I will write a little bit about Riga in this and the next post because Lau has been bitching about this blog containing only hitch-hiking stories. But before we get there, let’s first enjoy Brechts’ hitch-hiking post below!
After some good sleep, we took the bus to get to the highway and after 10 minutes we were picked up by Eric who drove us for the next 100 kilometers.
He dropped us at the the Panevėžys ring (the hitch-hiking spot from hell according to hitchwiki.org, so we had some spare time to vandalize the place, and eventually decided to walk to a nearby gas station. -Jules)
We waited for about 3 hours until Marek picked us up, a military guy controlling airplanes for the NATO. He had been in Belgium, close to Tongeren for 3 months. He was a very good guy, with the right spirit. He explained us about Latvian history and took us for a very big stretch in the direction of Riga. We got out of his car in the town where he lives with his daughter. Marek told us if we had any trouble, we could call him.
All though Riga was only 50 kilometers away, we had to wait around 90 minutes for Anton, a Russian guy living in Latvia. He drove us straight into Riga.
In Riga, we got a call from Marek. He wanted to know if we were fine. Nice to know you got some back up and people actually care when meeting on the road. (BR)
We had some trouble entering the Friendly Frank’s Fun Backpackers (or a similar silly name) hostel. We had to pass a security guard first, and then had to provide all kinds of personal information trough a telecom system, and I felt like we were being watched by some KGB spy camera’s during the full ten minutes we waited after the voice said “Just a minute guys. We will check if we have a room available.”, so I urged Brecht to not tag the place while we were waiting.
Finally we got in and the staff was super friendly. It felt kind of fake so I was happy when a little fellow, who had sneaked up on us, interrupted the conversation and asked us where we were from. When I told him we were from Belgium he started to babble in French like a madman. I told him to slow down a bit because our French wasn’t that good. His name was Zachary but we could call him Zac and he was traveling with his father for a whole year on an old timer motorcycle with a side car. His entire family was there and they were all very friendly. His mom and sisters visited the places where they stayed now and then so Zac didn’t need to miss his mommy for too long.
I think it’s a great experience for a kid to go and travel for a year instead of wasting time at school. His dad had a couple of books about topics that French kids have to learn, so he was not getting any delay in education. On the contrary: after only a couple of months his English was now good enough to have a meaningful conversation (not obvious for a Frenchman), and he had only little trouble talking to Brecht in Italian. If I ever have kids, I think I will try and do something similar. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is simply the best and most fun way to teach your kid about culture, politics, history, languages, social skills and so much more. Also, Zac was a pro in GTA3 om the PSP, and he showed me some nice tricks. But I screwed up anyway after I pointed a bazooka towards a nearby cop’s car. I guess the older you get, the harder it is to learn new things. If you are tired of reading my blog you can check out Zac and Olivier’s travel blog at zacoliv.fr.
Later that evening we met a Canadian magician with a big mouth who pulled some card tricks on us but was non the less amazed when I showed him one of mine. This guy was there with his girlfriend and a guy from New-Zealand they had met in Warsaw. When I told him he looked like Germaine from Flight of the Concords, he claimed he was. I believed him so I ignored him for the rest of the evening because I don’t like to talk to celebrities too much.