Thursday, 30 January 2014

Galician adventure!

Stupid, brave, crazy, weird, irresponsible, careless... Theese are just few of the expressions that were used to describe our spontanous plan. I was repeating since I've arrived to Portugal that I really want to visit Galicia, then I have even mentionned that maybe we can hitchike there but overall plan was ready on Saturday. And we left just two days after... Now you have that 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to check how was hitchhiking and couchsurfing in Galicia :)

MONDAY
Monday morning was worse than we've expected... we have managed to wake up (success) pack our backpacks (success), make sandwiches and fresh orange juice (success) aand leave my flat, when it started to rain (failure). We were hiper enthusiastic for the first rainy twenty minutes, then we just got more and more disapointed and closer to make an important decision: 'wait more or just come back to bed'.

Luckily some time before 10 the rain stopped and the first driver offered us a ride to Porto. Then we realised that there is one thing in which our preparations failed: language barrier. I passed A2 level in Portuguese but doing grammar excercies and having hour lasting conversation are two completely different things. We used google translator for 'gas station' and our driver dropped us just few kilometers before Porto.


We ate breakfast, and within few minutes next Portuguese driver stopped, explaining that unfortunatelly he was not going to Braga, but he was going to the north as well. It appeared that this nice gentelman was going directly to Vigo, so we were more lucky than we could have expected. 
Few minutes later we stopped for a while in some village on our way, cause the driver had to meet his client. There we have met a boy who... was erasmus in Łódź. World is soooo small, isn't it? :)



 Just before the border we stopped for lunch (yup, 'almoco' is saint thing and NOTHING can stop portuguese people from taking a lunch break!) in a quite cheap restaurant. While driving we didn't really talk a lot, but during the lunch our driver decided to catch up a bit and we were forced to use a lot of our poor language skills (and I have learned that 'cabra' is a goat :D).



The views were constantly changing. As well as weather. When we crossed the Spanish border it became cloudy and windy and we were really scared that it would rain. We said goodbye to our portuguese driver on the last gas station before Vigo and prayed for some more luck.



And our devotions were successful cause next driver appeared pretty fast. She was quite typical housewife in her late fourties going to see the doctor in Santiago. She didn't speak any other language than Spanish, so Aneta decided to take a nap on the back, when I was using all my attention and things I remembered from one semester of Spanish classes to be able to participate in the conversation. That nice lady explained us that hithhiking is not popular in Spain anymore, but she took us because she travells a lot and she saw hitchhikers when she was riding a motorcycle from Spain to Poland (sic!) to participate in some motorcycle festival there (then I've realised she is not such a typical housewife ;P). I have spent really nice time with her and I was super proud of myself that I was able to understand almost everything what she said (yup... it was nice to finally understand someone fully after listening to portuguese ;P). She left us at McDonalds in Santiago close to the road going directly to A Coruna.

 Our last driver was  middle-aged 300% ultra gay, listening to songs from 80's and not speaking English obviously. He seemed a little bit scared of us, but finally he drove us almost to the place where our host lives :)

Our first host was Jordan from Australia, who finished his studies there, then travelled for two years to visit 46 (!!!) countries and now he works for australian company in A Coruna. He lives alone in a 3 bedrooms apartement just by the ocean, so we were purely amazed by his flat and the view from terrace. We were all tired, so we went to the dinner to the restaurant downstairs to try some typical food.



TUESDAY
We started the day with adimiring the view from Jordan's terrace. Than we were wandering through the old town and we bought sandwiches with typical Spanish ham and later when it started to rain heavily we made  a break for hot chocolate.


Xardin de San Carlos











city hall





 Since the weather was not so good (RAINING AGAIN - song of our trip) we've decided to visit Domus - Hous of Man. It was interactive museum devoted to human body. We were definetely the oldest visitors but we had so much fun there! The only bad thing was that all the decriptions were only in Spanish :(

how to draw when you don't have a thumb? Good job evolution!




Then we took super long lasting walk by the amazing coast to come back home. 
Hercules tower




I ended that nice day meeting with Rafa and Manuel for a galician beer. It always surprises me how nice is to have even small 'erasmus reunions' and I couldn't have been happier to see them once again after last year in Łódź. And I really hope we will see each other in a near future one more time :))

WEDNESDAY
We left home and cought a bus to go to the area of University, where is a road going to Santiago. We were amazed by the bus route, since it was going just by the coastline and throught the old town. Then we went to some village and that was the moment when we start realizing that something is not ok. We left the bus after 1,5 hour when we were back in the old town. Now I can risk the statement that we know which bus is the best to take if you want to visit all the city (bus number 3).
After a looong time we finally took the right bus, ate lunch and start waiting for someone to take us to Santiago. And guess what? it was raining again!


