near us kept cracking but eventually, we fell asleep. In the middle of the night, we figured out that it was just a hedgehog. Guess what the morning weather was like. Nope, it wasn’t rainy. It was once again sunny.

Without wasting any time, we headed to search for a spot to play our music. Once we got to the Old Town and found a spot where there was a slightly larger crowd, we began our performance. I played first, while J. tried to collect money in his hat. I felt amazing. Free. The acoustics were perfect. We finally earned some money for the first time throughout the whole trip. We figured that we should be lucky that day. However, the Czech police didn’t think so. They just drove up to us and without saying a word, took our IDs and began to write us fines. They barely even talked to us. Luckily for us, the men received a call through their radios and had to go catch some other, probably more serious, offenders. But before leaving, they warned us that "next - pay". We realized that we couldn’t play there anymore, so we bought five buns with our 8 kroons and some more food from what was left of J’s money and began our journey back to Lithuania.

It was extremely hot. I’m surprised I didn’t get a sunstroke after spending the whole day in the sun. We hiked all day and at about 6 pm, we were finally on the highway. An old hippy stopped without us even asking. Our hearts were filled with joy because we were absolutely exhausted. We were dropped off in a small town about 40 kilometers from the Polish-Czech border. Thanks to this nice man. We felt like we had made lots of progress that day. Despite the upcoming night, we tried to stop another car. The very first car that approached us stopped. The girl said that she was headed to the town center. J. didn’t want to get in, but we had nothing to lose, so we hopped in. The girl barely spoke any English, so we weren’t able to have a chat. We didn’t quite understand where we were going because we weren’t exactly going in the direction of the center of Hradec Kralove. Half an hour had already passed. We were getting more and more curious. Eventually, as we were approaching Poland, we realized what a nice and generous girl she was. It’s a real shame that we weren’t able to get to know her better. We arrived in a town called Nachod, which was right by the Polish-Czech border despite the fact that the girl was going to Hradec Kralove before she met us – about 40 kilometers away from Nachod. A sincere thanks to her.

The description of the trip reflects it perfectly - lots of everyday things, not too many thoughts or emotions. All day long, you get more and more exhausted from hiking and your main worry is how to get enough food with your limited financial resources. Throughout the whole trip, J. and I joked that we went away to enjoy some music, the sun, and the world but just ended up hiking from early morning to late at night, using up all of our energy and ending up more exhausted than our friends in Finland doing excruciatingly difficult jobs all day long. The difference was that they got paid good money for it, whereas we were only losing ours.

It was already dark. Since the World Football Championship was on, we searched for a spot to watch it and soon came across a bar. Well, it was closed for Sunday but at least we could see the big screen inside with the owner sitting next to it and drinking some beer. We sat down on the fence between the street and sidewalk and just enjoyed the game. Although Arjen Robben played beautifully, Spain was victorious. We headed to search for a spot to sleep. Once again, we weren’t very picky, so we just lay down on the lawn behind a shopping center.

It was a “heated” morning. Without wasting any time, we headed toward Poland. We crossed the border without being stopped by any officers, filled up on water, and burned under the hot sun for three or four hours. Once we realized that the chances of a car stopping for us were not great, our only hope became the Lithuanians who would occasionally pass by. We wrote down "Lietuvaičiai" (“Lithuanians”) on a piece of cardboard and waited for our chance. After another hour, we saw a truck with Lithuanian plates. We quickly raised our sign and received a smile from the truck driver, who stopped about twenty meters from us. I ran toward him with a fluttering heart, opened up the door, and told the driver all about our difficult situation. Although he kept smiling, it didn’t look like he wanted to pick us up. Eventually, after five minutes of persuasion, he agreed to take one of us. I returned to J. We had already agreed long ago that if we were ever in a situation like this, we would use the time-tested solution - rock paper scissors. So that’s exactly what we did. My friend won. We said our quick goodbyes and wished each other luck.

I had mixed emotions. At first, it was just weird. It had seemed that my homeland was so close but then instantly, it was extremely far away again. Well, the truth was that J. needed that direct ticket home more than I did. I would surely figure something out. For some reason, I was more determined than ever, so I put my thumb up once again. Miraculously, a car stopped within just a few minutes and took me to a small town five kilometers away. Since the town wasn’t very suitable for hitchhiking, I just walked toward Lithuania with my left hand up. In a few minutes, another car stopped. The driver was a very sophisticated man, so we had a very nice conversation. The nice man was an engineer, so he showed me tons of pictures of pipes. I just kept smiling. The wind was blowing through my hair. Once again, I asked myself why I wasn’t traveling alone. I was dropped off by a gas station. I felt so free. So many emotions had built up inside of me, so I just went behind the gas station and played some music. The approaching night forced me to resume my trip, so I walked a few kilometers and started hitchhiking again. After about fifteen minutes, a truck stopped for me. Back then, I had no idea what an important role the driver would play in my trip.

The man didn’t speak any English and I, of course, didn’t speak any Polish. Just like many times in Poland, I used gestures to communicate. He was a very good man. I could just feel it. A few hours into our trip, the man drove into a truck parking lot and asked if anyone was headed toward Lithuania but nobody was, so we continued driving. We wondered where it would be best to drop me off. Eventually, the man offered to go to his home, take a break, and then go to a truck lot, where, according to him, someone should be going to Suvalkai. I asked him if it wouldn’t be a problem and he assured me that it wasn’t.

