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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

#15: Benni

It was during my last year of school. A friend and I wanted to escape the crowds of Karneval in our hometown Koblenz, so we decided to make a small trip through Germany. First we thought about tanking a car but then I read an article about free traveling and how you can spend your holidays without money in Berlin.

One of the tips in this article was hitchhiking. I somehow got curios about this idea and informed myself further and in the end I really wanted to try the best way of traveling.

The parents of my friend helped us with the start and brought us to a petrol station on the highway, where they left us alone. It was a strange feeling, knowing that you are depending on some strangers goodwill to get you out of this place to your aim. None of us ever did it before in this way, so we started to write a sign with “Berlin”. I also read in the article that it is much more successful if you ask the drivers. Okay, that sounds not to hard but in the beginning especially on the first time it was quite an overcoming to talk to a stranger and then even to ask for a favor. After the first fifteen minutes and my first rejections I felt a bit uncomfortable and thought that this might have not been the best idea.

Luckily a man came to us and said that he could take us to the next petrol station, but he has to talk to his family first because his daughter was sitting on the back bank. They agreed and we got our first lift! All the worries directly changed into pure happiness. On the next petrol station, where the wanted to drop us the two parents talked to each other and offered us that they will take us to Berlin. That made things pretty easy for us and we agreed directly. On the way we had some nice conversations and we stopped at the former border to the DDR to visit the custom station.

Thanks once again Peter for your help!

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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

#15: Felix

It was last summer when a friend of mine started a little spark inside my head. Hitchhiking? To Albania? Crazy! My first thoughts. But a year later the spark set fire and I was convinced to do this crazy shit. So my first hitchhiking experience started in Hamburg. Jonas, who started the spark a year ago, and I wanted to catch up with the tramprennen-people, that were already on their way for a week. So we made a plan. Two and a half days from Hamburg to Sofia. Hard but interesting. Since Jonas is pretty experienced in hitchhiking I kind of leaned back and trusted him on the assumption we would make it.

So we started, since we were lazy, at the Horner Kreisel in Hamburg. Wait but that’s the direction to Berlin. Doesn’t matter. After 40 minutes we got picked up with to other girls who partied all night in Hamburg and wanted to go back to Berlin. My first lift. Amazing.

After 2,5 hours we reached the service station and continued our trip south from there. We hitched everything. Old people in a full car, young girl in an old car, undecided woman in an empty car and really young girls in a fast car. Big thanks again to all the drivers that may read this. Our goal for the first day was at least Salzburg but maybe even Vienna. Well at around 8:30 pm we arrived in Rosenheim on a really shitty gas station. The cars could enter the gas station from both directions and were mostly families with completely packed cars. So far we did really good but now it seemed like our luck left us. It was getting dark and no car seemed to drive to Austria.

So we relaxed put our backpacks aside and had a small snack. Suddenly a young man with an Austrian license plate stopped at the gas station. After a short chat, he agreed to take us into Austria. He introduced himself as Peter and seemed to be a pretty cool dude. He is a professional musician who just came back from a concert tour in France. We talked about sailing and the Traunsee, because actually he owned boat, which anchored on the Traunsee and since Jonas has been there 2 years before with Tramprennen, there was a lot to talk about. Our plan was to find another lift at the designated service station close to the Chiemsee but suddenly Peter invited us for a beer at the Traunsee and offered to spend the night at his place. Of course we were happy and agreed instantly. Said, done. Late at night we found a bar with direct view on the lake and enjoyed incredible awesome Austrian beer. And on top of that we even spend the night in a real bed, which was the best after a long day of hitchhiking. The next morning after a quick shower, Peter drove us back on the highway almost to Linz and we continued our trip from there. But that’s another story.
For my first hitchhiking day it was the perfect experience. Big thanks to Peter and all the other drivers that let us join on their journey that day!

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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

#15: Ole

Freiburg is beautiful, especially looking at it from the wooden tower at the Castle Hill. You have to get there first though. Starting in Hamburg. Hitchhiking. Your first trip using your thumb, at the first time – the first “Tramprennen”.

It’s Saturday at the end of the Summer 2008. Spain won the European Cup at Soccer, Kid Rock dominates the Hit Parade “All Summer Long”, eleven more or less absolute hitchhiking beginners with numerous backpacks stand in the drizzling cold Hamburg at the square in front of the “Millerntorstadion” in the rain. Start of the very first “Tramprennen”. I am one of these beginners. Two, two of these very large backpacks are mine. I have met my partner in crime Kiste three weeks ago. We both needed someone who wanted to join each other, so we formed a team. The stage goal: Go South for 800 kilometers, to Freiburg. Our preparations are finished: We each have half of a household on our backs, except for a tent, markers, sleeping mats, maps and other useful stuff.

The first kilometers: simple. We find the way to the city train, the bus, the gas station Stillhorn. The noise of the passing cars and the smell of a truck stop sausage stand provided highway atmosphere. The fastest way to Freiburg would lead down the A7. Yet we prefer the couple from Osnabrück, that spontaneously decided to give us a lift after Kiste talked them into it and so we pursue the path towards NRW on the A1. So my first lift ever is a spacious Camping-Van that proofed its suitability for travelling in the previous weeks in Skandinavia. Fantastic, I can get used to that. I start dreaming of Spanish beaches and wake up at the service area “Dammer Berge”. The parking lot is the exact opposite of my backpack: emptiness in good order. Eventually a decrepit Citroen gets lost on this space of tarmac and stops 10 meters in front of us. We run to it, passing the yellow license plate and the missing side mirror on the left to the driver. Our knowledge of French is as abandoned as the French rust bucket that only still drives because it always has. And as it drives, we do the same. Jammed in the back seats, we jog through the Ruhr area and enjoy the view of abandoned industrial landscapes and trucks passing us by at a spead of 80 km/h. Fuck it: We are moving, that’s what counts.

Time to call the other teams. It’s a race after all! The rest is everywhere but not close to Freiburg. We are trying our best but we won’t make it anywhere close to Freiburg, since the sun already calls the day. Our destination for the night: a place in Bonn, we organize on such short notice.

The next morning at the Rhine. The next motorway access is for us. Kiste talks a passing biker to leave us her map and so we see a lot of highways but none really useful. Still with two thumbs we test our luck. Soon several cars stop to take us to their destination but we want to go to Freiburg and not to the next bakery with breakfast. After some time we take carelessly lifts that promised to take us to so called hot-spots but turned out to be more or less just bummers.

We stand at the intersection, at the motorway access in Siegburg, at the train station in Siegburg and at the motorway access in Siegburg again. To reach the “Hitchwiki”-spot we have to take the tram and just walk a little to enter the service station. But Kiste promised some friends he would just hitchhike and not use any public transport. In the afternoon we almost start to feel like home in Siegburg. Some creative ideas come into our minds and Kiste makes a point by saying: “Ole, this here leads nowhere. Let’s take a taxi.” 20 minutes later and with 20 euros less in our pockets we arrive at a gas station next to the A3 and meet our first real lift for the day. We move quickly from there. Not even three hours later Freiburg appears in front of us. At least the outskirts. The highways avoid Freiburg so we wait for our last lift. We could take the tram but again, hitchhiking is far more fun! Finally we enter the last car on our trip. “Where do you want to go?! On top of the hill? With all your backpacks?” The driver knows the place and has doubts about our idea. The castle hill is the destination of our trip. Roughly 100 meters above us. Luckily the other teams organized a hostel at the foot of the hill so we put our backpacks there, run up the hill and take a photo. It took us two days, we made the 4th out of 5 teams but most important: we arrived!

 

 

 

15311502_914302388671384_614775912_oHo,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

#11: Jonas

I wanted to begin with hitchhiking in my younger ages. My parents hitchhiked in there teenage ages and I growed up with my mum picking up hitchhiker once in a while. This kind of traveling was fascinating for me already early. But I dared it never. The first two times I was drunk and had to come back from partys to my small home village. Once of it I wanted to beat a snow storm and walk home, that was a 18km distance, and after sometime I asked a truck driver, more in desperation, if he could give me a lift. He did it, for 1000m… After that he had to turn.

I started serious hitchhiking in Australia. A friend an I wanted to hike. But the national park was 60km away from all public transport. So we decided that we wanna add the hitch to the hike and believe it or not, it went perfect, even if there was parctically no traffic. One of the first lifts was a pickup and we had to sit in the back on the cargo area. On the way back to the next bigger city we hitchhiked the whole 200km and after that even further to the next national park. Since then I’m convinced of hitchhiking. But it took even 4 more years until I could participate my first Tramprennen.

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Ho,ho,ho- here we go! Christmas time is coming and before we hitchhike home for Christmas (haha…) we want to present you the first Advent calendar on tramprennen.org! Every day until Christmas (or even longer) we want to present one story about the first time we used the best way to travel: hitchhiking! Have fun with the stories! And you are more than welcome to add your own experience! Just send it to gro.nennerpmartnull@ofni! Whoop,Whoop!

#8: Marco

Your own car, the train, the bus, a rideshare… Today there are a ton of ways to get safely from point A to point B. Why would you even go hitchhiking than? Nowadays you could consider it a real anachronism. At least that’s what I thought when I was in my early 20s. Hitchhiking. That was something mom and dad used to do. Back in the days when the Berlin Wall was still standing. But rideshares, however, were cool and extremely convenient. Until, well, some friends came up with an idea: A Hitchhiking race. As a competition, we’d hitchhike around Europe and experience crazy stories. When I think about it this way, it doesn’t sound old-fashioned after all. Even if it does, it’s still pretty neat! And, man I definitely wanted to be a part of that! So, out of an experienced user of rideshares (which I was by my early 20s), I should become a hitchhiker.

Nothing easier than that (I thought). I’ll just hitchhike from Dresden to Eisenach. I had more than enough time and a rideshare was taking off in the late afternoon, anyways. I more or less ignored the advice I’d gotten about doing some research on the internet beforehand since I had friends in Dresden who knew a place to start hitching. The only downside was that I was consulted by friends who (just like myself) had never been hitchhiking before…in their whole lives.

So, there I was (kinda naïve) at the “Elbepark” in Dresden trying to go west. First at an American fast food restaurant, then at the neighboring gas station and lastly right at the freeway entrance ramp. In the beginning, I boldly wrote “Erfurt” on my old pizza box but nothing helped. Not a single car stopped. Not even one. The problem was: Everyone stopping by the restaurant wanted to go to Dresden or Poland. And stopping at the freeway entrance was rather difficult. But then, as the police politely asked me to leave the freeway entrance, the motivation dropped. The sun burning down on my head wasn’t helping either. My sign changed from “Erfurt” to “Hermsdorfer Kreuz” and lastly I ended up with “A4”. So I was standing at the freeway A4 with a sign that says “A4” and still not a single car stopped for me. Except for the police.

The hours went by without any prospect of improvement. After about four hours I had enough and I called the rideshare I had as my worst-case-scenario-backup-plan. “We’re all booked, sorry!”. Those final, devastating news frustrated me even more. But I didn’t want to quit just yet! I’ll give it a try for another hour.

And there it was, as if on cue, my little miracle: Suddenly a wonderful Cabriole stopped in front of me! For real. And it didn’t just stop for no reason, it actually stopped for ME. The driver was going to Leipzig, not to Eisenach, but it didn’t matter. I just wanted one thing: get the hell out of there! It was fabulous: a sunny summer weather and me in a Cabriole. And on top of that, a driver who had some stories to tell. The driver even dropped me off at a truck stop near Chemnitz. There wasn’t even closely as much going on as I (the naïve, freshly deflowered hitchhiking-virgin) thought it would. Still, after only a few minutes a student gave me a lift to the next real gas station. Once I got on the motorway everything went very quickly. I met a half-German-half-Polish guy who was on his way to work, in Hessen. I couldn’t believe it but he was passing right by Eisenach. We had an easygoing ride and so the seven-hour long adventure had a happy ending after all. And I was starting to become a real hitchhiker. One that doesn’t just want to get from point A to point B. One who never knows what will happen between point A and B.

And also, one who looks up the best starting place on Hitchwiki before the actual journey. A week later, I was standing in Dresden again. Although, this time I was at a gas station in “Hansastraße”. How long did it take me this time? Less than five minutes. Almost a little boring when I think of my first adventure…