That’s it! Tramprennen 2012 – a summary

With only a few meters of difference in altitude, a gravel road leads from Lake Surduc to the main road connecting Lugoj and Deva.
A few days ago Hitchhikers from around the globe had found the small village of Fârdea via that very gravel road. Just as they had done 3 days before, an elderly couple is still sitting in front of their small roadside Shop waving to the debarking travellers. We are part of the last ones to leave the lake. As we pass the aforementioned shop, the old lady calls out after us and presents us with hand-drawn hitchhiking cardboards: “Lugoj”, “Timisoara”, “Arad” – cities we’d have to pass on the way back. Her husband emerges back from inside the house with loads of more cardboard, sits down at the table in front and continues drawing signs. An unexpected gesture, to say the least. We don’t really know how to react. Sometimes you just have to stand and wait shrugging to say “Thanks”.
The Tramprennen for Viva con Agua ended as it had started – unexpected, full of surprises and beautiful.

“The grown-ups have an affection for numbers. If you tell them of a new friend, they’ll never ask for relevant information. They’ll never aks you: How’s the sound of his or her voice? What games does he or she like? Does the friend collect butterflies? Instead, they ask: How old is he or she? How many siblings are in the family? What’s his or her weight? How much money does the father earn? Only then do they believe they know a person.”

In accordance with these true words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery from “The Little Prince”, I’d like to direct all of those interested in numbers to the end of the article.
Who? Where? When? And how many? Yield interesting answers indeed, but do not have a place at the beginning of a travel report. Also I do not want to tell you about how almost all hitchhikers made it to Romania in a wonderous fashion.
Why should I in the first place? Hitchhiking is something entirely normal, nothing out of the ordinary. Where there’s a road, one can hitch. A car with available space can be boarded. We’ve done it, over and over – from Belgium, Denmark and Germany to Romania. Hop in, get out, embark, disembark. Wait, chat, gaze out of the window, reach, keep going. What more to tell? Not to exciting, after all, is it?

But do imagine the following:

To both your left and your right are other teams also putting their thumb out while you wait for your next lift. One of the others proclaims: “Watch out! Wanna bet, we’ll be gone before you?! The beer at the destination is on the loser!” Then imagine a green Ford Taunus with a laundry machine in the trunk to stop and pick you up. While on the road, the driver tells you, that the German comedian Karl Dall was hired by the Porsche company in the Mid-80’s to spread Manta-jokes (the Manta was an Opel/Vauxhall produced sports coupé and at that time still viable competition to Porsche). The dude in the Ford drops you in the middle of nowhere and you do not have the slightest clue as to where exactly you are. With the help of you’re way too large-scale map you attempt to let the curious villagers know why you are here, what you are doing and why and where to you want to leave again. You get invited to home-made Schnapps.
The bet is pretty much lost – the other team has sent a text and let you know that they’re a few hundred kilometers ahead. Or are they simply pulling your leg and are standing somewhere else entirely? You don’t know, but you can’t influence their fate anyway…
You’ve got to walk it for a few kilometers and grab some plums from a roadside tree. And while you’re promenading along the road, looking to identify animal shapes in the clouds and holding out your thumb unmotivatedly, an old 1985 Dacia stops for you. Red velvet on the ceiling, “Wunderbaum” and a Jesus figurine are dangling from the rearview mirror. He doesn’t understand a word of what you are saying and in tun you do not understand what he is saying at all either. But when the shabby radio plays a distorted “Chery Chery Lady”, both your thumbs point upwards. Hey, Modern Talking, Dieter Bohlen with a mullet. You start laughing. And because you laugh, so does the driver!
You leave the car – Handshake, Photograph, Exhaust dust, Ciao! “Awesome dude!”, you think and keep hitching with a happy expectancy of what else is to come. Soon the next car stops – that’s how the rest of the day may unfold, if it was up to you. You pass a Sinti/Roma settlement and the driver starts cursing: “These f*cking gypsies, living off our money, all criminals without the desire to work!” His wife nods her head in agreement and shakes it thereafter in the direction of the Roma. You shake your head as well, but for a very different reason: You ask yourself, why these two would like you and your German passport instantly and invite you to ride with them, while harboring nothing but hate towards the largest minority in their country at the same time?!
The “Everyday-Racism” (“Papers, Please!”,, German article) prevelant in German society unfortunately exists everywhere else in the world as well.
You ask the man, whether he truly believes what he just told you: Do you truly believe, these children voluntarily die of Hep A? Do you truly believe, they would not rather have access to the medical system as do you and your wife? (see this article on for reference) Do you truly believe, not a single Roma wants to work and live differently? Do you truly believe their chances on the job market are anywhere near your own? Do you truly believe they work the informal sector just because it’s more fun??? He shrugs his shoulders and concentrates on driving. A little later you get out, are saddened and mentally worn out. Maybe he’ll think about this conversation later and reconsider his notions…
At the next gas station, you meet another team again – the race is still on! It is sizzling hot. Strawberry and lemon ice cream provide comfort. A pick-up truck stops, you fasten the backpacks with belts in the back and hop on. Direct-lift to the destination! Other teams are already sitting on the back of the truck. Stories are passed and Dieter Bohlen pops up again. That dude somehow manages to stay a hot topic, even amongst hitchhikers in Romania.
You reach and the team from the roadside start is already there. Oh well, beer’s on you. But the next stage is waiting and revenge will be furious.
You lie down to sleep on the village football pitch and happily remember that the day after is in front of you. Appointment-free and full of more adventure.