We arrived in a village-like town and were greeted by the driver’s wife and young daughter. At that moment, maybe briefly, maybe not, my idyll of a lonely life shattered. It was amazing to see how magical the happy life of a simple family can be. The happiness in the family members’ eyes when they’re finally together again, and the silence and suspense before the husband’s departure. Meanwhile, as a witness to this simple miracle, I satisfied my own physical needs in the shining kitchen light with the delicious food that the driver’s wife had prepared. I hadn’t had any food in my mouth for nearly twelve hours. After a while, when the driver and his wife headed outside for a smoke, I helped their daughter with her English homework. I smiled as she told me about her idol Justin Timberlake. I just enjoyed everything. Eventually, it was time to go. I thanked the nice family for having me. I thanked the higher powers for the simple joy I had been given.

Nighttime. After a good hour, we reached the truck lot but unfortunately, nobody was headed toward Suvalkai, so the nice driver and I fell asleep in the cabin of his truck. At daybreak, we were on the road again. I was dropped off in a Poznan suburb and told my savior a sincere thank you. The sunrise was beautiful, so I couldn’t resist sitting down on a bench near the tracks and playing my guitar. The only thing that worried me was the amount of food that I had left, which was approaching zero. However, after an hour of walking, I was back on the road and beat my hitchhiking record. At first, I stopped a truck. The driver gave me a quick lift and arranged through his radio for another driver to pick me up. This driver also gave me a quick lift and arranged for another to pick me up, then the third gave me a lift and arranged for a fourth to pick me up. Well, that was my record. This way, I slowly made my way to Olsztyn, where the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Zalgiris (considered to be one of the most important battles for the nation of Lithuanians) was supposed to be marked a few days later but I didn’t know this back then, so I continued my travels.

I walked to the end of Olsztyn and put up my thumb but I was quickly approached by traffic police, who was doing checks on trucks. They kept asking me many stupid questions, some of which I had to answer two or three times. Eventually, they told me to sit down and relax while they’d find me a truck with Lithuanian plates. However, nobody showed up for a good half an hour, so I borrowed a pen from the police and wrote down “Augustow” on a piece of cardboard and stood up by the road. Quickly, a businessman stopped for me and we quickly drove off toward Augustow. At a gas station, without me even asking, the good man bought me some much-needed water, and we continued our journey. Midway, we turned off the road and began going in a different direction. The businessman was busy talking on his phone, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the ride. Eventually, we made it to a small town. The man ran off to a house and came back with another man. I didn’t understand what was going on. The businessman’s friend pulled out a map and in perfect English asked me where I was going, although I had already told the driver several times. We all decided that it would be best for me to hitch from a town that was 20 kilometers away. We thanked the businessman’s friend and headed toward that town. To my surprise, once we got to the end of the town that the businessman’s friend lived in, the driver shook my hand and wished me luck. I stepped out of the car somewhat shocked. Here’s what I saw: a cow, lots of fields, a few houses, and no cars whatsoever. It started to rain. I lost all hope in getting to Lithuania that night.

Suddenly, a truck appeared out of nowhere in the rain. Who knows what brought it here but it gave me a much-needed 20-kilometer lift. When I was dropped off, the rain was even heavier. However, there was no time to hide away from the rain because it was already 7 pm, so I pulled out my sign from a few days ago that said “Lithuanians” and got back on the road. A nice and fun woman drove me 20 kilometers but I was still a long way from my destination. After a good half an hour of standing in the rain, a Lithuanian finally stopped for me. I will definitely get back to Lithuania tonight, I thought. However, I forgot how much the gods enjoyed surprising me.

In a few minutes, we reached a completely frozen traffic jam of about a dozen kilometers. It turned out that there had recently been an accident and a truck was blocking the road. According to some people, the truck would probably only be moved at midnight, but it might still be there by morning. For a good hour, we just sat in the car listening to Lithuanian music hits. It was fun. It reminded me of my childhood. Finally, the driver demonstrated his determination and decided to go around the blocked road by taking a stretch of a few dozen kilometers through cow trails. Although other drivers were very pessimistic about his idea, it turned out to be the perfect solution thirty minutes later. At about 10 pm, we finally reached Lithuania. I thanked the nice man, hopped into another truck with a Latvian driver, and arrived in a Kaunas suburb at about 11 pm. You’d think that was the end of my struggles. But, oh boy, it wasn’t.

It had been nearly 24 hours since I had any food in my mouth. I decided to take the highway to a McDonald’s that was 7-8 kilometers away. For the large part, I hiked with my eyes closed because I didn’t even have enough energy to stare into the night. I was completely exhausted. Not even a single thought in my head. Once I got there, I had to wait another thirty minutes in a queue because apparently, I wasn’t the only one who got hungry in the middle of the night. Finally, I stuffed myself with lots of junk food and instantly got a headache from the amount of sugar I had just consumed. I had no energy to go any farther, so I just lay down in my sleeping bag by the bushes near McDonald’s. I dreamt that I was in a tent and soaking wet. Once I was half-awake, I realized that it was raining. Without considering how strong the rain was, I covered myself up with some waterproof plastic and continued to sleep. I dreamt that I was laying in a tent and drowning. I woke up and realized that it was pouring brutally, I was laying in a puddle, and my sleeping bag and all of my stuff were soaking wet. One by one, I gathered all of my belongings and dragged everything under a gas station roof. I sat down by the entrance, took off my shoes, socks, and just relaxed. Although I was wet and exhausted, I didn’t worry at all. Because I knew that there were only three hours left until the morning. Time flew by quickly and I was soon watching the sunrise, so I headed home.

