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Germany, Hamburg & Netherlands, Amsterdam
czwartek, 23 lipca 2009 19:43
Mary Lasprilla   

mary11Hitchhiking, summer 09 (part 1)

Finally, here comes the (brief when possible) story of our summer trip 2009. Luis and I planned it for a while, and I had wished to do it since I was like 15. The idea was basically to hitchhike around some areas in Western Europe, couchsurf and also visit some friends and family that are spread around the area.

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Our itinerary was (by plane) Tallinn-Riga-Hamburg then (by car/train/foot) Hamburg-Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Gent-Brussels-Heidelberg-Munich and (again by plane) Munich-Riga-Tallinn.

And so we did! It was a short (as it felt when it had ended) 3-week holiday which left a great experience and above all a number of people we'll probably see only that one time in life but from whom we took a lot of positive energy (I know I sound like a flower-powerer!) and (hopefully) to whom we left something, anything! too.

mary15So the story begun on the 13th of June at 4:43 a.m. when there were just 37 minutes left for our plane to take off and we PANIC!!!!!!!!!!! It was the longest half an hour of our lives in which we had to get ready, get the luggage, find another taxi (as the other one that went to pick us up had left) and above all, not miss the plane!! Thank to all Almighty things in the universe Tallinn airport is so small and we are lucky because we made it!

In Hamburg: At home Ben, an AIESEC friend, was expecting us. We spent three days enjoying the views of the city and the company of Ben and his roommates who cooked a delicious vegetarian dinner for us and the rest. Besides this great company, the best of Hamburg was the feeling of fresh air everywhere, strange for a big city. We were told there are two trees per inhabitant in the city, and you can really feel it :) Other nice things in the city: people coming and going in bicycles (not cool: the old bikes abandoned everywhere), walking in the Alster-park and also the Stadt park, where latinos were showing off with their expertise in loud music and big gatherings. Looking at the guys from the apartment taking a big plastic bag full of bottles to the supermarket to recycle (= get back some money) was fabulous. We also made a short stop in Kaiserkeller where The Beatles and other famous artist have/had played, though they were not mentioned in the long list. Yet they had their own Beatles-Platz where we could see them playing and also some German ladies enjoying life with beers and sausages. On Monday 15th we said goodbye to Ben, to Hamburg and head off to Amsterdam. It was officially our first day hitchhiking.

mary16On Monday 15th Jun 09, at 9:00 a.m. we were ready to hit the road. The key was to find the right spot from which to start hitchhiking and that took about...hm...three hours :) It involved leaving the train station, returning to it after being for an hour at a gas station where it didn't work, take an S-bahn to Harburg, create a sign with the words “Fahren Sie nach Bremen?” and trash it as that didn't work either. Little by little we walked up until a spot towards the 75th where a kind soul pitied us and gave us a ride of something like 1000 mt. That was when the real show started. Around 12:30 p.m. Roda, a nice German girl, and our second official ride, took us to a gas station in the middle of the highway E22.

At the gas station we aimed at truck drivers, trailers, and others of the kind. But then, why not? Let's show the thumb to this cool Mercedes Benz...TA RAN! It stopped, the guy was Werner Feuss, a nice guy, and CEO of e:duo, who would speak to us in some kind of Germglish and drove at 250Km/hr, plus, he could talk to his car! :) We made a short stop with him in dodenhof a department store between Hamburg and Bremen. As Werner was born in Bremen, he decided to give us a car tour around the town, and at this point he had already offer to take us to Oldenburg where he was actually going. At that was closer to Netherlands border. After a nice and fast ride, Werner left us 150 Km further from Oldenburg, at the very border between Germany and the Netherlands, in a gas station in the middle of nowhere!

mary12It was 6:00 p.m. and we recharged some batteries buying some chocolate at the

station. Headed to the exit of the parking place and started taking out the thumb again. After some scary minutes where there were no cars passing by often, and the ones passing where at some 200 Km/hr a nice German couple stopped. They were Ulrich and Ingeborg, a nice retired couple that were traveling around for pleasure. Some nice chatting told us they were theologians and that the lady had travel around Netherlands hitchhiking in her youth times :) they dropped us at a spot that was 162 Km from our destiny and that's where Frank, a former truck driver, and now a mechanic working at Het Motorhuis Langezwaag, picked us. He told us about his love for languages and his experience learning Spanish. And another gas station and here comes our 6th ride, Leo, another mechanic born in Amsterdam, but living somewhere else in peace :) He had also hitchhiked when younger from the Netherlands to Slovakia.

mary13For some reason, everybody thought, as they say in Sunscreen, that their times were safer than nowadays so they could go around the world getting rides from strangers, but they wouldn't do today. Maybe you don't see people doing it anymore thanks to new technologies and politics such as “free transportation for students” in the Netherlands, or hitchhiking online. No matter what! We did it and it felt great! :)

Besides the riders and Luis, wind mills were faithful companions all along the way.

After the ride with Leo, we found ourselves again in the middle of nowhere, 7:00 pm already, no place to stay in Amsterdam and we're still not there. It's time to stop waiting for somebody to stop and start making somebody take us with them :) So we did. We approach a lady at the gas station feeling forced to ask her to take us. She didn't seem very pleasant with the idea, but apparently against her first impression (do we look like bad people? :P) she gave up and agreed to take us to a place 10 minutes before reaching the city. Just like everybody else, Mrs de Rijk turned out to be nice and kind and she had also hitchhiked around Europe and the USA in her youth days.

mary19The last ride was a train, ten minutes away from the city and finally at around 8:00 pm we made it, for a total of 7,5 hrs hitchhiking :)

Amsterdam

We were tired and there's no place we could go to for sleeping, yet. We started wandering around the center and ended up -we swear! It was not intentional!- in the red light district. There we found an Internet café. It was strange and amusing to be sitting in the middle of a bunch of drunk guys, with some girls doing their job outside, and trying to study! :D In our couchsurfing account we found, for our relieve, that Laura, another couchsurfer, had replied to our last minute application for a couch. She had been living in Amsterdam for a couple of months, being originally German. She thought a country with people like the Netherlands would suit her better, so we did :) She lived in the northern part of the city, and we had to take a boat to get there. It was a curious place with containers that serve as as student apartments, with all and little windows, electricity and more :) At Laura's place we were introduced to the vruchtenhagel, some fruit sprinkles used on the toast in the morning, combined with butter, nutella or honey. Sweet as hell, but tasty! Wonderful to start the day.

mary17The taste Amsterdam left on us was that of dirtiness, and corruption. Though there were nice places like Westerpark and Vodelpark, plus cool feelings like the cosmopolitan one: all these different faces and sounds around us.

Something that was a bit stressing were all these bikes and motors around coming and going like if they were looking forward to kill you. You're nobody there if you don't have a bicycle. And if you are not a expert at riding one, like me, you don't feel attracted by renting one.

After the first night we spent a couple more nights in the nice place of Nancy and Hill, a Colombian and a Dutch also part of the cool couchsurfing members. We had a nice chatting over a couple Heineken worth having in their hometown :)

We do think of going back to this city, because we are sure there must be more on it that is not so dirty and corrupted :) So if you have any tips, we'll be happy to know. I reached Ann Frank house when it was already closed and that's something I'd like to see. Van Gogh museum and the Royal one is two in the list for future visits to the city.

Next post: on the road to Rotterdam, a new refreshment after all the old architecture!

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