We were super lucky again because our driver was not only really interesting and talkative person but he was also speaking English! As we promised, we brought some sun to Santiago! :) Our host there was Jacob - american student from Miami who is participating in an exchange project in Spain, in which he helps English teacher at school. We didn't want to waste time so we went for the super fast walk through Santiago de Compostela.







Aneta and Jacob




university
 Jacob made for us great burrito and we spend really nice evening talking about USA and our experiences with Spanish culture. Then his friends came to join us: 2 more americans - from Wisconsin and New York and one Brittish. We done the tour around the city once again visiting several pubs, enjoying traditional galician music and trying coffe liqueur.


THURSDAY
We started the day in Santiago by wandering slowly and coffe with churros. Then we tried to leave the city (one driver - Spanish speaker only) and get to Vigo (two more drivers, Spanish speakers only)

We were going more than hour with the second driver and it was a big adventure, because it was the first time in my life I was going by a truck! He was really nice and decided to introduce us to huge part of local culture and history, so we told us about wors with England, about Spain in 15th century and about Moorish invasion and reconquest. he was talking and talking and showing us the views.



selfie in a truck!
He drove us to the suburbs of Vigo, so we walked for a while, took a bus and we were just in a city center. I really liked Vigo. So many people told us it was not worth going there cause it is industrial city, but we decided to give this city a chance and I don't regret it at all.



not sure if Vigo or Piotrkowska street in Łódź ;)

After wandering through the city we have met Ruben, who is also erasmus in Aveiro, but he comes from Galicia, with his friend. Then our 3rd host join us. We were staying at the place of Benjamin and Alicia. They were both speaking crazy amount of languages! :) We prepared 'racuchy' together, cause we were invited for a dinner to erasmus flat. And that evenin will stay in my memory forever... It was like in L'auberge Espagnol! Austrians, Canadians, Germans, American, Scottish and Spanish in one flat. It was amazing to observe how they treat each other, how they cooperate and how familiar atmosphere they have created in that multinational space. And they loved our racuchy! 

FRIDAY:
We woke up early in the morning and our host dropped us to the gas station on his way to the university (Uni far in the mountains? Crazy Spanish nation!). One really nice guy originally from germany drove us only few kilometers so we would be closer to the border. And then in around 10 minutes we got a ride from one more truck driver who was going to Maia close to Porto. Obviously he was speaking Portuguese only so I had to switch the language again. He was really talkative and we discusses really important social issues, unemployment,gypsies, social support, crisis, life of  a truck driver and portuguese geography. He had to stop in Maia, but then he called his friend going behind him asking if he could take us to Aveiro.
That's how we came back home from Vigo in 3,5 hours. Our last driver was extremaly talkative but he was talking so fast that we barely understood anything. he was singing brazilian songs and honking horn when he noticed cows, storks (what the fuck are storks doing in Europe in january?!) or motorcyckles. He was coming home after 2 weeks in a road, so he was also talking a lot about his family and children. We stopped for 15 minutes on a gas station and he even bought us coffe and pasteis de nata. That's how nice people are!




What have I learned during this few days?
  • it's the high time to start speaking Portuguese not only in shops or restaurants
  • it's the high time to revise Spanish
  • Gallego is like Portuguese, just less crazy ;)
  • NO ONE IN SPAIN SPEAKS ENGLISH 
  • I have listened to many different english accents and now I can say that I surely don't like the autralian one - it was so difficult to understand. Brittish is absolutely amazing <3
  • Do never leave home without umbrella
  • Spanish people don't know the idea of hitchhiking
  • TIR drivers are afraid of russian mafia
  • Comfortable shoes is a 'must have'
  • Bus 3 in A Coruna doesn't go to uni
  • deep fried butter with bacon exists in USA
  • it is impossible to find any place in the Santiago's old town once again - it's like Hogwarts ;)
  • Vigo is a nice city!
  • Always add 'por favor' to the name of your hitchhiking destination - it works!
  • couchsurfing is one of the best inventions of all time
  • PEOPLE ARE AMAZING

It was really great trip! Stupid, brave, crazy, weird, irresponsible, careless... but well planned and fully successful! 
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