That pretty much sums up my summer adventures, my dear readers. My friend R., who I had met up with this spring in Paris, was very accurate when he said that people often go on trips together but return separately. When the two of us joined forces, we didn’t experience anything unique in our music or our trip. Now, all I want is to be the perfect companion to myself and to travel alone for the time being. However, Honoré de Balzac’s words, “solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine”, and the family idyll that I had recently witnessed sparked hope for me to include other people in my future, too. In the meantime, the destinations and directions of my trips will be slightly different from now on but more on that some other day, if we’re all still here. May you all live life to the fullest.

This time, it will be difficult for me to remain objective, but I promise to try. Then again, what is objectivity, really? A wise friend of mine once said that objectivity is just multi-subjectivity. In other words, the more subjectivity there is, the more subjective attitudes, and the more everything as a whole becomes more objective from the various points, including the smallest and narrowest ones, that people view it from. Another friend of mine denied this idea pretty accurately. But I’m forgetting the main point here. I’m supposed to be writing about the trip that took a whole year for me and my friend to plan.

It was an amazing morning in 2010. I met up with my companion. We were both extremely excited. Two years ago, in 2008, I had visited the Aalborg stadium in northern Denmark, where a group of local football fans was holding up a poster with the phrase "Historien er skrevet nu". History is being written now. I couldn’t stop picturing that poster before this trip. Back then, my companion and I had no idea what events would become part of our history.

We were soon on the road and a man picked us up in fifteen minutes. He managed to double our optimism. I’d probably need a whole page to describe him. In short, I’ll just call him a cool, fun man with lots of experience all around the world. We were dropped off in Marijampole with enough vitamin C for the whole day after hearing how the driver had no idea where he was going, or where his wife was, and after hearing the detailed story about how he punched a man for trying to kick him out of a bathroom.

Once again, we were standing under the scorching sun. After a while, a Swedish man appeared who was also looking for a ride. The sun had already burned through to our brains, so we began to stop cars using a slipper we found. After all, it’s always fun to demonstrate to a foreigner how crazy Lithuanians can be. The Swedish man just responded to our nonsense with a forgiving smile. An hour or two later, we decided to head somewhere else. We walked for an hour, gradually finishing up our small supply of water. After a good hour, a man stopped and took us to Kalvarija. We felt pathetic. It was already 7 pm and we had only managed to travel 70 kilometers. Well, a good start is just half the work. We joked that maybe we should just go back to Marijampole and drink wine by the store for a week with the money we had for the trip. However, after getting some refreshments at the gas station, we were back on the road.

Not a single car stopped for a good half an hour. Again, we laughed at ourselves. Luckily, a man with foreign license plates ended up stopping. At first, my friend tried to ask him in English where he was going but after a while, it turned out that the man was also Lithuanian. When he asked us how much we were willing to pay, we just wanted to slam the car door in his face. But when it turned out that he was going all the way to Brussels and considering the distance we had traveled up until then, we just got in the car. Inside, we talked and decided that for 10 euros each, the man would take us to Berlin. With an aching heart, we gave away a large part of our very limited resources.

In the early morning, we were dropped off in one of the autobahn lots. After exploring our surroundings a bit, we set up our tents and instantly fell asleep. In a few hours, the sun softly woke us and our guitars up. We tried to rehearse a bit for the first time throughout the trip. I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions, as could be expected. First of all, I realized that I hadn’t succeeded in my attempt to run away from all of the problems I had back home. Second, it was weird to get used to traveling with someone and doing everything with someone, as opposed to being alone. However, this was actually my main goal for the trip - to learn how to work and live in a team. So, without wasting any time, we began to hitchhike at the exit of the lot. The sun got the best of us that day. It was one of the longest and hardest parts of the trip. However, after five or six hours on our feet, a driver of a small bus offered to take us to just outside of Berlin. Thanks to him.

We were dropped off near the autobahn, so we hiked through some wheat fields to get to Berlin. We laughed that only Lithuanians could do this. On the way, J. found a German flag, so a good hour later, we used it to try and stop a car. Again, we weren’t very lucky. All we saw were tons of fancy cars and the gloomy faces of elderly Germans. However, an hour later, a polite German man stopped for us and took us to Berlin, although he clearly became much more cautious after we told him that we were Lithuanians. He even offered to buy us lunch but we kindly declined. Thanks to him.

We were in Lithuania just the night before and now we were happily strolling through the streets of Berlin. In the German capital, we were supposed to meet up with another Lithuanian we knew very well, who was taking the same means of transportation to Europe. However, after four hours of hiking toward the city center, we realized that we weren’t going to reach it that day, so we agreed to meet up tomorrow. We fell asleep next to an apartment building.

