I crossed around 3600 kilometres hitchhiking through Turkey and I have to say that it was a special experience. Getting a lift was very easy independently of whether it was Western, Central, or Eastern Turkey. Representatives of various Turkish ethnic groups who offered me rides, namely Turks, Kurds, and Azerbeijdani, all were very helpful and friendly. Some people would even stop without me signalising that I wanted to get a ride. Moreover, quite often I would be invited for a tea or lunch. I did not use a board sign at any time – my thumb worked just fine. I can definitely recommend Turkey as a hitchhiking destination!
Above Hakan, Hakan, and me during my second hitchhiking ride in Turkey. As you can see they invited me on the way to have Kofte with them.
A magical piece of paper
What proved to be a great idea taking into account the level of my Turkish (in the beginning non-existent, and later very basic), was to prepare a little slip of paper explaining my story. Umut, my friend from Istanbul, helped me to improve it and translate it to Turkish from English and he did a great job. The paper read more or less as follows:
My name is Piotrek and I am from Poland. I left 5 months ago from Poland with money only for food. My goal is to travel around the world without my own transportation. I travel by autostop and have visited 16 countries to come to Turkey. If you are going my direction, I would be very grateful if you could take me with you! I sleep for free with people that I find through internet on the website for travellers. Unfortunately I don’t speak Turkish. I speak Polish, Russian, English, German, and Dutch.
Thank you very much for help!”
(Above Cagri and me hitchhiking to Yalova)
Immense positiveness towards my trip
This piece of paper proved to be amazingly helpful. Often I could not communicate much with the drivers but this paper allowed them to have a basic understanding of what I was doing and what the hell I was up to standing there up on the road with my thumb stretched to the road. I have to say that I was surprised how positively people were reacting to my story. Most of them would normally turn around, look straight into my eyes, and make a popular Turkish hand gesture to show their appreciation (you put all your fingers together to one point and shake your palm). I guess I expected more conservative reactions but the vast majority of the people not only showed their approval but did so in a very strong, expressive and positive way.
Above me hitchhiking from Samsun to Trabzon with a young boy on the back sit. His e-mail says Alberto but as you can guess that is not his name which I unfortunately do not remember.
One of the drivers, Erkam, invited me for a wonderful dinner.
Stopping for a tea with a driver who took me all the way from the neighbourhood of Turkish-Georgian border (Hopa) to behind Erzurum.
Here, third from the right, Murat with locals in a tea-house in Horasan (second from the right the mayor of the town). He helped me a great deal to reach Kars.
Me hitchhiking near the Iranian border just off Dogubayazit.
Near Bitlis I got a ride with workers of the road maintenance. Above, them and their friends at the station to which I was invited for breakfast and tea.
PS. I am sorry to be on every picture but I do not have pictures of my drivers, I only have pictures with them.