TR-advent calendar #18

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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

 

#18: Minerva

“Woah, hitchhiking? Like, standing-on-the-street-thumb-out real life hitchhiking?” I asked my new german roommates, a bewildered look on my face as they told me of their travels across Europe with just a backpack and a few hundred Euros. I had arrived in Kiel to start at the university in the fall, after learning German for a year as a nanny, and was lucky enough to get a room with some “Tramprennen” experts.

For me, hitchhiking was something out of the movies or maybe out of a Jack Kerouac’s book, because growing up in the 90’s in Colombia you had none of that. Sure, beautiful beaches and mountains, awesome fruit and food and some kickass dance moves; but it all came with a profound sense of mistrust in your fellow humans. You had to be aware at all times, watch out for danger and NEVER EVER let a stranger into your car; so it came as a little bit of a shock when Max and Anna told me that, it not only worked, but that they used it as a regular means of transportation, and that they met awesome people and places doing it.

It took me about a semester to overcome my Colombian fears and try it. It was summer, my guest-grandpa had just got surgery in Hamburg and I wanted to visit him. Max, Anna and another friend wanted to go to Hamburg to do something else, so it was perfect. We stood in front of the Ikea in Kiel, two girls and one guy, and hitchhiked. I couldn’t believe it: I was hitchhiking, ME, the person who was ashamed to even ask the driver of the bus in Bogotá to let her pay 30 cents less (yes, you can do that in Colombia).  I can’t remember how long it took, maybe half an hour, I think. After that, a Turkish guy in a lorry winked at us and we got in; I was ecstatic, he was even going to Hamburg!!!

After that and after taking a picture for my What-crazy-Europeans-do album, I was hooked for life. I’ve been to Istanbul and back, to the south of Spain and Italy, and so many more places that I would’ve never visited if it wasn’t for hitchhiking. I’ve met such amazing, hospitable, giving people and I’ve even introduced a couple of my fearing Colombian friends to hitchhiking!

TR-advent calendar #17

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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

#15: Benni

It was during my last year of school. A friend and I wanted to escape the crowds of Karneval in our hometown Koblenz, so we decided to make a small trip through Germany. First we thought about tanking a car but then I read an article about free traveling and how you can spend your holidays without money in Berlin.

One of the tips in this article was hitchhiking. I somehow got curios about this idea and informed myself further and in the end I really wanted to try the best way of traveling.

The parents of my friend helped us with the start and brought us to a petrol station on the highway, where they left us alone. It was a strange feeling, knowing that you are depending on some strangers goodwill to get you out of this place to your aim. None of us ever did it before in this way, so we started to write a sign with “Berlin”. I also read in the article that it is much more successful if you ask the drivers. Okay, that sounds not to hard but in the beginning especially on the first time it was quite an overcoming to talk to a stranger and then even to ask for a favor. After the first fifteen minutes and my first rejections I felt a bit uncomfortable and thought that this might have not been the best idea.

Luckily a man came to us and said that he could take us to the next petrol station, but he has to talk to his family first because his daughter was sitting on the back bank. They agreed and we got our first lift! All the worries directly changed into pure happiness. On the next petrol station, where the wanted to drop us the two parents talked to each other and offered us that they will take us to Berlin. That made things pretty easy for us and we agreed directly. On the way we had some nice conversations and we stopped at the former border to the DDR to visit the custom station.

Thanks once again Peter for your help!

TR-advent calendar #16

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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

#15: Felix

It was last summer when a friend of mine started a little spark inside my head. Hitchhiking? To Albania? Crazy! My first thoughts. But a year later the spark set fire and I was convinced to do this crazy shit. So my first hitchhiking experience started in Hamburg. Jonas, who started the spark a year ago, and I wanted to catch up with the tramprennen-people, that were already on their way for a week. So we made a plan. Two and a half days from Hamburg to Sofia. Hard but interesting. Since Jonas is pretty experienced in hitchhiking I kind of leaned back and trusted him on the assumption we would make it.