It was another great morning. We headed to Lidl, where we bought some food and what would soon become one of the symbols of our trip - a Lidl bag. In the city center, after a bit of misunderstanding, we finally met up with H., who was the perfect addition to our duet. Our friend had already explored the city, so he recommended a place for us to play our music. We had fun washing off our sweat with some lawn sprinklers and split up again until the evening.

After finding the spot H. had recommended, it was clear that our friend didn’t quite understand our request. The street was similar to Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius, filled with luxury stores and banks, and lots of buzzing cars. We wandered around like a couple of homeless guys trying to decide what to do next. We didn’t want to play music in all of the noise but we also weren’t going to keep wandering around Berlin for the rest of the day without finding a decent spot. What the heck. We tossed our stuff on the ground and started to play. Gosh, we felt absolutely blessed. However, after a while, we realized that people were paying zero attention to us, except for two young Polish girls who cheered us up by taking a picture with us and having a short chat. After a few more songs, we were finally convinced that this spot was unsuitable, so we packed up our instruments and headed somewhere else.

After a while, we reached our beloved patch of lawn in the middle of downtown Berlin. We just sat next to it, waiting for H. It was a shame that we hadn’t been successful with our music today. Once H. showed up, we decided to go to Lidl and get some wine to drown our sorrows. We had no idea what a night was awaiting us.

We returned to the same patch of lawn, lay down and drank our sangria and wine. We were just three drunk young men discussing many different topics and cheerfully running around in the grass. It started to rain lightly, so we moved to a nearby canal, under the trees. It was getting dark. This was when it all started.

We began to philosophize. At first, we were just having fun but then we began to get deeper and deeper into the subjects. After a while, H. was more on the sidelines of the discussion. The subject of the discussion changed. J. claimed that only three-dimensional space existed, whereas I strongly believed that four-dimensional space was also possible – for instance, in mathematics. In my opinion, it was just one of the many things that weren’t clearly visible to humans. To me, this was just a fun thing to do in Berlin beneath the starry sky, in the rain. However, with every passing minute, J. was getting more and more frustrated and even became quite aggressive. Some of the epithets coming from him were becoming more and more inappropriate from my point of view. H. got tired of us and just lay down under a bridge. I continued the discussion but after another flow of swear words and epithets aimed toward me, I just put on my shoes and ran through the pouring rain.

I heard that I was being chased. At first, I wanted to run until I dropped but after a while, when I was already completely soaked, I stopped at a bus stop. J. stopped too. I thought that what we were doing was fascinating - a heated discussion in Berlin in the middle of the night, then lots of frustration, and finally, a run through the night. After being silent for a while, my friend started to swear at me and once again continued to argue that there could only be three-dimensional space. My gosh. I continued to run from him but quickly stopped at another bus stop. He instantly began to run after me again. I tried to explain to him that it didn’t matter who won the discussion, it was just a game, but he just got even more furious and aggressive in trying to prove his point. For the first time, I got angry myself. But my anger wasn’t aimed toward J. Perhaps it was aimed toward me, for not getting to know this person well enough. Or maybe it was just aimed at how stupidly stubborn people, including myself, can get. I continued to run through the rain. We stopped by the columns of some kind of building. I told him that I was disappointed that he couldn’t play such a simple game of wine and philosophy. After a while, he calmed down. For a good three hours, we just relaxed there, beneath the building’s small roof. In our own thoughts, our own worlds. Nobody was at fault for this rage or other fights we had throughout the trip. They just happened. We’ll just leave them in that time, in those places, to the people that witnessed them, and we’ll forget they ever happened. After all, we need to be objective.

Completely soaked, we headed toward H., who we found sound asleep under the bridge. This was pretty funny considering that just hours before, he had told us that he’s always alert when sleeping in places like this. Now, he wouldn’t even move if we kicked him lightly in the butt or stuffed a bottle in his mouth.

In the morning, we were woken up by a cyclist who rode right past our feet. Three deeply asleep young men in the middle of Berlin were probably a pleasant view. Lithuanians abroad. There’s no other way to call it. After such an eventful night, the morning was extra calm. We just sat on a bench and relaxed. In the distance, I saw a black man playing some basketball, so I ran up to him and we played a match. After a while, J. and H. joined us. It turned out that the black man was also a great guitar player. The American began to teach J. the secrets of playing the guitar, whereas I left to explore Berlin.

My gosh, I had already forgotten what it was like to travel and wander around alone. I was overwhelmed by freedom. After a while, I stumbled upon an artsy courtyard. Although it was very strange, it certainly didn’t fail to fascinate me. I went to a store and bought my favorite travel food - some soft waffles and chocolate milk. They are so cheap abroad. It would be a sin not to have them. I sat down on the steps and indulged myself. However, I needed to get back to my friends. At the basketball court, I didn’t find them or my stuff. According to the American, they went somewhere 10 minutes ago. We played another match and then I headed off to search for my young Lithuanian friends. I found them in our favorite square. After wandering a bit around the city, H. and I read some poetry by Charles Bukowski (thanks to L., who agreed to bring us the book from Warsaw just a few days before the trip), who H. was absolutely fascinated by, although he hadn’t really read much literature or poetry until then. In the evening, we headed to a square where the semi-final of the World Football Championship was going to be broadcast.

