Hitchin' a ride for 17 years: Polish world traveller crosses Yellowknife off list
Krzysztof Chmielewski has been to 49 countries, plans to visit every province in Canada
Since 1999, Krzysztof Chmielewski has made his way across 49 countries by sticking his thumb out and hitching a ride — now the Polish traveller can cross Yellowknife off his list.
"I think there is another 100 [countries] to stamp," he says of his passport. "I believe I can see all the world."
Chmielewski says he started by hitchhiking in Poland's neighbouring countries 17 years ago. He travelled Europe for five years and criss-crossed Africa, all with very little money.
"I have some money for the food but I'm not paying for transport."
Now he's doing North America, and committed to going to every province, and most territories, in Canada and every state in the U.S. — otherwise it wouldn't count.
"Canada is so big, that just Ottawa would not be enough. If I just see Ottawa I can't say that I know Canada because I know the capital," he explains.
"So I decided to do every province, like from Nova Scotia to Yukon and from Yukon to B.C., and cover the country."
Wolverines, polar bears and… skunks
Chmielewski liked Yellowknife from the start, saying the rocky landscape is a big draw.
"When I got here I already liked the scenery — looks like a big city to me," he laughs.
"And I like the weather. I thought it's going to be freezing cold and I will see snow in the distance, but it's nothing like that!"
He says he'd love to see a wolverine while he's in the North, but it's the elusive skunk that he really hopes to encounter on his travels south.
"The first time I see it in Toronto, I thought this is cat and I also love cats so I was going to touch it," Chmielewski laughs.
When the skunk lifted its tail, he recognized the animal from movies, and quickly backed up.
"I love to see the skunk again!"
He'd also like to see a polar bear, though he knows that's unlikely since he's not heading further north.
"But if they come my way, I'd be happy to see that."
With files from Pat Kane