So we started, since we were lazy, at the Horner Kreisel in Hamburg. Wait but that’s the direction to Berlin. Doesn’t matter. After 40 minutes we got picked up with to other girls who partied all night in Hamburg and wanted to go back to Berlin. My first lift. Amazing.

After 2,5 hours we reached the service station and continued our trip south from there. We hitched everything. Old people in a full car, young girl in an old car, undecided woman in an empty car and really young girls in a fast car. Big thanks again to all the drivers that may read this. Our goal for the first day was at least Salzburg but maybe even Vienna. Well at around 8:30 pm we arrived in Rosenheim on a really shitty gas station. The cars could enter the gas station from both directions and were mostly families with completely packed cars. So far we did really good but now it seemed like our luck left us. It was getting dark and no car seemed to drive to Austria.

So we relaxed put our backpacks aside and had a small snack. Suddenly a young man with an Austrian license plate stopped at the gas station. After a short chat, he agreed to take us into Austria. He introduced himself as Peter and seemed to be a pretty cool dude. He is a professional musician who just came back from a concert tour in France. We talked about sailing and the Traunsee, because actually he owned boat, which anchored on the Traunsee and since Jonas has been there 2 years before with Tramprennen, there was a lot to talk about. Our plan was to find another lift at the designated service station close to the Chiemsee but suddenly Peter invited us for a beer at the Traunsee and offered to spend the night at his place. Of course we were happy and agreed instantly. Said, done. Late at night we found a bar with direct view on the lake and enjoyed incredible awesome Austrian beer. And on top of that we even spend the night in a real bed, which was the best after a long day of hitchhiking. The next morning after a quick shower, Peter drove us back on the highway almost to Linz and we continued our trip from there. But that’s another story.
For my first hitchhiking day it was the perfect experience. Big thanks to Peter and all the other drivers that let us join on their journey that day!

TR-advent calendar #15

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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

#15: Ole

Freiburg is beautiful, especially looking at it from the wooden tower at the Castle Hill. You have to get there first though. Starting in Hamburg. Hitchhiking. Your first trip using your thumb, at the first time – the first “Tramprennen”.

It’s Saturday at the end of the Summer 2008. Spain won the European Cup at Soccer, Kid Rock dominates the Hit Parade “All Summer Long”, eleven more or less absolute hitchhiking beginners with numerous backpacks stand in the drizzling cold Hamburg at the square in front of the “Millerntorstadion” in the rain. Start of the very first “Tramprennen”. I am one of these beginners. Two, two of these very large backpacks are mine. I have met my partner in crime Kiste three weeks ago. We both needed someone who wanted to join each other, so we formed a team. The stage goal: Go South for 800 kilometers, to Freiburg. Our preparations are finished: We each have half of a household on our backs, except for a tent, markers, sleeping mats, maps and other useful stuff.

The first kilometers: simple. We find the way to the city train, the bus, the gas station Stillhorn. The noise of the passing cars and the smell of a truck stop sausage stand provided highway atmosphere. The fastest way to Freiburg would lead down the A7. Yet we prefer the couple from Osnabrück, that spontaneously decided to give us a lift after Kiste talked them into it and so we pursue the path towards NRW on the A1. So my first lift ever is a spacious Camping-Van that proofed its suitability for travelling in the previous weeks in Skandinavia. Fantastic, I can get used to that. I start dreaming of Spanish beaches and wake up at the service area “Dammer Berge”. The parking lot is the exact opposite of my backpack: emptiness in good order. Eventually a decrepit Citroen gets lost on this space of tarmac and stops 10 meters in front of us. We run to it, passing the yellow license plate and the missing side mirror on the left to the driver. Our knowledge of French is as abandoned as the French rust bucket that only still drives because it always has. And as it drives, we do the same. Jammed in the back seats, we jog through the Ruhr area and enjoy the view of abandoned industrial landscapes and trucks passing us by at a spead of 80 km/h. Fuck it: We are moving, that’s what counts.

