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A Brazilian road tripping Eastern Europe on a Lada. Wait a second, did you just say a Brazilian road tripping Eastern Europe on a Lada? Yes. That’s it!
But, first, let me tell you a little bit about myself.
In 2010 I had a once in a life time chance to move to Vilnius, Lithuania, and spend a semester studying at Vilnius University. My love for Eastern Europe started then and since I’m back, I’m sure I left my heart somewhere around there.
From Lithuania I could travel to some neighboring countries, like Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Belarus while still studying. When my classes were over, instead of comeback straight, I took my backpack and left, without a precise destiny. All I had was a flight ticket to Tbilisi, Georgia, that I was gifted from a Georgian friend. So I took it and started my 66 days backpacking in completely mysterious – for me at least – Georgia.
The trip was, in order, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia and Italy.
The highlights of trip were (all, but I’ve chosen just five):
Stepantsminda, Georgia. This small town in the border with Russia is home to the Kazbegi National Park, one of the most breath taking mountains I have ever seen. The Gergeti Trinity Church, in the peak of a smaller hill, sets the perfect scenery for the place. Worth visiting! Whole Georgia is a great place to go and I highly advise anyone to go there.
Ohrid, Macedonia. On the shores of the lake with the same name, Ohrid is a touristic town in the Albanian border. Cheap hostels, crowded streets and good food, this place should be in anyone’s itinerary in the Balkans.
Kotor, Montenegro. If you think Dubrovnik is amazing but you are running short of money to go there, try Kotor. Dubrovnik’s miniature, Kotor is charming, cheap, easily accessed and amazing. Don’t forget to stop at Budva and take a look at the small Sveti Stefan peninsula there.
Nida, Lithuania. This small seaside town is located in the Curonian Spit, in the border with Russian Kaliningrad. Sand dunes, colorful wooden houses and wind, lots of wind, this place is simply amazing.
Tallinn, Estonia. The smallest of the capitals from the so called Baltic States is actually more Scandinavian than eastern European. The old town is well preserved and shows the shared history Estonia had with Finland. You will feel like in medieval times!
Back home and the Lada Road Trip idea.
Since I’m back to Brazil I’ve been planning to go back to Eastern Europe, but this time not as tourist. The idea of use an iconic soviet-era car came up instantly. I always liked the Ladas and their lack of design innovations throughout the years. And as they were popular in Brazil in the beginning of the 90´s, I thought it would be a way to enlight a trip that could be unattractive for some people. This way I could add different people and opinions in just one objective – to explore and show the Eastern Europe after the fall of communism.
Now you may be asking yourself “a lot of westerns already came here with this same idea, to show how here changed since communism dictators were all put away”. And you are right. But this time is a little bit different. Instead of asking the elderly and mid-aged generations, that have lived both controversial years and nowadays, I’d like to know the new generation opinion. The young people who are now between its 20-30 years old, who were born in the very end of communism or after it and haven’t lived those times actively.
And for that I took myself as an example. In Brazil we had a military dictatorship that ruled the country for two decades, from 1964 untill 1985. I was born in 1987, so, I didn’t live those dark years myself. But I have a strong opinion about those times and how they affect present days here. And since I’ve been to at least a dozen of former communist countries, meeting and having fun with lots of young people, I’ve noticed they have the same thing as me. They didn’t live those years, but still have a strong opinion about it. Let’s show it to the people and try to understand what really goes on at this shiny part of the World now.
Feel free to contact me and ask me anything about the trip. Facebook page.