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  • Writer's pictureKate

From Poland to Greece with Projekt Arbus Pt. 1

Have you ever wondered how it would feel to pack yourself into an old VW camper van with as little things as possible and as many people as the car fits?

No? Too bad, it was the greatest experience of my life.

If you don’t know what Projekt Arbus is, read my previous post:

In the summer of 2017 we decided to travel in three very old Volkswagen T3s from southern Poland (where most of us come from) to Athens, Greece.

Most of us knew each other and the rest we met on the internet, 21 people in total.

It was a little crowded but we felt like a big family, eating together, sleeping under the stars next to each other, and exploring beautiful Europe together.

If you want to know the story keep reading:

We left Rzeszow on a Sunday, drove most of the day and all night just to get somewhere interesting. Our first stop was Budapest in Hungary. Unfortunately, we didn't spend much time there as our drivers were super tired by that point. Don't blame them, it was many many hours on the road.

The first night we decided to spend by Lake Balaton. It was super chill and pretty. So we set up our camp close to the lake, started a little barbeque, played some music and one of the neighbors must've called the police because they arrived soon and kicked us out. Out of tiredness and irritation we've decided to move just a little bit so they couldn't see us but we were still close to the lake. So we found a small, open car park and stayed there for the night.

It was our very first night on that trip and not the first time breaking the rules.

We slept wherever we could:

1. On top of the cars, which was my favorite, there were special low barriers so you couldn't fall down and wooden boards so you're not sleeping on freezing cold metal. You felt safe from being off the ground and when you woke up you could see the beautiful views.

2. Inside the cars, that would fit at least 3 people, sometimes 4 if someone was willing to sleep on the floor.

3. Tents, which is obvious.

4. Under the stars, on the ground, which my second favorite. There was a risk of bugs and wild animals attacking you while you sleep, thankfully it didn't happen to anyone.

5. Hammock was another option, I personally haven't tried that but I heard from a few brave ones it wasn't the most comfortable place to sleep.

Next day we woke up super early and moved towards Serbia. Late in the evening we arrived in Belgrade but because it was too late, we only looked for a place to crash that night. There is a small lake called Sava, right out of the city, it's completely different from the previous one, Balaton is more natural and there are only a few houses around it, at least from the side we've seen, Sava is created for people, lots of restaurants, bars, tanning beds, etc. We thought we will definitely get kicked out but we didn't. We stopped at another car park, super close to everything but no one gave a damn about us.

We played music, made dinner, and went to sleep. Most of us slept on the ground, one next to the other. I got woken up by a random dog staring at us.

In the morning the guy above, who worked at that car park told us we have to pay, so we gave him a few coins and that's it, no police, no fines, we could continue our journey.

First, we went to see Belgrade. It was super hot. None of us had the internet so we stayed close to the main streets. Went to see the castle, walked a little bit and decided to hit the road again.

Guca was our first planned destination, every year they organize Trumpet Festival in that small town. A lot of men gather in groups, walk around the crowd and play trumpets, the crowd is supposed to pay them for playing and put some cash inside the instruments. The festival lasts a few days.

I'm not gonna lie, we got very drunk that night. In a group, we decided to go explore the village. We spent two nights at this festival. It was super interesting but there is a lot of gypsies in Balkan countries so there's a lot of people begging on the streets, also a lot of kids trying to sell you useless things. First night we ended up going to some random club and I think we were kind of dragging the attention of the local people because the owner came to us and started dancing all smiley and stuff.

Second night there was a concert which we first watched from a hill and then we went down and started dancing, at some point, we made a massive snake and lots of people joined us.

Next country was Bosnia and Herzegovina. We stopped in Sarajevo just because we were driving through it, we walked a bit but didn't have much time before the sunset so we had to get back on the road. Another day, another challenge with finding a place to sleep. I still remember this evening clearly. It was dark, I kept checking google maps to help me with finding some greenery or beach or anything where we could stop, I finally found something but it didn't look like anything good. We were desperate so we stopped on the side of the road and a couple of our guys walked down, closer to the lake to check if we can go there, they came back and said it's fine. So we started driving down and someone came to us and said it's private land, we started begging and stuff and she agreed to let us stay there if we pay her €5 for each car. Cool beans! We didn't see much then but when we woke up it turned out to be the best spot ever. Check the pics!

We showered (read: swam) in the lake and headed to Mostar. Mostar is one of the most popular places in Bosnia, there's this beautiful bridge where men jump to the river, trying to prove their masculinity. It's super high, I get chills thinking about it. None of our boys did that, thank God! This bridge was built by Turkish people long time ago to connect Islam with Christianity.

That day we also went to Kravica where you can swim under waterfalls. We all forgot to take appropriate shoes so we had to walk on the rock gently and try not to slip.

This day we managed to get to Croatia, obviously, it was super late so we just stopped anywhere. In that matter, we slept right behind this sign:

Thankfully the police didn't show, but I couldn't stop myself and started shouting 'police is coming' early in the morning to wake everyone up.

It's been only about a week and we already knew we can't get ready quickly and leave a place where we shouldn't be in the first place. That day we did get ready fast and it was the only day like that.

Went to do some sightseeing in Dubrovnik which has a gorgeous old town but super expensive car parks so we agreed to only spend 2 hours in the city. Most of the time we tried to avoid big cities mainly because of the expensive parking systems and lack of space for three cars this size.

This was the day when we discovered our absolute favorite place to stay, a town called Kupari. It has 3 or 4 abandoned hotels right by the beach, local people go there during the day to swim and enjoy the sun and we stayed there overnight. As always we didn't bother to hide our very visible cars and pretend like we won't be staying long, instead, we parked in the middle of the car park, took all of our belongings out, and started having a picnic. At some point police came and told us to go away, so we did, 50m further, hid in the bushes this time but still close to the water. We knew we'll be staying here long so we started drinking a little and a little bit more. We gathered a group of the crazier ones and climbed up on one of the hotels and decided to sleep there.

It was messy but we survived.

Once we got down, people who stayed by the cars told us that the police came back but they explained we went somewhere and they can't get in touch with us, went without a fine.

I even had a lovely photoshoot with my best friend

inside the hotels.

We stayed at this awesome place until 5pm and headed to Montenegro.

Next night we spent close to the beach, in between trees.

From early morning we laid ourselves on the beach and after 3pm we started our journey to Albania.

Blue Eye was next on our itinerary. It was a long way ahead of us, over 300km, for cars this old it feels like much more. Blue Eye is located farther from the coastline so we couldn't be too picky with locations to sleep. Finally, out of tiredness we just stopped at a car park right next to a restaurant which was in the middle of nowhere. I think some guy came up to us to check what we want and after some explanations he let us stay there.

We mad a C formation with the cars, blocking our tents from the road and having little fence behind us. We got woken up by a group of horses and sheep or goats, or both.

I swear when I heard those horses stomping on the road, I was sure they were like a meter away from us and if one of them got in the middle of our camp, it could get messy. It didn't tho, they were on the road minding their own business.

Blue Eye is a water spring located below a small lake, more than 50m deep, it makes the water have few shades of blue and it looks like an eye. People jump into it, I decided not to, the water was freezing cold.

In the evening we arrived in Greece, oh sweet Greece with lovely people who didn't care we were sleeping in front of their houses. This night we won a lottery and found this spot not too far from people but wild enough, with a shower and lots of space for all of us.

To be continued ...

P.S. If you like to see our adventures in video form, check our YouTube channel

@ Projekt Arbus

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