July 11, 2012 by farbolino
Just the other day I embarked on my journey from Berlin to Copenhagen, and I wasn’t even sure the exact route I would take. I took the Metro out to the edge of Berlin, but that was a disaster in itself, as there was trouble on the line and I had to make 4 transfers and ended up losing over an hours worth of time.
When I finally exited the metro, it was a long walk on the outskirts of the city along a bike path in a dense forest that took me over the Autobahn to a gas station/rest stop area. I hopped a fence and was ready to get a ride. Unfortunately there wasn’t much traffic despite it already being past noon, so I opted to wait at the end where the cars were driving out with a sign that said A-24 instead of a sign for Rostock which would bring me to the ferry to cross over into Denmark. I wasn’t so hopefully about getting a quick ride because a car was passing only once every other minute or so. After not much of a wait though, a little red VW pulled up. I hopped in and was surprised to find a small child in the back seat. It’s rare that someone with a kid will pick you up, but hitchhiking always has a way of giving me surprises.
So the driver was German, but his English was quite excellent since he lived in the US for a year as an exchange student in his youth with a Mormon family. He told me some interesting stories about staying in the US with them, and how he had been to church more times in that one year then he had in his entire life. We mostly made interesting small talk the rest of the way before he dropped me off at a service station before the Autobahn splits to go to Hamburg in the West and Rostock in the North. He even stopped and smoked a ciggarette while we chatted at the rest area before I thanked him profusely for his kindness as he was leaving.
The problem with it being a Saturday was most cars were filled with families and didn’t even have the space to take someone. About 30 minutes later I see another traveller with a Rostock sign pop out of another car without shoes on. He walked over to me, and we chatted a while before deciding it would be best to join up and try to get a ride together. Everyone has a different philosophy, but I think it’s easier to get a ride as two normally because people tend to look at a lone traveller with caution. Although in this case with cars being nearly full, and my companion looking like a bum without shoes; maybe it wasn’t the wisest choice.
After about another hour it started to rain so I sat down at one of the tables with an umbrella to eat one of the 4 turkey and cheese sandwiches I made that morning for the journey. An older German couple sat next to me since it was the only table with shelter. We started to talk and they asked me if I knew Erdinger beer, and I told them it was one of my favorite beers in the world. They lived in the town it was brewed (Erding), located just outside of Munich. We talked a bit more about Munich, Hamburg, and Berlin before it was time for them to take off. Unfortunately they were headed East to Poland, otherwise I’m pretty sure they would have given me a ride. As we were finishing up our conversation and they were wishing me luck in getting a ride, I saw two more people with backpacks pile out of a car. Now there were a guy/girl team to compete with to get a ride.
I walked over to talked to them for a bit, and found out that the guy was German and his girlfriend was French. Now I had reason to worry since the rest area was thinning out as it was past lunchtime and now there were 4 people all looking for a ride to the same place; things were looking bleak.
Soon after my travel mate found a truck headed directly to Sweden, but could only take one person. I told him to go for it. I saw a car with a Denmark plate sitting there and two young people standing outside it. I approached and explained that I had been waiting for about two hours and that if I didn’t get a ride soon that I might be sleeping in the wet woods behind the parking lot. They discussed in Danish and then said if I grabbed my bag quickly that they could take me. I felt elation that I would be making it to Denmark with this ride.
On the road they told me that they had never taken a hitchhiker before, and I tried to ease their concerns by explaining why I do it. I told them that I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet them otherwise, and that hitchhiking allows me to have these random encounters with strangers. We talked plenty about Denmark on the way to the ferry. I learned plenty about how Danish feel about education, immigration, and many other random topics.
We stopped at a duty free shop before catching the ferry, and I saw more alcohol there in one place then I have before in my entire life. Apparently booze is quite a bit cheaper there then across the water in Denmark, as I saw many Danish cars loaded with alcohol. My drivers were no different, and packed the trunk with as much beer, Coca Cola and water as they could fit. They even told me that some people drive over 300km round trip just to buy booze and then drive back into Denmark.
As my young couple wasn’t going all the way to Copenhagen, I decided it would be a better idea to make a sign for Copenhagen on the ferry and hop off before the car drove off and stand with the sign. Unfortunately no one stopped…and I was stuck in the southern most village of Gedser. I walked to the edge of the town and stuck out my thumb to the thin traffic passing by. The third car that passed pulled over and I hopped in.
My new driver was a massage therapist and asked me where I was going. I told him as far as possible toward Copenhagen would be helpful. He was a cool guy interested in what I was doing at the edge of the country in Denmark. I explained that I was coming from Berlin and that I was headed to Copenhagen. We talked until he dropped me off at the entrance to the E 55 highway to Copenhagen about 30 km north from where he picked me up.
It was past 8pm, with the sun low in the sky with a deep red color illuminating from it. I tried without success here until half past 9, despite two cars stopping but nether headed to Copenhagen. With about 30 minutes of light left in the sky, I decided to walk 3km to the nearest town an take a train the rest of the way. I would have slept in the fields next to the highway, but I was anxious to see my friend in Copenhagen and the nightlife on a Saturday.
I talked to the guy next to me on the train for a while, and he was nice enough to let me use his cell phone to call my friend. I arrived past midnight, called my friend, and headed out for a night of drunken fun in Copenhagen!