The Favourites of André Brugiroux

André Brugiroux in the Namib desert.

André Brugiroux has visited every country in the world and belongs to the very closed club of men who dedicated their lives to travel. Guided by a Pacific philosophy, an incredible curiosity and a keen sense of resourcefulness, Brugiroux is one of the most travelled people in the world. There are not many people in the world who have constantly travelled their whole life, but Brugiroux is one of the few. His website is Andre-Brugiroux.fr. Brugiroux was recently featured in Yahoo.

What are three of your favourite countries, and why?

I find all have their charm and something to offer. The beauty is in the eyes of the traveller. Therefore, open your eyes. You can find beautiful people everywhere. Nevertheless, I could mention three “coup de cœur” (crush) countries.

Russia
I feel in total harmony with the hearts of Russians and fully at home in their houses. That does not mean I agree with their need for knout strokes to be governed! There are three main groups of people in Europe: Anglo-Saxon, Latin and Slave. There is a great affinity between Latins and Slaves as they both consider the heart of man first. And not business and money like the third group.

On top of that, I find Russians romantic, most hospitable and spiritually-minded. And their huge country is overpowering. To me, Saint-Petersburg is the most beautiful city in the world after Paris.

Québec
French people and Quebeckers are cousins. We belong to the same family. I love their delicious way of speaking French. Their country is so vast that it makes them more relaxed and pleasant to live with than my own countrymen. Their Indian summer is a total delight to my eyes, and Quebec city makes me feel at home. I am fond of maple syrup. In short, I feel happy in their company, and I could easily spend the rest of my life there if France was forbidden to me.

Québec is not an independent country, but Brugiroux selected it as one of the three for the question.

Romania
The country of Dracula: I always thought that Italians were the most Latin of the Latin peoples until I visited Romania! Those people make me melt. Their kindness touches me deeply, and their relation is most pleasant. I love their caviar d’aubergine (eggplant). Their joyous cemetery of Săpânța, as well as the beautiful external paintings of their numerous monasteries, make you fly above the troubles of this material world.

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What are three of your favourite travel moments, and why?

When somebody picks me up as a hitch-hiker after three days of waiting
Poor hitch-hikers wrote their despair at the back of local post signs like: “Hitch-hiking does not work”, “no ride”, “take a bus”, some drew beautiful luminous thumbs. I would write: “Here went through the King of the Road”.

Hitchhiking trip in Australia
Outside of Port Augusta in Australia, at the time of hitching, I was ready to wait for at least a week on the side of the road in order to catch a free ride. 2.423 km dirt track thru’ the Nullabor desert to reach Perth on the East Coast, and no traffic made me resilient. Funny enough, but I had no time to see where I was going to stretch my sleeping bag for the night or look around for any water spots that a sportscar stopped in a terrible cloud of dust.

“Get in fast, mate!” said the driver. “I am in a hurry.” He strapped me to my seat and drove like a nut day and night stopping only for coffee, gasoline and toilet until we reached Perth. No time for thinking. I was already there. My longest and fastest trip ever.

Almost dying of cold in Alaska, but saved
Below 45 degrees on the Alaska Hiway and practically no traffic. Hitchhiking is naturally forbidden in Winter. I was very careful to be dropped from warm places to warm places at the rare cafés or garages on the way. Once, I was told there was a restaurant where my driver would leave me. There was one, but it was closed, unfortunately. I ran and jumped for 5 hours to keep warm.

One truck and one car both empty passed me without even stopping. I could not spend the whole night outside. I decided to stay in the middle of the road to stop the next vehicle. It came in the wrong direction. Never mind, I stopped it by gesticulating on the middle of the frozen track. I explained I had to be urgently dropped in a warm place. It was a Chevrolet overloaded with a numerous Afro-American family.

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The driver opened the back door without hesitation. A bunch of kids fell off on the ice like grapes. He squeezed them back inside and pressed me violently until he was able to close his door. He brought me back to the garage I had started from in the morning. God bless him: He saved my life.

What are three of your worst travel moments, and why?

Hitchhiking with a drunkard in the USA, I just quitted before he crashed himself to death against a tree.

A ride with a driver in the USA, who prostituted his wife along the way. Meanwhile, their baby was pinned up standing on the back seat next to me.

A ride in Alaska in winter with a mad driver
Alaska looks like a frying pan upside down. The southern part of that country looks like a handle, hence that name. It is situated around Haines Junction. The driver was a young man driving fast in the middle of the winter without a shirt (torso naked) showing signs of disturbances: Shouting constantly, opening his window every now and then. We were driving down a mountain road with lots of pin hair curves. I was totally scared, but I could not get off in the middle of nowhere and in that cold. We finally stopped our course after a missed curve by sliding at great speed under a great heap of snow. Yes, that was the end of my trip in that car. I was too afraid to keep on with this nut and his excited friends at the back.

What are three of your best travel tips?

Keep your head totally inside your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm in a cold climate. Also, have inside pockets directly sown on your clothes inside the pants for money and inside the shirt for the passport. This cannot be seen, and nobody can reach it. I have never been robbed this way.

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Additional favourites

Any favourite hotels or restaurants
None, whatsoever. Three words are taboo to me when travelling: hotel, restaurant and taxi. Maybe tough, but this allowed me to travel all my life.

Favourite cities
Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Rome, Dubrovnik, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Ispahan, Istanbul, Chiengmaï, Quebec city, Rio, Paramaribo, Salvador, Rothenburg.

Worst places you have stayed?
As I never slept in hotels, I have enjoyed up to garbage dump places as nobody will ever bother you there or the company of hyenas around my sleeping bag.

What is another good travel story you haven’t mentioned so far?
A bayonet between the eyes in the valley of Bamyan, Afghanistan. Five machine guns in the ribs on the island of Margarita, Venezuela. A fighter US jet plane crashed 200 meters from me on a NATO base. A buffalo herd charging me frontal in the Congo. A huge crocodile nearly overtipping my pirogue in the Congo by plunging suddenly underneath from the bank, etc.

Favourite airline: Singapore.

Favourite island: Juan Fernández, Chile.

Favourite people: Malay.

Favourite travel movie: My own: The earth is but one country showing live my 400.000 km hitch-hike around the world 6 years.

Favourite travel book: Le Centaure de l’Arctique, a story of a Soviet cyclist around the USSR at the time of Staline.

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