I think my first ever trip was quite an unusual experience. Especially because it was a crazy trip after which some people might not even want to travel ever again. I managed to keep only a few photos from that trip, but I guess it doesn’t matter -memories stay for life.
My first ever trip abroad was a gift for my 18th birthday – so it was in 2009 if I remember it right. I’ve done a lot of travelling in Lithuania before that, both with my parents and friends, but I’ve never been abroad. It is expensive to travel abroad when you earn so little in Lithuania (my parents don’t have very well paid jobs).
So what happened? My parents decided it would be quite nice to send me to visit an aunt who lived in Spain. She lived in a little town called Orihuela, which is relatively close to Alicante. The cheapest way to get there was to take a special mini bus, which would pick you up from your home town and drop you off in basically any place you wanted. Sounds pretty good, no? Of course it takes more time than flying, but you get to see a lot along the way – scenery of Poland, Germany, France and Spain.
So I left Lithuania with around 10 people in a mini van. My parents didn’t exactly left me on my own to travel – my aunts “boyfriend” was travelling with me, although we didn’t know each other and thus did not sit together and did not talk too much to each other during the trip. There was also a family with a baby, couple of older travelers, a girl about my age and a driver. Yes, one driver and there was no plan to stop in a hotels to sleep. Now when I think about this trip it all sounds crazy, but then it was my first trip ever and I was super excited.
I was sitting next to a girl and she seemed like a nice person, so I thought this trip would be quite cool and we’d have a good chat. I was wrong. Somewhere in the middle of Poland she remembered that she forgot her passport. Of course we weren’t planning to come back and the only thing to do was to keep going. Even though the countries I was travelling through were in Schengen zone, you were still required to carry the passport with you and you would still get occasional checks. The driver knew the areas where it was more likely to be stopped and get checked. So we were going through the smaller villages and towns. That meant that that the entire trip took longer than expected.
The girl next to me was crying a lot and she was so nervous that it was really difficult to sit next to her and listen to her complains. The baby was crying a lot and nobody was in a good mood. The driver was doing crazy hours and he was stopping to sleep only occasionally. He was constantly encouraging people to get some alcohol and drink instead of sleeping – so he wouldn’t fall asleep as well. It didn’t bother me that much but my legs hurt and I was just thinking about the bed. The views through the window were absolutely fantastic, especially because a lot of time we weren’t going through the main roads. Also, I got to see Millau Viaduct which was probably the reason why the year later I got into engineering. Yes, it was the first time I saw a structure this big and I was really impressed.
At Spain-France border we went through the little shopping town which was crazy busy. We let that girl out and she mixed in with the crowd of shoppers and crossed the border. We got our passports checked and then picked her up a few hundred meters further. So almost three days later we were in Spain. Everyone could not wait to arrive to their destinations.
Finally, I managed to reach the place and met my aunt. Orihuela was a nice little town and I was really happy to be there. I was supposed to spend three weeks there, then go to Barcelona for a week and then come back to Orihuela. I didn’t know the exact date of return, as we just had to give a ring to the mini van company closer to the date and they would tell me when I was going back. Nice and flexible!
Not much to talk about Orihuela really. I was just chilling in the house, eating ice cream, occasionally going to the beach in Torrevieja, going to the open cinema in the city center, just enjoying life and practicing my Spanish from time to time. I got to go to Valencia for a day as well with my aunt’s friends to visit Aquarium and Marine Park, which I thought was super cool.
Barcelona was something completely different. I was living with my cousin who was sharing a flat with a transgender man who was working as a massage therapist and couple of other guys. There were a bunch of random people coming in every day and it was a complete different experience for me. Just to be clear – I have nothing against transgender people and I thought it was super cool to meet different people.
The city itself was absolutely gorgeous and I had loads of fun exploring it. I was lucky to be there in mid-August when Gràcia Festival was taking place. It is a street festival and the streets are covered with loads of crazy decorations. There is a plenty of live music and for a person who’s never seen something like that before, it was a crazy experience. I was wondering in the streets until late and meeting loads of people. Yes, I was slightly jealous that my cousin, who was only a year older than me, got to live there.
When the time arrived to go home I was a bit nervous. I thought it be another three long days. However, the trip was quite fun and I got to see a bit of Switzerland as we had to pick somebody up from there. On the way back the car broke twice. The first time we just had to change the tire. The second time we were in Poland and this time we had to change the tire as well, but we didn’t have another spare one and as it was Sunday everything around was closed. However it wasn’t that far from Lithuanian border and somebody brought us a spare one. The entire trip took less than two days, as there was a passenger who had a licence to drive a mini van and he was occasionally taking over. People seemed to be pretty decent as well and nobody was crying.
It was hard to come back as I basically went back straight to school after the trip. Although I got to be a cool one for a few days as nobody else did anything fun that summer.
It was a crazy trip when I’m thinking about it now. But at that point all those crazy things didn’t seem that bad and they just added some extra colour to my memories. I was happy I got to travel by car, as I got to see so much and I don’t know if that ever happens again. And of course, that trip just got me thinking how to get out and see more and maybe that’s why a year later I moved to Edinburgh.