Me and my friends went on an exciting weekend-trip to Krakow, we called it hitchhiking competition.
Our final destination, Krakow is around 250 km south of Warschau, from Berlin its around 600 km away. The city is known for its middleage buildings like the castle and the city wall and has kept its cultural heritage. The city is also interesting because of its jewish heritage and the many synagogues that are concentrated in one central area (like you see it in Prague).
Krakow is also the cultural capital of Poland and a city for artists. I met a lot of people in Berlin that where excited about Krakow and compared it with Berlin in earlier times when the creative scene started to grow and develop.
What was our plan? We wanted to hitchhike in pairs to Krakow and meet there in a hostel. We wanted to start on Friday after work and arrive in Krakow in the night to have to full Saturday for exploration. On Sunday we had to go back to Berlin on the road again. The winner of the competition is the one who arrives the earliest in Krakow.
I was already a few times in the situation that I hitchhiked, sometimes to save money but mostly for the adventure. This trip was about the adventure. I was also excited about the reactions of our drivers when we would explain our hitchhiking story.
My partner in the competition is Marek from Poland. Now I can say that I was lucky to go with him because with his language skills and technical equipment (Iphone, Ipad with internet and maps) and especially his polite and patient personality he was the perfect partner!
It went very well!
On the way to Krakow we had to take only 4 cars. The first car brought us from Schönefeld Airport to a fuel station near Cottbus which is already very close to the boarder. The hitchwiki (useful addresses in the end) helped us to find a good spot directly on the highway to Cottbus. The cars only went in one direction so we just needed to be lucky and stop a car. As we were both dressed in dark colours I had the idea to put off my black jacket to be more visible in my green Jumper. It took us quite a while until a business guy in an Audi stopped for me. I hold my thumb out directly after the lights while Marek stood 100 Meter further up on the ramp to the highway. I told him that we are two people and he made space in his car. He asked me out a lot about my job and I told him that we are on a competition trip. It can be interesting to think about the motives of people who stop for hitchhikers. I can say that almost all of our drivers on that weekend looked for conversation and community in the car. They were apart from a couple all alone on the road and they liked the idea to let the taste of adventure and being young (Marek is only 26) for a moment into their regulated lives.
On the fuel station near Cottbus it was Mareks turn to talk up cars with polish number plate. And there were quite a few of them. But unfortunately they were all packed up or only went a few kilometers further to the boarder which didn’t help us and we decided to keep on asking. It took one hour until Marek found our driver who brought us 4 hours further to Katovice. It was again a business man who came from a meeting in Germany and went back to his hometown. We had nice talks also in English and he seemed happy about our company. He dropped us off on a fuel station. It was raining and got quite late. We were both tired and looked forward to arrive. Exactly at midnight we were lucky and Marek talked to an older guy with a furniture pick-up. He took us to the outskirts of Krakow and from there we found again after a few minutes three Slovakian guys who brought us to the city. It was 2 am and we took a cab to the hostel which was 24 hours open. In total we needed extactly 8 hours which is a very good result!
For our competitors things didn’t went so weel as they had to spend the night in Łódź, they couldn’t go the direct way and went the hightway to warsaw due to a lack of cars on their first waiting spots. It proofed that its important to pick good spots which don’t give too many destination possibilities for cars. Anyway we were happy to meet them in the city the next day and spend a day together. Lucky they made it too!
The sunny day we used to explore the city, rest in the sun and went for lunch in a typical polish restaurant (you should try Pierogi, a national dish) and were invited to a house party.
The next day we returned and me and Marek again proofed our luck and of course also being a good team as this time we only needed 3 cars.
If you like adventures a hitchhiking trip is definitely worth to do. Go with good friends and share the thrill and fun.
Useful adresses for your adventure
- http://hitchwiki.org/ – a collaborative Website for finding good spots on highways, worldwide!
- http://art-of-traveling.blogspot.com.es/2013_09_01_archive.html – Did you hear about boat hitchhiking? Julia hitchhikes with her boyfriend from Berlin to Bogota: “I love the slow way of travelling, I think nothing about travelling by plain. If I use transportation then I do hitchhiking or I take the boat. I have the dream to go to South America with hitchhiking and to cross the atlantic by boat. For this adventure I made my sailing licence on our local lake, I hope it will help me…”
- Universities organize hitchhiking competitions, have a look on the website of University Leipzig
- http://www.valentinvonvacano.com/portfolio/der-caravaner/ a crazy idea and faszinating pictures