Do you remember Mindunai? The bus stop and the small shop? Do you remember the sun tickling your face and all the happy people dancing, singing and playing guitar? Every few minutes more or less irritated drivers brought more people to this small bus stop in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Lithuania. The joy, when old and new friends exited the cars was overwhelming and added to the irritation of the drivers. And just like that the phenomenal Tramprennen 2017 came to an end. For two weeks over 120 crazy people were standing on the roadsides of Europe and hitchhiked to the bet. Now, as Christmas and winter have caught up, we want to look back on our journey from Erfurt and Lüneburg to Mindunai in Lithuania.
After years, in which the Tramprennen aimed to stay in warmer areas, some of us already got the chills by just looking on the northern part of the map. But the Kaltikum (sorry but there is just no proper translation for this bad pun) demanded our appearance and as we are always looking for a challenge we bravely packed the warm sleeping bag and fitted next to all the juggling stuff and a large variety of guitarish instruments more than one warm sweater in the already overflowing bagpacks. To get to the Baltics, we had to crisscross through Poland. This was not a problem, as Poland is still one of the hitchhiking friendliest countries in Europe. So, all the teams spent at least 2 stages between Piwo, Autostrada and Pirogi, before crossing the just 100 km wide border to Lithuania. And even if we traveled this year far away from the known refugee routes, each border crossing comes with an uncomfortable feeling. For too many people, that were not so lucky to own a European passport, these lines on maps are too often obstacles, that seem to be impossible to overcome. We want to emphasize: No one is illegal!
Once we arrived in Lithuania, we were greeted by a warming sun instead of the arctic winds, that some of us had expected. The lifts were super friendly and the landscape breathtaking. Again, everything done right! The last evenings were spent together with the route, the past days were elaborated, and everyone took a close look at the ranking. “It’s still a race! “ even if the first team already claimed the overall victory long before. For one or another team there was still the first place on the route possible or they wanted to get in front of another team. To make it short: ambitions were high on the last stage. And so it happened, that on the short last stage a few overly motivated teams already arrived in Mindunai at noon.
What happened the next 48 hours is hard to describe. So much of this adventure will be remembered by the people that stood next to European roads this year. Again over 120 people showed that hitchhiking works and that it is not just an extraordinary way to move across a continent but that it makes a dialogue possible, despite all language, economical, social and cultural barriers.
Next to all the wonderful experiences our participants made, which make the Tramprennen something truly special, there are all those amazing people that contributed to this years Tramprennen as team-sponsors and team-owners. Through your support, we are able to donate over 10.000 Euro to Viva con Agua and Pro Asyl! Thank you so much! You are the best!
But there are more people we need to thank. All those that supported the organization and planning of this years Tramprennen. At the premeetings or the final ceremony, designing and layouting, printing t-shirts or packing the hitchpackages, without your voluntary work organizing the Tramprennen would not be possible. If you want to support us next year and contribute your own ideas to the world of Tramprennen contact us at gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni and stay tuned.
At the very end: Thank you! Děkuji! Dziękuję! Ačiū! Paldies! To all the drivers, that shared short or long distances of their journey with us.