gratitude, (for)

Time to leave the Schengen Area again…

From a friend’s place in Alcasser, Spain it was either head south to Africa, northwest towards the UK or on east to the Balkans and beyond. The thing with blowing with the wind is that sometimes you have to move against the wind for a bit due to visas and bureaucratic things such as that…eventually to rest for a minute and pick back up in the breeze again. The wind seemed to be blowing me in all directions a few weeks agai while still in Alcasser.

An amazing opportunity arose to go to Africa with a lovely friend that I met by pure circumstance but in the end the, somewhat forced, winds blew me east to Croatia.

I made my way across southern France through the night and on through northern Italy by the next morning.

I met a friend in Gorizia and immediately upon hopping in her mother’s car we take a 5 minute trip in to Slovenia to get some gas for the car so as to avoid the much higher prices just across the border in Italy…that concludes my trip to Slovenia.

After a lovely couple of days walking around the countryside surrounding Gorizia and drinking smoked beer brewed somewhere in the Alps it was off to Croatia without a single plan.

I kissed Schengen goodbye and bought a 9 Euro bus ticket to Rijeka, Croatia.

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No particular destination…

12 hours.

4 rides.

1 concert.

Some french fries…

..and a moon rise.

Hitchhiking with a kindred spirit without expectations and no particular destination…you never know what lies ahead.

Thumbs out…hearts open.

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Day and then the shade.

It has been over two months now since I have posted anything and I suppose I have a lot to catch up on…so much has happened.

I am now in Italy…Serre di Rapolano, Tuscany…resting my bones and recharging at the Sasso.  

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Hills.

After a couple of music filled nights in Dungloe we hitched our way just south of Sligo.

We were first picked up by Martin who was on his way to do some sea cliff climbing taking advantge of the sunny, mild weather. He dropped us off on a main highway and it seems that it took us hours to get a lift.
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We ended up walking about 4 kilometers to the next village and upon realizing that there was not much traffic through the service station we headed back out to the highway on foot. After about another half hour a fellow with his two daughters stopped to ask if we needed a lift even though we didn’t have our thumbs or a sign out. Perfect! He dropped us at a roundabout just past Donegal town where we were picked up in about 10 minutes and heading towards Bundoran with Joe.

He left us on the side of the highway just past a roundabout past town and, again, in about 10 minutes we were picked up by a little lady in a tiny car who had spent her sunny Sunday afternoon “out” in Bundora at the slot machines. Upon getting in the car she calmly asked me in a joking yet somewhat serious tone if we were going to rob her! We all just laughed and were off to Sligo! What a beautiful stretch of highway that was…again, like being transported suddenly in to another world, on another planet. Green cliffs and steep plateaus dotted with little white sheep here and there all against a blue sky with low hanging clouds just at the peak if the cliff.

She dropped us off at the end of town from where we walked to a roundabout that had a sign for the N17 south which would take us to our next host in Tobercurry. We were soon picked up by a lady who was in a quite a hurry to meet her partner at the beach before sundown for a walk but took what little time she had to take us a bit further up the road to Ballysadare where we found it quite difficult to catch a ride and as dusk was closing in we decides to walk to the next town called Collooney. We thought by this point we would need to find a place to pitch a tent for the night so we decided to call Noelle, our host in Tobercurry, that we probably wouldn’t make it that night. She askes where we were and when I told her “Collooney” she promptly said she would be there to pick us up in 20 minutes or so…amazing! So we got picked up in front of the local shop by the pay phone and were off to our next bed for the night.

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Watching the tide roll away.

After nearly two months in Northern Ireland Jovita and I figured it was time to put our thumbs to the test and see some more of Ireland. We were given a lift from Belfast to Portstewart by the owner of the hostel that we had been helpxing at. He took us to the hostel of a friend of his where we got 3 nights free stay…thanks Rick.

We set out on a Friday to try and hitch to Dungloe in Donegal where we had a host set up for a couple nights. We walked just outside of Portstewart, found a good spot, stuck our thumbs out and were picked up in about 15 minutes by a fellow who dropped at a roundabout in the neighboring town of Coleraine. It took us about an hour to get the next ride but it was well worth the wait as JJ endes up taking us just about 10 miles from our destination. We got in to his truck under the notion that he was going to drop is in Derry but after a few minutes chat we figured out that we were heading just past where he was to go.

We made a couple of stops along the way as he was getting some thigs straight for his upcoming wedding and as well to buy some cigarettes…he said they were much cheaper there, as we were still in Northern Ireland, as opposed to the Republic, so he stocked up. He gave a brief bits on the areas that we drove through, some bits of Irish history and out initial welcome to the Republic of Ireland.

Getting in the heart of Donegal was amazing…like entering another world of crumbling farmsteads of the past and an almost arid, desert-like landscape of rolling, soft hills and and endless grey sky.

As we neared Gweedore, JJ’s destination, he dropped us in front of the house that Enya grew up in (now a B&B if I remember correctly) and before we could even set our packs down we were picked up by a lady heading straight in to Dungloe to do some shopping. As we had no clue where to meet meet up with Brian, our host, she lent us her phone to call him and as he did not answer she commenced to call some local friends and track down where he lives. It only took two phone calls (I couldn’t believe it), being such a small village, and after a few minutes of local gossip we were dropped at the top of the hill where we eventually meet up with Brian to spend two days in Dungloe.

I was amazed that we had actually made it all the way before sundown having started hitching well after noon…but the heart was there and we made it.

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Slow down, keep moving…

World,

I started this journey in March of 2011 diving in to the unknown carrying my home on my back with my mind and heart wide open. After some months of travel I decided to return to my home town to sell all that I owned, tie up any loose ends and head out in to the world freely…nothing holding me back…not the roots of a static, sedentary life nor the stressful strain of time.

From here forth I will set out across the earth with minimal planning taking my time to get to know people, places, cultures and the natural world around me.

I will travel only on the surface of the earth, by land and by sea, so as to be able to understand the journey itself and to be in contact with the places I will end up and everywhere in between instead of being focused on a mere destination.

Hitchhiking will be my main mode of transport so as to get to know local folks and as well for the adventure and the unknown that comes with hitching.

I want to prove to the world that we are all connected, all part of the same universe and that people are generally good.

Transcending those borders of maps and mind, the world is our home.

-Clifton

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