My experience on Fjällräven Vándortúra

We asked one of our international participants – Emilia Zafiraki from Bulgaria – to answer some of our questions regarding her time hiking the Fjallraven Vándortúra through the Balaton Highlands, Hungary

How was your time at Vandortura?

It was wonderful! I have many unforgettable memories: beautiful views of cozy farmhouses, sun-baked fields, blue skies and darting swallows, cool oak forests, and places from where you can take in the whole countryside and see Lake Balaton in the distance, beckoning you with its cool blue. But one of the things I liked the most was the free communication with people of different nationalities. It happens spontaneously as you walk during the day or wait together for the showers or the shared dinner. I was surprised to learn that there were participants from Hong Kong, South Korea, India, and most European countries this year, as well as people who have been attending Fjällräven Vándortúra since 2014 when it was first organized and have been looking forward to it. It’s hard to imagine, but it’s a fact. There were people who went to Sweden immediately after finishing the tour in Hungary to participate in the classic event the following week. If they had told me this before I joined, I would have certainly considered them crazy thrill seekers with a penchant for masochism, but I understand them now. 🙂

What was challenging?

I don’t know – the long distances and the heat were exhausting. I felt like a soldier who automatically packs one’s luggage and enters the fight. But the feeling of carrying your life on your back, of knowing that everything depends on your capabilities and, at the same time – that you are not alone and can give and seek support, is a strong and very human need. From which the comforts of modern life deprive us. Experiences like this enable one to merge with the earth and realize one’s role as part of one’s surroundings. It is nice. And real. Priceless!

What is the nicest memory?

One beautiful morning we started walking from the center of a small cozy village in the middle of nowhere. We were standing at a wide crossroads by the bus stop, which was a library and a music hall. Shelves of books were lined up in the glass room for you to read while you waited for the bus, and there was a piano at one end. An older man is seated in front of it. He started to play, and our noisy flock of women fell silent. It was so beautiful and removed from reality: an idyllic rural landscape, thatched-roof houses and flower gardens, and a classical melody from the piano drifting through their midst. After a while, the man got up, closed the piano cover, and got into the mail car parked out front. It was the postman who had sat down to play for a while before delivering the letters to the village.

What is your most favorite Fjällräven product?

I have plenty of them, and picking a favorite is challenging. Or maybe my Abisco tights – so comfortable and practical with their special pockets! I just love them!

What would you suggest to other participants?

To enjoy every single moment 🙂 Because what’s happening at Vandortura looks like magic. You are coming alone but become part of pride after a few days. The distances between people melt away under the scorching sun, the communication barriers disappear, and you feel part of an extensive and friendly community that gives you the courage and strength to continue.

What was your most valuable piece in your backpack?

My sleeping bag. It gave me the comfort my battered body craved 🙂 really