vintage travels – twelve countries

June 21, 2009 at 6:33 am (travel)

this is a fragment i never finished. one day…

When I finally left Denmark, I hitchhiked for three weeks down to Madrid. Here are some photos which I didn’t take, as I didn’t have a camera. They are photos I wanted to take, so thanks to everyone who did take them, and published them on the net for me to borrow until I can find my own.

I had to move out of my room in Copenhagen on the 17th of the month. Any month, I had to pay up till the first, but move out two weeks before. Consequently I found myself, three days after limping back from Amsterdam, dragging all my worldly possessions to Marie’s flat with no plans, or real ideas of what to do next. Thanks to Kim, her partner, the next morning I found myself standing on the side of a good road, with a sign which read ‘Germany’, and most of my stuff safely at the post office on its way back to Sydney. Both these good people, being european it seems, had done this before.

In under two minutes of standing in the light rain, my first ride showed up, and indeed, drove me to Germany.

My last ride of the day wanted to take me back to Belgium to meet his wife. He proudly showed me a photo of his two little kids. He shared his dinner with me, all he needed being stowed under the bed behind the seats. He offered me somewhere to stay the night: his bed.

We were going right past Münster, so I decided to visit Marie-Claire. I rang home for her number and got my parents up at 4am. at about 7am they rany Marie-Claire’s parents and sent me the number. I rang, to find she was out and he was just leaving – “couldn’t you just stay in a youth hostel for a night?” Sure. At the highway at Münster.

My driver wanted to stop before Münster, and take me there in the morning. Somehow I got him to travel a little further, but I still had nowhere to sleep, at midnight, at Münster truck stop. I was wondering how safe his top bunk would be, but it was growing obvious that the answer was not at all. Bonn University Marie-Claire and Gervin drove me in to Bonn where they were going to a funeral, and dropped me solicitously at the train station in the middle of town. I had to walk all the way out to the highway, past this here gorgeous university, carrying my new blow up double mattress, sleeping bag and half a tent in a big fake leather suitcase so old that didn’t even have wheels. As well as my big heavy backpack. Dresden old town ruins From there I hitchhiked a big wobbly course across Germany, reaching Dresden that night. With bags in tow. In the morning I hired a bike and set off to see more of Dresden than I had seen of many other places. Someone else had the same idea as me of photographing this interesting jumble of the old town, complete with turret showing through window. Hopefully when my bags come back I’ll have my own identical photo. Prague and this is Prague, the charming city where I got everything I owned stolen. money, passport, clothes, food, books, diary, notes, everything but the clothes on my back, my atlas a pen and two sheets of paper. Luckily it wasn’t too warm a day, and I was still wearing a knitted jacket, though my coat was gone. A couple of people were very helpful, particularly one who helped me find the consulate, let me use his phone and loaned me money to cover two more nights in the youth hostel I had just checked out of. Said hostel leaked rain from a hole in the wall above the head of my bed, but I was able to hoard breakfasts that kept me from starvation for the next couple of precarious days of travel.

Budapest. I took off on a whim from Vienna, worried about getting to Madrid on time but still going the very opposite direction with a sign saying “BRAT. BUDA.” I’m glad I did, even though I only got to spend one night, and spent half the time visiting every bank in the city, unsuccessfully trying to access my money. It’s a beautiful city, with an air of faded glory. The buildings may be crumbling round the edges, but they’re solid and dignified, substantial.

udine…

mestre, milano…

When I couldn’t stand Italy any longer, I changed course and went north to Switzerland, which was minorly closer to Milano than France, though it was a detour. I wasn’t really expecting better, but suddenly everyone was pleasant and helpful, and I got to see views like this!

This time I had a destination in mind. My maps told me I had to get to Hospental, where there was both a youth hostel and the crossroads I needed, to be able to travel back west. Unfortunately noone has ever heard of Hospental, it’s a tiny mountain village above St Gotthard’s Pass, apparently the longest single tunnel in the world, at 17km.

My last ride dropped me at the entrance to the tunnel, the foot of the mountain. Noone came past. I started walking. By now I had two small backpacks, one on the back and one on the front. I had shoes. I also had 3kg of yummy but squishy Italian stone fruit in my bag, that I was thinking I might have to live off for a while, if I didn’t get stuck in snow and freeze to death without even my trusty coat. I was hearing bells. It looked a long road winding back on itself, up the mountain. At one point there was another road not far above my head on the steep slope, so I cut the corner by climbing over the fence and up the hill. There were footholds pitting the entire surface but it was still quite scary. Later I discovered that there seem to be two roads up that mountain, and I changed from one to the other. Anyhow, I kept walking. The sound of bells grew more distinct. I walked around the corner and a valley opened up below me, full of little yellow flowers, and cows. Millions of cows. Wearing cowbells!

Way over the other side there was a little farmhouse, but I was too tired to walk around to it and try to explain myself, so with the infallible logic of exhaustion I kept walking up the mountain.


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