Imagine that.

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All of the above is a mash-up of experiences condensed to a few paragraphs. But is not figurative prose. All those things (and more) do happen on the road. Way too much could be told to fit the scope of this final round-up of Tramprennen 2012, which is why this year we’d like for everybody to get a chance to tell their own story. We are “Generation Internet” and a whole lot of our communications happen online. As for this story compilation, we want to go classical – and print a magazine. A magazine containing stories, photos, comics, impressions, ideas and thoughts. Everyboday may participate!

We’d like to finance the project with your help via the crowdfunding platform Check it out and invest in something worthy!
For 10 bucks you’ll receive a copy of the magazine, for 30 a magazine and a Tramprennen 2012 shirt. And since we are now talking numbers anyhow, we might as well continue right there:

117 Hitchhikers from 14 countries (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Switzerland & the US of A)
54 Teams on 5 routes to Romania starting from Belgium, Denmark and Germany
2000 kilometers through 9 countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine)
447 Donors (419 TeamSponsors & 28 TeamOwners)

Worth pointing out: 15130 Euro of donations have been collected for Viva con Agua’s current WASH-project India!
Thanks to all hitchhikers, lifts and donors in the name of Viva con Agua!
The PayPal donations have been received and the debit method donations will be debited from the donor’s accounts in the near future. All donations are transferred directly and without a deduction to the “Welthungerhilfe” (World-Hunger-Relief), which is head of the project. This projects, as the others we have co-financed, grants clean drinking water access to a number of people that didn’t have it before – what substance is more important to man than water?

This concludes the fifth year of Tramprennen and once again it was great fun for all participants! Thanks to all who have been part of it in one way or another! Thanks for participating. Thanks for donating. Thanks for following us. Thanks for being.

The next year will come for sure.
Where to? How many routes? When?
We haven’t got a clue yet. But we will attempt to provide you with information earlier than this year. Check the website, check the facebook page.

Whoop Whoop!

Your Tramprennen 2012 Crew

1 reply
  1. mihai
    mihai says:

