In the last weekend of July (29th-31st) I have had the chance to participate as a speaker at the Alternative Travel Gathering, held in Amsterdam‘s Vondelbunker, a squat situated inside the Vondelpark, the city’s most popular park.
While the name for the event itself may seem self-explanatory, the truth is that there is a lot more to it than it seems: hitch-hikers, digital nomads, jugglers, sailors and musicians among others were represented. Other than travelling, a few workshops giving insights about life in Amsterdam were given, as there were presentations about squatting in the Netherlands and the queer community in Amsterdam. Furthermore, even free dinner and free haircuts were given!
Nobody received one cent for their participation: every helper and speaker was a volunteer. It has been a truly eye-opening experience listening to stories coming from every corner of the world. In one weekend, I have listened to people being hosted in mines in the Australian desert, cycling through Kazakh steppes, haggling in Peru, hitch-hiking in Sweden, riding on the back of pick-up trucks in Mexico.
As far as my presentation goes, together with Jass H Jilley we told some of our hitch-hiking stories. Jass told the crowd how he managed to travel through the Argentinian Patagonia, among strong winds and unique people, and various places situated in South America. After a few minutes, I had the chance to give some technical advice about how to hitch-hike proactively (speaking to people instead of using a sign) and how it is rather safe to ask for lifts on the roadside. Also, I managed to tell a few stories from my European (Bulgaria, Turkey, Albania) travels and also the journey that led me to Amsterdam through Swiss, German and Dutch motorways.
I would like to thank NOMADS – a life of cheap/free travel , Manupalooza , Travel Storytelling Festival & Vondelbunker for the organisation and Joe’s Garage for hosting me and several other fellow participants.
The next Alternative Travel Gathering will be hosted by the Asociación Atlas Gran Canaria in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain).
Featured Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn