I love hitchhiking because of it’s uncertainty and freedom. I don’t care too much about it being free, I’ve saved enough money to get trains and busses. It’s the chance of something unexpected that I love. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s shit. Sometimes I wait for an hour and sometimes I end up in strangers homes drinking with their grandparents. Not everyone likes this kind of travel but I’m always eager for my friends to experience the best side of it. So when I hitchhiked with Bop for the first time, I had the same excitement and apprehension as I always do with a virgin.
My first day with Bop was probably the
best most accurate summary of hitchhiking you could get.
From Sebastian’s house we got the train to the edge of the city where there’s a bus stop near the highway entrance. The cars were going fast but there was plenty of space. We got a ride in three minutes. He was a Cypriot, Turkish, Austrian who had recently gone through a mid life crisis and started a curtain business. Fuck the hotel business my dream is to sell curtains! I didn’t really understand but he was so eccentric and enthusiastic it made a good story. He dropped us off at a massive gas station with a big whirly exit to everywhere. We waited for two and half hours there. I didn’t tell Bop at the time but I had already started planning which corner of the gas station would make the best bed. Luckily that didn’t happen and we got a ride out of there to another massive gas station outside Linz.
This time 48 minutes. By the time we got to the next spot it was close to 6. I said to Bop ‘if no one stops in half an hour let’s give up and get a bus to the closest town and sleep there’. In three minutes we were in a car to Munich. Maggie and Clemeus, a young couple coming from a druggy music festival in Hungary, were our hosts. Maggie didn’t seem to be very pleased at her boyfriend for picking up a couple of vagrants but Clemeus didn’t seem to care. He gave us bananas, chatted to us about music and how funny Eastern Europe is and within an hour he had invited us to stay with him at his country house on the outskirts of Munich.
“It’s my birthday tomorrow and a few friends might come over later for some drinks? I hope you don’t mind.”
Well there you go Bop. This is how it is.
Clemeus had a beautiful house and a very drunk dad – at first we had some rather nice chats with him about his time living in Korea and South Africa but after Clemeus had made us all dinner he had descended into meaninglessly meaningful statements about the state of the world and shit like that. Dinner was awesome. Clemeus is a trainee chef and made the random scraps in his fridge into an impressive German/Italian noodle pasta thing. His friends came over at around midnight. I remember thinking ‘wow they all look really young’ and now that I’m thinking about it I still have no idea how old Clemeus was. He looked anywhere between 16 and 28 and he said he had a four year old son but I assumed he was joking. I never asked how old he was turning because I liked the mystery. Maybe if they were 18 it would have felt weirder drinking glasses of flaming absinthe with them. They only stayed for half an hour but in that time they polished off a thumb-thick doobie, a glass or two of absinthe and two bottles of wine between four. Clemeus was eager to keep drinking and smoking after the exodus but Bop had already fallen asleep so that kinda dampened things.
The next morning, while we were eating some Bavarian liver cheese*, a woman came over and dropped off a young boy – probably around four years old.
Just the other day I was talking about how few hitchhikers I’ve seen but yesterday we saw six all at the same gas station. No one knew what to do. We couldn’t all wait at the one spot because that would be massively intimidating and no one would stop. We ended up being somehow organised into shifts, some people hitchhiking, some asking drivers and the others just sitting around writing for the others to get rides. When it was our turn to hitch at the exit we were lucky and got a ride. The guy was going a bit out of the way but I thought we’d be trapped at that same spot for days so we took it.
That ended up being a terrible and great idea.
The ride took us to Regensberg, from there we got an early evening ride with a Spanish German into a beautiful Bavarian town called Bamberg. It’s unesco heritage listed and known for having a brewery for every 7,000 humans. We hadn’t had a typical Bavarian experience yet so we indulged.
Bamberg sits just under the highway to Berlin. No one going to Berlin goes through Bamberg and no one going out of Bamberg is going anywhere near the direction of Berlin. We waited for an hour and ten minutes and eight cars stopped. Pretty good numbers but they were all going South or to a town up the road. I had arranged to meet a friend that night in Berlin and was too excited to be late so we fucked off the road and now we’re on a train.
Travelling with Bop:
I forgot, or never understood, how different all this stuff is for Bop. When Clemeus was cooking for us Bop was watching wide eyed and oohing – he’s never eaten artichoke before, he doesn’t know what capers are, he’s never even seen tomato paste. All this stuff that’s totally normal for me is completely new for him. It’s really exciting. I love being around it. Today we went to an anonymous train bar in a small town and I bought us some wurst. When Bop asked me ‘what’s on our menu’ and I said ‘German sausages’ his eyes popped out and he jumped into the air and squealed. Then we high fived.
Bop is the best sleeper ever. I think every hotel room or person’s house we’ve crashed in, he’s fallen asleep sitting down in his jeans. Within three minutes of closing his eyes he’s unconscious and snoring like a hydraulic cow with emphysema. It’s great for him because he gets to sleep a lot and that’s nice but not for me becuase he falls asleep first and then I have to fall asleep to phlegmy mooing.
These are some things he’s said that I like:
“I had a dream last night. You have a smart phone with wifi. I have a smart phone with wifi. My friend doesn’t . . . The end.”
After we had picked some berries from a roadside bush.
He was looking contemplative.
“What’s in your brain.”
“Only my girlfriend and the road.”
We had just eaten four different kinds of German breads and I asked him which one was his favourite.
“Guk bap.” – a Korean soup with beef and rice.
Rides taken: 6
Distance travelled: 664km
Average wait: 26minutes
*liver cheese is a disgustingly inaccurate translation of the words. It’s a sausage loaf made from pork left overs. It’s baked and eaten with bread.