    Hello !
    First of all congratulations on the event, I am happy funds have been raised for a noble cause and the article itself is nicely written.
    However I feel the need to comment something about “the gypsy problem”. Yes, another “intolerant hate-speech” you may say. But I think tolerance is sometimes wrongly understood.
    The gypsies are a great problem in Romania and many other countries, a problem which you do not fully understand, having a view from the outside.
    Gypsies in Romania are hated by pretty much everyone because they do not work, they steal, they are very violent and aggressive, they just keep pouring children and take state aids. Crime rate among gypsies is extremely high, people on the street are afraid, gypsies just pick on and terrorize random people for pure pleasure, there are many areas in many cities where citizens are simply afraid to walk. They do not take proper care of their children, they just let them wander on the streets, dirty and poorly dressed, when they are just a few years old, they send them to beg, they do not send them to school, although education is free, all the way to university. It is horrible what they do to their kids, by law probably 90% of gypsy parents should be put in jail and children taken to foster homes.
    But gypsies have separate “special” reserved places in schools and even universities so they get in with no competition, grades barely over 5 when Romanians fight for those places with over 8 or 9 grades. And half of the gypsies that get in these “special” places don’t give a shit about school, skip classes and expect teachers to pass them because they are gypsies.
    They live in miserable conditions and clearly do not like the soap. However the state has given thousands of gypsies FREE flats, in very good conditions, in new apartment blocks, in numerous cities. In just a few years gypsies completely destroyed the buildings, they look like after apocalypse, cut off heaters and sold them to scrapyard, did not pay any bills for years although they received state support for that and finally they were cut off from the network. Just from what a families’ children beg in one day they could pay water bill for one month (they don’t use much water anyway).
    And actually a huge number of gypsies are very rich. They got rich from stealing, terror taxes, dirty business, etc. and drive BMWs but still live in miserable huts in the center of the cities. Others even have huge houses hundreds of thousands of dollars but still use a latrine in the yard. There are entire villages with hundreds of villas worth millions.
    What is even worse is they go abroad and steal, are violent and people all over Europe start to think they are Romanians. Italy, Spain, France, and other countries have huge problems with Romanian gypsies. A reporter from Great Britain released a documentary a few years ago about gypsy children from Romania that beg in London. He went in search for their parents in Romania, who lived in a huge house worth hundreds of thousands euro and had BMWs etc. (this is just an article, many others can be found: )
    This situation is extremely common. As I’ve said many gypsies are not actually poor. Many of them have a lot of gold (it is strong tradition among them to have gold, they keep it in the family, gypsies scavenging for food in dumpsters some time have gold worth thousands). Many gypsy women practice “witch craft” and claim huge amounts of money and gold from desperate people (or stupid ones) which they scam. Many gypsy singers (which sing extremely bad taste music that horrifies and saddens cultural community in Romania) get thousands of dollars and euros per night; you can see money flying and crap television broadcasts their disgusting opulent parties. You can see gypsies selling stuff everywhere (BMW at home of course) but they do not want to go legal and pay taxes. Gypsies sell “jewelry” made of “gold” and “silver”, people get scammed. And they do countless other things which you have no idea about.
    Job market is actually not as impenetrable for them as you might think. But they prefer to keep pouring children, take many different kinds of state aid, steal, send their children to beg, do dirty business, scam people. They have all the support possible: houses, preferential education access, state aid, many associations try to help them but they just don’t want to be nice people. Maybe 5% of gypsies are honorable.
    And the problem is not only in Romania. Slovakia for example has exact same problems with their own Slovakian gypsies. And all over Europe where gypsies are or go, same problems arise. So it’s not an isolated case.
    Many countries do efforts to help them and integrate them but these people somehow do not integrate anywhere… so maybe the problem is them don’t you think ?
    Some citizens make protests demanding government to take action and protect them against gypsies but they are labelled intolerant racists. Families are afraid to leave their kids play outside because of gypsy kids. You can’t imagine how bad it is to live in an area with gypsies.
    And government sometimes even favor gypsies and closes eyes on the bad things they do because they are many and have voting power, and are easy to manipulate. Some politic parties and politicians even use them for intimidation during campaigns.
    And I could go on and on. So you see, the problem is much, much more complex.
    I admit there are some good gypsies but they are a rarity. I don’t dislike them purely for being gypsy. I don’t care what race a human being is as long as he/she is a good human being. But these people are the same everywhere, do not want to change and integrate although they receive support and sometimes are positively discriminated. They simply do not want to make any effort, it is simply bad will on their side. How much more resources should be spent to integrate these people who do not want to make an effort and cooperate to integrate ?

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