August 21, 2012 by farbolino
Mike and I woke up, packed our stuff and headed to the large grocery store off the side of the highway to store up on food for the journey ahead. We bought pumpernickel bread since its small and heavy, cheese, and ham. I also bought a redbull to save for later in the day. Mike got a coffee at the gas station, while I made us some sandwiches before we walked to the off ramp to start our day.
We were on the road around 9am, but we waited, and waited. Sweden wasn’t an easy country to hitchhike in to begin with, then when you try with two guys it only gets harder. Luckily Mike and I relish the challange and make jokes to make each other laugh when times seem tough.
Finally after about an hour and a half a guy in a moving truck pulled over and said he can only take us 15km, but we were so desperate we took it since that would at least put us on the highway again instead of on the off ramp only catching traffic from the city. It turned out he was Iraqi too! What are the odds that we get a ride from 3 groups of Iraqis on the same journey? Apparently good since Swedish rarely pick up hitchhikers. For once I was glad that his English wasn’t so good because he was actually going 50km nearer to Karlstad, and not the 15 he originally said. He even dropped us off at the edge of town at a spot where there was a bus stop where cars could pull into. We said our goodbyes, and tried to catch a new ride.
We waited more then an hour again, but surprisingly a lone women pulled over who was headed to Karlstad. This was the first time a women had pulled over for me without hitchhiking with a girl. She was driving a car with only two seats, so I begged if I could get into the windowless trunk. She hesitated, but said yes.
She dropped us off at a rest stop before Karlsrad where a lot of cars would be going long distances. Personally I’m not a fan of having to walk up to people to ask for a ride, since most people look at you like your asking for money or your homeless, but I couldn’t make the decision where to be dropped off from the trunk. So Mike and I took our time, he got a coffee before starting to ask people for a ride. Most of the people with cars from Norway had full cars, and all the large trucks we asked were parked for the weekend. I had forgotten that all trucks had to rest for either 24 or 48 hours on the weekend, so some of them weren’t even moving until Monday.
Eventually we did find a truck that was headed to the Norwegian border, but north of the E-18 highway. Patrick, our driver was Finnish, and as I’ve realized with all the truck drivers I’ve gotten rides with; likes to talk. He was a really nice guy who knew a lot of small facts about Scandinavia and had a thing for small stuffed animals that he placed all over the dashboard of his massive truck. He even gave us some candy as we pulled into Charlottenburg on the Swedish side of the border. At this point a light rain started, nothing too bad, but it was enough to be annoying.
Patrick had told us that there would be many trucks parked at the gas station in Charlottenburg that we could ask for rides, and that if we couldn’t find a ride that he could take us 24 hours later since he had to take his mandatory break for the day. So we asked all the trucks there, but everyone was parked until the next day just like Patrick, so we had to ask cars that were pulling into the station, but it just wasn’t working. Half of the cars seemed to be Swedish locals (more on these locals in a second), and almost everyone else seemed to have a full car. If the cars weren’t packed with people, then they were packed with food since Norway is so much more expensive that it’s worth it to drive into Sweden to buy groceries.
Arriving to Charlottenburg was like this weird episode of the twilight zone. The local kids drove around in old cars that were chopped up and made into 2 seater trucks, and a few of the youth were even driving around in old Volvo limousines, which I didn’t even know existed to begin with. Many of them were full of tattoos, and had hairstyles from the American 50’s. Possibly the most humorous thing of all was that during the hours we spent at the gas station, the same 20 kids would drive past the gas station, or meet up at the gas station, as they came and left at least 10 separate times. I guess it just went to show how board they were that they had nothing better to do then to hang out at a gas station on a Saturday night. OK, back to the story.
After many hours of trying, it was getting late in the day and we needed to try something else, so we walked to the roundabout just outside the town. The problem was there wasn’t a shoulder for cars to pull over on, so we knew it could be a while before we got a ride. In about 10 minutes a Swedish car pulled over and the driver said he could take us about 8km further, but that it would be a spot where cars could pull over easier, so we took it.
Now we were at the border between Norway and Sweden at a gas station still on the Swedish side and it started to rain harder. If it wasn’t already a shitty day, it was about to get worse, but that will have to wait for part 3.