So it's been quite an eventful few weeks since I last wrote. Our journey from Gaziantep to Albania was incredibly fast (for us) we got as far as Istanbul in about 18 hours. Greece was a little more tricky but we made across to macidonia in only 3 days. We would have gone all the way to Elbasan in Albania but we were invited to stay the night with one of our drivers with his family who live in Ohrid, so we had an unexpected stop in this beautiful town sat right on the edge of a vast lake and surrounded by mountains, where we were force fed home made Rakija for dinner and breakfast. After a morning of being tourists we made the last 50km in a very fast car on a very windey road to Elbasan... Patrick looked quite pale when we finally got out of the car.
We stayed in Elbasan for 6 days and we had a really great time making circus workshops with kids from the Roma gypsy area where the family we were staying had planted a church. We also made a couple of shows one in the gypsy area and one for a youth event at the church. The best part about our stay though was that we made some really great friends. And more importantly friends that make really good cakes!
We had planned to stay a little longer but after looking at the weather forecast we decided to make our way north before the rain caught us out. (hitchiking in the rain is no fun at all and nobody wants two soggy guys and wet bags in there car) So on Friday morning we made our way back up the windey road to macidonia (this time in a not so fast car, in fact 2 very slow lorries) it took us the whole day to get to the border of Serbia where we made camp for the night and felt for the first time the cold chill of winter approaching.
Now my advice for hitchiking in Serbia is quite straight forward... Don't do it!
Actually it wasn't so bad but with the cold wind and the rain getting closer the waiting seemed even longer. Somehow though we made it all the way up to the border of Hungary by nightfall where our driver dropped us off half asleep in the pouring rain. We had done really well so far to avoid the rain but now it was relentless. We walked in the dark, in the cold, and the pouring rain down the side of the motorway (don't tell my mum) hoping to find some shelter or someone kind enough to pick us up. (and pitch our tent was useless as we had lost the roof) The green lights of a petrol station have never looked so beautiful! We slept in the warm and dry on the shop floor with all our wet gear spread out to dry and it was amasing.
The next day we made our way through Hungary and Czech Republic and up to Poland really quite fast, and the rain held off too. The big shock to us though was to see snow on the sides of the road, as we were waiting for our last lift we were jumping about just to stay warm. We finally made it though on Sunday evening. I don't think either of us had quite realised just how tired we were.