Everyone says Germany is awesome for hitchhiking. And yes, many people stop, the speed is superfast and the country isn’t huge. But sometimes getting from point A to point B is a real hassle, such as if you’re travelling Berlin to Paris. The ideal way is to head directly west from Berlin, via Hannover towards Dusseldorf and south through Belgium to France. But I found it easier to head towards Nurnberg and then directly west from there.
Sounds easy, yes?
Found a ride to Bruck, which is a terrible place to get out of. Never accept a ride to Bruck! Finally a trucker took pity (after I did my praise the gods hitchhiking dance) and took me to the Autobahn 9, which goes to Munich. Ok. From there I got a ride from a trucker who only spoke german and turkish. He was very friendly, but I was never sure just how friendly his intentions were. He was going to Nurnberg, but since I was slightly uncomfortable, I jumped out near Erfurt. West of Erfurt is Dusseldorf and Köln and from there it’s not so bad for France. But this time I wanted a car. So I ignored all the trucks and concentrated on the cars at this roadside stop.
1.5 hours later I was somewhat frustrated. The sky was clouding over, the light was starting to fade a bit and I was starting to wonder if I would be sleeping at a truck stop tonight. Even the trucks, with their maximum speed of 90 km were starting to look good. Time for another praise the gods hitchhiking dance, this time with hula accompaniment.
Rocked it. As soon as I started to hula, the sun came back. As soon as I put the hula away, I put out my thumb and an english speaking german man driving a very fast car stopped. He was going to Munich. Urg. Ok, whatever…movement is movement. I can always back track a little bit.
I asked him to drop me at Nurnberg because the turnoff to the A6, directly to Paris is there. Here’s a problem with excessive speed. Sometimes you miss turnoffs. No worries, he dropped me at another truck stop, 3 km south of the way I wanted to go, with no hope of walking back along the highway. So under the highway I went, to the other side truck stop, in the hopes of a hop ride back to the turnoff.
When I arrived there was a couple trying to get to Berlin there. By now it’s very dark and very late. Most of the trucks there are closed up, occupants asleep, not going anywhere any time soon. And out of hitchhiker courtesy, I have to wait until this couple gets a ride before I can even try. Ok, gods..one more time. I unwrapped my hula. I put one segment together. Suddenly the male half comes running up to tell me there’s a trucker pulling out who has agreed to take me to Frankfurt. Which is back north the way I came, but further west than I’ve been yet. OK!
He was very genial. Spoke little english, but handgestures and smiles go a long way. Gave me pudding, and then lovely dark beer, which turned out to be a terrible combination the next morning. Set up the upper bunk in his truck for me and I fell asleep. I do not recommend the upper bunk in a moving truck for comfort and ease after pudding and beers. Or likely any other time, for that matter. After a fitful sleep I finally woke up to find he decided to be kind and let me sleep, past Frankfurt, and take me all the way to the depot in Dortmunder. Which is nearer to Holland than France. I said nothing because I thought if I opened my mouth pudding and beer would fly out in a most unfavorable way and he was so sure he had done me a great service.
And in fact, he took me in his car from there to a truck stop where I could easily find a ride to Koln. Where I spent the first half hour in the bathroom learning a lesson about pudding, beer and how terribly they go together. Not feeling up to a hula dance, I asked the gods to let me have this one for free and so they provided. A ride to the train station in Köln, where I caught the next train to Paris, arriving just in time for dinner.
So yeah, the highways are efficient, the truckers are friendly and if you aren’t in a hurry they’re totally the way to go and people stop fairly frequently. But direct lines don’t really exist if you’re trying to travel outside of Germany.
But then, it’s not always about the destination..
Oh! And pack a hulahoop.