The amount of security at the entrance to the viewing zone gave us the impression that we were going to watch an important match in an actual football stadium. We had extra fun watching our bags being checked. Underwear, toothpaste, smelly socks - the guards were probably delighted with their findings. Unfortunately, they couldn’t let us in because of our razors and deodorants. We headed to a nearby forest to hide our “dangerous” belongings and successfully entered the fenced zone at our second attempt. The atmosphere wasn’t too impressive because Germany wasn’t one of the teams playing in the semi-final. Well, at least we got to feel the true spirit and culture of football.

After the game, it began to get dark, so we decided to set up our tents in one of the small nearby forests. After looking around a bit, we found a somewhat private spot. We settled down and quickly fell asleep. After a good hour, my heart dropped. I heard that someone was walking around mine and my friends’ tents for a while. However, once we gathered the courage to step out of our tents, our stalker, or stalkers, quickly hid in the bushes. H. grabbed his knife, screamed out some funny (at least now they seem funny) remarks and tried to find our guests in the bushes, but unsuccessfully. We spent a good half an hour trying to decide what we should do and finally decided to head to our favorite square that was pretty far away. Now, all of this is just a fun thing to remember but back then, my pulse was getting higher and higher with every small crack I heard in the forest. Exhausted, we packed up our tents and hiked through dark Berlin. Once we got to the grassy square, we went to its far corner, bundled up in our sleeping bags, and fell asleep.

It was a sunny morning. Without wasting any time, we decided to leave the German capital and get back on the road. We hiked all day and were once stopped by the police for hiking along the autobahn. Finally, we decided to head to the airport, where we planned to stay the night. It seemed that Berlin was just not ready to let us go.

H. got some bad blisters on his feet, so he had to leave us and get to the airport by bus. Meanwhile, J. and I watched the World Football Championship and got to the airport when it was already dark. However, we didn’t find H. there. As it turned out, our friend tried to fall asleep in some underground passage. Still, we managed to talk him into coming to the airport, where we decided to spend the night on a few sofas of a cafe. The huge amount of homeless people sleeping there forced us to decide who was going to keep guard first. And it’s a good thing that we did. A fellow homeless guy next to us managed to get a nice punch in the face from a few other men.

As the sun was rising, we headed toward Prague. We approached the entrance to the autobahn, where a young man was already standing with his thumb held up. After we split up with H., J. and I began to eagerly watch every single passing car. After half an hour, H. was picked up by a person who was going straight to Prague. Soon, we were sitting in a car that was headed to Dresden. Quite paradoxically, the young man who was already standing there before we arrived was left behind with his thumb up.

I can’t clearly remember the good man who was driving us in his fast car through the autobahn. The monotonic scenery made me sleepy, so I slept through most of the trip. We were dropped off by a huge shopping center, each drank a large milkshake, and headed for a hike through Dresden, which pretty much felt like a desert as it was well over 30 degrees Celcius. We reached the other side of Dresden in the evening but this place certainly wasn’t suitable for hitchhiking. After two or three hours, a young man stopped and offered to take us to a spot 20 kilometers away which was supposed to be more suitable for hitchhiking. Although the German was a very nice companion, he took us to some small town that was even worse. We managed to get back to Dresden within about two hours. As the sun was setting, we tried to stop a car in the Dresden streets just for fun, but we weren’t successful.

Before choosing a spot for the night, I suggested we split up for a short while. J. didn’t like splitting up throughout the trip because he often felt uncomfortable in unfamiliar places but to me, alone time was true bliss.

A bridge. Around me were lots of helpless lights shining in the power of the night. Below, I heard passing cars. I played my out-of-tune guitar on the bridge and felt amazing. My gosh, I wondered why I wasn’t traveling alone.

I went back to J. We chatted for a while and fell asleep on an electrical substation, gazing at the stars. In the morning, I was awoken by the sound of lawnmowers. The workers were joking around about us and about where we chose to spend the night, although we couldn’t really understand them. We headed to the same dreadful hitchhiking place but after spending another two hours in the extremely hot sun, we were forced to take other actions. However, we didn’t yet know what those actions were going to be.

Eventually, we decided to take a bus to a small town that was near the autobahn 15 kilometers away and to continue hitchhiking toward the Czech Republic there. We got on the bus and asked for the price. The driver sad 5.5 euros. For a few minutes, we tried to explain that we were only asking for the price of one ticket and once it was clear that nearly 20 litas (former national currency of Lithuania) was the price for this very short trip for one person, we were shocked. Well, this is what it’s like to be Lithuanians abroad:) We had to get off of the bus. However, after thinking about it for a while, we realized what a pathetic situation we were in, so we waited for the next bus and gave away a huge part of our already short savings. We had no idea how grateful we would be later that night that we decided to spend those 5.5 euros each.

The bus took us to a small town through a side road. We decided not to look for the autobahn and with the help of a few more cars that we managed to stop on that same road, we finally reached the town of our dreams - Altenburg. This place was simply divine. At least it seemed so that night, considering how tired we were, how much we had gone through to get there, and the beautiful scenery of the town. If only we could feel this way forever.

