Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany. Austria, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey
Estonia. I didn’t want to come here at first, only because according to me, it was not an appealing country. Actually i knew nothing about it. Silly me !
The city of Tallinn is empty and i feel almost alone walking inside the old walls. After a few steps, i feel something good. I like how the ex-russia buildings are mixed with the old medieval ones and the new modern european houses. I walk randomly on the streets, meet a strange market place, see the funny old tramway, and pass next to Salvation Army shop. I go there and give my winter stuff, i don’t want them anymore and they might be usefull to someone else, now or later. Then i visit the tourist office to ask if there is any kind of walking path i could go around. Yes there is.
RMK is a path crossing all the country from north to south, 360km long. In order to catch it i need a train, and then visit the local RMK office in a very small village. Of course, it’s closed at 16:00 and it’s 16h45 when i get there. Next to the office i can see a place to sleep, as well as RMK marks. Good, i’m not lost, but i have to wait until morning if i want maps and informations. I need them, because at this time, the snow is melting, and i’m not sure if i can go that way. Well, i can, says the lady the day after, but i will have water to the knees sometimes, with ice and snow, and i will meet nobody on my way. Perfect !
Estonia is one of the best places i’ve been so far, the landscapes are wonderfully wonderful, and the RMK way is one of my best experience. On my way south, i enter the small Paide city, and just that day there is a ceremony with folk danses and food etc. I meet Karl, biologist student, and together we visit the time tower, museum of national history, and later go to his house. Here i see the cutest little cat i’ve ever seen in my life. Can’t describe, there is no word.
Back to RMK, i walk, eat, sleep, walk more. Flat land, with wooden catwalks, half rotten from the winter and the time, old genuine forests with complete fauna. I can’t see bears but i do see elks, foxes, deer… and hundreds of different kinds of birds. It’s like being in the middle of a perfect place, at a perfect time. It’s like being… on Earth.
Because of the flooded swamp, i can’t go all the way by foot, i need a boat, so i just head west, to the coast, and then it’s Parnu city. I go to Red Cross, only to ask some information, where to sleep, get a shower, etc. Jaanika, Helen, Andres and Melany welcome me and offer me to stay a few days here in a bedroom, as it’s free at this time of the year. I am very pleased to accept. The next days, i visit the city, walk along the coast, and i’m barefoot because i am more and more in love with this natural way of moving. When i come back to my bedroom, they say there is a journalist who wants to write an article about me. Someone saw me on the streets, and called Red Cross, because i may be in need for help… Just by chance. And the story went to this guy, and i end in large page of the local newspaper ! The title says « inside fire brings this french walker to Parnu ».
While i’m here for several days, i send my winter sleeping bag to France, and take back the smaller one. My bag will be smaller and lighter, so better. After i take part into the national day « Let’s clean it » where people clean the rivers, houses, gardens, etc, i leave Parnu and my new friends. Now, it’s time to go faster. I want to reach the Danube river soon and follow it to the Black Sea, and if i want to be there before next winter, i need to start now. So i hitchhick my way south, accross Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, i just go and go and go. Ten days later, i’m there. Danube. Actually, Brigach, the real first step of the Danube. I should fellow this water for the six next months.
Day after day, i go more barefoot, less with shoes. I meet people, they ask questions, they invite me for a meal, a shower, a tea, a bed… People are friendly, it’s so unusual nowadays to see a walker, they just want to « meet me ». That’s fair, because i also want to « meet them » ! It’s raining quite often, and when i reach Ulm, it’s raining a lot. I meet people there and after two days, i can see something terrible but also really nice : Danube is going crazy, and it’s one of the biggest flood of recorded history. At some places, the level is 12 meters higher than normal ! Twelve ! It needs a few more days to calm down, and then i can continue my journey. When i reach Neuburg, the i feel tired. Danube is nice, but boring. I find a place to sleep in exchange for my work, and i stay several days here, Marienheim. They have horses and carriages, and i clean and paint stuff. I like it, and i get closer to the family. I also participate in a festival and serve a lot of beers to always thirsty germans ! Then it’s time again to move. But where ? I continue along the Danube and reach Regensburg. New people to meet ! Korbi, Nela, Ursine, Benjamin… They share a house, and i’m invited to stay in the caravan just next to it.
Later, i hear about something happening in Greece. The European Rainbow Gathering. I know nothing about that, only it should be some people going all together like old time hippies. Why not ? I change my horizon, and go across Austria, to reach Venisa in Italy. From here, i embark on a ferry to Greece. Onboard, i meet Sébastien, a french traveler, the first one to do something like me : sleeping outside, spend little money, having no plan, and going for a long journey, not just holidays. He is also going to the Rainbow. We immediatly create link, and decide to continue the road together, at least until the gathering, a few days away.
Rainbow Gathering… Hmmm, i could say a lot about that. I will say nothing, and may write an dedicated article later.
Sébastien and i decide to continue our way together, across Bulgaria and then Turkey, to Istanbul. Here, our roads go different ways, and we say good bye after one excellent month together ! So, Istanbul. Asia. I’m out of Europe. Woah.