I wanted to write this one to show an official account of a successful trip, hitch hiked, in Greece.
Before I hitchhiked like this I thought that the way you looked would probably affect how long it took you to get lifts, but after yesterday I wouldn’t hold that opinion so strongly. If you’re wearing an orange jumpsuit and have a ball and chain attached to your ankle you may have less luck but apart from that I think most people would be ok. Either way I’m gonna give a short description about our looks yesterday…
We are two people, one female (kimber, 19, from Amurrrica, Missouri), one male (me, 27, from England) both with big rucksacks. Kimber also has various colourful items of clothing emblazoned with elephants and zebras, a large row of hippy bracelets and a violin to top it all off. I have been told I look homeless when I travel…
I know every hitch hike is going to throw up unique challenges. I wrote about Kimbers experience going 1200miles from Ukraine to Athens, with 24 lifts, 2 of which turned sour.
I plan to hitch hike solo from Boston to LA in a couple of months and I feel it may be more difficult to pick up lifts as a lone male but I guess I’ll see.
Back to the point.
Family’s arriving all day, random people camping most nights, it almost got crowded at points. When 10 loud post-grad types showed up with 4 tents, we decided to leave immediately and headed for a slightly less accessible beach ten minutes further along the coast. It was nice and quiet for a couple of days but without books we got bored, and the lack of shade from the Greek summer sun was debilitating.
We left yesterday morning with the aim of hitch hiking 120 miles to a place called Meteora, which has nice camp sites and incredible monasteries carved in and on the side of really strange shaped rocks.
We set off in the morning and when we got to our first main road out of there we caught a lift within the first 5 cars.
People in Greece are funny. If you stand there with your thumb out and make eye contact, they’ll rarely ignore you. People will wave their hands showing that they only plan to go a short distance or are turning off soon. Like they need to make an excuse not to give you a lift. It’s nice. And on the rare occasion someone passes and makes no gestures, you find yourself thinking ‘hmm, what an asshole, totally ignored us’.
The first lift was a beat up old van with a couple of labourers in the front. I think they initially stopped just to show they didn’t really have space, as Kimber says sometimes people do. He kind of gestured to the back and showed it was full of junk and with no seats. We said it was fine and jumped in. I sat on the spare tyre and Kimber was squashed under my bag. He left the door open to give us some air. This was what hitch hiking was all about.
He took us to the beginning of the next town and dropped us off. We walked to the other side and waited for no more than a few cars before an old couple in a truck picked us up. We ask to go to the next town and with very little language between us it’s difficult. In the end I say the ferry port about an hour away and they let us stay in the car. They take us for about 40 minutes, way further than expected and we are already close to the ferry.
We wait about fifteen minutes at the next spot and in the end a pick up with a guy in the back stops. We name the port and he gestures he is going close but not actually there. We say that’s no problem and jump in. He ends up taking us to the port and drops us right by our ferry, with ten minutes to spare. We have been lucky and I am buzzing from the experience. Probably worth mentioning that the guy in the back of the pick up with us was sitting opposite Kimber, who sports a loose vest and no bra, flapping around in the wind. He spends a long time staring at her creepily, not sure if she noticed. He then gave me a good stare for a while too, so maybe he was just a starey guy..
We hop in the ferry from Agiokampos to wherever it goes and get off, full of hope. Full of misjudged hope.
I think that hitch hiking definitely depends on many factors. I guess the first part of the journey up to the ferry was all locals, labourers and farmers. Not many people passed but the ones that did would offer lifts. When we saw hatchbacks and family saloons we weren’t hopeful, when we saw trucks and pick ups we knew we were likely to get a lift.
The ferry landing port was incredibly touristic, and pretty empty between ferries. We ended up walking between three points trying to get lifts for about three hours with no luck.
In the end we went to a cafe to recharge our phones (for maps) and reconsidered our options.
The journey from a to b can be done in one car ride in 4.5 hours, so we were confident in doing it in one day. But only 30 miles in and we seemed to be stuck.
In the end we decided to go and wait by the ferry as it came in, and if no one picked us up we would start walking and camp if we still had no luck. The ferry came sooner than expected. Kimber was in the middle of paying and I had just bought a beer. We packed up our stuff double time, I necked the beer and we ran to the ferry. We missed a few cars and waited, thumbs out.
One guy passed and showed us the back of his car full of beach gear and whilst laughing. He shouted to us through his window
‘I’m sorry we would but we don’t have any seats’
I was kind of confused as we weren’t fussy and I didn’t know whether he was being serious or just making excuses. I replied
‘We don’t need any seats’
He hesitated slightly then laughed and drove away. I feel he probably likes the idea of taking us but just didn’t really want to deep down.
An old man passed in a BMW and said he could take us but only a short distance. We considered but turned it down, hoping for the best but thinking we may have made a mistake.
But we hadn’t, our luck was about to change. A couple with a caravan pull over and consider letting us in. We accept their offer and they end up driving us all the way here to Meteora, dropping us off 1km from the campsite.
In all the journey took about 10 hours, so a bit more than twice it would have taken with a car. But had we taken public transport I feel it would have taken a similar amount of time considering changes of buses etc.
so we did it, we covered over 110 miles in a day, for free.
At no point did I feel unsafe and the whole thing left me feeling really uplifted. There are many people out there who are willing to help for nothing in return and it further shows the world is a good place.