We visited a local market located on a large cliff. A perfect market in a perfect town. We dug up some of our savings, bought some beer, and headed toward an Altenburg campsite. Once we got close to it, we hid our guitars and backpacks in a nearby forest and went for a swim. It truly felt salutary. We reached a body of water. Our surroundings were absolutely perfect and there was even a slide, so our inner children completely took over. After chatting a bit with some locals, we headed to a more remote spot to enjoy the amazing view, nightly conversation, and beer. We didn’t see the point in looking much farther for a place to sleep, so we just set up our sleeping bags near a bench and quickly dozed off.

Unsurprisingly, we were once again awoken by the hot morning sun, just like almost every day. We could no longer enjoy the beauty of Altenburg because our pockets were almost completely empty, so we needed to reach Prague and try to earn at least a bit of money. We received a text from H. that he was no longer going to meet us in Prague because according to him, there were too many dangerous men and homeless people and nearly nowhere to sleep. Meanwhile, we kept walking and getting closer and closer to the Czech Republic. Once we were near the border, we began to hitchhike. However, an hour or two of smiling at passing cars didn’t prove to be successful. We decided to cross the border on foot. Of course, we were stopped by the police, who checked our IDs. From their comments and smiles, we figured that we weren’t the only ones to recently cross the border this way.

The Czech Republic. We decided not to hitchhike anymore and to walk to a town that was about 10-12 kilometers away. After about 3 kilometers of walking, a red car stopped by us. At first, we thought that the driver might offer to give us a lift for the rest of the way but, oh boy, were we wrong. A shaved man stepped out of the car, gave us one euro, and kept explaining something to us. We figured that he might want us to exchange the euro into Czech kroons, so we told him that we didn’t have any. But he wouldn’t calm down and kept shoving us his euro. What I did next was pretty stupid, but I didn’t see any other option - I pulled out my wallet and demonstrated the mere 5 euros and some litas that I have left, and the fact that I had no kroons. J. demonstrated his savings as well. Although J. had slightly more than me, he also barely had any money left. Once we saw how interested the man was in our litas and once we’d had enough of his suspicious behavior (although “suspicious” probably wasn’t the correct word to use because it was obvious that he had clear intentions), we put our wallets back and J. told him that we had to get going. Barely understandably, the man asked us to wait for him for two minutes and drove off. We realized that once he’d come back, we could lose all of our money or even worse, so we jumped into the bushes and waited to see what would happen next. That same red car did come back a few minutes later. Actually, it just slowly drove by. This is how we were greeted by the Czech Republic.

We traveled with extreme caution. No matter how beautiful the scenery was, particular aspects would always worry us - for example, a prostitute near an obviously corrupt police station. As we were nearing Teplice, a man fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a street sign right in front of our eyes, completely destroying it. A man and a few women stepped out of the car. We asked several times if they needed help but apart from being in slight shock, all of the passengers were fine. We were greeted by another prostitute sitting by the road at Teplice. We walked through the town and began hitchhiking. Spending the night there definitely didn’t sound like a fun idea. We hitched for a few hours, then hiked the rest of the way to Prague. After about 15-20 kilometers, our brains pretty much lost function, so we just laughed at ourselves nonstop. The sun was about to set, so we stepped back on the fateful road. We put our thumbs up. Nobody stopped. However, an hour later, a car did stop for us. We couldn’t believe it. We asked the woman where she was going, and she said Prague. We couldn’t contain our excitement when we were in her car. The nice woman was a truly interesting person. She was an advertising designer if I remember correctly. She told us a few of her interesting life experiences which, unfortunately, I can’t share with you. Once we arrived in Prague, she stopped at an inn to buy some weed. She asked us if we wanted some, but we kindly declined. Finally, she dropped us off in the center of Prague. Thanks to her.

Our first impression of the Czech capital was worse than we expected even after receiving H.’s text. The moment we arrived, we saw how a black man was harassing passing women in the middle of the road, all while another black man kept shouting nearby, offering his product - "Buzz, buzz". There were tons of homeless people all around us. As it was already getting dark, we began our search for a place to sleep. After a good hour, we climbed up an exhaustingly high hill from which a spectacular view of Old Town Prague opened up. After enjoying the view and chatting for a bit, we found a remote spot for the night. We were a bit anxious because the branches near us kept cracking but eventually, we fell asleep. In the middle of the night, we figured out that it was just a hedgehog. Guess what the morning weather was like. Nope, it wasn’t rainy. It was once again sunny.

Without wasting any time, we headed to search for a spot to play our music. Once we got to the Old Town and found a spot where there was a slightly larger crowd, we began our performance. I played first, while J. tried to collect money in his hat. I felt amazing. Free. The acoustics were perfect. We finally earned some money for the first time throughout the whole trip. We figured that we should be lucky that day. However, the Czech police didn’t think so. They just drove up to us and without saying a word, took our IDs and began to write us fines. They barely even talked to us. Luckily for us, the men received a call through their radios and had to go catch some other, probably more serious, offenders. But before leaving, they warned us that "next - pay". We realized that we couldn’t play there anymore, so we bought five buns with our 8 kroons and some more food from what was left of J’s money and began our journey back to Lithuania.

