Hitchhiking Europe Part Two: Poznan to Bonn
After a few days recovering in Poznan, I was ready for the next part of the journey, so we hit the road. Make sure you didn’t miss part one of my adventure hithchiking Europe.
For hitching we use hitchwiki.org. It’s an awesome site where you type in the city you’re in and it shows you on a map where the best hitch-spots are. It even has other hitchhiker’s testimonies and experiences from each spot.
Today, for my first real hitch experience, Hitchwiki had us taking a bus way to the edge if the city, then hiking a couple miles to the highway to a tollway. I’ve learned that tollways are good spots to stand with your thumb out, as every car has to stop to pay, and can get a good look at you.
Standing in the snow, holding a sign that said ‘Berlin’, I realized I had never felt so free and happy in my life. Everything I owned in the world was in the backpack at my feet, and I had no worries or responsibilities anywhere. I could just get into the next car that stopped and end up in Berlin or Prague, or anywhere else in the world I felt like. I was cold and broke, but the smile on my face would not go away. This was real freedom.
It only took about 30 minutes before a new BMW pulled over and told us to get in. Andy from England was heading towards Prague, but would take us nearly the whole way to Berlin. What luck! Now we were on to Autobahn for my first time, and passing other cars at high rates of speed. Life is good.
Andy dropped us off at the very edge of east Berlin, and we quickly hitched another ride with an old lady going into the city. From where she dropped us off we went into the underground subway and took the train to Zoo street. I had secured a sponsor hostel for a few nights at Wombat Backpackers, my first 5 star hostel.
Berlin is insane. It’s now one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s so modern and cool, yet has a huge metal and techno scene. It has some of the best raves and clubs in the world. One night we met up with some Estonian friends an went to a little bar to play ping ping. We ended up playing rotating Chinese death pong with 10 people at once. It was a lot of fun.
After many pubs, clubs, street art and curry-worst, we hit the road again. Our next destination was to see some friends in Karlsruhe, West Germany.
Everyone said that hitching in Germany was easy. So I was frustratingly surprised when it took all day to reach Stuttgart. To be fair, our first ride out of Berlin dropped us off in a pretty desolate place, and we had to hang out a long time at a big rest stop, asking drivers if they were going in the direction of Karlsruhe. We ended up hitching a lot of short rides, then hitching on the out-skirts of cities like Leipzig, Mannheim and more.
We finally ended up getting a ride to Stuttgart, and were too tired to find the next hitch spot so decided to take the TGV fast train the rest of the way.
The 20 minute ride on the TGV was a good experience though, as we topped speeds of 250 kph. Now at least I can say I’ve done that little thing. Once in Karlsruhe, we waited around a while for our friend to arrive to take us to her flat. We got a decent tour of the city once she did, as we had to take a few different trams through town.
It turns out that we were staying in our friends down room at her campus housing. All three of us shared a tiny room; us two guys on the floor next to her bed. It was a cozy night, but we were just grateful not to be standing out in the cold
trying to get a ride any more.
The next day we (with our heavy backpacks) walked around the beautiful parks around the student city, seeing cool sites before saying farewell to our lovely host and headed to the best hitch spot. It took us about thirty minutes, but we got a ride half way to Heidelberg, to a road side fuel station.
From there it took a log time to get our next ride. We tried everything. We split up: me with a ‘Heidelberg’ sign standing at the on-ramp to the highway, and Ron asking people at the fuel station if they were going to Bonn. After a couple hours an ambulance heading to Heidelberg pulled over and let us in. The driver took us all the way the the center of town in the ambulance, which was cool.
I had another sponsor hostel, and we were the for carnival, and some cool festivities. Heidelberg is a pretty cool little city. Check out my Photo Essay of Heidelberg, Germany here!
Next stop was Bonn. I had a friend in Ramegan, but it’s so tiny that I secured a sponsor hostel in the nearby Bonn instead, and then took the fast train to see her later on. Bonn was nice, but Ramegan was amazingly beautiful on the shores of the river. It is definitely a quiet and cozy little town, and very beautiful!
Hitchhiking so far has been fun, but very tiring. Hitchwiki has us walking long distances every day to get to the best hitch spot, and that is followed by long waits for cars. Because of this and the free hostel, I decide to rest in Bonn for a few days. But after that, we want to hitch to Cologne. Stay tuned for Part 3: Cologne to Amsterdam!