Hitch hiking trip
Indian people doesn’t know about hitch hiking. I found out about it in Poland. Hitch hiking got its roots in Poland, when the war came to an end. People didn’t have much money and there were few options to travel in and around Poland. Infrastructure was also not so developed, but still there were people who rode cars in Poland. Thus people started hitch hiking.
In India we don’t have the culture of hitch hiking. During rush hour people ask motorcyclists for a free ride to get to the other part of the town. That’s it. No one in India would stop their car to take You somewhere. Some how we don’t trust other people to that extent. That is why i was so excited about the concept of hitch hiking in Poland!
Each year there are hitch hiking races from Wrocław, Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan to different destinations around Europe. After researching the internet, I found about a race from Poznan to Italy called Wyśćig Autostopowy. I found a travel partner and signed up for the race. Both me and my travel partner didn’t have any clue about hitch hiking, but we had both one thing in common. The enthusiasm to travel.
Hitch hiking race Poznan – Comacchio
On the day of the race, we met in Poznan. We took our contestant numbers, and the race started around 09am. We found a spot which was less crowded along the highway, and started to ask people for a ride. Our stop? -Berlin.
After about three hours of trying, we found our first ride. We went with a doctor from Poznan who was on his way to buy medicines for his niece. Our first ride. Wohoo 🙂 :)Turns out that this man is a very smart and empathetic person. We talked about politics, refugees and mentality of Europeans and Poles. We even took his phone number in the hopes of talking to him some day in person. He dropped us near the Berlin ring, which is a popular spot for hitch hikers. Once there, we tried for about 4 hours to get the next ride. Soon it got dark and we decided to pitch our tents and call it a night. During the night, it was so cold that both of us hardly slept.
Next day in the morning we got back to business. It was a repetition of the day before. Not even a single soul stopped for us. By evening we were desperate to get out of this hell hole. So we tried to change the location and try to catch some one in the high way. Just a word of caution. Asking some one for a ride in the german highway where cars travel at 200 kmh is not good idea. When people started pointing their fingers to their heads, we got the point and changed our location before the police would catch us.
We tried everything just to get out of there. After a while a man pulled up and saved us. He took us to the nearest gas station. From there things started to catch pace. Soon we met our second polish comrade. This guy who is working in Holland, carried us 30 km away to the crossroads between Magdeburg and Munich. He even gave us Polish sweets mrówki. Once we got there, it was time to move on to our next stop. Munich.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, one turkish guy pulled over. His native language was kurdish, and he knew some german. With his limited knowledge of english and our broken German, he was somehow able to understand us and left us at the next petrol station near Leipzig. At Leipzig we found one of the best rides of the entire trip. A very courteous german lady took us in her BMW. Let me tell You, that riding in the german autobahn at 200 km an hour is something spectacular. In under 3,5 hours we travelled almost 400 km and reached the outskirts of Munich. Soon it was dark and time to sleep. In German petrol stations each time You pay for the toilet, You get a 50 cent coupon which You can use to buy items from the store. Whole night we stayed at the entrance and collected enough coupons from ongoing customers to buy food and beer. It reminded me about the time when i was a student 😀
Next day, we met a really nice German pair who were on a tour to Italy. They left us at a place called Roveretto in Italy. Let me tell You about Italy. Hitchhiking in Italy is not an easy task. Italians just shake their head and drive away. We were thinking in the beginning that probably they are not going in our direction. Later we came to know that Italians don’t trust people as they do in Poland or Germany. It took us two days to figure their 'head shake’
After hours of trying, we met our favourite Italian Gramma. She was an avid traveller, and had been to India, Mexico, Peru. She had pictures of Indian god Ganesha in the car and was very interested in Yoga and our culture. In fact we had something common to talk to. She even travelled further from her destination, just to leave us at the nearest petrol station. Lots of kisses for our Italian gramma :*
That night, the workers at the station were so courteous to let us sleep inside.
Next morning, two truck drivers took us to our next stop around 150 km away to Bologna. We were so happy to get closer to our destination. Comacchio looks so close from here 🙂
It was here that we met a beautiful Albanian girl . She has been living in Italy from her childhood This was the first time she was giving a ride to two strangers. Even though she was skeptical in the beginning, she was brave enough to leave us to the nearest gas station. 🙂 We tried our level best to get a ride at this station, but no one was willing to stop. So then we decided to sleep there for the night. Just before we were about to pitch our tents, a man told us that there is one serial killer on the loose and he has been seen last in our area. We got real afraid and changed our plans to sleep there. We even googled the guy’s name and turns out, it was true! Then we bought wine and walked about 6 km through the fields and went to the nearest railway station. Next day we took a train to Ravenna and had a chance to sight see the city.
Since Comacchio was very close, we were planning to walk there from Ravenna, Then in a while a young guy who was living near comacchio stopped. and took us to our destination. Yes! we finished the race. Total time of 98 hours and 51 minutes. We were tired, but happy to finish the race. More than 1600 km, all thanks to the kindness of other people.
Hitch hiking in Poland is a gesture of kindness towards the other human being. By giving some one a free ride they are trusting the other person with their safety and well being. It is an opportunity to get to know the other person, and to be interested about their world. Even in a fast paced world, people are still willing to help some one and be interested in the other person’s life. That is what hitchhiking is about. Helping some one without expecting anything in return.
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