Time to call the other teams. It’s a race after all! The rest is everywhere but not close to Freiburg. We are trying our best but we won’t make it anywhere close to Freiburg, since the sun already calls the day. Our destination for the night: a place in Bonn, we organize on such short notice.

The next morning at the Rhine. The next motorway access is for us. Kiste talks a passing biker to leave us her map and so we see a lot of highways but none really useful. Still with two thumbs we test our luck. Soon several cars stop to take us to their destination but we want to go to Freiburg and not to the next bakery with breakfast. After some time we take carelessly lifts that promised to take us to so called hot-spots but turned out to be more or less just bummers.

We stand at the intersection, at the motorway access in Siegburg, at the train station in Siegburg and at the motorway access in Siegburg again. To reach the “Hitchwiki”-spot we have to take the tram and just walk a little to enter the service station. But Kiste promised some friends he would just hitchhike and not use any public transport. In the afternoon we almost start to feel like home in Siegburg. Some creative ideas come into our minds and Kiste makes a point by saying: “Ole, this here leads nowhere. Let’s take a taxi.” 20 minutes later and with 20 euros less in our pockets we arrive at a gas station next to the A3 and meet our first real lift for the day. We move quickly from there. Not even three hours later Freiburg appears in front of us. At least the outskirts. The highways avoid Freiburg so we wait for our last lift. We could take the tram but again, hitchhiking is far more fun! Finally we enter the last car on our trip. “Where do you want to go?! On top of the hill? With all your backpacks?” The driver knows the place and has doubts about our idea. The castle hill is the destination of our trip. Roughly 100 meters above us. Luckily the other teams organized a hostel at the foot of the hill so we put our backpacks there, run up the hill and take a photo. It took us two days, we made the 4th out of 5 teams but most important: we arrived!

 

 

 

tr – advent calendar #14

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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

 

#14: Julia

Long time ago, in a land far far away, at a time when I was still young and innocent, or as others might discribe it, inexperienced and naive, I was standing at the edge of a road in Christchurch, New Zealand.

A friend, let’s call her Jasmin (that is indeed her actual name), and I wanted to get from the East to the West coast of the South island. We were on the one hand too stingy for the bus and on the other hand relatively adventurous. So we decided to stand at the street leading to the west coast with a sign (which we decorated with cute flowers) that read „Grey Mouth“ (lovely, beautiful city, right my dear Kiwi friends?!).

Jasmin and I had previously discussed to not get into a car if either one of us did not feel comfortable about the lift and to communicate this secretly and silently through eye contact. After just a few moments a black car with tainted windows pulled up, a middle aged man emerged from it and without much speaking he loaded our backpacks.

With fear in our eyes Jasmin and I faced each other and immediatly understood – both of us did not feel comfortable with the lift, though neither of us was brave enough to say anything.

So we got into the car and our adventure began.

In the beginning not much was said and when ever the man tried to make small talk our answers were short and we hoped he did not hear the fear in our voices. To break the deafening silence I asked what all those buttons on the dashboard were for, as a crack came from the radio and an unintelligible voice could be heard. Our driver who apparently had understood everything took his radio device and answered. To our great surprise it turned out that we sat in the car of an undercover police officer. Our driver was on a dangerous mission against the notorious substance „weed“. A couple of weeks earlier he had caught the man who had supplied the whole west coast with this horrible drug.

This explained a lot! Our little village on the west coast too had trouble getting hold of more weed. While smoking weed normally was a social activity during which a group shares a splif led by the motto „puff puff pass“, it had now turned into a rather secretly done thing where people would smoke their joints behind their houses in order to not having to share.

The undercover cop told us he was now following up on those investigations and our fear turned into eager interest. We felt like Miss Marpel or Sherlock Holmes. We were so super, mega, hyper cool, being privat investigators listening to the police radio and hearing crazy police stories.

Our first hitch hikking trip was a full success. Oddly the work of our driver did not bring as much cheer to our village as it did to us. In fact it lead to many people switching to „legal high“ out of despreation. Meaning that people started smoking bath supplements and incense. This on the other hand then leads to new naive and adventurous anecdotes, but that is a different story…