It was extremely hot. I’m surprised I didn’t get a sunstroke after spending the whole day in the sun. We hiked all day and at about 6 pm, we were finally on the highway. An old hippy stopped without us even asking. Our hearts were filled with joy because we were absolutely exhausted. We were dropped off in a small town about 40 kilometers from the Polish-Czech border. Thanks to this nice man. We felt like we had made lots of progress that day. Despite the upcoming night, we tried to stop another car. The very first car that approached us stopped. The girl said that she was headed to the town center. J. didn’t want to get in, but we had nothing to lose, so we hopped in. The girl barely spoke any English, so we weren’t able to have a chat. We didn’t quite understand where we were going because we weren’t exactly going in the direction of the center of Hradec Kralove. Half an hour had already passed. We were getting more and more curious. Eventually, as we were approaching Poland, we realized what a nice and generous girl she was. It’s a real shame that we weren’t able to get to know her better. We arrived in a town called Nachod, which was right by the Polish-Czech border despite the fact that the girl was going to Hradec Kralove before she met us – about 40 kilometers away from Nachod. A sincere thanks to her.

The description of the trip reflects it perfectly - lots of everyday things, not too many thoughts or emotions. All day long, you get more and more exhausted from hiking and your main worry is how to get enough food with your limited financial resources. Throughout the whole trip, J. and I joked that we went away to enjoy some music, the sun, and the world but just ended up hiking from early morning to late at night, using up all of our energy and ending up more exhausted than our friends in Finland doing excruciatingly difficult jobs all day long. The difference was that they got paid good money for it, whereas we were only losing ours.

It was already dark. Since the World Football Championship was on, we searched for a spot to watch it and soon came across a bar. Well, it was closed for Sunday but at least we could see the big screen inside with the owner sitting next to it and drinking some beer. We sat down on the fence between the street and sidewalk and just enjoyed the game. Although Arjen Robben played beautifully, Spain was victorious. We headed to search for a spot to sleep. Once again, we weren’t very picky, so we just lay down on the lawn behind a shopping center.

It was a “heated” morning. Without wasting any time, we headed toward Poland. We crossed the border without being stopped by any officers, filled up on water, and burned under the hot sun for three or four hours. Once we realized that the chances of a car stopping for us were not great, our only hope became the Lithuanians who would occasionally pass by. We wrote down "Lietuvaičiai" (“Lithuanians”) on a piece of cardboard and waited for our chance. After another hour, we saw a truck with Lithuanian plates. We quickly raised our sign and received a smile from the truck driver, who stopped about twenty meters from us. I ran toward him with a fluttering heart, opened up the door, and told the driver all about our difficult situation. Although he kept smiling, it didn’t look like he wanted to pick us up. Eventually, after five minutes of persuasion, he agreed to take one of us. I returned to J. We had already agreed long ago that if we were ever in a situation like this, we would use the time-tested solution - rock paper scissors. So that’s exactly what we did. My friend won. We said our quick goodbyes and wished each other luck.

I had mixed emotions. At first, it was just weird. It had seemed that my homeland was so close but then instantly, it was extremely far away again. Well, the truth was that J. needed that direct ticket home more than I did. I would surely figure something out. For some reason, I was more determined than ever, so I put my thumb up once again. Miraculously, a car stopped within just a few minutes and took me to a small town five kilometers away. Since the town wasn’t very suitable for hitchhiking, I just walked toward Lithuania with my left hand up. In a few minutes, another car stopped. The driver was a very sophisticated man, so we had a very nice conversation. The nice man was an engineer, so he showed me tons of pictures of pipes. I just kept smiling. The wind was blowing through my hair. Once again, I asked myself why I wasn’t traveling alone. I was dropped off by a gas station. I felt so free. So many emotions had built up inside of me, so I just went behind the gas station and played some music. The approaching night forced me to resume my trip, so I walked a few kilometers and started hitchhiking again. After about fifteen minutes, a truck stopped for me. Back then, I had no idea what an important role the driver would play in my trip.

The man didn’t speak any English and I, of course, didn’t speak any Polish. Just like many times in Poland, I used gestures to communicate. He was a very good man. I could just feel it. A few hours into our trip, the man drove into a truck parking lot and asked if anyone was headed toward Lithuania but nobody was, so we continued driving. We wondered where it would be best to drop me off. Eventually, the man offered to go to his home, take a break, and then go to a truck lot, where, according to him, someone should be going to Suvalkai. I asked him if it wouldn’t be a problem and he assured me that it wasn’t.

We arrived in a village-like town and were greeted by the driver’s wife and young daughter. At that moment, maybe briefly, maybe not, my idyll of a lonely life shattered. It was amazing to see how magical the happy life of a simple family can be. The happiness in the family members’ eyes when they’re finally together again, and the silence and suspense before the husband’s departure. Meanwhile, as a witness to this simple miracle, I satisfied my own physical needs in the shining kitchen light with the delicious food that the driver’s wife had prepared. I hadn’t had any food in my mouth for nearly twelve hours. After a while, when the driver and his wife headed outside for a smoke, I helped their daughter with her English homework. I smiled as she told me about her idol Justin Timberlake. I just enjoyed everything. Eventually, it was time to go. I thanked the nice family for having me. I thanked the higher powers for the simple joy I had been given.

Nighttime. After a good hour, we reached the truck lot but unfortunately, nobody was headed toward Suvalkai, so the nice driver and I fell asleep in the cabin of his truck. At daybreak, we were on the road again. I was dropped off in a Poznan suburb and told my savior a sincere thank you. The sunrise was beautiful, so I couldn’t resist sitting down on a bench near the tracks and playing my guitar. The only thing that worried me was the amount of food that I had left, which was approaching zero. However, after an hour of walking, I was back on the road and beat my hitchhiking record. At first, I stopped a truck. The driver gave me a quick lift and arranged through his radio for another driver to pick me up. This driver also gave me a quick lift and arranged for another to pick me up, then the third gave me a lift and arranged for a fourth to pick me up. Well, that was my record. This way, I slowly made my way to Olsztyn, where the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Zalgiris (considered to be one of the most important battles for the nation of Lithuanians) was supposed to be marked a few days later but I didn’t know this back then, so I continued my travels.

I walked to the end of Olsztyn and put up my thumb but I was quickly approached by traffic police, who was doing checks on trucks. They kept asking me many stupid questions, some of which I had to answer two or three times. Eventually, they told me to sit down and relax while they’d find me a truck with Lithuanian plates. However, nobody showed up for a good half an hour, so I borrowed a pen from the police and wrote down “Augustow” on a piece of cardboard and stood up by the road. Quickly, a businessman stopped for me and we quickly drove off toward Augustow. At a gas station, without me even asking, the good man bought me some much-needed water, and we continued our journey. Midway, we turned off the road and began going in a different direction. The businessman was busy talking on his phone, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the ride. Eventually, we made it to a small town. The man ran off to a house and came back with another man. I didn’t understand what was going on. The businessman’s friend pulled out a map and in perfect English asked me where I was going, although I had already told the driver several times. We all decided that it would be best for me to hitch from a town that was 20 kilometers away. We thanked the businessman’s friend and headed toward that town. To my surprise, once we got to the end of the town that the businessman’s friend lived in, the driver shook my hand and wished me luck. I stepped out of the car somewhat shocked. Here’s what I saw: a cow, lots of fields, a few houses, and no cars whatsoever. It started to rain. I lost all hope in getting to Lithuania that night.

Suddenly, a truck appeared out of nowhere in the rain. Who knows what brought it here but it gave me a much-needed 20-kilometer lift. When I was dropped off, the rain was even heavier. However, there was no time to hide away from the rain because it was already 7 pm, so I pulled out my sign from a few days ago that said “Lithuanians” and got back on the road. A nice and fun woman drove me 20 kilometers but I was still a long way from my destination. After a good half an hour of standing in the rain, a Lithuanian finally stopped for me. I will definitely get back to Lithuania tonight, I thought. However, I forgot how much the gods enjoyed surprising me.

In a few minutes, we reached a completely frozen traffic jam of about a dozen kilometers. It turned out that there had recently been an accident and a truck was blocking the road. According to some people, the truck would probably only be moved at midnight, but it might still be there by morning. For a good hour, we just sat in the car listening to Lithuanian music hits. It was fun. It reminded me of my childhood. Finally, the driver demonstrated his determination and decided to go around the blocked road by taking a stretch of a few dozen kilometers through cow trails. Although other drivers were very pessimistic about his idea, it turned out to be the perfect solution thirty minutes later. At about 10 pm, we finally reached Lithuania. I thanked the nice man, hopped into another truck with a Latvian driver, and arrived in a Kaunas suburb at about 11 pm. You’d think that was the end of my struggles. But, oh boy, it wasn’t.

It had been nearly 24 hours since I had any food in my mouth. I decided to take the highway to a McDonald’s that was 7-8 kilometers away. For the large part, I hiked with my eyes closed because I didn’t even have enough energy to stare into the night. I was completely exhausted. Not even a single thought in my head. Once I got there, I had to wait another thirty minutes in a queue because apparently, I wasn’t the only one who got hungry in the middle of the night. Finally, I stuffed myself with lots of junk food and instantly got a headache from the amount of sugar I had just consumed. I had no energy to go any farther, so I just lay down in my sleeping bag by the bushes near McDonald’s. I dreamt that I was in a tent and soaking wet. Once I was half-awake, I realized that it was raining. Without considering how strong the rain was, I covered myself up with some waterproof plastic and continued to sleep. I dreamt that I was laying in a tent and drowning. I woke up and realized that it was pouring brutally, I was laying in a puddle, and my sleeping bag and all of my stuff were soaking wet. One by one, I gathered all of my belongings and dragged everything under a gas station roof. I sat down by the entrance, took off my shoes, socks, and just relaxed. Although I was wet and exhausted, I didn’t worry at all. Because I knew that there were only three hours left until the morning. Time flew by quickly and I was soon watching the sunrise, so I headed home.

That pretty much sums up my summer adventures, my dear readers. My friend R., who I had met up with this spring in Paris, was very accurate when he said that people often go on trips together but return separately. When the two of us joined forces, we didn’t experience anything unique in our music or our trip. Now, all I want is to be the perfect companion to myself and to travel alone for the time being. However, Honoré de Balzac’s words, “solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine”, and the family idyll that I had recently witnessed sparked hope for me to include other people in my future, too. In the meantime, the destinations and directions of my trips will be slightly different from now on but more on that some other day, if we’re all still here. May you all live life to the fullest.

random stories

My Space. 2009 - 2010.

The Blooming Trains. 2013.

New Beginnings. 2014.